Have You Or A Loved One Been Injured In A Motorcycle Accident?
GWC Injury Lawyers is unique because we have an excellent combination of negotiation and litigation skills that makes our motorcycle accident attorneys such formidable opponents. We will not back down, and our lawyers have extensive trial experience. GWC uses a comprehensive litigation strategy so that our clients have the best opportunity to get the compensation that they deserve.
To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our dedicated motorcycle accident lawyers, please call our office at (312) 626-9154 or click here to chat with a representative at any time.
Troubling Illinois Motorcycle Accident Statistics
Motorcycling is a popular activity throughout the United States, including in Illinois. According to the Secretary of State’s office, there are approximately 303,000 licensed motorcycles in the state.
While riding a motorcycle can be thrilling, it can also be highly dangerous. Motorcyclists are the most vulnerable people in traffic because motorcycles offer far less protection than cars and trucks do, leaving a rider directly exposed to the impact of thousands of pounds of metal and the road in the event of a high-speed collision.
Consequently, though motorcycle accidents are less common than crashes involving other kinds of vehicles, they are far more likely to be fatal when they occur. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcyclists account for 14 percent of all auto accident deaths, even though motorcycles represent only 3 percent of all registered vehicles in the country.
The NHTSA notes that “motorcyclists continue to be overrepresented in traffic-related fatalities” each and every year. In fact, the agency found that motorcycle riders are approximately 28 times more likely to die in an auto accident than people riding in passenger vehicles based on the number of miles travels.
According to the NHTSA, 5,172 motorcyclists were killed on the road in the United States in 2017 alone, the equivalent of 59.34 deaths per 100,000 registered motorcycles. That same year, approximately 89,000 riders were non-fatally injured in motorcycle accidents, an average of 1,018 injuries per every 100,000 registered motorcycles. While alarming, these motorcycle accident numbers were not atypical. The NHTSA reports that more than 4,500 motorcyclists have been killed and tens of thousands more have been injured in American motorcycle accidents per year since 2010.
Illinois motorcycle accident data mirrors the national trends. A recent Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) study found that motorcycles were involved in 3.1 percent of all motor vehicle injury crashes and 12.1 percent of all fatal traffic accidents in the state, even though motorcycle accidents represented less than one percent of total Illinois collisions.
The situation for riders gets even worse the closer they are to large cities like Chicago. The NHTSA found that 60 percent of motorcycle accident deaths occur in urban areas and 91 percent happen on non-interstate roads.
Even non-fatal motorcycle accidents are likely to result in serious injuries to the rider. Motorcyclists in Illinois get injured in two-thirds of the collisions in which they are involved. And when riders are hurt in motorcycle accidents, there is a 35 percent chance that they will suffer “A-type injuries,” which prevent the victims from driving, walking, or continuing to perform the activities they were able to do before the crash.
The physical, emotional, and financial toll of these types of motorcycle accidents can be devastating to injured riders and their families, sometimes leaving them with never-ending medical expenses, permanent impairment, sharply reduced earning potential, and a loss of enjoyment of everyday life. If a motorcycle accident is the result of someone else’s negligence, the victim should consider scheduling a free consultation with the attorneys at GWC Injury Lawyers to see if legal action against the at-fault parties is possible.
Common Causes Of Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcycle accidents can occur for a number of reasons, though compensable incidents usually involve the negligence of another driver. Such negligent actions could include:
- Exceeding the speed limit
- Following too closely
- Swerving in front of a motorcycle
- Failure to yield the right of way
- Making improper left turns
- Cutting off a motorcycle at an intersection
- Disregarding a motorcyclist who is entering or changing lanes
- Failing to see a motorcyclist
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
Studies suggest that the majority of serious motorcycle accidents occur when larger vehicles like cars or trucks ignore or disregard motorcyclists. Because of motorcycles’ smaller size, shorter stopping time, and limited protective features, other drivers have a duty to display a heightened sense of care for riders by leaving extra room for them, stopping more gradually, and paying better attention to the road.
Nevertheless, car and truck drivers often neglect this duty. An NHTSA report found that there were 2,495 fatal two-vehicle collisions involving a motorcycle and another type of automobile in 2019 alone. About 41 percent of these crashes happened when a car or truck turned left while a motorcycle was either going straight or passing or overtaking another vehicle.
In the Chicago area, the three leading causes of motorcycle accidents include:
- Sudden stops that do not give motorcyclists enough time to avoid a collision;
- Opening car doors on busy streets without looking for passing motorcyclists; and
- Cutting off motorcyclists when changing lanes without warning.
Any of these careless acts could cause a serious motorcycle accident, often with devastating injuries that may come with a heavy price tag. In an instant, a motorcyclist could be placed on the brink of financial disaster. With this in mind, many victims decide to reach out to the motorcycle accident attorneys at GWC Injury Lawyers, who have decades of experience helping wrongfully injured people and their families get the compensation they desperately need.
How Can Motorcycle Accidents Be Prevented?
The State of Illinois takes part in a number of programs designed to raise awareness about motorcycle accident reduction and rider safety, including the “Start Seeing Motorcycles” campaign. The goal of this nationwide initiative is to remind motorists to share the road with motorcyclists more carefully.
Every year since 1983, the Governor of Illinois has designated May as “Motorcycle Awareness Month” to raise public consciousness about the presence of motorcyclists on state roadways. There are also a number of campaigns to encourage motorcyclists to take their own safety precautions. These include the “Don’t Drink and Ride” initiative, which was established in 2008 to eliminate drinking and motorcycling, and “Gear Up – Ride Smart,” a campaign to convince motorcyclists to wear proper gear in order to reduce injuries, such as protective eyewear, gloves, jackets, pants, boots, and helmets.
But if you are a motorcyclist in Illinois, you do not need to wait for an official event to keep yourself safe. There are a number of steps you can take right now to reduce the likelihood of getting in a serious motorcycle accident and to limit the severity of any injuries.
First, make every effort possible to be visible to others on the road. Motorcycles are much smaller than cars and trucks, so drivers have a harder time seeing them, which can lead to devastating collisions. When you ride a motorcycle, be sure to wear bright-colored clothing. Before changing lanes, you should also always flash your lights to make drivers aware of your presence, particularly at night or under low visibility conditions.
Next, when changing lanes, do it slowly. Assume that other drivers cannot see you when you switch lanes because you are in their blind spot. In addition to moving slowly when you change lanes, use hand signals to alert others of your intentions and reduce the possibility of a sideswipe motorcycle accident.
Also be sure to take extra precautions when riding through intersections, where more than one-third (35 percent) of motorcycle accidents take place. Again, it is best to assume you are in another driver’s blind spot. To better protect yourself, move slowly, look for other motorists, and leave extra room in the case of an unforeseen hazard or dangerous situation arising.
Additionally, do not tailgate. Following other motorists too closely can lead to rear-end collisions, which can be deadly when you are in a motorcycle moving at high speed. Drivers traveling ahead of you may have a number of reasons for stopping abruptly that you cannot see, so you should keep your distance in order to stay safe.
Like every other driver on the road, you should always maintain a safe speed while riding your motorcycle. This does not only mean observing the posted speed limit, as is legally required. You should also reduce your speed under conditions that may hinder your visibility and traction, including rain, snow, sleet, ice, and fog. Speeding is a factor in approximately one-third of all traffic deaths in the United States and 40 percent of all fatal Chicago accidents.
Furthermore, do not ride your motorcycle under the influence of alcohol, illicit drugs, or prescription medications. Operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated is highly illegal and incredibly dangerous, particularly for motorcyclists. IDOT reports that alcohol is a contributing factor in about 30 percent of all motorcycle accident fatalities in Illinois.
Similarly, you should avoid riding when you are sleepy because deep fatigue can sometimes be as dangerous as drunkenness when operating a motor vehicle. According to one study, a person who drives after having gone more than twenty hours without sleep may experience the same level of impairment as a driver with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent, the legal limit for intoxication.
You need to also avoid unnecessary distraction when riding your motorcycle. Distraction, which is a contributing factor in more than half of all traffic accidents, involves anything that takes your attention off the road, with cellphone use being the most hazardous.
Finally, if you do get into a motorcycle accident, the best thing you can do to prevent an injury is to wear a helmet. Illinois is one of only three states that does not require residents to wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle, often with disastrous results. IDOT has found that 71 percent of motorcyclists killed in Illinois traffic accidents were not wearing helmets at the time.
A helmet is essential equipment for protecting yourself on a motorcycle. The NHTSA estimates that helmets are 37 percent effective in preventing deaths and about 67 percent effective in preventing brain injuries in motorcycle accidents.
Why Should I Hire A Motorcycle Accident Lawyer?
Regardless of what precautions a rider may take, motorcycle accidents may still occur, and the injuries can be tremendous when they do. When someone else is responsible for the collision, the injured victim may consider seeking damages from the liable party or parties. However, no matter what caused a motorcycle accident, it can be difficult for injured riders to obtain compensation. The insurance companies of the at-fault parties frequently try to downplay liability or deny it outright in order to limit financial exposure, especially when motorcyclists represent themselves. Experienced insurance adjusters and defense lawyers will count on your inexperience so they can settle a motorcycle accident case for pennies on the dollar.
If this is your first accident, it is certainly not the first for the motorcycle accident lawyers at GWC. We know what a case like yours is worth because we have successfully resolved cases just like it. We are skilled at doing everything necessary for your motorcycle accident claim, including:
- Communicating with insurance companies;
- Collecting police reports;
- Obtaining evidence;
- Gathering witness statements;
- Reconstructing the motorcycle accident scene;
- Investigating the responsible motorist’s driving history;
- Identifying equipment problems in case of a product liability claim;
- Reviewing medical records; and
- Consulting technical experts.
With the proper materials assembled, GWC’s fiercely determined motorcycle accident lawyers can fight to obtain top dollar from the negligent person’s insurance company. Unlike so many of our competitors, we are not afraid to go to court if the insurer does not offer fair compensation for a motorcycle accident claim, and we have consistently shown that we can win.
Motorcycle Accident Frequently Asked Questions
A: A number of factors may influence the value of a motorcycle accident case, such as legal merit, insurance coverage, and the extent of the injured party’s damages.
A: Illinois law allows motorcycle accident victims and their attorneys to obtain compensation for non-economic damages, including pain and suffering.
A: Compensation for wage loss may be available to motorcycle accident victims provided their injuries prevented them from going to work.
Motorcycle Injuries Are Dangerous
Unfortunately, motorcycle riders are at a significant disadvantage in an accident. In fact, over 75 percent of motorcycle accidents occur between a motorcycle rider and a car. This means that motorcycle riders will often receive serious and/or fatal injuries in such collisions.
Some of the most common motorcycle accident injuries include:
- Brain damage
- Spinal cord damage
- Fractured bones
- Lost limbs
- Road rash
Because motorcycle riders are so unprotected, their injuries can often be fatal. In cases like these, our motorcycle accident attorneys will help grieving family members file for wrongful death lawsuits.
What Kind Of Compensation Can I Get?
Any compensation will depend upon the unique circumstances of your motorcycle accident, though a settlement or a jury award could cover:
- Past and Future Medical Bills
- Lost Wages
- Pain and Suffering
- Mental and Emotional Anguish
- Scarring and Disfigurement
- Loss of Enjoyment of Life
- Permanent Impairment and Disability
- Loss of Consortium
Additionally, a capable attorney will also work to help a client recover additional out-of-pocket expenses arising because of a motorcycle accident, such as the cost of transportation to and from medical appointments and childcare bills.
If the party who is responsible for a motorcycle accident acted in an especially egregious or illegal manner, such as driving under the influence or fleeing from police, the injured victim’s lawyers may seek punitive damages, which Illinois courts sometimes permit in order to discourage similar behavior from other drivers. The amount of punitive damages that a plaintiff might receive may depend upon the extent of the defendant’s transgressions and his or her financial means, with wealthier defendants potentially facing greater penalties than those with fewer assets. GWC’s motorcycle accident attorneys will always fight to maximize the punitive damages available when the facts warrant them.
GWC’s Chicago motorcycle accident attorneys can help you recover the financial compensation you deserve after a motorcycle accident. Contact GWC today for a no-cost case evaluation if you are the innocent victim of a motorcycle accident.
How Long Does a Motorcycle Accident Case Take?
It is understandable for an injured victim contemplating a motorcycle accident case to wonder how long it will take to reach a resolution, but the truth is that every case is unique. It can be impossible to know up front when the lawyers involved will reach a settlement, assuming a settlement can be reached at all, or if a lawsuit will need to be filed, if that suit will go to trial, or what the outcome of a trial may be.
One factor that may influence the length of a motorcycle accident case is the Statute of Limitations, which is the period of time before which a plaintiff and his or her attorneys must file suit to prevent a claim from lapsing. The Statute of Limitations in Illinois is typically two years after the date of injury, or one year in personal injury claims against government entities (with some exceptions). While most motorcycle accident lawyers will try to reach a settlement before the Statute of Limitations expires, they may have to file a lawsuit if they cannot do so. Failure to file suit or otherwise resolve a case before the Statute of Limitations elapses may forever bar a plaintiff from ever receiving compensation.
While a victim’s attorneys will need to file suit before the Statute of Limitations passes, that does not mean it will take that long to resolve a motorcycle accident case. Many cases settle before the Statute of Limitations runs, while others are settled or adjudicated in court months or even years after the Statute of Limitations has elapsed (provided that a lawsuit has already been filed). Factors such as legal merit, the available insurance coverage, the medical bills, wage loss, and other damages incurred, and the permanency of any injuries may all influence the duration of a motorcycle accident case.
Plaintiffs should not take what they hear from friends or “experts” as the final word on how long a case will last because each one is different. Nevertheless, if you want to learn more about what you can reasonably expect if you decide to pursue a claim for your injuries, the motorcycle accident attorneys at GWC Injury Lawyers are available to provide you with a no-cost, no-obligation case evaluation.
Who Is at Fault for a Motorcycle Accident?
A motorcycle accident victim seeking compensation needs to prove that another party was at fault or “liable” for the collision and therefore has a financial responsibility for any injuries sustained.
In the Illinois legal system, liability is determined by a party’s degree of negligence. Negligence is based on the principle that an individual has a duty to exercise reasonable care and act in a way that considers the potential harm that the individual may foreseeably inflict on other people or property. To establish a defendant’s negligence, a plaintiff must demonstrate that he or she “breached” that duty in a way that caused the plaintiff harm.
In the case of a “negligent” motorcycle accident, the plaintiff’s attorneys will argue that the defendant breached a duty to the plaintiff to exercise reasonable care and that this breach resulted in the incident causing damages. A successful motorcycle accident negligence claim needs to prove four elements:
- The defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff to uphold the traffic laws and observe reasonably safe standards of driving;
- The defendant breached this duty by not meeting the demands that were required of this duty;
- The defendant’s breach of this duty directly caused the motorcycle accident; and
- The plaintiff sustained injuries in the motorcycle accident for which financial recovery may be ordered.
If the victim’s lawyers can prove to a judge or jury that the defendant was liable for the motorcycle accident, the defendant’s insurance company may be financially liable for the victim’s injuries and other damages. If attorneys for the plaintiff cannot establish the defendant’s liability, compensation may not be recoverable.
In most motorcycle accidents, the at-fault party is the driver and/or owner of the vehicle that is primarily responsible for the incident. When the collision involves only the plaintiff and another driver, the plaintiff’s lawyer will try to show that the other driver was entirely at fault. If the owner of the other vehicle is different from the driver, the plaintiff could also seek financial compensation from the owner.
In other motorcycles accidents, additional parties may also be at fault, such as collisions in which more than two vehicles are involved. When this occurs, a plaintiff needs to identify the vehicle that was primarily responsible and pursue its driver and/or owner. If other vehicles were also responsible in some way, the victim could pursue their drivers and/or owners for compensation that is proportional to their share of liability.
When a motorcyclist is injured by a vehicle being used for commercial purposes, such as a large truck or semi-trailer, there may be even more parties who could be held liable for the motorcycle accident injuries. These at-fault parties could include the vehicle’s driver, its owner, the owner of the company using the vehicle (if different), and any party whose goods the vehicle may have been transporting (if applicable), and possibly other parties as well.
If a legally intoxicated driver is responsible for a motorcycle accident, outside parties who served that driver alcoholic beverages before the collision might also be liable for damages. These types of legal actions are regulated by the Illinois Dram Shop Act, which includes a number of limitations and requirements, so a victim should consider consulting a knowledgeable attorney before taking action.
When a motorcycle accident is the result of defective road conditions or construction, a plaintiff’s lawyers might seek compensation from the municipality or outside contractors who caused the defect, though certain limitations may apply in cases against government bodies. For example, the Statute of Limitations is typically shorter when filing a lawsuit against a government entity than it would be in a suit against a private party, and there is a cap of $2 million in damages for claims against the State of Illinois.
Additionally, an injured party might be eligible to receive compensation from the manufacturer, distributor, installer, or servicer of defective equipment if mechanical failure was a contributing factor in a motorcycle accident. An attorney with product liability experience may be able to advise a plaintiff on the best way to prove culpability in these types of cases.
As you may see, a number of parties could be at fault for a single motorcycle accident. It is crucial that victims and their attorneys identify and pursue all of the liable parties within the time allotted by law because failure to do so could forever bar them from obtaining full and fair compensation.
What If the Motorcycle Accident Victim Is Partly at Fault?
There are some motorcycle accidents in which liability is a two-way street. If the victim seeking damages is partly at fault for the collision, how much he or she is responsible will impact the success of the claim.
Some states prohibit plaintiffs from receiving any compensation if they contributed to a motorcycle accident at all, but Illinois employs a modified comparative negligence system that may permit some level of financial recovery.
Modified comparative negligence is a theory of comparative fault which holds that a plaintiff can obtain compensation for damages from a defendant only if the plaintiff’s level of liability is not more than 50 percent. If a judge or jury decides that a motorcycle accident plaintiff is more than 50 percent at fault, then he or she may not be eligible to recover damages from the defendant.
Even if the plaintiff meets the minimum threshold for compensation, modified comparative negligence could still reduce the amount of that compensation in proportion to the degree of the plaintiff’s liability.
If, for example, a motorcycle accident plaintiff suffers $100,000.00 in damages, and the judge or jury decides that the defendant was only 50 percent liable, that generally means the plaintiff was also 50 percent liable. Under the modified comparative negligence rule, the defendant would still be at fault, but the damages would be reduced by the 50 percent for which the plaintiff was at fault. Therefore, the maximum amount of financial recovery available to the plaintiff for the motorcycle accident would be $50,000.00.
However, if the judge or jury concludes that the plaintiff was more than 50 percent liable for the motorcycle accident, that plaintiff would receive nothing at all because he or she would have exceeded the modified comparative negligence threshold of not more than 50 percent liability.
For this reason, plaintiffs who are partly at fault for a motorcycle accident need to prove that other parties were even more at fault. Otherwise, Illinois’ modified comparative negligence limit would bar them from obtaining compensation. Injured riders in this situation might benefit from the assistance of a motorcycle accident lawyer who has successfully represented plaintiffs in claims with deeply contested liability. Constructing a solid case can be the difference between some financial recovery for a motorcycle accident and no recovery at all.
What If the At-Fault Driver Does Not Have Insurance?
Under Illinois law, the company insuring the vehicle of the party who is “at fault” for an auto accident is financially responsible for the injuries of the victims and other damages up to the limits of the liability insurance policy.
Unfortunately, an estimated 12.6 percent of vehicles across the country are uninsured, even though states like Illinois require all vehicles on the road to have liability coverage. However, if you are in a motorcycle accident and the at-fault vehicle is not insured, a knowledgeable lawyer might still help you obtain compensation for your injuries provided that there is uninsured motorist (UM) coverage available.
UM coverage would adhere to the insurance policy of the vehicle transporting you at the time of a collision, whether it was your own or somebody else’s to which you had lawful access. A wide range of vehicles have uninsured motorist coverage, including cars, trucks, and motorcycles. UM coverage could even apply if you were not using a vehicle at the time of an auto accident, provided that you owned a motorcycle or other vehicle with UM coverage or resided with a close family member who did.
Keep in mind that not all insurance policies are created equal. Many policies do not include uninsured motorist coverage, and even those that do may have certain restrictions on how it can be applied. If you have been injured by an uninsured vehicle, you might benefit from speaking with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney who can identify all the avenues of financial recovery that may be available to you, including UM coverage.
How Much Will It Cost to Hire a Motorcycle Accident Attorney?
It will cost you nothing up front to hire GWC Injury Lawyers to work on your motorcycle accident case. This is because our firm works on a contingency fee basis. Only when our motorcycle accident attorneys achieve a positive outcome on your behalf will we receive any reimbursement for our case-related expenses and a fee for our services, typically in the form of a percentage of the final settlement or verdict.
At GWC, we don’t get paid until you get paid, and the more you get paid, the more we get paid. It is a mutually beneficial arrangement that incentivizes our injury attorneys to maximize the value of your motorcycle accident case. It also removes any additional worries and expenses at a time when you can least afford them so that you can focus on what is most important – healing from your injuries.
Trusted Motorcycle Accident Lawyers For Over Forty Years
With more than $2 billion recovered in verdicts and settlements in over forty years in the business, GWC Injury Lawyers is one of the premier Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation law firms in Illinois. No firm is more respected by its adversaries. Our reputation of success precedes us wherever we go, which allows our motorcycle accident attorneys to get you and your family the justice you deserve.
If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a motorcycle accident that was caused by another motorist, GWC’s highly skilled attorneys are ready to help explain your legal options and can be reached online 24/7 via our Live Chat or “Free Case Evaluation” form.