Enjoy dirt biking? Know your rights

Riding a dirt bike is an exhilarating experience. Heading off-road to ride across acres of land, bouncing over hills and coming home covered in dirt is all part of the fun. But if you’re injured while riding an uninsured bike, you could be left facing a hefty bill.

If you have a dirt bike accident, you’ll want to know whether you’re entitled to the insurance benefits from your state’s relevant transport authority.

No-fault insurance schemes

Following the Queensland Government’s introduction of a statewide no-fault insurance scheme in 2016, people in all Australian states and territories now have access to compensation following a motor vehicle accident, no matter who is at fault. However, eligibility and the amount of compensation you may be entitled to varies from state to state, and can depend on factors such as whether you were partially at fault, and the severity of your injuries.

Your claim may also be affected by what type of land your accident occurred on, whether you have a licence and whether the vehicle you were riding was registered at the time of the motorcycle accident.

In this article we cover some key points on how the compensation scheme works for dirt bike riding in Victoria. Laws vary from state to state, so it’s crucial you know the laws of the state in which you’re riding, and the state in which your bike is registered.

Dirt bikes in Victoria

If you are injured in any kind of motor vehicle accident (motorbike accident, car accident, bus accident, or train accident) you are generally entitled to ‘no fault’ benefits from the TAC including payment of medical expenses, income support and a lump sum impairment benefit. Common law damages can also be pursued in some circumstances. The good news is that the entitlements are exactly the same for off road dirt bike riding in most instances, but there are some important points to be aware of, to avoid being left without cover.

Does your bike need to be registered when riding on private property?

Compensation for injuries is not payable by the TAC where an accident involves an unregistered vehicle on private land.

Private land is defined as any privately owned land that is not a highway, and on which the public may not ride without permission.

The interpretation of that definition isn’t always simple. In one instance, a rider was injured while riding on fenced-off private property. In this situation, the courts still considered this property to be a highway, on the basis that the land was regularly used by riders as an unofficial riding track

Generally speaking though, if you’re injured on land which is privately owned and you’re riding an unregistered bike you’re not covered.

That’s why, even when riding on private property, you shouldn’t ride an unregistered bike!

If you own the bike on which you’re injured on private land and registration hasn’t been paid for at least 12 months, then you’re not covered. If you don’t own the bike you are excluded from cover if the bike has never been registered.

The next time you go for a ride on a mate’s property, double-check to ensure the bike’s registration is up to date Remember, recreational registration can suffice, depending where you ride.

Off-road

In Victoria, it is not legal to ride off-road – for example in State forests and reserves - without your licence and at least recreational registration.

Other than the potential for cheaper recreational registration for off-road riding, registration, licencing and compensation entitlements are the same whether you are riding on or off road.

If your bike doesn’t have current registration, or if your motorcycle riding licence has not been renewed for at least three years, you’ll be covered by the TAC scheme, including the cost of medical treatment, but you won’t be able to claim income support payments within 18 months of the accident.

Did your accident happen interstate?

If you’re injured dirt bike riding interstate on a Victorian registered bike, you are still covered by the TAC no fault scheme. Common law (fault based claim) rights will be subject to the laws of the State or territory where the accident occurred.

Dirt bike racing

Riders injured in a speed trial, race or race testing are excluded from the TAC compensation system.

Summary

As can be seen from the key points above which apply to Victoria, some of the regulation can be complex.

The key take out is the obvious – always ride a registered and insured bike. If you have any questions about the rules in your state, and specific to your situation, you can speak to one of our lawyers.

Even if an accident does not give rise to no fault benefits under the compensation scheme of the relevant state/territory, there still may be common law rights where an accident has been caused by the fault of another person.

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Lloyd Toffolon

Maurice Blackburn Ringwood
Lloyd Toffolon is a personal injury compensation lawyer in Maurice Blackburn’s Ringwood office. Lloyd has a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws from Deakin University. He joined Maurice Blackburn in 2014. Lloyd helps people injured on the roads and at work with WorkCover, TAC ...

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