Illinois Motorcycle Accident Law

What is Illinois Motorcycle Accident Law?

Mr. Steven B. Levy IL Truck Accident Lawyer
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Steven B. Levy: 40 years of legal skill, legal experience handling a wide range of Illinois personal injury, bodily injury, serious negligence such as the following: cab, truck, motorcycle semi tractor trailer car wrecks, business delivery van car crashes, business van commercial truck pedestrian collisions, tow trucks, big rig trucks, tractor trailers,18 wheelers, flatbeds, dump, gravel, garbage trucks.
Motorcycle accidents in Illinois often lead to serious injuries and death. Because motorcyclists and their passengers have minimal protection, even low-speed motorcycle accidents can lead to catastrophic injuries. Because the damages in these accidents are often significant, motorcycle accident victims should work closely with an experienced personal injury lawyer to seek maximum compensation for their injuries.

Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents in Illinois

While some accidents are due to factors which neither driver could foresee, there are primary and common reasons for the crash. Some of these reasons stem from a driver not keeping a lookout for the biker or the biker not seeing the other driver. Others on the roadway may not even notice the presence of a motorcycle unless the vehicle is loud. Additionally, other drivers are usually unaware of a motorcyclist when passing, changing lanes or when speeding. Some drivers may not stop in time to avoid colliding with the biker. If the motorcyclist is splitting lanes, he or she may also run a much greater risk of an accident because others on the road are not paying enough attention to know where a motorcyclist is on the road.

Caution is important when on the roads or in congested traffic. Distractions are another prime concern that can lead to collisions and increased risks of more severe damage. If one driver fails to yield, this can lead to a collision. Speeding and traffic violations also place bikers at a higher risk of harm.

Bikers who drive on Illinois streets may have a higher likelihood of being injured in cities with greater congestion or when the driver is impaired. The severity of the accident can be significantly greater because of these factors.

Illinois is a state with a significant commercial truck industry, increasing the likelihood of being involved in an accident with a commercial truck. Commercial trucks can also pose a danger to motorcyclists even when they do not actually collide with the motorcycle. Commercial truck tire blowouts are common, resulting in large pieces of tire tread being left on the roadway that can be deadly for any motorist, and especially motorcyclists, to ride over. Additionally, improperly loaded trucks can result in cargo falling onto the roadway which may cause motorcyclists to be injured when trying to avoid it.

What to Do After a Motorcycle Accident in Illinois

If you are involved in a motorcycle accident in Illinois, it is important that you check for injuries on yourself and the others involved in the accident. Call for an ambulance if anyone is injured. Contact the local law enforcement agency to report the accident. Then, exchange information with the other driver. Be sure that you collect the following information:

  • The driver's name
  • The driver's license information
  • Insurance information for the other driver
  • The make, model and year of the other vehicle

Also, if any witnesses are present at the accident, get their contact information. Take pictures of the scene of the accident, including the following:

  • Pictures of the vehicle damage
  • Pictures of any roadside debris that may have contributed to the accident
  • Photos of any other property damage
  • Pictures of skid marks
  • Photos of any road signs that may have been relevant to the accident
  • Pictures from different angles of the accident scene

Severity of Motorcycle Accidents in Illinois

Motorcyclists have less protection in an accident even if they have all the correct safety gear, such as a helmet, complete covering on their arms and legs and gloves. Drivers and passengers on motorcycles have less protection because they do not have the cushion of the inside of a vehicle. Additionally, a driver can be ejected off the bike after colliding with another vehicle or an obstacle on the road. A helmet can protect this person from the initial impact, but if the biker is thrown a significant distance from the bike, it is still possible to suffer serious upper body injuries and traumatic brain injuries. Others can suffer from road rash and broken bones.

Higher Chances of Death to the Motorcyclist in Illinois

In 2016 alone, over 130 bikers died in motorcycle traffic accidents on Illinois roads and highways. Additionally, more than 2,400 people were injured in these accidents, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation, which explains that the rate of incident of these types of collisions is not decreasing. There continues to be a greater chance of death for bikers because other drivers are not operating in a safe manner around motorcyclists.

Severe Injuries in Motorcycle Collisions in Illinois

When a biker gets into an accident in Illinois, it can lead to serious complications for the motorcyclist. He or she can suffer serious head injuries, broken skin, scars, infections and multiple fractures. Spinal damage at the neck or back is not uncommon, along with traumatic brain injuries from forceful impact to the head. The biker could crush his or her neck from the trauma of hitting something hard. Sliding off the bike onto the road can crush bones, and sever muscles and tissues connected to bones. The more severe the injury, the greater the time this person needs to recover.

Common Nonfatal Injuries to Motorcyclists in Illinois

While there is a greater chance of more severe injuries, there are many common nonfatal injuries that people suffer in motorcycle accidents. These can include damage to the lower extremities of the body, such as fractures to the foot or leg, strains or sprains. Motorcycle accident victims often suffer from whiplash when they are rear-ended since the neck suddenly jolts back and forth due to the force of the impact.

Even low speed motorcycle accidents can cause injuries to the chest, neck, shoulders and back. The arms and hands can suffer broken bones or crushed fingers. Motorcyclists often sustain abrasions in these accidents. The more common injuries are usually not fatal but are still complicated because they usually arise through fractures or lacerations to the skin, which may take substantial time to heal and regain motion.

Other injured bikers can suffer joint and tissue damage, harm to internal organs and injuries to the back and neck. More severe harm occurs when the motorcyclist loses a limb because of increased damage to certain points of the body. If the limb becomes crushed or is stuck under something heavy, the biker could lose it even if the damage happens in a short period of time. There are higher chances of greater injuries the longer the biker does not notice them or when he or she does not receive immediate medical services during or after the incident. Some bikes can turn over and land on top of the driver and/or passenger and crush him or her under the weight.

Life-Altering Effects of Injuries to Motorcyclists in Illinois

Motorcycle accidents often involve life-altering effects. Crushed bones may never completely heal. Traumatic brain injuries can lead to death. Spinal damage may end in permanent paralysis. The most common injuries these bikers experience may not become fatal, but they can change the life of the victim forever. The recovery period can be much longer with a higher chance of disability for a motorcyclist injured in an accident on the road. Some common life-altering effects of injuries to motorcyclists include:

  • Loss of income due to time off work
  • High medical bills for emergency and ongoing care
  • Chronic pain stemming from injuries which impact your daily life and ability to work
  • Mental distress stemming from depression or stress brought on by the accident
  • Diminished quality of life due to disabling conditions
  • Loss of consortium, loss of companionship and other effects on relationships with people close to you

Because the consequences are so grave, most motorcycle accident victims retain the services of a skilled motorcycle accident lawyer so that they do not have to try to handle their claim on their own.

Illinois Helmet Law

Illinois does not have a law which requires a motorcyclist to wear a helmet. While traumatic brain injuries are on the rise, there is no legal requirement forcing these drivers to wear a helmet, which would normally reduce these injuries. It is often necessary for the injured party to seek a legal remedy after suffering severe damage to the head. In these situations, the biker will need a lawyer to initiate a personal injury claim and seek compensation for the damages incurred during the accident. The defendant in these cases may allege that the victim was partially responsible for the damages due to not wearing a helmet.

Comparative Negligence and Fault in Illinois

In the state of Illinois, it is important to understand how the driver who suffers injury can become the sole or partially responsible driver for the accident. The courts will assign fault for the collision and assign a percentage of liability to each party if more than one party is found to have acted in a negligent manner. This is what the judge, jury and insurance carriers will use to determine how much in compensatory awards the injured party will receive after his or her own degree of fault is subtracted from these awards. The judge or jury compares the negligence that the biker exhibited in the accident. If he or she is more at fault than the other driver, he or she will not be able to pursue a claim against the other driver.

The state of Illinois uses modified comparative negligence in accidents to hold parties partially responsible for the incident. This process prohibits someone who is 50 or more percent at fault to seek compensation from an accident. The insurance carrier or the legal team defending the liable party may try to prove that the biker was more responsible in order to avoid paying anything for the damages sustained by the victim. If the opposing legal team is successful, the plaintiff can lose the case and be denied any compensation. If the biker is found to be less than 50 percent at fault, his or her degree of fault is subtracted from the damages award. For example, if the motorcyclist suffered $200,000 in damages and is found to be 10 percent at fault, $20,000 will be deducted from the award.

Exceeding Comparative Negligence in Illinois

If the biker is found to be more than 50 percent at fault for the accident based on evidence or witness statements, then he or she will lose all compensation awards. This leads to zero awards even if the case is successful in other ways. The responsibility of the accident lies on the shoulders of the biker, and these laws in Illinois reduce compensation to nothing. Because of this possible outcome, the lawyer will need to offer enough proof that the other party is at least 50 percent at fault in contributing to the accident or at least that the biker was not over 50 percent to blame.

Establishing Liability for Motorcycle Crashes in Illinois

In order to receive compensation in a motorcycle accident, the biker must be able to establish liability. This usually stems from showing that the driver of the other vehicle acted in an unreasonable manner. He or she may have violated rules of the road or acted in an unsafe manner, such as:

  • Speeding
  • Being distracted while driving
  • Drinking and driving
  • Running a red light or stop sign
  • Failing to keep a proper lookout
  • Turning in front of the motorcyclist when the driver did not have the right-of-way
  • Texting and driving

The case turns on the biker's ability to show that the other driver had a duty to drive safely and obey the traffic rules and violated this duty. This violation then caused the accident victim to suffer damages.

Negligence Factors in Motorcycle Accidents in Illinois

The personal injury lawyer representing the accident victim will need to establish that the other driver acted in a negligent matter. The proof necessary depends on the circumstances of the case. If it was a left turn, rear-end or sideswipe, the plaintiff's lawyer may have less difficulty in proving fault, since it may be assumed that the other driver was responsible for the accident based on rules of the road. It is important to gather the evidence at the scene and use every available resource available to obtain this evidence. There may be pictures or video that show how the accident happened.

Denial of a Settlement in Illinois

Whether a motorcycle accident occurs in a small town or a big city in Illinois, many insurance carriers will try to deny a settlement for the injured party. It is in times like this that an experienced personal injury lawyer may be the best option to negotiate with the insurance carrier to ensure that the best possible compensation is available to the injury victim because of the greater need to financially recover from the incident.

The Personal Injury Lawyer's Role in Motorcycle Accidents in Illinois

No matter what laws, rules or guidelines are relevant in a motorcycle accident case, the injured biker will be better situated with a lawyer to work on the claim as soon as possible. The legal professional may need to investigate the incident, gather evidence, interview witnesses and possibly pursue the claim in the courts. A personal injury lawyer can often resolve the claim through mediation, a demand letter or insurance settlement negotiations.

The lawyer may enter negotiations with the other side and try to acquire the compensation that is possible and reasonable. A personal injury lawyer can provide helpful guidance during the process and handle all communications with the insurance company. Many personal injury lawyers work on a contingency-fee basis, so victims are charged no upfront fees.

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