Local Attorneys Explain Motorcycle Laws and Insurance Requirements
Due to the open design of a motorcycle, the rider may sustain severe injuries in the event of a crash with another vehicle. Even if a motorcyclist wears a helmet and full-body protective gear, the effects of an accident may be devastating. After such a crash, you may be able to collect compensation through an insurance claim, just as you would after any other motor vehicle accident. However, determining liability after a motorcycle crash can be difficult, especially as insurance adjusters may try to reduce your settlement if you were not wearing a helmet. Additionally, some states have different insurance requirements and laws related to motorcyclists, which may complicate your claim. Below, our local Illinois motorcycle accident attorneys explain the unique aspects of these kinds of claims.
Having a qualified attorney on your side after a motorcycle accident is often essential to getting the compensation you deserve. A lawyer can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf and defend your right to full compensation, regardless of helmet use. If you need to find a Illinois attorney for your motorcycle accident claim, then consult our local listings.
How Are Motorcycle Accident Claims Unique?
A motorcycle accident claim usually involves serious injuries or even wrongful death, especially if much larger vehicles are involved. Other differences that set motorcycle accidents apart from car crashes include:
- Different common causes. Driver distraction and inattention are common causes of motorcycle accidents involving other vehicles. Due to the smaller size of a motorcycle, drivers in other vehicles may fail to notice an oncoming rider, causing a deadly crash. Additionally, negligent drivers may try to pass motorcyclists or share a lane, which increases the chances of a wreck. Finally, drinking and riding is one of the leading causes of single-vehicle motorcycle accidents and deaths, according to the CDC.
- More possible hazards. Certain hazards which may not affect cars and trucks can be deadly for motorcyclists. Road defects in particular may be dangerous for motorcyclists; in these cases, the city or government body responsible for the road may be liable for the crash. Additionally, adverse weather and defects in the bike and/or equipment may cause of contribute to motorcycle accident injuries.
- Possible biases. In some cases, insurance adjusters and/or juries may have biases against motorcyclists. For example, these parties may be more inclined to assume the motorcyclist was speeding or driving recklessly. Additionally, not wearing a helmet may make it more difficult to obtain fair compensation – though helmet use does not legally affect your ability to recover.
- Higher verdicts and settlements. Since the injuries and damages a motorcyclist suffers are usually high, the result of a motorcycle accident claim may be higher, compared to other claims. Since this compensation is usually necessary for riders to afford medical treatments, it is a good idea to consult an attorney who can protect your claim.
What Are the Illinois Motorcycle License and Insurance Requirements?
In all 50 states, motorcyclists must have a special endorsement on their licenses in order to legally ride. However, the requirements that you must meet to obtain a “Class M” endorsement vary by location. In Illinois, the standards are:
Licenses will not be issued to any person under the age of 18 as an operator of a motorcycle unless the person has completed a motorcycle training course approved by IDOT and the required Secretary of State’s motorcycle driver’s examination.
A 12-month instruction permit for a motor-driven cycle or motorcycle may be issued to a person 18 years of age or more, which entitles the holder to drive upon the highways during daylight under the direct supervision of a licensed motor-driven cycle operator or motorcycle operator with the same or greater classification, who is 21 years of age or older and who has at least 1 year of driving experience.
Although most states hold motorcyclists to the same minimum insurance requirements as car owners, Illinois is an exception. To legally ride a motorcycle in Illinois you must have:
$20,000 of bodily injury liability per person
$40,000 of bodily injury liability per incident
$15,000 of property damage liability per incident
Additionally, depending on the circumstances, you may be able to negotiate for a lower or variable insurance premium for your motorcycle if you do not ride it consistently. For example, most people do not travel by motorcycle in the winter months, so you may be able to purchase a “lay-up” policy, which reduces your coverage, and therefore your premium, during a certain time period.
Can I File a Motorcycle Accident Claim If I Was Not Wearing a Helmet?
Illinois is one of only three states that have no motorcycle helmet laws at all. Thus, you can choose whether to wear a helmet while riding. However, even though there is no state requirement, motorcycle helmets can reduce your risk of severe head and brain injuries in the event of a crash. Other protective gear that can minimize potential motorcycle accident injuries includes: sturdy boots, light-weight riding armor, thick pants, a long-sleeved jacket and durable gloves. Additionally, since most neighboring states have full or partial helmet laws, it is a good idea to check local requirements if you plan to travel across state lines.
Since the law does not require you to wear a helmet, insurance companies may not reduce your settlement if you were not wearing one at the time of your crash. (In fact, lack of a helmet cannot affect your compensation even in states with mandatory helmet laws). However, many injured riders find their motorcycle accident claims reduced or denied for this reason anyway. The insurance company may try to claim that you contributed to your own injuries by failing to wear a helmet. If this happens, then a qualified motorcycle attorney can help you fight for full and fair compensation.
Hurt While Riding? Find a Local Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Today
If you suffered serious injuries or lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident, then an attorney may be able to help. To find a local lawyer, consult our listings. Otherwise, if you have a question or concern about motorcycle accident claims, then feel free to ask the lawyers.