Chicago Bicycle Accident Lawyer
At Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates, we are recognized as the premier personal injury law firm in Chicago. If you or a loved one was seriously injured or killed in a bicycle accident, contact our Chicago bike accident lawyers immediately.
When bicycles and cars are sharing the streets, they are both required to follow all traffic laws. Cyclists are at far higher risk of serious injury in a collision. Injuries sustained in a car vs. bike collision are often very serious, life-threatening, or fatal. The victim may never again have the quality of life enjoyed prior to the accident.
It is imperative you have experienced legal representation in a case of serious injury or death. Our team of Chicago bike accident attorneys at Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates should be contacted at once to review the facts and advise you how to move forward.
Common Bike Accident Causes in Chicago
Cyclists put their lives at risk when sharing the street with a negligent driver. The cyclist may not be noticed, or the driver is intoxicated, distracted, speeding, or simply not paying attention to the road ahead. Some common bike accidents are:
- Driver opens a car door directly into a moving cyclist (dooring).
- Driver fails to see a bicyclist when turning.
- Cyclist is impacted from behind while riding or while stopped at a red light or stop sign.
Dooring Accidents in Chicago: A Staggering Increase
When the door of a parked vehicle is opened directly into the path of a moving cyclist, serious injuries are often the tragic outcome. The cyclist cannot avoid impact, is thrown from the bike, often into the roadway and moving traffic. These accidents are on the rise, with a staggering 50 percent increase in a recent year.
Chicago Bike Accident Statistics
Overall, bicycle accidents are a top priority for authorities at all levels, including city, state, and national transportation safety entities. On the national level, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, reports that over 600 bicycle riders die every year on America’s roads. Car versus bicycle crashes injure 52,000 riders yearly, often resulting in extensive injury, property damage, and increased litigation.
The state of Illinois compiles its own statistics regarding bicycle accidents. The Illinois Department of Transportation released the following statistics for a recent year:
- 26 cyclist deaths
- 3,165 cyclist injuries
- 1,059 serious injuries requiring hospitalization
- 3,286 total injuries
According to the statistics, Illinois is on the list of the top five states for cyclist fatalities, as reported by the Chicago Tribune.
The city of Chicago is not immune to bicycle accidents, despite the fact that city officials recently installed nearly twelve miles of bicycle lanes throughout the city. In fact, many cyclists maintain that the city poorly designed the lanes and installed lanes in places with poor infrastructure, to the point where cyclists fear bicycle accident rates will actually increase because of the new lanes. The city itself reports increases of ridership, accidents, and injuries across the board.
- 150% increase in bike ridership between 2000 and 2012
- 9,000 injury-causing bicycle accidents within city limits between 2005 and 2010
- 1,500 injury-causing bicycle accidents within city limits per year, on average
- 27% increase in bicycle accidents within Chicago city limits between 2005 and 2010
- 32 cyclists killed within the city limits between 2005 and 2010
Vehicle Operators and Bicycle Accidents: Who is Responsible?
Chicago Municipal Code, Section 9-52, outlines several ways in which a vehicle operator is responsible for following the rules of the road. In sharing the streets with bicyclists, a driver must:
- Allow for three feet between bike and vehicle when passing a bicycle traveling in the same direction. Drivers must also maintain the same clearance until the pass is complete. (9-36-010c)
- Abstain from driving or parking in designated bike lanes. Motorists and pedestrians also may not stand in a designated bike lane for any amount of time and must exercise appropriate due care to avoid a crash within a bicycle lane. (9-40-060)
- Allow a bicycle rider to pass an intersection prior to making a turn. The statute specifies riders approaching from the opposite direction while the driver wishes to make a left-hand turn, and applies to riders within or about to enter the intersection. (9-16-020e)
- Avoid turning in front of cyclists traveling the same direction when making a turn. Drivers must check for cyclists approaching from the rear, wait for the cyclist to pass, then proceed in making a turn. (9-36-020 f)
- Remain behind a cyclist turning left until the cyclist has completed the turn. Drivers passing a turning cyclist do so illegally and risk causing collision. (9-40-160)
- Check for cyclists prior to opening the door of a parked car. Drivers may not open a door into traffic unless necessary to unload or load passengers, and must wait until it is safe to do so. (9-80-035)
- Do not drive too closely behind a cyclist.
When drivers ignore these most basic rules of the road, bicycle accident rates rise. If certain types of accidents show an increased prevalence, lawmakers often address specific accident types with additional laws.
Additional Chicago and Illinois Bicycle Laws
Aside from the standard laws maintaining that drivers and bicycle riders must follow the rules of the road, lawmakers designed other laws to protect cyclists from common driver behaviors that cause accidents.
Named after Illinois cyclist Dennis Jurs, who died in a 2015 crash with a driver who failed to yield the right of way, Dennis’ Law addresses the fact that Illinois cyclists receive the same rights as drivers. The law, passed in 2017, establishes that bicycles are vehicles as defined by Illinois code. Bicycles thus have the same right of way as motor vehicles. Drivers must yield the right of way as they would for any other vehicle.
Distracted Driving Law
While distracted driving can cause crashes involving multiple types of vehicles, bicycle riders are especially vulnerable in any crash. In fact, the original distracted driving law came about after a cyclist died after an accident in which a cell phone distracted the driver who caused the crash. The new law, effective July 2019, imposes stricter penalties for distracted driving, including monetary fines. A first offense nets a $75 fine, second offense $100, third offense $125, and subsequent offenses $150 each.
Although leaving a car door open for an extended period is illegal, the practice still results in a significant number of door-cyclist collisions in the city of Chicago. As a result, cyclists advocate for motorists to utilize the Dutch Reach technique when opening a car door. The technique involves drivers reaching to open a car door with their right hand, forcing them to check for oncoming cyclists. The Dutch Reach policy is not an Illinois law but is a public act requiring the state to publish the Dutch Reach technique in the Illinois Rules of the Road book.
Distracted Driving and Bike Accidents
Distracted driving is a problem of epidemic proportions. A driver who is eating, texting, talking on the phone, engaged in a conversation, or daydreaming puts cyclists at high risk of serious injury or death. A driver may be totally unaware that a cyclist is present, hitting them from behind, or failing to ensure no cyclist is on their right prior to making a turn. Distracted driving is negligent driving. If you or a loved one was injured by a distracted driver, get help from the Chicago distracted driving lawyers at Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates. A full investigation into the facts will be performed, including seeking cellphone records when necessary.
Types of Bike Accidents in Chicago
Many bicycle accidents are the direct result of driver negligence. The types of common serious bicycle accidents include:
- Intersection accidents
- Sideswipe accidents
- Right or left-hand turn accidents
- Bike lane accidents
- Anti-cyclist road rage accidents
- Hit and run cases
- Bike vs. large vehicle accidents (truck, bus, etc.)
How a Chicago Bicycle Accident Attorney Can Help
Bicycle accidents often involve a number of complicated factors. More than one driver may accept fault, or the city may accept partial liability due to adverse road conditions, missing signage and other factors. Multiple insurance companies, multiple attorneys and multiple bicycle laws can result in a case that is far too complicated to handle on your own. Hiring a Chicago bicycle accident lawyer can help. With years of experience in bicycle accident cases, hiring a Chicago bike accident lawyer ensures proper handling of your case while you recover.
Contact our Chicago Bicycle Accident Attorney for Help
If you are looking for a personal injury lawyer in Chicago, connect with the bike accident lawyers at Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates. Our trial lawyers are focused on seeking justice and full compensation for the injured. Our record of success is extensive, including achieving what was the highest value personal injury verdict in Illinois history. Call today.