The motorcycle accident attorneys of Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., have extensive experience with helping riders and their families with legal claims in Chicago and across Illinois.
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We want you to contact us if you have been injured in a motorcycle accident because of another driver’s careless or reckless driving.
An attorney from our firm can review your case for free and answer your questions.
Based on statistics and our own experience with clients, it is safe to say that car drivers commonly cause crashes with motorcycles. Determining the cause of your motorcycle crash will require thorough investigation. Accident reconstruction experts may also be consulted.
In some cases, the collision occurs because of a driver’s careless mistake. The car driver may simply fail to see the motorcyclist. For instance, the driver may:
In many other cases, a car driver’s reckless refusal to share the road safely with the motorcycle causes a wreck. Examples include:
There are also cases where neither the car driver nor the motorcyclist is at fault. Instead, the accident may be caused by:
In these cases, action may need to be taken against a manufacturer or government agency.
Illinois is a comparative fault state. This means that you can still recover compensation after a motorcycle accident even if you were partially at fault. However, your recovery will be reduced in proportion to your degree of fault.
For example, you may have been speeding when a car driver negligently turned in front of you. The car driver may be 90 percent at fault, while you are 10 percent at fault. If you suffered $100,000 in losses, your recovery would be limited to $90,000.
However, if you are more than 50 percent at fault, your recovery would be barred in Illinois.
Insurance companies often try to put blame on the motorcyclist. Your attorney will need to stand up for your rights and challenge any unfounded claims that you were at fault.
Many factors go into determining the value of a motorcycle accident case. The main factors are the types of losses you have suffered and the amount of available insurance coverage.
Typically, an attorney from our firm will seek compensation for:
If the car driver engaged in willful or wanton misconduct – for instance, drunk driving – punitive damages may be sought as well.
The at-fault driver’s liability coverage should pay for your losses. If the driver has no insurance or if you are hurt in a hit-and-run accident, we may turn to your own uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. Underinsured (UIM) coverage may be sought if the at-fault driver’s insurance does not fully cover your losses.
Your attorney’s goal will be to recover the maximum amount available. This is also called recovering “up to the policy limits.”
If a third party caused the motorcycle accident, you have a right to make a personal injury claim. You have a limited period of time to make your claim and must follow specific legal steps.
You can file a personal injury claim in the appropriate Illinois state court and will need to include information on the events giving rise to your case. You must file your claim within two years of the motorcycle accident to preserve your right to compensation.
It is your legal burden to prove that the defendant was responsible for the motorcycle accident and that you have a right to damages. Provided you meet your burden of proof, you can obtain monetary compensation for both economic and non-economic losses.
As your case is moving through the court system, settlement negotiations will likely occur with the insurance company representing the defendant. A settlement can allow you to obtain compensation without going to court.
To learn more, please see our section on Motorcycle Accidents.
Close family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit after a fatal motorcycle accident. Wrongful death claims provide significant compensation provided you follow the appropriate legal steps.
Claims for wrongful death typically must be filed within two years of the motorcycle accident. Only close family members, including spouses and parents of minor children, may file wrongful death claims.
The plaintiff filing the claim has the legal burden of proving the defendant was responsible for the motorcycle accident and resulting death.
Many wrongful death cases are resolved through settlement before the case proceeds to trial and/or before a jury comes back with a verdict. Once a settlement agreement is reached, it is no longer possible to sue for the loss of a loved one.
It is important to have an attorney review any settlement agreement and/or provide legal representation in court, as wrongful death cases often result in a significant amount of compensation being awarded to surviving family members.
To learn more, see our article on Wrongful Death Accidents.
Speaking with the insurance company is necessary at some point, but it is important to speak with a lawyer first.
To obtain compensation from the insurer, you must demonstrate the insured party was responsible for causing the motorcycle accident and your injuries. The insurer will look for ways to minimize compensation or avoid paying a claim. So, the insurer may try to obtain information suggesting you were at fault or that your injuries were not severe.
While speaking with the insurer becomes necessary while negotiating a settlement or during the pre-trial phase of your case, you should not volunteer information beyond answering direct questions. You should never apologize, admit fault or otherwise indicate that you were to blame in any way.
An attorney who focuses on motorcycle accident cases should represent you and be present during any conversations with the insurer. A lawyer can advise you on whether to answer a question and what information you are obligated to provide.
You can also check out our section on Motorcycle Accident Dos and Don’ts for more information on what you should and should not do after an accident.
If you share responsibility for the motorcycle accident, you could still recover partial compensation. Do not assume you are not eligible for compensation, or you could lose out on damages the law would provide if you took legal action.
Illinois uses a modified comparative fault rule. This means you may take legal action and obtain compensation as long as the other motorist was at least 51 percent responsible for the motorcycle accident.
If the other driver failed to yield, sped, drove while intoxicated, cut you off or engaged in many of the other behaviors that commonly lead to motorcycle accidents, you can pursue a claim. You will need to show that the motorist’s behavior was the primary cause of the accident.
Under modified comparative fault rules, the compensation you receive is reduced by the percent of fault attributed to your actions. If you had $100,000 in damages, and the other driver was 60 percent responsible for the motorcycle accident, you can recover $60,000 in compensation (60 percent of $100,000).
See How Much Is My Case Worth? to learn more about compensation that may be available to you.
There is no requirement in Illinois to wear a motorcycle helmet while on a motorcycle. However, the defendant in a motorcycle accident case may argue you should not be fully compensated for losses if you had no helmet on.
This argument is not valid. Your damages should not be affected by helmet use.
If your case goes to court, the jury will be made aware that you should receive full compensation for losses caused by the defendant who caused the motorcycle accident.
If your injuries were made more severe because of the absence of a motorcycle helmet, this does not affect the amount of compensation you are due since the other driver is ultimately responsible for all harm caused by his or her negligence.
To learn more about this subject, please see our page on Wear Your Motorcycle Helmet.
Claims for motorcycle accident compensation can be made by filing a personal injury lawsuit. It will be your legal burden to prove the elements of a motorcycle accident case to make a successful claim for compensation.
Under Illinois law, you must demonstrate:
You must prove your claim by a preponderance of the evidence, which means showing that more likely than not, the other driver was responsible. See our page on Motorcycle Accident Dos and Don’ts for more information on how to protect your claim.
In some cases, motorcycle accidents are caused by defective road conditions, especially as motorcyclists are more affected than passenger cars by debris in the road, poorly maintained roads and poor road design.
Taking legal action against the government entity responsible for road design is possible, but there are special legal steps that must be pursued for filing a claim against the government, including filing a Notice of Intent of a Claim for Personal Injuries if the suit is against the state of Illinois.
If you make a claim, the insurance company representing the responsible driver may be willing to settle or may deny responsibility, forcing you to take your case to court.
Drivers who cause motorcycle accidents are represented by auto insurers, and it is insurers who defend the claim and pay damages if the insured was at fault. The insurance company may enter settlement negotiations with you and your attorney if the insurer accepts that its policyholder was to blame.
Before settling, be sure you understand the full extent of your injuries, as you may not seek additional compensation after your case settles.
If the insurance company does not accept responsibility, your case will be litigated. You can expect a discovery period in which you build your case. There will be pre-trial motions where the judge rules on issues such as whether you have grounds to sue and what types of evidence are admissible. The case will then proceed to trial.
If the jury finds the other driver is to blame, the jury will award you damages. You can also continue settlement negotiations up to the point when a jury reaches a verdict.
You will be paid the compensation agreed to either in the settlement or in the verdict awarded to you by the jury.
You must take the proper steps after an accident, including seeking prompt medical help and filing a claim within a designated period of time.
When you seek medical treatment, have the physician document and even photograph injuries to prove the extent of harm the motorcycle accident caused. To prove the cause of the accident, it is helpful to have reports from law enforcement and witness testimony from those present at the scene of the accident.
Your attorney can also help to find you an accident reconstruction expert that will testify as to how the other motorist was the cause of the motorcycle collision.
Be sure to file your claim within the designated two-year time frame for injury claims. If you do not file a civil lawsuit within this time limit, you are barred from making a claim for compensation.
You should also check our page on How Long Will My Case Take? to learn more about what you can expect as your case moves forward.
After a motorcycle accident, you should be compensated for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering and emotional distress. Knowing the types of compensation you should receive is helpful to avoid settling for less than you deserve.
Medical bills and lost income, for example, should include payment not just of costs incurred to-date but also all costs necessary for the remainder of your life. In many cases, motorcycle crashes cause traumatic brain injury or spinal cord damage, both of which require a lifetime of care. For injuries with permanent consequences, you should not have to worry about covering ongoing costs.
Compensation you receive for losses should cover all non-economic damages as well, including pain and suffering. You should receive these damages whether your claim settles or whether a jury decides the case.
To learn more, see our section on What Damages Can You Recover?
A settlement has many benefits including increased certainty for you and the ability to obtain compensation more quickly without going to court. However, you don’t want to settle for less than the full amount of money you deserve.
Our page on What is a Settlement? provides detailed information on what a settlement is and how a settlement is reached.
Remember: Insurance companies often try underhanded tactics to reduce the money you receive in a settlement. You may also receive less than you should if you do not know the full extent of your injuries at the time when your case settles.
To assess whether a settlement is fair, consider the actual losses endured, including pain and a reduction in quality of life. The strength of your evidence can make a difference as well. A stronger case means less risk of losing in court and a stronger negotiating position.
The insurance policy limits are another important factor. An insurer will not pay damages above the limit. If you are offered the maximum compensation through the insurance policy, pursuing a court case may not be worthwhile, as the defendant driver may not have the money and personal assets to pay for additional losses.
If you were a passenger on a motorcycle, there may be multiple defendants you can pursue a claim against.
The appropriate party to take action against is the person who caused the accident. This may be another motorist on the road who caused the collision, or it may be the driver of the motorcycle. Many people are reluctant to pursue a claim against the motorcyclist if he or she is a friend. However, remember that it is the insurance company paying for the damages and not your friend.
Failing to take action can leave you with significant medical bills and losses that are not compensated. Insurance policies exist for a reason. The insurer should pay when a passenger on a motorcycle is hurt.
See our page on Passenger Accidents for more information.
A personal injury lawsuit may be your only option to obtain compensation for economic and non-financial losses. An attorney will provide invaluable assistance to help you get the full compensation you deserve.
Your attorney will help to build the strongest case possible and will represent you in settlement negotiations and/or litigation. The negotiation experience and acumen of your lawyer should increase the likelihood that you will be offered a generous settlement or prevail in court.
At Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., we charge legal fees only if we are successful in obtaining compensation for you.
So, being represented by an attorney does not create a financial risk. Instead, legal representation can make it possible for you to get full and fair compensation for your motorcycle accident losses.
To learn more, contact us today and receive a free consultation.
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