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Special Considerations for Motorcycle Riders

Special Considerations for Motorcycle Riders

Summer is a favorite time for people to ride their motorcycles, but there are special risks involved that should be considered.
The most obvious risk is of being injured, usually because someone turns or pulls out in front of you. For whatever reason, despite bright lights and loud pipes, some people just don’t seem to see motorcycles.
When that happens, there is a much greater risk of being injured when you’re involved in an accident on your motorcycle. Unlike being in a car, there is nothing between you and the other vehicle when you are hit on a motorcycle.  Helmets are good to protect your head, but there’s not much that can protect a body when hit by a car or truck or when bouncing on pavement.
So when you are involved in an accident riding your motorcycle, you are at a much greater risk of injury than in a car. Combine that with the fact that medical costs are rising faster than any other expenses you can encounter and you can see the problem.  If you are injured on your motorcycle, you will likely be more seriously injured and incur a greater amount of medical bills than if you were in your car.
Illinois law provides that if you are injured by someone else’s negligence, you are entitled to compensation from them “for the nature and extent of your injuries”. As a practical matter, however, your recovery will likely be limited by the amount of insurance coverage available, both from the coverage provided the other driver and by your own underinsured motorist coverage.
Take Fred (not his real name) for instance. Fred was driving his motorcycle last summer on a rural road where the speed limit was 55 mph.  As Fred approached a side road, an oncoming driver turned directly in front of him.  He had no choice but to hit him.  Fred sustained a fractured wrist, a fractured ankle and a fractured leg, among other more minor injuries.  He required roughly 6 months of treatment and lost that amount of time from work.  He incurred medical bills exceeding $300,000, and his medical insurance paid over $156,000 to pay those bills in full.
The trouble is the other driver, who caused the accident, only had $100,000 in car insurance coverage. Fred’s underinsured motorist coverage was also $100,000, but Illinois doesn’t allow us to stack his UIM coverage on top of the other driver’s, so there was only $100,000 in coverage available.  An asset search showed the other driver had no assets that would not be protected by Bankruptcy laws, so all we would ever be able to obtain for Fred was that $100,000.
If Fred would have had UIM coverage of $1,000,000 or more, we would have been able to get it due to the seriousness of his injuries. But he didn’t.  True, it would be difficult to find that kind of coverage for a motorcycle anyway since most companies only write small policies on them.   But if he’d have had a policy on his car of $1,000,000, we may have been able to obtain coverage there.  So the lesson of this story is to get as much insurance coverage on yourself as you can afford, just in case the worst happens.
Fred was disappointed that there was so little coverage, and asked me what I thought I could do for him. After all, with so little coverage, what would he be able to get out of it by way of compensation?  Would I be making a one third fee while he ended up with nothing?
So I explained that there are laws I can use to limit the amount of recovery that health insurance companies and others can take when there is a lawyer involved. Without a lawyer, he could settle the case for the other driver’s $100,000, but he would have to pay that money to his health insurance company since they are subrogated to any recovery he’d get.  If he received money compensation from a third source and was paid benefits by his health insurance company upon which that compensation was based, by law he must pay the insurance company back for their subrogation interest.  If that would have happened in Fred’s case, he’d have settled his case for $100,000 and received nothing for himself.
What I was able to do for Fred was use the law to force his health insurance company to accept approximately $12,000 instead of the $156,000 they paid out,  so when I settled the case for Fred he was able to obtain a net recover of over $53,000.  That’s a whole lot better than nothing.
To recap: get as much motorcycle and car insurance coverage on yourself as you can afford, but if you get seriously injured due to someone else’s negligence, hire an experienced lawyer who will maximize the amount of compensation you receive for your injuries.
At MacCloskey Kesler & Associates, we have handled thousands of car and motorcycle injury cases. We know the laws, and know how to use them to maximize your recovery even if it looks like you’re going to end up with nothing.  So if you’ve been injured by someone else’s negligence while riding your motorcycle or driving your car, call us today for a free consultation at 815-965-2000, or toll free at 877-965-2100.  Time limits apply so don’t delay.
 
 

Cat Bites Can Be Very Serious

Cat Bites Can Be Very Serious

cat-bitesCat bites can be extremely painful and pose a very serious threat to your health.   As with any animal bite, it can get infected and require surgery.  Once infected it can be very difficult to treat and take a long time to heal.
We recently represented a woman who was attacked and bitten by a cat.   She came home with her groceries and was carrying the grocery bag and her purse.  As luck would have it, after she unlocked her front door she dropped her keys.  She was standing on the stoop, three steps up from her sidewalk, and the keys fell to the ground next to some bushes.
She came down to the sidewalk, reached for her keys and was immediately attacked and bitten on the back and side of her hand by a black, long haired cat. She was bitten deeply, on the knuckle at the junction of her hand and thumb.  The cat immediately let go of her, grabbed a dead bird lying nearby, and ran away.
She went inside and treated the wound with an antiseptic, and saw it was fairly deep. She called her family doctor and got some prescription antibiotics which she filled that day.  Unfortunately, the wound became infected despite the antibiotics, so she went to the emergency department of a local hospital.  As it turned out, she needed a surgical procedure to clean out the infection, a long course of anti-biotics and then her hand/wrist was put in a split.
She had originally thought the cat that attacked her was a stray, but as time went by she continued to see it around her house. Since she lived in the country, and had been bothered by raccoons before, she happened to have a live trap in her basement which she had used before to catch and relocate raccoons.  She set it up outside and decided to try to catch the cat.
After a few weeks she was able to successfully catch the cat that bit her, and the county Animal Control officers determined it to be her neighbor’s cat. We filed a claim against the neighbor and his homeowner’s insurance company which was initially denied.  They argued that our client couldn’t be sure this was the cat that attacked her, and that there was nothing to prove the cat was vicious.
We were able to obtain a very nice settlement for our client when we argued that since she was a cat owner herself, she was able to identify the particular cat that attacked her based on her knowledge of cats in general. The description she initially gave to the Animal Control officers on the day she was bitten matched the description of the cat once it was captured.  Additionally we argued that cats don’t see the same way people do.  They see motion much better than they see stationary objects, but may not be able to differentiate what the object is that is moving.  This cat wasn’t vicious, it was just hunting, and when it saw our client’s hand move it thought its prey was escaping, so it attacked.  As soon as it realized it wasn’t the bird it had bitten but my client, it released her right away.  The insurance company reluctantly agreed with our theory of the case, and it paid a nice settlement before we even had to file suit.
In our experience over thousands of cases, we have seen many different scenarios that result in liability against someone who has wrongfully injured our clients. It’s like that insurance company saying, we know things because we’ve seen things.
At MacCloskey Kesler & Associates, we have seen hundreds of different ways people get injured by the negligence of others, and have been able to obtain full and fair compensation for our clients under those differing circumstances. Put our experience to work for you.  If you’ve been injured in an accident or by the general negligence of someone else, call us now for a free consultation at 815-965-2000.  No case is too unusual for us to help you.

What if my previous neck injury is re-injured in a car accident?

What if my previous neck injury is re-injured in a car accident?

reinjured-neckWhat if you had a previous neck injury that caused you permanent problems and it was re-injured in a second car accident? The law in Illinois is clear than an aggravation of a pre-existing condition shall be treated like a new injury.
We see this situation arise in various ways. In some instances, someone can have had an injury in the distant past, like a neck fusion for instance, and as a result of a new accident, the person needs a second neck fusion.   There are ways we may be able to exclude any mention of the first neck fusion at trial, although it might be left up to the Judge’s discretion whether to allow such evidence.  Even if the Judge let in evidence of the prior injury, we would still be able to prove the new injury and surgery through the testimony of the treating doctor, and the jury would be instructed to treat it as a new injury.
This scenario also comes up in accidents rear end accidents where the impact on the rear of the injured person’s vehicle is relatively minor.   If we can prove that the new injury would not have occurred absent the previous injury, and was caused by the new accident, we can still prove that the new accident caused those severe injuries.
For instance, assume a woman is struck from behind by a vehicle at low speed. Assume she had neck surgery years before that left her with a permanently compromised neck.   Even if the new impact is minor, if that impact caused an injury, we can properly claim that the injury and any treatment rendered for it was legally caused by the new accident.   The net effect would be to hold the at fault driver responsible for the new injury and treatment.
This same analogy will apply with virtually any pre-existing condition. If a man through his genetic makeup is more susceptible to injury, it wouldn’t matter whether someone without that condition would have been injured in the accident.  The saying in law is that the at fault person must take the plaintiff (the injured person) as they find him.   If he has an eggshell for a skull, and you gently tap his skull but it breaks, you are responsible for any and all injuries caused, whether someone with a normal skull would have been hurt or not.
At MacCloskey Kesler & Associates, we have represented thousands of clients, many of whom have had pre-existing conditions that made a new injury happen or become more severe. We know how to deal with the arguments raised by the insurance defense lawyers in these cases, and have been very successful winning compensation for those kinds of injuries.  So if you’ve been severely injured, call us for a free consultation at 815.965.2000.

Firm Outing to the Cubs Game!

Firm Outing to the Cubs Game!

watching-chicago-cubs-gameOn Friday, May 19, 2017, we closed the office to play hooky and go to a Chicago Cubs baseball game at Wrigley Field. They were playing Division Rivals the Milwaukee Brewers.  The weather the week running up to that Friday was beautiful; temperatures were in the 70’s with no rain in sight.
Naturally, the forecast for the 19th was for temperatures in the 50’s with a 70% chance of rain.  Luckily for us, we had tickets at one of the rooftop clubs, so even if it was cold we’d still be warm and dry, with plenty of food and beverages.
We boarded a bus in downtown Rockford at 10am to make the trip in for the 1:20 start time. Everyone from the office went, and most brought along their spouses or significant others.  We had a whole tour bus to ourselves.
We got into Chicago about 12:30, and because of the traffic around Wrigley, the bus had to park a few blocks away.   By this time it was starting to spit a little rain, but we decided to lean into the wind and rain and make the trek.  Once we got to the building, we ascended several flights of stairs to the enclosed rooftop restaurant/lounge area.
If you’ve never experienced seeing a game on one of the rooftops around Wrigley, I highly recommend it. There’s comfortable seating, open bar and all the dogs and burgers you want.  If you climb up one more flight of stairs you’re on the actual rooftop, and you can see the field spread out in front of you.  We were behind right/center field.  It was just beautiful.  By climbing up the last flight you can sit on bleachers and have an unobstructed view of the field.  As cold and nasty as it was, most of us chose to stay inside and watch the game on the many big screen TV’s in the restaurant/lounge area.
The game started badly for the Cubs. The starting pitcher walked the first three batters in both the first and second innings, and had about 70 pitches thrown through the first three.  They quickly got into a hole.  They clawed their way back and went up by one in the top of the fifth, but by then it was raining pretty hard.  In the bottom of the fifth pitching failed the Cubs again and there were a couple more walks and a couple singles, and it was all but over.  At the end of the fifth they brought out the tarp for the infield, and we knew it was going to be, at a minimum, a long rain delay.  All things considered, we decided to call it a day.  Listening to the game on the way home, after a couple hour delay, we found out Milwaukee held on for the victory.
It wasn’t a good day for the Cubs, but it sure was nice to take the whole MacCloskey Kesler office out to the ball game for an extra day off. It’s nice to be able to do stuff like that from time to time to reward our wonderful staff for all their hard work and to just blow off some steam.  I’m hoping we make it a yearly outing, but next year we’ll probably go in June!

How Much Car Insurance Should I Have?

How Much Car Insurance Should I Have?

car-insurance-calculatorObviously, your car insurance policy covers you for claims made against you or any other family member with whom you reside. But how much is enough?  The easy answer is to get as much as you can afford.  It may be cheaper to do so than you think!
Medical costs have risen faster than any other costs in the country. When I started driving in the 1960’s, I was advised to carry coverage in the amount of $100,000 per person with $300,000 per accident.  That was plenty of coverage then.
In the fifty plus years since then, medical costs have skyrocketed. Because of that, when I began practicing law, I checked out larger policies, and I was able to get a policy in the amount of $250,000 per person and $500,000 per accident for about $200 more per year.   Even larger policy limits are available for similar premium amounts.
So if you can afford more coverage, do it. And remember, your Uninsured and Underinsured provisions cover YOU (see our blog about these car insurance provisions).  Ask your insurance agent to give you a quote on larger policies.  I think you’ll be surprised at how inexpensive it is to increase your insurance coverage limits.  And if there are youngsters in your household driving your car, it’s even more important.  Here’s a real life example to illustrate just how important that can be.
Gene (not his real name) was a passenger in a car that tried to make a left turn at an intersection way too fast causing an accident. The car hit the traffic light post at about 50mph, and Gene was seriously injured.  His medical bills were over $400,000 for his two week stay in the hospital and at the Rehab Hospital, and for the multiple surgeries he required over the next year.
The at fault driver only had $100,000 in coverage and was otherwise judgment proof (he had no assets beyond his car insurance policy that we could access that wouldn’t be covered by his Bankruptcy). But luckily for Gene, he had his own car insurance policy that provided Underinsured coverage in the amount of $250,000 per person and $500,000 per accident.  This means that Gene was covered by car insurance in the amount of $250,000.
But his medical bills were over $400,000, right? True, but his health insurance paid those bills in full.  And when health insurance pays a medical bill, they get a discount, sometimes as big as 60%.
Additionally, when we pay the health insurance companies back, we have ways to use the law to force them to take even less than they actually paid. So, Gene had medical bills of over $400,000 and a total insurance recovery of only $250,000.  Yet when we settled Gene’s case, he paid us our attorney fee, our costs, and paid the health insurance company back in full and Gene was still able to receive over $100,000 in cash compensation to him.  But if Gene would have had $500,000 in per person Underinsured Motorist coverage, we would have been able to get twice the recovery for him.
The good news is we can do the same for you. So if you’ve been injured in a car accident or sustained another personal injury due to someone else’s negligence, call MacCloskey Kesler & Associates today at 815-965-2000 for a free consultation.  We’ll give you the same level of service and attention that we gave Gene.
 
 

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