Many people choose motorcycles for ease of use, lower fuel costs, or the enjoyment of riding the open road. During the pandemic, there was also an increase in motorcycle sales as some consumers moved away from public transportation.
Today, there are more than 312,000 motorcycles registered in the state of Illinois, including many in Chicago. While driving a motorcycle has many benefits, riders are more vulnerable to injury and death in the event of an accident than people in cars.
Unfortunately, careless drivers can easily crash into a motorcycle and leave the rider with serious injuries.
- Road rash. This condition sounds innocuous but can be quite serious, occurring when a rider is thrown from their bike and bare skin meets the pavement. The impact can remove a significant portion of skin, cause deep lacerations, and even result in gravel or other debris embedded in the flesh. Infection and scarring are major concerns, and the injured person may need to have the wounds debrided at a hospital. Wearing thick, protective clothing designed for motorcyclists can help reduce the risk of road rash by protecting the skin in an accident.
- Broken bones. Being ejected from a motorcycle can also cause broken arms, legs, wrists, ankles, hands, feet, clavicles, ribs, or other bones. Hand and arm injuries are the most common because ejected bikers instinctively throw their arms out to break their fall. Even a “simple” fracture can leave you with expensive hospital bills and could make it hard for you to work and do your typical activities. A more serious break could take months to heal fully.
- Head or traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). It’s easy to hit your head in a motorcycle crash, but often, it’s hard to recover from the damage. Even a mild TBI, like a concussion, can lead to headaches, brain fog, confusion, and other symptoms lasting up to a month. Some patients may also develop post-concussive syndrome, in which symptoms persist past the point when a concussion is usually healed. More severe brain injuries can cause permanent disabilities, such as difficulty with speech, movement, memory, cognition, or balance. The best way to prevent or reduce the severity of head trauma in a motorcycle accident is to wear a well-fitted motorcycle helmet every time you ride.
- Back, neck, and spine injuries. A motorcycle crash can be very jarring to the bones and soft tissues of the neck and back. Soft tissue injuries like whiplash and back strain are common, and while many cases clear up in a few weeks, some may lead to chronic pain. Pinched nerves in the back or neck can also be painful and difficult to treat. A broken back or damaged spinal cord can lead to permanent paralysis and disability, and some people may no longer be able to work.
- Abdomen or torso injuries. These are especially common in older riders but can affect younger motorcyclists, too. When a biker is ejected, they may strike rocks and other objects on the ground, causing bruising or internal bleeding in the stomach or chest area. Others may have broken ribs, ranging from excruciatingly painful to life-threatening (if a broken rib punctures a lung, for example). Again, a padded jacket can help absorb some of the impact and may lessen the severity of torso injuries.
- Face and eye injuries. These are most likely to occur in riders who don’t wear a full-face helmet. If the face is exposed during a crash, even with a helmet that covers the rest of the head, the motorcycle rider could suffer a facial fracture, facial lacerations, or eye injuries. In some cases, the rider could permanently lose vision in one or both eyes or have permanent facial scarring.
If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle crash, you could be facing months of recovery time, permanent pain or disability, costly medical bills, and missed time at work. The responsible party or their insurance carrier should reimburse you for these damages, but unfortunately, it’s not always that simple.
The at-fault driver may claim you were at fault, and if there isn’t much evidence at the scene, it may be difficult to prove otherwise. Auto insurers are notoriously practiced at denying or undervaluing claims and may also state that you were at fault.
How can you ensure a fair settlement in your motorcycle accident?
Talk With an Illinois Motorcycle Accident Attorney Right Away
You can’t count on an insurance company to do the right thing, but your motorcycle accident attorney will always be on your side. They can help you collect evidence and build a case showing that the other driver was at fault.
Proving Fault in a Motorcycle Accident
Most motorcycle riders drive carefully and do their best to avoid accidents, but there’s no guarantee that other motorists will do the same. Often, vehicle drivers who hit bikers claim they didn’t see the bike.
While motorcycles are smaller and harder to see than other vehicles, it’s still the other driver’s responsibility to look carefully before turning or pulling out. However, there are some situations where a biker’s actions may have contributed to an accident – for example, if they weren’t using their headlamp on an overcast day.
Under Illinois law, it is possible for two parties to share fault in an accident. The party that is mostly at fault – at least 51 percent – is considered to be liable for the accident. However, this liability is also calculated as a percentage.
If the lesser responsible party has, say, 10 percent of the blame, then 10 percent is deducted from their final award for damages.
Once you understand this, it’s easier to see why it’s in the insurance company’s best interests to claim that you were at fault. Even if they can’t prove you were entirely responsible, they can still reduce their liability by suggesting you were partly at fault.
What Should You Do After a Motorcycle Accident to Preserve Your Rights?
First, get to a safe place out of the road, report the accident to 911, and ask for an ambulance if you’re injured. Even if your injuries seem mild, you should still get checked out by a doctor.
It’s very common for injuries to hurt more the day after an accident. In some cases, the adrenaline rush of the crash can suppress pain and other symptoms, and an injured person may not even realize they’re hurt.
If you’re able, take pictures of the crash scene, including damage to your bike and the other vehicle, as well as your injuries. You should exchange contact and insurance info with the other driver but avoid discussing blame, especially if you think you were at fault.
We actually meet many people who say that an accident was their fault without knowing everything that happened. On the other hand, if you know the other driver was to blame, arguing with them about it at the scene is unlikely to be productive and could make your case more difficult later.
Sometimes, in trying to explain why an accident wasn’t their fault, people inadvertently say things that can be misconstrued to imply they were responsible.
When the police arrive, you should answer their questions honestly but succinctly. Don’t volunteer additional information they didn’t ask for, and don’t speculate about fault. If you don’t know the answer to a question, say so.
Call a personal injury lawyer when you’re finished talking with the police or getting medical treatment. We can begin investigating your accident immediately, including looking for the police report.
What Can You Learn From a Police Report After a Motorcycle Accident?
When the police respond to a motorcycle accident, they usually try to interview both drivers and any witnesses at the scene and make observations about the crash site, damage to vehicles, etc.
Then, they complete a report in which they include statements from the people they interviewed and their opinion of what probably happened in the accident. If they feel there is evidence someone committed a traffic violation, they will usually cite the driver.
Unfortunately, some factors in motorcycle accidents might make this process more challenging for motorcyclists. Because bikers often suffer serious injuries, it can sometimes be difficult for them to give a clear statement at the accident scene.
We’ve had clients who don’t remember speaking to the police or if their statement was accurate. Head injuries or any injury that causes intense pain can make it hard to think clearly.
In more serious cases, the injured biker may be rushed to the hospital before they can give a statement. The police will try to follow up, but if the patient’s condition remains serious, they may not be in any shape to give a statement for some time.
Eventually, the responding officer has to file a report with the existing information.
A police report is usually filed within a week or so of an accident. As soon as it’s available, we review it with the client and ask if anything seems inaccurate.
If you don’t remember the accident well, that’s not a problem – our investigators have other ways of learning more about what happened. If you do remember it clearly and notice anything inaccurate, we will pay special attention to that area of the report. With additional evidence, we can work to refute it.
How Our Motorcycle Accident Law Firm Gains Clarity Through a Deeper Investigation
In today’s world, there are multiple tools we can use to investigate your motorcycle accident further, including:
- Visiting the scene. We’ll look around, visit local businesses, and canvas the area for more insight into what might have happened. Sometimes, we notice details that don’t match something in the police report.
- Video evidence. Another benefit of visiting the scene is that we can look around for video, security, or traffic cameras. Once we locate these, we may contact the owners and ask if they have video saved from the time of your accident. If so, we might be able to uncover a video showing exactly what happened. However, videos like these are frequently erased on a regular schedule, so the sooner we get to work on your case, the more likely we are to find this valuable evidence.
- Witness testimony. While examining the scene and the surrounding neighborhood, we may find additional witnesses who can explain more about the events of your motorcycle crash.
- Black box data. If you were hit by a passenger vehicle, chances are it has a “black box” or event data recorder. (All new cars sold in the US have had these installed since 2014, and some car brands began using them as early as 1994.) The black box records numerous data points about an event or accident to help manufacturers improve vehicle safety in the future. But this information is also useful in many cases where fault is disputed. Once we file a lawsuit in your case, we can ask the court for legal access to the vehicle’s black box data to learn how fast the car was going, what direction it was headed in, and any actions the driver took.
- Smartphone data. Sometimes, a vehicle driver doesn’t see a motorcycle because of its size, poor visibility, a landscape feature like a building or tree in the way, or a combination of these factors. But in other cases, the driver doesn’t see the bike because they’re distracted by a phone, which is illegal in Illinois. However, the driver may not mention this to the police. We can also request their phone records to determine if they were texting or distracted when your accident occurred.
Get Help From an Experienced Illinois Motorcycle Accident Law Firm Today
If you or a loved one have been seriously hurt in a motorcycle accident, please contact The Fakhouri Firm Accident and Injury Lawyers for a free consultation, during which we’ll answer your questions and explain your options for seeking compensation.
If we take your case, we’ll work tirelessly to recover all the damages you deserve.
Founder and lead attorney Robert S. Fakhouri graduated from the Chicago-Kent College of Law and gained experience as a litigation associate. He then founded The Fakhouri Firm at the age of 25 and has dedicated himself to fighting for the rights of injured people.
When he’s not working on a case, you can find him on social media, breaking down complex legal topics for his many followers. Contact The Fakhouri Firm today at (312) 999-9990.