Abels & Annes, P.C. helps the injured victims of motorcycle accidents to recover damages from drivers who cause accidents through their negligent, reckless, or intentional behavior.
When a motorcyclist is involved in an accident with a passenger car or truck, it is almost inevitable that the motorcyclist will suffer the brunt of the injuries. Although experienced motorcyclists can often avoid accidents by driving defensively, being aware of their surroundings, observing traffic, and maneuvering quickly, unfortunately not all accidents can be avoided by even the most skillful riders.
Motorcyclists can also be injured in single-vehicle accidents, which can occur when roads are icy or covered with gravel, or when motorcycle components such as brakes fail. And when an accident happens, even the best helmets and protective gear offer limited protection if the motorcyclist has an impact with another vehicle, the road, a curb, or objects such as lampposts, signposts, fences, walls, or trees. Statistics from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration show that 80% of all motorcycle accidents result in injury or death.
Common Injuries Suffered by Motorcyclists in Accidents
According to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control, from 2001 to 2008 there were over 34,000 motorcycle fatalities on America’s roads—or over 4,200 per year. In that same period, over 1.2 million motorcyclists were treated in emergency rooms for injuries. Of those injuries, 30% were to legs or feet, 22% were to the head, 20% were to some part of the upper trunk, and 18% were to arms or hands. According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, in the state of Illinois alone there were 3,756 motor vehicle accidents involving motorcycles in 2011. In these accidents, 145 motorcyclists (4%) were killed, and 3,020 (80%) were injured.
Because motorcycles depend upon their riders to keep them upright, the inevitable outcome in most motorcycle accidents is that motorcycles and their riders both go down. Consequently, the most common injury that riders suffer, although occasionally only superficial, is “road rash”—that is, lacerations, scrapes, and contusions from hitting and sliding on pavement. Road rash can be mild or severe depending upon the protective gear worn by the riders, the road surface, and length of the slide. Yet even road rash that does not penetrate the outer layers of skin can be extremely painful, lead to permanent scarring, and result in many weeks of treatment or even hospital care.
If a rider is not fortunate enough to escape with only road rash, chances are that he or she will suffer some type of bone fracture.
When riders go down on a motorcycle, it can be the motorcycle itself that makes the initial impact, particularly in head-on collisions or when a cyclist has to “low side”—that is, lay his bike down—to avoid an even more severe impact in an impending collision. Most sportbikes weigh from 400 to 600 pounds, and cruising bikes weigh even more—usually from 600 to 800 pounds. When an accident happens, these bikes can land on the rider, jam him or her in the pelvis (particularly when the motorcycle hits another obstacle), or twist arms, hands, or fingers away from the handlebars and brake levers. Broken legs—which are often the result of a motorcycle crushing its rider—are the most common type of fracture injury seen by emergency room physicians after a motorcycle accident, but riders can also suffer from broken pelvises, shoulders, arms, wrists, hands, and fingers.
Unfortunately, head injuries are also relatively common. And in Illinois, where helmets are not required, head injury accidents can be severe, or even fatal. Sadly, riders involved in otherwise relatively minor “road rash” types of accidents will often suffer severe or disfiguring facial injuries when they are not wearing a good helmet that protects the face as well as the head, and many head-impact injuries can knock out teeth or break jaws. Helmets protect riders in any accident involving head impacts, because the helmet will always take the initial brunt of the impact, rather than the bare skull, skin, and facial organs. It is estimated that helmets can reduce the risk of death in a motorcycle accident by about one third.
Nonetheless, even riders with top-of-the-line helmets can suffer severe head injuries from hitting objects such as other vehicles. Concussions are not uncommon, and head injuries to motorcyclists remain the single leading cause of death in motorcycle accidents that result in death.
Further, even where helmets are worn, when a rider’s head is jammed, he can suffer brain or spinal trauma. These types of impacts can be fatal, or they can lead to permanent injuries such as brain damage or paralysis. These are among the most serious types of motorcycle injuries, and they can make it impossible for accident victims to ever live independently again.
Legal Options for Motorcyclists Injured Due to the Negligence of Others
The Chicago personal injury attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C., have extensive experience representing motorcyclists and their passengers who have been injured in accidents. If you have been harmed in a motorcycle accident, or if a loved one has been killed in a motorcycle accident in Chicago, Cook County, or any of the surrounding communities by a driver who should have taken proper care, call the Illinois motorcycle accident attorneys at Abels & Annes for a free, no-obligation consultation. You may use our toll-free number (855) LAW-CHICAGO, or call us locally at (312) 924-7575. Alternatively, you may contact us online. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to take your call.