motorcycle accident compensation

Motorcycle Accident Compensation: Legal Fault For Typical Collisions Involving Motorbikes

In our motorcycle accident compensation article – we look at why motorbike accidents are so common; how your solicitor can prove legal fault for your injuries; we describe the most common road accident scenarios involving motorbikes (emphasis on the types of manoeuvres motorcyclist often make) – with an explanation of how to decide who is at fault for each.

Later we look at how motorcyclist compensation can be reduced – even when you prove another driver was at fault. We look at the implications of a 50:50 split liability claim.

Finally – we conclude with an explanation of and access to our specialist solicitor free telephone and online legal help.

Why do motorbike accident claims happen so often?

If you ride a motorcycle you will know of the extra dangers you face and extra precautions you must take on the roads to ensure your own safety.

Motorcycles are small, powerful vehicles – providing little protection in the event of a collision. Although this combination allows you to be fast and able to perform manoeuvres other vehicles cannot – it also reduces your visibility on the road and allows you to turn up unexpectedly with a higher risk of injury should an accident happen.

Car drivers and other road users simply say, “I never saw the bike” – this is the reason that motorbike accident claims happen so often in the UK.

How do you establish who is responsible for a motorbike accident?

The process for establishing who is at fault for a road traffic accident – whether involving a motorbike, a car, a pedestrian or any other road user is largely the same.

You should consider:

Common sense

Most of us are road users and will know when a driving error or error of judgment has occurred – which seems common sense. However, many motorbike accidents can be far more complicated that other road traffic accidents so it might not be quite so obvious who is at fault without further investigative steps being taken.

The Highway Code

What exactly does the Highway Code say about the manoeuvres that were being performed which caused the accident? You might be surprised about what your duties are when you encounter certain situations on a road.

The majority of the Highway Code applies to all road users, but Rule 83 – 88 apply specifically to motorcycles.

We shall point out the relevant Rules as we discuss legal liability for specific types of motorcycle accident.

Watch out – there are some specific parts of the Highway Code that give enhanced duties in respect of vulnerable road users, such as motorcyclists and pedestrians

Evidence to show what happened

Motorcycle accidents happen unexpectedly, so you may not know exactly how your collision occurred.

See our evidence to show how your road accident happened article – we explain the evidence you can use to show what exactly happened to cause your RTA.

Who is responsible for a collision whilst a car is turning from a side road?

Car drivers will often rely on a vehicle turning left as a safe opportunity to set off from a side road to turn left or right onto a main road. If however a motorcyclist is overtaking the turning vehicle – all too often a car driver will not see the bike until it is too late and a collision will occur.

In this type of collision – case law has shown that fault generally lies with the car driver. The motorcyclist was performing a legitimate manoeuvre and a car driver should properly have waited until he could see a distance down the road to ensure it was safe to turn.

This type of collision is more common when a turning vehicle is a large one such as a bus or lorry as it obscures the driver’s view of the road behind the vehicle. In such occasions, a car driver should wait until the vehicle has completed its turn or until the car driver can see beyond the turning vehicle to ensure other road users, including motorbikes, are not overtaking.

Who is at fault when motorcyclists overtake stationary vehicles?

Who is at fault for a collision when a motorcyclist is filtering depends on the type of accident that occurs and how the motorbike is passing stationary traffic.

When is a motorcyclist classed as filtering?

When a motorcyclist is overtaking stationary vehicles on the outside or offside – it is known as “filtering”.

Is filtering allowed by the Highway Code?

Filtering is permitted by Rule 88 of the Highway Code, so long as care is taken and speed is kept low .

Be careful – the motorcyclist must anticipate pedestrians crossing amongst the traffic, cars changing lanes and vehicles emerging from side roads.

Fault for typical types of collision when a motorcyclist is filtering

Generally speaking 4 types of collision occur when a motorcycle is filtering:

Pedestrians crossing amongst the traffic

If a pedestrian is hit – it is likely to be the motorcyclist who is at fault and liable to pay the pedestrian compensation.

Car emerging from a side road

This is more of a difficult situation – it will depend on the speed of the bike and of the car and the manoeuvre that is performed.

If the car turned into the bike as it was passing – the car driver will likely be at fault for the motorcycle accident compensation.

If the car pulled in front of the bike and the bike hit the car – if the bike was going at speed the bike will be at fault and if not it is likely that both the bike and the car will be partly responsible.

Be aware – the determination of legal fault whilst a motorcyclist is filtering is very different than when the bike is overtaking in normal circumstances.

Car changing lanes

This will depend exactly how the collision occurred – it is quite likely commonsense will prevail as to who will be considered at fault.

Other vehicle performing a U-turn

If a collision occurs when a bike is passing stationary traffic and a car or other vehicle does a U-turn causing a collision – it is likely that the car driver will be held responsible to pay motorcycle accident compensation.

Who is at fault when motorcyclists are undertaking vehicles?

Motorcyclist on the nearside of traffic

A motorcyclist who is on the nearside of traffic (the side of the road closest to the kerb) is only permitted to pass vehicles in very limited situations – such as, when traffic is moving slowly or the motorcycle is turning left.

Occasions when undertaking permitted

If a collision occurs whilst a bike is undertaking when it is allowed to do so – the decision of who is at fault is similar to that described earlier for filtering.

Undertaking not permitted

If however the accident occurs when a bike is not permitted to undertake – it is likely that the bike will hold the majority of the responsibility for the collision.

When can your compensation be reduced even if you win your claim?

Even if you can show that the other driver was at error – ask yourself: did your actions in someway contribute to the RTA or the severity of your injuries?

If the answer is,”Yes” – you may have contributed to the accident and the amount of compensation your are entitled to in your motorbike accident claim could be reduced by a certain percentage.

Contributory negligence

Contributory negligence describes the ways you have made an error that has either partly caused an accident or made the injuries that you would have suffered in the road accident more severe, some examples include:

Failure to wear a crash helmet

Rule 83 of the Highway Code requires motorcyclists and pillion passengers to wear a crash helmet and ensure it is fastened correctly.

Rule 83 exempts Sikh’s who are wearing a turban from having to use a crash helmet.

If you are not wearing a helmet when a collision occurs the amount of motorcycle accident compensation you are entitled to will likely be reduced especially if you suffered a head injury.

Failure to wear other protective clothing

Rule 84 of the Highway Code describes the other types of protective clothing it is advisable to wear.

Injuries made worse by failing to wear such protective clothing will likely lead to a reduction in the accident compensation you will receive.


If you are speeding when a collision occurs – you are likely to have your motorcycle accident compensation reduced. The more you are speeding the higher the reduction

motorbike speeding accident claim
Motorbike Speeding Accident Claim
Failure to wear visible clothing in the day and reflective clothing at night

A motorcyclist must try to make themselves as visible as possible – Rule 86 Highway code gives examples of suitable clothing to be worn for riding in day and Rule 87 Highway Code gives a description of suitable reflective clothing that must be worn at night.

Wearing the correct clothing will make your more visible on the road and could prevent you being missed by other road users.

Pillion passengers

Rule 85 of the Highway Code does not allow more than one pillion passenger to be carried at one time on a motor bike and any pillion passenger must sit astride the machine on a proper seat, facing forward with both feet on the footrests.

If these rules are not followed the motorcycle accident compensation for pillion passengers could be reduced.

Can a motorcyclist and another vehicle driver be at fault for a motorbike accident?

“Yes” – it is possible your motorcycle accident claim could settle on a 50:50 basis.

50:50 liability settlements

The 50:50 is a very unusual scenario in law in which both you and the other road user are considered equally at fault for your accident.

In a 50:50 settlement – you can claim from the other driver and the other driver can claim from you. However, each party is only entitled to 50% of the amount of compensation claimed.

You might say that both parties have lost or both parties have won. Of course, your liability will be paid by your motor insurer.

Be aware – this is very different than the contributory negligence scenario explained earlier. When contributory negligence is found – the other road user is considered by law to be responsible for your accident or technically to have “prime liability”. You are only seen to have contributed to the level of your own injuries.

For example, a reduction in compensation can take place for you not wearing a crash helmet. Here you can claim compensation (albeit a reduced amount) from the other road user, but as the other driver is considered by law to be responsible for causing your motorcycle accident that driver is not entitled to any compensation at all.


This article has set out how to show legal fault for a motorcycle accident and who is likely to be liable for typical types of collisions involving bikes.

When a motorbike accident has occurred – your injuries can be quite severe, so it is very important to contact a specialist motorbike accident claims solicitor to ensure you win your claim and receive the maximum amount of compensation you are entitled to claim.

See our free online and telephone legal help options – you can call our solicitors direct to discuss your accident, arrange a callback and have your online questions answered.