For motorcycle enthusiasts in Southern Ontario, the summer of 2020 presented extremely tempting conditions for hitting the open road. Months of sheltering at home to slow the spread of COVID-19 combined with beautiful summer weather had motorcyclists across the province eager for the freedom, speed, and exhilaration of riding their bikes. With limited options for summer activities available because of the pandemic, all across Canada, the prospect of escaping on a motorcycle appealed to seasoned drivers and novices alike. In fact, July 2020 saw a 72% year-over-year increase in motorcycle sales across the country.
While there’s no denying the invigorating rush people experience on the back of a motorcycle, every time these drivers take their bikes for a spin, they face life-threatening risks. According to a recent OPP report, unfortunately, fatal motorcycle collisions in Ontario have increased by 60% this year, and could certainly continue to rise as the weather conditions remain favorable for outdoor excursions.
Distracted motorists and drivers who fail to yield are among the leading causes of motorcycle collisions. Due to the negligence of others, even the most cautious motorcyclist is vulnerable to serious injury, or worse.
Motorcycle accident victims and their families have rights. Preszler Law Firm’s motorcycle accident lawyers have helped thousands of people who have suffered serious injuries as a result of these traumatic, often life-altering events. For those in the Durham region whose lives have been altered following a collision, one of our Ajax motorcycle accident lawyers will be ready to confidently pursue maximum available compensation.
If you’ve recently been involved in a motorcycle accident, there are some important things to know.
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Immediately After the Accident
Any type of vehicular collision can certainly be a shock. But drivers behind the wheel of a car have the benefit of various built-in safety features to rely on in the event of an accident. For motorcycle drivers operating high-speed vehicles with only the protection of a helmet, the shock following an accident can be even more acute. In the aftermath of a motorcycle accident, it can be difficult to keep a cool head, but it is important to take certain steps to assure the safety of everyone involved.
First and foremost, if injuries have been sustained in the collision, it is imperative to seek medical attention. Furthermore, if it is safe to do so, the vehicles involved in the accident should be moved to the side of the road, away from oncoming traffic. However, if it is safe to do so, before moving the vehicles, those involved in the accident could use their smartphones to take pictures of the accident and any damage caused in the collision. If it isn’t possible to move the vehicles to the side of the road, it would be advisable to engage their hazard lights and use cones, triangles, or flares to alert other oncoming drivers to the disruption ahead.
Once the safety of all involved parties has been assessed, it is an appropriate time to contact a motorcycle accident lawyer. The motorcyclist can use their smartphone to take note of other parties’ contact information. This includes the driver, passengers, and any witnesses to the accident. It is appropriate to ask for these parties’ names, addresses, telephone numbers, and email addresses. It is also appropriate to take note of the other driver’s license plate number and insurance information.
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Avoid Admitting Fault
During these crucial moments when emotions can understandably run high, it is essential to remain calm when interacting with the other parties involved in the accident. If any of the involved parties become argumentative, they may be assured that they can discuss their side of the story with police officers when they are dispatched to the scene.
The frenzied moments following an accident are not the time to sign any statements admitting fault or to make verbal commitments to pay the damages of the other parties involved in the collision.
It’s natural to feel a sense of panic immediately following an accident, and immediately rush to apologize to the other driver, but it is important to avoid admitting culpability. Even a simple expression like “I’m sorry” might be referenced by an opposing lawyer in court to suggest the speaker’s responsibility. That’s why, in the aftermath of a collision, it’s important to stay calm and think before making any statements to other parties that might be misconstrued as voluntary admissions of liability.
Seeking Accident Benefits
In many incidences, it may not be immediately apparent who is at fault for a motor vehicle accident. Oftentimes, determining responsibility may require formal litigation; if so, a judge or jury would decide the outcome of the motorcycle accident case. Regardless of direct responsibility for the collision, in the unfortunate and traumatic event of a motorcycle accident, it is important to understand your rights.
Insured motorcyclists in Ontario have the right to seek accident benefits. These benefits are available through a no-fault system, which means that anyone involved in an accident involving a motor vehicle can access the standard auto insurance policies of the vehicle involved. Each person involved in the accident has the right to apply for benefits, even if their own actions contributed to the accident. These benefits are regulated by Ontario’s Insurance Act and the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule, which determines the available benefits. In order to qualify for these benefits, accidents must be reported to the driver’s or vehicle owner’s insurance company within seven days of the incident, and the Application for Benefits the insurer subsequently supplies must be submitted within 30 days of its receipt.
After reporting a motorcycle accident to either your insurance provider and submitting a claim for benefits, you may be asked to participate in an insurer examination. Once that examination is complete, you have the right to obtain a copy of that report from your insurer. During the course of this examination, you may be required to undergo a medical assessment or submit to questions from specialists.
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Bias Against Motorcycle Divers
Operating a formidable machine like a motorcycle requires a high level of skill. Most motorcycle drivers are fully aware of the caution that must be exercised when riding their bikes, and are committed to safe, responsible behavior on the road. Nevertheless, motorcycle enthusiasts are often negatively stereotyped as negligent, “born-to-be-wild” risk-takers. This perception can affect the way accident victims’ claims for benefits are assessed, and complicate the process of remuneration.
Even if you’ve submitted to an insurer’s examination following an accident in which you sustained serious injuries, insurance companies might deny your claim to benefits, or provide an unfair benefits package.
An insurance adjuster’s top priority is to keep their company’s payouts as low as possible. As employees of an insurance provider, adjusters may be required to place their company’s needs over their individual clients. This sentiment, coupled with an inherent bias against motorcycle drivers, often means that accident victims have to fight for fair compensation.
As a claimant, you have the right to appeal or arbitrate the insurance company’s decision to deny benefits. You have the right to hire a personal injury lawyer to assist you through this process.
Filing a Lawsuit
The injuries sustained in motorcycle accidents have the potential to be life-altering. Sometimes injuries require extended recovery periods and significant medical expenses. In many cases, motorcycle accidents can lead to long-term or permanent physical damage. These injuries can substantially alter an accident victim’s quality of life and have detrimental effects on family members and close friends.
In cases where a motorcyclist was not at fault or was only partially at fault for an accident in which they sustained serious injuries, Accident Benefits may not be sufficient to compensate the victim of another party’s negligence. In situations like these, on top of applying for Accident Benefits, the injured motorcyclist has the right to seek compensation from the responsible driver through the form of a lawsuit.
An experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to provide essential assistance in order to proceed with this course of legal action. By reviewing thoroughly documented losses as a result of the motorcycle accident, a skilled personal injury lawyer will be able to conduct a case evaluation and assess the potential value of a victim’s claim.
Hiring a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
Victims of motorcycle accidents can face an uphill battle to receive fair compensation. The susceptibility to serious injuries coupled with insurance providers’ inherent bias against motorcyclists often leads to lengthy, difficult legal processes, requiring meticulous documentation and expert testimony.
An injury lawyer can help clearly articulate exactly what happened in the chaos of a motorcycle accident, and illuminate exactly what the victim has lost. The legal team at Preszler Law has access to a large network of physicians, engineers, accident reconstruction professionals, and other vital resources to help their clients secure a favorable outcome.
Having a reputable and experienced law firm on your side can help get you the compensation you deserve. For more than sixty years, Preszler Injury Lawyers has helped thousands of injured individuals through times of serious crisis. Contact us today at (416) 364-2000 for a free case evaluation.