Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers works 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 that caused the incident and the insurance companies that represent them are in no mood to cooperate with you. The following pages outline several topics germane to Chicago motorcycle accidents. If you or someone you know was in a motorcycle accident in Illinois, give us a call. Someone from our offices can explain every step to take in order to preserve your right to recover in court.
- The Structure and Vulnerability of the Brain
- Brain Injuries in Illinois Motorcycle Accidents
- Brain Injury Facts Regarding Motorcycle Accidents
- Brain Injury Claim Value from Motorcycle Accidents
- Treatment for Brain Injuries Following Motorcycle Accidents
- Brain Injury Cases and Defenses after Motorcycle Accidents
- Illinois Motorcycle Accident Lawsuits with Brain Injuries
The Structure and Vulnerability of the Brain
Brain injuries (concussions, traumatic brain injuries, etc.) are far and away one of the most serious issues you can face following a motorcycle accident. Therefore, we want to review its structure and vulnerability so that you have a better understanding of 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: cerebellum, cerebrum, and brain stem. The cerebrum is the largest of the brain’s components and is further broken down by lobes: frontal, parietal, temporal, and occipital. The brain is contained within the skull and together with the spinal cord constitutes the human nervous system. It is responsible for nearly all human activities such as sensory processing, motor functions, and abstract thoughts.
The Brain’s Vulnerability to Motorcycle Accidents
Now that you know a little more about the makeup of the brain, let’s discuss its protection system. This will shed light on how vulnerable it is during a motorcycle accident or any other accident for that matter. The main line of defense for the brain is the skull which encases it in a boney 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-prong 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
As you can see, 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 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. There are mild brain injuries which are the least serious and are also called concussions. Many motorcycle accident victims with mild brain injuries retain consciousness during the injury. Next, there are moderate brain injuries. With these injuries, victims often lose consciousness but normally for just a short amount of time. Finally, the most critical form of brain injury is called a 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’ conditions 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:
- 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 a brain injury.
- 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 bills, 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 wellbeing. However, short of death, brain injuries are by far the most severe and limiting of your standard of living. Due to this effect, 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:
1. Past and Future Medical Bills: Traumatic brain injuries from motorcycle crashes create exorbitant and immediate medical bills. However, they also demand long-term care and with that comes a sizeable number of costs. You should be compensated by the party that wrongfully injured you not just for the emergency room visit and medical attention in the aftermath of the incident but also for any medical attention those same injuries require in the indefinite future. The law is settled on that point. The only hard part is accurately predicting what those costs will be prospectively.
2. Costs and Property Damage: Many other costs attend a motorcycle accident besides medical and hospital expenses. Some of them include the following: travel costs to and from the doctor’s office, property damaged during the incident, and fees and expenses required to bring the claim.
3. Lost Wages: If the brain injury requires you to miss work on a short term or long-term basis, then you can sue the defendant for all the wages you lost because of it. To succeed on this claim, you need to file a lost wages form with your employer to verify the income you would have received but for the accident.
4. Pain and Suffering: The pain and suffering of traumatic brain injuries following motorcycle accidents does not vanish in the wake of the event. Often, it continues long into the future in the form of headaches, blurred vision, dizziness, and in several other ways.
5. Disability and Reduced Quality of Life: Concussions and other brain injuries may leave you 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 injuries. If you contact our offices, someone from the Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers can explain the steps necessary to achieve all of this compensation and more!
Treatment for Brain Injuries Following Motorcycle Accidents
The way in which you injure your brain during a motorcycle accident and the way the injury manifests itself in your life are impossible to predict. Traumatic brain injuries can take a myriad number of 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 brain injury.
- Rehabilitation: Often, the real effects of a 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 further monitor and treat the patient. Obviously, if the person slipped into a coma, then they were will 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: 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.
This is merely a broad overview of the nature of treatment required to assist brain injury victims. Your course of care will be determined solely by your injuries and personal medical record. However, remember that all of 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.
Brain Injury Cases and Defenses after Motorcycle Accidents
Your claim for damages that arise out of 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 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; the defendant could have refused to yield when it was proper; or in many other ways, the defendant could have acted negligently and harmed you. 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. By and large, these are the two most common cases that arise out of motorcycle accidents in Chicago and all 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 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 to preserve 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 a lost wages form;
- Seek medical records from your previous healthcare providers;
- Carefully log all expenses that arise out of the incident; and
- Promptly obtain experienced legal counsel to build out a case on your behalf.
Illinois Motorcycle Accident Lawsuits with Brain Injuries
In this part of the brain injury section from motorcycle accidents, we have laid out some lawsuit summaries. 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 unique incident, the plaintiff was on his motorcycle riding along a country road when he came upon a group of livestock. Unfortunately, he did not possess adequate time or space to avoid colliding into some of the animals and the force of the crash sent him off his bike.
He sustained injuries to his brain and spine and they eventually resulted in paraplegia. He sued the owner of the animals for negligence for failure to control his livestock and to prevent the accident. The owner shot back that the plaintiff’s injuries were exaggerated and, in any event, the motorcyclist was responsible for the crash in the first place. Eventually, both sides decided to settle 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, before the truck driver could do that both crashed into each other.
The incident left Shreve with significant brain damage. He sued the truck driver as well as 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 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 pain and suffering, emotional distress, disfigurement, medical bills, and loss of normal life.
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 lane of the motorcycle 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 was thrown off the bike and into a metal sign following the injury. She claimed she suffered a closed head injury as a result of the accident and sued both drivers as well as the owner of the sign.
Her 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. This case did not last long in court, however, as all sides agreed to short-circuit the litigation in favor of settlement in the amount of $100,000.
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 as well as 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 not only claimed damages in the form of medical bills, pain and suffering, and reduced quality of life but also that the incident left him unable to attend work.
To this point, he 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 inflicted her with an extreme head injury and 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. To the contrary, the defendant countered that the tires were fine but that the plaintiff did not properly fill them with air prior to departing. As such, they refused any liability. 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 was exaggerated his injuries. The jury returned a $151,000 award for the plaintiff for medical bills, pain and suffering, and other damages.
Our Experienced Motorcycle Accident Lawyers Can 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 make sure that you get the compensation you deserve under the law and at no upfront cost. We work on contingency so that you don’t have to pay us if you’re not happy with our results.
Start down the path to recovery today. Call our offices now and speak with someone from the Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers.
If you would like to learn about other kinds of injuries sustained in Illinois motorcycle accidents, then please read the following pages:
Understanding Lacerations in Illinois Motorcycle Accidents
Understanding Paralysis Injuries in Illinois Motorcycle Accidents