Motorcyclists are regularly exposed to significant dangers on Illinois roadways, even when they operate their vehicles cautiously. Furthermore, when a motorcyclist is involved in an accident, the likelihood of a serious (or even fatal) injury is high. According to eight months of crash data collected by the Illinois Department of Transportation for 2019 (January through August), there were 81 fatalities linked to motorcycle accidents statewide, out of a total of 513 motor vehicle fatalities.
If you have suffered an injury in a motorcycle accident, then you may be entitled to sue and recover damages under Illinois law.
The prospect of litigation can be intimidating for many plaintiffs, and rightfully so — whether your claims are successful could spell the difference between obtaining adequate financial compensation for your motorcycle accident injuries, or being left without proper recourse. It’s therefore critical that you consult attorneys with the experience and know-how necessary to successfully advocate on your behalf.
Here at Parker & Parker, we provide personalized representation to those who have been harmed in a variety of personal injury scenarios, including motorcycle accidents. If you’d like to learn more about your claims (and what the “next steps” are as you move forward with such claims), then we encourage you to contact our firm for further guidance.
Unique Issues in Motorcycle Accident Litigation
There are several unique issues that can impact litigation of an Illinois motorcycle accident case. Consider the following:
Motorcyclists face a higher risk of suffering a catastrophic injury in the event of an accident, in large part because of the very nature of motorcycle use. A motorcycle simply does not have the structure necessary to absorb an impact before those impact forces directly interact with the motorcyclist.
For example, in a head-on car collision, the hood of the car is designed to absorb and spread the impact force by crumpling, thus minimizing the likelihood of the driver’s or passenger’s body being directly affected. By contrast, if a car collides with the front of a motorcycle, the motorcyclist’s body will either be directly affected by the car structure or will be flung from the bike.
Motorcycle accident plaintiffs are therefore put in a rather unenviable position. The plaintiff must not only “win” their case, but must secure the maximum damages available. As losses tend to be more severe in motorcycle accident litigation, a below-expectations damages award may not be sufficient to cover their prior and ongoing expenses.
Illinois is one of only a few states that does not demand that motorcyclists wear helmets. The mere fact that a motorcyclist is entitled by law to avoid wearing a helmet does not necessarily mean that there won’t be legal consequences in the “civil litigation” context.
If you are not wearing a helmet, and you get into a motorcycle accident where you suffer a head injury, then the defendant will almost certainly counter that you are not entitled to receive the damages you seek due to your contributory negligence (in failing to wear a helmet). Failing to wear a helmet may not constitute an illegal act, but it is likely to be considered negligence under the circumstances.
So, what happens if you fail to wear a helmet?
Well, Illinois law is somewhat favorable to plaintiffs in this regard. Illinois has established a pure comparative negligence system, which means that a plaintiff may recover damages even if they are partially at fault. In fact, plaintiffs may recover even if they are 99 percent at fault for their own injuries. If you failed to wear a helmet, then, you would still be entitled to recover damages, but those damages will be reduced in accordance with the percentage fault that can be attributed to you.
Lane splitting is illegal in Illinois. If you were changing lanes when the accident occurred, then you will almost certainly be found “contributorily negligent,” and your maximum damage recovery will be reduced accordingly. You might be able to avoid this, however, if you can show that your lane splitting was not directly linked to the accident. For example, if you are hit by a trailer truck, and you can show that you would’ve been hit regardless of your position in the lane (or between lanes), then your “negligence” in splitting the lane may simply be irrelevant to the case at issue.
Contact Parker & Parker for Immediate Legal Assistance
We’re here to help.
At Parker & Parker, our team of attorneys are well-acquainted with the unique challenges faced by plaintiffs in motorcycle accident cases and have the decades-long experience and insight necessary to develop and execute a litigation strategy that will achieve the best possible result for the client.