Chicago Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

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When motorcyclists are involved in accidents, filing a claim to cover their injuries can be complex, but it is much easier with the help of a Chicago motorcycle accident lawyer. They can calculate the complete total of your damages, negotiate with any insurance providers, and use their extensive legal knowledge to secure you the highest settlement available in your unique circumstances. Your attorney can keep you informed of the progress of the claim so you can take much-needed time to rest and recover.

In 2018, there were 2,703 motorcycle accidents in Illinois. Of those, 118 people were killed and nearly 2,000 more sustained serious injuries. In Chicago alone, there were 308 motorcycle injuries in the same year, with 11 motorcyclists sustaining a ‘type A’ injury. Type A injuries are those that prevent an accident victim from walking, driving, and performing other normal daily functions.

Clearly, motorcyclists are at great risk when they are on the road. Contrary to what many people think, these crashes are not usually caused by careless and reckless bikers. Instead, negligent drivers cause the majority of motorcycle accidents. If you have been hurt by a careless driver, you can claim damages for your injuries and a Chicago motorcycle accident lawyer can help you do it.

Protecting Your Interests With a Skilled Motorcycle Accident Attorney

After a motorcycle accident, you may be dealing with painful and catastrophic injuries in addition to serious financial losses. These damages can be recovered in a personal injury claim, but you need an experienced attorney to help you get the most from that claim. At Connolly Injury Law, we have nearly 15 years of experience and success in personal injury cases. We know how to investigate and negotiate these claims.

When motorcycle accident claims are filed with insurance providers, they will do what they can to undermine your claim’s legitimacy or blame you for the accident. Our team has years of experience combating these tactics. An insurance company does not look out for your interests, but Connolly Injury Law can. While you recover, our team can fight for the compensation you deserve through negotiations or in civil court.

How Are Motorcycle Accidents Different From Car Crashes?

It is easy to assume that because a motorcycle shares the road with other vehicles, crashes involving bikes are very similar to other types of auto accidents. This is not true. Motorcycle accidents are vastly different from other crashes on the road. These differences are as follows:

  • Motorcycles are smaller: Motorcycles are much smaller than other vehicles and because most travel on just two wheels, they are also far less stable. A bike will usually fall to the ground during the crash, taking the motorcyclist with it.
  • Less protection: Even when a motorcyclist is wearing a helmet, the rest of their body is still directly exposed to the full impact of a crash. The forceful impact results in much greater injuries than in many other types of traffic accidents. Additionally, many motorcyclists are thrown from their vehicles in an accident, resulting in two impacts.
  • Contributory negligence claims: Other drivers will almost always try to shift the blame to the biker after any accident. Sometimes, they do this by arguing the biker was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash. Illinois is one of three states that does not have a helmet law, and the courts have generally concluded that the lack of a helmet cannot be considered in court. As such, your damages should not be reduced just because you were not wearing a helmet.

In addition to the above, motorcyclists also often face biases from insurance companies and juries. Some even claim that motorcyclists take a known risk by riding their motorcycles. It is important to work with a compassionate Chicago motorcycle accident lawyer that knows how to overcome these biases and the other challenges these claims present.

Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents

Any act of negligence on the roads can result in a motorcycle accident. Someone can be negligent and make a mistake yet still be held legally and financially responsible if that mistake causes the accident. It’s crucial to determine what caused an accident because this helps determine who or what was at fault for the accident. The most common causes of these crashes include:

  • Speeding. When any driver or rider speeds, they lower the amount of time they have to react to dangers on the road. Speeding also increases the severity of any collision that occurs. When drivers speed, they may not have enough time to react to a motorcyclist they did not previously see.
  • Impaired driving. Driving under the influence (DUI) occurs when any person operates a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs or alcohol. It is illegal and very dangerous to do so. Drivers or riders who are impaired make less informed decisions on the road and have slower reaction speeds. When a driver is at fault for an accident because they were impaired, they will likely face criminal charges in addition to a civil case. These civil claims are more likely to include punitive damages.
  • Distracted driving. Driving distracted is one of the most common causes of accidents. When riders or drivers are distracted, they are less likely to notice changes on the road, such as light changes, traffic congestion, or unexpected lane changes. Distracted driving or riding occurs when vehicle operators are talking, texting, eating, or letting their minds wander.
  • Dangerous lane changes. When drivers switch lanes, they are meant to signal the change and check their blind spots. If drivers do not do this or do not take sufficient care when they do this, they are likely to miss motorcycles. Changing lanes into a motorcyclist can be very serious or fatal. Motorcyclists can also be reckless when lane-changing and weave through traffic in an unsafe manner.
  • Illegal turns. Accidents can occur when motor vehicle drivers make a turn that they would not have made in front of a car, such as at an intersection. These can lead to serious collisions, including head-on collisions.
  • Failing to check blind spots. When turning or changing lanes, drivers must properly check their blind spots. Motorcycles are even harder to see in time if drivers do not perform these checks. Motorcycle accidents also frequently occur when a driver opens their car door into a lane of traffic without checking blind spots or the road, dooring a motorcyclist.
  • Failing to spot motorcyclists. Motorcycles are small vehicles. If a driver isn’t driving carefully and defensively, they may simply not see a motorcycle. If a driver does not slow down to reflect road or weather changes, they may not spot a motorcycle until it is too late.
  • Reckless driving. Drivers can be reckless around motorcycles by trying to lane share, passing a motorcyclist too closely, tailgating, and otherwise making the road more dangerous.
  • Driver fatigue. Driving fatigue is considered as dangerous as driving under the influence. It similarly lowers reaction speeds and cognitive function. When drivers or riders operate their vehicles while fatigued, they are more likely to cause an accident.

When any of the above actions, or any other, causes a motorcycle accident, it can result in severe injuries including traumatic brain injuries, road rash, disfigurement, and more.

Motorcycle accidents can also be caused by other factors that are not the fault of any drivers or riders. Although less common, motorcycle accidents can also be the result of badly maintained roads, uncleared road signs and signals, or defective car or motorcycle components. In these cases, a manufacturer of a dangerous part, the party that completed improper maintenance, or the agency responsible for road upkeep may be liable.

How to Prove Another Party Liable for a Chicago Motorcycle Accident

The cause of the accident is an important step in determining what party was at fault. To hold a driver or other party liable by the theory of negligence, the following must be proven:

  1. Duty: You must prove that the party owed you a duty of care to act with reasonable thought to your safety. Drivers and riders owe others on the road a duty of care.
  2. Breach: You have to prove that the party breached this duty of care through negligent acts or inaction. These may include driving distracted or ignoring the laws of the road.
  3. Causation: You then must prove that their negligent action or inaction was partially or fully to blame for the accident. Many drivers and riders make mistakes, but they are only liable if they lead to an accident.
  4. Damages: You have to show that you suffered damages as a result of the accident. These include compensable economic and noneconomic damages.

Most motorcycle accident claims are based on negligence, although some may be based on intentional misconduct. These elements are important whether a claim is handled through negotiations or litigation. Proving fault in an insurance claim is the most effective way to avoid contested claims and improve your chances of getting the full compensation you deserve. An attorney is the ideal way to gather evidence that proves all four elements.

Can I Still Get Compensation If I Am Partially at Fault for a Motorcycle Accident?

If you are partially at fault for a motorcycle accident in Chicago, you could still recover compensation. Illinois is a modified comparative negligence state. When multiple parties are at fault, each party that contributed to the incident is responsible for their portion of fault. As long as a party is less than 50% at fault, they are still eligible to recover partial compensation. If a party is 50% or more liable, they are barred from compensation.

If you are still able to recover damages after being found partially at fault, these damages will be reduced. If you were determined to be 40% liable, your damages are reduced proportionally by 40%. This is why insurance companies often try to claim that an injured victim is partially at fault, as that can limit their liability or even allow them to avoid paying compensation at all. An attorney is helpful for avoiding this and proving the true percentage of fault for each party.

In a motorcycle accident, even a limited claim is often a significant one. The damages in a motorcycle accident can be very severe, but the other parties in motor vehicles often face few damages. An attorney can help you determine if it is worth it in your unique case to file for damages despite being partially at fault.

Can I Be Found at Fault for Not Wearing a Motorcycle Helmet?

Illinois does not have a law requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets. Because of this, it is usually invalid to argue that a motorcyclist should be found partially at fault for not wearing a helmet. However, it’s important to have a strong attorney by your side to prevent such a claim from succeeding.

Although wearing a helmet is not required and should not harm your claim, failing to do so can harm you. A helmet can provide critical protection for motorcyclists, as they get very little impact cushioning from their vehicles. Wearing a helmet can limit the severity of traumatic brain injuries and fatal head injuries. It’s important to wear a helmet on motorcycles to protect your own well-being.

What Injuries Are Common in a Motorcycle Accident?

Motorcycle accidents are more likely to cause debilitating and disabling injuries, which require years to a lifetime of medical treatment. Some of the common injuries include:

  • Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs): These injuries can range from concussions to loss of movement or cognitive function. Severe TBIs can require at-home medical care for the rest of a person’s life. TBIs cause more harm when a rider does not wear a helmet.
  • Spinal Cord Injuries: Spinal cord injuries can cause serious pain and damage, sometimes to the point of paralysis. Severe spinal cord injuries can cause partial or total paralysis, often for the rest of a person’s life.
  • Broken and Fractured Bones: In a motorcycle accident, a rider can be thrown from their vehicle and suffer multiple broken and fractured bones. Many broken bones can result in long-term pain and recovery.
  • Neck and Back Injuries: These include herniated discs, muscle strains and sprains, and other serious damage to the neck and back.
  • Internal Injuries: These can include internal bleeding and organ damage due to crushing or impact damage.
  • Amputations: Limb loss is an unfortunately frequent form of injury in motorcycle accidents. These injuries can impact how a person functions in their day-to-day life for the rest of their life, and they usually require special accommodations in their home.
  • Road Rash: Road rash often results in permanent and severe scarring or disfigurement.

Compensation in a Motorcycle Accident Claim

If you are able to prove another party fully liable, you can recover the full extent of your damages. Many people filing claims do not properly calculate their damages and accept a settlement that is insufficient. When you file a civil or insurance claim, you can recover the following damages:

  • Past and future medical costs, including the costs of surgeries, treatment, prescription medication or medical devices, and physical therapy
  • The cost of replacement services in your home
  • Lost wages if you must take time off work to recover or receive treatment
  • Lost earning potential if you cannot return to the same field of work, cannot return to work full-time, or are disabled and unable to engage in any gainful employment
  • Property damage, including the cost to repair or replace your motorcycle
  • Noneconomic damages, including pain and suffering, mental anguish, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium, and disability

Noneconomic and economic damages are both forms of compensatory damages. Without an attorney, you are likely to undervalue these costs. A skilled personal injury attorney has years of experience valuing noneconomic damages for different types of personal injury cases. Attorneys also have experience determining what your likely long-term medical complications and needs will be.

In some motorcycle accident claims, you can also request punitive damages. These damages exist to punish an at-fault party for willful misconduct or an extreme disregard for human safety. An attorney can help you determine if those are applicable to your case.

Filing a Wrongful Death Claim

Many motorcycle accidents result in fatalities or catastrophic injuries that later lead to death. When the deceased rider would have been able to file a personal injury claim, their surviving family members are empowered to file a wrongful death claim in their place. Close family members or the deceased’s estate representative can file a wrongful death claim, recovering damages for reasonable funeral costs and support for a spouse, children, and dependent adult family members.

If you have suffered the difficult loss of a loved one after a motorcycle accident, you need a skilled attorney to help you navigate the process and hold the at-fault party accountable.

Motorcycle Accident Claim Statute of Limitations

Whether you are filing a personal injury or a wrongful death claim, the statute of limitations is two years in Illinois. That two-year countdown begins from the date of the accident, so it’s important to talk with an attorney as soon as possible. If you do not file a claim before this deadline, you will be unable to recover any compensation.

FAQs

Q: What Is the Average Settlement for a Motorcycle Accident in Chicago?

A: The average settlement for a motorcycle accident can be anywhere from several thousand to several hundred thousand dollars. The settlement you receive in a claim will be unique to your injuries and other specifics about your situation. If you are able to prove another party entirely liable, you can recover all damages from the accident. These include:

  • Economic compensatory damages
  • Noneconomic compensatory damages
  • Punitive damages in rare cases where the at-fault party acted with incredible disregard for human safety
Q: What Do You Do If There Is a Motorcycle Accident?

A: Immediately after a motorcycle accident, you should move vehicles aside to a safe location if possible, check for injuries, and report the accident. It’s important to determine if you, your passengers, and others in the accident are injured first, as you will then ask for emergency medical attention.

Even if no one is injured, reporting the accident is essential, both under the law and for the future of any claim you may file. Additionally, some injuries, like traumatic brain injuries, may not present clear symptoms right away. It is better to report the accident and get medical treatment.

Q: How Many Motorcycle Deaths Are There Per Year in Illinois?

A: In 2021, according to data gathered by the Illinois Department of Transportation, there were 295,604 total motor vehicle crashes, and 3,275 of those involved motorcycles, making motorcycle crashes 1.11% of total crashes. In the same year, there were 1,217 total fatal motor vehicle crashes, resulting in 1,341 fatalities. There were 168 fatal motorcycle crashes and 174 fatalities. This means that, despite being 1.11% of total crashes, accidents involving motorcycles were responsible for 13.8% of all fatal crashes and 12.98% of all fatalities.

Q: How Much Do Motorcycle Accident Lawyers Charge in Chicago?

A: Motorcycle accident lawyers in Chicago typically charge a contingency fee, rather than an hourly or flat fee. This is how most personal injury claims in Illinois are handled. Under a contingency fee basis, an attorney receives a percentage of the final settlement, typically 30% to 40%. An attorney typically takes a higher percentage when cases are more complex, require more work, and/or go to civil court. When attorneys charge a contingency fee, you likely only have to pay court costs out of pocket.

Call Our Chicago Motorcycle Accident Lawyer for a Free Consultation

If you or someone you love has been hurt in a crash, our Chicago motorcycle accident lawyer at Connolly Injury Law can help with your case. When you are not to blame for an accident, you should not have the burden of paying for medical costs and other losses. Attorney Connolly has the necessary experience to negotiate effectively with the insurance companies so you recover the maximum damages you deserve. Call us today at 312-780-0816 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation.

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