People in cities like Chicago have multiple means to get to places. A person could use a car or take public transportation. Another popular method of travel is to ride a bicycle. An individual can use a bike to visit the store, exercise, or do recreational activities.
Due to the number of cyclists in the area, statistics show an accident is likely to occur. Someone may crash by themselves or collide with another person. In many cases, a car makes a cyclist fall off their bike. The collision could have happened because the driver displayed a common reckless behavior.
After a bicycle crash, the victim has multiple options. They can pursue compensation to pay the bills related to their injury.
Why Chicago Has a High Potential for Bicycle Accidents
While a modest percentage of traffic accidents involve bikes, many people still get hurt annually. Around 8,414 bicycle crashes occur each year across Illinois alone. However, a majority of reported cases are from Chicago.
This major city has seen a slight decline in injuries over the years. Nevertheless, cyclists have a significantly higher chance of getting into an accident than other places in the state.
One of the reasons is the population density of the city. Since the area has well over two million people, many residents are on the road. Moreover, the city sees thousands of visitors every year. As a result, the risk of a collision on a bike is high.
Additionally, the weather increases the potential for bicycle crashes. During the winter, the area receives plenty of snow. Meanwhile, severe thunderstorms in the warmer months produce hail and heavy rain. The precipitation can reduce visibility and cause hydroplaning. Furthermore, the damaging winds from storms can cause cyclists to crash.
Statistics for Common Negligent Driving Behaviors in Bike Crashes
A bicycle accident can happen at any point, and several factors can contribute to it. However, many situations are due to a motorist's negligence. An estimated 72 percent of fatal traffic incidents in Chicago are due to one or more specific driving behaviors.
One of the most common dangerous driving behaviors is speeding. Illinois sees an average of 105,218 speed-related crashes. Collisions with bicycles make up a portion of the cases, and vehicle drivers usually are the negligent party.
A motorist requires more stopping time when they accelerate. Meanwhile, they have less time to make quick decisions if something occurs on the road. The driver might not stop in time to avoid hitting a rider. Nevertheless, injuries can become life-threatening at high and low speeds.
Statistics show excessive alcohol use to be one of the common reasons behind bicycle collisions. Impaired driving is a frequent occurrence in many places. Approximately 2,240 drunk drivers face an arrest for a DUI in a single year in Chicago.
Alcohol makes the roadways unsafe because drivers are less likely to make the right decisions. They could misjudge the speed of oncoming traffic and make a left turn early. They are more likely to go above the speed limit and accidentally hit a bicycle rider.
Failure to Yield
In several instances, a bicycle crash is due to a driver failing to yield. At intersections, a vehicle must stop and wait for other people to pass. An example is when a car tries to make a left turn. A driver should yield to others if they make a right during a red light.
Anyone can have the right of way in specific situations, even a cyclist. If a driver did not stop and wait, they could be liable for a collision with a cyclist.
Like other motor vehicle collisions, bike accidents can result from distraction. In Illinois, about 15,150 citations are for distracted driving annually. Cell phone use is the reason for many traffic violations, and the behavior is an issue due to its accident potential.
When someone looks at their phone for a couple of seconds, they are less observant of their surroundings. They may need a few more seconds to process what is in front of them when they look up from the device. Anything can happen in a brief amount of time.
Bicycle crashes can still transpire even if a driver talks on the phone instead of reading a message. A part of the motorist's focus is on their conversation instead of the environment. The person might realize they must step on the brake too late.
Where Are Bicycle Crashes Likely to Occur in Chicago?
Urban areas in Illinois regularly see bicycle accidents. A crash could occur in a neighborhood or on a major road. However, a few places have a higher accident potential than others.
The locations where incidents happen are:
- Arterial roads. Statistics have shown around 53 percent of crashes are on arterial roads. An arterial road is an urban road below a freeway, and metropolitan areas like Chicago contain several. The streets are highly accessible and deliver plenty of traffic to and from expressways.
- Intersections. A cyclist may sustain injuries at the connection point between two streets. Drivers may run a red light or fail to yield to bicycle traffic. If the area does not have a bike lane, a rear-end collision could happen due to tailgating.
- Non-road locations. Some bicycle accidents happen off the road. A cyclist could be in the parking lot of a store or mall. In a few cases, a car veered off the street and hit a cyclist on a sidewalk.
No matter where the accident was, the effects of a collision can be debilitating. The law protects cyclists in case of injuries. A victim could have the right to pursue legal action against the negligent party to recover damages.
Liable Parties in a Bicycle Crash Lawsuit
Drivers usually are the ones who are negligent, but other entities could be responsible for injuries. If you were in a bicycle crash, one potentially liable party other than the motorist is the bike manufacturer. The creator of the bicycle or bike part must ensure everything works safely.
Improper wheel materials or a brake problem could cause a person to fall off their bicycle. A person could crash because of a carbon fork failure or an issue with the frame. Even a minor defect can lead to acute injuries.
Your attorney could hold the manufacturer accountable if the design had a flaw or something happened during production. Alternatively, the distributor or retailer might be responsible for injuries as well.
The Local Government
The city's government may be responsible for damages following a bicycle accident. One of the municipality's duties is to create safe street layouts to help traffic flow as efficiently as possible. An intersection could be dangerous by design, and a crash might occur even if the driver and cyclist followed traffic laws.
In addition to designing intersections, the government has to maintain roads. Over time, the pavement becomes cracked. Potholes can form, and even a small one poses a hazard to riders. You could file a claim against the appropriate department if the city does not fix the road in a reasonable amount of time.
The driver who caused the accident might be a government worker. If they were on duty during the crash, the agency they work for becomes liable for damages.
A person might have gotten an injury due to negligence from a third party. For example, the driver could have been an employee traveling for the sake of their job. You could have a valid case if the motorist was on shift and driving for the company's interests.
Another third party could be the owner of the vehicle. Some people allow a friend or family member to borrow their cars. Therefore, the vehicle owner might be responsible for negligent entrustment. Negligent entrustment means the person should have known the driver posed a risk to others but allowed them behind the wheel.
Other entities might have been responsible for an accident. You should speak to a bicycle crash attorney to know what course of action you can take.
The Cost of a Bicycle Accident
Since bicycle riders have less protection the vehicle drivers and passengers, they tend to receive severe injuries. Whether a person has a fracture or a spinal cord injury, they generally spend a lot of money on healthcare costs. Every year, millions of dollars go into medical care after bicycle accidents.
Many people have to go to the emergency room to treat their wounds. Some have to stay in the hospital for one or more days. In Illinois, a non-profit hospital charges a patient an average of $2,373 daily. A person might have to pay more for inpatient care.
However, the expense is only for a hospital stay. Emergency department services, X-rays, and surgeries add to the bill. An individual could end up with medical debt, and the days they miss from work do not help.
Additionally, some victims of bicycle crashes have to worry about medication prices and ongoing care. They may have to pay for physical therapy or future doctor appointments. In some cases, medical devices are necessary for treatment as well.
Even though medical care quickly becomes expensive, you can receive reimbursement for the money you spend. A bicycle accident claim allows you to recover from your losses. You should keep copies of any bills related to the incident and talk to a lawyer.
What if a Child Got Hurt in a Bicycle Collision?
Children in Chicago are vulnerable to accidents on bicycles. While they should exercise reasonable caution, a few drivers may behave carelessly in a neighborhood or school zone. The impact can lead to severe bodily harm and long-lasting suffering for the minor and their family.
Parents can file a lawsuit on their children's behalf to seek compensation. The contributing factors of a settlement for a minor are similar to those of an adult. Parents must consider medical expenses, loss of potential future income, and pain and suffering.
While the compensation is for the injured child, the victim does not receive the money immediately. First, the judge must approve the settlement amount to ensure it benefits the minor. Then, the funds stay in a controlled bank account until the victim turns 18. A parent can request to withdraw money for necessary expenses, but the court may approve or deny them.
Bicycle Accidents With Uninsured Motorists
In Illinois, around 11.8 percent of motorists do not have car insurance. While a collision with an uninsured driver is unlikely, a person might still end up in a situation with one. They might not know how they can get reimbursement for their injuries.
Even though you are not in a vehicle, your auto insurance policy might be able to pay for damages. Car insurance covers any automobile-related incidents, including bicycle accidents. In situations with an uninsured driver, you would file a claim with your uninsured motorist coverage.
Uninsured motorist coverage pays for various types of losses. You may get compensation for medical bills, rehabilitation expenses, property damage, lost wages, and loss of potential future earnings. The policy also can pay for non-financial losses like pain and suffering.
Furthermore, the insurance plan can cover you if the crash is a hit-and-run. You should be able to file a claim successfully. Of course, you can get the help of a bicycle accident lawyer if you experience issues with the insurer.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage May Not Cover All of Your Costs
In Illinois, licensed drivers need to buy uninsured motorist coverage. The minimum requirement is $25,000 per person and $50,000 for each accident. The amount usually is not enough to pay for every accident-related expense, especially for cyclists. You could have several unpaid bills left after the insurance money runs out.
People can buy higher policy limits in case they sustain severe injuries. Cyclists can benefit from increased coverage since they have a high risk of significant bodily harm.
Another option is to start a lawsuit against the at-fault party directly. The driver is still liable for damages. However, the lack of an insurance plan could mean they have little financial resources to pay for compensation.
The accident may have been the result of negligent actions from multiple defendants. Even though the driver has no insurance, another liable party may have coverage. Contact an attorney who can help you figure out what option may benefit your case.