Each Chicago bicycle accident lawyer at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers knows the dangers bicyclists face while riding on city streets and bike paths. Our team 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 a bicycle accident attorney prior to entertaining offers from insurance companies.
Choose the top Chicago Bicycle Injury Lawyers to Help you
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 Full 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.
Bicycle Accident FAQs
What Laws Does Chicago Have to Protect Cyclists?
Bicyclists in Chicago 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 economic and non-economic damages including:
- 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.
Can I Recover Compensation for my Injuries if I was in a Hit-and-Run Bicycle Accident?
Yes, you can likely make a recovery for injuries related to a hit-and-run bicycle accident via an uninsured motorist claim under your auto insurance policy. In some cases, you may also be able to make a claim if a family or household member, has an auto policy with uninsured motorist coverage. Illinois has an uninsured motorist and hit-and-run motor vehicle coverage statute, which requires persons carrying auto insurance to be insured against loss from uninsured motorists and hit-and-run accidents (215 ILCS 5/143a). Under the statute, there must be contact between you and the vehicle that hit you.
How Long do I Have to File a Personal Injury 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. See 735 ILCS 5/13- 202 & 205. This means you must file a lawsuit against the negligent party or accept final settlement within two years or you may lose your right to recover.
If I am Found Partially at Fault in my Bicycle Accident, can I Still Recover Compensation for my Injuries?
Usually. Under Illinois law, you are allowed to recover at least partial compensation for injuries you sustained in a bicycle accident as long as you are not found to be more than 50 percent responsible for the accident.
In Illinois, traffic laws apply to both motor vehicle drivers and bicyclists (625 ILCS 5/11-1502). This means that cyclists have the same duty to follow the rules of the road as drivers. You can be found at fault for your bike accident if your own negligence caused or contributed to the accident. Nevertheless, you might still be able to recover compensation for your injuries from one or more parties that share responsibility for the crash.
Illinois follows the doctrine of modified comparative fault, which bars recovery when an injured plaintiff (in this case the bicyclist) is more than 50 percent at fault for an accident (735 ILCS 5/ 2-1116). In Illinois, bicyclists who are injured in an accident and carry less than half of the blame for the event have the right to recover damages. However, their damages will be reduced by their percentage of fault. This means that if you are found to be 30 percent at fault for the accident, you can recover only 70 percent of your total economic and noneconomic damages. The extent of negligence and percentage of fault are determined by a jury or other trier-of-fact, not a police report or insurance company.
What can I do if my Child was Injured While Riding His Bike?
You can bring a lawsuit on your child's behalf as well as your own for the injuries, expenses, and physical and mental suffering caused by the accident.
If your minor child was injured in an Illinois bicycle accident, you may be able to recover damages on their behalf. You can bring a lawsuit against the at-fault party for negligence as your child's parent and "next friend." As plaintiff, you need to prove that: (1) the defendant had a duty not to injure your child; (2) he or she breached that duty; and (3) your child was injured and suffered damages as a consequence of the defendant's breach.
If your child dies from injuries sustained in a bicycle accident, you would have to sue the responsible party for wrongful death. In a wrongful death lawsuit, you must prove that your child was fatally injured as a result of the defendant's misconduct, intentional or otherwise, and you suffered damages because of the death. Monetary compensation available to you includes not only economic damages such as medical bills and burial costs, but noneconomic damages such as anguish and loss of companionship.
Normally, if a cyclist is found to have acted negligently in an accident that injured him, the legal doctrine of comparative negligence will reduce the amount he is able to recover from another party or even bar his recovery completely. However, Illinois has adopted the tender years doctrine, which establishes that children under seven years of age are categorically incapable of negligence because they cannot recognize risk, and thus cannot legally contribute to an accident (Appelhans v. McFall, 325 Ill. App. 3d 232 (Ill. App. Ct. 2001)).
In Illinois, if a minor child between the ages of seven and 14 is involved in an accident, there is a rebuttable presumption that the child is not capable of contributory negligence. This means the law still presumes that the child cannot be responsible for the accident, but the opposing party can overcome that presumption by showing sufficient evidence. The jury must take into account the child's age, capacity, intelligence and experience in determining his or her fault (Savage v. Martin, 256 Ill. App. 3d 272 (Ill. App. Ct. 1993)).
Who is Responsible if the Driver who Hit Me on my Bike was Working at the Time?
Depending on the circumstances, the driver and the driver's employer might both be responsible for your bicycle accident injuries and damages, under the theory of respondeat superior.
Determining Responsibility After a Bicycle Accident in Illinois
In most bike accidents involving an on-the-job driver, the employer the driver was working for at the time will be vicariously liable for any damages arising from the accident. This is known as respondeat superior, which is a common-law legal doctrine that holds that employers are responsible for their employees' actions when made within the scope of their employment.
For an employee to be acting within the scope of employment, "the conduct must be (1) of the kind the employee is employed to perform, (2) must occur within the authorized time and space limits of the employment, and (3) must be done at least in part to serve the employer, rather than be for the employee's personal ends" (Bagent v. Blessing Care Corp., 224 Ill.2d 154 (Ill. 2007), quoting Restatement (Second) of Agency). The employer most likely would be liable unless the accident occurred outside the scope of the at-fault driver's employment.
Examples of Vicarious Employer Liability
You can pursue damages in a bicycle accident case against the employer of the driver responsible for your injuries, but that person must have been working at the time of the event in order to hold their employer vicariously liable.
These are some common examples of employee conduct sufficient to trigger vicarious liability:
- A driver was traveling from one job site to another
- A driver was making a delivery to a client on behalf of an employer
- A driver was going to pick up supplies for an employer
These are examples of conduct not considered within the scope of employment:
- A driver was commuting to his job but had not started working yet
- A driver was running a personal errand
- The employer's car was being driven by someone who stole it
Can More Than one Driver be Held Liable for my Injuries in an Illinois Bicycle Accident Claim?
Yes. Illinois law allows multiple parties to be held responsible for bicycle accidents in certain situations.
Bike Crashes Involving Impacts From Multiple Drivers
Many Illinois bicycle accidents involve contact with more than one vehicle. In a lot of cases, a bicyclist will be struck by a vehicle as he or she is attempting to avoid a collision with a different vehicle. This is common in "dooring" accidents, when a driver opens their door into the path of an oncoming bicycle, causing the bicyclist to swerve and be hit be another driver. Under both Chicago and Illinois law, it is illegal to open a car door on the side of moving traffic unless it is safe to do so. In this type of case, it is possible that both motorists could be at fault and liable for injuries to the bicyclist (625 ILCS 5/11-1407).
Joint & Several Liability in Bike Accident Cases
First, you need to sue everyone who may have caused the accident that injured you. Then you need to show in court that their individual actions contributed to causing your injuries. After that, you are allowed to seek damages from each defendant. Illinois lets you do this because it follows the theory of joint and several liability.
This means that any member of a defendant class can be held responsible for the plaintiff's entire damages even if its own role in the accident was minor. This is an implicit advantage for claimants because it allows them to recover from defendants with the greatest ability to pay—for instance, a trucking company or other commercial defendant—regardless of that defendant's percentage of fault for the accident. If a defendant believes that it paid more than its fair share to the plaintiff, then it can seek reimbursement from the other defendant(s), but only after fulfilling its obligation to the plaintiff.
Do I Need to Discuss my Bicycle Accident with an Insurance Company if it Contacts Me?
No. Following an accident in which you were injured, you are not legally obligated to give an insurance company representative, or any other person, any statement about the incident, with the exception of law enforcement.
By law, you are not required to give insurance companies any verbal or written information or documents they might request of you before you have legal representation. Before discussing any details of your bicycle accident with the at-fault driver's auto insurance company, you should speak with a qualified accident attorney. In the immediate aftermath of an accident, insurance companies for the responsible party often try to obtain as much information as possible from the injured person in order to negotiate a low claim settlement. They are not looking out for your best interests, and often later use what you tell them against you.
Should I Hire a Lawyer to Represent Me After a Bicycle Accident?
Yes, an experienced bicycle accident attorney can assist you with all issues involved with your case. However, the decision to hire an attorney to represent you in a bicycle accident case is a personal decision. 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 and give you a good idea as to the value of your case. Our Chicago bike accident lawyers negotiate with insurance companies to provide the best outcome for you.
Do You Need an Injury Lawyer to Help With a Chicago Bike Accident?
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.