Bicycle and Vehicle Collisions

A few years ago, a 53-year old Loveland Colorado bicyclist was critically injured in a collision with a car as she was navigating her way across the intersection of College Avenue and Conifer Street. She had successfully crossed the southbound lanes when she was hit by a northbound driver. The impact of the crash threw the bike rider onto the vehicle’s windshield, breaking the windshield and causing the roof to cave in. The car driver was uninjured, but the bike rider was unresponsive and rushed to the hospital. The northbound lanes of College were closed for approximately four hours while investigators did their work and the damaged car and bicycle were cleared from the roadway.

Catastrophic Bicycle Injuries

In one brief moment, the lives of both the bicycle rider and the driver were changed forever. The rider, if she lives, will no doubt have a long and difficult recovery. The driver, if found negligent, will be responsible for paying for the injured woman’s damages. Hopefully, the driver has adequate liability insurance coverage. Fault has not been determined in this case and the cause of the crash is under investigation. Unfortunately, this was only one of many accidents between Chicago cyclists and motorists that occur every year. Cases like this can be complicated and it is important to hire a competent bicycle accident lawyer to help you navigate the legal system.

According to the National Highway Safety Transportation Administration (NHSTA), in 2013, approximately 48,000 people were seriously injured nationwide and 743 people were killed in crashes between bicycles and motor vehicles. Illinois was the site of 30 of those deaths making it the state with the fifth highest bicycle crash fatality rate.

Most Common Causes of Vehicle - Bicycle Accidents

Even when bicyclists obey the law and ride to the side of the road, they are still at risk of being injured when motorists:

  • Exit their car and open their door into the cyclist or the path of the cyclist. This is almost always the fault of the driver since the door is only to be opened when it is safe to do so. That means looking out for bicyclists.
  • Make a right hand turn in front of the bike lane.
  • Suddenly change lanes into the path of a bicyclist.
  • Distracted driving, which is a major cause of all vehicular accidents.

Bicycle - Crash Statistics

In 2014, more than 720 people were killed in bicycle accidents across the nation with 27 of those deaths occurring in Illinois. An average of six people are killed annually in Chicago. In 2016, six fatalities had occurred in Chicago by the end of September. Five involved collisions with commercial vehicles. One bicyclist was hit by a train.

Illinois is an attractive place for bicyclists. It provides every type of ride for the novice to the experienced riders. But, be careful out there. Illinois is the fifth most dangerous state for bicyclists.

In addition to fatalities, another 50,000 are injured every year. Because of the vulnerability of bicyclists, injuries are often very serious and to make sure you get the most for your injuries, it’s best to work with an experienced bicycle attorney.

The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center has compiled statistics relevant to bicycle accidents.  

  • 88 percent of all bicyclist fatalities are male riders.
  • 71 percent of fatal bicycle accidents occur in urban areas.
  • 20 percent of fatal bicycle accidents occur between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.
  • Nearly 20 percent of killed bicyclists had a blood alcohol content (BAC) over the legal limit.
  • Nearly one-third of all injuries to bicyclists are due to them being hit by cars.
  • In 25 percent of all fatalities, the front of a vehicle hits the rear of the bicycle.

Common Types of Bicycle Injuries

Cyclists are vulnerable to serious injury when in a collision with a vehicle no matter how much protective gear they wear. They can be struck and thrown and tend to suffer far more serious injuries than do vehicle passengers in accidents between two vehicles. For example, more than 50 percent of all fatal injuries are to the head. When not fatal, the head injuries are life-threatening and life-altering. Statistically, helmets provide protection, but are not required to be worn under Illinois law. Broken bones of all types are common. Some injuries are so severe, the injured person’s life is changed and will never again be the same.

Crashes between motorists and bicyclists could be prevented if drivers would more carefully watch for bicyclists. Three top reasons for vehicle – car crashes include:

Doorings:  When a vehicle occupant fails to check for a bicyclist before opening the car door to exit the vehicle causing the bicyclist to ram into the door.

Left-crosses: A bicyclist is hit by a vehicle that is making a left-hand turn.

Right-hook crash: A driver turns right without checking the side mirror to look for cyclists causing the two to crash into each other.

Proving Fault and Collecting Damages for Bicycling Injuries

Bicycle riders and vehicle drivers are expected to follow the rules of the road. When there is a crash between a bicycle rider and a motorist, the same rules of negligence apply that apply to any personal injury case. In order to prove the driver was at fault, the bicyclist must prove all the elements of negligence, the same as if the accident had been between two vehicles. When the proof shows the driver was negligent, and that the driver's negligence was the cause of the bicyclist’s injuries, the damages to which the bicyclist is entitled include, but are not limited to:

  • All current and expected future medical expenses.
  • All current and future lost wages.
  • Pain and suffering.
  • Costs of vocational and physician rehabilitation.
  • Long term nursing care when necessary.

Chicago Bicycle Accident Lawyer

If you were injured in a bicycle accident, or if a bicyclist you love was killed or seriously injured by a negligent driver, contact the experienced bicycle accident lawyers at (312)766-1000, text to (312)719-2010 or email [email protected] for a free consultation. Be sure you do not miss your deadline for filing a claim.

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