Have You Been Injured in a Chicago Motorcycle Accident?
Riding a motorcycle is a popular pastime. Even in Illinois, where the winter weather may keep motorcycles in the garage for several months. Since 1999, the number of motorcycles registered in Illinois has gone up by 76%. Currently, there are about 240,000 registered motorcyclists in Illinois. This represents about 4% of all registered vehicles.
With so many motorcyclists on the road, motorcycle accidents have become a fact of life, as our Chicago motorcycle accident injury lawyers recognize. In 2016, there were 3,504 crashes involving motorcycles in Illinois.
Motorcycle Riders are More Vulnerable to Injuries
For obvious reasons, motorcycle riders and their passengers are more vulnerable than the occupants of cars and trucks.
Consequently, when a motorcyclist gets into an accident with a car or with a semi-truck, it is more likely that the motorcyclist is the person who will suffer harm.
Most motorcycle accidents are the result of some type of negligence, meaning that injured motorcycle accident victims are eligible to seek compensation for their damages. However, ensuring that you're adequately compensated for your losses requires the aid of an experienced motorcycle accident attorney.
Motorcycle Accident Injury Statistics in Chicago, IL
Motorcycle statistics help support the above information.
- Motorcycles were in 3,504 out of 324,473 motor vehicle accidents in Illinois in one year (1.1 percent of the total). Further, 154 motorcyclists died, and 2,692 suffered an injury, accounting for 14.3 percent of all motor vehicle accident fatalities and 2.9 percent of all motor vehicle injuries for the year.
- When looking at the United States, about 5,000 motorcyclists die from motor vehicle crashes each year. This makes a motorcyclist 27 times more likely than a passenger car occupant to die in a crash.
- Motorcycle accidents have been increasing in urban areas over the last decade. According to NHTSA, motorcycle deaths have increased 33 percent in urban areas over the past ten years.
- Nine out of 10 people that died on a motorcycle were men. This figure is likely because motorcycle riding is still a predominantly male activity. However, these deaths are still disproportionate, meaning that male deaths are higher than the total population of male riders. While males make up 91 percent of those who die of fatal injuries from a motorcycle accident, they only make up about 81 percent of total motorcycle ridership.
- Contrary to common belief, the weather isn’t a big factor in motorcycle accidents. Only two percent of motorcycle accidents reported the weather as a contributing factor.
- Sixty percent of motorcycle fatalities occur in urban areas like Chicago, likely because of traffic density and hazards created by other drivers.
- More motorcycle accident statistics.
Motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable not only because they lack the protection, but because they are smaller. This disadvantage makes motorcycles more difficult for other motorists to see on the road. It also means that motorcycles and their passengers are more likely to be thrown further in the event of a collision.
Motorcycles are also more vulnerable to a collision because other drivers don't keep a close enough eye out for them. Only 8% of households own a motorcycle, which gives us a rough estimate of how common motorcycles are on US roads. Since motorcycles aren't as common as regular passenger cars, drivers may be less likely to watch out for them.
For example, a motorcycle riding in a driver's blind spot or crossing through an intersection at a 2-way stop may be less likely to be seen by a driver who is only watching for other passenger vehicles.
Because motorcycles are more difficult to spot than other vehicles, motorcyclists must always drive defensively. Bikers can never assume that other drivers can see them, particularly the drivers of vehicles in front of them. Motorcycle accidents often happen when drivers:
- Pull out of a side street, parking lot, or driveway in front of a motorcycle;
- Make an abrupt turn in front of a motorcycle;
- Make a lane change in front of or broadside to a motorcycle; or
- Try to pass another car, and fail to spot the motorcyclist in either the passing lane or the target lane.
In one study, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration discovered that in over three-quarters of all accidents involving a motorcycle and a car, the car was located in front of the bike. Motorcycles were hit from behind in fewer than 10% of accidents.
Further, about 40% of the accidents were caused by a car turning left in front of a motorcycle. In other words, the driver of the car did not see the motorcyclist to the left before he or she began turning.
Our Chicago motorcycle accident lawyers will work diligently to determine what caused your accident and the best way to proceed in your case. Our comprehensive understanding of Illinois motorcycle laws as well as the types of severe injuries that motorcycle accidents cause allows us to understand your unique situation and act accordingly.
Head-on collisions commonly occur when a driver is distracted, driving the wrong way down a one-way street, or when they veer into the oncoming lane. Head-on collisions are extremely dangerous for motorcycle riders for obvious reasons. Being thrown from a bike after being hit directly head-on can cause a rider to be killed instantly. Should they survive, they may likely suffer from injuries like spinal cord damage or brain trauma.
Side collisions are a type of motorcycle accident that most commonly occurs in intersections or while a car is changing lanes. If a driver merges into the next lane without checking their blind spot or crosses through an intersection without noticing a motorcycle, the consequences can be fatal.
Doorings are a rare occurrence for the most part. But in urban areas where people typically parallel park, they are more common. A dooring occurs when a driver that is parked or pulled over opens their door without checking to see if anyone is coming first. When a door is abruptly opened into traffic, it can cause a motorcyclist or bicyclist to crash into the door and be thrown over their handlebars.
Left Turn Accidents
Left-hand turn accidents occur at intersections while the car driver is yielding to turn left and does not see a motorcycle coming straight. These are the types of accidents that can be attributed to the relatively small size of motorcycles and the lack of awareness by drivers to be on the lookout. Motorcycles are much harder to spot than cars and trucks so drivers need to be aware while making left turns.
Lane splitting is the act of riding between two occupied lanes of traffic. It's usually just for a brief period of time at an intersection or in traffic to pass another vehicle. Lane splitting is common during heavy traffic. In some states and counties, lane splitting is a common occurrence. However, lane splitting is illegal in Illinois. So, if a rider causes an accident while lane splitting, they could be held responsible for the accident and any resulting injuries.
Distracted driving is one of the most common problems we face when it comes to traffic accidents and fatalities. When a driver is distracted, anything can go wrong. A distracted driver is more likely to not check their blind spot, to rear-end a motorcyclist, or to turn without fully checking their surroundings.
Drunk driving is a factor in 50% of fatal motorcycle accidents. This is because either the rider was drunk or the car driver was drunk. Either way, drunk driving makes the roads more dangerous for motorcycles and drivers of other types of vehicles.
Road hazards, like potholes, loose gravel, edges between lanes, and ice build-up, can all present much more serious problems for motorcycles than they do for cars. In an average-sized passenger car, a defect in the road might be barely noticeable. But for a biker, seeing and avoiding that hazard can mean the difference between getting home safely or not.
Not Being Seen by Driver
In many cases, accidents can be summed up by the fact that most car drivers just don't see motorcyclists before they collide with them. Whether because of distractions, driving under the influence, or just not paying close enough attention, sometimes just not seeing a rider is all it takes to cause a serious motorcycle accident.
As these facts suggest, motorcyclists injured in accidents are often the victims of negligence. Every negligence claim is made up of four essential elements: a duty, a breach of that duty, an injury caused by the breach, and damages suffered by the plaintiff. Drivers of motor vehicles owe a duty of care to everyone else who uses public thoroughfares. That includes bicyclists, pedestrians, and other drivers—including motorcyclists.
When a driver breaches that duty by being careless, intoxicated, tired, or distracted, and ends up causing an accident that results in injury or even wrongful death to another person, the driver may be held civilly liable to the injured party. He or she can pursue a motorcycle accident claim with the assistance of a motorcycle accident attorney in Chicago.
A motorcyclist injured in an accident may have a claim if he can demonstrate that another driver was at fault. When a motorcycle driver￼ has obeyed all of the traffic laws but is still involved in a crash, chances are that it has been caused by the driver of another vehicle. It could be not seeing the motorcyclist, speeding, being intoxicated, or a combination of the three.
In fact, in Illinois, weather is usually not a factor in motorcycle crashes. Most motorcyclists do not ride when the weather is inclement. Over 90% of motorcycle accidents occur on dry pavement during a clear day.
Our experienced motorcycle accident lawyers can help determine what caused your accident and who may share liability. In many cases, this involves a complex investigation and evidence from various sources, including details from the accident scene, medical records, and outside experts who can help corroborate your claim.
Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries
A motorcycle provides you little protection in an accident. This means your body ends up taking the full force of the impact with another vehicle.
Often, this results in life-threatening and life-altering injuries to motorcycle accident victims. In fact, nearly 5,000 motorcyclists died in accidents in just one recent year.
While motorcycles only make up 3 percent of registered vehicles, motorcycle accidents cause 15 percent of all vehicle accident deaths. Not every motorcycle accident will cause death, but it shows the seriousness of these types of accidents.
Some common injuries are:
- Broken bones: Broken bones are common in motorcycle accidents because of the lack of protection riders have during a collision. Riders can even suffer broken bones from low-speed sideswipe accidents or have several bones severely crushed when they are thrown from their bike.
- Traumatic brain injuries: Even if a motorcyclist is wearing a helmet, they are still at a much higher risk of traumatic brain injury (TBI) than passenger car drivers. TBIs can cause serious emotional, physical, and financial strain that may affect a rider for the rest of their life.
- Road rash: Road rash occurs when a motorcyclist skids across the ground while their skin makes contact with the pavement. This type of injury causes the skin to tear and burn, which is not only incredibly painful but may also require surgery to repair. Road rash can also lead to disfigurement, nerve damage, and chronic pain.
- Spinal cord injuries: Spinal cord injuries are a common result of motorcycle accidents, especially accidents that occur at high speed or involve the rider being thrown from their bike. Spinal cord injuries can cause paralysis or severe pain and can cost people their jobs and hobbies. Because of this, spinal cord injuries are extremely costly.
- Neck and back injuries: Neck and back injuries caused by motorcycle accidents include whiplash, vertebrae fractures, herniated discs, and soft tissue damage. All of these injuries can be extremely painful and expensive to treat.
- Amputation: In the event that a limb is crushed, it may have to be amputated due to the severity of the damage. Obviously, amputations can completely upend people’s lives and leave them with mountains of medical bills, physical pain, and serious emotional trauma.
- Death: Because motorcycle riders are so exposed, they are more likely to die in crashes. In the event of a fatal motorcycle accident caused by another driver’s negligence, a surviving relative can file a lawsuit on their behalf for wrongful death damages.
Motorcycle injuries can cause devastating consequences and require substantial financial resources and time to overcome. That’s not to say that survivors can never return to a normal life, but it may take some time and effort, including physical rehabilitation. An experienced motorcycle accident lawyer can help you recover the compensation needed to pay for those treatments.
Your motorcycle brings you joy. Whether you ride for pleasure, travel to and from work, or both, you deserve a pleasant experience on your motorcycle.
Unfortunately, not all drivers pay close enough attention to other vehicles. This could leave unlucky motorcyclists mending serious injuries.
You deserve a Chicago motorcycle accident lawyer who has your best interests at heart. An advocate who can work to maximize your financial recovery. Let us help you recover from your injuries by aggressively fighting to protect your rights.
Meanwhile, we'd like to share with you the answers to many of the questions we most frequently get from our clients.
What are the odds of getting in a motorcycle accident?
Motorcycle statistics help support the above information.
- Motorcycles were involved in 3,504 out of 324,473 motor vehicle accidents in the State of Illinois in 2016 (1.1% of the total).
- Further, 154 motorcyclists were killed, and 2,692 were injured, accounting for 14.3% of all motor vehicle accident fatalities and 2.9% of all motor vehicle injuries for the year.
What should I do after a motorcycle accident?
If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident, immediately contact the police to make a report if they are involved in an accident. This is especially true if there is an injury or fatality.
If immediate medical help is necessary, render what aid you can, seek assistance, and call emergency medical help. If you are the one who is injured, you should seek immediate medical help. Even if your injury seems minor and you do not need immediate aid, it is a good idea to seek medical care, as some injuries are not immediately apparent.
Further, at the scene, you should collect the contact and insurance information for the other parties. And you also want contact information for independent witnesses, as investigating police officers don't always gather that information.
Contact our experienced motorcycle injury lawyers soon after the accident. We highly recommend that you do this before speaking to any insurance carrier.
Is making a police report important?
Typically, police reports will include basic data such as the identity, contact information, and driver’s license numbers of the parties involved, the names and contact information of witnesses.
A report may also include statements from the parties and witnesses and diagrams and photographs of the accident and its location. You will want to obtain a copy of this report.
As a general rule, providing and documenting accident information immediately is important. And even though you may be tempted to second-guess your own actions when someone has been hurt, it is important to simply state the facts as you know them. Don't speculate on what might have happened had a different course of events unfolded.
For example, if you had driven more slowly, or changed lanes, or flashed your headlights or any of a number of possible scenarios. Not only are these speculations fruitless, but they will confuse the police. Further, this could possibly injure your case if your words are taken out of context.
Serious vehicle accidents are traumatic experiences, and details are more likely to be accurate when an event is fresh. After the trauma recedes, memories can be faulty, and people may also tend to be more guarded.
For example, at the time of the accident, a negligent driver is more likely to make an admission such as stating he or she never saw your motorcycle. But later the motorist may change his or her story to paint themselves in a less damaging light.
How long after my accident can I file a claim?
In Illinois, the statute of limitations to file a personal injury claim is two years in most cases. This time starts running upon the date of your accident, so if you suffer serious injuries, that two-year time span can run very quickly.
If you do not file your claim in time, your case will be barred. You would miss out on collecting compensation for your injuries.
A skilled and experienced Chicago motorcycle accident lawyer will ensure you meet all the timelines required. So do not delay seeking needed medical treatment or legal advice.
To prevail in a legal case, you will need to collect and preserve evidence, and that means promptly visiting a doctor if needed, and calling a motorcycle lawyer.
How do I pay my bills when I'm out of work?
Estimates range on the total cost it takes motorcycle accident injury victims to recover. Depending on the severity of your injuries, your medical bills, lost wages and total damages could range between $2,500 and $1.4 million, per the Government Accountability Office.
That range is enormous, so let’s evaluate what costs might make that number go up. These include:
- Amount of time you spend in the hospital
- Number of surgeries required
- Time spent in a rehabilitation facility
- In-home care requirements
- Lost wages
- Lost earning potential if you cannot fully return to work
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Home renovation costs
Your motorcycle accident lawyer can help guide you when it comes to unpaid medical bills. Make sure your bills are sent to your health insurance for payment. Further, your attorney can request that a medical provider file a lien and wait until the time of settlement for payment.
Should I take a quick settlement?
No, at least not until you speak with our Chicago motorcycle accident injury lawyers. When the defendant's insurance company offers you a quick settlement, that usually means they know your case is worth much more and they are trying to get out of the situation before you get a lawyer.
Unfortunately, when you sign for a lowball settlement offer, you typically waive your right to bring any future claims against the insurance company for your motorcycle accident. And you soon might realize that the settlement funds are not enough to cover your expenses until it’s too late.
The best way to avoid this scenario is to work with a trusted Chicago motorcycle accident attorney. Your lawyer can help you understand what your claim is worth and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf.
We work hard to try to maximize your financial recovery.
Will my case settle out of court?
In many cases, yes. Most personal injury cases, including motorcycle accident claims, settle out of court. But just because your case might settle does not mean you should avoid working with a lawyer.
The right lawyer can maximize your financial recovery, getting you more compensation than you would have if attempted alone.
You also want a lawyer at your side if your case goes to court. Some insurance companies refuse to negotiate reasonably. When that happens, you may have to take your case to trial.
While we want to avoid this, as it causes delays in returning to your regular life, it’s sometimes vital to make sure you get the compensation you deserve. When a trial is the only way to do that, you want an injury lawyer with the experience and resources necessary to handle a trial.
A trial may require expert witnesses, depositions, document reviews, insurance company negotiations, and of course, the trial.
We have years of experience taking personal injury claims to trial to hold the negligent parties liable for our clients’ injuries and working tirelessly to get them the compensation they need to make a full and complete recovery.
After your accident, in addition to speaking with the police and obtaining any necessary medical attention, you should contact a qualified and knowledgeable personal injury attorney with experience handling motorcycle accidents. Serving victims throughout the Chicago area, the motorcycle crash lawyers at Abels & Annes can help you.
Too often, accident victims believe that an insurance carrier—either their own or the other driver's—will adequately compensate them for any injuries they have suffered. Unfortunately, many insurance companies are reluctant to pay, even when liability and damages are clear. This is particularly true when the damages are substantial.
Even when an insurer seems responsible, be wary. Many adjusters will try to settle claims quickly. They will urge you to sign an agreement that will allow them to close the case—and thereby limit their exposure.
Even if the offer seems sufficient or even generous, it is important to make sure your rights are protected. Speak to a lawyer and make sure you understand the consequences of the agreement.
The fact is, not all injuries are readily apparent. And for some serious injuries, even if you anticipate a full recovery, you cannot be certain that the full recovery you hope for will materialize.
In those cases, signing a release of claims too soon can limit your settlement to an amount that is substantially less than what you need or what you legally have a right to recover. Serious injuries may include:
- Spine damage;
- Multiple broken bones;
- Extreme bruising and/or “road rash”;
- Traumatic head injuries.
And, of course, some motorcycle accidents are fatal. If someone you love has been killed in a motorcycle accident, contact an attorney to determine whether there's a wrongful death action to pursue against a negligent driver.
Call Abels & Annes For a Free Case Evaluation
The motorcycle accident lawyers at Abels & Annes frequently represent motorcyclists and their passengers who are injured in accidents, or the loved ones of motorcyclists and passengers who have been killed by negligent drivers. If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident, or if a loved one has been killed in a motorcycle accident in Chicago, Cook County, or elsewhere in Illinois, consult with the Chicago motorcycle accident attorneys at Abels & Annes.