If you get into a motorcycle crash caused by a drunk driver, you must understand your legal options and the laws around compensation. In an at-fault state like Illinois, an injured motorcyclist who isn’t to blame for the accident is eligible for compensation for their injuries and losses. Typically, you’d file a personal injury claim to seek damages from the driver’s insurance company, but you also have the option to sue the driver personally after the accident.
Determine Liability and Proving Negligence
The first step in initiating legal action following a motorcycle accident is determining who is at fault for the crash. It's best to work with a motorcycle accident lawyer to prove that the driver's behavior--including being intoxicated--in operating the vehicle caused your injuries. This will be critical in holding the driver liable for any damages and losses resulting from the accident.
The elements of proving negligence include:
- Duty of reasonable care: All motorists have a duty to operate their vehicle responsibly and exercise reasonable care.
- Breach of duty: Operating a vehicle while intoxicated and hitting a motorcyclist, as a result, breaches the driver’s duty of care.
- Causation: You need to show that the driver’s intoxication directly caused the damages for which you seek compensation.
- Harm: In pursuing damages, you must provide evidence to prove that you sustained injuries, damages, or losses.
Negotiating With the Insurance Company
After determining the fault, it will be necessary to determine if the driver has sufficient insurance coverage to cover your injuries. You will submit a claim with the other driver’s insurance company and extensively negotiate with them to obtain a fair settlement.
Taking Your Case to Court
If you’ve already made a claim, but the at-fault driver’s insurance company has refused to agree to a fair settlement, you may have to file a lawsuit to get the compensation you need and deserve. In most motorcycle accident claims, insurance companies try to offer lowball settlements that are never even close to the full extent of the victim’s expenses. In other cases, insurance companies blame the motorcyclist for having contributed to the accident to reduce the amount of compensation. If your case goes to court, you’ll want an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer to argue and present the facts of your case.
Suing the At-Fault Driver
If the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance, you can sue them to recover damages. However, drivers who don’t carry auto insurance often do not have sufficient funds or assets to draw upon for a lawsuit. So, even if you win a case against them, you may not be able to recover damages regardless.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Claim
Another option is to file a claim with your insurance carrier under your uninsured/underinsured motorist benefits if you have them. But remember that these benefits can be the most of your primary coverage.
Legal Remedies in a Motorcycle Accident Claim
In addition to demonstrating the other party’s negligence following a motorcycle accident, as the victim or passenger, you must demonstrate and document the different ways you were injured due to the accident. This includes;
- Medical costs
- Lost income
- Lost earning capacity
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental and emotional distress
- Lower quality of life
- Loss of companionship
- Cost of living with disability
Your Legal Rights Won’t Last Forever
READ MORE MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT LEGAL NEWS
If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident caused by a drunk driver, you have several paths to compensation for your injuries. The path to compensation often starts with an insurance claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company. If insurance negotiations don’t work, you could file a civil lawsuit. It’s important to note that you can only recover through one legal avenue. You can’t file a lawsuit over the same injury if you accept a settlement offer.