Articles Posted in Motorcycle Accidents

In auto accident lawsuits, it is somewhat common for the defendant driver to admit liability, but still dispute the extent of the plaintiff’s injuries. However, somewhat less typical is for the defendant driver to dispute the degree to which surviving family members suffer in the event that the plaintiff driver died in the car accident. Yet this is what happened in the McHenry County lawsuit of Estate of Patrick Harder, deceased v. Morgan Nooraee, 08 L 54.

The motorcycle accident at issue in Harder took place on Route 14 in Crystal Lake, Illinois. At the time of the accident, the 44 year-old Patrick Harder was driving his motorcycle along Route 14 when Morgan Nooraee turned his vehicle in front of Harder. The two vehicles collided and Harder was killed on impact.

A wrongful death lawsuit was then filed against Nooraee on behalf of Harder’s closest surviving kin, i.e., his eight year-old son. And while Nooraee unequivocally admitted liability for the motorcycle accident and Harder’s death, he argued over the extent which Harder’s death affected his surviving child. Harder did not live with his son, nor was Harder the primary financial caregiver for his child. Therefore, the defense argued that Harder’s son should not be allowed to benefit from his death.

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As we near road construction season in Chicago, as motorists it is important to be on the lookout for changes in road conditions near construction sites. However, the summertime is not the only time Chicago motorists need to be concerned with poor road conditions. Sometimes bad road conditions result not from regular wear and tear, but rather from low quality road repairs. The personal injury case below is an example of these types of accidents.

The Illinois motorcycle accident occurred when plaintiff was attempting to stop his motorcycle while driving along 163rd Street in Homer Glen, Illinois. However, at the time, he was driving in the same area where the City of Homer Glen had contracted a storm sewer installation in August of 2005. As part of the storm sewer installation, the subcontractor, Dalton Brothers, had cut a four foot trench near the intersection of 163rd Street and Cedar Road. Instead of repaving this trench, Dalton Brothers simply filled it up with loose gravel.

However, by the time the plaintiff was driving his motorcycle over this same area, that gravel had worn away, leaving a six to eight inch depression in the road. Because the roadwork was finished, there were no signs to signal to motorists the dangerous road conditions; the plaintiff had no obvious warning that what he was about to drive over was gravel, not pavement. Needless to say, the plaintiff’s motorcycle skidded as he attempted to stop on the loose gravel.

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In a recent Cook County, Illinois jury trial, an Illinois personal injury verdict was reached against the City of Chicago and in favor of a motorcyclist who suffered severe nerve injuries when he was thrown from his motorcycle on Lake Shore Drive in a collision with a Chicago Police car. Ross v. City of Chicago, 07 L 8907.

The verdict was returned after a 3 day retrial of the case. The jury also found that the man was 10% responsible for causing the motorcycle accident.

The motorcyclist, Brian Ross suffered nerve damage at the cervical region of his spinal cord resulting in the complete loss of motor function and sensation in his left arm and hand.

This Illinois motorcycle accident case was originally filed in 1999 and was initially dismissed by a Cook County trial judge. The dismissal was reversed by the Illinois Appellate Court in 2003 and the case was refiled and tried in May 2010. However, a mistrial was declared and the case had to be retried yet another time.

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In an Illinois motorcycle accident, a case involving a drunk driver shows how both the drunk driver and bar or liquor store are equally responsible for the ensuing actions.

After drinking at two different bars for about three and a half hours the defendant, Donald Adcock, took Jerica Klocke for a ride on his motorcycle. As they approached an intersection, Adcock lost control of his bike and crashed. He died at the scene. Klocke suffered severe injuries from which she died about 13 hours after the Illinois motorcylce crash. She survived by her parents and three brothers. She was 19 at the time of her death and was working as a medical receptionist with plans to go to college.

According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, “Approximately three out of ten Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related Illinois traffic accident in their lifetime.” While it is generally assumed it is wholly the fault of the drunk driver for an accident that may occur, this is not the case.

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Motorcycle accidents in Illinois and nationwide are often more severe than car or truck accidents. Due to the nature of motorcycles, the riders are often more vulnerable than those within a car or truck. A recent Illinois motorcycle accident settlement involving a father and daughter illustrates just how dangerous a motorcycle accident can be.

A father and daughter were riding a motorcycle together in Joliet, Illinois when they were struck by a pick-up truck that failed to yield the right of way. The father was driving the motorcycle with his 15 year-old daughter seated behind him; both were thrown from the motorcycle when it was struck by the pick-up truck.

The 15 year-old girl’s ankle was severely broken and the father sustained multiple injuries, including a fractured wrist and ankle. Meanwhile the truck driver sustained little or no injuries. In the two years since the accident the girl has required multiple surgeries and is scheduled for an additional surgery this year that will fuse the bones in her ankle. This fusion surgery will limit her mobility and flexion of her ankle.

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Any Chicago driver understands the danger of potholes — whether you’ve swerved to avoid a crater that suddenly appears on the road in front of you, experienced an extremely bumpy ride from a range of smaller potholes, or observed the constant summertime road work to repair the winter’s damage. And while potholes are as much of a part of Chicago’s landscape as the Buckingham Fountain, there is a difference between potholes that are a nuisance and those that are a danger.

Consider the case of a 43 year-old man who was severely injured in a Chicago motorcycle crash after his vehicle hit a large pothole. He filed a personal injury lawsuit against the City of Chicago, which recently settled for $3.25 million.

The plaintiff’s complaint alleged that the roadway condition near the 900 block of S. Western Avenue was dangerous due to the large pothole that existed in the area prior to his September 2000 motorcycle accident. At the time of the motorcycle crash the decedent was riding along the roadway when his motorcycle went into an open pothole. He was thrown from his bike and sustained traumatic injuries, including loss of vision in his right eye and paralysis of his right arm.

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In 2007, an Illinois factory worker was driving a motorcycle when an SUV turned in front of him, killing him instantly in the collision that followed. The decedent’s family brought an Illinois wrongful death lawsuit against the college student who was driving the SUV and received a settlement of $3 million.

Many drivers forget that automobiles and motorcycles function very differently and each have their own strengths and weaknesses. While a motorcycle is quick and easy to maneuver through traffic, it is also difficult to see. Whereas while it is hard to avoid seeing an SUV, it does have the disadvantage of being difficult to maneuver.

Prior to the settlement in this Illinois motorcycle accident case, the defense attorneys argued that the motorcyclist was at fault for not keeping a proper lookout of the SUV’s activity. But the obvious retort to this is that the SUV did not keep a proper lookout when he entered the motorcyclist’s lane. When driving it is important to remember to pay attention not only to your own vehicle, but to all of those vehicles around you.

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Illinois remains one of only three states that does not have a motorcycle helmet law; Iowa and New Hampshire are the other two states. The rest of the US states currently have some sort of motorcycle helmet law in place.

Yet the degree of these laws vary from state to state, with some requiring only a limited population of motorcycle riders to wear helmets. For example, over the past ten years Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Texas have all changed their motorcycle helmet laws so that they only apply to younger riders.

However, not all states are going from strict to lenient laws, Louisiana recently moved from a partial to a universal motorcycle helmet law. Currently only 20 states require universal helmet use 100% of the time, while the other 27 states enforce laws covering only some motorcycle riders.

As the helmet laws change researchers are able to obtain data to study the effects of state laws on motorcycle helmet usage and the associated instances of motorcycle deaths and head injuries. While having universal helmet laws reduce death and serious injuries from motorcycle accidents, the same doesn’t hold true for partial helmet laws. This is in part because these partial laws are widely disobeyed. Weakening or repealing motorcycle helmet laws results in a sharp reduction in helmet use, which is then followed by a significant increase in injuries and deaths.

Texas is a perfect example of this trend. Between 1968 and 1977, Texas’s universal helmet was estimated to have saved 650 lives. However, it was later amended to cover only motorcycle riders younger than 18 years-old. That weakening in its law was followed by a 35% increase in motorcycle fatalities.

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According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcycle fatalities have risen 127% since 1997 and now account for 11% of all motor vehicle deaths annually. In 2006 alone about 88,000 riders were injured.

Speculation about the increase in motorcycle injuries in Illinois and the rest of the county points to increased motorcycle sales, more powerful engines, and more older riders picking motorcycling up as a new hobby. Currently motorcycles account for about 2.4% of all registered vehicles. As a solution, the NHTSA is proposing tougher standards for helmets and more pretesting on motorcycle brakes.

Even though wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of dying in a motorcycle crash by 37%, the majority of riders are either wearing non-compliant helmets or no helmet at all. This is in part because over half of the states do not require motorcycle drivers to wear helmets. But even in the states where FMVSS 218-compliant helmets are required there are problems with counterfeit DOT decals that motorcyclists are placing on non-compliant helmets to fool law enforcement officers.

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An Illinois federal judge upheld a jury verdict for a woman permanently disabled in a motorcycle crash even though her expert witness did not pinpoint the exact cause of the crash. McCloud v. Goodyear Dunlop Tires N. America, Ltd. WL 2323792 (C.D. Ill. June 2, 2008).

Trish McCloud was severely injured in 2002 when the rear tire blew out on her Honda Gold Wing motorcycle. Her expert witness narrowed down the tire defect to three possible manufacturing errors by defendant, Goodyear. Based on his testimony the jury awarded her damages under her Illinois product liability claim.

Goodyear asked for a new trial, in part because it felt that McCloud’s expert had not adequately proved that its product was defective. McCloud’s expert had testified that the blowout was the result of a nylon cord getting embedded in the tire’s innermost layer rather than the layers of rubber, which was where it belonged. This then caused a bubble to form in the sidewall layer of the tire, which eventually burst. Her expert posed three different ways this Illinois product defect could have occurred during the manufacturing process, but did not pinpoint which one specifically was the cause.

In response, Goodyear reasoned that the blowout was the result of the tire being overloaded and under-inflated. It argued that the motorcycle itself was overweight, which would have contributed to this blowout, and further cited inadequate checking of the tire pressure by the owner. Furthermore, the fact that none of its other customers had reported a similar problem was a factor to be considered.

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