Some of the most dangerous traffic accidents that occur in Illinois involve motorcycles. These crashes can often cause more severe injuries due to the lack of some safety features that are common in cars. In fact, while motorcycle crashes account for only 1.5 percent of total crashes, they are responsible for 16.7 percent of fatal crashes, according to a report released by the Illinois Department of Transportation. Motorcycle accidents are an unusual case of traffic accident. While the law surrounding them is similar to the law surrounding ordinary car crashes, there are technical differences between cars and motorcycles that can make motorcycle accidents unique.
Motorcycle Accident Law
The law surrounding motorcycle accidents is much like the law surrounding other traffic accidents. The most common person from whom the victim attempts to receive compensation is the other driver involved in the accident. However, some cases may also involve lawsuits against the manufacturer of the motorcycle or against the municipality in which the accident occurred.
In a case against another driver, the most common legal theory will be one known as negligence. To prove that the other driver was negligent, the victim will need to show four things:
- 1. The other driver had a duty to exercise reasonable care not to harm the other driver (this is almost always true of people sharing the road);
- 2. The other driver acted in some way that breached that duty (speeding, talking on the phone, etc.);
- 3. That breach caused the accident; and
- 4. The accident caused harm to the plaintiff.
If a person is pursuing a case against the manufacturer, then their lawyer will be arguing that the product, in this case the motorcycle, was flawed in some way. This could be from issues like substandard manufacturing or poor overall design. Finally, in rare cases, a victim may be able to sue the city in which the accident occurred, if poor upkeep of infrastructure caused the accident.
Unique Concerns for Motorcycles
While the law that applies to motorcycle accidents looks very similar to the law that applies to traffic accidents, there are some unique considerations for bikers. One of the most common issues is that of “comparative negligence.” Comparative negligence is a doctrine that tells injuries to reduce the damages that a victim can recover if the victim’s negligence also led to the accident in some way. While this doctrine applies to standard car accidents as well as motorcycles, riding a motorcycle requires extra skill and may involve more danger, so there are more chances to apply the doctrine. Similarly, suing the manufacturer after the motorcycle accident can also present unique challenges because of the differences in engineering and technology for motorcycles as opposed to automobiles.
If you have recently been involved in a motorcycle accident, contact an experienced Illinois personal injury lawyer today. Our skilled attorneys handle cases from across the northwest suburbs, including towns like Deer Park, Barrington, and Des Plaines.
About the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.