Chicago Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
Chicago motorcycle accidents are more dangerous than the average automobile accident, and will usually result in injuries that are comparatively more serious.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC has years of experience securing the most favorable recovery for injured motorcyclists. Over the past several years, our Chicago motorcycle accident lawyers have secured millions of dollars in settlements for motorcyclists with catastrophic injuries in the Chicago area. Contact our law firm to put our extensive experience to work for you.
Statistics About Motorcycle Rider Accidents in Illinois
While the number of motorcycle fatalities dropped in Illinois in 2018, they peaked in 2017. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over a five-year period in Illinois from 2014-2018, there has been an average of 136 people killed each year. Roughly one in every six traffic accidents with fatalities in Illinois involves a motorcycle.
Nationally, the rates of motorcycle fatalities are on the increase after dropping in the earlier part of last decade. In 2016, the fatality rate for every 100,000 motorcyclists was 60.9. There were 25.5 fatal injuries for every 100 million motorcycle vehicle miles traveled.
In Illinois, there were a total of 3,326 motorcycle collisions in 2017 and many of these resulted in catastrophic injury. 2,514 motorcyclists were injured in Illinois that year which means that there is an approximately two-thirds chance that you will be injured in a motorcycle collision.
In roughly 35 percent of these crashes, the motorcyclist suffered what is known as an "A injury." This is either a severe injury or an incapacitating injury. In Illinois, an A injury is one which prevents the injured person from walking, driving, or normally continuing the activities he/she was capable of performing before the injury occurred. This can include:
- Severe lacerations
- Broken/distorted limbs
- Spinal cord injuries resulting in paralysis and nerve damage
- Skull / traumatic brain injuries
- Chest injuries
- Shoulder injuries such as a torn rotator cuff
- Knee injuries such as torn MCL and ACL
- Abdominal injuries
- Road rash
- Amputations of limbs
- Psychological injuries resulting from the crash including PTSD and depression
A review of accident data from IDOT, demonstrates that bikers riding in the Chicago area are particularly susceptible to serious injury as 34.6% of the states motorcycle accidents happen in Cook County. The Illinois Counties with the highest number of motorcycle accidents in 2018 are:
- Cook County: 912 accidents
- Will County: 137 accidents
- Lake County: 102 accidents
- Kane County: 78 accidents
- Sangamon County: 78 accidents
A Chicago motorcycle incident can cause instantaneous catastrophic injuries that forever change the life of the rider and passenger. In 2019, 136 bikers lost their lives on Illinois roads. While this represents a fraction of all motorcycle injury cases, it is a sizable percentage of all motor vehicle fatalities that happen in the state.
In crashes where the injuries prove to be fatal, the family members of the of the deceased motorcyclist or passenger can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the negligent party to recover compensation for loss of emotional support, companionship as well as economic support the decedent provided prior to his or her death. Under the Illinois Wrongful Death Act, a family member is appointed as a personal representative of the decedent for purposes of filing a lawsuit. Upon the resolution of the case, a judge will approve the distribution of funds from the lawsuit ensuring assets are distributed in an equitable manner.
Injured Motorcycle Passengers
Under Illinois law, a passenger on a motorcycle is deemed to be innocent of all fault for a resulting crash. As an injured passenger you have legal rights to sue for compensation. An injured passenger may file a claim against a negligent driver or the operator of the motorcycle that they were riding on at the time of the crash. In some situations, an injured passenger may have rights to file a claim against multiple parties.
Our attorneys have experience representing injured motorcycle passengers. We know the difficulties that can arise when you are forced to bring a claim against a family member or friend who was operating the bike at the time of the collision. We also can anticipate situations that may arise when the biker and motorist attempt to blame the other party for the crash. Consequently, we urge passengers to retain their own legal counsel who can give them an unbiased review of their legal rights and options for pursuing a financial recovery.
How Our Personal Injury Attorneys Wil Help You After a Serious Crash
Many injured motorcyclists are discouraged by friends, family or insurance company adjusters from hiring an attorney to represent them in a claim or lawsuit. Many of these people come from a good place and really do want to help, but they may be relying on outdated or inaccurate information.
At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC, our legal team recognizes the impact that a motorcycle accident can have on you and the people you love. From the time we are retained through the time you case is resolved, we pledge to take everything possible to demonstrate to an insurance company, defense lawyer or jury that the driver of the vehicle that hit you was negligent and that your injuries are causally related to the incident.
To maximize the chances of a successful recovery, we will:
- Order all police reports, investigative reports and take recorded statements from witnesses.
- Subpoena 911 calls made after the crash
- Request any and all video of the crash from buildings, traffic light cameras, dash cams and security footage.
- Request all traffic light sequencing.
- Complete our own accident scene investigation documenting the location of the collision, skid marks and sight lines.
- Photograph all vehicles involved as well as your physical injuries.
- Subpoena all traffic crash data from black boxes on cars and trucks.
- Retain an experienced accident reconstructionist to evaluate evidence and prepare a report as to liability.
- Order all medical records and bills for past and future medical care.
- Meet with treating physicians and have them prepare reports concerning your injuries and resulting physical and psyschological impacts.
- Collecting wage loss verification paperwork from your employer
While the above measures may not be needed in every circumstance or indeed prove to be excessive, our law firm strongly feels that by actively investigating serious personal injury cases, our clients’ cases are better positioned for a successful recovery via settlement or trial..
Causes of Illinois Motorcycle Accidents
IIn general, motorcycle wrecks occur when one driver's negligence either breaks a traffic law or fails to take reasonable care that an ordinary driver would. Illinois has numerous traffic laws that must be followed when you are on the road. When a driver breaks one of these laws, it may be used at trial as prima facie evidence of negligence.
Here are some examples of Illinois traffic laws that drivers can break that would be considered negligence:
Speeding - According to Illinois law "No vehicle may be driven upon any highway of this State at a speed which is greater than is reasonable and proper with regard to traffic conditions and the use of the highway, or endangers the safety of any person or property." Not only does this mean that you cannot travel above the posted speed limit, but you also cannot drive faster than what is safe for the particular conditions.
Dangerous Lane Changes - When you are changing lanes, Illinois 625 ILCS 5/11-709 requires that a vehicle shall not be moved from their lane until the driver has first ascertained that such movement can be made with safety. This requires the driver to not only check the lane but their blind spots as well. Many fatal accidents are caused by the fact that the driver does not carefully check their blind spots to see the motorcycle driver and hits the motorcycle. Drivers must exercise caution to see motorcyclists and sometimes they are careless and do not look.
Illegal Turns - Illinois 625 ILCS 5/11-801 dictates the position that drivers need to be in before they execute a turn. Sometimes, a driver will make a left turn but will not be in the far left lane when they attempt the maneuver, endangering the motorcycle that is in the left lane. If you are turning left, you must yield the right of way and look for oncoming vehicles.
Driver Intoxication- Drivers under the influence of alcohol and other drugs pose a risk to all motorists, but especially motorcyclists as an intoxicated driver may have diminished visibility or lack the hand-eye coordination to reduce speed prior to a crash.
Texting While Driving - Illinois law treats texting while driving as a moving violation. Drivers who have three violations in a year can see their licenses suspended. Many drive, unfortunately, drive distracted and do not take the necessary care to avoid hitting motorcyclists who they do not see.
Negligence - Beyond breaking a law, drivers can be traveling in a manner that is simply unsafe or unreasonable. Drivers have a general duty of care to others on the road to operate their vehicle safely. In other words, your actions behind the wheel impact others and you have a general obligation to be safe and exercise the proper lookout when you are behind the wheel. Drivers who are inattentive or just plain careless can be made to pay if their actions harm a motorcycle rider on the road.
Impact of Chicago Motorcycle Accidents on Crash Victims
When you have been injured in a Chicago motorcycle accident, the severe injuries can either be permanent or can take months or years of extensive rehabilitation. In the meantime, you may not be able to work or even maintain an active lifestyle.
Some injuries are so severe that they may require prolonged hospitalization of round-the-clock care. This can impose significant costs for you and your family. Many people who are injured in collisions simply are not able to go back to living the life that they did before their accident.
The damage from these accidents can be stark and may impose harsh physical and emotional consequences on your family. It is vital that you are fully compensated for your injuries because costs can affect you immediately after the accident and can add up quickly. Our motorcycle injury attorneys, headquartered in Chicago are deeply committed to getting you the maximum compensation feasible under Illinois law.
Chicago Motorcycle Accident Injury Law FAQ's
Below you will find questions commonly raised by people injured in motorcycle crashes in Chicago. Should you have additional questions, or how Illinois law applies to your particular situation, we welcome you to contact our law firm for a free consultation about how we can help you take legal action against responsible parties.
Am I Required to Speak to the Other Driver's Insurance Company?
No. There is no obligation to talk to the other driver's insurance company.
Your attorney can help keep the other driver's insurance company at bay and keep them off your back when you have other things to worry about. You should be wary of speaking to anyone that you do not know during this time and should even have your own attorney present or on the line when you are talking to your own insurance company to make sure that your interests are protected at all times.
Will my Chicago Motorcycle Case Settle?
Most Chicago motorcycle injury cases will settle out of court. In Cook County, nine in ten motorcycle accident cases settle before they go to trial. Insurance companies do not want to take your case all the way to trial and more than you. Trials are expensive and uncertain, and an insurance company always runs the risk that a jury would be sympathetic to your case, leaving them on the hook for a large damages award.
Therefore, it is likely that the liability insurer will at least try to make you a settlement offer. However, this is where you need to be careful. The at-fault driver's insurance representative will offer will likely not be for the full amount that your case is worth. They are banking on the fact that you may take their first offer, thereby saving them money.
This is where an experienced motorcycle accident attorney can help you. Since your lawyer has done this many times before and is experienced in motorcycle accident claims, they will know what your claim is worth and will be able to advise you whether the settlement offer makes sense for you. Sometimes, it makes sense for you to proceed towards trial because the insurance company simply will not make you a viable settlement offer. Even when that happens, most outstanding cases will settle on the eve of trial or at the very beginning of proceedings.
Negotiating with an insurance company is difficult for anyone because the insurance company has better knowledge than you since this is what they do every day and hopefully, this is your first motorcycle accident. Therefore, you need an attorney on your side to help neutralize your natural disadvantage in this area.
How Long do I Have to File an Illinois Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit?
You have two years from the time of your injury to file your Illinois motorcycle accident case in an Illinois court.
Illinois law, like those in any state, has a statute of limitations which keeps you from having an unlimited amount of time to file your case. In Illinois, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is two years from the time that your cause of action arose (See 735 ILCS 5/13-202). In most cases, the cause of action arises at the time of your accident since that is when you are injured. However, in certain limited circumstances, the statute of limitations begins to run from the time that you knew or should have known that you were injured.
The statute of limitations is an unforgiving law. The court ultimately does not care that your injuries may have prevented you from being able to take the time to properly prepare a case either due to your injuries or other difficulties with investigating or filing the claim. When the law says two years, the court interprets that very strictly.
Therefore, it is vital to have an experienced attorney on your side to both help prepare the best possible case within the two years that you have and to help you navigate the court process because your failure to understand the laws will not persuade a court to give you more time.
How do I Win a Motorcycle Accident Case in Court?
You must prove that the negligent driver's actions or inactions were responsible for your injuries and that you were less than 50 percent at fault. Illinois applies the doctrine of comparative fault to motorcycle injury cases and if you are more than 50% at fault, it will bar your recovery.
In the unlikely event that your motorcycle injury case goes to a trial, you will have to show that the other party was negligent in order to prevail. This will be the same as any other personal injury case in that you have to prove that the defendant was negligent to win the case.
Persuading a jury that a negligent driver actually caused your injuries requires that you prove four different things. They are as follows:
- The other driver owed you a duty of care. In general, this is an easy element to prove because all drivers owe a duty of care to everyone else on the road.
- The driver breached this duty of care. While a driver is not held to a standard of absolute perfection when they are on the road, they must act as a reasonable driver would. This means that they cannot do things such as speeding or make illegal turns because an ordinary reasonable driver would not do such things.
- You must have suffered some sort of injury.
- Your injury would not have happened but for the actions of the other driver.
What if the Driver Who Hit Me Didn't Have Insurance?
If you are involved in an accident with a driver who did not have liability insurance or who left the scene of the accident, you may file an uninsured motorist claim with your own insurance. In these situations, our attorneys will file a claim with your own insurance carrier for your damages.
How Much is my Motorcycle Accident Case Worth?
The amount of compensation your case is worth depends on the extent of your injuries and the overall impact that the incident had on your life. The value of your case is also dependent on the amount of insurance coverage available to cover the incident.
The amount of money that you receive is supposed to put you in the same position as if your accident never happened. Illinois law recognizes the following types of damages: economic damages, non-economic damages and punitive damages.
Economic damages would include any expenses you incurred as a result of your injuries and time lost from work. Examples of economic damages would encompass: medical bills (hospital, ambulance, surgical, physical therapy and prescriptions) and wage loss resulting from your inability to work. This includes expense incurred in the past or those needed in the future.
Non-economic damages refer to intangible losses such as pain and suffering resulting from the immediate injuries as well as what is expected to be incurred in the future. The more catastrophic and sustained your injuries are, the larger your settlement. In some cases, you may be able to collect punitive damages that can increase the value of your case substantially.
It is vital to get the maximum possible amount in a settlement for your injuries because it will be your only chance to be compensated for the accident. Obtain help from an Illinois motorcycle accident attorney so you can learn how much your case is worth.
Below are some examples of recent settlements our Chicago motorcycle accident attorneys have achieved for our clients:
- $7,000,000: Policy limit recovery for biker hit by a company truck
- $5,250,000: Recovery for a 44-year-old man hit by an elderly driver
- $3,500,000: Mediation settlement for a man struck by a car making a left-turn
- $1,250,000: Award to a passenger on a motorcycle who was thrown off the bike due to a sudden stop
- $1,000,000: Wrongful death insurance company settlement
- $570,000: Recovery for via insurance claim against the at-fault driver as well as an under-insured motorist claim
- $350,000: Knee injury settlement for a man who needed orthopedic surgery.
Get the Representation You Deserve From Chicago's Best Motorcycle Accident Lawyers
For serious motorcycle accidents, you need the best attorneys working on your behalf to secure the maximum compensation you are entitled to. We are pleased to be recognized by our clients’(over 100 Google reviews) and peers (Super Lawyers, Million Dollar Advocates) for our commitment to protecting the rights of the injured.
When you select Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers as your attorneys after a crash, you can be assured that you are getting the experience of a law firm that has successfully represented motorcyclists from across Illinois.
We look forward to speaking with you to discuss your legal rights and options. We can safely arrange a video conference and send you electronic documents so we can begin working on your case immediately. As with all of our cases, we only receive a fee when we are successful in obtaining a recovery on your behalf.