Unlike a car accident where – assuming that vehicles are not traveling at high speeds, all passengers are buckled up, and vehicles are equipped with safety features such as airbags – the chances of incurring devastating or fatal injuries is relatively low, in a Rockford motorcycle accident, the chances of such injuries are high. This is because unlike those who travel by car, motorcyclists have few protections that help to shield them from injuries in the event of a crash, meaning that their bodies often take the full force of impact. If you have been in a motorcycle accident in Rockford or surrounding areas, our talented Rockford motorcycle accident attorney wants to represent you.
Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcycle accidents occur, most commonly, as a result of errors committed by the motorcyclist, another driver, or both. Some common causes of motorcycle accidents include:
- Drivers failing to look or see a motorcyclist before changing lanes;
- Motorcycle lane-splitting;
- Cars making left-hand turns and failing to see a motorcyclist who is going through an intersection or is passing the car;
- Alcohol use; and
- Distracted driving.
In addition to acts of error committed by the humans involved in these tragic crashes, animals in the road, road construction, poor weather, and other road hazards may also increase the risk of, or cause, a motorcycle accident.
Injured in a Motorcycle Crash
As mentioned above, motorcyclists who are involved in crashes often sustain extremely devastating injuries, as it is their bodies that take the full force of the crash. Because of the lack of protection, a motorcyclist in a crash often is thrown from their bike, skids along the asphalt or pavement, is crushed between an object, or is directly hit with a vehicle. This can result in:
- Spinal cord injuries;
- Traumatic brain injuries;
- Facial and scalp injuries;
- Broken bones;
- Internal injuries and bleeding; and
- Severe burn or road rash injuries.
In the most tragic of cases, a motorcycle crash will result in the motorcyclist’s death.
Steps to Take after a Rockford Motorcycle Accident
Motorcyclists incur more than severe injuries; they often acquire huge and financially crushing hospital bills, suffer a loss of wages due to their inability to return to work, experience extreme pain, and may even develop psychological injuries, such as depression, anxiety, or posttraumatic stress disorder. In order to recover compensation for all of these losses and injury types, it is essential to work with an experienced Rockford motorcycle accident attorney.
To protect your right to compensation, there are simple steps you can take that will help your lawyer build a case on your behalf:
- Call the police to come out and write a police report. This report is vital because it contains important information about the crash, including the identities of the parties involved as well as any witnesses.
- Take pictures of damage to your motorcycle as well as any vehicle involved in the crash.
- Get pictures of debris in the road and where the vehicles ended up.
- Swap insurance information and get the driver’s contact information, such as address and phone number.
- Don’t have your bike fixed immediately. It might yield up important clues about who is to blame for the accident.
Of course, you might be so injured that you need an ambulance to take you to the hospital. If so, ask someone else at the scene of the accident to gather this information for you.
In many accidents, motorcyclists are partially responsible for their own injuries. For example, a biker might not have used a turn signal, which contributed to getting rear-ended. This is the law of “contributory negligence.”
A long time ago, courts would not let an injured victim bring a lawsuit if he or she contributed in any way to the accident. Fortunately, that is no longer the law. In Illinois, an injured victim can bring a lawsuit so long as they were not more negligent than the other parties. This is called the “51% bar.” If you were 50% responsible or less, you can bring a case, but the amount of compensation you can receive will be reduced by your proportion of fault.
Let’s say your own negligence was 60% to blame. If so, then you will not receive any compensation. However, if your negligence is only 30% to blame for the crash, then your damages will be reduced by that amount. So, if you suffered $100,000 in damages, then you will only receive 70% of that amount, or $70,000.
What about not wearing a helmet? Illinois is one of the few states that does not have a law requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets. Illinois did pass a helmet law in 1966, but the state Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional a mere three years later. Can a defendant use your failure to wear a helmet as proof that you contributed to your injuries?
Illinois appellate courts have ruled that failure to wear a helmet cannot be used to establish contributory negligence. See Hukill v. DiGregorio, 136 Ill. App.3d 1066 (2d Dist. 1985). The Fourth District also issued a ruling to the same effect. So not wearing a helmet can’t be used against you to defeat your claim or reduce the amount of compensation a defendant owes you.
However, jurors might still wonder whether the victim was wearing a helmet, and nothing can prevent them from using this fact when deciding a case. If you were wearing a helmet, then your lawyer should emphasize that fact.
Reach Out to a Rockford Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
An attorney wears many hats during the course of a motorcycle accident claim, including that of the investigator, legal reference, advocate, and negotiator. When you contact our motorcycle accident lawyers, we will begin working on your case immediately, and will not stop until we have secured the maximum settlement amount possible.
Avoid delay. Illinois law gives you a short window of time to protect your right to compensation and any delay can cost you money.
When you have been injured in a motorcycle crash, you deserve nothing short of the best legal representation and every penny you’ve lost. To get started on filing your claim today, contact Tuite Law today.