Bikes Gain Popularity, But Accidents Frequent
If you have been involved in a bicycle accident in Chicago at no fault of your own and you suffered injuries as a result, you may qualify to file a Chicago bike accident lawsuit. Contact a Chicago bicycle accident lawyer to discuss your legal options. TorHoerman Law is your Chicago bike accident lawyer – we offer free no-obligation case consultations for all potential Chicago bike accident lawsuits.
Cycling and Bicycle Accidents in Chicago
Bicycling is a popular form of exercise and transportation, especially in Chicago. While many opt for public transportation or driving themselves around town, those means of transportation can often result in long delays due to traffic congestion and unavoidable delays. But, riding a bicycle in the City can avoid those issues. However, it is not without risk. Bicycle accidents, including collisions with vehicles on the roadways and pedestrians, are common.
Chicago Cycling Statistics
Chicago has the highest number of bicycle commuters per capita of any major city in the United States. Compared to the national average, the Windy City has a higher number of bicycle commuters, with 1.3% of all Chicago commuters traveling to work by bicycle in 2010.
Remarkably, the City of Chicago boasts more than 170 miles of bicycle lanes for riders and over 13,000 bike racks for safekeeping. The suburban neighborhoods also offer hundreds of miles of trails and bike paths. But, with an increased number of cyclists comes an increased risk of bike accidents in Chicago.
Chicago Bike Accident Statistics:
- Half of all Chicago bicycle accidents occurred in an intersection.
- 9,000 bicycle accidents were reported from 2005 to 2010.
- 32 fatalities as a result of a bicycle accident occurred between 2005 – 2010.
- The number of bicycle injuries increased by 27% between 2005 and 2010.
- 31 fatalities occurred when a bicycle rider was not wearing a helmet.
A split second is all it takes for a driver to take their eyes off their road, and a collision may follow. It is important to be prepared, at all times, for any potential accidents. If you are involved in an accident, contact a Chicago bicycle accident lawyer immediately.
Children Involved in Chicago Bike Accidents
Children between the ages of 10 and 15 are more likely to be involved in a Chicago bicycle accident than any other age group. Males in that age group, specifically, had a disproportionately higher number of crashes. While the statistics cannot be explained fully, an observation can be made that children at this age begin to engage in riskier behavior and forget to take precautions while riding their bikes through the City. It is also important to note that at age 16, most children will be making the switch from bicycles to cars as they are now old enough to receive their license, reducing the number of injuries reported on bicycles.
As parents, it is important to talk to children about bicycle safety because bike riding is fun, great exercise, and a good way to learn independence, but it does not come without dangers. While you cannot control the actions of motorists on the roads, teaching kids proper bicycle safety will hopefully protect them from harm.
Recommendations for Children Riding Bicycles in Chicago
- Helmet use is always recommended, especially for a child whose brain is still developing. Any injury to their head can result in a potentially life-threatening situation and prevent proper brain development.
- Ensure the child knows the rules of the road – stop completely at stop signs, look both ways before crossing a street, obey street signals, use hand signals to alert other drivers of the intended direction, and ride in designated bicycle lanes when provided. If you would like more information on how to educate your child on the rules of the road, especially pertaining to bicycles, Ride Illinois provides bicycle safety resources for parents. Read more here.
- Make sure your child’s bike is kept in proper condition. Inspect the tire pressure, brakes, and tightness of the chain. Ensure reflective lights are properly installed on the bike.
Classes are available to teach children how to safely ride a bike and follow the rules of the road. To sign your child up for an educational class, visit www.safekids.org or www.bikeleague.org to find one near you.
Unsurprisingly, 90% of accidents involving children happen during the day. As motorists, we have an obligation to take extra precaution when driving through neighborhoods or school zones. Keep your eyes on the roads and surroundings. Remaining vigilant can reduce the number of Chicago bicycle accidents that involve children.
Chicago Bicycle Rules and Law
Bicycles have the same obligation to obey laws as motorists. While riding a bike around downtown Chicago can be breathtaking, bicycles will not protect you from the force of getting hit by a car or truck. While you cannot predict the future, you can take all precaution necessary to avoid an accident by following the rules of the road.
Recommendations for Cyclists in Chicago
- Helmets are strongly recommended for cyclists in Chicago. Although not mandated by law, a helmet could prevent damaging brain injuries if an accident occurred. If the helmet becomes damaged in an accident, buy a new one as it is no longer as effective as intended.
- As a rule of thumb, bicycle helmets should be replaced every two years, regardless if an accident occurred or not. After a few years, the foam inside the helmet becomes hard and does not absorb shock as well.
- Chicago bicyclists must ride in the same direction of traffic.
- Like cars and trucks, bicyclists must yield the right of way to pedestrians.
- In some parts of Chicago, bicycles are not permitted on sidewalks. Check with your local laws prior to riding your bike on a sidewalk.
- If there is a designated bicycle lane, use it – the lane is there for your safety.
- Bicyclists are encouraged to use hand signals to alert others on the road of an intention to change lanes or make a turn.
- If riding at night, a white light visible from at least 500 feet on front and a red reflecting light visible from at least 100 feet on the back is required.
If there is ever any question of what roads are bicycle safe, obtain a copy of the Chicago bicycle map to educate yourself.
Just as Chicago bicyclists must follow specific laws designated by the City of Chicago, motorists have their own to follow, too.
Chicago Motorist Laws For Driving Near Cyclists
- When passing Chicago bicyclists, motorists are required to leave at least three feet of space between their vehicle and the cyclist.
- Chicago motorists must yield to bicyclists when making a left turn and are prohibited from turning right in front of a bicyclist.
- Drivers of motorized vehicles are responsible for providing the same duty of care for bicyclists as they would for pedestrians.
- Drivers are prohibited from opening their doors into oncoming traffic, often referred to as “dooring”.
- Parking in bicycle lanes or shared lanes is prohibited as it causes unsafe conditions for the bicyclists by forcing them to merge into traffic.
The City of Chicago offers numerous bike training programs, courses, and educational materials to prepare bicyclists and motorcyclists alike. This is partly due to the fact that Chicagoans bicycling to work increased by 150% between 2000 and 2010. As a resident of the City, it would be wise to take advantage of the educational services offered. The more knowledgeable you are, the more likely you will be prepared if ever faced with the uncertainty of a collision.
How Dangerous are Bicycle Accidents in Chicago?
For motorists, you will likely not suffer from any serious injuries but there could be damage to your vehicle. For bicyclists, it is a completely different situation. Since there is no barrier to protect a bicyclist from an impact, they are unprotected from the elements, unlike a driver of a vehicle. As a result, the injuries to a bicyclist would more than likely be much more severe, and potentially life-threatening, and the bicycle itself would be excessively damaged.
As a Chicago bicyclist, you can protect yourself by wearing protective and reflective clothing, including long sleeves, pants, and gloves. Most importantly, a helmet can prevent serious head injury and should be worn at all times while riding a bicycle. While no one expects to be involved in an accident, making your best effort to remain aware of your surroundings at all times will help to avoid any potential collisions.
What Kinds of Injuries are Reported in Chicago Bike Accidents?
While injuries are entirely dependent on the circumstances of the accident, a number of injuries can occur. Those injuries can range in severity – cuts, bruises, and concussions to limb injuries, chest and/or abdomen injuries, or head traumas, including permanent brain damage are most common.
If a bicyclist is involved in a particularly destructive collision, fatalities are a possibility. If you or a loved one were involved in a bicycle accident, it is important to seek medical care right away. Your well-being is the most important thing, but mitigating injury is also an important part of a Chicago bike accident lawsuit. After seeking medical attention and filing a report with the Chicago Police Department, contact a Chicago bicycle accident attorney to discuss the next steps.
Chicago Bike Accident Liability and Negligence – What Does It Mean?
Both drivers and cyclists are obligated to obey the rules of the road, designated by local, state, federal laws and have a duty to practice ordinary care regarding their own safety and the safety of others on the road, pedestrian, bicyclist, or vehicle. Failure to do so is not only illegal but could potentially cause a collision.
After an accident has occurred and a Chicago bike accident lawyer has been contacted, the initial first step in the legal process is proving liability. Did the driver of the vehicle exhibit negligence, or recklessness, that caused the injuries of the bicyclist? If yes, the case can proceed because the driver failed to practice care regarding the bicyclist. But, sometimes, the answer could be no, and the accident was caused by the cyclist’s negligence. While this scenario is less common, it is important for a Chicago bicycle accident lawyer to look at all sides of the case before proceeding.
Negligence, in terms of the driver of a motor vehicle, can often be found in varying forms – speeding, distracted driving, impaired driving, failure to yield, driving in the designated bike lane, among many others.
If you suffered damages as a result of the accident, you may qualify for a lawsuit. To proceed, contact a Chicago bicycle accident lawyer.
What Does a Chicago Bike Accident Settlement Cover?
The goal of a Chicago bike accident lawsuit is to hold the liable party accountable for the damages caused to you, the injured party. Damages often include everything from the medical bills incurred as a result of your injuries to wages lost because of your inability to work from the accident to the emotional distress you endured. In a Chicago bicycle accident lawsuit, the injured party may choose to file for both compensatory damages and punitive damages. It is important to note that each lawsuit is different and no two cases are the same. In the state of Illinois, a lawsuit must be filed within two years of the date of injury, referred to as the statute of limitations (SoL). In a lawsuit, the Chicago bicycle accident lawyer handling your case will act on your behalf by:
- Compiling and evaluating medical records, billing statements, the police report, and other facts of the case
- Communicating with the insurance companies on your behalf
- Negotiating a settlement with the other party(s)
- And if a settlement agreement cannot be met, going to trial.
While a trial is not ideal due to the amount of time and costs it requires, sometimes, it is necessary to get you the compensation you deserve. However, a majority of all cases are settled by the parties involved prior to going to trial. This allows the injured individual to receive compensation for the damages incurred in the accident without the stress of a trial where a judge or jury may decide the end result.
Chicago Bike Week Promotes Bicycle Awareness
Every year in June, Chicago promotes biker safety during Chicago Bike Week. During the event, bicyclists are invited to participate in city-wide events that promote bicycle awareness.
Planned rides throughout Chicago, rally’s, and other social events are also organized as part of the Bike Week celebrations. As an extension of the program, riders are encouraged to ride their bikes to work in a two-week “Bike to Work” challenge. According to the League of American Bicyclists, 40% of all trips in the U.S. are less than two miles – making biking a feasible and economical means of transportation. All efforts are part of Chicago’s plan to provide resources to bicyclists while riding in the city and bring awareness to bicycle safety.
While Chicago organizes Bike Week during the month of June, National Bike Month is during the month of May as designated by the League of American Bicyclists. Cities across the country heavily promote and encourage individuals to bike safely during this time. Whether or not a specific event is planned to promote bicycle awareness and safety, it is our duty as people to contribute to the safety of others. Join us in pledging to keep our bicyclists safe from harm!
Chicago Bicycle Accident Lawyer
TorHoerman Law is experienced and knowledgeable in handling bicycle accident lawsuits. If you were involved in a Chicago bicycle accident, you may be entitled to compensation for the injuries that you suffered. Our firm offers a free, no-obligation consultation.
An experienced Chicago bicycle accident lawyer from TorHoerman Law is here to help you or a loved one through a difficult time. Contact us if you have any questions.
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