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Chicago Bicycle Accident Lawyers

bicycle accidentMotor Vehicle-Bicycle Accidents are on the Rise in Chicago

Since its invention and mass production, the bicycle has been a popular mode of transportation in the United States. From the young child who first learns that a bicycle can give him the freedom to travel on his own, to adults turning to cycling for exercise and family outings, bicycling provides many wonderful recreational opportunities. However, as our Chicago bicycle accident lawyers recognize, it also can pose risks.

Bicycling Becoming More Popular form of Transportation in the Chicago

In addition to bicycling for exercise and recreation, many people have also turned to cycling as a means of commuting to and from work or school in an effort to avoid the traffic congestion, pollution, and other problems associated with commuting by car. 

Since 1990, Chicago has seen a doubling of bicycle use for commuting, and the city is continuing its efforts to make Chicago a more bicycle-friendly community by building a comprehensive network of bicycle paths that will allow cyclists to travel throughout the city. 

However, while many of these efforts are designed to provide “bicycle only” pathways away from roads used by motor vehicles, cyclists still must frequently share the roadways with cars, trucks, and buses in order to get where they want to go.

Bicycle Accidents are a Real Danger on Chicago's Roadways

As a result, vehicle accidents involving bicyclists are very common. According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, in Illinois there were 19 fatalities in accidents involving cyclists in 2016, as well as 3,138 injuries. In Chicago alone, six cyclists were fatally injured in crashes involving motor vehicles in 2016.

In September 2012, the Chicago Sun Times published an article explaining that, for cyclists, Chicago is the second most dangerous city in the United States, behind only New York. Since 2005, there have been dozens of bicycle accident fatalities within the city, and over 1,000 of those injured in cycling accidents have suffered “incapacitating” injuries—that is, broken bones or internal injuries that have left them either temporarily or permanently disabled. If you are dealing with disabilities after an accident, you should promptly consult a bicycle accident attorney in the Chicago area.

To Avoid Accidents and Injuries, Cyclists Must Always Ride Defensively

As the number of cyclists grows, the number of accidents involving cyclists will also likely grow. And, like many other vehicle crashes, a large number of them occur at intersections. 

Many of these accidents come about as the result of motorists who seem to forget that bicyclists are also legitimate and lawful users of the roads, and fail to look for cyclists when making turns or proceeding through intersections. These types of accidents are exacerbated by excessively large and busy intersections, like the six-way intersection at Milwaukee, Ogden & Chicago Avenues in inner-city Chicago, and by rapidly changing traffic signals that may change before cyclists are able to completely traverse the intersection, even when they enter it on a green light.

Doorings are another Danger for Chicago Cyclists

Another variety of accidents resulting from motorists not observing their surroundings are “doorings”—that is, when a driver or passenger opens his or her car door into an oncoming cyclist. While vehicle drivers bear the fault in such accidents, that does not mean that most vehicle owners are careful enough to always take the time to check their mirrors or look back for oncoming vehicles or cyclists when exiting their vehicles. In many cases, cyclists have little opportunity to react when a vehicle door opens, and the injuries can be extremely serious, since the impact is roughly equivalent to the cyclist riding his or her bicycle directly into a wall. Unfortunately, “doorings” account for about 8 percent of all bicycle accidents.

For obvious reasons, cyclists are always at a disadvantage in a collision with a car, and every bicyclist must adopt a defensive attitude when dealing with vehicle traffic. Bicycles and cars generally share the same traffic laws, but this does not always mean that cars observe the appropriate right-of-way rules in dealing with bicycles, particularly when cyclists are harder for drivers to see in relation to other moving cars, traffic signals, city buses, speeding taxis, and pedestrians.

Keeping Safe as Chicago Cyclist

When moving in traffic, cyclists should not only obey all traffic laws, but also assume that cars and drivers will not or do not see them. This means that they should give cars a wide berth, and occasionally yield to drivers under certain conditions unless they can confirm that a driver has spotted them. They should also have appropriate protective gear: properly-fitting helmets, bright or reflective clothing, and bicycles equipped with lights, reflectors, or reflective tape.

While the planned creation and expansion of bicycle lanes with buffer zones and exclusive-use bicycle paths and bicycle bridges will help Chicago cyclists stay safer in the future, most cyclists still have to travel with car traffic at least some of the time, particularly if they are using their bicycles to commute to and from work or school. And so long as cars and bicyclists must share the road, there will be accidents, and bicycle riders—given their relative lack of protection—will always be at a disadvantage. If you are a cyclist involved in one of these accidents, you need the help of an experienced bicycle accident lawyer in the Chicago area to help you recover damages to compensate you for your medical expenses, pain, suffering, and other losses.


Bicycle Accident FAQ

For many people, biking represents a lifestyle choice: a great way to get exercise, perhaps, or a useful way to save money on transportation. Others enjoy biking as a way to relieve stress or get around a little faster than walking, especially in busy cities where dragging a car out can cause more trouble than convenience. No one expects a bicycle accident to happen to them. When it does, however, you may need legal assistance to help you go after the compensation you deserve. Do you have questions about your bicycle accident? We have answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.

1. Does the driver of the vehicle automatically have legal liability for my injuries after a bicycle accident?

Many bikers immediately blame the driver who struck them in an accident and assume that is who they can pursue for damages. And yes, it is common for the driver of a vehicle that collides with a bicycle to bear some, even all, of the blame for the accident. But not always, and maybe even not at all. Sometimes the actions (or inactions) of other parties led to the accident occurring.

In the most general sense, a person or entity has legal liability for damages when:

  • They had a duty to exercise reasonable care not to cause someone harm;
  • They violated that duty through their own actions or inactions; and
  • Because of that violation, they caused someone harm.

The law contains numerous complications and variations on these general principles, but they serve as a useful guidepost to answering this question. From the list above, you might start to see how multiple different parties might have liability for a bicycle accident. There’s the driver, as we’ve said, who always has a duty to exercise reasonable care not to harm others on the road.

But there also might be a second driver of a vehicle that didn’t strike the cyclist, but instead did something unpredictable that caused the first driver to swerve and collide with the bicycle. Or perhaps the manufacturer of the bicycle should have some legal responsibility, if a part on the bicycle failed at a critical moment, causing the cyclist to fly over the handlebars and into traffic.

You get the idea. In every case, an experienced bicycle accident lawyer will do a diligent investigation to identify every party who might have legal liability to an injured cyclist. Odds are the driver of the vehicle that struck the cyclist will be one of those parties. But there can be others, too.

2. If my bicycle accident injuries put me in the hospital, who pays the bill?

If you suffered serious injuries, such as spinal cord damage or traumatic brain injury, from your accident, you may see incur large medical costs beginning with your initial hospitalization and continuing throughout your recovery. Most likely some portion of those costs will be paid by your health insurance (which in turn might seek reimbursement from your auto insurance). But there are also some expenses that insurance might not cover. In that case, you may need to seek compensation from the “at fault” party’s insurance, or from that party directly.

3. If I wasn’t wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, does it make me responsible?

Yes and no. Helmet use can reduce your odds of traumatic brain injury by as much as 51 percent. So it’s always a good idea to wear one when you ride a bike. But the lack of a helmet does not automatically make you responsible for injuries you sustain in a bicycle accident. For instance, it probably has little or nothing to do with injuries you suffered to other parts of your body, such as broken bones or spinal damage. But if you sustain a head injury, then a court may conclude you bear some fault for your own injuries, which may lead the court to reduce the amount of damages you could receive as compensation in a lawsuit.

4. Should I use an attorney after my bicycle accident case? What if the insurance company offers a settlement right after the accident?

Yes, you should use an attorney, and no, you should not accept any settlement offered to you before speaking with your lawyer. In some cases, the insurance company will make a low settlement offer shortly after your accident. This offer may fail to reflect the full compensation you deserve for your injuries. Working with an attorney can help raise that compensation amount to reflect the full amount you deserve. Not only that, working with an attorney can help alleviate stress after your bicycle accident and make it easier for you to focus on your recovery. And of course, you will need an attorney if it comes to filing a legal action in court to recover damages from parties with legal liability to you.

5. How much is my bicycle accident worth?

Each bicycle accident case will vary based on a variety of factors, such as:

  • Whether liability for the accident is admitted or contested.
  • The severity of your injuries and your prognosis for a full recovery.
  • The availability of insurance or assets to pay for your damages.

In general, bicycle accident victims can seek compensation that will help cover medical expenses and lost time at work as well as compensating them for pain and suffering. Consulting with an experienced bicycle accident lawyer can help you determine how much you should receive for your injuries.

6. How soon after my accident do I need to file a claim?

In Illinois, you have two years after an accident to file for damages in most cases. The longer you wait, however, the more difficult it can become to build a strong case for the maximum compensation you deserve. Do not wait to consult an attorney.

Dealing with the aftermath of a bicycle accident can leave you struggling. Fortunately, an attorney can help. The sooner you contact an attorney after your bicycle accident, the sooner you can begin the process of seeking compensation for your injuries.

The Bicycle Accident Attorneys at Abels & Annes Can Help You

If you have been injured by a motor vehicle while riding your bicycle, or someone you love has been killed by a motor vehicle while cycling, you should consult an experienced bicycle accident attorney to determine whether you may have a valid personal injury or wrongful death claim against a negligent driver.

At Abels & Annes, P.C., our experienced bicycle accident attorneys assist bicyclists in pursuing claims against negligent drivers who have caused serious injuries. We know how to obtain all the damages you may be entitled to, whether that means filing suit or pursuing a remedy through an insurer. 

If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, call Abels & Annes, P.C. to set up a free initial consultation. You may call us at our toll-free number (855) LAW-CHICAGO, (529-2442), locally at (312) 924-7575, or you may use the online form right here on this website. Our Chicago bicycle accident attorneys are available to take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You will pay no fees unless and until damages are recovered.

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