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How Illinois’ Comparative Negligence Law Affects Motorcyclists

motorcycle rider driving across a train track

Understanding Comparative Negligence

Like most other states, Illinois observes a comparative negligence doctrine when it comes to accident liability. This principle states that any percentage of negligence contributed by the plaintiff in an injury case can proportionally affect the compensation received. The amount awarded will be reduced by the percentage of negligence found.

While this comes into play for any personal injury or tort claim, motorcycle riders may find it harder to determine in their collision cases. For the most part, the responsibility to prove this comparative liability falls to the defendant.

Preventing a Motorcycle Crash

Motorcycle riders are often in more danger than the average vehicle user, as there is very little that one can do to be fully protected while riding. Considering this, the state's Motorcycle Operator Manual provides a high-level overview of what riders can do to protect themselves from safe driving practices to the clothing they wear.

In terms of personal protective equipment (PPE), the state encourages the use of:

  • Three-quarter or full-face helmet.
  • Additional face or eye protection.
  • Protective clothing like closed-toe shoes and long sleeves/pants.

It is important to note that helmets are not required in Illinois (although protective eyewear is). However, the state does acknowledge that wearing one has proven to reduce the risk of severe injury or death from a motorcycle crash.

PPE and Comparative Negligence Cases

As with any other driver, a motorcyclist is expected to do everything they can to prevent accidents and reduce the risk of injury, including following the guidelines and recommendations listed in the state manual. Risk reduction responsibilities of a rider are also listed as follows:

  • Wear clothing that makes you more visible to other drivers.
  • Use the proper signals to communicate your intentions.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and leave enough space between you and other vehicles.
  • Consistently scan the path 12 seconds in front of you.
  • Know how to identify and separate potential hazards.
  • Stay alert and know how to react to potential hazards.

Choosing not to do these things or wear personal protective equipment may show negligence from the motorcycle rider and aid in the other party's comparative negligence defense.

Motorcycle Accident? We Can Help.

McNabola & Associates, LLC is a personal injury firm filled with avid motorcycle users, and our team is dedicated to helping you recover compensation following an accident. With a 98% win rate and over 60 years of combined experience, trust the team that provides personalized and attentive representation.

Call (312) 888-8700 to schedule a consultation with a member of our team today!

Need a lift? McNabola Motorcycle Rescue will pick up your bike cost-free after an accident — with no obligation to become one of our clients. Learn more here.