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Do Bicycle Helmets Prevent Head Injuries?

Definitely. The statistics clearly show how much wearing a helmet dramatically decreases the number of head injuries when riding a bicycle. If you have already been involved in a severe bicycle accident that left you with ANY injuries learn what an experienced Chicago bicycle injury attorney can do for you.

The National Institutes of Health conducted a study on the effectiveness of bicycle helmets and head injuries during an almost two-decade run. The NIH found that the use of helmets while riding bicycles reduced head injuries by 48 percent and reduced serious head injuries by 60 percent. Furthermore, the study found that using a bicycle helmet reduced traumatic brain injuries by 53 percent and reduced deaths and/or serious injuries by 34 percent. Additionally, in another study, Reuters Health reported that a study in the American Journal of Surgery showed that using a bicycle helmet cut traumatic brain injuries by 50 percent.

Buying a New Helmet

Dave Abels Lawyer
Dave Abels, Bicycle Accident Attorney

When you need a bike helmet, make sure the helmet is a certified safe helmet, that it employs concussion-reducing technology, and that you like it enough to wear it regularly. Always try on a helmet to make sure the fit is safe and comfortable. Personal protective equipment is often more dangerous if it doesn’t fit properly.

If you wear it a few times, then decide not to wear it one time, that’s the one time that you could get into a wreck. Every time you choose to go out without the helmet, you increase your risk of suffering head and face injuries if you crash.

Safety Tips for Riding a Bicycle

In addition to wearing a helmet, wear proper additional personal protective equipment, including gloves, elbow pads, knee pads, and appropriate shoes.

In addition:

  • Check your equipment. Make sure you properly adjust the seat, that the brakes work, that the tires have the proper air pressure, that no parts are loose, that you have reflectors on the bike, and that you have a horn on your bike.
  • If possible, avoid riding at night. If you do have to ride at night, wear something reflective, and use flashing lights.
  • Follow the rules of the road. As a bicyclist, you must follow the same rules as motorists.
  • Always ride in single file if you ride with others.
  • Ride in the direction of traffic.
  • Use hand signals when turning, slowing, or stopping.
  • Stay alert—always watch what is going on around you. Motorists do not always see you.
  • Do not hitch onto cars.
  • Keep at least one hand on the handlebars, but preferably two.
  • Always look out for road hazards. While you wouldn’t notice a pavement crack in a car, it could make you crash if you hit it just right on a bicycle. Other hazards include leaves, sand, dogs, debris in the road, wet roads, and standing water.

For more bicycle safety tips speak to an experienced personal injury attorney or check what most common types of bicycle accidents happen in your area.  Some different types of bicycle accidents you could be on the lookout for include:

Bicycle Accident Injuries

Since you have very little protection other than the personal protective equipment you wear when riding a bicycle, you could suffer catastrophic or fatal injuries in a wreck with a motorist.

Even if you crash because of something in the roadway and you are the only person involved in the crash, these serious injuries may result:

  • Bumps, bruises, scrapes, and cuts;
  • Road rash;
  • Sprains, strains, pulled muscles, torn muscles, and other soft tissue injuries;
  • Simple and compound fractures;
  • Head, neck, and shoulder injuries;
  • Face injuries;
  • Back and spinal cord injuries;
  • Internal injuries;
  • Paralysis; and
  • Death.

Recoverable Damages

The recovery of damages depends on the circumstances of the accident. If you wreck because of the negligence of a motorist, you could collect damages, including economic and non-economic damages.

Economic Damages

Special damages, or economic damages, have a price tag attached to them. The court orders economic damages to make you whole again.

Special damages include:

  • Past medical expenses for those expenses incurred from the date of the accident through the date of settlement or the final hearing.
  • Future medical expenses, including additional surgeries, follow-up appointments, and physical therapy, cognitive therapy, and psychological therapy, and any upcoming medical expenses from the date last paid or figured.
  • Medical equipment, including ambulatory and other aids.
  • Upgrades to your home to make it handicapped accessible, including a ramp, wider doorways, and upgrades to the shower and/or tub.
  • Handicapped aids to help you drive your vehicle, including a handbrake, special steering wheel, and accelerator controls.
  • Past lost wages.
  • Future lost wages, even if you go back to work, as long as you cannot work in your industry or occupation because of the bike accident injuries, and your new job pays less than your former occupation.
  • Replacement or repair of personal property damaged or destroyed in the accident.
  • Funeral and burial expenses.

Non-Economic Damages

General damages, or non-economic damages, do not have a set price.

Non-economic damages include:

  • Pain and suffering.
  • Loss of companionship if you cannot take part in family activities, including playing with your children or going out with your spouse.
  • Loss of consortium if you can no longer have a physical relationship with your spouse.
  • Inconvenience if you have to pay someone to do chores that you used to perform, including grocery shopping, cleaning the house, lawn maintenance, and home maintenance.
  • Disfigurement if the wreck caused scarring or other disfiguring injuries.
  • Loss of use of a body part or function, such as a foot or your eyesight.
  • Emotional and mental suffering, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, or anxiety.

Speak to a Bike Accident Lawyer Today

If you suffered injuries in a bicycle accident because a motorist hit you or because of poorly maintained bike lanes or routes, contact an experienced bicycle TBI accident attorney for a free consultation and find out whether you have a good case for seeking compensation.


Abels & Annes
100 N LaSalle St #1710
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 924-7575

Car Versus Bicycle Accident Statistics

Bicycling has been popular for hundreds of years in the United States, including in Illinois. Today, children are not the only bicyclists that a driver of an automobile may see near a road. In fact, the number of adults cycling for pleasure or sport is increasing every year, as is the number of Illinois workers who chose to commute by bike.

Indeed, Illinois can be dangerous if you’re in a car or a bicycle. In the state, 26 bicyclists were killed in the last year for which statistics were available, and 2,663 were injured, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation. Car crashes were responsible for 700 deaths that year, and 93,517 injuries.

Collisions between the two can be especially dangerous. Bicyclists, even if helmeted, are relatively unprotected if they are struck by a car. They can be thrown immense distances or knocked off the bike into oncoming traffic. Even a minor accident can result in broken bones and spinal or head injuries for the bicyclist. Car drivers tend not to register the presence of bicycles as much as they do cars, and can turn in front of them, sideswipe them, or even rear-end them.

In fact, a common bicycle accident is caused by car drivers opening their doors and getting out directly in the path of an oncoming bicycle. The bicyclist, in a “dooring” accident, can be thrown over the door or crash as a result of having to brake or swerve to avoid the door.

Car and bike accidents may be on the rise, especially in Chicago. Unfortunately, the climb stems in part from the Windy City’s success as a bike city. Chicago have created bicycle-only lanes of traffic, protected bike lanes, bike-sharing programs, as well as increased availability of bike parking and space for bikes on public transit. We won tenth place in BikingExpert.com’s list of the top bike-friendly cities in America—and that’s on top of winning Bicycling magazine’s top honor for Best Bike City in America in 2016. These awards stem from the number of bike paths and trails in the city—more than 200 miles worth, including the 20-mile trail on the side of Lake Michigan. And by next year, the city is estimated to have a whopping 600 miles of dedicated bike lanes.

The city has invested heavily in increasing bike paths and lanes over the three decades. People have responded. Many Illinois residents bike to work in Chicago and other cities, and many bike for leisure as well.

Despite these safety increases, bicycle accidents remain an extremely serious form of personal injury. The very nature of an unprotected cyclist vs a car leads to a situation in which the cyclists is almost surely going to suffer severe injuries or worse. And with more bike riding and ubiquity, especially on city streets, comes more potential for accidents causing fatalities and injuries.

Even a Chicago Sun-Times columnist wondered if great bike city awards were entirely accurate, given the city’s reputation for unsafe car drivers and roads under construction. Both can prove fatal to bicyclists.

What Should I Do if I’m in a Car-Bicycle Accident?

If you are in a car-bicycle accident, follow the same procedure as a car accident. If you are injured, call 911. They will alert emergency responders and police. The police will issue a police report, which can be used as evidence of what happened, who was injured, and what caused the accident.

If you are not injured seriously enough to need immediate medical attention, call the police. Exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver(s). Do not leave the scene of the accident unless you need to go to an emergency room via ambulance.

Take pictures of the accident scene with your smartphone, if you are carrying one. Pictures can be very helpful in determining the causes of the accident, via the trajectory of the vehicles, any skid marks, and other environmental markers. If you don’t have a smartphone with you, take notes on what happened, what you remember, and similar facts.

It’s also a good idea to take pictures of your injuries, your bicycle or car, and any other personal or property damage. Be sure to get a copy of the police report. Police reports are evidence of what happened.

Even if you don’t believe you are seriously injured, see a doctor as soon as possible after the accident. A doctor can examine you to make sure you do not have serious injuries, and can treat any injuries you did sustain.

Determining Who Is at Fault for the Accident

Determining who is at fault for a car-bicycle accident is the same as determining fault in all accidents involving vehicles. The person or other entity whose actions (or failure to act appropriately) caused the accident to occur is usually considered at fault. In other words, even if the bicyclist is much more injured than occupants of the car, or the bicyclist is the sole person injured, the injuries have no bearing on the fault. The law looks at behavior that was a causal factor in the crash.

Causal factors can include driving unsafely or not obeying traffic laws. If a car and a bicycle approach an intersection, for example, and the car is facing a yield sign, it should yield to the bicyclist. If it does not, the car’s driver will likely be considered at fault. Bicyclists have many of the same rights that cars do. But conversely, a bicyclist riding outside of a designated bike lane may be considered partially at fault, because safe driving practices recommend staying in a designated lane.  Please note that being partially at fault is not bar recovery for a bicyclist, but it could reduce the amount of damages awarded.

Factors other than a driver can also be at fault for an accident. Shoddy manufacture of either the car or the bicycle may result in defects that cause an accident. Manufacturers can be at fault in these accidents. Inadequately repaired or marked streets can cause an accident. The entity responsible for street maintenance can be at fault.

If you or a loved one are injured in a car-bike accident caused by another party, that party may be deemed liable. You can attempt to recover damages for your injuries from that party. There are two ways to recover damages: by going directly to the other party’s insurance company, or bringing a personal injury lawsuit.

What Damages Can I Recover?

People injured in a car-bike accident can recover both economic and non-economic damages. The following damages are possible:

  • Medical bills
  • Wages lost from work
  • Prospective medical bills, if you will need medical treatment in the future as a result of the accident
  • Prospective wages lost from work, if you’ve become unable to work or need recuperation time in the future
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of normal life

Do I Need a Lawyer if I’m Dealing With an Insurance Company?

While most people are familiar with the need to contact an attorney for a personal injury suit, it may be tempting to think you can make an insurance claim against an at-fault driver on your own. Insurance companies try, always, to mitigate any risk to themselves—and that includes trying to minimize payment to you.

An unrepresented claimant is substantially easier for an insurance company to handle than one with an attorney. They may claim you are at fault for the accident even if you bear no responsibility at all. They may claim that your injuries are less severe than they are. It’s always prudent to contact an attorney who is experienced in negotiating car-bike accidents.

Bicycle Accidents by the Numbers

One of the most prominent reporters of bicycle safety, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported the following bike accident facts in one recent year:

  • 677 bicyclists were killed in accidents in the United States (up from 623 in 2010);
  • 48,000 bicyclists were injured in traffic accidents (down from 52,000 in 2010);
  • Bicyclist fatalities represented 2.1% of all traffic crash deaths, and bicyclists also represented 2% of all people injured in all traffic accidents;
  • Nearly one out of ten bike riders killed were between 5 and 15 years old;
  • Age 43 was the average age of a cyclist killed on the road;
  • Age 32 was the average age of a cyclist injured in an accident;
  • There were 66 bicyclists age 15 and under killed;
  • Among bicyclists age 16 to 34, there were 174 fatalities;
  • Among bicyclists ages 35-54, there were 235 fatalities;
  • Among bicyclists age 55 and older, there were 198 fatalities;
  • The majority of bicycle fatalities occurred in urban settings (69%) and at non-intersections (59%);
  • The deadliest time to ride a bicycle was between 4:00 p.m. and 7:59 p.m., followed by 8:00 p.m. to 11:59 p.m.;
  • The majority of bicycle riders who were injured (78%) or killed (85%) were males;
  • Alcohol was involved in more than 37% of bicycle accident deaths.

The NHTSA further reports that more than 51,000 bicyclists have been killed in traffic crashes since 1932, the first year that bike accident fatality data was recorded.

In addition to the national statistics, the State of Illinois gathers and maintains its own facts related to bicycle accidents. The Illinois Department of Transportation reported the following statistics for the year 2011:

  • There were 3,107 bicycle accidents of which 2,912 resulted in injuries;
  • 27 bicyclists were killed in accidents;
  • Over 40% of those killed were 65 years old or older;
  • Bicycle riders under the age of 15 accounted for 14.8% of bicycle deaths and 18.7% of bicycle injuries.

Adults Increasing in Risk of Injuries from Bike Accidents

The average age of cyclist killed has been increasing over the past few decades with experts opining that the cause is the increased use of bicycles by older Americans and not a decreased use among children. While these adults are at an increased risk, unfortunately the traditional risk faced by children still exists with many kids being injured or killed on a bicycle every year.

Bicyclists have the same right to ride in Illinois roads as drivers of cars and therefore drivers must be willing to share the roads with the bikers. By paying attention, looking for bicyclists, and acknowledging the rights of bicyclists, accidents are much less likely and will be less likely to result in death or serious injury.

When an accident with a bicyclist does occur, one of the most common injuries to the cyclist is a head or face injury. These are not only common but also very serious and often deadly. The best way to prevent a head injury while riding a bike is to always wear a properly fitting helmet whenever you ride. Studies repeatedly show that helmets reduce the chance of death in an accident, and in fact, 91 percent of riders who were killed in 2010 were not wearing helmets.

Despite the benefits, only a small percentage of riders chose to wear helmets in Illinois. In most areas of the state, it is up to the rider to decide whether or not she wants to wear a helmet; unlike some other states, Illinois does not have a mandatory helmet law that covers all riders. Some cities and municipalities require helmet usage by some riders, mostly children under the age of 16, but the majority of cities have no such regulation, leaving it up to riders and parents to decide what is best.

If you need additional information or help, contact an Illinois bicycle accident attorney.

Most Common Bicycle Accidents

An increasing percentage of the population is opting to turn towards bicycles as their commuting tools of choice. Not only is biking a great way to help keep our environment safe, but it helps keep people healthy and active as they go about their daily lives. Anybody in Illinois is likely to be greeted by the sight of at least a few cyclists each day. Some hop on their bikes for fun, others ride them to work, but one fact remains the same: it’s imperative to focus on safety if you choose to ride a bicycle in traffic.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over 780 bicyclists were killed as a result of bicycle accidents in 2017. An accident doesn’t need to be fatal to have a significant impact on a victim’s life, though. Many bicycle accident victims avoid death, but emerge from crashes with tremendous emotional and physical damage.

Cyclists should feel perfectly at ease snapping on your helmet, adjusting your mirrors, and starting your commute, but you can only plan for other drivers’ negligence to a certain extent. One way that you can increase your safety by cycling is through a thorough understanding of some of the most common bicycle accidents and how to avoid them. If you have already been involved in an accident then speaking with a bicycle accident lawyer could reveal your legal options.

The 3 Most Common Bicycle Accidents

1. Crossing a Vehicle’s Path

While not the most likely to be fatal, these accidents do account for the majority of bicycle accidents that involve motor vehicles. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducted research that found nearly thirty percent of bicycle accidents involve cyclists crossing vehicles’ paths. When cars run into cyclists under circumstances like these, many bike riders suffer serious injuries.

Crossing in front of cars is one of the most dangerous aspects of being on the road as a cyclist. Those on bicycles should take every precaution necessary to ensure that drivers are fully aware of their presence and positioning. If you’re riding a bike and feel unsure about a driver’s attention to the road, it’s best to take the extra time to wait for them to pass rather than hurrying to make it to your destination.

Common-Bicycle-accidents-Abels-and-Annes-768x5132. The Left Hook

Left hook accidents account for 23 percent of bicycle crashes and two percent of cyclist deaths. These bicycle accidents occur when a vehicle turning left fails to yield to a cyclist in the oncoming lane. In some cases, vehicles directly collide with cyclists; other scenarios lead to drivers cutting cyclists off and causing a crash. Many left hook collisions and accidents involve vehicles traveling at high speeds, which renders them especially dangerous for cyclists.

3. The Right Hook

As the name suggests, these accidents take place when vehicles traveling in the same direction as cyclists turn right at an intersection and collide with bikes and their riders. The previously-mentioned IIHS study indicated that up to 45 percent of bicycle accidents occurred when cyclists and vehicle operators were traveling in the same direction. Right hook accidents can be extremely dangerous for cyclists.

Situational awareness and following bicycle safety tips can go a long way in helping bicyclists avoid right hook accidents. Ideally, you should have some sort of rearview mirror (or mirrors) attached to your bicycle or helmet to grant you improved visibility. It’s also important to anticipate what actions the drivers around you may take. You can’t predict everything— but paying attention to your surroundings can help keep you safe.

Potential Bicycle Accident Injuries

Every bicycle accident is different. While an accident may lead to one victim suffering contusions, a concussion, and a broken leg, that same crash could allow a different cyclist to escape unscathed. There’s no way to predict what sorts of injuries you may sustain during a bicycle accident, but those who rely on bicycles for transportation may expect to experience:

  • Contusions, lacerations, and bruises anywhere on the body
  • Head and neck injuries such as hemorrhages, hematomas, or whiplash
  • Brain injuries such as concussions; some cyclists also experience a traumatic brain injury, which can have lifelong negative impacts
  • Broken and shattered bones
  • Muscle pulls and strains

It may be difficult to determine the state of your injuries directly following a bicycle accident. If you received emergency medical attention or were transported to a hospital, you still stand to benefit from meeting with your primary care provider afterward. Many injuries fail to appear for some time or lurk below the surface before rearing their heads.

Receiving treatment for your injuries is one of the most important steps that you can take after a crash. Before you worry about legalities, make sure to take care of your personal health and wellbeing.

A Bicycle Accident Attorney Can Help

One of the best steps that bicycle accident victims can take to protect themselves is to find a reliable, experienced bicycle accident attorney. When you partner with an attorney, you’ll get individualized advice and assistance based on your unique case.

A lawyer can help outline what sorts of documentation you need to collect and even bring in specialists to help strengthen your case. Many legal representatives retain contact information for doctors and other professionals who can offer testimonies or documentation for your case.

It’s a good idea to speak to a bicycle accident attorney as soon as possible after your crash. You should always establish your own physical and mental safety first, but it’s good practice to promptly select a legal representative of your choice. This can help make your recovery and legal processes much smoother.

If you or a loved one have suffered injuries due to a bicycle accident, you deserve compassion and understanding. A talented attorney could help you fight for the compensation that you deserve after your experiences. A trustworthy, experienced legal professional can help you navigate your case, and set you on the right path to a successful recovery.

Bicycle Accidents: Helmets Don’t Always Prevent Head Injuries

Anyone, regardless of age, should always wear a helmet when riding a bicycle. Bicycle helmets can reduce the risk of serious head injury by nearly 70 percent, and they offer the most basic precaution riders can take to protect their safety in the event of an accident. However, many bicyclists still fail to use helmets, and even those who do cannot entirely eliminate the risk of head injury. Worse yet, some cyclists have purchased counterfeit helmets on eBay and other online sellers that don’t come close to offering the same protections as real ones, so make sure you buy your helmet from a trustworthy source.

Head Injury Symptoms

The extent of head injuries after an accident may not always clearly present themselves. It can take hours or even days for the symptoms of a victim’s head injury to fully manifest. Immediately go to a doctor who can assess the risk factors and look for early warning signs of a head injury.

Anytime a victim loses consciousness at the scene of an accident, even if it’s only for a few seconds, the victim absolutely must get medical attention. Bicycle accident victims, who are especially vulnerable to head injuries even if they wore helmets, should look for:

  • Mild confusion. Victims may feel disoriented or find themselves struggling to keep up with what is happening around them. Symptoms of mild confusion may linger for days or weeks following a minor head injury. If confusion increases with time, seek further medical attention.
  • Nausea or ringing in the ears. Following an accident, it is normal to experience physical symptoms of injuries. In the case of brain injuries, victims may feel nauseated or disinterested in food, or they may hear a mild ringing in their ears.
  • Difficulty focusing eyes. If victims have trouble bringing the world around them into focus, experience tunnel vision, or observe changes in their vision, they may have a more serious injury than initially thought. Get medical attention as soon as possible.
  • Headache. A mild headache is normal following a head injury. A headache that persists or seems to worsen can signal a more serious head injury. Victims may have a headache that seems to radiate from all over their heads, a localized headache, or stabbing pains that move through the head abruptly.
  • Memory loss. A victim may not remember what occurred during an accident. Perhaps they are struggling to keep up with normal tasks following their accidents, like recalling regular tasks from a to-do list, or knowing why they have walked into a room. Other memory loss symptoms include misplaced items, and items found in unusual places. If memory loss appears after an accident, or worsens after a medical evaluation, seek additional medical attention.
  • Balance, coordination, or muscle control issues. A head injury might cause victims to struggle with balance, normal tasks due to poor coordination, or full muscle control. They should get medical attention to determine the extent of their injuries.
  • Leaking clear fluid. A victim who leaks clear fluid from the ears or nose should seek immediate medical attention.
  • Sensitivity. Following a head injury, any or all of the victim’s senses may grow more acute than usual. They may feel more sensitive to loud sounds, certain tones, smells, or light. Victims who experience extreme sensitivity may need additional medical attention.

What to Do if You’re in a Bicycle Accident

If you were in a bicycle accident, even if you were wearing your helmet, ensure your health and wellbeing, and preserve any legal claims to compensation that you may have, by taking the following steps.

Assess your physical condition. Do you have any broken bones or damaged limbs that prevent you from moving freely? Are you limping or experiencing pain in any area of your body? If you are injured, do nothing that could potentially worsen the condition. Keep still and summon help as soon as possible.

Collect evidence at the scene. If you’re physically able to maneuver around the accident scene, collect evidence for any future insurance claims or potential litigation. First, record the name and insurance information of the party who appeared to have caused the accident. Record names and contact information for any accident witnesses, and take pictures or video of the conditions, including:

  • The vehicle(s) in the accident
  • The accident scene, including any contributing factors, such as physically created blind spots, poorly maintained roads, or hazards
  • Any of your own visible injuries
  • Property damage, including the condition of your bicycle

Summon help. You may need the help of the police to assess the accident scene, and you will also need to file a police report that documents the accident. If you’re hurt, or even if you’re unsure whether you are, you will also need medical help. Paramedics may assess your condition at the scene, or will take you to a nearby medical facility for additional care.

Seek medical attention. Even if you don’t think you were seriously injured, if you have any symptoms of a head injury, get medical attention. A doctor will assess you, and may order additional tests. The doctor will also provide specific information about what symptoms to look out for, and how long your recovery may take. Keep all records of your medical treatment as evidence of damages for any future claims.

Contact a lawyer. If you were in a bicycle accident, especially one involving a head injury, talk to a lawyer about your rights. An experienced personal injury lawyer can review your case and let you know if you are entitled to compensation. A lawyer who agrees to take your case can work directly with insurance companies on your behalf, saving you the burden of navigating the complicated claims process and any necessary litigation.

Injured in a Bicycle Accident? Call Abels & Annes, PC, for Help Today

If you were in a bicycle accident, even if you wore a helmet, speak to a lawyer as soon as possible. Contact the experienced lawyers at Abels & Annes, PC, for a free consultation at (312) 924-7575 or online, and learn if we may help you.

Bicycle Doorings: What You Need to Know

Getting Hit by a Door While Riding a Bike Causes Serious Injuries

Bicycle DooringsCyclists and bikers who ride in town are at constant risk of “doorings“. This is a type of accident that happens when a vehicle door opens unexpectedly in front of them, causing a collision. Doorings can result in death and severe injuries when riders fall over their handlebars or collide with the open door. Chicago dooring accidents are one of the most common and dangerous hazards cyclists and bikers face in urban riding conditions.

In large cities like Chicago, cars line the streets and cycling is a common way to get around town. When you combine these two factors, it is no surprise that car versus bicycle accidents are common. In this blog post, we discuss how doorings happen, how riders and drivers can take steps to prevent them, and what to do if you suffer injuries in a dooring accident.

What Causes a Bicycle Dooring Accident?

Imagine this scenario: a cyclist is riding on a busy Chicago street. In keeping with local traffic laws, the rider stays in the right-hand part of the lane. To the right of their bike is a line of parllel parked cars. Suddenly, the driver-side door of one the cars swings open so the driver can exit the vehicle. The door opens just feet in front of the cyclist and they don’t have time to stop. The front of their bike collides with the door, they go flying over her handlebars and crash onto the pavement. Luckily, their helmet protects their head, but the rest of their body isn’t protected and they land with the sickening crunch of broken bones.

This is how a typical dooring occurs. It’s quick and violent, and it happens because of a combination of factors. The driver getting out of their car doesn’t look behind them to see if a bike rider is coming. Or, maybe they simply don’t look long enough and miss the harder-to-see cyclist. The city streets often have lots of traffic, forcing the rider closer to parallel parked cars than they would like.

Doorings most commonly occur when a rider on the right collides with the door of a parallel parked car. They can also happen when passengers open their rear door into traffic. There can also be doorings when a car parks on the left side of a one-way street, or when anyone opens a car or truck door in a parking lot or similarly crowded area.

Our bicycle dooring accident lawyers in Chicago often work on cases where there are serious injuries due to a passenger opening a car door. This scenario is especially common with taxi passengers exiting on busy streets.

Are Doorings that Injure Cyclists Preventable?

Fortunately, car doorings that injure cyclists are preventable. Bike riders, car drivers, and passengers can take some simple safety steps. Following the suggestions below can prevent serious injuries to bicycle riders, so pay close attention.

Can Car Drivers Help Prevent Doorings?

Drivers and passengers can prevent doorings by being more attentive to their surroundings before opening their doors.

This advice sounds easy and obvious in principle, but it’s harder to implement in practice. Perhaps the most reliable way to ensure that drivers and passengers take heed of approaching riders is to practice what is known as the “Dutch Reach.”

Instead of opening a car door with the hand closest to the door, a driver or passenger using the Dutch Reach reaches across their body and opens the door with the hand further from the door. That simple behavioral adjustment forces drivers and passengers to turn their torso toward the street. The motion makes it easier and more intuitive to notice a cyclist or biker approaching from behind the car.

Data on the effectiveness of the Dutch Reach is still emerging. However, anecdotal reports suggest that when the Dutch Reach is practiced, doorings occur far less often.

Drivers and passengers not inclined to start using the Dutch Reach can still look over their shoulder before opening a door. It’s a little less comfortable to do so but not nearly as uncomfortable as causing a traumatic accident.

Whether or not they use the Dutch Reach, drivers and passengers can also reduce the incidence and severity of doorings by opening their doors slowly. The longer it takes for the door to open, the higher the chance the rider will see the hazard and have time to avoid it.

Can Bicycle Riders Help Prevent Injuries Too?

Cyclists and bike riders also have a role to play in preventing doorings and reducing their chances of receiving injuries in a cycling accident. These steps encompass the sort of safety strategies riders should be employing anyway, but they are especially important in urban environments where doorings are common.

  • Wear visible clothing and use lights. The more visible a cyclist is, the higher the likelihood that a driver or passenger will spot them before opening a car door. Wearing bright colored clothing and using front-and-back flashing lights, even in the daytime, can increase a cyclist’s visibility significantly.
  • Be vocal or have a bell. If a rider sees a car door about to open, yell “on your left!”. Ringing a handlebar bell can also be an effective way to alert incautious drivers and passengers to the rider’s presence.
  • Ride with a safe margin if possible. Riders typically have the right to occupy a full traffic lane if safety requires it. When traffic is light in an urban area, riders can reduce dooring risk by riding out of the reach of car doors.
  • Ride at a safe speed in urban areas. Riders flying down a city street just inches from parallel parked cars give themselves very little time to avoid a dooring. When riding in an urban environment, safe cyclists dial down their speed.
  • Wear a helmet. This is a no-brainer (pun intended). No one riding in a city (or anywhere else, for that matter) should go without a properly-fitted helmet. Helmets are the single biggest step bike riders can take to prevent traumatic brain injuries in accidents.

Failing to take the above precautions would not defeat a bike accident claim, however they are wise actions to take.

What to Do After a Dooring Injury?

If you sustain injury in a dooring accident, your first order of business should be to seek immediate medical help. Further, if possible, it can be helpful to collect information about the person who opened the door on you and about the accident scene. Take photographs of the street conditions, your bike, the car door, and your injuries. Also, collect contact information for any accident witnesses.

Then, contact an experienced attorney who has handled matters for clients who have been doored. You may be entitled to compensation from the driver or passenger who opened the door in front of you, and from other parties as well. Having an experienced attorney on your side can also help when dealing with insurance companies after an accident.

At Abels & Annes, PC, we understand the hazards riders face in urban environments and take seriously the rights of victims of doorings. To speak with our bike accident attorneys about your dooring injuries and your legal rights, contact us today online or by phone at (312) 924-7575.

City of Chicago Bike Safety Tips

The streets of Chicago can be chaotic, with streams of cars and pedestrians heading in every direction at nearly every hour of the day. Because of parking difficulties and often deadlocked traffic, many people choose to ride their bikes around the city. Biking is convenient and economical, but it can also be a dangerous prospect, especially in a city like Chicago.

The Chicago Department of Transportation recognizes the risks of biking in Chicago, particularly for children. Kids may not be aware of how to safely ride their bikes and parents may not understand how to fully teach their children. To help keep kids safe, the DOT provides information and guidance about bicycle safety for children. The following are some of the tips provided in these helpful materials.

When Riding on the Sidewalk

Many kids ride their bikes on the sidewalk, thinking they cannot get hurt if they are not in the street. However, there are many ways bike accidents and injuries can happen on the sidewalk, as well. The following are some tips for kids who ride their bikes on the sidewalk:

  • Always make sure no vehicles are entering or exiting alleys or driveways before you pass them. Stop or slow down if you need to in order to look both ways.
  • Be aware of people walking on the sidewalk. Do not speed pass them and alert them that you are coming with a bell or by calling out.
  • If you must cross a street, always look left, right, and then left again. Make sure any drivers clearly see you and are stopped before you enter the street. Try to cross at a corner whenever possible instead of the in the middle of a block.

When Riding on the Street

First thing’s first—children should only ride their bicycles on the street if they get permission from their parents first and go over the safety rules. Some important safety rules include:

  • Ride the same direction as traffic—not against it.
  • Try to ride in as straight of a line as possible. Drivers cannot predict if you are going to zig–zag and can hit you.
  • Always stop at every stop sign and stop light, just like the cars do. If you have to cross a very busy street, it may be better to get off your bike and walk through the crosswalk.
  • Know when to look behind you. This is important to do before you are about to ride around a pothole or road hazard, before you turn, or before you go around a parked car or another object that is in your way.
  • Watch parked cars—if there is a driver in a car or if you see brake lights, the car may pull out in front of you or as you pass.

In addition to knowing when to look behind, kids should always practice looking over their shoulder to make sure they can keep their balance and keep riding in a straight line in the process. Kids should also know how to turn while they are riding on the street, as it is commonly necessary for them to do so. Some things kids should know include always stopping, looking left, right, left for cars, following traffic lights, and more.

In addition, there is information for parents and teachers regarding how to select the right bicycle and helmet for a child to keep them safe. Additionally, it teaches parents how to check a bike’s brakes, seat height, and pedals for any potential safety problems. It may be tempting to simply hand down a bicycle from an older sibling or neighbor, however, you should always make sure the bike is the right size for the child and properly maintained before you let them ride.

Accidents Can Still Happen

The unfortunate truth is that even if your child follows every imaginable safety rule, you can still receive the call that they were the victim of a bicycle accident. Even with the right helmet, most of a child’s body is exposed to an impact or fall, and even the best helmet cannot protect from brain injuries. An injured child often requires emergency medical care and you should always have a doctor thoroughly examine your child to diagnose any injuries that may not be otherwise obvious.

Bicycle accident injuries to children can be costly for both your child and your household. Some injuries need extensive treatment, including time spent in the hospital, surgeries, and ongoing rehabilitative therapy. All of this treatment can result in piles of medical bills that can significantly affect your household finances. Unexpected medical bills are one of the leading causes of bankruptcy in the United States and your family should not have to shoulder these costs if someone else caused the accident.

In addition to financial costs, an injury can keep your child out of school for a period of time, prevent them from participating in sports and other enjoyable activities, and even alienate them from their social relationships. Some injuries can cause permanent impairments, which completely change the course of your child’s future. Children can often suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a traffic accident and may require treatment for mental injuries as well as physical ones.

Our law firm can help identify whether any parties may be held financially liable for any injury-related losses—both financial and intangible losses. We know how to bring bicycle accident claims against negligent drivers, companies, government agencies, and more. We will help your family move forward from a bicycle accident in the best situation possible.

Discuss Your Injuries with a Chicago Bicycle Accident Lawyer Today

Learning that your child suffered injuries is always distressing. If your child was in a bicycle crash, you may be able to significantly improve your situation by seeking financial compensation from any negligent parties. At the law office of Abels & Annes, P.C., we can evaluate whether you have a viable claim for free and we help our clients with each step of their legal case. Call (312) 924-7575 or contact us online for a free consultation today.

4 Steps to Protecting Your Rights after a Bicycle Accident

Riding a bike is therapeutic for many people. It not only lets you enjoy the weather and scenery in Chicago, but also works your muscles and blood circulation. However, in many situations beyond your control, biking can result in a serious accident or even a fatality. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cyclists are more vulnerable to serious injuries—and fatalities—than people in other types of vehicles. This is mostly because cycling does not provide an exterior to protect the cyclist’s body from impacts. Because the biker is exposed to many dangerous injuries, it is extremely important to know your rights following an accident.

Step 1: Contact the Authorities ASAP

No one plans for an accident. It is normal to feel frazzled, confused, or overwhelmed following a crash. As a cyclist, your duties are similar to a driver in any other vehicle. Make sure to call the authorities as soon as possible. Safety should be your number one priority, as well as the safety of others. The adrenaline or shock from the accident can mislead you into thinking you are not injured and that you do not need to get yourself checked out. However, a lot of times due to the shock, the body does not experience symptoms from an accident until later. Calling 911 ensures emergency medical personnel are dispatched to assess and transport any injured individuals to the hospital, and ensures that traffic will be is diverted until the crash site can be cleared.

Calling the authorities may also help with filing an insurance claim. The authorities should make an accident report that is accessible to you and that you can send to the insurance company, which also serves as a documentation of the accident details as reported at the scene. One of the most common mistakes that people make after an accident is failing to file a police report.

If you fail to call the authorities or fail to seek medical attention, it can be more difficult to recover compensation for your injuries. It is better to be safe and to contact the authorities immediately after an accident, regardless of how minor you think the damage and any injuries may be.

Step 2: Contact Your Insurance Company

As important as it is to contact the authorities, it is equally as important to contact your insurance company. You want to contact your insurance company before the opposing party’s company contacts yours. It is important to keep them posted on your version of the accident, so they are best prepared to help you when necessary.

It is also important not to say too much to the opposing insurance company. You should always have an experienced attorney handling all questions from the opposing insurance agent. It is especially important to make sure not to let the other insurance company record anything you say or to get a statement from you. This can help prevent making any preserved statements that may be used against you. Your injury lawyer will have more experience in what to disclose and what not to disclose to an insurer. This could be vital for your case because any communication you have with the other party or their agent could be held against you and your claim. The right personal injury attorney who is experienced in handling accident claims can make a substantial difference in the outcome of your case and the amount of the settlement or damage award you recover.

Step 3: Document Everything and Preserve Everything in Its Original Condition

It is imperative to document everything that played a role in your accident. At the end of the day, it may be just your word against the opposing party. Your attorney can work to gather any evidence in your favor from the scene of the accident. It can only help to document everything you can. Take pictures of the scene of the accident right away, if you can. Also, make sure to take pictures of not only your bicycle but also the other vehicle that crashed into you. The police report and the insurance company will most likely be able to assist you better if your attorney can provide them with any evidence that you think they might have failed to collect. Similarly, it is also important to keep track of all your medical bills arising out of the accident. That should not be limited to the medical bills from the day of the accident, but also any pain or check-ups following in the days or even weeks after the accident. Document any medical expenses arising out of the accident to help keep track of your total damages.

In addition to documenting everything, you should also preserve everything in its original condition. You should not get your bike fixed before the insurance company or the police officer has had a chance to inspect it, or possibly even before the claim is settled. The same rule may apply to your clothing or any items that may have been damaged in the accident, such as a cell phone. When in doubt, preserve and document everything even if you think it could only make a minor difference in your claim. Your attorney can also advise you on what to do and what not to do in the wake of a crash.

Step 4: Contact a Chicago Attorney for a Free Consultation

Most accidents involving a negligent driver hitting a cyclist have significant legal ramifications for the negligent driver. In order to ensure you have the best chances of recovering the full compensation you deserve for your injuries and losses, you should have a Chicago bicycle accident law firm on your side. At Abels & Annes, P.C., we focus on personal injury cases and have extensive experience handling claims for cyclists injured by negligent drivers. Call us today at 312-924-7575 for a free consultation, or send us an email through our online contact form.

Long-term Effects of Bicycle Accidents

Did you know cycling is the official State Exercise of Illinois? That’s how much people in the Land of Lincoln love getting out and enjoying a bike ride. In recent years the number of bicycle users on the road has greatly increased. Cities like Chicago have increased bike lanes and actively encourage riding. But when bikes and cars share the road, accidents happen. These accidents, especially if serious, can have long-term costs. Bicycle accidents cost more than $24 billion a year in medical costs.

Bicycle accidents can lead to broken bones, soft tissue injuries, and even traumatic brain injuries. The severity of injuries may vary from accident to accident, but all have long-term effects and consequences. Some of these effects might include:

  • Inability to work for a period of time, resulting in a loss of income
  • Inability to care for your children or loved ones
  • Long-term pain and suffering
  • Diminished capacity due to traumatic brain injury, sometimes permanent

Broken bones. When a bicyclist is struck by a motor vehicle, broken bones often result because the bicyclist is left in the open, usually unprotected. The motor vehicle literally strikes a person’s body. Furthermore, a motor vehicle accident with a bicycle can cause a chain reaction where a bicyclist’s body is thrown or projected through the air. When the bicyclist lands, often on hard ground, the force can break bones.

Broken bones are severe injuries and have long-term effects that require surgery and significant healing time. Even after the bones have healed, victims can require continued treatments, including physical or occupational therapy. The severity of the impact of a bicycle accident can lead to complex breaks that require the installation of plates, screws, or pins in a victim. These severely broken bones require surgeries and can create a higher risk for complications. In many instances, after such an accident, your body may never quite work the same.

Medical bills and pain will vary greatly depending on the severity of the broken bone(s). Illinois law might entitle you to damages for your injuries, emotional or physical distress, lost wages, and in the case of a catastrophic injury, sometime future costs. Consult a Chicago bicycle injury attorney. Our attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C., can help assess your case for broken bones and other injuries.

Soft tissue injuries. Bicycle accidents can lead to a multitude of soft tissue injuries, which cover a broad spectrum of severity. They usually include injuries to muscles, joints, ligaments, and tendons—>anything from a pulled muscle to more serious injuries like spinal cord injuries or a torn knee ACLs.

Soft tissues injuries are fairly common when a motor vehicle hits a bicyclist because of the sheer force of the impact and because the weight of the motor vehicle is so much greater than the bicyclist. These injuries can cause pain, discomfort, swelling, soreness, stiffness and bruising.

Doctors can usually treat bruising and slight strains or sprains with a session or two, then they heal on their own. However, more serious soft tissue injuries can require major surgeries and years of recovery, and may even result in permanent damage. In the most serious cases, soft tissue injuries can lead to amputation or paralysis. The magnitude of soft tissue injuries can result in time off work, your ability to do ordinary things (like chores and hobbies), stress on relationships, and even emotional anxiety or depression.

If you were seriously injured in a bicycle accident that involved a motor vehicle, know your rights and options.

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI). What makes TBI so serious—and even more difficult to initially assess—is that unlike other injuries, sometimes TBI victims can appear normal, even uninjured. TBI, according to the Mayo Clinic, occurs when an external force causes trauma to the brain. It can result in bruising, torn tissues, bleeding, and other physical damage that can result in long-term complications or death.

Any time a motor vehicle strikes a bicyclist, a medical professional should assess the cyclist for TBI—even if the bicyclist was wearing a helmet. Simple physics—a heavy motor vehicle weighing several thousand pounds or more hitting a bicyclist weighing at most a few hundred pounds—shows that this is a real concern. TBI can lead to serious long-term, and often life-altering, consequences. Seek medical help immediately!

Some Possible Symptoms of TBI After a Bicycle Accident

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Short-term or long-term memory problems (for example, a victim can’t recall certain facts or memories)
  • Altered moods, irritability, sudden aggression, or anger
  • Trouble sleeping, including nightmares
  • Trouble concentrating or focusing on tasks
  • Changes in personality
  • Confrontational moods or increased anxiety
  • Trouble with balance or motor control
  • Extremity weakness
  • Costs of TBI Injuries

Brain injuries cost roughly $48.3 billion annually in the United States. Long-term care and rehabilitation costs are also high, sometimes averaging $1,000 a day and millions during a lifetime in the most serious cases. Victims can quickly exceed their insurance limits. Victims with complex TBI can incur staggering long-term costs for medical treatments, lost wages, need for supplemental care, and other unforeseen needs.

The extent of physical and monetary damages caused by a TBI isn’t easy to estimate. TBI treatment is complex and can involve professionals from numerous medical fields. Thus, it can take months or even years before the final injury assessment is known.

The most important thing for TBI injuries is to seek medical help immediately. Time is of the essence, and even what might seem like a minor headache can prove life–threatening. Then, make sure you preserve your rights by contacting a personal injury attorney.

Contact a Chicago Bicycle Accident Attorney

A bicycle accident is always a stressful experience and can leave a long-lasting impact on a victim. At Abels & Annes, P.C., we can provide the legal assistance you need to evaluate your situation and determine the best course of action. Contact us or call us today at (312) 924-7575 to set up a consultation.

Bicyclists Can Be Seriously Injured in “Dooring” Accidents

When you head out on your bike, you’re making the responsible decision to decrease your carbon footprint, to bolster your health, and to free-up our overly clogged roads. You also, however, take on an immense risk. When you take to your bike, there’s absolutely nothing to protect you – other than your safety gear – from the impact of an accident.

Chicago Embraces Cyclists

The City of Chicago encourages its citizens and visitors to bike. Over the last several years, many new bike paths have been created and more than 100 miles of bike lanes have been laid. Additionally, extensive construction projects have been implemented to reimagine entire streets in Chicago’s downtown Loop to better accommodate bikers. Many cyclists take advantage of these improvements by commuting to and from work – and more.

If you’ve been injured as a cyclist in a dooring accident, you know how traumatic that can be. Dooring accidents can cause extremely serious injuries and are often physically, financially, and emotionally disruptive. The legal team at the Law Firm of Abels & Annes has the compassion and commitment to help guide your claim toward its best possible resolution, and we’re here to help.

Dooring Accidents

A dooring accident happens when someone in a parked car swings open one of the car’s doors into an oncoming cyclist’s path. Such accidents are common on the streets of Chicago. In 2013, the Chicago City Council approved a measure that doubled the fines motorists are charged when they cause an accident by opening a door into the path of a cyclist (a dooring accident). Mayor Emanuel also launched an awareness campaign related to dooring accidents for taxi passengers. The campaign includes prominently mounting reminder stickers in all of Chicago’s taxicabs that state Look! Before Opening Your Door.

Drivers’ Duty of Care

Drivers who pull into parallel parking spots on the side of the road have a duty to act responsibly – just as every other driver does. When such a driver flings his or her door open into traffic, that driver endangers any bicyclists who may be cycling past. A parked motorist is charged with checking for oncoming traffic, which includes bikers, before proceeding to open his or her car door into traffic – when it is reasonably safe to do so.

Injuries Incurred

If you’re involved in a dooring accident, you can sustain a wide variety of injuries but there are several that are common to such accidents:

A fractured bone When your bike hits a car’s open door, you’ll almost inevitably be thrown from your bike onto a hard surface. Fractured bones are a common consequence of such impact. Broken bones are extremely painful, can be slow to heal properly, and can precipitate long-lasting negative health consequences, including chronic pain and/or a permanent disability.

Traumatic Brain Injuries – Bike accidents like doorings frequently lead to traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), which are extremely serious injuries to the brain. TBIs are usually caused by a significant force or blow to the head (such as is common when you’re thrown from your bike) and typically lead to some degree of brain malfunction. Such injuries can range from quite mild to extremely serious, but the accident that causes the injury doesn’t have to be extremely serious to elicit an extremely serious TBI. TBIs are further complicated by the fact that they can go undetected until they worsen with time and culminate in a serious health concern. TBIs are also difficult to treat and can lead to extremely negative physical and emotional consequences.

Blunt Force Trauma – The impact of being thrown from your bike in a dooring accident can lead to non-penetrative injuries that can cause significant bruising and rupturing of your internal organs; such injuries are sometimes irreparable. A blunt force trauma can have life-threatening consequences.

Cuts, abrasions, and road rash When you’re thrown from your bike in a dooring accident, it’s likely that you’ll endure some degree of cuts, abrasions, and road rash where your skin scrapes against the road’s surface. These injuries are not only painful but can also develop into serious infection sites.

While all these injuries can be extremely serious and necessitate immediate medical treatment, it’s important to remember that one of the worst effects of a dooring accident is that it can fling you into oncoming traffic and leave you vulnerable to even more serious injuries. Dooring accidents, in other words, are extremely dangerous.

Bikers Beware

As a biker on the streets of Chicago, you’re vulnerable to careless parked motorists and to dooring accidents. There are, however, things you can do to better protect yourself from such an event:

  • Never assume that a parked car is safe to ride quickly past – be on the lookout for recently parked cars and for parked cars that have occupants.
  • Avoid the door zone, which extends three to four feet past the parked car – when riding beside parked cars, stick to the left-most side of your bike lane.
  • Always wear a well-fitting bike helmet – dooring accidents often lead to head injuries, and while a helmet can’t prevent all such injuries, it can help lessen the severity of the impact to your head.
  • Don’t ride distracted – as a biker, you need to focus on your primary task of safely traveling from Point A to Point B. Save your distractions for your destination.
  • Whenever possible, avoid the most heavily trafficked routes.

When you hit the road on your bike, remember that you’re especially vulnerable to injury in any accident involving a motor vehicle and always make safety your primary goal.

If You’ve Been Injured in a Dooring Accident, Consult with a Chicago Bike Accident Attorney Today

If you’ve been injured in a dooring accident caused by a negligent driver, you know just how difficult that can be. At the Law Firm of Abels & Annes, we’ll aggressively advocate for your just compensation, and we’re here to help. Please contact or call our office at 312-924-7575 for a free consultation today.

Three Things You Didn’t Know about Chicago Bicycle Accidents

Thousands of people throughout Chicago and the surrounding suburbs regularly ride a bicycle as a source of transportation, exercise, or recreation. Unfortunately, bicyclists are regularly involved in accidents with motor vehicles in Chicago, making riding a bike a dangerous activity that has the potential to result in serious injuries.

There are many aspects of bicycle accidents and the legal process of helping victims recover that people do not know about, three of which are discussed below.

Bicycle Accident Cases Often Do Not Go to Trial

Like other types of personal injury> cases, many bicycle accident cases are resolved by the parties before they enter a courtroom. In many instances, the fact that the accident was caused by the motorist is so obvious that the only issue that needs to be agreed upon is how much the at-fault party (or his or her insurance) will pay the bicyclist.

Bicycle Accidents Can Result in Ongoing Losses

Many people who are involved in accidents do not immediately realize that their accidents may affect them for years to come. For example, people who sustain traumatic brain injuries in bicycle accidents may require years of therapy, be unable to return to work, or have to live in an assisted living facility or require in-home care. These types of ongoing costs should be calculated and included in any settlement or award, making it important for bicycle accident victims to retain an attorney familiar with representing victims who have sustained catastrophic injuries.

You Will Not Have to Pay out of Pocket for an Attorney

When accident victims think about retaining a lawyer, they are often worried about whether they will be able to afford it. Fortunately, at Abels & Annes, P.C., we take all our injury cases on a contingent fee basis, which means we do not collect legal fees unless we recover compensation for our clients. In addition, any legal fees we collect come directly out of the settlement or award you receive, which means that you will never need to pay out of pocket for legal representation.

Call Abels & Annes, P.C. Today to Speak with a Chicago Bicycle Accident Lawyer

If you have been hurt in a bicycle accident, you should speak with a lawyer immediately. To schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys, call our office today at 312-924-7575 or contact us online.