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23 October 2022 | Comment | Article by Mark Robinson

What percentage of motorcycle accidents are the rider’s fault?

Motorcycle riders have higher rates of accidents and injuries per mile travelled than any other group of road users. Even as fatalities have decreased by more than 50% since 2004, and serious injuries by 48%, there are still a shocking number of motorcycle accidents occurring on UK roads. From 2015 to 2020, an average of six motorcycle riders died per week, and 115 were seriously injured, according to statistics from the UK government.

The lack of protective features on a motorbike compared to a car accounts for the serious nature of many motorcycle accident injuries, but if we are to address the problem at its source, we need to examine the causes of motorcycle accidents. Given the high levels of accidents involving motorcycles and injuries sustained by motorcycle riders, this may raise the question: how much of this is due to rider error, and how much is due to the behaviour of other drivers, road conditions and other factors? Here, the experts in motorcycle injuries at Hugh James will answer the question: what percentage of motorcycle accidents are the rider’s fault?

What are the common causes of motorcycle accidents?

According to research from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), there are several situations that might lead to a motorcycle crash. These include motorcycle riders overtaking more frequently than other vehicles and making passing manoeuvres, as well as the risk of riders losing control when taking sharp bends. With these common factors at play, it might be easy to conclude that the motorcycle rider is commonly the at-fault party.

However, an in-depth study investigating accidents cited in the RoSPA report shows that a motorcyclist was found fully or partly to blame for less than 20% of the accidents studied.

Overall, other road users are to blame for most motorcycle accidents, although the exact percentage depends on the type of accident. For example, a study that examined filtering accidents – where a rider passes between slow-moving vehicles or stationary traffic – found that the other vehicle was twice as likely to be fully or partly to blame for the incident.

What are the most common types of motorcycle accidents?

The data analysed by RoSPA shows that more than 50% of motorcycle accidents occur at a junction, making this by far the most common type of incident. The scenario that was reported most often is one in which a vehicle pulls out of a T-junction into the path of an oncoming motorcyclist, which in almost all cases is considered to be the fault of the driver turning as opposed to the motorcycle rider.

In fact, in almost all types of motorcycle accident at junctions, the other road user is at fault. One of the only situations in which the person riding a motorcycle was more likely to be at fault was a ‘shunt’, in which one vehicle hits another from behind. This is more common with young or inexperienced riders, or in situations where the motorcycle is too big for the rider.

Other common types of accidents include:

  • Front-end collisions: these often occur when a car pulls out in front of a motorcycle, and can result in severe injuries or fatalities.
  • Left-turn accidents: when a vehicle makes a left turn in front of an oncoming motorcycle, there is a high risk of a collision.
  • Overtaking accidents: when a motorcycle or another vehicle is attempting to overtake, there are a number of accidents that can occur. For example, a driver may not spot a motorcyclist, or fail to account for the fact that there is space for a motorcycle to overtake where a car or larger vehicle could not.
  • Obstacle-related accidents: these occur when a motorcyclist encounters an obstacle (such as debris, potholes, or even an animal on the road) and loses control.
  • Accidents involving stationary objects: related to obstacle accidents, these involve a motorcyclist colliding with a stationary object like a parked car, tree or barrier. These accidents can be particularly severe if motorcycle riders are travelling at high speed.
  • Dooring accidents: this refers to a situation in which the driver or passenger of a parked car opens their door into the path of an oncoming motorcyclist.

In addition to these incidents, RoSPA’s data shows that 20% of all motorcycle accidents are caused by the rider simply losing control. These accidents involve only the motorcycle and no other vehicles, and may be caused by mistakes when taking a bend, or a driver impairment such as drugs or alcohol. As such, this is among the only types of motorcycle accident in which the rider is most commonly to blame – although other factors like poor road conditions might be a factor.

What should you do if you are involved in a motorcycle accident?

If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident that was caused by someone else, you may be entitled to compensation. It’s important to speak to an experienced lawyer with expertise in motorcycle accidents and personal injury law, as they will be able to discuss your circumstances and let you know whether or not you can make a claim.

Compensation can be vital, no matter whether you have suffered only minor or much more severe injuries. It can make your recovery more comfortable, cover the costs of repairs to your motorcycle, and pay for anything you need to accommodate your injury. As an injured rider, it is important to make a claim not only for the compensation you are owed, but to ensure the person responsible for your accident is held to account.

If you want to make a claim, there are several actions you should take. Seek medical attention as soon as you can following your accident. This is vital, because you may have injuries that require treatment, but that are not immediately apparent. For example, some head injuries (such as concussions) can take time to develop but can be extremely serious. A doctor will be able to diagnose these conditions and provide treatment. Your medical records will also serve as evidence for your claim.

If you can, you should collect the contact details of any eyewitnesses to your accident. Take photographs of the accident scene and any factors that might have contributed to the incident. Once you have any evidence you are able to gather (or before, if you need support with this step), get in touch with an expert motorcycle accident lawyer from Hugh James. Our team has a wealth of experience in this area and can guide you through the process of pursuing the compensation you are owed.

To talk about your experience and who was at fault, or to start the process of making a compensation claim, call us today on 0800 027 2557 or use our online enquiry form to get in touch.


Author bio

Mark Robinson


Mark Robinson is a Partner in the Serious Injury Department in Manchester and specialises in motorcycle accident claims of the utmost severity and complexity. He understands that motorcyclists remain one of the most vulnerable road users and the effects of an accident are a genuine concern for the motorcyclist and their loved ones. Mark has assisted clients with life changing injuries including brain and spinal injuries, severe orthopaedic injuries and amputations.

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.


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