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Illinois Motorcycle Laws That Car and Truck Drivers Must Follow

Gary Annes Lawyer
Motorcycle Accident Lawyer, Gary Annes

Motorcycles are so different from cars and trucks, any trip from point A to point B becomes an exciting journey. A motorcycle’s compartment-free construction gives cyclists an unparalleled driving experience. Bikers feel the wind blowing through their hair. They feel the sun shining on their faces. They connect with nature in ways a car or truck driver can’t imagine. Motorcycles are unique vehicles indeed. For other drivers, that’s a critical fact. Motorcycles are vehicles.

With a few exceptions, Illinois laws treat motorcycles the same as other vehicles on the road. Motorcyclists have the same requirements and responsibilities. They must follow the Rules of the Road, just like car and truck drivers. Motorcyclists also have the same rights.

That’s an important point for all drivers. At some point, every driver who travels Illinois’ roads and highways will share the road with a motorcycle. Because motorcycle riders are so vulnerable to accidents and serious, catastrophic, or fatal injuries, Illinois implemented several laws and guidelines designed to protect them, and a motorcycle accident lawyer can help you understand them.

Motorcycle Accident Causes

In studies on causation for motorcycle accidents involving two or more vehicles, researchers have determined that car or truck drivers cause the accident over half of the time. A National Transportation Safety Board study shares their causation data in its report, Select Risk Factors Associated with Causes of Motorcycle Crashes.

Bureau researchers found these common factors when car and vehicle drivers caused fatal motorcycle crashes.

  • Perception failures: In 56 percent of the accidents studied, car and truck drivers didn’t see the motorcycle before the crash. In some cases, they misinterpreted the motorcycle’s speed, distance or stopping distance.
  • Decision failures: In 33 percent of the accidents, car and truck driver’s made inappropriate navigation decisions often based on failed perceptions or failure to acknowledge a dangerous situation.
  • Failed reaction: Motorcyclists failed to react to dangerous situations in 23 percent of the accidents studied.
  • Comprehension failures: Motorcycles also failed to comprehend dangerous situations in 17 percent of the accidents.

The NTSB study also documented drivers’ pre-accident first events. In fatal accidents involving a car/truck and a motorcycle, the most frequent contributing events were:

  • A car or truck making a left turn in front of a motorcycle, 30 percent
  • A motorcycle falling to the road while attempting to avoid an accident, 28 percent

Laws Other Vehicle Drivers Must Follow to Keep Bikers Safe

Car and truck drivers in Illinois shouldn’t be surprised to learn that they have a duty to treat a motorcycle the same as any other vehicle. As motorcycle visibility is also a problem, the United States Department of Transportation’s Share the Road guidelines also dictate that drivers pay attention enough to notice that they’re sharing the roads and highways with bikers.

The Rules of the Road - Illinois Motorcycle Laws That Car and Truck Drivers Must Follow - Abels & Annes, P.C.Illinois Vehicle Code, 625 ILCS 5/) explains the provisions that are relevant to all drivers. Sec. 1-147 of the statute provides a definition that further defines a motorcycle as a vehicle: “…Motorcycle. Every motor vehicle having a seat or saddle for the use of the rider and designed to travel on not more than 3 wheels in contact with the ground, but excluding an autocycle or tractor…”

Illinois statutes contain laws in traditional legalese, but the publication Illinois Rules of the Road provides easier to understand explanations. The publication explains truck and car drivers’ legal duties and their responsibilities when sharing the road with motorcycle riders.

  • Intersections: All drivers must take proper precautions when navigating an intersection. The guidelines caution Illinois drivers to look out for motorcyclists at intersections, because that’s where 50 percent of all motorcycle accidents occur.
  • Stoplights: Motorcycles have a traffic light exception in cities and municipalities with populations under 2,000,000. This law is important because in-ground devices that control traffic lights sometimes fail to detect a motorcycle’s presence. A motorcycle driver has a legal right to proceed through a red light if the light fails to change from green to red within 120 seconds. The cyclist must first make sure he has the legal right of way.
  • Lane sharing: Just as with other vehicles, cars and trucks should not attempt to share a lane with a motorcycle even if they believe there is room for both vehicles.
  • Passing: When a motorcycle begins passing a car or truck, they must allow the cyclist to complete the maneuver without interference.
  • Following: Drivers must allow “…three to four seconds following distance…” to assure they have time to stop when a motorcycle stops. When pavement conditions are good, motorcyclists require shorter stopping distances than most vehicles. Motorists must also dim their headlights when following motorcycles and any other vehicle.
  • Road conditions:Rules of the Road reflects statutory cautions about weather and road conditions that create hazards for all vehicle drivers. For motorcyclists, adverse conditions enhance existing hazards. Cycles lose control more easily on wet or icy surfaces. They lose traction on gravel and lose control on rough or potholed roadways. High winds and gusts from large trucks push motorcyclists across road surfaces and out of control.

Motorcyclists Are Vulnerable to Injury

The motorcycle features that provide an exciting open-air travel experience also make bikers more vulnerable to injury and death. Unlike other vehicles, cycles have no protective compartments or restraints. When a car or truck makes a bad move, motorcyclists have few injury protections. It takes only a moderate impact to eject a biker from his motorcycle and cause serious, catastrophic, or fatal injuries.

A crash often propels them to the ground, against a pole, or into another hard surface. The impact often causes fractures, internal injuries, abrasions, and muscle sprains and strains. For motorcyclists, there is always a significant chance of sustaining a life-altering condition such as a spinal cord injury or traumatic brain injury.

Do You Need an Attorney if You’re Injured in a Motorcycle Accident?

Motorcycle accidents happen quickly, but the injuries they cause often have long-term consequences. When you’re injured, you may have a right to collect damages from the responsible party, but you shouldn’t go through a legal process alone. Motorcycle accident attorneys work hard to protect their clients’ legal rights and recover damages for their injuries. They deal with insurance companies and help clients understand their legal options.

During a legal consultation, you don’t have to commit to a damage claim or lawsuit. You simply share your story with an attorney, and receive information about your legal options. Any decision to move forward with legal action is up to you.

Abels & Annes, P.C.
100 N LaSalle St #1710
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 924-7575

May Is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

May is the official start of warmer weather nationwide. Warmer weather brings out motorcyclists eager to get back on the roads while waiting for the cold to subside. May is therefore designated Safety Awareness Month to remind not only motorcycle users, but all drivers on the road, to practice safety before anything else.

Why Is Motorcycle Safety Important?

If the proper safety guidelines are not followed, riding a motorcycle can be extremely dangerous. It is very important to be careful to avoid injuries to yourself or others on the road. Reckless driving can result in very serious injuries, and sometimes even fatalities.

Steps Toward Motorcycle Safety

The National Safety Council (NSC) has compiled a list of precautionary measures to take when riding a motorcycle, such as:

  • Learn how to ride a motorcycle properly and practice various times before heading to busy roads.
  • Wear a properly fitted helmet and provide one for any passengers as well.
  • Do not wear loose fitting clothing, as it has a higher risk of getting caught in the motorcycle.
  • Wear proper shoes.
  • Make sure you are physically healthy enough to ride a motorcycle.
  • Do not ride under the influence of alcohol or any other substance.
  • Avoid distractions completely.
  • Avoid using your phone or other devices while driving.
  • Keep checking your surroundings and mirrors.
  • Keep enough distance between the car in front of you and the cars next to you.
  • Do not drive if feeling drowsy or under any prescribed medication.
  • Make sure to take breaks if needed.
  • Make sure to stay hydrated.

Why Is Wearing a Helmet Necessary?

In a motorcycle accident, your head and brain are extremely vulnerable to serious injuries. Almost 75 percent of all fatal crashes involve head injuries. Also, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that wearing helmets saved approximately 1,772 lives in 2015. Wearing a helmet can significantly decrease your chances of a fatal head injury. While Illinois does not have a law requiring helmets for motorcycle drivers or riders, it is important to wear one as a precautionary measure for your own safety.

What Injuries Are Prevented by Wearing a Helmet?

  • Disfigurement
  • Nerve damage
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Brain damage
  • Concussion
  • Skull fracture
  • Broken facial bones

Why Is Staying Hydrated Important?

Staying hydrated is more important for motorcyclists than any other driver. This is mostly because of the direct exposure that motorcyclists face while on the road. They are more exposed to sun, heat, pollution, asphalt, and humidity, among other factors. If a motorcyclist is not properly hydrated, dehydration can have many detrimental effects, including:

  • Seizures
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Impaired vision
  • Loss of motor control
  • Weakness or paralysis
  • Kidney failure
  • Coma
  • Death

Just staying hydrated can prevent these from occurring and ensure you are safe to ride.

Causes of Crashes

Common causes of motorcycle crashes include:

  1. Sharp lane changes can cause crashes when drivers make unpredictable turns or fail to signal motorcycles around them before turning.
  2. When drivers fail to look around them before opening their car doors, they may accidentally open a door in front of an oncoming motorcycle.
  3. Driving above the speed limit can cause the unnecessary risk of accidents. Speeding causes the driver to lose control of the car, and be less likely to prevent an accident from happening. A speeding car also makes accident impacts considerably worse than a car driving under the speed limit.
  4. Drinking and driving can also cause accidents. A driver under the influence is less likely to be able to maneuver the car or even drive in his own lane. Alcohol impairs the ability of the driver to make correct judgments regarding distance and perception.
  5. Stopping unexpectedly can result in a car rear-ending a motorcycle, which has a much shorter stopping distance than a car. It is also always safer to keep as much distance from the car in front of you as possible to avoid rear-ending it as well.
  6. Not knowing how to drive properly can lead to inexperienced and unsafe driving. This could be dangerous for not only the driver, but also a hazard for other motorists on the road.
  7. Drivers that do not follow road signs and signals are also a hazard for motorcycle riders. The signs and signals are in place to implement a system for safe driving and ignoring them can cause chaos.
  8. Other hazards such as debris, potholes, sand, water, gravel, or litter on the road can also jeopardize motorcycle riders’ safety.
  9. Manufacturing defects can also cause crashes as these defects can cause motorcycles to malfunction.
  10. It is also common for motorcycles driving next to another vehicle to disappear in a blind spot. If the driver of another vehicle does not look over his shoulder to check his blind spot, he may not see a motorcycle next to him and change lanes or turn into the motorcycle.

Different Types of Injuries

In addition to possible head injuries that are common to riders not wearing proper helmets, common injuries sustained in a motorcycle crash include:

  • Neck injuries
  • Chest injuries
  • Punctured lungs
  • Broken ribs
  • Dislocated shoulders
  • Broken backs
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Broken or crushed legs

What to Do After an Accident

In the event you or someone you know has been in a motorcycle crash, the first thing to do is always call 911. Be sure to exchange information with the other driver, and note any evidence of the crash. Contacting an attorney from the very start can help you navigate the process. It can also help to have an attorney handle negotiation with the insurance company, while you focus on your physical recovery.

Contact a Chicago Attorney for a Free Consultation

Unfortunately, motorcycle accidents are very common in Chicago. The injuries sustained from these crashes are often serious or even fatal. In many instances, the accident is caused by the negligence of another driver who should be held responsible for the accident victims’ injures and losses. If you or someone you know has been involved in a motorcycle accident, Abels & Annes, P.C., is here to help. We focus on personal injury cases and can help ensure you recover fair compensation for your injuries and losses. Call us today at 312-924-7575 for a free consultation, or send us an email through our online contact form.

How Distracted Drivers Hurt Motorcyclists

In 2015, about 88,000 motorcyclists sustained injuries in crashes, many of which involved a collision with another motor vehicle. Drivers of cars and trucks often crash into motorcyclists because they are not paying adequate attention to the road around them to notice the motorcyclist. Motorcycles are already difficult to see on the road, as they are smaller than most motor vehicles. When a driver adds in an extra distraction, the chances of a collision with a motorcyclist increase even more.

Common Distractions for Chicago Drivers

The following are some common causes of distracted-driving motorcycle accidents:

  • Smartphones – Even though it is unlawful for any driver to use a handheld electronic mobile device in any form in Illinois, many drivers violate this law and continue to read or send text-based messages, search the internet, check social media accounts, or make calls from a handheld cell phone. This can cause visual, manual, and cognitive distractions that can cause a driver to crash into a motorcycle.
  • Passengers – Passengers of all ages can be a distraction to drivers. While it is not realistic to expect drivers not to engage with passengers, they should always do so in a safe manner that allows them to focus on the road. Conversations with passengers in the front seat can be distracting, and tending to children in the back of a vehicle can be severely distracting as a driver must turn around, reach in the back, or repeatedly look in the rearview mirror.
  • Other activities – A driver can engage in many other distracting activities. They include eating, drinking, grooming, putting on makeup, reading, listening to audiobooks, programming a radio or GPS, and many more.

Of course, anything that takes a driver’s eyes or attention away from the road or hands from the wheel can lead them to crash into a motorcycle and cause serious injury.

Learn More about How Our Chicago Motorcycle Accident Lawyers Can Help You

At the law firm of Abels & Annes, P.C., we can help you hold distracted drivers liable for all of your motorcycle accident injuries. Please call our office at 312-924-7575 to discuss how – for free – we can help you today.

Establishing Liability in an Illinois Motorcycle Accident Case

Under Illinois law, when a motorcycle accident is caused by the negligence of another person, the negligent party can be held liable for any losses that occur as a result of the wreck. In many cases, the cause of a motorcycle accident is clear and the at-fault party admits liability. When this is the case, the only issue that needs to be resolved is how much the party that caused the accident will pay the victim.

In some cases, however, liability is contested, which means that the victim will need to prove that the other party’s negligence caused the accident. Very generally speaking, negligence occurs when a person or a party fails to use the degree of care that would ordinarily be used by a reasonable person under similar circumstances. There are many types of negligent conduct that could potentially cause a serious motorcycle accident, including speeding, distracted driving, drunk driving, and poor motorcycle design or manufacture.

Establishing Negligence Often Requires Evidence

If the other party refuses to concede liability, it may be necessary to conduct an investigation and collect evidence that supports your position that the other party’s negligence caused your accident. Examples of the kinds of evidence that may be relevant to a motorcycle wreck case include the following:

  • Vehicle maintenance records
  • Toxicology reports
  • Cell phone records
  • Internal company emails
  • Surveillance footage
  • Eyewitness reports

As a victim, it is important to bear in mind that collecting evidence can be difficult and often requires significant resources. In addition, at-fault parties may not want to turn over documents that they know will help victims meet their burden of proof. Fortunately, when you retain an attorney, he or she will conduct the investigation on your behalf and can use legal mechanisms to compel the production of evidence.

Call Abels & Annes, P.C. Today to Set Up a Free Consultation with a Chicago Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

If you have been hurt in a motorcycle accident, it is important to retain legal counsel as soon as you can. To schedule a free consultation with one of our Chicago motorcycle accident attorneys, call our office today at 312-924-7575 or send us an email via our online contact form.

Older Motorcyclists Are More at Risk for Injuries

Riding a motorcycle is fun for people of all ages. Often, once a person begins the hobby of motorcycle riding, he or she continues to ride for as long as possible, which results in adults of all ages out on the roads with little protection in the event of a crash.

According to reports, younger riders tend to be involved in significantly more accidents than older riders, often because of less careful riding and greater risk-taking. However, the reports indicated that while riders over the age of 60 had fewer crashes, they suffered a higher incidence of serious injuries and hospitalization following a crash. The following are only some reasons cited for the increase in serious injuries for older motorcycle riders:

  • Older motorcyclists might be inexperienced if they picked up riding as a retirement hobby.
  • Older motorcyclists who have been riding for decades may be rusty when it comes to safety skills if they have not taken a refresher safety class.
  • Some older adults experience decreased bone strength or other weaknesses that leave them more vulnerable to traumatic injuries, especially in the head and chest areas.
  • Aging can cause decreased reflexes, lessened ability, difficulty balancing, and vision or hearing problems, all of which can increase the likelihood of a crash.
  • Older adults may have pre-existing health conditions that may be aggravated in a motorcycle accident.

The above are only some of many reasons why older motorcycle riders may be at a greater risk for severe injuries in a crash. The more severe the injuries, the greater the medical expenses and other losses may be.

Because older riders can incur extensive losses as a result of their injuries, it is critical to discuss your legal options with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney as soon as you can following a crash. Our attorneys can identify the best way to seek compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain, and suffering, and more.

Call Abels & Annes to Consult with a Chicago Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

If you have been the victim of a motorcycle accident, you should seek representation from a lawyer who knows how to handle this type of case. Contact the Chicago law firm of Abels & Annes at 312-924-7575 for a free consultation today.

Top 3 Myths about Motorcycle Accidents

There are many misconceptions when it comes to the personal injury process, especially as it relates to motorcycle accidents. The following are three common myths about motorcycle accidents.

1. Single-vehicle crashes are always the fault of the motorcyclist.

When a motorcyclist crashes and no other vehicles are involved, you may assume that the motorcyclist was intoxicated, being reckless, or engaging in some other type of dangerous behavior. This is often not the case, however, as other factors can cause a crash. For example, if a part on the motorcycle is defective and suddenly malfunctions, the motorcyclist may lose his or her ability to brake or steer. In addition, road hazards, such as potholes, can cause a motorcyclist to lose control and crash.

2. You don’t need a lawyer for smaller claims.

Even if someone else was at fault for a motorcycle accident, too many victims do not call an attorney because they believe they can handle a relatively small claim. However, no matter how much your expenses were, you deserve to be fully compensated by the liable party. Without the help of an attorney, an insurance company could try to take advantage of you and offer you less than you deserve. You may also fail to consider certain losses that you did not realize were compensable. It is always wise to discuss your claim with a lawyer, no matter how small you may believe it is.

3. You can’t recover for injuries if you weren’t wearing a helmet.

While motorcycle helmets are important, they certainly do not protect you from all injuries. The fact that you were not wearing a helmet will not stop you from recovering for injuries to other parts of your body. In addition, you can often receive substantial compensation for head injuries even if you were not wearing a helmet. This situation would have to be examined under Illinois law, but it is likely you still could receive a significant recovery.

Discuss Your Injuries with Our Chicago Motorcycle Accident Attorneys

The above myths are only three of many that exist about motorcycle accident claims. To ensure you have all the proper information about your rights and options, please contact the Chicago motorcycle accident lawyers at the law firm of Abels & Annes. Call us today at (312) 924-7575 for a free case evaluation.

What Causes Motorcycle Accidents?

According to reported statistics,1 about 88,000 motorcyclists sustained injuries in accidents and an additional 4,976 motorcyclists did not survive the crash in 2015 alone. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) further reports2 that motorcyclists are approximately 27 times more likely to sustain fatal injuries on the road than people riding in cars or trucks.

Because motorcyclists are at such a high risk of life-threatening injuries, it is important to recognize the common causes of motorcycle accidents to both avoid accidents and to determine liability should a crash occur.

Distracted Driving Leads to Motorcycle Crashes

One of the most common causes of motorcycles accidents is distracted driving. Motorcycles are already more difficult to notice on the roads as they do not take up nearly as much space as cars, trucks, or SUVs. When a driver is looking at their smartphone or otherwise being inattentive, the chances are higher that they will miss seeing a moto>rcyclist and may collide in a turn or lane change. If it is determined that a driver was distracted at the time of the crash, they may be held liable for the losses of the motorcyclist or their family.

Other Negligent Acts that Injure Motorcyclists

  • distracted driving is a primary cause of motorcycle accidents, the following are also common contributing factors:
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Fatigued driving
  • Aggressive driving such as following too closely
  • Speeding
  • Cutting off a motorcyclist when changing lanes
  • Violating traffic signals or signs
  • Violating any other Illinois traffic laws

By providing evidence of driver negligence, a motorcycle accident victim can recover financially for their medical bills, lost income if they missed work, pain and suffering, as well compensation for any permanent disabilities they suffered. Families who tragically lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident may seek financial recovery for the wrongful death.

A Chicago Motorcycle Accident Attorney is Here to Help

Motorcycle accident injuries can be severe and life-changing and it is important to have a legal team on your side that knows how to stand up for your rights. Call our motorcycle accident lawyers at the Chicago law firm of Abels & Annes, P.C. at (312) 924-7575 today.