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Chicago Motorcycle Accident Attorneys

Have You Been Injured in a Motorcycle Accident?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 making up 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 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. 

First of all, because there is no helmet law in Illinois, only about 36% of riders use helmets, which further leaves many motorcyclists exposed to severe head injuries and neck injuries

Consequently, when a motorcyclist gets into an accident with a car or with a semi truck which results in a fatality or injury, it is more likely to be the motorcyclist who suffers harm. 

Motorcycle Injury Statistics

Motorcycle statistics help support the above information.

  • although motorcycles were involved in only 3,504 out of 324,473 motor vehicle accidents in the state of Illinois in 2016 (1.1% of the total), 154 motorcyclists were killed and 2,692 were injured, accounting for 14.3% of all the motor vehicle accident fatalities for the year, and 2.9% of all motor vehicle injuries for the year.
  • Click here for more motorcycle accident statistics.

Motorcycle Crash Attorneys in Chicago

Motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable not only because they lack the protection of substantial bodywork, but because they are smaller. This disadvantage makes motorcycles more difficult to see for other motor vehicle operators, and also means that motorcycles and their passengers are more likely to be thrown further in the event of a collision.

Because motorcycles are more difficult to spot than other vehicles, motorcyclists must always drive defensively, and never assume that other drivers can see them, particularly the drivers of the 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 ( a head-on collision); in fewer than 10% of the accidents, motorcycles were hit from behind. Even more, 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.

Liability for Motorcycle Accidents

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. All drivers of motor vehicles owe a duty of care to everyone else who uses public thoroughfares: 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 which results in injury or death to another person, the driver may be held civilly liable to the injured party in a negligence 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 nevertheless involved in a multi-vehicle crash not caused by environmental conditions (such as ice), chances are that is has been caused by the driver of another vehicle 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 Illinois crashes involving motorcycles occur on dry pavement during a clear day.

What to Do if You Have Been Involved in a Motorcycle Accident

Motorcyclists, like all motorists, should immediately contact the police or highway patrol if they are involved in an accident in which there is an injury or fatality, so that a police report can be made. If immediate medical help is needed, 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 important to get a full medical examination as soon as possible, as some injuries are not immediately apparent.

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, statements from the parties and witnesses, and diagrams and photographs of the accident and its location. You will not only need to obtain a copy of this report, but you should also, to the extent you are able, collect most of the same data for yourself, particularly the contact and insurance information for the other parties and witnesses.

As a general rule, providing and documenting accident information immediately is the best course. And even though you may be tempted to second-guess your own actions when someone has been hurt, it is important simply to state the facts as you know them, rather than 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, and 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 may later change their story to paint themselves in a less damaging light. 

Motorcycle Accident FAQ

Here at Abels & Annes, we have represented our fair share of motorcyclists and motorcycle passengers injured in accidents that weren’t their fault. Tragically, many of the injuries they sustained were both life-altering and preventable. Below we answer some of the most common questions we receive from clients about motorcycle accidents. If you have questions about your or a loved one’s rights after a motorcycle accident upends your life, don’t hesitate to give us a call.

1. If I was not wearing a helmet when I crashed, do I share responsibility for my own injuries?

Let’s be clear: here at Abels & Annes we would prefer that all of our clients who ride motorcycles wear helmets. Helmets save lives and vastly reduce the risk of sustaining a catastrophic cervical spine injury.

But, we understand helmet wearing is a choice. Illinois famously is one of three states that does not require any motorcycle riders to wear a helmet (despite a relatively high fatality rate for bikers in the state).

If you sustain a catastrophic head injury in a motorcycle accident, and you were not wearing a helmet, that does not mean you cannot recover damages. The decision whether or not to wear a helmet usually does not affect other parts of your body that may get injured in a bike wreck. And even if the only injury you suffer is a brain/head injury, you may still have the right to recover damages if the actions of others contributed to your injury.

2. Who has legal liability for my motorcycle accident injuries?

It depends on the facts and circumstances of your accident. Legal liability is largely a question of what most people would call “fault,” but lawyers refer to with terms like “negligence” and “strict liability.” Generally speaking, a person faces legal liability for damages when he had a legally recognized duty of care not to cause harm to someone else, he violated that duty of care through his own intentional or careless actions or inactions, and he harmed someone else as a result. (There are lots of variations on this theme in the law, but that’s the basic idea.)

So, in your motorcycle accident, whose actions or inactions led to you suffering injuries? Were those actions or inactions something that person or company shouldn’t have done because they had a duty of care to you? Can you draw a clear line between those actions/inactions and your injury?

In any given motorcycle accident, there can be one or more people or entities for whom you can answer “yes, yes, and yes” to these three questions. For example, when a motorcycle collides with a larger vehicle, the driver of the larger vehicle may have legal liability if the accident resulted from the driver making a careless left-hand turn across the path of the motorcyclist. Or a motorcycle parts company may have liability for manufacturing a bike part that fails at a critical moment, causing the motorcycle to crash. Or the municipal agency that has responsibility for cleaning up roads after construction could face legal liability if it unreasonably neglects to clear foreign objects from a road surface, creating a dangerous condition for motorcyclists.

Consulting an experienced motorcycle accident attorney is the best way to identify all of the parties who may have legal liability to you for the injuries you sustained in a motorcycle accident.

3. What should I do after a motorcycle accident?

Make seeking medical attention your first priority. Some injuries, including traumatic brain injury and spinal cord damage, may not have symptoms that appear immediately after the accident. Seeking medical attention can help identify those injuries and prevent further harm from coming to you. You should also summon the police to the scene of the accident to make an accident report.

If you can physically move around the scene, take the opportunity to gather evidence about the accident. You may want to:

  • Take photos of the scene

  • Get insurance information and contact information from any other motorists involved

  • Get contact information for any witnesses

At the hospital and any future medical appointments, keep any information your doctor gives you about your injuries as well as your ongoing medical bills. Contact your insurance company to notify them about the accident as soon as possible. Always contact an attorney to help file your motorcycle accident claim.

4. Do I have to contact the police after a motorcycle accident?

The Illinois Rules of the Road recommend you call 911 immediately after any accident. State law requires you to file a police report after any accident involving death, bodily injury, or property damage of more than $1,500 ($500 if anyone involved in the accident is uninsured). But the Rules of the Road also warn that the town or municipality where your crash occurs may, by ordinance, require you to report any crash. So the best and safest course of action is to call 911 after any accident and file a police report. This will not only ensure there are adequate records kept of your accident, but also that you receive any medical care you need. Better safe than sorry.

Of course, if you’re too injured to file a report, you (or your loved ones) can call a motorcycle accident lawyer for help in filling out the paperwork.

5. Should I accept the first offer the insurance company makes after my motorcycle accident?

No. If an insurance company makes a settlement offer to you without you having first contacted an attorney and made it clear to the insurer that you are represented by counsel, then it’s almost certain any offer the company makes will be too low. Insurance companies make money by limiting their financial exposure to claims.

One way to accomplish that goal is by pressuring unrepresented accident victims into taking lowball settlement offers. Don’t fall for their tactics. Let an experienced motorcycle accident attorney handle negotiations with any insurance company willing to cut you a check. The overwhelming majority of the time, an experienced lawyer can extract more money from an insurer than you would be able to recover on your own.

If you suffered serious injuries in a motorcycle accident, an attorney can help answer many of your questions as they pertain to your individual case.

Article edited with the online wysiwyg HTML editor. Contact a motorcycle accident lawyer as soon as possible to learn more about your legal rights to compensation.

Contact the Motorcycle Accident Attorneys at Abels & Annes for a Consultation

After your accident, in addition to speaking with the police and obtaining any necessary medical attention, you should probably contact a qualified and knowledgeable personal injury attorney with experience handling motorcycle accidents. Serving victims throughout the Chicago area, the motorcycle accident lawyers at Abels & Annes can help you.

Too often, accident victims believe that insurance—either their own or the other driver’s—will adequately compensate them for any injuries or personal property damage they have suffered. Unfortunately, however, many insurance companies are reluctant to pay even when the fault may seem clear, particularly when the damages are substantial. Even when an insurer seems responsible, be aware that many of them will try to settle claims quickly, and 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 before signing any agreement by hiring an to attorney review it.

The fact is, not all injuries are readily apparent. And for some serious injuries, even if you anticipate full recovery, you cannot be certain that the full recovery you hope for will materialize. In those cases, providing medical bills or signing a statement too soon can mean that you have limited your recovery to an amount that is substantially less than what you need or what you are legally entitled to. Serious injuries may include:

And, of course, some motorcycle accidents are fatal. If someone you love has been killed in a motorcycle accident, you should contact an attorney to determine whether a wrongful death action may lie against a negligent driver.

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 the Chicago motorcycle accident attorneys at Abels & Annes toll-free at (855) LAW-CHICAGO, locally at (312) 924-7575 or you may use our online consultation form.

Click here for suggestions on what to do if involved in an accident.

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