Bicycling in the Chicago metropolitan area continues to gain popularity, as people enjoy bicycling both as a recreational activity and as a means of transportation, such as commuting to work. However, with the increase in bicycling – aided by such programs as Divvy and an increase in dedicated bike lanes – as well as the increase in general vehicle traffic, the potential for bicycle accidents has also increased.
On this site, there has been significant discussion of Chicago bicycle accidents as well as related bicycle safety issues, such as the addition of dedicated bicycle lanes and the benefits of wearing a bicycle helmet.
Listed below are some common causes of bicycle accidents as seen in both fatal and non-fatal Chicago bicycle accidents over the last few years:
“Left-cross accidents“: This type of accident is very common, and involves a bicyclist, who is traveling straight, being hit by an oncoming vehicle that turns left immediately in front of the bicyclist. In doing so, the vehicle collides with the bicyclist. These types of accidents typically happen when the motorist does not see the bicyclist. Accident injuries to the bicyclist are often substantial in these types of collisions, as the bicyclist can be riding at speed at the time of the accident, and there is a high possibility that the bicyclist will be forcefully ejected (i.e. thrown) from the bicycle.
“Right-hook accidents“: This type of accident happens as a vehicle makes a right-hand turn into the path of a bicyclist, thereby striking the bicyclist. This typically happens at intersections, after a vehicle passes a bicyclist, and then makes a right-hand turn, “cutting off” the cyclist. Often, this happens when the driver “forgets” that the bicyclist is near the vehicle, or the driver mistakenly believes that the bicyclist is further behind the vehicle than is actually the case.
A prominent Chicago example of this type of bicycle accident was a fatal bicycle accident that happened on July 1, 2016 in Chicago’s Avondale neighborhood. This accident involved a bicyclist and truck colliding at the intersection of Sacramento and Belmont Avenue. Further details can be seen in the July 1 post titled “Fatal Bicycle Accident In Chicago’s Avondale Neighborhood.”
Bicyclists struck from behind by cars: While this type of accident appears to be relatively rare, it nonetheless does occur. One prominent example happened in June of 2016 in Morris, Illinois. Two bicyclists died after being struck from behind by a SUV. Further details are seen in the post titled “Two Bicyclists Die After Bicycling Accident In Morris, Illinois.”
Another prominent example of this type of fatal bicycle accident happened in Michigan (Kalamazoo County) on June 7, 2016. In this accident, the driver of a SUV crashed into a group of bicyclists. Five bicyclists died and four were injured. Excessive speed as well as drug and alcohol consumption by the driver appear to have been contributing factors to this fatal bicycle accident.
Dooring accidents: These types of accidents have been discussed in various posts. For those who are unaware of the term, it refers to a type of accident when a bicyclist collides with a car door that is being opened directly into the path of the bicycle. Typically this happens when a motorist is opening their car door after they have parallel-parked. Dooring accidents have the potential to cause serious accident injuries, as the bicyclist typically collides “head-on” at speed with the opening car door. Various types of accident injuries can occur to the cyclist, largely depending upon the specific characteristics of the crash.
Dooring accidents typically happen in urban settings, as parallel-parking is more prevalent in downtown areas. As well, other characteristics, such as relatively narrow streets, also increase the possibility of dooring accidents.
Vehicles disobeying traffic control devices: These types of accidents happen when a vehicle fails to obey traffic control devices, such as a stop sign or traffic light. In failing to stop, the vehicle goes into the intersection, which can cause a collision with a bicyclist if the bicyclist is traveling in(to) the intersection at the same time. Also, the bicyclist likely won’t be expecting the vehicle to be entering the intersection, and as such the bicyclist may not have time to stop or otherwise avoid a collision with the vehicle.
Cars pulling out of driveways and parking lots, into the path of a bicyclist: These types of accidents typically happen when a car or other vehicle doesn’t see a bicyclist as the motorist is attempting to pull out of a driveway. The vehicle may be “backing out” of the driveway, or attempting to drive out of a parking lot. As the motorist does not see the bicyclist, the car drives into the path of the bicyclist, and a collision occurs.
Accidents caused by drunk drivers: Drunk drivers (DUI) pose a particular risk to bicyclists for many reasons. Among these reasons is that drunk drivers often do not “see” bicyclists due to their impairment. As the bicyclists are not “seen,” the drunk driver fails to account for their presence, and a collision occurs.
Another factor concerning drunk drivers is that their impairment can skew their perception of distance and speed. If this is the case, the motorist can strike the cyclist even if the drunk driver is aware of the presence of a bicycle.
From the perspective of the bicyclist, drunk drivers are often very unpredictable in nature, and can drive very erratically. As such, avoiding being hit by the vehicle can be very difficult. As well, identifying drunk drivers can be difficult, especially if the drunk driver is not exhibiting typical signs of drunk driving. The post titled “Identifying Possible Drunk Drivers” discusses various signs that may indicate a potential drunk driver.
Accidents caused by drivers on drugs: Similar to the reasons seen above, drivers who are impaired by drugs (such as marijuana, cocaine, LSD, etc.) often do not see bicyclists or fail to properly navigate in the presence of bicyclists. As such, collisions can be more likely to occur. The Kalamazoo County fatal bicycle accident mentioned above appears to be a prominent example of a driver who was driving while impaired on drugs.
While the above discusses various types of Chicago bicycle accidents, a critically important topic is what a bicyclist should do if the bike rider is involved in an accident. There are many steps that one should take if a bicycle accident occurs. A very important step is to talk with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after the accident, as there are many actions one should take (and not take) if one has been injured in a bicycle accident.
Should you be injured in an Illinois bicycle accident, or if you represent someone who has died in a bicycle accident, call Tony Elman for a free legal consultation regarding the accident situation. Tony Elman is the lead trial attorney at the Elman Law Group, a Chicago personal injury law firm that over the last 25 years has handled over 10,000 personal injury lawsuits. Tony can give you guidance as to what actions should be taken to protect your legal rights, as well as what process is needed in order for you to maximize the potential for injury compensation. Tony can be reached any time at (773) 392-8182.
Generally speaking, there are various forms of accident injury compensation. These forms include, but are not limited to:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Rehabilitation costs, including physical and vocational rehabilitation
- Past and future lost wages
- Out-of-pocket costs
- Pain and suffering
- Compensation for permanent impairments (loss of function)