Chicago, Joliet & Waukegan Bicycle Accident Victims: Our Attorneys are on Your Side
Cycling is a popular activity in Chicago, whether it is a fun family outing on a weekend afternoon or an employee’s daily transportation to work. With over 303 miles of protected bike lanes and off-street trails, Chicago has established itself as one of the cycling capitals of the country.
The local government has invested in infrastructure and education to make bike riding safe for everyone. However, a cyclist’s safety is not always guaranteed. Because Illinois cyclists must share the roads with cars, trucks and other vehicles, they are vulnerable to bicycle accidents that can lead to serious injuries and even death.
Chicago’s Bike-Riding Culture Comes at a Price
Illinois has a thriving bike-riding culture. From 2010 to 2015, there was a 150 percent increase in the number of people commuting to work by bicycle. Chicago was even named America’s Best Bike City by Bicycling Magazine in 2016. The following year the City of Chicago launched its Vision Zero plan in an effort to eliminate all bike-related deaths and serious injuries in the city by 2026. However, data points to the perils that urban cyclists continue to face.
In 2015, it was estimated at least 45,000 cyclists were injured in crashes in the United States while 818 were killed. Nearly 11 percent of fatal bicycle accidents involved distracted driving. Of the cyclists who died, more than half were not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident.
According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, the state has seen a growing number of bicycle accidents in recent years, especially in Chicago and Cook County. In 2016 there were 3,343 bicycle accidents, including 19 fatal crashes. The majority of injury-causing bicycle accidents occurred in urban areas with 2,991, compared to 147 in rural locales. From 2009 to 2013 there was a nearly 12 percent rise in the bicycle accident total for Illinois. Around 46 percent of the state’s total bike crashes in this five-year period happened in Chicago.
Common Types of Bicycle Accidents in Chicago
Bicycle accidents often occur between a bicyclist and a motor vehicle. For instance, drivers can cause crashes by pulling out of a driveway or parking spot without looking, or failing to stop at a red light at an intersection. Accidents with big vehicles such as trucks or buses can have especially devastating consequences. Injuries sustained in these types of collisions are often very serious and may require long-term treatment.
Both drivers and bicyclists need to act mindfully and responsibly when sharing the road. Illinois law grants bicyclists the same rights as drivers. When drivers do not pay attention to bicyclists or refuse to respect their rights, they expose them to the risk of injury or death.
Driver negligence puts the lives of bicyclists at risk, whether it is through speeding, ignoring traffic signals, failing to yield or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Distracted driving can often emerge as the underlying cause of such driving behaviors. A driver may be talking on their cellphone, texting or eating while behind the wheel.
While some bicycle accidents may be the result of driver negligence, others can happen because one or both parties involved broke a traffic law or were confused about the right of way. Perhaps the driver simply did not notice the cyclist’s presence. Some common types of bicycle accidents that occur in Chicago and other parts of Illinois are:
Dooring: Dooring occurs when a motorist opens the door of their parked vehicle into the path of a moving bicyclist. The bicyclist hits the door and is thrown from the bicycle upon impact, often into moving traffic.
Side-swiping: A motorist traveling in the same direction as a bicyclist fails to give the bicyclist enough space when passing. The bicyclist is hit with the side of the car.
Rear-end crashes: Such crashes occur when a driver follows a bicyclist too closely, sometimes referred to as tailgating. The bicyclist is hit from behind while moving or stationary at a red light or stop sign.
Turn accidents: The driver fails to see a bicyclist in the bike lane or crossing the street when turning. Bicyclists can be hit during left-hand turns or right-hand turns, as well as at traffic lights and stop signs.
Road rage or harassment: Illinois motorists can face misdemeanor or felony charges for intentionally or recklessly driving too close to a bicyclist.
Bicycle accidents are not always the fault of a motorist. They can also be caused by inclement weather or hazardous road conditions such as potholes or sewer grates. In such cases, a local government agency may be held responsible. Depending on the circumstances of the bicycle accident, a negligent bike rental company or bike share program may also be liable.
In bicycle accidents caused by a vehicle, the driver’s auto insurance is mainly responsible for covering your medical costs. However, insurance companies often do not have your best interests in mind. A personal injury lawsuit can allow you to recover damages for your medical expenses, pain and suffering, and property damage such as bicycle repairs, among other types of compensation. The personal injury attorneys at Briskman Briskman & Greenberg will advocate on your behalf, whether it involves negotiations or taking your case to trial when necessary.
We Aim to Get You the Compensation You Deserve for Your Bicycle Accident
Bicycle accidents can cause many different types of injuries, ranging from cuts and bruises to broken bones and head trauma. Human bodies are not made to withstand the impact of a heavy car or truck. Head and back injuries are common in such collisions, and some injuries may even require multiple surgeries. When long-term treatment becomes necessary, medical bills can easily pile up. You may also be forced to take time off work for your recovery.
A Briskman Briskman & Greenberg, we understand that while a bicycle accident can last a few seconds or minutes, it has the potential to disrupt your entire life. If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a bicycle accident, you deserve fair compensation for your financial losses. We fight to get your life back on track while you focus on your recovery.
Injuries in a bicycle accident include but are not limited to:
- Broken bones or fractures: When cyclists are thrown off their bicycle, they may instinctively try to break their fall with their hands and arms. This may lead to multiple fractures to their hands, arms, wrists, collarbone, legs, feet, jaw and hips. Broken bones or fractures can require several surgeries and ongoing therapy to heal.
- Brain injuries: Head injuries can occur even when the cyclist is wearing a helmet. They can range from a mild concussion to severe brain injuries. A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can cause permanent disabilities or even be fatal. TBIs can lead to memory loss, balance problems or loss of motor function.
- Spinal cord injuries: Damage to any part of the spine often results in lifelong changes to a bicyclist’s life and affects their ability to move. Bicyclists can suffer chronic pain or even temporary or permanent paralysis.
- Rashes or burns: Bicycle accident victims can sustain friction burns when coming into contact with abrasive road surfaces. This can lead to disfigurement, scarring and permanent mobility loss.
Safety Tips for Bicycle Riders
Bicyclists are responsible for taking the necessary precautions to ensure their safety on Illinois roads. If you enjoy biking in the urban areas of Chicago, make sure to follow the safety tips below. They may prevent you from getting seriously injured.
- Use proper equipment. Bicyclists should make sure all their bicycle parts —including tires, chains, brakes, horn and gear — are working properly. Placing a bike flag at the back of your bicycle, as well as using reflective stickers or lights can help boost visibility so that motorists can spot you at night or in poor weather.
- Wear the right clothing. Helmets are generally not required for bicyclists in Illinois. However, it is advisable to wear one to decrease the chances of a serious injury in case you hit your head during a fall. Gloves are also useful so that you can have a stronger grip on your bicycle’s handlebars. At night, wear reflective clothing or tape to make yourself more visible to motorists.
- Avoid using headphones. Bicyclists should keep their eyes and ears focused on the road for maximum safety. Although music serves as great entertainment, it can also be a distraction when you are cycling. Wearing headphones may prevent you from hearing approaching traffic or honking horns warning you to stop.
- Be cautious even when cycling in bike lanes. Bike lanes are not safe zones. Vehicles can still accidentally merge into them. If you have your guard down, there are chances that you can be hit by a car. Another thing to consider is that bike lanes are close to car doors, so make sure to look out for opening car doors to avoid colliding with them. Use hand signals when making turns or crossing lanes.
Talk to a Chicago Bicycle Accident Lawyer Today
If you were injured or lost a loved one in a bicycle accident, you may be able to receive compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. The Chicago area law firm of Briskman Briskman & Greenberg has represented clients in bicycle accidents throughout Illinois.
Our personal injury attorneys are ready to help you hold the responsible parties accountable for your injuries. We examine various forms of evidence and collaborate with a broad range of experts to thoroughly investigate the details of your accident. All bicycle accident cases are handled on a contingency basis. In other words, we only get paid if we are successful in obtaining compensation for you.
We are on your side. To schedule a free initial consultation, call us at 1.877.595.HURT (4878).