Do you own a motorcycle? Do you live in Newfoundland or Labrador? If so, then you have probably taken a ride on the Irish Loop at least once. It's a road recommended to motorcycle tourists. Generally, roads throughout Newfoundland are considered some of the best roads for motorcycle trips throughout all of North America. These roads are in good condition and well-maintained. These roads meander through some beautiful country and coastal areas. And these roads -- typically speaking of those roads off the Trans Canada Highway -- are curvy with generous dips along the way. All of these conditions make for an exceptional riding experience.
But dangers lurk. Motorcyclists often go “unseen” by other motorists on the road. According to Transport Canada, approximately 11% of all fatalities on the road are motorcyclists. If you or someone you love have been in a motorcycle accident, then you know just how devastating it can be. Having a resourceful, experienced lawyer on your side matters. Geoff Aylward, motorcycle accident lawyer in Newfoundland and Labrador, provides personalized, comprehensive legal representation during hard times. If you've been injured in a motorcycle accident, contact Geoff Aylward today for a free consultation; you don't pay him until you receive your just and fair compensation from the at-fault party.
Motorcycle Accidents: Liability & Payment
Motorcyclists can suffer severe, if not fatal, injuries when in an auto collision with other automobiles or trucks. Unlike automobiles and trucks, they have nothing to protect them from the force of impact: no metal, only a helmet. The debilitating and permanent injuries, including brain and spinal cord injuries, that result from these kinds of accidents also result in significant financial losses to the injured party and his or her family. In respect to the last, there is some relief. The law allows the injured party to recover damages from the liable party.
Damages encompass both tangible and intangible costs of the motorcycle accident. These damages include but are not limited to compensation for:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of earnings
- Loss of future earnings
- Short-term and long-term loss of ability to perform domestic tasks
- Treatment, personal assistance and rehabilitation expenses
- Repair or replacement of motorcycle
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Wrongful death claims in the case of fatalities.
Motorcycle Accidents & Passengers on Motorcycles
Most accidents are someone's fault. If the motorcyclist is at fault, the passenger is still entitled to compensation. Almost always there is a close bond between the operator and passenger on a motorcyclist. Remember, it is the insurance company that pays the claim. Even where the driver and passenger are very close friends or relations, the passenger will not be risking the operator's finances by bringing a claim.
The at-fault driver and/or owner is responsible for the damages that stem of a motorcycle accident. Your lawyer will advocate your case directly with the insurer so that you don't have to worry about it. That's time saved so you can work on healing.
Motorcycle Accidents: Shared Fault
In some cases, there may be shared liability, and in those instances, an injured party's compensation may be reduced in proportion to his or her percentage of liability. If the victim is partially at fault for the accident, the law of contributory negligence applies. For example, if an injured motorcyclist was speeding at the time the other motorist struck the motorcyclist, then the insurer will argue contributory negligence to reduce the settlement payout to the injured party. Contributory negligence may also be established if the motorcyclist fails to wear a proper helmet and suffers a head injury. Identifying the cause(s) and degree of fault is crucial to recovering full fair and reasonable compensation.
In the case of stunt driving or road racing by a motorcyclist, the motorcyclist will almost always bear entire or most of the responsibility for the accident. If the passenger knew or had reason to suspect such behaviour, the passenger's recovery will be reduced under the law of contributory negligence. Otherwise, a motorcycle passenger will still be able to recover full compensation regardless of how liability is apportioned.
Motorcycle Accidents: Causes
Insurance companies will often defend against motorcycle claims quite vigorously to the point of relying on stereotypes that bikers are reckless drivers who do not pay attention to the rules of the road. In fact, it is motorcyclists who are most at risk if regular drivers do not pay attention to the rules of the road. A motorcycle is a small visual object and can easily be missed by a driver who is not paying attention or who is distracted whether by phone use or conversation. Distracted drivers making left turns are a huge hazard to motorcycle riders.
Causes of motorcycle accidents are similar to auto accidents, i.e., most are caused by human error, followed by mechanical issues and environmental conditions, but there are some common causes of accidents that affect motorcyclists more than other motorists. These include:
- Unsafe lane changes. You've probably experienced it or heard about another motorcyclist's experience with it. An automobile driver sometimes fails to either check his or her blind spot and signal the lane change before changing the lane. When this happens, it's either a very close call for the motorcyclist or a tragic collision. Though this can happen with other automobiles, too, motorcyclists bear more risk because they are less noticeable on the road. It's situations like this scenario that give the “Share the Road” campaign its meaning.
- Lane Splitting. Lane splitting, or filtering, is not legal though there's no law that expressly states the same. Generally, if you are lane splitting and an accident occurs, it'll likely be your fault, in part at least. For inexperienced riders, lane splitting is particularly dangerous, though more experienced riders claim it's safer because it forces automobile drivers to “see” them.
- Car doors: Our roads are narrow in some areas, and when a door of a vehicle parked alongside the road is opened, an unsuspecting motorcyclist may strike the door, severely injuring the motorcyclist and his or her passenger.
- Sudden stops and rear-end collisions: Sudden stops can be deadly for a motorcyclist. Rear-end accidents result from following too closely, and when a vehicle makes an abrupt stop, it's often too soon for the rider to stop.
- Dangerous road conditions: Dangerous road conditions are just that: dangerous for everyone. But some conditions that a car or truck can withstand easily is not a condition that a motorcyclist can withstand. Potholes, debris, crumbling pavement, the absence of signs, can all cause loss of control of the motorcycle. The motorcyclist who fails to adjust for such conditions may be liable to his or her passenger for negligence.
- Disobeying traffic signs or signals and failure to follow the Rules of the Road. As with any other motorist, motorcyclists are entitled to assume that other drivers will follow the rules of the road. If it is obvious that the other driver is not doing so, then the motorcyclist should take reasonable evasive measures, if possible.
- Driver distraction or inattention: Drivers must keep their eyes on the road. Distraction by operation of a cellphone or even conversations with a passenger may be sufficient for a driver to not notice the oncoming potential of a collision with a motorcycle.
- Weather and Environmental Conditions: Drivers and motorcyclists must adjust driving behaviour for adverse weather and environmental conditions. A wet road reduces stopping distances, can obstruct vision through water spray on the windshield, and may cause hydroplaning. It does not excuse a driver from slowing down and exercising proper care to avoid or minimize the associated risks. Darkness, rain, and fog reduce visibility; they do not reduce the responsibility of a driver to slow down and take extra care to adjust for this additional risk factor.
Inexperienced drivers may be prone to more accidents, too, simply because they lack the skills to drive defensively. It is always important for bike riders to carefully follow the lessons of the original safe driving course and to follow at all times the rules of the road.
Motorcycle Equipment: Stay Safe (Besides, It's the Law)
To ride a motorcycle in Newfoundland and Labrador, there are some rules regarding the bike that must be followed. First and foremost, the rider must properly wear a helmet that is in compliance with all safety regulations. Motorcycles must have adequate brakes, including a service brake for each wheel. Motorcycles must also be equipped with lamps in accordance to technical specifications:
- The motorcycle must have at least 1 but not more than 2 headlamps, and they must be lighted at all times when the motorcycle is in motion on the highway.
- If on a highway, the motorcycle's headlamps must be arranged so that when traveling (1) less than 40 km/h a white light will be emitted to reveal a person or a vehicle at a distance of 30 meters; and (2) more than 40 km/h a white light will be emitted to reveal a person or a vehicle at a distance of 60 meters.
- The headlight beams must be arranged and directed so that the high-intensity portion of the light is emitted by the headlamps at a distance of 7.5 meters above the height of the lamp.
- The motorcycle must have at least 1 tail lamp mounted at the rear, and it must emit a red light visible from a distance of 150 meters to the rear.
Motorcycle Accident Lawyer: When to Contact One?
If you are in a motorcycle accident, either you or someone you love should contact a motorcycle accident and personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. The sooner an experienced lawyer is contacted, the sooner you can file a claim and receive compensation. In some situations, it is urgent to act immediately by contacting the police within 24 hours and taking other measures within days of the accident.
At AylwardLaw.ca, you get the service you require and the personal attention you need. Geoff Aylward knows the law, the court system, and the insurance industry. He and his staff provide their services with compassion. They are always available to answer questions because they know in times like these, an unanswered question only adds weight to the stress you are already undergoing. Contact Personal Injury Lawyer Geoff Aylward today. If you need immediate after-hours assistance, Lawyer Geoff Aylward can be reached by text at 709-743-1708 or by email at [email protected].