Many drivers on the road take motorcycle couriers for granted and indeed many of the accidents in which they are involved occur because other vehicle drivers “did not see them”. So, it is no surprise to learn that motorcycle courier accident claims are often heard in the compensation courts with a number of factors to take into consideration. Before we look at the situation in more detail, it is worth refreshing our memories as to how dangerous it can be for motorcyclists on the roads today.
Motorcycle Accident Statistics
There have been numerous reports over the years looking into motorcycle safety records and while progress has been made of late, the historic figures do not make for good reading. It will perhaps be no surprise to learn that motorcycle users are at the highest risk of casualty and fatality per mile travelled. A report in 2014 confirmed that motorcyclists were 24 times more likely to be injured in a road traffic accident and over 60 times more likely to be killed on the roads than those travelling in cars.
Such has been the concern regarding the safety of motorcyclists on the road, this takes in commercial and non-commercial riders, that the Department for Transport regularly issues advice on motorcycle road traffic incidents.
Inexperienced Motorcycle Couriers
It is believed there are in excess of 13,000 registered fast food delivery motorcycle couriers working in London alone. Traditionally this area of transport is associated with fast-food but there is also a growing parcel delivery sector.
While things are starting to change, in years gone by this type of job tended to attract motorcycle couriers looking for short-term employment with the vast majority of riders under the age of 25. Indeed, quite legally, many of these motorcycle couriers only hold provisional licences because of their age and experience. When you bear in mind that, again quite legally, you can obtain a provisional licence for a motorcycle or scooter at the age of 16 this is an area of potential income which attracts relatively young people.
Unsociable Working Hours
While the parcel deliveries sector is slightly different, although there are 24-hour services, it is the area of fast food which is perhaps of most concern when it comes to injuries on the road.
Traditional hours tend to be between 8pm and 1am which are at the end of the working day when people may be tired and unfortunately night time brings limited visibility and other dangers. Whether delivering in the daytime or night time there are a number of potential risks which motorcycle couriers face on a daily basis which include:
- Vehicles changing lanes with no notice.
- Pedestrians stepping onto the road.
- People alighting from parked vehicles.
- Riders dazzled by full beam headlights.
- Dangers of cars pulling out at crossroads, not noticing oncoming motorcycle couriers.
- Potholes on the road.
- Spillages on the road.
- Loose chippings impacting grip.
Is also worth noting that motorcycle couriers who work late in the evening and early morning often face additional dangers such as:
- Drunk and aggressive clients.
- Theft as a consequence of the cash they collect.
Thankfully the Department for Transport is looking to significantly reduce the number of casualties and fatalities amongst motorcycle couriers. So, while progress is being made unfortunately we routinely see motorcycle courier accident claims before the courts.
Duty Of Care To Motorbike Couriers
Any employer has a duty of care to all motorcycle couriers working for them, whether full-time or part-time, and while the vast majority of courier motorcycle companies are happy to offer assistance, training, and provide the correct equipment, some companies and motorcycle courier employers have fallen short of acceptable standards. Areas which are very important when it comes to motorbike couriers and an employer’s duty of care include:
- Protective clothing in the shape of helmets, gloves and any other relevant equipment.
- High visibility jackets to ensure that other road users are aware of motorcycle riders.
- Introductory and on-the-job training.
- Guidance with regards to lifting/transporting heavy and sometimes awkward items.
The number of motorcycle courier accident claims flowing through the courts has made many employers think again with regards to staff safety and training. It is unfortunate that it has taken injuries and in some situations fatalities before the industry has really got its act together.
Proving Negligence In A Motorcycle Courier Accident Claim
In reality there are a number of individuals and third parties who could be sued for compensation by motorcycle couriers suffering injuries as a consequence of negligence. These include:
- Employers for lack of training, protective equipment and badly maintained vehicles.
- Other drivers on the road with disregard for motorcycle courier safety.
- Local authorities for ill maintained pathways and highways.
- Pedestrians for causing motorcyclists to swerve and lose control when stepping onto the road.
These are just a number of examples where motorcycle courier riders are regularly injured which can result in lost income and in some cases major medical issues in the longer term. If you have been injured as a result of third-party negligence while working as a motorcycle courier, whether delivering parcels, fast-food or any other items, you may well have a valid claim for compensation.
It is worth noting at this point that sometimes negligence and resulting liability can be shared amongst a number of third parties. It may be a mixture of bad driving by other motorists together with ill maintained roads. Many people automatically assume that you need to prove the negligence of all parties involved before you can lodge a motorcycle courier injury claim for compensation. This is not the case, if there is more than one party potentially liable for your injuries then it is up to the courts to make a ruling on shared negligence and shared liability.
What To Do After A Motorcycle Accident
If you’re involved in a motorcycle accident as a courier the first thing to do is to ensure that medical attention is received as soon as possible in order to avoid any potential complications or life-threatening situations. This is paramount, ensuring a motorcycle couriers safety must come first and the fact that the injuries, the way in which they occurred and any other supporting information will be noted on the injured parties medical records will come in useful further down the line. If possible, whether the injured party or onlookers are able to assist, it is helpful to gather witness statements, photographs where possible and attempt to access CCTV information where applicable. Obviously, any serious injuries must be reported to the police and this will ensure that all parties are recorded and the motorcycle accident is investigated in detail.
While in theory a victim has up to 3 years to claim compensation from the date of the incident, it makes sense to investigate a potential motorcycle courier injury claim sooner rather than later. To this end it is highly advisable to make your own notes and records which you can discuss at length with a road traffic accident solicitor to see whether you have a valid case. Our solicitors have experience across a whole range of different scenarios and will very quickly be able to advise you whether you should take it any further. Where there are strong cases for compensation it is likely that a No Win No Fee deal will be offered whereby the claimant pays nothing upfront for legal services but instead agrees a split of any compensation received, where a maximum of 25% of compensation would be paid to the solicitor only when the motorcycle courier accident claim is successful.
When a motorcycle accident claim is lodged with the courts the defendant will receive a copy detailing the incident and the evidence against them. Where liability is fairly straightforward many motorcycle courier compensation claims will be settled out of court, saving both time and additional legal expenses. There will be situations where liability is contested, or there may be a shared liability scenario, and these will likely go before the courts.
Motorcycle Courier Injury Compensation
Typically there are two different types of compensation which may be applicable when making a motorcycle courier accident claim for personal injury. These are general damages which include financial compensation for:
- Mental trauma.
- Life changing injuries.
There are guidelines, based upon past compensation awards, covering various types of injury and suffering. While these are not set in stone or binding from a legal point of view they are often referred to by the courts and both defendant and claimant legal representatives.
The other type of compensation is known as special damages and is basically financial redress for costs incurred (and likely to be incurred in the future) as a result of injuries received in the motorbike accident. These can take in a variety of different issues such as:
- Loss of earnings.
- Loss of future earnings.
- Adaptions to the home.
- Medical expenses incurred.
- Future medical expenses.
- Additional transport costs.
There is no doubt that our No Win No Fee arrangement available today have assisted many clients who may otherwise have been unable to fund legal costs with victory never guaranteed. Many people also forget that not only is a victim legally entitled to compensation where negligence and liability are proven, but this should help to encourage safer working environments in the future. In many cases businesses only listen about concerns for safety when motorcycle courier accident claims are made against them with potentially high financial consequences.