Each Chicago bicycle accident lawyer at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers knows the dangers bicyclists face while riding on city streets and bike paths. Our bike crash lawyers are committed to holding negligent drivers accountable for injuries caused to cyclists.
Spurred partly by policies promoting cycling, bicycle commuting has taken off in Chicago as in other major metropolitan areas. Since 2000, the number of people commuting to work by bicycle in the city has more than doubled, likely reflecting higher fuel prices and greater environmental consciousness. But with more workers commuting by bicycle, there has inevitably been an increase in traffic accidents involving bikes.
Regardless of the role you may have played in an accident, it is important to document the events that transpired by securing witnesses and photographs of the scene. Even if you share fault, you still may be able to recover damages. Never admit fault and always speak with an attorney prior to entertaining offers from insurance companies.
Choose the top Bicycle Injury Lawyers in Illinois
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers has successfully resolved hundreds of bicycle accident cases for cyclists in the Chicagoland area and throughout Illinois. Illinois law allows an injured bicyclist to recover compensation for the following damages:
- Medical Expenses: Past and future bills related to ambulance, emergency room, hospitalization, surgery, physical therapy, medication and care at a long-term facility.
- Pain and Suffering: From the incident through the time the injury is resolved.
- Lost Wages: This applies when a cyclist cannot return to their pre-injury profession.
- Property Damages: Compensation for damage to bicycle and gear.
- Wrongful Death: The family of a bicyclist can pursue compensation under the Illinois Wrongful Death Act for loss of financial and emotional support.
How a Chicago Bicycle Accident Lawyer Establishes Driver Negligence
In order to recover compensation in a bike accident injury or fatality case, you must establish that the driver’s negligent conduct caused the crash. While investigating bike accident injury cases, our lawyers regularly:
- Take recorded statements from witnesses
- Order police reports
- Take photos of the scene of the accident and damage to vehicles
- Order driving records from parties involved
- Consult with experts in the fields of accident reconstruction and engineering
- Review medical records and bills
Hire a Skilled Chicago Bike Accident Lawyer to Help You get Compensation
In Chicago 25% of bike accidents involve a driver who flees the scene. Our law firm can provide legal help for victims of hit-and-run bicycle accidents or for those hit by a driver without insurance. Bicyclists may be entitled to pursue an under or uninsured motorist claim with their automobile insurance company.
Common Types of Traffic Incidents Involving Bicycles
Drivers often cite errant or reckless bicyclists as the cause for collisions or accidents, but their own lack of attention or decision not to provide the right of way are the greatest contributing factors. Distraction is also a common cause of accidents involving bicyclists. Other causes of bicycle accidents include speeding, weather, and failure to follow traffic control devices. Understanding different types of bicycle accidents can help drivers and cyclists be prepared and act in a defensive manner to reduce catastrophic injuries to cyclists.
- Collision at intersections with stop signs— when riding a bike, you must treat every traffic control device as you would in a car. This means stopping at stop signs and allowing cars to pass if they have the right of way. The best way to avoid this type of accident is to look in all directions at intersections to be sure that vehicles are giving you the right of way and position yourself so drivers have a better chance of seeing you.
- Collisions at uncontrolled intersections— when two vehicles approach an intersection at the same time and there are no signs or lights present; the vehicle that reaches the intersection first is afforded the right of way. It is safer to slow down when approaching the intersection and be prepared to stop.
- Collisions at stoplights— if you are at a stoplight and decide to cross before it turns green, you are responsible if you are hit by an oncoming vehicle. If you have a green light, however and are hit while crossing, the driver may be held liable.
- The left cross— the left cross accident occurs when a left turning vehicle crosses the path of a bicyclist who is crossing the road. Since left turners must yield the right of way, it is almost always the motorist’s fault when this type of accident occurs. Wearing bright colors, using reflective gear at night, and moving farther to the left will help make you more visible, and some experts suggest taking the middle of the lane at an intersection as if you were a vehicle.
- The right hook— this type of accident occurs when the bicyclist is positioned on the right side of the road and a vehicle making a right turn turns into the cyclist. It is almost always due to the failure of the driver to notice the bicyclist and an example of why you should move farther left when you are riding. It is better to be seen and considered a nuisance than to not be seen and struck by a negligent driver.
- Dooring accidents— when a driver exits their vehicle without assuring the area to the side of their car is free of traffic. The bicyclist has very little time to react. The injuries sustained in these accidents can be severe, as the cyclist is often thrown from the bike and exposed to sharp objects and debris.
- Drunk driving accidents— drunk drivers are responsible for about one-third of traffic-related fatalities. They are more likely to be speeding and not notice bicyclists, which may result in more serious injuries to the cyclist or a greater chance of death.
- Distracted driving accidents— smart devices continue to be a source of distraction for drivers. The decision to pay attention to a text message or a smart phone app rather than the road can prove fatal for both the driver and whoever they collide with. When the victim is a bicyclist, the results can be catastrophic.
- Read end collisions and side swipes— drivers often misjudge the space between their vehicle and bicycles they attempt to pass. In this case, they may strike the bicyclist from behind when passing or not stopping quickly enough at an intersection.
Injuries Encountered by Chicago Cyclists
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 600 cyclists die each year and more than 52,000 are injured in bicycle-vehicle crashes. In 2014, 3,020 cyclists were injured and 27 were killed riding in Illinois, according to IDOT data.
To make Chicago more bike-friendly, the city installed 111 miles of marked lanes on city streets. Unfortunately, many of these designated areas were added to existing city infrastructure and have been poorly designed or implemented. Many serious injuries occur, such as bone fractures, lacerations, back and neck trauma, joint injuries, concussions, and even death. While the majority of these incidents involve adults, children account for 11% of injuries related to bike crashes.
Brain injuries are the number one cause of death in bicycle accidents and can leave survivors with lifelong disabilities. In cases where it may be difficult to quantify the extent of an injury, a Chicago bike accident lawyer may retain an expert in neurophysiology to explain the significance of the injury to a jury. It is important to remember that not all injuries to the brain are immediately apparent.
What Laws Does Chicago Have to Protect Cyclists?
Bicyclists are subject to many of the same laws and regulations as motor vehicles. In addition, there are laws regarding driving on the road with bicycles that motorists must obey. In Chicago and Illinois, these cycling laws are in place to prevent traffic accidents and to protect bicyclists from injury. Often when these laws are ignored, accidents occur causing serious injuries to bicyclists. If an accident does occur and a motorist was violating an ordinance, it may help determine fault or liability for injuries to the cyclist.
The Chicago Municipal Code (Section 9-52) requires cyclists to follow the rules of the road or be subject to a penalty. However, there are certain other laws that target the prevention of accidents on the road in Chicago.
The following specifically apply to motorists when cyclists are in the area:
- 9-16-020 e. Motorists must yield the right-of-way to bicyclists traveling the opposite direction when making a left hand turn. This includes bicycles that are in or approaching an intersection.
- 9-36-020 f. When making a right turn, motorists must not turn in front of a bicyclist traveling in the same direction.
- 9-36-010 c. Motorists must give at least three feet of clearance when passing a bicycle in the same direction and maintain that clearance until they safely have passed the bicycle.
- 9-40-060. Motorists should never park, drive or stand in a designated bike lane.
- 9-40-160. Motorists need to use due care to avoid crashing into a bicyclist.
- 9-80-035. It is illegal to open a vehicle door into oncoming traffic unless it is safe to do so and only to load or unload passengers.
Chicago bicyclists are also protected under the Illinois Vehicle Code (625 ILCS 5). Illinois statute also requires motorists to:
- Yield to bicyclists approaching an intersection
- Use caution when opening a car door or loading passengers
- Use ‘due care’ when driving around bicyclists
What Compensation can an Injured Bicyclist Recover Under Illinois Law?
The Illinois average for bike accident recoveries is approximately $300,000. State median recoveries for bike accidents range between $25,000 and $40,000. 75% of cases recovered under $100,000 and 10% of cases recovered more than $1,000,000.
Factors, which contribute to the value of a bicycle accident case, include:
- Severity of injuries sustained by the bicyclist
- Medical bills for past and future care
- Wages lost as a result of the incident
- Amount of insurance coverage
- Insurance company for responsible driver or party
- Opinions as to permanency offered by a treating physician
- How an incident occurred and severity of the impact
- Jurisdiction where the crash occurred
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC has represented many victims of Illinois bicycle accidents. Collisions involving a bike tend to be serious. Below is data from representative Illinois bicycle accident settlements and verdicts.
- $499,000: Vehicle exiting a parking garage in Chicago struck a bike messenger. Attorneys proved through discovery that the driver was new to the area and did not know there was two-way traffic on the street he was entering. Achieved within four months and for virtually the full amount of available insurance coverage.
- $250,000: Uninsured motorist claim for a businessman involved in a hit-and-run bicycle accident. The recovery was made through his own insurance policy.
- $250,000: The driver failed to yield to cyclists on a busy city street during rush hour. The cyclist had damage to the knee and required arthroscopic surgery. Policy limits of at fault driver were tendered within 60 days of our involvement.
- $180,000: 23-year old man was ‘doored’ by a man exiting his vehicle on the Northside of Chicago. The cyclist was thrown over his handlebars and fractured his clavicle and skull. Initially, the driver’s insurance company denied this claim due to road construction on the street.
- $105,000: An amateur triathlete was struck by a vehicle trying to pass her. The woman was thrown from her bike and injured her knee, requiring arthroscopic repair. This award represents the policy limits of the cyclist’s uninsured motorist policy and the full amount of medical payment coverage.
How Long do I Have to File a Lawsuit for Injuries Sustained in a Bike Crash Under Illinois Law?
The statute of limitations for bodily injury claims involving bicycle accidents in Illinois is two years from the date of the accident and five years from the date of the accident for property damage claims. 735 ILCS 5/13- 202 & 205. This means you must file a lawsuit, or accept final settlement within these time frames, or you may lose your right to recover.
Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer to Represent me After a Bicycle Accident?
Yes, a qualified personal injury firm will be able to offer substantial resources, experience, skill and care to your bicycle accident case. Attorneys obtain police reports and help you through the insurance claim process. Chicago bike accident lawyersnegotiate with insurance companies to provide the best outcome for you.
Do You Need Legal Help With a Chicago Bicycle Accident Involving an Injury?
Nothing can prepare you for an accident. Insurance companies work quickly to offer injured parties a settlement that may be inadequate and insufficient with the hope that you will accept their offer. Before you consider resolving a bike injury case, talk to a law firm that has successfully resolved hundreds of claims and lawsuits for injured cyclists.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC provides a no obligation case evaluation for all Chicago bicycle injury and related accidents. Call us now at 888-424-5757 or complete our online contact form for assistance.