Lawyers for Traumatic Brain Injuries Sustained in Motorcycle Accidents
The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC work with victims of Chicago motorcycle accidents to make sure they get the justice and recovery that they deserve and, frankly, need to move on from the event and lead productive lives.
However, it is not easy. Riders are normally saddled with extraordinary medical bills, long-term pain, and an inability to perform the kinds of tasks they used to be able to before the accident. Plus, in most circumstances, the people who caused the incident and the insurance companies representing them are in no mood to cooperate with you.
Were you or someone you loved in a motorcycle accident in Illinois? If so, call our motorcycle accident lawyers at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form for immediate legal advice and schedule a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
The Structure and Vulnerability of the Brain in a Motorcycle Crash
Brain injuries (concussion, traumatic brain injury, etc.) are far and away one of the most serious issues you can face following a motorcycle crash. Therefore, we want to review its structure and vulnerability to better understand the risks you face while riding and what you might encounter in a collision.
The Brain's Makeup
The brain is the control center of the human body. It has three parts:
- Brain stem
The cerebrum is the largest of the brain's components and is further broken down by lobes:
The brain is contained within the skull and constitutes the human nervous system together with the spinal cord. It is responsible for nearly all human activities such as sensory processing, motor functions, and abstract thoughts.
The Brain's Vulnerability to Motorcycle Accidents
The main line of defense for the brain is the skull which encases it in a bony structure to form the head. Next, there are three levels of meninges that pad the surface of the brain.
Finally, cerebrospinal fluid fills the gaps between the meninges and skull. As you might imagine, this three-pronged system of defense is not much and leaves the brain open to enormous damage in the event of a motorcycle crash, especially if the victim is not wearing a helmet.
Brain Injuries in Illinois Motorcycle Accidents
The relative lack of protection that the human body provides the brain coupled with a failure to wear a helmet can mean real and lasting damage in Chicago motorcycle accidents.
Here are some of the most common signs of a severe traumatic brain injury:
- Behavior changes
- Appetite loss
- Sleep loss
However, not all traumatic brain injuries are the same, and not all come with the same symptoms. Generally, there are three categories of brain injuries. First, there are mild brain injuries that are the least serious and are also called concussions.
Many motorcycle accident victims with mild head injuries retain consciousness during the injury. Next, there are moderate brain injuries.
With these injuries, injured motorcycle riders often lose consciousness but normally for just a short time. Finally, the most critical form of brain injury is called severe brain injury. With severe injuries, victims might fall into a coma or experience prolonged symptoms lasting weeks or months.
Whatever brain injury you experience from a motorcycle accident, realize that it can affect every part of your life. You may experience physical, mental, and even emotional changes that should be treated. If left unchecked, victims' traumatic brain injuries can rapidly deteriorate and even lead to suicide or other critical complications.
Brain Injury Facts Regarding Motorcycle Accidents
Here is some important information related to head injuries and motorcycle accidents in the Chicagoland area:
- Wearing a helmet can protect you from dying in one of these incidents more than one-third of the time
- More than two-thirds of the time, a helmet can prevent you from suffering head injuries
- Requiring helmet usage for motorcyclists could save America more than $1 billion annually
- Helmets save the lives of almost 2,000 motorcyclists every year
- Motorcyclists die almost thirty times more than those who drive other kinds of vehicles
Hopefully, these facts and figures illustrate the severity of the topic of motorcycle accidents. Getting involved in a motorcycle crash can mean tens of thousands of dollars of medical expenses, lost wages due to missed work, chronic pain, and reduced quality of living.
With traumatic brain injuries, these effects are normally magnified, including the risk of death.
Brain Injury Claim Value from Motorcycle Accidents
Any injury that you suffer in a motorcycle accident can be very impactful on your life and well-being. However, short of death, brain injuries are by far the most severe and limiting of your standard of living. Due to this, many people decide to bring a case against the persons or entities that caused the incident. Here are some demands that they normally make a part of their claim:
Past and Future Medical Bills:
Traumatic brain injuries from motorcycle crashes create exorbitant and immediate medical costs. However, severely injured motorcyclists demand extended care, and with that comes a sizeable number of long-term costs, including memory loss care and occupational/physical therapy.
The victim with head injuries should be compensated by the party that wrongfully injured them not just for the emergency room visit and medical attention in the aftermath of the incident but also for any medical attention those same traumatic brain injuries require indefinitely.
The law is settled on that point. The only hard part is accurately predicting what those costs will be.
Costs and Property Damage:
Many other costs attend a motorcycle accident besides medical and hospital expenses. Some of them include travel costs to and from the doctor's office, property damaged during the incident, and fees and expenses required to bring the claim.
If the traumatic brain injury requires the injured victim to miss work on a short-term or long-term basis, they could sue the defendant for all lost wages associated with the accident. To succeed on this claim, the victim needs to file a lost wages form with their employer to verify the income they would have received but for the accident.
Pain and Suffering:
The pain and suffering of traumatic brain injuries following motor vehicle accidents do not vanish in the wake of the event. Often, it continues long into the future in the form of headaches, blurred vision, dizziness, and several other ways.
Disability and Reduced Quality of Life:
Concussions and other brain injuries may leave the injured victim unable to work or enjoy life the way you could before the accident. All of these losses are recoverable in court with a proper claim for relief.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but it should enlighten you as to what your claim might be worth if you suffered similar traumatic brain injuries. If you contact our offices, someone from the Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC can explain the steps necessary to achieve all of this compensation and more!
Treatment for Traumatic Brain Injuries Following Motorcycle Accidents
It is impossible to predict how you injure your brain during a motorcycle accident and how the injury manifests itself in your life.
Traumatic brain injuries can take countless forms and have an innumerable number of effects on your day-to-day life.
However, here are some of the most common steps doctors take to limit its impact:
Emergency Relief: Right after you are involved in a motorcycle accident and sent to an emergency room, physicians will work at once to stop the bleeding, stem the swelling, remove any foreign objects from the head, fix any damage to the skull, and take all action necessary to contain the traumatic brain injury.
Rehabilitation: Often, the real effects of a traumatic brain injury will not be seen for a long time after the accident. Therefore, the medical team normally suggests a course within their inpatient or rehabilitative department to monitor further and treat the patient. If the person slipped into a coma, then they would be no option to discharge them.
Surgery: Some brain injuries are so complicated that they require multiple surgeries. In certain situations, parts of the brain need to be removed, areas of the skull need to be refortified, and other maintenance work needs to be performed.
Medications: No matter what kind of brain injury, chances are physicians will prescribe some course of medications that can include any of the following: analgesics, muscle relaxers, anti-depressants, anti-coagulants, anti-anxiety, or anti-convulsants.
Doctors' Consultations: Traumatic brain injuries will normally require regular doctors' visits. Here are some of the professionals that motorcycle victims normally seek out when they suffer traumatic head wounds: psychologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech/language pathologists, neurologists, and more.
It is merely a broad overview of the nature of treatment required to assist traumatic brain injury victims. Your course of care will be determined solely by your traumatic brain injuries and personal medical record.
However, remember that this treatment equals a lot of expenses and that list of receipts should be considered when filing a claim against the person who caused them.
Traumatic Brain Injury Cases and Defenses After Motorcycle Accidents
Your personal injury claim for damages arising from a motorcycle accident (for a brain injury or any other kind of injury) will probably be for negligence.
This cause of action maintains that the defendant acted unreasonably in the circumstances and that the conduct caused your head injuries. For instance, the defendant could have turned without signaling and hit your motorcycle; the defendant could have crossed the median and hit your motorcycle in a head-to-head collision.
In addition, the defendant could have refused to yield when it was proper, or the defendant could have acted negligently and harmed you in many other ways.
In some cases, that brain injury might lead to death. In that situation, the plaintiffs would bring a wrongful death claim against the defendant that alleges that the defendant's unreasonable conduct caused the motorcyclist's death. These are the two most common cases arising out of motor vehicle accidents in Chicago and across Illinois.
However, the defendant will not be left without any devices to return fire. Normally, they begin by asserting it was not their fault. They may say it was your fault, someone else's fault, or some unknown person's fault.
Then, even if you pin the blame on them, they will try and weaken your contention that their misconduct caused your damages. Furthermore, they may say your head injuries and subsequent damages are not as bad as you think.
As you can see, recovering compensation will not be easy, but there are some things you can do to strengthen your case.
Here are some simple tips for preserving the value of your brain injury claims from a motorcycle accident:
- Quickly move to preserve all evidence of the crash, including witnesses and their statements
- Ask your employer for the form of a lost wage
- Seek medical records from your previous healthcare providers
- Carefully log all expenses that arise out of the incident
- Promptly obtain experienced legal counsel to build out a case on your behalf
Illinois Motorcycle Accident Settlements & Lawsuits With Traumatic Brain Injuries
Our law firm has laid out some lawsuit summaries in this part of the brain injury section from motorcycle accidents. They include both jury awards and settlement amounts. They should be insightful if you wish to bring a claim in Illinois for damages.
BUTLER VS. BEEGLE; JO DAVIESS COUNTY; $500,000 SETTLEMENT
In this memorable incident, the plaintiff was on his motorcycle riding along a country road when he came upon a group of livestock. Unfortunately, there was not sufficient time or space to avoid colliding with some of the animals, and the force of the crash sent him off his bike.
He sustained injuries to his brain and spine, eventually resulting in paraplegia, requiring ongoing medical care. In addition, he sued the owner of the animals for negligence for failure to control his livestock and to prevent the accident.
The owner responded that the plaintiff's head injuries were exaggerated and, in any event, the motorcyclist was responsible for the crash in the first place. Eventually, the case settled for $500,000.
SHREVE VS. SWALEC; COOK COUNTY; $3,209,000 JURY AWARD
In this case, a motorcyclist, Larry Shreve, was driving down a road when a Verizon truck attempted to turn left into a driveway right in front of Shreve. Unfortunately, the truck driver failed to make a safe maneuver and instead collided with the motorcycle.
The incident left Shreve with a significant traumatic brain injury (TBI). Due to his damaged brain tissue and ruptured blood vessels, the victim sued the truck driver and the driver's employer, Verizon North Incorporated.
Interestingly, the defendants both agreed the truck driver was negligent and that his negligence caused the plaintiff's head injuries, but they both denied the extent of the plaintiff's claimed injuries.
However, their arguments in court were not effective with the jury because they returned a $3,209,000 award for Shreve for chronic pain and suffering, emotional distress, memory loss, disfigurement, medical costs, and loss of normal life. The company's insurance company paid the jury award.
BIDINGER VS. COLLINS; KANE COUNTY; $100,000 SETTLEMENT
This complicated incident involved a motorcycle that collided with a car. The car attempted to make a left turn into the motorcycle lane but did not leave enough time for the latter to pass by before running into it.
The plaintiff was a passenger on the motorcycle and thrown off the bike into a metal sign following injury. She claimed she suffered a closed head injury due to the accident and sued both drivers and the sign owner.
Her traumatic brain injury lawsuit contended that the drivers were negligent in not slowing down and staying alert; also, it argued that the sign owner created a dangerous condition by not removing it at the urging of the local authorities. However, this head injury case did not last long in court, as all sides agreed to short-circuit the litigation in favor of a $100,000 settlement.
HILL VS. J.M. IRRIGATIONS INC.; COOK COUNTY; $5,750,000 SETTLEMENT
The defendant driver, in this case, turned left right into the plaintiff as he was driving his motorcycle. The crash left the victim with a serious head injury and general foot, hand, and pelvic pains.
He sued the driver as well as the driver's employer under a vicarious liability theory. At trial, he claimed damages in the form of medical costs, pain and suffering, and reduced quality of life and that the incident left him unable to attend work.
The injured victim brought expert economic testimony to project his loss in earnings due to the incident. After this strong showing and faced with his already significant brain injuries, the defendants offered to settle at $5,750,000.
McCLOUD VS. GOODYEAR; COOK COUNTY; $15,000,000 JURY AWARD
In this products liability case, a motorcyclist sued the manufacturer of the tires she had on her bike when they gave out, and the malfunction led to her being thrown to the ground of an interstate highway. The force of the fall injured her neck and head, leading to a subdural hematoma and skull fracture. She required around-the-clock medical attention for the rest of her life.
In her lawsuit against the manufacturers, she claimed the tires were not fit for their intended use as manufactured and distributed. On the contrary, the defendant countered that the tires were fine, but the plaintiff did not properly fill them with air before departing. As such, they refused any liability. However, the jury disagreed and awarded her $15,000,000 for pain and suffering and other damages.
VITHA VS. STAPLES; MCHENRY COUNTY; $151,000 JURY AWARD
The plaintiff, in this case, got hit head-on as he drove his motorcycle down a busy public street when the defendant's vehicle tried to make a left turn through his lane.
Among other injuries, he claimed the incident left him with significant head and lumbar pains. The defendant not only denied liability but also claimed that the plaintiff exaggerated his head injuries. The jury returned a $151,000 award for the plaintiff for medical bills, pain and suffering, and other damages.
Statistics show that helmeted motorcyclists have a significantly higher chance of surviving a motorcycle accident than those riding without a helmet. In addition, motorcycle helmets can save the victims from a concussion.
Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that in 2012, there were 4,323 motorcycle fatalities. Further, it shows that out of the 781,000 motorcycle accidents that occurred that year, 5% of them resulted in a fatality. In contrast, 96 percent resulted in some form of head injury, including traumatic brain injury.
This alarming statistic involving injured motorcyclists can be attributed to several reasons. First, because not enough bikers wear helmets which reduce the likelihood of death by 80 percent, riders might have a pre-existing medical or physical condition that predisposes them to be more vulnerable during motor vehicle accidents.
Another reason for this alarming statistic is that riders today are going relatively faster than their predecessors. The speed at which motorcycles are being driven is causing more damage to the bikers' bodies due to the higher rate of collision with other vehicles. Motorcycle riders that wear helmets have a much lower rate of head injuries than those who don't wear helmets.
However, some people think wearing a motorcycle helmet isn't necessary. The reason being is that motorcycle helmets are not comfortable, cause neck pain or restrict movement.
Illinois Law on Wearing a Helmet
According to Illinois law, wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle is not required. This law applies to everyone under 18 years of age. The only exception to this rule is if the driver or passenger has a medical exemption certificate stating they are not required to wear a helmet.
Illinois laws state that all motorcycle drivers must be at least 21 years old and have valid license classifications before receiving an Illinois motorcycle license endorsement.
If an 18 to 20-year-old driver's license has expired for more than two years, they must complete the basic rider course before getting their endorsement. Riders that are younger than 18 receive a restricted motorcycle license if they complete the basic rider course.
Illinois law does not state what is allowed according to the age when wearing a helmet while riding. Therefore, riders are urged to complete the basic rider course regardless of age.
Insurance Institute of Highway Safety
Helmets have come a long way in the past 20 years to be more comfortable for riders. However, according to data from IIHS, half of all bikers still don't wear them because they believe helmets are uncomfortable and restrict their peripheral vision. Helmets are made specifically for bikers on the road.
These helmets are lighter, have enough space for ventilation, and offer soft interior padding to make wearing them more comfortable. Helmets come in different prices ranging from $200-$1,000 depending on the materials used to make the helmet.
Motorcyclists who choose not to wear a helmet are 15 percent more likely to suffer a traumatic brain injury than those who wear helmets. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data, the rate of motorcycle fatalities in states where helmet usage is mandatory has decreased by almost five percent since 1991.
Our Experienced Motorcycle Accident Lawyers Could Help You if You Suffered a Brain Injury
Motorcycle accidents are like a tornado in the lives of the victims and their families. Whole lives are disrupted and put on pause as the tragedy unfolds before them. Our firm specializes in helping them so that their burden will be lighter.
We have built an experienced and passionate team that is eager to bring a claim on your behalf. We can ensure that you get the compensation you deserve under the law and at no upfront cost. We work on contingency to not have to pay us if you're not happy with our results.
Start down the path to recovery today. If you have been in a motorcycle accident, contact us at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form to arrange a free case evaluation with one of our award-winning Chicago motorcycle accident attorneys.
Surviving family members who lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident involving passenger vehicles have numerous legal options and can file a wrongful death lawsuit seeking compensation.
Traumatic Brain Injury Accidents Resources:
- NIH - Traumatic Brain Injury
- NIH - Traumatic Brain Injury: Hope Through Research