How Does My 'Fault' Impact Compensation in an Illinois Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit?
Possibly. A police report is not a legal finding of fault, so if you can convince a court that you were not responsible for your accident or were less than half responsible, you might be able to recover financial compensation for your injuries.
If a police officer files an accident report stating that you were at fault for your motorcycle crash, you could face an uphill battle recovering compensation for your injuries. However, all is not lost. Inquiring into liability is not just the job of a police officer, but also your personal injury attorney. Y
our lawyer can make a strong argument supporting how you saw the accident unfold, and can employ investigators and accident reconstruction experts who can verify exactly what happened. Their efforts can make the difference between no recovery for your damages and financial compensation for you and your family.
Understanding the Police Report
It’s the police officer’s job to document what happened during a traffic accident in an official report. But they do not always arrive on the scene of a crash before the vehicles have been moved to the side of the road, and other times they are never at the crash scene at all but fill out the report at a police station.
They must form a conclusion about liability based on the recollections of witnesses and parties involved in the crash as relayed to them, or their belated observations of evidence at the scene. While their report could be an essential component of evidence you could present to an insurance adjuster, insurance company, or jury at a trial, the information it contains is not always accurate.
Can I get Changes Made to the Official Report if I Know I was not at Fault?
If you were hurt in a motorcycle accident as a consequence of another driver’s actions, you should consult an attorney, especially if you were named as the party at fault in the police report. A report can omit crucial information if you were being treated by paramedics or were taken to the hospital and the investigating officer was not able to get your side of how the incident occurred.
You might be able to identify one or more factual errors in the report that can be legally fixed, such as incorrect insurance information, addresses or vehicle registration numbers.
The report may have missed other persons who were involved in the accident or who witnessed it. However, changing a disputed fact such as who was at fault for causing the accident is significantly more challenging. The police are usually unwilling to amend a report in response to an objection.
However, you can add an addendum by including your statement of what happened or ask eyewitnesses who did not provide an official account to add their statements. Your attorney can help you deal with the police in amending the official report or can file a lawsuit on your behalf.
Traffic Laws Could be on Your Side
Every motorist must obey traffic laws, or the “rules of the road,” and an experienced accident attorney will leave no stone unturned in getting to the bottom of things. For example, your lawyer could allege the other driver failed to yield the right-of-way to you while they were merging, causing the crash.
Likewise, if you were rear-ended on your bike, it could be the fault of the driver behind you who was not maintaining a safe distance. Many motorcycle accidents occur when a motorist makes an illegal left turn without yielding the right-of-way to an oncoming bike in the intersection.
These allegations could be verified by skid marks at the accident scene and other evidence. These legal strategies can put you in a better position to negotiate a settlement with the other driver’s insurance company.
Can I Still Receive Compensation if I was Actually at Fault?
Illinois has adopted the legal doctrine of comparative negligence, which apportions fault between parties to an accident, and if you are found by a court to be less than 50 percent at fault, you can still recover for your damages (735 ILCS 5/2-1116). However, the damages paid to you will be reduced by the percentage you were found to be at fault.
If you carry collision coverage on your auto insurance policy, it will cover damage to your vehicle even if you are determined to be mostly or entirely at fault, usually after a modest deductible. If you carry medical payments coverage, it might cover your hospital costs and other medical bills as well.
No matter what the circumstances, you should never admit fault or responsibility for an accident to anyone, including the other driver or drivers involved, police, and especially insurance representatives. You are not being dishonest but merely protecting your future rights to seek justice, heal from your injuries, and obtain compensation.
Time is of the Essence in Disputed Liability Motorcycle Accidents
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC represents victims of motorcycle accidents and other types of negligence. Our law firm has successfully resolved hundreds of cases for clients who were injured by the negligent actions of others.
If you were injured or your loved one was killed in an Illinois motorcycle collision involving disputed liability, contact us today for a free, no-obligation review of your case by an experienced accident attorney. We accept all personal injury and wrongful death cases through contingency fee arrangements, which means if we are unable to secure financial compensation on your behalf, you owe us nothing.