Motorcycles have cultivated a reputation for speed. And it’s true that many motorcyclists in Illinois like to show off the excessive speed that can be achieved in their bikes. Be that as it may, as a motorist it’s still wrong to assume that every motorcycle you see will be going faster than your car, truck, van, or sport utility vehicle on the roadway.
That said, it is safe to assume that impaired judgment was a factor in a deadly motorcycle accident in Piatt County earlier this month. Just before midnight on the night of Thursday, October 10, a 47-year old Atwood man was driving his 2008 JM Star motorcycle east on U.S. Route 36 near the Piatt/Douglas County line. About a quarter mile east of Arthur Road (just south of Atwood), an eastbound 2004 Buick Rendezvous driven by a 29-year old Decatur man came up behind the bike and rear-ended it. The SUV spun off the roadway and overturned. He was uninjured – but the Atwood man was pronounced dead on the scene. The Decatur man was charged with failing to reduce speed to avoid an accident and driving under the influence of alcohol.
Since the SUV driver will almost certainly be held completely liable for the motorcycle accident and the death of the 47-year old man, the surviving relatives of the victim have solid grounds to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the 29-year old. This lawsuit could see a jury awarding the plaintiffs reimbursement for burial expenses, monetary damages for pain and suffering and loss of care or companionship, and estimated future wages that the Atwood man would have earned in his lifetime. These damages would likely have to be paid out by the Decatur man regardless of whether he is convicted on the DUI charge by a criminal court.