Bicycle Accident Lawyer in Chicago Fighting to Get Injured Bicyclists the Compensation They Deserve
Chicago cyclists deal with a lot on the city’s streets–from potholes, road construction, snow, and ice to aggressive drivers who won’t share the lane. Bicycling for any part of your commute benefits your fitness and the environment. But biking on Cook County roads comes with one major drawback–the danger of crashing, getting hit or knocked off your bike by a car.
Unfortunately, bicycles offer little protection against the elements or from other drivers. While a helmet always helps, you can still get hurt badly from the sheer physics of a car crash. The force of any car is enough to overwhelm a cyclist, no matter how slow the impact.
And although the city of Chicago has made an effort to create safer roads for cyclists by adding hundreds of miles of bike lanes in the last ten years, bicycle accidents still happen often. Chicago has averaged over 5 bicycle accident deaths per year since 2012.
Injuries from a bicycle crash can change your life as you know it. You may need extensive medical treatment or physical therapy, and even then, you may not fully recover. You might lose the ability to perform your job while you face growing medical bills that threaten your financial future. This medical and financial double-punch can weigh heavy on your family and your spirit.
The worst part is that as a cyclist, you’re at the mercy of other motorists. No matter how careful you are, a distracted or reckless driver could hit you with no fault on your part. Bicycle accident injuries can be severe, from broken bones and concussions to internal bleeding and even death. If you’ve suffered any injuries in a bike accident, no matter how minor, or if you’ve lost a loved one to a bicycle accident, you could have a personal injury or wrongful death claim.
While the law cannot undo your injury, a personal injury lawsuit can help “make you whole” as if your accident never happened. Under Illinois law, you can receive compensation for damages you’ve suffered because of a bicycle accident that was not your fault.
As a bicycling accident victim, you could have the right to damages for medical bills, lost earnings, property damage, pain and suffering, and any other actual losses you’ve experienced. This could add up to thousands or even millions of dollars.
Our experienced Chicago personal injury team fights passionately for clients who’ve been injured while biking. No case is too small for our legal team. At Kramer Injury Law LLC, we often take bike accident cases on a contingency fee basis, so you don’t pay us any legal fees until we recover damages for you. We know that during this time, the last thing you need to think about is whether you can afford a lawyer. Call our Cook County personal injury Law Firm at (312) 775-1012 for a free case consultation with our experienced attorneys today.
What Should You Do After a Bicycle Accident in Chicago?
Many cyclists have experienced near misses on their bikes. Even the most careful cyclists can get blindsided by inattentive or reckless drivers. When bicycle accidents occur, you may be hurt and disoriented. At that point, your priorities are to:
- Check yourself and others for safety, and
- Document the scene of the accident with photographs and witness information.
You want to speak to a personal injury attorney as soon as the dust settles. You may receive an insurance company settlement offer shortly after the accident, but you shouldn’t sign anything without speaking to a lawyer first. You may have more rights than you realize, and an attorney at Kramer Injury Law LLC will maximize your recovery.
- Check for Immediate Injuries from the Accident
- Make Sure to Get Medical Attention and Treatment
- Document as Much of the Scene of the Accident as You Can
Immediately after your bike accident, check yourself for injuries if you’re able. Try to get to a safe location out of traffic if possible. If you took a hard fall or were hit in the crash, you might want to avoid moving and injuring yourself further before medical help can arrive. You may have hit your head without realizing what happened. Call 911 to get a police officer or medical help on the scene if necessary.
Keep in mind that many accidents result in latent injuries, which means you might not be conscious of the true extent of your injuries until much later. You’re bound to get an adrenaline rush after any kind of traffic accident. A head injury or concussion could cloud your judgment. This makes you much more likely to underestimate the severity of your injuries, which can show themselves days, weeks, or months down the line.
What are the Most Common Bicycle Accidents and Injuries?
Even minor auto accidents or “fender benders” can result in significant injuries for a cyclist. Protective gear like helmets can help lessen the impact, but it’s simply impossible to brace against the size and weight of a car or truck. As a bicyclist, you are exposed on the road.
The most common types of bike accidents are:
- Crossing a vehicle’s path: Getting hit while crossing in front of a car is the most common type of bicycle accident. As a cyclist, you take up much less space than other cars. As a result, you’re much harder to see. At slower speeds, these types of accidents are not often fatal, but you can still suffer serious injuries.
- Left hook accidents: The second most common type of bicycle accident is also the most dangerous because of the high speeds involved. Left hook accidents happen when a car turning left fails to yield to a cyclist coming from an oncoming lane. This results in either a direct collision or the cyclist getting cut off and crashing.
- Right hook accidents: Nearly half of all bicycle accidents involve cyclists and vehicles going in the same direction. Right hook accidents happen when a car turning right at an intersection fails to yield to a bicyclist traveling in their lane. This can be extremely dangerous for cyclists who get caught in a motorist’s blind spot.
- Side-swipe accidents: Because bicyclists don’t have nearly as much visibility on the road, you can easily get caught in a car’s blind spot. It is a driver’s responsibility to check their blind spots before merging into other lanes. Side-swiping occurs when a driver going the same direction fails to see you and hits you with the side of their car or truck.
- Motor vehicle door accidents (dooring): Car door accidents or “dooring” happen when someone gets out of their car without checking for cyclists, who could be coming at high speed when they collide with the car door. This can lead to significant injuries. The party who opened the door can be responsible for your injuries if they acted carelessly.
Chicago has many traffic and right-of-way laws to protect cyclists from accidental injury, but those rules can’t protect against careless, distracted, or reckless driving. Drivers may speed, fail to yield, ignore traffic signals, drive intoxicated, or mistake who has the right of way. Helmets are essential for your safety, but you could still get a head injury while wearing a helmet–although your injury would probably be less severe than if you had gone without.
Bike accidents can result in serious injuries, particularly for cyclists. Even a nonfatal bicycle accident can have major consequences for your life that could last years.
Common types of bike accident injuries include:
- Broken or shattered bones, broken collarbones/clavicle fractures are common
- Muscle, tendon, and ligament pulls or strains
- Cuts, scrapes, contusions, and bruises
- Head Concussions or other traumatic brain injuries with potentially lifelong effects
- Neck and spinal injuries, including whiplash, herniated discs, or bulging discs
- Bodily harm that results in bruising, hematoma, lung collapse, or hemorrhaging
- Broken ribs, broken sternum, internal injuries, or internal bleeding.
You should get checked out by a medical professional as soon as possible after a cycling accident, even if you feel “fine.” Latent injuries might not become obvious to you until hours, days, or weeks after your accident. The sooner you get medical attention and treatment, the sooner you can see if anything is wrong and start the healing process.
In addition–when you get medical treatment, you start a medical record to document your injuries. It provides evidence of your injuries. Your medical record plays a huge part as evidence in a personal injury lawsuit or trial. To get compensated for any injuries you’ve suffered in your accident, you must prove the extent of your injuries and that your injuries were caused by the accident. You have the best chance to record your injuries immediately after your accident occurs, and it is what is best for the success of bicycle accident settlements.
If you’re worried about medical bills, a personal injury lawsuit can help cover your costs. You can even get compensation for pain and suffering. Kramer Injury Law LLC has recovered millions in damages for our cyclist clients in the Chicago area. Call our Cook County offices today to talk to a bicycle accident lawyer about your case.
What Types of Damages are Awarded in Bicycle Accident Lawsuits?
A bicycle accident can completely change your life, with both economic and non-economic consequences. You may no longer be able to carry out your job, causing you to lose your income. You may also experience pain and PTSD from the accident. If a loved one has died in a bike accident, you’re mourning a tremendous loss that cannot be quantified.
Personal injury lawsuits exist to help “make you whole” under the eyes of the law as if the accident never happened. In many cases, this is impossible to do literally–the law simply cannot reverse an injury or death. Instead, the law offers monetary compensation for what you’ve suffered, to be paid for by the party responsible for your accident.
Compensatory damages cover both economic and non-economic damages. These include:
- Property damage to your bicycle or the cost of a replacement bike
- Medical expenses covering treatments you’ve received for your injuries (past or future)
- Any lost wages as a result of being unable to work because of your injury
- Pain and suffering, emotional trauma, and PTSD
- Care for a temporary or permanent disability that affects your mobility or quality of life
- In the case of a loved one’s accidental death, you would get damages for wrongful death.
In Illinois, personal injury lawsuits can also get punitive damages, which are meant to punish the responsible party for especially bad conduct, recklessness, or extreme negligence. For example, driving under the influence (DUI) could be enough for punitive damages.
How Should I go About the Legal Process After a Bicycle Accident?
The clock starts ticking on your case immediately after your accident. You have two years from the date of your bicycle accident to file a personal injury lawsuit for compensation.
You may receive a settlement offer from the insurance company of the motorist who hit you. Although you may be tempted to take the offer just to get the ordeal over with, it’s important to discuss your rights with a lawyer before you sign anything.
- Documentation and Investigation
- Settlement Negotiations
- Taking Your Personal Injury Case to Trial
- Contingency Fee Arrangements in Bike Accident Lawsuits
Evidence is a critical part of a successful personal injury lawsuit. To have a strong negotiating position, you must be able to prove to a judge or jury:
- The extent of your injuries, pain, and emotional suffering, and
- That your injuries were caused by the accident.
Proof requires evidence. And the stronger your evidence, the stronger your case.
The documentation process begins at the scene of your accident. If you’re physically able, you should try to document as much of the accident scene as possible. That includes:
- Photos and videos of the scene from all angles
- Witness statements and contact information
- A police report filed with an officer at the scene or a police station later
- Medical records from any treatment you receive for your injuries after the accident
Medical records play a huge part in your case. You should get immediate medical attention after your accident, not just for your health but to start a paper trail of your injuries. Evidence is strongest when it’s “fresh,” before enough time has passed to muddle the circumstances.
Bicycle accident lawyers will help you with the investigation and documentation process. That could mean going back to the accident location to take photographs and videos if necessary. The smallest details can make a big difference in your case.
At Kramer Injury Law, we prepare all of our personal injury cases as if they’re going to go to trial from the beginning. We put all of the evidence together to show the most compelling case possible. Ironically, the better you can show that you’ll be successful in court, the less likely you are to go to court. Insurance companies will be much more willing to negotiate with you out of court when they know they’ll probably lose if they go to trial. We will make it clear to the insurance company your case will be presented to a jury.