An accident victim's quality of life can change, often overnight, after the trauma of a motorcycle wreck. Things will be different, and differences can be compensable when caused by someone else's negligent or irresponsible behavior. One of the most frequently asked questions is, “Do I need an attorney if I am injured in a motorcycle accident?”
The answer is always yes. And the very least, you need to call a motorcycle accident lawyer for a case evaluation.
If the wreck was someone else's fault, their insurance might consider payment for (at least some of) the victim's medical expenses—but they might blame you instead and claim they don't owe you anything.
Besides, there is much more to a case than just the medical bills.
Ask yourself these questions, and you will have your answer:
- Do you know the deadlines for filing a motorcycle case in Illinois?
- Do you know how to request traffic cam footage?
- Do you have a working relationship with private investigators, accident reconstructionists, financial analysts, life care planners, and medical experts?
- Do you know how to access the at-fault driver's telephone logs?
- Do you know how to value your case properly?
- Do you know how to submit evidence?
It is no surprise that most people do not know how to do these things, but a lawyer does. An experienced motorcycle accident attorney will protect a victim's legal rights and help a family receive the compensation they deserve. A personal injury lawyer is a trained negotiator, a skilled litigator, and a touchstone to a semblance of normalcy in the wake of underhanded insurance company tactics.
A Lawyer Knows What Causes Motorcycle Accidents
“Fault” is a decisive part of a motorcycle accident case. The drivers of other vehicles (cars, vans, trucks, busses) are often responsible for motorcycle accidents in Illinois. Proving another driver's negligence in a motorcycle accident opens the way for pursuing compensation for financial losses, injuries, and emotional distress.
Some of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents due to a driver's negligence are:
- Texting while driving and distracted driving
- Unsafe lane changes
- Illegal passing
- Failure to yield when making a left turn
- Impaired driving
- Opening a car door into the path of a motorcyclist
Regardless of the cause of the accident, motorcycle riders who are injured because of another's poor judgment have legal options as they seek compensation for physical, financial, and emotional losses. An attorney can explain the best path for recovery.
A Lawyer Knows How To Gather Evidence
Evidence can disappear following a collision. A lawyer knows that timing is essential when gathering critical data. Failing to act quickly can mean that clues needed to build a solid case will be lost forever. Surveillance cameras in the vicinity of a crash are periodically overwritten.
A lawyer has the wherewithal to notify the camera owners (or government entities) to preserve the tapes as evidence. A lawyer has the resources to track down witnesses and obtain the services of investigators and accident reconstructionists.
Some evidence that can explain who primarily caused your motorcycle accident includes:
- Witness statements
- Observations made by the attending police officer
- The accident report
- Traffic camera recordings
- Information from your doctor
- The other driver's phone logs
A Lawyer Knows the Severity of Motorcycle Accident Injuries
Statistically, motorcyclists have an 80 percent injury or death rate when an accident occurs. The chances of a fatality in a motorcycle accident are almost 30 times higher than those involved in a motor vehicle accident.
Only two states in the United States have no motorcycle helmet requirements, and Illinois is one of them. Bikers also have no protection from seatbelts, doors, windshields, or airbags—combined with the size disparity between a motorbike and a car or truck, cyclists' injuries are frequently catastrophic.
A lawyer can use vocational rehabilitation specialists, life care planners, and economists to predict the financial costs of living with catastrophic and life-changing motorcycle accident injuries such as:
The unfortunate truth is the greater the injury suffered in a motorcycle crash, the stronger a case for maximum financial compensation becomes.
A Lawyer Can Help a Victim Validate the Need for Maximum Financial Compensation
There is no magic formula for determining the potential value of a motorcycle accident claim. Even though most accident claims settle out of court, an experienced motorcycle accident attorney will structure a case with the assumption of going to trial.
Experience tells us financial awards are proportional to the severity of the claimant's injury. Lawyers can use detailed medical records, graphic photographs, and a variety of professional testimony to present compelling evidence to insurance claims adjusters, judges, and juries alike.
Historically, jurors tend to award damages by evaluating the following factors:
- Medical bills
- Property damages
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent disability
- Lost wages
- The loss of enjoyment in life
A lawyer understands how to illustrate to a jury how life has changed from pre-accident to post-accident.
In addition to coping with pain, medical treatments, and mounting medical bills, accident victims may deal with:
- The possibility of not being able to return to their chosen profession and the prospect of diminished earning capacity
- The financial burden of having to hire someone to maintain the household, assist with childcare, and provide transportation
- No longer able to participate in or enjoy activities that once gave them pleasure
- Changes in the family dynamic
- Social isolation due to embarrassment
- Emotional and psychological issues
Those who have suffered injuries in motorcycle accidents face physical health complications and psychological issues. After a traumatic accident, some cyclists will avoid getting back on a bike, and unfortunately, some will never ride again.
Additional symptoms of emotional distress are:
- Clinical depression
- Social anxiety
- Aggressive behavior
- Self-destructive behavior
- Inability to concentrate
- Sleep disorders
- Memory problems
- Mood swings
A Lawyer Can Change the Unfair Stereotype Most Bikers Deal With
In the court of public opinion, and unfortunately, sometimes in a court of law, bikers get a bad rap from the get-go. Sure, some bikers are thrill-seeking rebels, and riding a motorcycle can be incredibly addictive for some. But for the most part, riding a motorcycle is just a pleasant experience. The demographics are changing.
Recent statistical data tells us:
- 19 percent of motorcycle riders are women
- The average biker is 50 years old
- 24 percent are retirees
- More than half of all bikers have taken a training course
- More than half of all bikers are commuting
Bikers are well-educated, with 72 percent of motorcycle owners receiving at least some college or post-graduate degrees. Of course, some bikers like the thrill of speed and the feel of a bike. But, many ride for the camaraderie and the sense of community. Motorcycle riders often describe it as a bond of brotherhood.
- Is a stress reducer
- Improves mental health
- Improves physical health
For some, choosing to ride a motorcycle can be economical. An average cycle costs less than an automobile, and the average motorcycle gets 55 miles per gallon. Chicago motorcycle clubs present an opportunity for riders to give back to the community by participating in charity events and fundraising.
A Lawyer Knows How to Deal With Underhanded Insurance Company Tactics
Insurance claims adjusters are lying in wait for a claimant to say something, anything, that can be used to devalue a claim for damages. An insurance company may take advantage of a crash victim's physical and financial vulnerability by offering a quick settlement check.
Adjusters may show up at the accident site to get a comment from a victim. The insurance adjuster may contact the claimant asking for a signature to access medical records—they may tell the victim they must do so.
Not true. They are looking for any reference to a pre-existing condition that they will try to use against them. A lawyer knows what documents a claim requires. The insurance company is not looking to pay maximum compensation and will use every trick to limit or deny a claim.
These adjusters move quickly—they want to reach an accident victim before they know the full extent of their injury and, most importantly, before they hire a lawyer.
The adjuster hopes the “hassle factor” associated with an accident will win out and the claimant will give up. The insurance company knows how valuable a personal injury lawyer can be—they try their best to ensure an accident victim does not hire one.
A Lawyer Can Guide a Client Through the Legal Process
A lawyer will explain why a quick lowball settlement offer may not be in the client's best interest. Seeking compensation for a personal injury is a victim's legal right, but it is time-consuming and often confusing.
A legal advocate is a claimant's safeguard against saying or doing something that could be detrimental to their case. A motorcycle accident lawyer can seek out and review all available insurance policies that could be pertinent and deal directly with each possible source of compensation. When all is said and done, things are more likely to be done right and on time.
A Lawyer Can Prepare An Accident Victim About Being Under Insurance Company Scrutiny
Those who file an insurance claim must know that everything said, written, or posted in a public forum is fair game and can (and probably will) be used against them. Both insurance companies and defense lawyers search social media ( Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, Tinder) for evidence that may disvalue or dismiss a claim. Additionally, the insurance company could place a claimant under surveillance. It is legal for an investigator to take photos, or videos, of accident victims anywhere they can observe you while they are in a public place.
This can include areas:
- Outside a home
- While driving
- In church
- At a grocery store
- At a park, sporting event, or movie theater—basically, almost anywhere
A private insurance investigator can legally go through garbage once it is placed on the street for pick up. An investigator can lie to a victim's friends, neighbors, and co-workers to glean some information that may discredit the claimant or devalue the claim. A lawyer can instruct their client on the best way to handle being under the watchful eye of an insurance company and the importance of only doing medically approved activities.
A Lawyer Has Valuable Skills, and a Lawyer Knows How to Negotiate
Lawyers are critical thinkers and trained listeners. Lawyers are successful multitaskers, and lawyers utilize inductive and deductive reasoning skills to look for pertinent distinctions in the facts of a case. Lawyers are advisors, counselors, and trained negotiators.
Negotiations play an essential part in a motorcycle accident claim. A successful negotiation can resolve a legal dispute without the burden and added costs of a trial. A motorcycle accident attorney can communicate and negotiate with a defendant's lawyer with more skill and training than an individual representing themselves. A personal injury lawyer is successful if both sides of the case consider the final outcome fair.
What A Lawyer Cannot Do
A lawyer cannot make promises about the outcome of a case, how long a case may take, or the amount of financial recovery. A lawyer cannot guarantee success.
If you or a family member are dealing with the consequences of a motorcycle accident, do not try to do it alone. A motorcycle accident attorney can help you. Contact an attorney as soon as you can.