Motorcyclists have the same rights as drivers. Even though statistics might show that the risk of injury is higher with motorcycles, people who choose this method of travel still have the right to sue after being injured. Doing so can compensate them for their medical expenses, missed wages, emotional distress, and any other damages they might have incurred. The truth is that motorcycles are only dangerous if riders behave recklessly. And even if motorcyclists drive at safe speeds and respect the rules of the road, there is always the chance that other drivers could put them in danger.
But how can you sue in a no-contact motorcycle accident in Illinois? What is the exact definition of a no-contact motorcycle accident in Illinois, and why might compensation be difficult to obtain in this situation? Let’s find out:
What Exactly IS a “No-Contact Motorcycle Accident,” Anyway?
This is the type of accident in which a motorist crashes despite not being touched by another vehicle. For example, a passenger vehicle might suddenly switch lanes in front of you without checking its mirrors and blind spots. This might cause you to swerve wildly to avoid an impact, sending you off the road and into a tree. The vehicle might not have hit you and there may not have been an actual collision with the at-fault driver, but the lane change still caused your accident.
It is important to note that a “no-contact” accident is not the same as a “single-vehicle” crash. A single-vehicle crash occurs when there’s no one else on the road. Examples include slipping on black ice and crashing your motorbike, hitting a pothole, or running into an animal. In these accidents, you cannot assign fault to any other driver. Although there may be options for legal action (such as suing a local government for poorly-maintained roads), it can be challenging to gain compensation for such accidents.
This is because Illinois is an “at-fault” state when it comes to car accidents. Unlike “no-fault” states, Illinois requires you to establish that someone else was to blame for your accident if you want to receive compensation. Although this might be difficult in a single-vehicle accident, a no-contact will have one person considered the at-fault driver.
Can I Still Sue for a No-Contact Motorcycle Accident?
Even if they did not touch your motorcycle, you can still hold a negligent driver accountable for causing your crash. Negligence can take many different forms, and it does not necessarily involve impacting another vehicle. There are numerous examples of negligent drivers causing crashes without hitting anyone. For example, a vehicle might swerve away from a driver heading into oncoming traffic, causing a semi-truck to swerve to avoid the second vehicle. The semi-truck may then impact a motorcycle. Even though you were hit by a semi-truck, the accident itself was caused by the driver heading into oncoming traffic.
The key takeaway is that you can still sue for a no-contact motorcycle accident. You may face a number of challenges unique to your situation, but legal action is far from impossible.
Challenges Associated with Suing for a No-Contact Motorcycle Accident
One of the biggest challenges associated with suing after no-contact motorcycle accidents is the presence of “phantom vehicles.” These are the vehicles that cause accidents but do not collide with other cars. In many cases, this is the type of driver who flees off into the distance – never to be seen again. If no one spots their license plate number, they might never be located.
This is an issue because Illinois requires you to establish another driver’s fault before you can receive compensation. One thing you should know is that police are very good at tracking these negligent drivers down, and they may face serious charges if located. Even though no impact actually occurred, they could still face hit-and-run charges, which is a felony in Illinois if injuries were involved.
One of the most important aspects of a no-contact motorcycle crash is finding witnesses. This may be challenging if the crash occurred on an empty street with no one else nearby. On the other hand, this might be much easier if the crash occurred on a crowded highway. Whatever the case may be, you should do your best to get contact information from as many people who witnessed the crash as possible.
These witnesses can provide testimony and support your claim later on. They may also help identify the phantom driver if they manage to catch their license plate. Even if one witness only caught the first few numbers of the license plate, another witness might have caught the last few numbers. This is why it is so important to keep in contact with as many witnesses as possible.
Dealing with Your Insurance Company
If it proves impossible to find the phantom driver, you may need to turn to your insurance company for compensation. In Illinois, all motorcyclists are required to carry uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage. This type of insurance provides you with compensation if you are hit by someone who doesn’t have an insurance plan – including people who you cannot track down.
In Illinois, the minimum uninsured motorist coverage for motorcyclists is $25,000 per person. At the very least, this should help cover some of your damages – even if you cannot locate the negligent driver. That being said, dealing with insurance companies isn’t always easy. They typically try to weasel their way out of providing a settlement, and you should always negotiate with the help of a personal injury attorney. Before accepting a settlement, consult with a qualified attorney.
Making matters worse is that many uninsured motorist policies (UM) contain provisions that exclude coverage if the at-fault driver cannot be located and there is no physical contact between the vehicles. It is important to obtain and review the terms of the policy.
Suing Multiple Defendants
There may be multiple negligent drivers that contributed to your crash. For example, two motor vehicles might have been street racing, causing other cars to swerve out of the way and crash into you. One of the drivers that swerved into you might have been texting and driving at the time of the accident. The good news is that you can name multiple parties as defendants in your lawsuit, increasing the chances of a fair settlement and a positive outcome. The bad news is establishing the negligence of multiple parties takes more work. This is yet another reason to work with the best attorney you can find.
What are My Chances of Winning a No-Contact Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit?
It is difficult to determine your chances of winning a no-contact accident lawsuit. It really depends on your unique situation, and no amount of internet research can provide you with the same targeted, personalized legal advice as a face-to-face consultation with a qualified personal injury attorney.
That being said, these lawsuits certainly are not unwinnable – even if there are no corroborating witnesses and the negligent driver is nowhere to be found. Exploring your legal options is still well worth the effort – especially since hiring a personal injury attorney will not cost you a dime up-front. These legal professionals are paid on a contingency basis, which means that you do not need to pay them unless you actually win your lawsuit. You lose nothing by speaking with a lawyer – but the cost of not taking action could be tremendous.
Where Can I Find a Qualified, Experienced Motorcycle Accident Lawyer in Illinois?
If you are an accident victim, you may have been searching for a qualified, experienced motorcycle accident attorney in Illinois, look no further than the law firm of Palermo Law Group. We know that motorcycle riders have an unfair reputation for being reckless. The truth is that many motorcyclists in Illinois suffer injuries despite doing absolutely nothing wrong and following traffic laws. With our help, you fight for your rights as a victim with a solid, dependable defense strategy.
During your free consultation with a personal injury lawyer, we can assess your unique situation and determine the best course of action. From there, you can move forward with a sense of confidence and efficiency as you pursue the compensation you need and deserve. Remember, the statute of limitations may prevent you from suing if you wait too long, so it s best to get in touch right away. Book your free consultation at our law office today and get the ball rolling.