A Peoria Motorcycle Accident Lawyer at Our Firm Understands the Challenges You Face
If you have suffered an injury in a motorcycle accident, then you may be entitled to sue and recover damages under Illinois law. 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 a Peoria motorcycle accident lawyer at our firm for further guidance.
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 with a Peoria motorcycle accident lawyer with the experience and know-how necessary to successfully advocate on your behalf.
Unique Issues in Motorcycle Accident Litigation
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.
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, your Peoria motorcycle accident lawyer understands that 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.
How Long Do I Have to File a Motorcycle Accident Claim?
In Illinois, the time limit (the statute of limitations) for personal injury cases (including motorcycle accidents) is two years from the date the crash occurs. The court will reject the claim if a motorcycle accident victim fails to file a lawsuit within this two-year window. A Peoria motorcycle accident lawyer at Parker & Parker will help you calculate your filing deadline, but it’s best to contact us immediately. Aside from the statute of limitations, evidence tends to go stale: eyewitnesses forget what they saw, documents get “lost,” etc. We’ll handle the collection of evidence and any court deadlines for you.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
Because motorcycles present such a narrow profile in traffic, most accidents are caused by the other vehicle driver, who is not likely looking out for motorcycles and doesn’t have rearview mirrors adjusted to cover the blind spots motorcycles are often in. Some specific negligent acts committed by automobile drivers that lead to serious motorcycle accidents include:
- Weaving in and out of traffic lanes
- Distracted driving
- Impaired driving
- Failure to yield to a motorcyclist’s right to occupy a lane
- Cutting off motorcyclists by making sudden, unsafe lane changes
- Failure to scan traffic in all four directions
How Much is My Motorcycle Accident Claim Worth?
The value of your motorcycle personal injury claim depends on various factors, such as the severity of your injuries, the severity of damage to your motorcycle, and the percentage of fault assigned to you. A Peoria motorcycle accident attorney at Parker & Parker will fight against motorcycle bias to obtain the maximum financial compensation you’re entitled to. Some of the damages we’ll fight for include:
- Repairs for the damage to your motorcycle
- Past and future lost wages from missing work
- All of your past and future medical and medical-related bills
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
Illinois Helmet Laws
Helmets have been proven to protect riders in case of any type of collision. They prevent brain injuries and even death. It is estimated that in 2017, a total of 1,872 lives were saved on United States roadways because of helmets. Even so, Illinois is one of three states that does not require motorcycle riders or their passengers to wear helmets. However, operators of motorcycles and their riders must have protection for their eyes. If the motorcycle does not have a shatter-resistant transparent shield, they are required to wear glasses or goggles.
Although not required, many motorcycle riders and their passengers are aware of the huge difference wearing a helmet makes when accidents happen, and voluntarily wear them on Illinois roadways. They understand that should they hit the ground, it is best to have something to protect their brain when it comes in contact with the pavement.
There are federal laws that mandate how motorcycle helmets are designed and created. Different helmets are made with different specifications, and riders are able to determine which helmet they need to have the best protection while enjoying the freedom of the open road.
Common Catastrophic Injuries Resulting from Motorcycle Accidents
Injuries tend to be more severe for motorcycle riders because of their lack of protection. They have only their clothing and (hopefully) a helmet between them and another vehicle or the pavement. Riders can maximize their protection by wearing thick, motorcycle-designed clothing and a DOT-approved helmet, but their injury exposure remains very high.
For simplification purposes, injuries can be divided into two major classes: non-severe and severe. Severe injuries are those that cause major disruption to a victim’s life, cause significant hardship, and prevent gainful employment.
- Burn Injuries. In nearly every motorcycle accident, the motorcycle rider hits the ground and skids, causing a particular type of skin burn known as “road rash.” How far and how deeply the rider skids determines the severity of the burns. Some burns are serious enough to be classified as third-degree burns, destroying both the epidermis and dermis. These burns may also damage the underlying muscles, bones, and tendons.
- Brain Injuries. During any motorcycle accident, the rider’s head is particularly vulnerable. A blow to the rider’s head from either another vehicle or the pavement can result in a traumatic brain injury, affecting the rider’s cognitive abilities and causing headaches, nausea, and seizures, among many other symptoms.
- Spinal Cord Injuries. These are, unfortunately, quite common for motorcycle riders in an accident, especially at high speeds. Any damage to any part of the spinal cord or nerves at the end of the spinal canal can cause difficulty controlling limbs or even paralysis.
- Loss of a Limb. If a rider suffers severe enough damage to an arm or leg, the limb may have to be amputated.
Non-severe injuries do not generally cause a major disruption of lifestyle or prevent finding work. They are, however, painful, and the medical attention they require can be time-consuming and expensive. A few of the common non-severe injuries caused by motorcycle accidents include:
- Whiplash. Whiplash is a common name for the sudden back-and-forth movement of the head, causing trauma to the neck. Symptoms usually last for a few weeks with exercise and possibly short-term medication.
- Fractures and Broken Ribs. A motorcycle rider’s limbs and core are all susceptible to injury in a motorcycle accident. Broken limbs must be set and have time to heal, while broken ribs are exceptionally painful but have no real treatment other than tight wrapping.
- Abrasions. A lesser form of road rash, painful abrasions are almost always the result of a motorcycle accident.
- Soft-Tissue Injuries. Soft tissue injuries, such as contusions, sprains, and strains are common in motorcycle accidents because the rider’s body is forced to contort in ways it’s not supposed to.
Contact a Peoria Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Parker & Parker for Aggressive Legal 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.