Almost every motorcycle rider in Illinois has heard a story which ended with “so I had to lay the bike down.”
Some of the scenarios where this occurs include:
- a motorcyclist taking a curve too fast
- when a car veers sharply into the motorcyclist’s lane
- when a car turns from a side street into the path of the motorcyclist
- when a motorcyclist is unable to stop in time to avoid hitting a car or an object
Here’s the problem: laying the bike down comes with its own set of hazards.
Doing so almost guarantees that you will suffer serious abrasions and/or lacerations. Broken bones, separated knee or elbow joints, fractures to the torso area, and internal injuries are also common in these situations. And if you start tumbling head over heels, you could even sustain severe head injuries.
You may be wondering: if I have to lay the bike down in order to avoid colliding with another vehicle, is the other driver at fault?
For this to be the case, the other driver would have to commit a traffic violation or make a sudden move which would cause you to try to lay the bike down. Illinois law states that any motorist who is subjected to an imminent risk of harm that was caused by someone else, he or she has the right to make a “reasonable response” to avoid that harm. Therefore, if you are injured while laying your bike down to avoid hitting another vehicle that caused the problem, then you can receive relief if you file a personal injury lawsuit against the offending driver.
But the more pertinent question is this: what constitutes a “reasonable response?”
The answer depends on the circumstances of each individual motorcycle accident. If a car swerves in front of you and there’s no place for you to go, laying the bike down might be your only option. But if you aren’t paying attention and a car stops in traffic in front of you, the defense will argue that you should have noticed that the vehicle was stopped in time to brake and avoid laying the bike down. That may impact whether a jury places the blame for your injuries on you or the other motorist (or both) – and ultimately whether you receive compensation.
Obviously, the best way to avoid injuries caused by laying the bike down is not to get into such a situation in the first place. In addition, the brakes and tires on today’s motorcycles are much more dependable than the bikes of old, meaning that motorcyclists generally stand a better chance of surviving unscathed if they brake hard (and correctly) and/or swerve to avoid a collision. This is especially true among novice motorcyclists and those who ride very powerful bikes.
However, if you feel that you were forced to lay the bike down to avoid a motorcycle accident caused by someone else’s negligence or recklessness, and you suffered injuries as a result, contact a qualified Illinois motorcycle accident lawyer as soon as possible.