Tragic central Illinois motorcycle accident causes two young fatalities

Jacksonville, Ill., and the surrounding communities are mourning the loss of a local teenage couple that died in a motorcycle accident late one Wednesday evening in June 2013. The motorcycle driver was 19 and a graduate of Jacksonville High School, while the passenger was 17 and about to begin her senior year at the school.

Reportedly, the driver of an SUV turned left in front on the approaching motorcycle, which struck the passenger side of the motor vehicle. According to the Jacksonville Journal-Courier, the driver told police that he did not see the motorcycle and he received a citation for failing to yield while turning left.

Illinois motorcycle accident statistics

Unfortunately, motorcycle crashes with fatalities like the Jacksonville incident happen all too often. The Illinois Department of Transportation reports that in 2011, 142 fatal motorcycle accidents occurred in the state, an 11 percent increase from the previous year. The average age of riders who died in those accidents was 42 years old, with almost a third of them under 30. A whopping 86 percent were men or boys and about three-quarters of those who died were not wearing helmets.

Surprisingly, almost all of the fatal motorcycle crashes that year were on dry pavement and in good weather.

Safety tips

Obviously, a motorcycle with its vulnerable human passengers is no match for a car or truck. A collision with a larger motor vehicle can easily cause catastrophic injuries to a motorcycle rider, or death.

An Illinois motorcyclist should be sure to have good insurance coverage before taking even one bike ride. Beyond that protection, some common-sense safety measures can help avoid accidents:

  • Follow the rules of the road, including maintenance of a safe distance from other vehicles.
  • Drive defensively and with full awareness of what is going on in the area with other drivers.
  • Slow down on wet pavement or gravel.
  • Stay out of the blind spots of other vehicles.
  • Wear a helmet, eye protection and protective clothing, including gloves and closed shoes, and include reflective and bright colors on your clothing.
  • Don't speed, especially on curves.
  • Maintain your bike regularly.
  • Be especially vigilant at intersections. According to the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration, most motorcycle collisions with larger motor vehicles happen in or at intersections.
  • Never drink alcohol before biking and do not get on a motorcycle after ingesting illegal drugs, or over-the-counter or prescribed medication that can cause drowsiness or negatively impact judgment.

Seek legal advice

Unfortunately, despite the best riding practices of cyclists, sometimes motorcycle accidents and deaths are caused by negligent, reckless or illegal behavior on the part of others on the road. Anyone injured in a motorcycle accident as a driver or passenger, or who has lost a loved one in such a crash should speak with an experienced personal injury attorney who has handled motorcycle collision claims. Immediately, skilled legal counsel can launch an investigation of the incident on behalf of the motorcyclist.

Victims can learn from a knowledgeable lawyer about potentially responsible parties like negligent drivers, insurance companies, manufacturers or sellers of defective equipment, entities who performed negligent road or vehicle maintenance, creators of faulty road design and more, depending on the circumstances of the accident.

A personal injury, product liability or wrongful death lawsuit may be possible legal remedies for injuries, death and property damage.