Today, adults and children bike in Chicago not only for fun and exercise but as a basic means of transportation. In fact, the number of bicycle commuters in Chicago has increased by 150 percent since 2000, U.S. Census Bureau figures show. An estimated 1.3 percent of Chicago’s residents bike to work – more than twice the national percentage.
Unfortunately, as the number of bikes sharing the roads with cars, trucks and other motor vehicles rises, so does the number of accidents. These crashes can result in serious injuries and deaths.
The bicycle accident lawyers of Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., are committed to promoting bicycle safety and protecting the rights of victims and their families in Chicago and across Illinois who have been hurt by others’ negligence.
We provide the following information to help you understand why bike accidents occur in our area and what legal options you can pursue if you have been hurt or lost a loved one in a crash.
To discuss your case, contact us today through our toll-free number or by reaching us online. We can promptly provide a free, no-obligation consultation.
Compensation for Bicycle Accidents in Chicago
The attorneys of Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., have extensive experience with seeking compensation, or damages, for injured victims and their families. Illinois bicycle accident laws are in place to protect you. We serve clients in Chicago and throughout Illinois. We know how to investigate and litigate the unique issues in these cases, including determining:
- Why the accident occurred – Photos, surveillance camera footage, witness accounts and other evidence, along with input from highly qualified experts, can establish why a crash happened.
- Who should be held accountable – In many cases, a motorist is not the only party at fault in a bicycle crash. The motorist’s employer, for instance, may be held liable, or a bar or restaurant that served an intoxicated driver. A government agency may be held responsible in many types of cases, including those that involve defective road conditions. The negligence of a bike rental company or bike share program such as Divvy may also lead to liability.
- What injuries have been suffered – A review of medical records and consultation with medical and life-care planning experts can identify past and future medical expenses, past and future income losses, pain and suffering and other damages that may be sought in a bicycle accident lawsuit.
Our lawyers will thoroughly explore all available insurance coverage, including:
- Liability – If a motorist’s negligent or reckless acts caused the accident, compensation may be sought through that driver’s liability coverage.
- Underinsured / Uninsured – If the at-fault motorist’s policy does not cover all of a bicyclist’s damages, a bicyclist may turn to his or her own underinsured (UIM) coverage. If the motorist has no insurance, or if a bicyclist is injured or killed by a hit-and-run driver, payment through uninsured (UM) coverage may be pursued.
- Other policies – In some cases, where a bicyclist injures another bicyclist through his or her negligence, a homeowner’s policy or special accident policy may cover a victim’s losses.
At Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., we have established a strong record of obtaining results for bicycle crash victims and their families, including:
- $2 million verdict on behalf of a bicyclist who was hit by a pizza delivery driver in Deerfield (2014)
- $1.2 million verdict on behalf of the family of a 13-year-old boy who was hit and killed by an ambulance while riding his bicycle in Pope County (2014)
- $1.7 million settlement on behalf of a woman who was struck by a vehicle in a crosswalk in Lake Forest (2010)
- $700,000 settlement on behalf of a man who suffered serious brain and leg injuries in a “dooring” accident in Chicago (2013).
The compensation that may be sought after a bicycle crash that has injured you or caused the death of a loved one will depend on the unique facts and circumstances of your case. In some cases, a bicyclist’s own negligence may reduce or bar a recovery.
Bicycle Crash Facts & Figures: Chicago, Cook County and Illinois
Statistics from the Illinois Department of Transportation show that accidents have steadily increased in the state in recent years, with higher numbers in Chicago and Cook County driving up those crash figures.
Consider the following chart:
TOTAL BICYCLE ACCIDENTS
As you can see, accident totals rose at city, county and state levels during this five-year period. The accident total for the state of Illinois was 11.6 percent higher in 2013 than it was in 2009. Crashes in Chicago rose by 17.7 percent. In Cook County, they increased by 13.5 percent.
Also, out of the total bike crashes in Illinois that occurred during this five-year period, 66 percent occurred in Cook County. Nearly half of the state’s total – 46 percent – occurred in Chicago alone (not even counting suburban crashes).
These numbers clearly show the perils of bicycling in an urban area such as Chicago, where there is heavy interaction between bicycles and motor vehicles.
BICYCLE ACCIDENT FATALITIES
BICYCLE ACCIDENT INJURIES
At Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., our attorneys realize that each one of these numbers represents a family member or friend whose life was lost or permanently changed by their injuries. We strive to seek justice for those whose bicycle crashes were caused by the wrongdoing of others.
Causes of Accidents Involving Bikes
A study by the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) found that bicyclists’ actions contribute to a high number of crashes. Unfortunately, bicyclists often make poor decisions or careless maneuvers that harm themselves.
The study looked at Chicago crash data over a five-year period. Bicyclist actions led to 7,415 accidents over that period. The most common bicyclist actions that caused crashes were:
However, the same study found that negligent and reckless actions by motorists also are a major factor in Chicago. The study revealed that motorist actions caused 6,755 crashes over the five-year period, including:
Indeed, many bicyclists are injured or killed because motorists fail to pay attention to bicyclists or simply fail to respect their right to share the road. For instance, motorists can cause crashes by:
- Turning right in front of a bicyclist traveling in the same direction (“right-hook” collisions)
- Turning left into the path of an approaching bicyclist (“left-hook” collisions)
- Following a bicyclist too closely (“tailgating”)
- Pulling out of a driveway or parking spot without looking
- Racing through a red light or stop sign at an intersection in a bicyclist’s path
- Failing to give a bicyclist adequate space when passing
- Intentionally “buzzing” a bicyclist while passing (a type of “road rage”)
- Opening the door of a parked car as a bicyclist passes (“dooring”).
In many of these situations, the underlying cause of the crash may be the driver’s distraction such as talking or texting on a phone while driving or by the driver’s impairment due to alcohol, drugs or fatigue.
In addition to bicyclist and motorist actions, bike accidents can also be caused by dangerous road conditions, including potholes, deteriorating shoulders or obstructed views. In these situations, a government entity may be to blame.
Most Dangerous Areas for Cyclists in Chicago
A CDOT study that analyzed Chicago crash data over a five-year period found that around 55 percent of the city’s fatal and injury-causing bicycle accidents happen at intersections. A review of the study by DNAInfo.com identified the following to be the most dangerous intersections in the city for bicyclists:
|Lincoln Park||Fullerton Ave., Halsted St. and Lincoln Ave.|
|Bucktown||Damen Ave., Fullerton Ave. and Elston Ave.|
|Wicker Park||Damen Ave., North Ave. and Milwaukee Ave.|
|Logan Square||Milwaukee Ave. and Fullerton Ave.|
|River West||Chicago Ave., Halsted St. and Ogden Ave.|
|Chicago Ave. and Milwaukee Ave.|
|Uptown||Montrose Ave. and Lakefront trail entrance|
Additionally, the CDOT study revealed that streets within the Loop and diagonal streets that take traffic into the Loop have the highest number of non-intersection bike crashes.
These six stretches of road had the highest crashes-per-mile (CPM) rates:
|Milwaukee Ave.||North Ave.||Division St.||0.7||70.1|
|Clark St.||Racine Ave.||Fullerton Ave.||1.6||48.6|
|Milwaukee Ave.||Fullerton Ave.||Armitage Ave.||0.7||48.1|
|Halsted St.||Diversey Pkwy.||North Ave.||1.5||29.9|
|Damen Ave.||North Ave.||Chicago Ave.||1.0||27.8|
|Lawrence Ave.||Ashland Ave.||Sheridan Rd.||0.8||25.2|
Despite these dangerous areas, there are still plenty of safe places to ride in Chicago, including many streets with dedicated bike lanes. Check out this Chicago Bike Map from Chicago Complete Streets to find safe cycling areas near you.
Bicycle Crashes Lead to Serious Injuries
When a car or truck weighing thousands of pounds collides with a bicycle, the odds are never in the bicyclist’s favor.
Bicyclists in Chicago suffered 150 “A” type injuries per year in accidents between 2009 and 2013, a review of the city’s bike crash data shows. Five cyclists per year died from their injuries.
An “A” type injury is a non-fatal injury that ultimately robs a person of his or her ability to walk, drive or continue other normal life activities. These injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) – A sudden blow to the head in a bike crash can cause a minor concussion or more serious brain damage that permanently impairs a bicyclist’s cognitive abilities and motor skills and/or causes emotional harm.
- Spinal cord injuries (SCI) – Damage to the spine in an accident can lead to chronic pain or more severe harm, including the partial or complete loss of function and feeling below the injury location (paraplegia or quadriplegia).
- Amputations – The victim may lose a limb from the impact of the crash or may need a limb amputated for emergency reasons. As a result, the victim may need to undergo extensive rehabilitation and use a prosthetic device.
- Soft tissue injuries – A bike accident may damage a cyclist’s muscles, tendons and ligaments, including harm caused by lacerations.
- Burns – Bicycle crash victims often suffer friction burns, which can lead to scarring, disfigurement and permanent loss of mobility.
- Fractures – Multiple fractures commonly occur in bicycle crashes, including fractures of the arms, legs, wrists, shoulders and hips. The injury may lead to numerous surgeries and limited use of the fractured body part.
In addition to physical injuries, a bicycle accident can lead to emotional distress. A bicyclist who survives a frightening collision with a motor vehicle may experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), including anxiety and depression.
Kids and Bicycle Safety
More than half of the 800 bicyclists who were killed and 515,000 who suffered injuries during one recent year were under the age of 20, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports. Every year, around 26,000 children and adolescents suffer traumatic brain injury (TBI) that requires emergency room treatment, the CDC adds.
How can we make sure our children are safe when bicycling? The CDC suggests the following tips that parents can pass on to their kids (and follow themselves):
- Always wear a proper-fitting helmet.
- Ride with traffic on the far right side of the road (never ride against traffic).
- Obey all stop signs and lights at intersections.
- Use hand signals when making turns or crossing lanes.
- Look both ways (left-right-left) when entering or crossing a street.
- Use sidewalks (where allowed), bike paths or dedicated bike lanes.
- If riding at night, dusk or dawn, wear reflective clothing or tape.
- Equip the bicycle with a front light and rear reflector or light.
- Make sure all bike parts – tires, brakes, chains, gears – are in good condition.
To learn more, we suggest reviewing the City of Chicago’s “Safe Bicycling Guide.”
Protecting the Rights of Victims in Illinois
Under Illinois law, bicyclists are granted the same rights as motor vehicle drivers as well as other rights that are unique to them. Bicyclists have the right to:
- Share the road – A bicyclist may use the road by staying as close as safety allows to the far right side. This means a bicyclist does not have to ride through gravel, broken glass or dangerously close to a curb in order to share the road.
- Ride side-by-side – Two bicyclists can ride side-by-side as long as it does not impede the normal, reasonable flow of traffic.
- Turn as vehicles or pedestrians – When turning at an intersection, a bicyclist has the right to use a crosswalk as a pedestrian. Motorists must yield to the bicyclist. A bicycle rider may also enter into a turn lane as a vehicle driver would. If turning as a vehicle, the bicyclist must use proper hand signals.
- Use sidewalks or crosswalks – A bicyclist may use a sidewalk unless prohibited by a local ordinance. When doing so, the bicycle rider must yield to pedestrians at all times.
- Enjoy a safe distance from vehicles – When a vehicle driver passes a bicyclist, the driver must leave at least three feet of space.
- Be free of harassment – A motorist in Illinois can face a misdemeanor or felony charge, in fact, if the motorist drives intentionally or recklessly close to a cyclist.
These rights must be protected. If a motorist violates a bicyclist’s rights and causes injury or death, the bicyclist and/or family members have the right to seek just compensation for all physical, emotional and financial harm the motorist has caused.
Contact a Chicago Bicycle Accident Attorney Today
In order to preserve evidence and ensure a claim is timely filed, it is important to get legal help right away after a bicycle accident. If you’re trying to figure out how to file a bicycle accident claim contact a Chicago bicycle accident lawyer at Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., today. You can call our toll-free number or submit our online form. We will provide an immediate, free and confidential consultation.
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