Motorcyclists may use their bikes as their primary mode of transportation, or they could save riding for weekends with nice weather. When motorcyclists are riding, they need to be aware and alert to stay safe. However, if another driver acts negligently, they could cause an accident involving the motorcyclist. Unfortunately, this can cause devastating injuries. If a motorcycle wreck has impacted your life, you may not know who to turn to. You may be aware that you need a settlement, but not about how to protect your rights. The best way to do that is with a Chicago motorcycle accident lawyer from Thomas Law Offices.
We strive to provide the best legal services to our clients in Illinois. Our experienced and passionate lawyers will make sure that your rights are protected. We will find the negligent party and make sure they’re held accountable for their actions. You deserve to make your voice heard and recover for the damages and losses this accident has cost you.
Our lawyers can also help facilitate communication between you and the insurance company involved. It’s common for insurance adjusters to contact you after the wreck to try and get an official statement from you. They could ask about the accident and what kind of injuries you sustained. Your injuries, however, may be more severe than you know. If you don’t know the full extent of your injuries, then you also may not know what kind of treatment will be required for your recovery. You could think your recovery could take a few weeks, but then learn it could take months.
However, if you give an insurance adjuster your statement even though you don’t have the information, the statement you give can still affect your claim. You could tell them about broken bones, but not feel symptoms of another injury at that point. They’ll note that you didn’t give this information in your statement and could question why you’re mentioning it now. This could risk you getting an unfavorable settlement.
Illinois Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcycle accidents may not be as common as car accidents, but there are still a significant amount that cause injuries and fatalities. According to the 2018 Illinois Crash Facts & Statistics, Illinois had 119 motorcyclist fatalities and 2,973 motorcycle crashes. There were 2,266 motorcyclists injured and 811 motorcyclists who sustained A-injuries. A-injuries are incapacitating injuries. This can include injuries that will prevent the person from walking, driving, or doing the normal activities that they did before the accident and resulting injury.
The data also breaks down the injuries and fatalities by the type of road. They are relatively close in the amount. For urban routes, there were 63 fatalities, 413 A-injuries, and 1,345 injuries. Rural routes had 58 fatalities, 417 A-injuries, and 1,074 injuries.
The age demographic that had the most injuries and fatalities was those 45 and older. This demographic had 55 fatalities, 308 A-injuries, and 814 injured.
While the average of motorcyclists injured and killed has decreased between 2017 and 2018, those who have been injured or lost loved ones because of negligence are experiencing significant damages and losses. Those people still need a lawyer who will help them get the justice they deserve.
Understanding the Reasons Why Chicago Motorcycle Accidents Happen
When our motorcycle accident attorneys in Chicago investigate your case, we’ll look into why the accident happened in the first place. This can point toward the identity of the negligent party and get us one step closer to getting you the justice you deserve.
While a bike collision is usually caused by negligence, there are a few ways it can occur. Let’s look at some of the common ways that these accidents can happen.
- Unfamiliarity. Motorcyclists are much more difficult to spot on the road than cars. A new, inexperienced driver may not be used to looking for a smaller object when they’re about to turn or change lanes. They may also lack the ability to accurately judge how fast someone is traveling on a motorcycle or their distance from the car. One of the most common places for these types of accidents to occur is at intersections when the driver is making a left turn. They may look for oncoming traffic, but they’re only expecting cars. If they do not see any cars, they may think the lane is clear to turn—but they collide with an oncoming motorcyclist. This situation can also be reversed. If a motorcyclist is making a left turn and the oncoming car doesn’t see them an accident can occur. In 2018, motorcyclists making left turns caused 149 crashes and going straight ahead caused 1,638 crashes.
- Passing. When motorcyclists are passing, they may think the other drivers around them are remaining alert and have experience driving around other motorcycles. If the driver isn’t paying attention, they could speed up or maneuver their car in a way that collides with the motorcyclist. Passing and overtaking led to 106 crashes in 2018.
- Aggressive Driving. Unfortunately, other drivers may feel that motorcyclists shouldn’t get to share the road with them. This could lead to aggressive driving like speeding, tailgating, or failing to yield the right-of-way to motorcyclists. When they believe that they deserve the road more than bikers, they can cause tragic motorcycle wrecks. It doesn’t take much to knock a motorcyclist off balance. When an aggressive driver is following too closely, they could bump the back of the motorcycle. This could cause the rider to lose control and fall. Losing control of a motorcycle caused 304 accidents in 2018.
- Reckless Driving. While an accident may not happen because of malicious intent, unsafe driving can still cause a lot of harm. Reckless drivers may operate a motor vehicle while they’re distracted, like looking at their phone to text. Multitasking is not a safe choice when driving is involved. Anything that takes the driver’s eyes off the road or hands off the wheel is a safety concern. This also includes eating, drinking, changing the radio station, applying makeup, flossing, and gawking out the window—also known as “rubbernecking.”
- Defective Auto Parts. While you may be certain the other party was at-fault for the accident, this may not always be the case. It’s possible the other driver was a victim of negligence as well. They could have been given a faulty auto part from a manufacturing company that failed while they were driving. If the defective part was the reason why the driver lost control and caused an accident, then the manufacturing company may be the at-fault party in your case.
If the reason why your accident occurred isn’t listed above, you should still get in touch with a Chicago motorcycle accident attorney from Thomas Law Offices. We’ll conduct a full investigation where we look at accident reports, consult with experts, refer to your medical records that show the types of injuries you incurred, and look at other pertinent information to gather who the at-fault party is and how they acted negligently. Then we can start fighting for you to recover the compensation you need.
Why Are Motorcycle Accidents So Dangerous?
Motorcycle accidents often result in severe injuries to the motorcyclist because they have significantly less protection than a person in a car or truck. While the person in a motor vehicle has the protection of the autobody to absorb the shock and reduce the amount of impact, motorcyclists do not have this. The most a rider may have is the gear they’re wearing at the time. At best, they will be wearing a helmet and thick, long-sleeved clothing. However, even these elements don’t guarantee safety. The motorcyclist will likely fall off the bike and the impact of hitting the ground can result in severe injuries.
Because of how little protection motorcyclists have, their injuries could be catastrophic. Let’s look into the kinds of catastrophic injuries a motorcyclist can get and how these injuries will affect their life.
One of the categories of injuries is catastrophic, or an injury that prevents someone from doing gainful work. This can cause a major disruption to someone’s life. They could be looking at a future where they can no longer return to their job or will live with a permanent disability.
Catastrophic injuries include the following:
- Traumatic Brain Injuries. When something penetrates the skull or harms the brain in any way, a traumatic brain injury (TBI) may occur. These can harm how the brain functions, which may affect cognition or mobility.
- Paralysis. It’s possible that a motorcyclist could get a spinal cord injury. If the force is severe enough, the injury could result in paralysis. The injury site determines what kind of paralysis. Paraplegia affects the use of one’s legs, while tetraplegia affects the arms, torso, and legs.
- Loss of Limb. A severe motorcycle accident has the potential to either sever a limb upon impact or the limb may be beyond repair and doctors have to amputate it.
- Burn Injuries. Motorcyclists are at risk of getting road rash—which is a type of burn injury. If they make contact with the ground, the friction between the skin and the ground can cause burns. These are dangerous because the degrees of burns can vary. Severe burn injuries can reach through the layers of skin to the muscle and bone. There may be permanent nerve damage that prevents feeling in that area or the function of the injury site.
Catastrophic injuries need intense medical care immediately. But even with care, the patient may have long-lasting consequences from the injury. Continued care in the future may involve physical therapy, medication, and other forms of treatment. They will also likely need to have an adjustment period where they learn to live with the injury. For example, they may require medical equipment to help maintain a high quality of life—such as needing a wheelchair to remain mobile or needing a prosthetic limb.
Making this adjustment can be difficult. The frustration of needing to relearn everyday tasks can take a physical and emotional toll. These injuries shouldn’t have ever happened, and your entire life has changed because of someone else’s mistake. While our motorcycle accident injury lawyers cannot undo the accident, we can provide you with legal guidance so you can get the financial security you need and focus on healing.
The other kind of injury is non-catastrophic. While these may not have permanent consequences like the injuries above, they can still cause significant setbacks. Let’s look at some examples of non-catastrophic injuries.
Injuries don’t have to be catastrophic to be severe. Motorcycle accidents can cause a wide range of injuries that are severe in nature and require medical attention.
Some examples of non-catastrophic injuries include:
- Broken Bones. If you’re thrown from your motorcycle, you may land on a limb and break a bone. Broken arms and legs are painful injuries that will most likely need to be set in a cast for a while.
- Lacerations, Scrapes, and Bruises. Falling and hitting the ground after a crash can cause deep cuts, scrapes, and bruising. Even if the motorcyclist has protective gear, the fabric can tear or rip, exposing the skin to the environment. Debris from the road like gravel and dirt can also get into these cuts and scrapes. If they’re not cleaned and dressed properly, these injuries could get infected.
- Soft Tissue Injuries. Sprains and strains may not be catastrophic, but they are also difficult to identify. These injuries may not have visible indicators that something is wrong. If symptoms take a few days until they present, then you may not expect these injuries at all until you start to feel pain that indicates something is wrong.
While the motorcyclist’s injuries will heal in time, they will likely still need to see medical professionals, follow a treatment plan to recover, and go to follow-up appointments. This will take time and care. A person with a broken bone may have reduced mobility and may not be able to do their job for some time.
One of the biggest concerns may involve missing work. Most businesses and companies have sick time, but this may not be enough to cover what the person will need until they’re ready to return to work. This can cause stress as the person may want to return to work but isn’t able to.
Another aspect of these injuries is the psychological damage they could have caused. Motorcycle accidents are traumatic, and the motorcyclist may be experiencing issues of reliving the accident, feeling fearful and anxious when they think about what happened, and they may also be struggling with how they’re going to get past this. Professional help may be needed and affording that care can get expensive. But we’ll do everything we can to make sure you get the care you need.
No matter the kinds of injuries you get, you deserve justice if you were not at fault. You deserve to get compensation that will help you with your medical expenses, physical and psychological. You shouldn’t have to feel like you need to choose between caring for physical injuries and going to see a mental health professional. We’re here to fight for you so you don’t need to make that choice.
Illinois Motorcycle Helmet Laws
When looking into your case, our Chicago motorcycle accident attorney will consider the state laws that apply. While helmets are a motorcyclist’s main form of protection, this doesn’t mean all motorcyclists have to wear them. In the United States, motorcyclist helmet laws differ on a state-by-state basis. In some states, motorcyclists are required to wear a helmet whereas in others, they are not. Currently, Illinois does not have a motorcycle helmet law. It is one of three states that does not. While riders have the right to choose not to wear a helmet, it can’t be ignored that they can be a critical factor in reducing injuries and death in the event of a collision.
Studies have shown that when states eliminate motorcycle helmet laws, fatalities typically increase. This happened in Florida when riders aged 21 and older weren’t required to wear helmets. Motorcyclist fatalities increased by 81 percent. In 2010, Texas repealed its universal helmet law and the number of fatalities also increased, while helmet used decreased.
Typically, riders who wear helmets have a lesser severity of injury, mortality rate, and use of resources than those who don’t wear them when involved in a motorcycle accident. There’s also a correlation between an increase in hospital admissions and costs without universal helmet laws.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also released information that says if all motorcyclists had been wearing helmets in 2016, then 802 more lives could have been saved.
This is just one example of the laws your lawyer will need to be aware of when handling your case. You won’t have to worry about a technicality from a law jeopardizing your claim. The Chicago motorcycle accident lawyer at Thomas Law Offices is up to date with the state’s laws and will know how they apply to your case.
What Can You Recover in a Motorcycle Accident Claim?
When you’re seeking your legal options, you may be wondering if the time and effort required for a claim are worth it. While it’s true that there will be a process before you’re able to get the compensation you deserve, your claim is the best way for you to get fair compensation that will help you recover.
We’ve mentioned before that an insurance adjuster may contact you. Their tactics of protecting their bottom line and saving the company money can also extend to offering you an early settlement. To have this settlement offered immediately can be an appealing idea for some people. All they have to do is accept the settlement, they’ll use those funds for their medical care, and they won’t have to go through the legal process to get results. However, you need to remember that the insurance adjuster is not on your side and this may not be the best course of action because your settlement may not properly reflect the severity of your injuries.
The costs of a motorcycle accident can be much more than you may expect. When you’re trying to recover, you shouldn’t have to worry about a pile of medical bills and wondering if you’re going to be able to afford care. Because of the severity of motorcycle accident injuries, your recovery could take months or even years. While all your expenses may be daunting at first, your Chicago motorcycle accident lawyer will work diligently to make sure your claim covers your injuries and losses, so you get the compensation you need to recover in peace. Let’s go over what your lawyer will fight for you when you file a claim.
One of the first parts of your claim will be the economic losses. Your medical expenses will include past medical care, current treatment, and the cost of future care—all of which your attorney will fight for you to recover. When you know you have the means to afford the care you need, you won’t need to worry about difficult decisions like choosing between paying a bill and buying food.
Your Chicago motorcycle accident lawyer will also fight for you to recover lost wages. If you need to miss work because of your injuries and recovery, you may worry about those days of pay. As your representatives, we will look into the amount of work you’ve missed. You shouldn’t have to worry about missing work while you’re trying to recover from injuries that weren’t your fault in the first place.
The peace of mind knowing your lost wages are covered will also help you from returning to work before you’re ready. Sometimes, those who are healing from injuries may feel pressure to get back to work. They’ll try to work through the injury and ignore the pain it’s causing. However, injuries aren’t something to push through and ignore. When you are working before you’re ready, you risk re-injuring yourself and undoing all the progress you’ve made, and you can make the injury worse—which will result in an even longer recovery process. If you don’t listen to what your doctor says, you could jeopardize your claim and not be able to recover compensation for the reinjury or worsening of injuries, as they weren’t a result of the accident but a result of you returning to work too early.
In the case that you’re unable to go back to your job, you can also receive compensation for diminished earning capacity. The accident is the reason why you’re unable to resume your work and the accident was the fault of someone else. We’ll make sure you get fair compensation if you cannot go back to your job.
If you’ve lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident, our wrongful death lawyer can help you get justice. We’ll seek loss of earnings for you and your family. This is the earnings your loved one would have received if they had been able to continue to work. Losing a loved one in an accident is a tragedy no one should have to experience. When it does happen, it’s important to know you have people you can turn to. Our wrongful death lawyers will give your loved one a voice and help you get justice for them and your family.
Another economic loss you may have suffered is property damage. Your motorcycle may have sustained damage in the accident, or it could have so much damage it’s unsalvageable. While you’re more likely to be focused on the treatment you’ll need and how long your recovery will take, fixing your motorcycle will occur to you. We’ll investigate the damages your motorcycle sustained so you can repair or replace it.
In addition to possible economic damages that include medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages, the experienced Chicago motorcycle accident lawyer from Thomas Law Offices will also fight for your non-economic damages. These are more difficult to calculate, as they aren’t a monetary loss. They are significant consequences of the accident. When you have a motorcycle accident lawyer at your side, we’ll take these into account and make sure your compensation reflects the emotional losses you’ve suffered.
The injuries you’ve sustained may have caused significant pain and suffering. We’ve discussed how motorcycle accident injuries can be traumatic as the rider lacks protection. Your injuries and your recovery can cause a lot of physical pain. It can also take an emotional toll if you’re missing important events or activities while you’re recovering. You may be in the hospital during someone’s wedding or graduation. Your emotional distress may not be a monetary loss, but it’s still a painful result of the accident that was caused by someone else.
If your accident caused permanent injuries, you may also be experiencing mental anguish. Losing a limb or function of a part of your body, or an injury resulting in a disfigurement is a lot for someone to go through. Accidents happen so quickly, and in a few moments, your life was changed forever. Learning to live with these types of injuries takes time and you will need to give yourself time to process these changes. Another part of economic losses is loss of enjoyment of life, which also looks into how your life has been affected by the accident. Being unable to resume parts of your life that you enjoyed will impact you and our lawyers will make sure you get compensation that properly reflects the weight of this loss.
If you’re filing a wrongful death claim, a noneconomic loss you can recover is loss of consortium. Whether you’ve lost a spouse, parent, or child, the loss of this part of your life is devastating. Losing a spouse means losing partnership and division of labor and responsibilities of running a household and/or raising children, as well as a source of comfort. Losing a parent means a major loss of support, love, and guidance. A loss of a child is a tragedy no parent should have to go through, but unfortunately, accidents do happen. If any of these losses have occurred because of someone’s wrongful actions that resulted in a motorcycle accident, our lawyers will help you seek justice.
There are so many aspects to recovering the losses of a motorcycle accident. That’s why it’s vital to have a skilled Chicago motorcycle accident lawyer on your side. We’re here to represent your best interests, so we’re going to carefully assess all your losses, not just your economic ones. We’ve helped many motorcycle accident victims get the compensation they deserve. Our experienced lawyers will look at your medical records, days missed from work, the damage done to your motorcycle, and the results of the injury and how it’s affecting your life.
It’s important to have documentation of the injuries to help prove how the losses are hurting you. For example, photographs of your injuries from the initial accident and how they’re healing can help demonstrate how debilitating they are. The damage done to your motorcycle can also show how dangerous the crash was. If you keep a journal about how the injuries are affecting you, such as noting pain levels, what you have to do to take care of them, and how you have to miss certain events or your daily struggle to complete everyday tasks, then this can also show the severity of your noneconomic losses as well.
Having a lawyer as representation can also help you overcome any unfair judgments from an insurance company. Unfortunately, they may have a bias against motorcyclists. When there’s an accident involving a motorcycle, the insurance adjuster may believe the motorcyclist was at fault because they have a bias that states motorcyclists are reckless and don’t obey the rules of the road. To a law-abiding motorcyclist, this is disheartening because you’re at an unfair disadvantage. Our lawyers know that there are plenty of responsible motorcyclists on the road and that those driving cars and trucks can act negligently.
Thomas Law Offices Can Provide Peace of Mind
Collisions can cause considerable financial stress. You shouldn’t have to deal with this when the injuries were caused by someone else’s negligence in the first place. That’s why we’ll stand up for you and demand that you get a fair settlement. Your compensation should be able to allow you to recover in peace.
It’s important to contact your Chicago motorcycle accident attorney as soon as possible so they can get started on your case. With most personal injury cases, there is a time limit starting from the date of the injury that you will be allowed to file a claim. In Illinois, you have two years to come forward with your claim. Waiting could mean risking missing the deadline and having your case thrown out without review. This means not having the chance to get the compensation you need to recover from your accident. When you contact a lawyer quickly, you’re giving yourself a better chance of recovering full and fair compensation without having to worry about your case being dismissed because of the time that has passed.
Other benefits of immediately contacting a lawyer are the information you’ll be able to provide them because not much time has passed since the accident. You’ll have a better chance of remembering what happened and can account for details accurately. As time passes, more of these details can be lost and you won’t be able to provide a complete account of what happened. Your Chicago motorcycle accident lawyer may have a better chance of investigating the accident scene and finding evidence to support your claim. Physical evidence can be lost over time and the sooner we can investigate your case, the more physical evidence can be documented and preserved. And you’ll know that there isn’t a close deadline looming overhead.
For a free consultation, get in touch with our firm today. We’re here to help those in Chicago and the state of Illinois who have been injured. We’ll help you find the best way to move forward.