Top Five Tips for Safe Motorcycle Riding in Chicago
Motorcycles are popular across the nation, and Illinois is no exception. Though they are not common in the winter months, once spring hits motorcyclists can be seen throughout the Chicago area.
Biking is a pastime for some and a passion for others who live to ride. Regardless of how many miles you ride, the safety concerns that face any motorcyclist are the same.
Decades representing bikers injured by the negligence of others has helped the Chicago motorcycle accident lawyers create the following Top Five Tips for Safe Biking in Chicago:
1. Before You Ride, Become Familiar with Your Bike
Like cars, each motorcycle is a little different than other bikes. This means that the dials may be arranged differently or features might be in slightly different locations. For this reason, it is crucial that you are familiar with a motorcycle before you ride.
Take time to read the owner’s manual or ask an expert about the features of your bike. Dealerships, online forums, and other bikers can be knowledgeable sources of information that may prove helpful.
Most importantly, make sure you are familiar with all of the safety features before your first ride, including how each feature functions. This knowledge may prevent a collision from happening and prevent severe injuries.
2. Always Wear a Helmet and other Safety Gear
Studies repeatedly show that wearing a helmet while riding on a motorcycle saves lives. While adult riders are not required to wear a helmet in Illinois, it is still important to wear one. They protect your head and face in the event of a collision.
All helmets are not treated the same and it is critically important that you wear a helmet that meets minimum safety standards. Some helmets are just decorative and do not provide significant protection in the event of a crash. While others are specifically designed to protect the head and prevent injuries.
When shopping for a helmet, make sure you read all of the information provided and ask a sales representative for advice. A helmet should fit snugly on your head and rest far enough above your eyes to provide you with an unobstructed line of sight. Adjust the chin strap for a tight fit every time before you ride.
A helmet is the most important piece of safety equipment a biker can wear because most motorcycle deaths are from head injuries. However, thousands of other bikers are injured in crashes each year. They suffer from broken bones, road rash, and internal injuries.
To prevent these injuries, bikers should wear protective clothing designed to withstand impact with the road, like leather jackets. It is also a good idea to wear bright, reflective colors to make yourself as visible as possible to other motorists on the road.
3. Obey Chicago Traffic Laws and Don’t Drink and Drive
Bikers have the same rights and responsibilities as any other motorist on the road. This means that bikers must obey all traffic laws and signals, including speed limits, stop signs, and other rules of the road.
Motorcycles can weave in and out of traffic and drive in lanes other motorists would be unable to navigate. However, bikers still must follow the rules that apply to cars.
Therefore, you may be riding illegally by some actions, like passing on the right or moving between lanes of stopped traffic. Since motorcycle injuries are often severe or fatal, riders should always have safety as their primary concern. They should not jeopardize their health by driving in a hazardous manner.
This certainly means that motorcyclists should never drink and drive. Bikers make up a disproportionately large percentage of drunk drivers that are stopped and arrested every year.
Motorcycle drunk driving slows down an operator’s response time and makes critical decision making difficult to impossible. It leads to an increase in crashes and injuries.
The best way to avoid this is to never ride after drinking. It is always better to call a cab, get a ride from a friend, or even walk after drinking.
4. Consider a Tune-Up for Your Motorcycle
Most bikers choose not to ride in the winter months because snow and ice can be very dangerous and also very destructive to a motorcycle. This means that most Illinois motorcyclists store their bikes for winter and take their bikes out of storage to ride in nicer weather.
It is a good idea to tune up your motorcycle before riding each year if you store it. Some bikers like to take these maintenance steps themselves while others prefer to have a professional work on their bike.
There are thousands of shops across the state that offer basic tune up packages for bikers. It will have your motorcycle running smoother and longer, stretching the useful life of the bike in many cases. Routine maintenance can also detect potential safety concerns which a mechanic can address and fix before a crash ever occurs.
5. Take a Motorcycle Safety Course
Many states require motorcyclists to pass a safety course before obtaining a certification on their license to operate a motorcycle. Even if you ride in states without this requirement, it is still a good idea to take a motorcycle safety course. Do it before you begin riding or even as a refresher after riding for some time.
Motorcycle safety courses are widely available and some are even broadcast online. The courses often teach basic skills to new riders, as well as defensive riding skills and tips.
Some insurance policies provide discounts for motorcyclists who have successfully completed an approved safety course. So, in addition to increased safety while riding, you may receive a significant financial benefit on your monthly insurance bill. Contact a motorcycle safety group in your area or your insurance company to find out more information.
What Causes Motorcycle Accidents?
Even if you’re riding as safely as possible, unfortunately accidents still happen since you can’t control how other drivers on the road are behaving.
Motorcycle accidents are often caused because a motor vehicle driver simply isn’t paying attention or doesn’t see the motorcyclist at all.
Some common ways that cars or trucks cause Chicago motorcycle accidents include:
- The other vehicle changes lanes carelessly, for example not checking their blindspot or not using their turn signal before switching lanes.
- They open their car door while parked on the side of the road without checking to see if a motorcyclist is coming.
- A car is driving too fast and can’t slow down fast enough to avoid an accident.
- The motor vehicle driver is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- A car or truck stops suddenly or is following a motorcycle too closely.
- The driver is inexperienced and makes a rookie mistake.
- A driver is careless or inattentive when making a left turn.
- The driver doesn’t adjust their driving to accommodate dangerous or hazardous road conditions.
- The driver looks both ways before pulling out but doesn’t look closely enough to be able to see a motorcycle rider.
All of these ways that a driver can cause a motorcycle accident are also the ways in which they end up injuring or killing innocent motorcyclists. Below are some of the most common injuries that result from a motorcycle accident.
Common Injuries from Motorcycle Accidents
A motorcycle accident injury is often more severe than a car accident injury simply because of the lack of protection a motorcyclist has when compared to a car. While a rider does have a helmet and maybe some protective clothing, they are generally unprotected.
A motorcycle accident can cause the rider to slide across the pavement, causing serious injuries to their exposed skin or by penetrating their clothes. Road rash scrapes away layers of skin and can even destroy tissue all the way down to tendons and muscle. Debris from the road can also get lodged into the skin. Road rash can cause injuries that range from minor to severe, with the most severe of injuries requiring skin grafts to repair.
There are many different types of disfigurement, such as scarring, facial injuries, and amputation. However, facial disfigurement is incredibly common among victims of motorcycle accidents, especially for riders not wearing a full-face helmet. Serious motorcycle accidents could result in damage to the jaw, eyes, nose, or facial bone structure, which may require plastic surgery to repair. Facial disfigurement not only causes severe pain and costly medical bills, but it can also lead to emotional trauma, depression, and hindering confidence issues.
Amputation required after a motorcycle accident is most common in the foot or leg due to the leg being crushed under the motorcycle or by the impact with a vehicle. Amputations are always the last resort for a physician, but in severe cases there is no other option. The costs of medical care and prosthetics can lead to a heavy financial burden for the now disfigured rider.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries are common after a motorcycle accident, especially when the rider is thrown from the bike. The human spine is an amazing and complicated structure that is not designed to handle the kind of force that can be exerted during a motorcycle accident. A spinal cord injury may or may not be apparent right away, which is why it’s important to seek medical treatment after your accident. Spinal cord injuries may lead to severe pain, complete or incomplete paralysis, and a life-time of complications.
Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injury, or TBI, occurs when the head is struck or penetrated with great force. TBIs can range from mild to severe, starting with a concussion and working up to severe neurological damage. Traumatic brain injury can cause loss of consciousness, coma, vegetative state, brain death, and can even be fatal. TBIs are most common in accidents in which the rider was not wearing a helmet. Helmets are about 37 percent effective in preventing motorcycle deaths and about 67 percent effective in preventing brain injuries.
What is Motorcycle Bias?
People who ride motorcycles are often stereotyped as being dangerous or are “asking for trouble”, and this can be held against them by insurance adjusters or by a jury.
Motorcycle bias can occur when filing a police report, receiving medical treatment, negotiating with an insurance adjuster, or when receiving statements from witnesses.
The police may assume that the motorcyclist was the cause of the accident, inaccurately citing this in the police report. Insurance adjusters may view motorcyclists as dangerous and may low-ball their settlement because of this. Witnesses often incorrectly assume the motorcyclist caused the accident, all because of motorcycle bias.
Many jurors often don’t know much about motorcycles, so that can also make winning a case at trial more difficult. They may not be able to understand how the accident occurred and may assume that the motorcyclist was at-fault because of the bias ingrained in our society. Your attorney should be able to clear up these misunderstandings about motorcycles to the jury and help lead them to a fair and accurate decision.
Overall, motorcycle bias can affect your entire case, but a good attorney will know how to overcome the burden and help you get the compensation you deserve for a motorcycle accident that was not your fault.
Factors that Could Affect my Motorcycle Accident Settlement
The amount of compensation you receive for your motorcycle accident can be affected by many different factors.
The compensation amount is determined by examining the total amount of damages that you incurred because of your injuries, such as medical bills and lost wages, and combining them with your non-economic losses, like pain and suffering compensation. The higher your combined damages are, the higher your settlement will likely be.
When it comes to calculating pain and suffering, it really comes down to the severity of your injuries and how much your life has changed before and after the accident. Your attorney will use their experience, past jury verdicts, the severity of your injuries, and your prognosis to come up with a pain and suffering compensation amount that is fair and reasonable for your case.
You also have to take into consideration the amount of insurance coverage available when looking at the factors that will affect your compensation amount. If the other driver does not have much insurance coverage, then there is only so much money available to the injured rider.
Most settlements or verdicts are paid by the at-fault drivers insurance company. So, if the other driver only has $50,000 in coverage then you will likely not be able to receive more than that as compensation from the defendant. However, there are other routes to getting the amount of compensation you need, like uninsured and underinsured policies. These policies are designed to help cover injured victims in the event that the other driver’s auto policy is not enough to cover all of the damages from the motorcycle accident.
Seek Legal Help After an Accident
Even the safest motorcyclist can be injured by a negligent driver. It only takes one second of poor driving to kill or injure a biker and unfortunately it happens every day.
If you have been injured while riding your motorcycle, please contact the Chicago motorcycle accident attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. today for a free consultation. We represent motorcyclists regularly and we are ready to help you obtain the recovery you deserve.