You were injured in a motorcycle accident in Chicago, and the driver who hit you was clearly at fault. But, he or she is claiming that you, “came out of nowhere,” and you are concerned that the insurance companies are going to try to blame you for causing your own injuries. So, what can you do to prove that you are entitled to financial compensation?
Unfortunately, this is an all-too-common scenario in cases of motorcycle accidents. Drivers routinely make mistakes, and they routinely deny playing any role in causing the collision. Over the past 25 years, we have heard every excuse in the book, and we have seen the insurance companies come up with all types of “justifications” for denying payment to injured riders.
Proving Fault After a Motorcycle Accident in Chicago
The good news is that, if there is evidence to prove liability, then the truth can prevail. In most cases, if the driver who hit you was at fault, there will be evidence available. Typically, there are three primary sources of evidence to prove liability after a motorcycle accident: (i) the scene of the accident, (ii) third-party records and recordings, and (iii) the at-fault driver.
1. Evidence from the Scene of the Accident
The Damage to Your Motorcycle
The first source of evidence for your motorcycle accident claim is the damage to your bike itself. Even if your bike was totaled in the accident, the extent of the damage can provide invaluable information about where you were hit and how fast both vehicles were traveling at the time of the crash. A forensic inspection of your damaged motorcycle can also identify any defects that may have caused or contributed to the collision.
The Damage to the Other Vehicle
The damage to the other vehicle can provide a wealth of information as well; and, in many cases, it can provide more information than a completely totaled motorcycle. For example, the damage to the other vehicle can tell us things like:
- Where did your motorcycle and the other vehicle collide (i.e. were you rear-ended, sideswiped or T-boned)?
- How fast was the other driver traveling when he or she hit you?
- How severe was the force of impact in the collision?
Location, Road and Weather Conditions, and Traffic Patterns
A forensic investigation at the scene of the accident can also provide important information about the location where the accident occurred as well as the traffic patterns in the area and the road and weather conditions at the time of the collision. Combined with the damage to your motorcycle, the other vehicle, and the various other types of evidence discussed below, this information can help to paint a comprehensive picture of the events leading up to your motorcycle crash.
Skid Marks and Road Damage
The length and location of skid marks can be a key factor in determining fault in an accident. Among other things, skid marks can tell us things like how fast both vehicles where traveling and how quickly (and how harshly) the other driver braked in an attempt to avoid the collision. Skid marks can also tell us if the other driver failed to brake until after making contact with your motorcycle. Gouges in the road from your foot pegs and handlebars can provide similar information, as can the location and extent of any damage to signs, utility poles, guardrails, and other stationary objects at or near the scene of the crash.
Eye Witness Accounts
If anyone witnessed the accident, including your passenger if you were riding two-up, these witnesses may be able to provide an account of what happened in the crash. Especially if multiple witnesses describe the same version of events, eyewitness testimony can be a powerful source of evidence in the event that you need to take your claim to court.
2. Evidence from Third-Party Sources
The Police Report
If you or anyone else called 911 from the scene of the accident, the police should have responded, and the responding officer should have prepared a police report. You are entitled to see a copy of the police report, and the report should detail the responding officer’s understanding of what happened and who was at fault in the crash.
Traffic Camera and Security Camera Footage
Was your motorcycle accident caught on camera? In today’s world, cameras are everywhere, and whether your accident occurred on I-90 or in downtown Chicago, there is a decent chance that it was recorded. If a traffic camera or a business’s security camera captured the crash, it may be possible to obtain a copy of the footage to help prove your claim. However, since these recordings are often automatically recorded over, it will be important to begin trying to obtain the footage as soon as possible.
Are you a victim of distracted driving? Over the last few years, distracted driving has become a leading cause of vehicle collisions (including motorcycle accidents), and most cases of distracted driving involve someone who was talking or texting behind the wheel at the time of the crash. If you were injured by a distracted driver, our lawyers may be able to subpoena his or her phone records in order to prove that he or she was on the phone at the time of the crash.
3. Evidence from the Other Driver
Social Media Posts
In some cases, distracted driving can also involve posting on social media. If you were injured by someone who was attempting to tweet or post a selfie, then his or her social media post may be all you need to prove your claim for compensation.
Reviewing the driver’s social media posts after the crash can potentially provide evidence to support your claim as well. Posting on social media is one of the mistakes we tell our clients to avoid, and photos from the scene, comments about the accident, and other posts can all help to establish liability for your injuries.
If you need to file a lawsuit or go to arbitration in order to recover just compensation, you attorneys may seek to obtain the other driver’s testimony in a deposition. A deposition involves questioning under oath, and taking the at-fault driver’s testimony can provide both important evidence and important leverage for negotiating a settlement prior to trial.
A Guilty Plea or Confession in Criminal Court
If the driver who hit you was charged with driving under the influence (DUI) or any other traffic offense or crime, then a guilty plea or confession in court could potentially be used as evidence in your case as well. However, there are limits on the admissibility and relevance of criminal proceedings in civil personal injury cases, and your attorney will need to determine whether (and, if so, to what extent), the driver’s guilty plea or confession can be used in your favor.
Of course, your version of the events matters as well; and, after being involved in a motorcycle accident, it is a good idea to write down as many details as you can remember as soon as possible. Where were you within your lane when you got hit? Did you see where the driver was looking in the moments leading up to the crash? Did your motorcycle respond to acceleration or braking as you expected? Did the driver swerve into your lane, run a stop sign, or speed up to “beat” a yellow light? These are all important facts for your attorney to know, and sharing these types of details with your attorney can help lead to the discovery of additional evidence.
Proving Your Financial and Non-Financial Losses After a Motorcycle Accident
When seeking financial compensation for a motorcycle accident, in addition to proving the cause of the accident, you also need to prove the extent of your financial and non-financial losses. These “damages” represent the amount you are entitled to recover; and, until you know how much you have lost, you will not know what constitutes “just compensation” in your case. Recoverable losses include out-of-pocket expenses (including medical bills), lost income, pain and suffering, and other current and future losses, and calculating these losses requires the knowledge and insights of an experienced motorcycle accident attorney.
For more information about proving your financial and non-financial losses after a motorcycle accident in Chicago, you can read:
- How are Pain and Suffering Damages Calculated?
- What are Future Damages in a Personal Injury Case?
- Chicago Accident Attorney Explains the Difference Between Compensatory Damages and Punitive Damages
Discuss Your Case with a Chicago Motorcycle Accident Attorney at Malman Law
In order to recover the evidence needed to prove your claim, it will be important to conduct an investigation as soon as possible. At Malman Law, we are available to speak with you 24/7. To discuss your case with one of our experienced motorcycle accident attorneys, call 888-625-6265 or request a free consultation online now. With our Zero Fee Guarantee, you pay nothing unless we win just compensation.