Yes. Illinois law allows multiple parties to be held responsible for bicycle accidents in certain situations.
What Happens if I Make Contact With Multiple Cars in a Bike Accident?
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).
How can I Recover From More Than One Defendant in a Bike Accident Case?
Illinois follows the comparative fault doctrine, in which more than one person can be found at fault for an accident involving a vehicle, including the plaintiff (injured person). The trier-of-fact (judge or jury) determines the percentage of fault of each party, and if you—the cyclist— share in the fault, your damages are reduced by your own percentage of fault (735 ILCS 5/2-1116-17).
How do I Prove Fault When There are Multiple Defendants?
Illinois comparative fault rules can seem confusing. 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.
Wondering who is Responsible for Your Illinois Bicycle Accident?
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC has helped many victims of Illinois bicycle accidents receive their rightful compensation from all kinds of defendants: truckers, trucking companies, and others. We can help identify who is responsible for your injuries and who best to bring a claim against. We work on contingency so you won't pay a dollar in legal fees unless we are successful on your behalf. Call our offices for a free review of your case today, so we can put you on the path to financial recovery.