Motorcycles are a terrific, fun way to get around the Chicago area. Motorcycle accidents, however, are an unfortunate reality and when they occur, the injuries are often quite severe. Legal action is common against automobile drivers who hit motorcyclists. Motorcycles do not offer the same protection as other vehicles do and crashes often result in motorcyclists being thrown from the bike, putting them at risk for suffering serious injuries. Motorcycle accidents are often the result of not being seen, but this is no excuse as drivers must exercise caution so as to not injure anybody on the roadway, including riders of motorcycles. If you were the victim of a motorcycle accident and were hit while riding, take action now to secure your legal rights.
What to do Immediately after a Motorcycle Accident
Seek Medical Attention. Do not wait to get medical treatment if you were hurt in a motorcycle accident. These types of accidents can be very serious, especially if you were hit by a vehicle or thrown from your bike. At the hospital, you may need to be checked for any internal injuries which might not be readily visible. Of course, you must also treated for some of your more obvious injuries. It is not uncommon, following a motorcycle crash, to experience:
- Orthopedic injuries involving torn ligaments or broken bones
- Head Injuries
- Spinal injuries
- Injuries to the Joints
- Injured arms and legs
- Internal injuries
- Neck and Back problems
- Death, in which case you may have a wrongful death claim on behalf of a loved one.
Report the Accident. The accident should be reported to the police immediately. You also need to let your own insurance company know about the accident.
Don’t Talk to the Driver’s Insurance Company yet. It is very important that you do not speak with the insurance company for the driver who hit you. You should speak to a lawyer first. Be warned, the insurance company will try to get in touch with you immediately. Do not be fooled, this is a deliberate tactic to start building a case against you before you consult a lawyer. They are hoping to settle your case for a low amount before you know the full extent of your injuries. Worse yet, they may try to convince you that it is your own fault so that you will go away.
Preserve Evidence. When you are feeling up to it, take a picture of the damage to the motorcycle. Also take picture of your body to show any injuries that might be readily visible, or have someone else take pictures. If anyone took pictures of the accident scene, do save them since they may be important later in helping to show how the accident happened. If your helmet was damaged, save it. Do not wear it on future rides but it should be saved as physical evidence.
Motorcycle Riders are Often Unfairly Victimized
Motorcycle riders tend to be treated unfairly in accident scenarios, as often times people are quick to judge and assume that motorcyclists were speeding or behaving recklessly. These assumptions have no place in our legal system and every case must be looked at individually to determine exactly what happened. Your lawyer must be prepared to fight this bias as it occurs, both from the general public (juries) and from the insurance company.
Legal Rights after a Motorcycle Accident
If the motorcycle accident was someone else’s fault you have the right to compensation.
As with any personal injury case, in order to legally succeed after a motorcycle crash, you must prove that the driver who hit you acted carelessly. This is known as negligence and can be the result of any number of circumstances, including:
- Distracted driving, including texting and driving
- Failure to follow the rules of the road
- Speeding or driving too fast for conditions
- Not paying attention to the roadway and surroundings, including a failure to see you
- Drunk Driving
- Running Red Lights or Stop Signs
- Improper lane changes
You must also show that your injuries were caused by the crash. This is known as proximate cause. For example, if you have a limp, you need to prove that you did not limp before the accident. This can be proven by simply saying that you didn’t limp beforehand. Symptoms and medical findings should be well documented by treating physicians after the motorcycle accident. Be sure to mention everything that you are feeling to your doctor and follow all recommended courses of treatment. Medical records are a critical piece in determining proximate cause.
After proving negligence and causation for your injuries, you need to show damages. Damages are all of the negative consequences to you resulting from the crash. You may be able to recover for all or some of the following damages:
- Medical Bills including hospitals, ambulance fees, physical therapy and medication.
- Lost time from work and loss of future earnings. This should also be well documented.
- Cost of your bike, helmet, etc.
- Pain and Suffering you experienced. A written log can be helpful.
- Loss of a normal life if there are things that you could not do anymore or could not do as well as you did before the accident, such as sports, housework, self-care, etc.
- Scarring or disfigurement.
- Wrongful death of a loved one, if someone else died in a motorcycle crash.
At O’Connor Cadiz Law, we would be happy to discuss the motorcycle accident with you in order to help you determine what your next steps should be. We aim to hold the responsible person accountable for your injuries. Give us a call at 630 250-8813 or fill out our webform and we will follow up with you shortly.