In the U.S. in 2013, the most recent year for which there are statistics, 4,688 motorcyclists were killed and nearly 90,000 injured. In Illinois, there were 136 fatal accidents. The most common cause of fatal motorcycle accidents occurs when a vehicle turning left does not notice the motorcycle. The vehicle either hits the motorcyclist, or the motorcyclist rams into the side of the vehicle.
Unfortunately, the Chicago area has plenty of examples of fatalities and injuries. Just last summer in Aurora, a young 22-year-old motorcyclist was killed when a semi-truck turned left in front of him. The motorcyclist ran into the side of the truck and was killed instantly due to massive head injuries. In another similar incident, a Des Plaines man was critically injured when he ran into a minivan that was turning left in front of him.
Most Common Motorcycle Injuries
Thousands of motorcyclists who survive accidents with vehicles are injured so severely that their lives will never again be the same. Some of the most common types of injuries include:
- Broken bones: Broken legs are major injuries often suffered in accidents. The accident happens so fast, the tendency is to put the leg down to stabilize the bike. The leg then gets caught under the bike and breaks. Arms and wrists are frequently broken as the bike goes down and the arms go out in a reflex action to stop the fall. Pelvic and hip fractures are also common.
- Traumatic Brain Injury: Motorcyclists often suffer traumatic brain injuries when their head violently strikes another vehicle or the ground. These injuries range from mild concussions to life-changing and severe permanent injuries. At the time of the impact, the brain jostles back and forth in the skull and the severity of the injury depends on the location of the brain that is damaged.
- Road Rash: As the motorcyclist’s body skids along the pavement, even skin that appeared to be protected can be severely damaged as clothes are ripped off and the skin scrapes along the pavement. There are various degrees of road rash which can even be so severe the road rash becomes life-threatening.
If you were a motorcyclist, or passenger and were injured in an accident with another vehicle, holding the driver accountable for your injury involves the same process as in any injury case. You must prove that it was the driver’s breach of his or her duty to drive safely which was the cause of the accident and your resultant injury. A motorcycle injury attorney skilled in dealing with transportation accidents will know how to gather the necessary evidence needed in order to support your claim.
Damages to Which You May Be Entitled
Following a serious accident with life-changing results that often occur in motorcycle accidents, you may feel overwhelmed as medical costs skyrocket at the same time you are losing wages due to your inability to work. This is the time you need to turn your case over to an attorney who can concentrate on obtaining compensation for you for your injuries while you concentrate on getting better. Some damages to which you may be legally entitled include:
- Current and future medical expenses: An expert witness will likely need to evaluate your case and determine whether or not you may need future medical or surgical care for your injury.
- Long term medical or nursing care: Depending on the nature of your injury, you may need long term nursing care. Some people with traumatic brain injuries need care for the remainder of their lives.
- Rehabilitation costs: This includes current and future rehabilitation and is usually determined by expert testimony.
- Job retraining: if you were injured so severely you are unable to return to your former employment, or your injury makes it impossible for you to pursue the career of your choice, you may need job retraining.
- Current and future lost wages: If you are unable to return to your job or career, you are entitled to collect damages for the future amount you will lose due to your injury. If you can be retrained, but the new job will not pay you as much as your old one, you are entitled to be compensated for the difference.
- Pain and suffering: This encompasses your emotional suffering as well as your physical pain.
- Property damage: Payment for the loss of your motorcycle.