Articles for Non-Lawyers

Photo: Impending motor cycle accident with oncoming car

Motorcycle Accidents by Patricia Santucci

Essential Information for Crash Victims

Safety is a cheap and effective insurance policy.

– Author Unknown

Risky Business

Riding a motorcycle is risky business. While motorcycles provide a lot of pleasure and enjoyment, they can also be the source of some pretty nasty personal injuries. As a personal injury lawyer, I have seen first hand what devastating effects a crash can have on a rider and to that rider’s family.

Even the Most Experienced Bikers Can’t Avoid the Risk of Being in a Crash

As a motorcycle driver, I am sure you are told all the time to “be careful” and “be safe”. However, as you are no doubt well aware, you can be as safe as possible and still end up in a serious accident due to another driver’s negligence. Even the most experienced bikers who take all necessary safety precautions are unable to completely avoid the risk of being involved in a crash.

There are More Cars on the Road than Ever

Lately there are more cars on the road than ever. Sadly, there are also more drivers using their smart-phones while driving, despite the warnings and public campaigns.

The Traffic Research Injury Foundation of Canada states that 37% of Canadian drivers admitted to using cell-phones while driving in the past 7 days, which when applied to the entire population of drivers in Canada, indicates that approximately 8.2 million drivers use a cell phone while driving each week. Download the full report.

At the best of times, automobile drivers sometimes do not see motorcycles near them, due to their small size. Add the distraction into the mix, and things get especially dangerous.

As a Motorcycle Rider, You are More Vulnerable to Injury

As a motorcycle rider, you are more vulnerable to injury, due to the lack of protection around your body while you are on your bike. The difference in size between your bike and a typical automobile makes the odds higher that you will be seriously injured in a collision. There is safety in numbers when it comes to motorcycle riding; that is, a motorist is more likely to see you if there is a group of riders. Common sense dictates that a lone rider is likely at a higher risk of being struck by a negligent motorist.

The Globe and Mail reported that motorcycle riders in Canada are at least 15 times more likely to be involved in a crash than automobile drivers. And one in 10 traffic deaths on the road involves a motorcycle.

How do I get compensated if I am involved in a motorcycle accident?

There are several different sources of compensation potentially available to you if you have been involved in a motorcycle accident:

  • Accident benefits from own insurer (no-fault benefits)
  • Lawsuit (tort action) against the at-fault driver
  • Disability benefits (short term disability, long term disability)
  • Employment Insurance
  • Canada Pension Plan Benefits

Accident Benefits

In Ontario you are entitled to Statutory Accident Benefits through your own insurer (no fault benefits), regardless of whether you were at-fault for the accident. These benefits are provided right away, if you qualify, and are for such things as medical and rehabilitation expenses, attendant care expenses and income replacement benefits. You may also be entitled to other benefits such as housekeeping and home maintenance, if you have purchased optional coverage. If you end up in a dispute with your insurance company regarding the benefits you that you are entitled to, you will have to resolve the dispute through the Financial Services Commission and/or the courts.

Lawsuit

If another driver is at-fault (or partially at-fault) for the accident, then you may be able to claim for damages by bringing a lawsuit in the Courts. A lawsuit (also called the “tort” action) seeks damages for things such as: pain and suffering, economic loss, loss of earning capacity, housekeeping and home maintenance expenses, healthcare expenses and other damages.

Short Term Disability/Long Term Disability Benefits

Short-term disability (STD) and long-term disability (LTD) insurance is designed to provide you with income if you become disabled from working. You may be entitled to STD or LTD coverage through a group insurance plan provided through your employer, or through a private life or accident and sickness policy that you have purchased. STD and LTD coverage comes in many different forms, and coverage varies from policy to policy.

Employment Insurance

EI sickness benefits may be paid up to 15 weeks if you qualify. You must be unable to work due to sickness or injury. To be eligible, you are required to have worked for 600 hours in the last 52 weeks or since your last claim. You must also obtain a medical certificate from your doctor to confirm the duration of your incapacity. Remember that in order to continue to be eligible to receive EI, you must be unable to work and also otherwise available for work.

Canada Pension Plan

If you apply and are approved for Canada Pension Plan (CPP) disability benefits, you will receive a taxable monthly benefit. In order to qualify, you must have made enough contributions to the CPP and have a disability that is considered to be severe and prolonged. Benefits may also be available to your dependent children.

Best advice: See a good lawyer

Of course, contacting a good lawer is easy.

Motorcycle Cases are Complicated

As I’ve written before motorcycle cases are complicated and require a specialist. Liability (who is at fault) is not usually cut and dry. You may need to sue the road authority in addition to any negligent motorists which has its challenges. There are sometimes negative stereotypes about bikers. Evidence is difficult to gather. It is not always easy to determine what benefits you are entitled to, and which legal route is your best choice. Added to this is the stress that will be put on you and your family by the various insurance companies involved and the complex forms to be completed.

You need a lawyer who practices in personal injury law and who is familiar with motorcycle cases to help you. At Santucci Personal Injury Law we recognize that being involved in a motorcycle accident is traumatic. Injuries are often serious or even fatal. We are here to help you and your family to wade through the legal process and obtain the compensation to which you are entitled.

We also know that victims of motorcycle accidents often cannot afford to pay a lawyer’s retainer and hourly rates, especially in a case where they are not working. Here at Santucci Personal Injury Law, we work on contingency basis, meaning that the lawyer will be paid their fees only when your claim is successfully resolved.

If you do not recover anything, we do not charge any fees. We also offer an initial free consultation to talk about your motorcycle case.

Everyone crashes. Some get back on. Some don’t. Some can’t.

– Author Unknown

About the Author Patricia Santucci

Patricia Santucci is a personal injury lawyer born and raised in Hamilton, Ontario. She holds several degrees having attended King’s College at the University of Western Ontario, McMaster University, earned a Master of Arts degree at the University of Windsor and an Ontario Teaching Degree from Teacher’s College as well as her Ontario Teaching Certificate. After graduating from the University of Alberta law school she was called to the bar in 2000. You can find Patricia on and LinkedIn or directly through this website