As winter in Alberta gives way to spring, the motorcycling community in Alberta gets ready for long rides in warmer weather. The past two years saw an increase in motorcycle sales in Alberta, with limited availability for lessons and licensing.
In recognition of the potential dangers posed by motorcycle accidents, several provincial governments and safety advocacy groups have named May “Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month”.
Majority of collisions caused by rider error
The Alberta Motorcycle Safety Society reports an alarming ratio of fatality to collisions involving motorcycles in Alberta: 20 crashes causing 21 fatalities in 2020, and 19 crashes causing 20 fatalities in 2021.
The Society’s President, Liane Langlois, stated that approximately 63% of the collisions reported in Alberta in 2021 were allegedly due to rider error. Most happened on rural roads outside of cities.
Motorists and motorcyclists both play a part in keeping riders safe
Speaking to the CBC, Sgt. Colin Foster of the Calgary Police Service recommended that riders take time to become re-acclimatized to their motorcycle’s handling in a parking lot before hitting the open road. He also emphasized the importance of protective gear, as well as motorists’ responsibility to ensure they are looking out for motorcycles as warmer weather arrives.
Liane Langlois noted that a reduction in collisions helps reduce the stigma of motorcycling and creates a better representation of the motorcycle community. “If we’re all doing what we’re supposed to be doing, and watching out for each other, we’ll all get home,” she stated.
Motorcycle accidents can cause serious, permanent personal injuries
Motorcycle riders are at a much greater risk of serious or catastrophic injury in a collision, given the lack of physical protection provided by an enclosed vehicle (i.e. a car, truck, or SUV). As a result, even a small accident can cause long-term, debilitating damage, or even death.
Common injuries suffered by motorcyclists after a collision include:
- Damage to the upper and lower extremities, including the hands, arms, torso, legs, and feet. These injuries may include fractured bones, cuts and lacerations, bruises, torn muscles, severe burns, and even loss of limbs.
- “Road rash”, or a friction burn caused by sliding along the pavement after a fall. While road rash can be minor, in serious cases it can expose muscle and bone.
- Spinal cord or back injuries, including strains and damaged vertebra.
- Head injuries, including cuts and bruises, as well as concussions and brain damage (traumatic brain injuries).
The financial impact of motorcycle accident injuries
Recovering from a motorcycle accident injury often creates a significant amount of financial hardship for both the rider and their loved ones. While many medical expenses associated with recovering from an accident are covered through provincial healthcare, employer benefits, and other insurance plans, some costs may fall to the rider to pay out of pocket. These can include ongoing physiotherapy, massages, and acupuncture.
In addition to the cost of medical treatment, motorcycle accident injuries can impact riders in other ways. Their ability to work may be affected temporarily or permanently, leading to a loss of income or future earning potential. They may also suffer the loss of their ability to care for their children or other family members, and may be unable to enjoy the same recreational activities as they did before the accident.
Seeking compensation for injuries
It is critical to seek legal advice as soon as possible after a motorcycle accident. Seeking compensation for the medical and other costs arising from an accident requires knowledge of the insurance system. This process can involve a number of legal and evidentiary considerations, including determining the apportionment of fault for the accident, as well as obtaining expert medical opinions and reports.
The damage suffered from a motorcycle accident can be very complex, particularly as some injuries (such as those affecting the brain or spine) may not be evident right away. Having a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer review your case as soon as possible helps ensure the injured person’s rights are preserved to the fullest extent.
Wrongful death lawsuits and motorcycle accidents
The sad reality is that many motorcycle accidents result in the rider’s death. In cases involving a rider fatality, their family members may be entitled to seek damages (i.e. a monetary award) through a wrongful death lawsuit. Family members should reach out to a lawyer as soon as possible to ensure they are eligible for a wrongful death claim under the strict requirements of the Fatal Accidents Act.
Wrongful death lawsuits are governed by Alberta’s Fatal Accidents Act. Certain family members may bring a claim for compensation if the rider’s death was caused by a wrongful act, neglect, or default that would have entitled the rider to recover compensation if they had lived. Only the rider’s spouse, common-law (adult interdependent) partner, parents, children, or siblings may bring a claim. Furthermore, only one claim naming all potential beneficiaries is permitted per accident.
Damages that may be recovered through a wrongful death claim include:
- Funeral expenses;
- Grief counselling;
- Loss of household support (for example, if the deceased routinely helped with the upkeep and maintenance of the home);
- Loss of financial support (i.e. the loss of the deceased’s income contributions to the family/home); and
- Loss of income suffered by the deceased’s family members as a result of the death.
Contact Cuming & Gillespie LLP in Calgary for Compassionate, Experienced Advice on Motorcycle Accident Injuries
The skilled personal injury lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie LLP have over 20 years of experience dealing with serious personal injury claims, including those relating to motorcycle accidents. We understand the insurance claims process and know how to maximize the amount of compensation a motorcyclist is entitled to receive. We are dedicated advocates who work to alleviate clients’ financial difficulties through negotiated settlements or trials, so they can focus on their recovery.
Cuming & Gillespie LLP is conveniently located in the heart of downtown Calgary and proudly serves clients in Calgary, Edmonton, and throughout Alberta. To schedule a consultation, contact us online or call 403-571-0555 (toll-free at 1-800-682-2480).