Motorcyclists are more than 5 times more likely to be injured and more than 26 times more likely to die in an accident than automobile passengers. Motorcycle accidents are different from car accidents, often the injuries are more serious than in other personal injury claims, and unfortunately, far too often insurance companies try to blame the motorcyclist for their accident.
As an experienced Decatur motorcycle accident lawyer, I rode a motorcycle for years, and reluctantly sold my bike at my wife’s insistence when she became pregnant with our son. I understand the thrill of the open road, but also the vulnerability we have when riding a motorcycle. Like many other motorcycle riders, I noticed troubling trends of increased distracted driving, texting and driving, and inattention to other drivers, particularly to motorcyclists. Like far too many other riders, I’ve experienced drivers making a left turn right in front of me without looking and without warning, I was simply one of the lucky ones who had time to brake and avoid catastrophe. I take pride in working for motorcycle riders, and I take their safety seriously. I think about my brother whose favorite activity is a long ride on an open road with his wife on their Harley, and I try to treat my clients like family.
What should I do after a motorcycle accident?
First and foremost, get yourself to safety, and if anyone is injured, call 911. Do not admit blame or apologize. Take notes on what happened, and photographs of yourselves, the vehicles involved, the roadway, skid marks, road conditions, and any objects or conditions that you believe contributed to the accidents. Take note of any video and surveillance cameras around that may have captured the accident, often this footage is erased quickly if not immediately preserved.
Ask witnesses for their names and phone numbers, so we can contact them at a later date.
Make sure to get the insurance information from both parties but do not give a recorded statement to either insurance company. You are better off working through your lawyer, as all insurance companies have an incentive to work to minimize what they pay on claims. Getting help dealing with insurance adjusters can help protect you from having an insurance company take your statements out of context or try to trick you into saying something that will reduce the value of your claim.
Do not sign the blanket releases for medical records insurance companies will provide. Again, insurance companies work to minimize what they pay on claims, and they will ask for more records than they need to fairly evaluate your claim in a fishing expedition to try to find anything they can use to embarrass you, claim you had a pre-existing injury, or otherwise try to find an excuse to deny or diminish your claim.
Strongly consider contacting a lawyer (most injury lawyers offer a free, no commitment consultation) to advise you on your rights and the best course of action.
Common causes of motorcycle wrecks
Far too often, other drivers do not pay attention and give appropriate care and respect to the safety of those who share the roadways, particularly bikers. Common causes of accidents are:
- Distracted and inattentive driving
- Failure to check blind spots
- Failure to signal when changing lanes
- Failing to yield when required
- Making a left-turn in front of a biker
- Texting and driving
- Impaired driving / DUIs
- Following a biker too closely, and not being able to brake as quickly as the biker
How do I prove liability after a motorcycle crash?
To prove liability, you must show the defendant was negligent and that negligence was the primary cause of the accident. Put simply, you must prove the defendant failed to operate their vehicle in a safe and reasonable manner, often claims are easiest to prove when the defendant was ticketed for failing to obey the rules of the road.
The defendant doesn’t have to be exclusively at fault, merely more than half at fault. In Illinois, if you have some contributory fault, your compensation may be reduced by the percentage of which you are at fault, but you still have a claim. It is important you get legal help to maximize your recovery, particularly in these situations.
Our office gathers witness statements, gathers other evidence including photographs and videos, obtains police reports (as well as statements, photographs, and video footage), and when necessary, hires accident reconstruction experts to prove cases for our clients.
How long do I have to bring a motorcycle accident claim?
Generally, the statute of limitations for bringing a motorcycle accident claim in Illinois is two-years. But like every rule, there are exceptions. If one of the defendants is driving a government vehicle or doing work for a government employer at the time of the collision, you may only have a one-year statute of limitations as to that defendant. If you are a minor, you may have longer than two-years, depending on the situation. If the at fault driver is uninsured, you may have different requirements for filing a timely uninsured motorist claim with your own insurance company. You should consult with an experienced motorcycle collision attorney to advise you about your specific situation.
What does it cost to hire a motorcycle accident attorney?
Like most firms, our firm charges a contingent fee, meaning if we do not recover for you, there is no charge for our services. We will also generally advance the costs to pursue your claim. We typically charge a 1/3 contingent fee in motorcycle accident cases. A contingent fee avoids out-of-pocket expenses and allows you to have experienced legal representation with no up-front costs, and protects you from being at a disadvantage when working against experienced insurance adjusters and insurance defense lawyers. The other side will have experienced lawyers working for them, with a contingent fee there is no need to go it alone at a huge disadvantage to the insurance company.
What damages can I recover in a motorcycle accident injury claim?
Under Illinois law, you may be entitled to many different types of damages, including:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future pain and suffering
- Lost wages (past and future)
- Past and future emotional distress
- Disability and loss of a normal life
- Disfigurement / scarring
- Care-taking expenses, and more.
Contact a Decatur Motorcycle Accident Attorney Today
A motorcycle accident can cause life-changing injuries, massive medical bills, and significant wage loss claims. If you or a loved one has been in a motorcycle accident, our team can help you. We are experienced and committed Decatur motorcycle accident lawyers who will fight for you. Contact us today for a free consultation and case evaluation.