By Matt Lalande in Motorcycle Accidents on November 04, 2021
It’s unavoidable. After you start talking about getting a motorcycle, your well-meaning family and friends might look at you like you’ve grown a second head. Then they’ll start telling you tales of people they know who got motorcycles and were then involved in serious motorcycle accidents. While some of the stories may be true, it’s also true that people are killed driving a car, walking across an intersection, or even playing a sport like football or baseball. Sure, motorcycling is dangerous, especially when compared to driving a car. After all, if a car hits another car, the drivers have a good chance of escaping serious injury because of the safety features of the car and because the driver is surrounded by heavy metal to absorb some of the impact. A motorcycle rider is much more vulnerable and likely to suffer injury if hit by another vehicle.
Knowing how to protect yourself during a motorcycle accident, however, is the key to reducing the severity and devastating impact of your injuries. Of course, it’s important to make sure you have your gear properly fitted and that you follow all of the traffic rules and signals, but this does not necessarily mean you’re guaranteed to avoid an accident.
As both motorcycle riders and personal injury lawyers who specialize in motorcycle accident claims, we understand the love of the ride as well as the risk that comes with it. Motorcycle accidents in particular can be deadly, and those who survive are at an escalated risk with little to no protection against the impact of another vehicle.
When an accident occurs, motorcyclists only have a mere few seconds, if that, to react. It can be difficult to consider these safety precautions in a moment of sheer terror and panic. However, if you can do so, these precautions could not only save your life, but reduce your chances of suffering a devastating, life-changing injury that could completely change your life.
The first thing you should do when you feel a motorcycle accident occurring is apply your brakes. However, you want to avoid applying too much pressure on your breaks at once in a moment of panic or through a knee-jerk reaction to danger.
Instead, use your brakes deliberately. A motorcycle’s front brakes are the most powerful, so lead with the front brakes and apply pressure slowly instead of forcefully at once. If you apply too much pressure off the bat, you could end up locking your brakes, which often leads to motorcyclists being thrown over the handlebars.
After you lead with your front brakes, apply the rear brakes to evenly distribute your weight effectively. This will ensure that the stop is more gradual and balanced instead of a quick force that could send you flying.
Tumbling from a motorcycle at high speeds can drastically increase your chances of a severe injury compared to slowly or gradually coming to a stop. The best way to bring yourself to a stop safety is sliding into your fall.
Sliding, as if you’re sliding into a base in a game of baseball, will help your body drag if you are thrown from the motorcycle. In turn, this helps to slow your speed faster and reduce the amount of friction between your body and the ground. Avoid sliding into a clumsy or disorganized tumble that leaves your limbs vulnerable to the road or the vehicles involved.
When sliding into your fall, it’s important to make sure you avoid using your hands to break your fall. Doing so puts your limbs at an increased risk of serious injury such as road rash or broken bones. While road rash is not often fatal, it can be extremely painful, lead to serious infection, require a skin graft or other reparative surgery, or cause permanent disfigurement.
Many experienced riders opt for the tuck and roll maneuver. This technique is most effective when used in a situation where you feel your motorcycle sliding out from underneath you or if the impact begins and you are still on your bike. When a collision occurs, position yourself into a controlled roll with your appendages tucked in, your elbows slightly bent, and your hands over your head. Curve your head down toward your chest and then roll away in a controlled movement.
During this movement, try to relax your body. It’s natural to tense up during a moment of panic, especially an unexpected accident, but when your body tenses up, it absorbs the full shock of the impact. When your body is relaxed, the impact is absorbed more evenly throughout the body, which in turn places less strain on your muscles. Consider this example: a stick is much more likely to snap than a rope because the stick is stiff, while the rope is more flexible and takes a stronger force to break. Do not reach out to brace for movement!
When you are in a collision, make sure you let go of your motorcycle. Too often we see motorcyclists suffer severe, catastrophic injuries after being crushed underneath their motorcycle. Many motorcycle riders are aware of this potential risk, but still cling to their handlebars during a collision due to shock or fear for their life.
As you are falling, let go and allow the bike to land wherever it is headed, even if it means you’re risking expensive damages or possibly a total destruction of the bike. The cost of replacing your motorcycle is a small price to pay when you consider the severe, permanent, life-changing consequences that can occur when you’re crushed, caught, or tangled underneath the bike. Additionally, the costs associated with a catastrophic injury will undoubtedly skyrocket to much more than you would ever spend to replace or fix your bike. In fact, historical data in Ontario indicates that motorcycle accidents can come with six times the cost compared to automobile accidents.
Accidents can happen in a split second, but on some occasions it’s possible to sense them coming just before they occur. If this happens to you, try to move your motorcycle so you can aim for a spot to soften your fall. If you are near the shoulder of the road, try to determine if you have enough time to aim for a patch of grass. If possible, try to avoid falling onto concrete or any other hard surfaces. If you don’t have the time to do this, you may be able to attempt to avoid other objects in the road that could worsen the impact, such as moving to avoid another car ahead of you.
Again, this is easier to do if it’s an accident for which you have some kind of warning. For example, rear-end collisions are a common type of motorcycle accident in Ontario, and can sometimes be avoided or reduced if you can sense a car driving too close behind you.
Whether you’ve performed a tuck and roll or a slide, make sure you give yourself some time before you attempt to get up. In the moment, it can be easy to lose track of your balance and believe you have stopped sliding when you may still be moving. Getting up while you’re still moving is an easy way to obtain broken bones, torn ligaments, or other serious injuries. In other words, never stand up too quickly.
Try to count to five before you move. When you’re ready, try to begin by crawling away instead of trying to stand up immediately. If you’ve suffered a traumatic brain injury, a spinal cord injury, or any broken bones, scrambling to your feet too quickly could worsen the damage. Additionally, if you get up and walk away too quickly, you may be disoriented when you get to your feet (especially if you have suffered a head injury), which could make you a target for another driver on the road.
Even if you practice all of the safety precautions, you are never completely, one hundred percent guaranteed to walk away scot-free from a high-impact motorcycle accident. If someone else has caused the accident and you are now suffering a life-changing injury, you deserve to seek compensation for your pain, suffering, medical expenses, missed income, and any other costs you may incur.
Matt Lalande is a motorcycle enthusiast himself who works closely with motorcycle accident victims in Hamilton across Ontario. He has been practicing personal injury law since 2003, representing people who have suffered catastrophic injuries and ensuring they get the maximum possible compensation through settlements, litigation, and even in the courtroom.
We understand and sympathize with the devastating circumstances you and your loved ones have been placed in. For this reason, we are dedicated to making sure victims hold negligent parties accountable for their actions in order to receive enough compensation to reduce as much of the financial burden as possible. No amount of financial compensation can make up for the pain and suffering you have experienced, but it can help reduce a significant amount of stress during this difficult time.
If you are ready to file a claim, or want to discuss the options available to you, book a free consultation with our team of Hamilton motorcycle accident lawyers. We will sit down with you, at no cost to you, with helpful guidance and advice. All consultations are free, with no obligation to retain our services, and no fees until you win your case.
Book your consultation now via our online contact form or by calling us at local in the Burlington/Hamilton/Niagara areas 905-333-8888. Otherwise, call us toll-free no matter where you are in Ontario at 1-844-LALANDE (1-844-525-2633).
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