Family Recovers After School Bus Hits Bicyclist ($2.1 Million)

Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates secured a $2.1 million settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit for the family of a 23-year-old bicyclist who was hit and killed by a school bus while riding to work.

The Case

In the pre-dawn hours of January 17, 2013, the young man was riding his bicycle to work. He had recently returned from military training and was enlisted in the general reserve for the United States Army. Adorned with his camouflaged military backpack, he rode along a poorly lit roadway in the cold. While riding with the flow of traffic, the bicyclist was struck by a school bus. The young man was pronounced dead after arriving at Dyer Hospital in Indiana.

In-Depth Look

Chicago injury attorney and partner at Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates, Michael T. Wierzbicki, successfully prosecuted the case.

“It is an absolute tragedy whenever any life is lost. Due to the inattentiveness of the bus driver, this young man’s life was taken from him and his family,” said attorney Wierzbicki.

Before the bus driver hit the bicyclist, a 911 call came into the dispatch from a woman reporting a bicyclist in the middle of the lane on Sauk Trail who was very hard to see and causing traffic to swerve. Within a minute, the school bus driver struck the bicyclist and ran him over.

The school bus driver denied ever seeing the bicyclist.

The school bus driver was not charged by the Sauk Village Police Department. Further, the investigation by the Suburban Major Accident Reconstruction Team did not fault the school bus driver.  Rather, the crash reconstruction indicated the bus was driving below the speed limit. The police faulted the deceased bicyclist for riding further than necessary from the curb and riding without a front headlight.

Police failed to retrieve vital evidence – the dash cam video system onboard the school bus.

“The police investigation was less thorough than our investigation” stated Wierzbicki. As a seasoned attorney dealing with semi-truck and commercial truck accidents, Michael Wierzbicki knows the technology that is commonly associated with commercial motor vehicles, such as school buses and semi- tractor trailers.

Wierzbicki obtained onboard video from the school bus and electronic data from the onboard computer system from the bus. These items provided critical information including the speed of the bus and a recorded view of the driver leading up to the collision. The bus driver was driving over the speed limit, not under, and clearly was not scanning the road and keeping a proper lookout. “These violations of law and safe driving practices were the real cause of this incident,” Wierzbicki said.

Michael Wierzbicki continued, “It was an uphill battle. Our client was riding in the dark. The bus driver denied ever seeing the young man on his bicycle and the police were sympathetic to that story. Thankfully, we were able to recover evidence that the police were unaware of to demonstrate the bus company’s fault and provide a measure of closure and compensation to a family we were privileged to represent.”