Chicago Bicycle Accident Lawyer
Each Chicago bicycle accident lawyer at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC knows the dangers bicyclists face while riding on city streets and bike paths. Our team is committed to holding negligent drivers accountable for injuries caused to cyclists.
Spurred partly by policies promoting cycling, bike commuting has taken off in Chicago as in other major metropolitan areas with the incorporation of bicycle lanes into the city infrastructure.
Since 2000, the number of people commuting to work by bike in Chicago has more than doubled, likely reflecting higher fuel prices and greater environmental consciousness. But with more workers commuting by cycling, there has inevitably been an increase in traffic accidents involving bikes.
Regardless of the role that you may have played in an accident, it is essential 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 Chicago bike accident attorney before entertaining offers from negligent drivers auto insurance companies.
Choose the Top Chicago Personal Injury Attorneys to Help You Recover Compensation for Your Bicycle Accident
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC has years of experience resolving hundreds of serious injury cases for bicycle riders in the Chicago area and throughout the state. Illinois law allows an injured bicyclist to recover financial compensation for the following damages:
- Medical Expenses: Past and future bills related to the emergency room, ambulance, hospitalization, surgery, medical treatment, physical therapy, medication, and care at a long-term facility.
- Pain and Suffering: From the incident until past the time the injury is resolved.
- Lost Wages: The time when a person cannot return to their pre-injury profession.
- Property Damage: Compensation for damage to a bike and gear.
- Wrongful Death: The family of a deceased rider 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
To recover financial compensation in a bike injury or fatality case, you must establish that the driver's negligent conduct caused the crash. While investigating bike injury cases, our Chicago bicycle accident attorneys regularly take the following steps to build a strong case for our clients.
- Take recorded statements from witnesses
- Order a police report from the City of Chicago or other municipalities
- Take photos of the scene of the accident and damage to vehicles
- Order driving records from parties involved from the Illinois Department of Transportation
- Consult with experts in the fields of accident reconstruction and engineering
- Review medical records and bills for past expenses as well as future medical costs
Hire a Skilled Chicago Bike Accident Lawyer to Help You Get Full and Fair Compensation
In Chicago, 25% of bike accidents involve a driver who flees the scene. Our personal injury law firm can provide legal help for victims of hit-and-run accidents or for those hit by a driver without insurance or minimal coverage. Riders may be entitled to pursue an under-insured or uninsured motorist (UM) claim with their own automobile insurance carrier.
Common Types of Bicycle Accidents Our Personal Injury Law Firm Handles
Drivers often cite errant or reckless bikers as the cause of collisions or accidents. However, the driver's lack of attention or not providing the right of way are the most significant contributing factors. Distraction with cell phones is also a common cause of accidents.
Other causes of bicycle crashes include speeding, weather, and failure to follow traffic control devices. Understanding different types of bike injury cases can help drivers and cyclists be prepared and act defensively to reduce catastrophic injuries to bicyclists. These accidents commonly result in broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, and even death.
Our bicycle accident lawyers know these scenarios well and can assist you with your case as well as anticipate defenses.
- Collision at intersections with traffic signals — When riding a bike, you must treat every traffic control device like you were driving a car. Staying safe requires 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. 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 rider who is crossing the road. Since left turners must yield the right of way, it is almost always the driver'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. 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 cyclists. 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 not to be seen and struck by a negligent driver.
- Dooring accidents — These accidents usually occur when a driver exits their vehicle without ensuring 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 car-dooring bike accidents can be severe, as the individual 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 person or a higher chance of serious injury or death.
- Distracted driving accidents — Smartphone devices can be a distraction for drivers. The decision to pay attention to a phone call, text message, or a smartphone app rather than the road can prove fatal for both the driver and whoever is involved in the accident. When the victim is a bicyclist, the results can be catastrophic.
- Read end collisions and sideswipes — Drivers often misjudge the space between their vehicles and bicycles they attempt to pass. In this case, they may strike the biker from behind when passing or not stopping quickly enough at an intersection.
Injuries Encountered by Chicago Area Cyclists
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 600 people die on average each year, and more than 52,000 are injured in bicycle-vehicle crashes. In 2017, twenty-six cyclists were killed riding in Illinois, according to the National Center for Statistics and Analysis data. Six of the bicycle-related deaths occurred in Chicago, Illinois.
The city installed 111 miles of marked bicycle lanes on city streets to make Chicago more bike-friendly. 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 most of these incidents involve adults, children account for 11% of injuries related to bike crashes.
Brain injuries can leave survivors with lifelong disabilities and are the number one cause of death in bicycle collisions. 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.
Chicago Bicycle Accident Law 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. Also, 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 riders from injury. Often when these rules are ignored, accidents occur, causing serious injuries. If an accident does occur and a driver was violating an ordinance, it may help determine fault or liability for injured bicyclists.
The Chicago Municipal Code (Section 9-52) requires cyclists to follow the rules of the road or be subject to a penalty. However, specific other laws target the prevention of accidents on the road in Chicago.
The following sections of the Code apply to drivers when cyclists are in the area and delineate the legal rights of riders:
- 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 injury case, include economic and non-economic damages including:
- The severity of injuries sustained by the bicyclist
- Medical bills for past and future care
- Wages lost because of the incident
- Amount of insurance coverage
- The automobile insurance company for the responsible driver or party
- Opinions as to permanency of the injuries offered by a treating physician including future medical attention
- How an incident occurred and the severity of the impact
- The jurisdiction where the crash occurred
The law offices of Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC have represented many injured cyclists in Illinois. Nearly every car accident involving a bike tends to be serious. Below is data from representative Illinois bicycle accident settlements and verdicts.
- $499,000: A vehicle exiting a parking garage in Chicago struck a bike messenger. The 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. A successful resolution was 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 crash. The recovery was made through his insurance policy.
- $250,000: The driver failed to yield to bike traffic on a busy city street during rush hour. The cyclist had damage to the knee and required arthroscopic surgery. Policy limits of the at-fault driver were tendered within 60 days of our involvement.
- $180,000: The 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 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.
What Compensation can an Injured Bicyclist Recover Under Illinois Law?
Contact a Chicago bike accident attorney at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC for more information on the valuation of personal injury and wrongful death cases arising out of bicycle crashes.
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 crashes in Illinois is two years from the date of the accident. See 735 ILCS 5/13- 202 & 205. This law limits the time you must file a lawsuit (take legal action) against the negligent party or accept a final settlement within two years, or you may lose your right to recover.
While this is the general rule, there are exceptions to this. Consequently, you should consult with a Chicago bike accident lawyer to determine how the law applies to your situation.
What Can I Do If My Child Was Injured While Riding His Bike?
You can bring a lawsuit for yourself and on your child's behalf for the injuries, expenses, and physical and mental suffering caused by the accident. If your minor child was injured in an Illinois accident, you might 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 the 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 bike 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 because 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 like medical bills and burial costs but non-economic damages such as anguish and loss of companionship.
Typically, if a child acted negligently in an accident that injured him, the legal doctrine of comparative negligence will reduce the amount he can recover from another party or even bar his recovery completely. However, Illinois 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 fourteen is involved in an accident, there is a rebuttable presumption that the child is not capable of contributory negligence. This law 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 consider 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 personal injuries and damages under the theory of respondeat superior.
Determining Responsibility After a Bicycle Accident in Illinois
In most Cook County bicycle accidents involving an on-the-job driver, the employed that the driver was working for at the time will be vicariously liable for any damages arising from the accident. This legal theory is based on 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 personal injury case against the employer of the driver responsible for your injuries. However, that person must have been working at the time of the event 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 Injury 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 bike collisions involve contact with more than one vehicle. In many cases, a bicyclist will be struck by a vehicle as he or she is attempting to avoid a collision with a different vehicle. These "dooring" accidents happen when a driver opens their door into the path of an oncoming bike, causing the bicyclist to swerve and be hit by 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, both drivers could be at fault and liable for injuries to the individual (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 actions contributed to causing your injuries. After that, you can seek damages from each defendant. Illinois lets you do this because it follows the theory of joint and several liability.
This theory claims that any member of a defendant class can be held responsible for the plaintiff's entire damages even if its role in the accident was minor. This theory gives an inherent advantage to claimants because it allows them to recover from defendants with the most significant ability to pay.
For instance, a trucking company or other commercial defendant could be held accountable regardless of the 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 Auto Insurance Adjuster?
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, except for law enforcement.
By law, you are not required to give insurance carriers 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 carrier, you should speak with an experienced personal injury 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 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 Chicago Bicycle Accident?
Yes, an experienced bicycle accident attorney in Chicago, IL, 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 personal injury lawyers negotiate with insurance companies to provide the best outcome for you.
Do You Need an Experienced 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 free case evaluations for all Chicago bicycle injuries and related accidents. Call us now at 888-424-5757 or complete our online contact form for assistance.