Bicycle Accident Lawyer in Chicago
To begin with, make sure you get medical treatment after any bicycle injury. Many cyclists don’t, perhaps feeling better than they are due to adrenaline coursing through their system. Some symptoms like traumatic brain injury (TBI), may reveal themselves only days or weeks after an accident. Get checked by a medical professional and get that visit documented. With this important point established, let’s turn to the state of bicycle injuries in Chicagoland.
For many in Chicago, bicycling is a preferred way of traveling. Chicago hosts over 200 miles of bike lanes and there are plans to increase these lanes by 445 miles by 2020. Even with lanes dedicated to bicyclists, accidents involving vehicles will still occur. When a car hits your bike, damage to the car is minor, while the damage to your bike and your body will be severe. Cars come equipped with seat belts and airbags. The only air bag you have as a cyclist, is the space between you and the ground. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2012 there were 726 bike accidents resulting in death.
Bicycle Accident Facts
- Dooring is illegal in Chicago. If a driver opens their door causing an accident, the motorist is liable.
- Unobservant driver. If a driver is unfocused, forgot to look both ways, and hits you, they are liable for damages to you and your bike.
- A motorist failed to yield. When you are cycling you have the right of way over merging vehicles.
- Distracted Drivers. Motorists preoccupied by their cell phones are a threat to anyone in their vicinity. If a driver is on their phone and hits you, they will be liable for damages and suffering.
- Driver inattention. Many accidents are caused when a motorist pulls out in front of a cyclist. You can claim compensation.
Chicago’s Most Dangerous Roads For Cyclists
Chicago has repeatedly been named one of the best US cities for cyclists. Biking is such a big part of our culture that cyclist safety is consistently prioritized by our transportation agencies. Yet bike crashes continue to plague the metro. NHTSA data shows us that Chicago pedestrian and cyclist fatalities still occur at a steady rate, accounting for 4.1 percent of all traffic deaths in 2016 and 2017. Statewide, the cyclist fatality rate has actually increased, from 1.8 percent in 2016 to 2.4 percent in 2017.
There are certain roads in the area that are notorious for bike accidents. A recent survey named Milwaukee Avenue, between North Avenue and Division Street, as the most dangerous Chicago road for bike riders. This confirms an earlier five-year study by the Chicago Department of Transportation, which lists the following streets with the most bike accidents per mile:
- Milwaukee, from North to Division – 70.1 crashes per mile
- Clark, from Racine to Fullerton – 48.6 crashes per mile
- Milwaukee, from Fullerton to Armitage – 48.1 crashes per mile
- Halsted, from Diversey to North – 29.9 crashes per mile
- Damen, from North to Chicago – 27.8 crashes per mile.
The CDOT also reports that majority of the crashes occurred at intersections, particularly on Halsted, Fullerton, and Milwaukee Avenues. For Chicagoans, this comes as no surprise, as these are complex intersections where thousands of cyclists pass every day.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that bicyclists invite accidents. The CDOT report reveals that more than 40 percent of injury and fatal bike crashes involved a car driver that failed to yield.
For bike riders in Chicagoland, it pays to take note of the city’s dangerous intersections when planning a bike route. Further, practice extra caution when sharing the road with other motorists in this bustling metro.
Bike-sharing And Dockless Bikes: Who Is Liable In An Accident?
The Divvy Bike-share program, run by the CDOT, is a popular system of bike rentals in Chicago. In 2018, bicyclists also welcomed the city’s pilot program for dockless bikes, which can be rented without the need for docking stations. But while these bike-renting models are convenient and affordable, there have been concerns as to the safety of these systems and how victims can make a claim when a bike-share accident happens.
In general, Divvy bikes and dockless bikes are still covered by Chicago accident laws. If a motorist caused a collision with any of these bikes, the injured rider may make a claim against the at-fault motorist. If it was a bike rider that caused a crash by riding on the wrong lane, for instance, that rider would be held liable. If a bicycle is found to be inherently defective and accident-prone, a case could be brought against the manufacturer or distributor.
There could be additional challenges for victims of bike-sharing accidents, especially if they are claiming against a bike-share operator. For one, in case of a Divvy accident, it may be difficult to hold the government accountable for an injurious bike or bike station. States and city governments have considerable tort immunity, which means the City of Chicago may be exempt from injury claims arising from Divvy crashes.
Further, the City’s contract with its Divvy private partner (a company called Motivate, formerly Alta Bicycle Share) indemnifies the City for bike-related injury losses. If an injured party decides to sue Divvy, the City Hall may likely be off the hook, leaving the plaintiff to deal only with the private contractor.
This is an uphill climb, as private bike-share operators are well-equipped with insurance policies and legal defense teams. Their very first layer of defense could be as simple as Divvy’s waiver form, which disclaims their responsibility for accidents.
But despite these facts, it is still possible to pursue a successful claim for your bike-share injury. Again, accident laws still very much apply, so you can hold the at-fault party liable. If a powerful bike rental company or government entity is involved, you’ll want to consult an experienced and up-to-date accident attorney for your best chance of winning.
Willens Law Offices
If you have been in a bicycle accident, you need a professional lawyer on your side. You need the experienced services of Willens Law Offices. We have lawyers dedicated to legal cases involving bicycles. We understand all of the laws and rules involving bikes and motorists. You will need money to repair your bike and heal your body. The costs of hospital visits, recovery, and long term physical therapy can be astronomical. If you have been hit by a car or truck, we will make sure you get the compensation you deserve. In more drastic cases of accidental death, nothing will be able to replace your loved one, yet we will work hard to ensure that you are justly compensated for such a dramatic situation.
Child Bicycle Accident Injuries in Chicago
While cycling is a favorite activity of many children here in Chicago, there are risks parents and child should be aware of.
Cycling is an activity that promotes health and helps develop a child’s gross motor skills. Learning to ride a bicycle is a great milestone in a child’s life and gives them the joy of having a level of independence. Cycling, though, comes with its own inherent risks, and it is important for parents and children to recognize these risks. According to the Center for Disease Control, about 59 percent of individuals who reported to emergency rooms for treatment of bicycle injuries were children under the age of 15 years. Every year, close to 300,000 child bicycle injuries are reported.
Motor Vehicle-Bicycle Accidents Involving Children
Most reported injuries from a child falling from the bicycle. However, accidents and injuries involving motor vehicle and bicycles are not uncommon. When a motor vehicle hits a kid riding a bicycle, the injuries that occur are often severe. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), children under the age of 14 years account for almost 18 percent of motor vehicle-bicycle accident crashes. These types of accidents cause over 9,000 injuries and about 55 deaths each year.
In the case of an accident involving a child bicycle rider and motor vehicle, liability is not always easy to establish. Children may not always know the traffic rules and may also disobey them; however, motor vehicle drivers are also responsible to watch out for bicyclists or pedestrians they are sharing the road with. Determining whether the bicyclist or the motor vehicle driver is at fault can become complicated. Consult an experienced Chicago personal injury lawyer from Willens Law Offices.
Common Injuries Caused by Child Bicycle Accidents
While a bicycle accident may cause a wide variety of injuries, the most serious injuries are brain injuries. A proper fitting helmet is essential for any child. Resist the temptation to get a cheap helmet in a department store and instead buy one from an established bicycle shop whose staff rides and who knows which helmet will be right for your child and can fit it. In addition to brain injuries, the other more serious types of injuries that a child can suffer in a bicycle accident are broken bones and lacerations.
Traumatic brain injuries are a common cause of disability and death among children, according to the Brain Injury Association. Every year, more than a million children suffer some type of brain injury. One of the biggest problems involving brain injuries is that the symptoms are not always immediately felt, taking hours and even days for the symptoms to present themselves. Parents may feel that their child has recovered from a head injury, but the effect of the brain injury may be felt even years later. A child who suffers a brain injury in a bicycle accident may face cognitive difficulties or lower IQ, behavioral difficulties caused by damage to the frontal cortex, emotional problems, and memory and attention problems.
Bicycle Accident Attorneys
Willens Law Offices will fight your legal battles so you can focus on recovery. Our professional experienced lawyers will be with you every step of the way. Call us today at (312) 957-4166 for a free initial consultation.