Chicago Motorcycle Accidents on the Rise as Weather Improves

As Chicago faces the last few weeks of this seemingly endless onslaught of wintry weather, it is good to know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel: Spring is almost here. As weather and road conditions start to improve over the coming months, we will be seeing more and more motorcycles on our roads and it will become even more important to stay vigilant and keep our eyes open on the road to avoid motorcycle accidents in Illinois.

Three GWC clients, all motorcycle operators, were not so lucky when they suffered serious injuries over the past few years while driving their bikes; but, it has been a pretty good month as far as the GWC Law Firm’s success with their litigated cases:

Five weeks ago, named partner, Louis Cairo, settled a motorcycle accident injury case for $5.3M just a year and a half after the accident, in a situation where the motorcyclist struck an object that fell off of a delivery truck. The object, a 90 pound stainless steel urinal, had fallen off of a plumbing delivery truck due to the fact that the load was not secured properly. Irwin Morris’s motorcycle struck the urinal, flipped in mid-air with Irwin still on the bike, and then crashed onto the Edens Expressway pavement where it slid for over 450′ in rush hour traffic. Miraculously, Irwin suffered no head injuries. Nonetheless, he suffered significant injuries to his ankle and hand, requiring multiple surgeries, as well as an aggravation to a prior back injury.

On March 6, 2014, Louis Cairo and partner Colin O’Malley settled an Illinois motorcycle injury case for $2.3M for ocular and head injuries to the driver of a motorcycle who erroneously drove his custom racing motorcycle into a lane of traffic that was closed as part of a two mile construction project on Lake Street in Hanover Park.

GWC client Michael Catinella, 31 years old at the time, was driving home from the Titled Kilt in the late evening hours of October 8, 2011. The motorcycle entered into a “closed” lane where the construction was being conducted and the custom bike encountered a large cutout area.

Catinella did not suffer fatal injuries despite not wearing a helmet and striking the end of the cut out at a fairly high rate of speed. Experts for the defense opined that he was traveling 60 MPH. The liability claim was complicated by the fact that shortly prior to the crash, multiple motorcycle operators had left the Tilted Kilt in Hoffman Estates at a high rate of speed resulting in multiple police squad cars entering into a high-speed chase of the various motorcycles to apprehend the various speeding operators. Catinella was charged after the crash as being one of the motorcyclists allegedly speeding from the Tilted Kilt; however, the criminal trial resulted in a Directed Verdict on his behalf due to the inability to identify the Plaintiff as the operator of one of the speeding motorcycles. Nonetheless, defense’s expert relied heavily on this information to opine as to Plaintiff’s motive for “intentionally” driving into the closed off construction zone. Plaintiff’s expert, Dr. Richard Ziernicki, opined that the barricading and signage violated the applicable standards and created an animation that recreated the accident, which was incredibly persuasive in establishing how and why the incident occurred. The efforts of the trial team produced an amazing result in this highly contested liability case

On March 7, 2014, partner Lawrence Ruder received a gross verdict of over $1M on behalf of a female motorcycle operator who suffered an ankle fracture when a car made a right turn on a red light as GWC’s client entered an intersection on a green light. The defendant driver, of course, claimed that the motorcyclist changed lanes at the last possible second and argued that she was 100% to blame for causing the crash. This defendant, however, admitted under a grueling cross-examination by Mr. Ruder, that he could have waited for the motorcycle to pass before turning on red. He could have waited for his light to turn green, rather than turning on red. But he chose to make his right turn on the red light despite seeing the approaching motorcyclist. The defendant admitted that his decision to make his right turn on a red light, when he was aware of the approaching motorcyclist driving towards the intersection with the right of way, was the LEAST SAFE option that he had available at that time. And the jury agreed! The gross verdict exceeded the offer at the start of the trial by well over 100%!

Despite the many prejudices that exist against motorcyclists in the courtroom, GWC lawyers have been able to secure justice for these accident victims, as they do for all of their clients. GWC is the Largest Personal Injury and Workers Compensation law firm in Illinois. The firm’s attorneys handle catastrophic cases throughout the country in all types of cases involving, particularly, transportation industry, construction, nursing home abuse, product liability and mass tort.

If you or a loved one have any questions regarding a potential accident or injury case, contact the GWC Law Firm today at 312-757-7462.