SPRINGTIME SAFETY SERIES, PART 1: Motorcycles
The days are getting longer and spring is on the way. But springtime comes with safety challenges and risk of personal injury. Part 1 of our Springtime Safety Series focuses on motorcycle accidents.
Springtime is a great time for getting out the motorcycle for a road trip. However, because of increased motorist, pedestrian and other traffic, there may be increased risks. Also, changing weather in spring (including freeze and thaw conditions) can cause slippery patches on the roadways, causing dangerous driving conditions.
Because of the vulnerability of being in an open and unprotected vehicle such as a motorcycle, the risk of serious injury in a crash increases. Injuries include spinal and muscle damage, road rash, traumatic brain injury and even death.
A recent study suggests that motorcycles account for 10 per cent of all motor vehicle deaths in Ontario and cost the health care system six times the amount of car crashes. Researchers showed that while car safety has improved with rates of severe injuries and deaths from car crashes decreasing significantly over the last 10 years, injuries from motorcycle crashes have remained stable or even worsened.
In Ontario, it is mandatory to have motorcycle insurance for any motorcycle you ride on the roadway. Mandatory motorcycle insurance includes Third Party Liability, which protects you from being held personally liable for damage you might cause to other persons and/or their property. The legal minimum coverage of $200,000 is not adequate protection. Most people have policies with at least $1 million. But increasing your third party liability limits up to $2 million or more (for only a nominal premium increase) is a great idea. Because injuries in a motorcycle accident are often serious, if another insured driver causes serious injury to you or a family member and they only have $1 million in liability insurance, you can access additional coverage from your own insurance company (up to your own liability limits) in order to be fully compensated for all your injuries and losses. Also, having higher liability limits will further protect you from personal liability.
Insurance coverage also includes Accident Benefits which compensate you for medical expenses, rehabilitation, funeral expenses and loss of income following a collision. Accident benefits coverage was drastically reduced as of June 1, 2016. Once again, given the added risk of injury in motorcycle accidents, it is advisable to choose to increase your level of accident benefits coverage in important areas.
If you have been in a motorcycle accident, you also have the right to sue a negligent driver. You may have the right to compensation for pain and suffering if you suffered a “permanent serious impairment of an important physical, mental or psychological function,” according to the Insurance Act. This lawsuit would be in addition to your entitlement to Accident Benefits and may also seek compensation for healthcare expenses, income loss and other losses.
Before you hit the road again this spring on your motorcycle, talk to your insurance providers about increasing your Accident Benefits and liability coverage and make sure you understand what your coverage includes.
Also, protect yourself from springtime motorcycle risks by using appropriate safety gear and being aware of wet and slippery road conditions. Wear proper attire in changing weather to keep you warm, to prevent limbs stiffening and to allow you to react better in unexpected situations. Be aware of increased roadway and pedestrian traffic.
Safety precautions and proper insurance are an essential part of ensuring that you and your family are entitled to care and compensation in the event of a motorcycle collision.
 “Direct medical costs of motorcycle crashes in Ontario” published in CMAJ, November 20, 2017, by Daniel Pincus, David Wasserstein, Avery B. Nathens, Yu Qing Bai, Donald A. Redelmeier and Walter P. Wodchis; http://www.cmaj.ca/content/189/46/E1410