Thursday, June 1, 2023

Teenage Bicyclist In Crosswalk Struck By SUV Driver In Batavia, Illinois

WGN News is reporting that a teenage bicyclist was critically injured when the driver of an SUV struck the bicyclist while he was riding in a crosswalk in the Kane County suburb of Batavia. The collision occurred near South Batavia Avenue and Union Avenue which is just west of the Fox River and the Fox River trail which is a popular trail for Chicagoland bicyclists.

The collision occurred on Wednesday at approximately 2:30 p.m. and apparently occurred while the bicyclist was in a crosswalk. Illinois law is very clear regarding the protections provided to bicyclists crossing in crosswalks. Multiple provisions of the Illinois Vehicle Code require motorists to yield to bicyclists within crosswalks.

Section 5/11-1002(e) of the Illinois Vehicle Code states in part: “Whenever stop signs or flashing red signals are in place at an intersection or at a plainly marked crosswalk between intersections, drivers shall yield right-of-way to pedestrians as set forth in Section 11-904 of this Chapter.” The referenced Section 11-904(b) requires drivers approaching a stop sign to come to a complete stop before entering a crosswalk at an intersection and to yield to the right-of-way of any vehicle that has entered the intersection.

Anyone with information is asked to call area detectives at 630-454-2500. The crash remains under investigation by police and the Kane County Accident Reconstruction Team.

Keating Law focuses its practice on the representation of injured bicyclists. The firm has helped many clients in Kane County and is very familiar with the Fox River Valley. The firm can be reached at 312-239-6787 anytime around the clock. The firm may also be reached at or via online chat at

Thursday, December 15, 2022

City of Chicago Stiffens Enforcement for Drivers Blocking Bike Lanes

Chicago's City Council passed legislation that will increase the penalty for parking in the bike lane and provide a platform for more enforcement of drivers blocking the city's bike lanes. 

These recent changes to the Chicago Municipal Code provide that a driver can be fined $250 for stopping or parking in the bike lane. While the Code previously provided for the $250 fine, the prior version required a bicyclist to have been injured as a result of the blocked bike lane. With the amendment anyone blocking the bike lane could face a fine. 

In addition, the amendment provides for immediate towing and extends enforcement power beyond police officers to traffic aides and other individuals designated by the Traffic Compliance Administrator, Commissioner of Transportation, or the Commissioner of Streets and Sanitation.

Keating Law attorney Mike Keating stated:
"These changes to the Chicago Municipal Code are a step in the right direction. On its face, the Code now makes it easier for a police officer to issue a citation and extends the persons like traffic aides who can issue a citation for parking in the bike lane. The real effect, however, will be seen in whether the Chicago Police Department and city officials actually put some bite in their bark. Traffic laws are put into place to create a framework of safety for everyone. When those laws are not enforced we have a breakdown in the fundamental safety of our streets for bicyclists. This evidence in this breakdown is an epidemic of injuries and deaths of cyclists legally riding on our city's streets. A continued path towards change is needed.
Keating Law Offices is the premiere personal injury law firm representing victims of bicycle crashes in Illinois. The firm is based in Chicago, Illinois and represents clients throughout Illinois. The firm's attorneys have been recognized by SuperLawyers, Leading Lawyers, and the National Trial Lawyers. Keating Law has litigated more bicycle crash cases than any other law firm in the state of Illinois. 

Friday, September 9, 2022

Bicyclist's Video Shows Lexus SUV Driver Caused Left Hook Crash on Milwaukee Avenue

A normal commute home via the Milwaukee Avenue bike lane by a local cyclist was cut short when he was the victim of a "left hook" collision. This stretch of Milwaukee Avenue is nicknamed the “Hipster Highway” because of the thousands of bicyclists that ride the bicycle lane in this stretch through Chicago’s popular West Town community on a daily basis. The Milwaukee Avenue bicycle lane is the most heavily travelled and well-known bicycle lane in Chicago.

Despite the video evidence and many key Chicago bike laws directly on point, the combination of the cyclist's severe injuries combined with the driver's insurance companies arguing who was responsible, the case took years to resolve. However, the end result was very favorable to our most deserving client. In this blog post, I wanted to use the unique set up of the Milwaukee Avenue bike lane to show the dangerous interactions between bicyclists and inattentive drivers.

The Milwaukee Avenue bike lane is one of seven “Spoke Routes” that the Chicago Department of Transportation designated as direct bicycle routes in and out of Chicago’s Loop. The Chicago Department of Transportation states that “Spoke Routes” like the Milwaukee Avenue bicycle lane are designed to “provide a safe, continuous bikeway and connect all areas of Chicago with the downtown. The primary goal of the Spoke Route network is to increase bicycle commuting citywide.” If you're interested in learning more about the Spoke Route network, check out “Chicago Streets for Cycling Plan 2020,” Chicago Department of Transportation (2012).

This particular stretch of Milwaukee Avenue between Carpenter Street and Ogden Avenue is particularly cyclist specific as there is a “bike box” at the intersection with Ogden Avenue and Chicago Avenue. The purpose of a “bike box” is for cyclists to be in front of traffic and clearly visible to oncoming traffic. In addition, there is a curb-assist handlebar for cyclists to use to support themselves when standing at the intersection.

The Milwaukee Avenue bike lane on this stretch is what is known as a buffer-protected bike lane. The lane itself is painted bright green to differentiate the bike lane from other lanes and to warn motorists of the presence of cyclists. This buffer-protected bike lane incorporates vertical bollards to the inside of the bicycle lane which physically separates the cyclists from the motor vehicle traffic. In its “Streets for Cycling Plan 2020,” the City of Chicago set specific guidelines for buffer protected bike lanes.

One of the City's goals of buffer protected bike lanes is to improve safety by providing extra separation between bicyclists and motorists. The City's plan highlights that motorists should know to “Use caution when turning across the buffer protected bike lane….” In addition, the City’s guidelines provide that “If a travel lane side buffer is present, it can be used to pass slower bicyclists in the bike lane.” Additional instructions are to “Announce your presence to the slower bicyclists and check over your shoulder for approaching vehicular traffic” and to “Never pass on the right of a slower bicyclist."

As the video from the cyclist's helmet camera shows, the crash occurred when the motorist turned left from southbound Milwaukee Avenue across the path of oncoming northbound traffic including bicyclists in the Milwaukee bicycle lane.

The motorist testified at her deposition that she drove southbound on Ogden Avenue past the intersection of Chicago Avenue and then made a left-hand turn onto Milwaukee Avenue. Unfortunately, even though she was aware of cyclists in the area, she failed to see the cyclist and the crash occurred.

Liability: Who Is At Fault? 

In this case we argued that it was 100% the motorists fault in making a "left hook" across oncoming traffic - including bike traffic. We further argued that this negligence is particularly pronounced given that the driver admitted she knew there was bike traffic in the area and admitted she crossed three different lanes of oncoming traffic. In fact, this crash could have been entirely prevented if the driver either 1) yielded the right-of-way or 2) used the other entrance to the CVS off of Carpenter Street.

The attorneys hired by the insurance companies who insured the driver of the Lexus SUV retained an expert witness to say that it was actually the cyclist who was more than 50% to blame for the crash. In Illinois, if the party presenting a claim for personal injuries is more than 50% liable then the defendants and their insurance companies are not responsible for compensating them for their injuries. It was thus important to provide strong evidence that the driver of the SUV was not just primarily responsible for this crash, but totally at fault as we sincerely concluded. 

Given that this crash occurred at around 5:27 p.m. this was a known time of rush hour, and the traffic lanes and bicycle lanes were full of vehicles. Despite these traffic conditions that were obvious to everyone else on the roadway, the driver turned a massive 2015 Lexus S.U.V. across both the lanes for motor vehicle traffic and the bicycle lane directly in front of the bicyclist. At the time of the crash The bicyclist was approaching on his bicycle with a green light at the intersection ahead. The driver turned left immediately in front of the bicyclist’ path and there was zero chance he (or anyone) could have stopped before impact.

The SUV driver inexplicably testified under oath at her deposition that she was aware of the bike lane, aware it was heavily trafficked by bicyclists, yet she turned across the Milwaukee Avenue bike lane on which The bicyclist was clearly oncoming. She also could not explain why she did not see The bicyclist even though the intersection is very well lit, and she was aware of other bicyclists. In simple terms, there is no law or standard that allows the driver of a motor vehicle to turn across the path of oncoming bicyclists in a marked and dedicated bicycle lane without first being absolutely certain that it is safe to do so.

Bike Laws On Point

The acts and omissions of The driver are a direct violation of several portions of the Municipal Code of Chicago. The driver was required to yield the right-of-way to the bicycle approaching from the opposite direction. As evidenced by the collision and resulting injuries, the motorist clearly violated Section 9-16-020 of the Municipal Code of Chicago. Section 9-16-020 provides:

  • Right of way to a bicycle on Left Turn – The driver of a vehicle within an intersection intending to turn to the left shall yield the right-of-way to a bicycle approaching from the opposite direction which is within the intersection or so close thereto as to constitute an immediate hazard.
  • The driver also violated Section 9-40-160 of the Municipal Code of Chicago in causing the bicycle crash by failing to utilize due care when operating her vehicle recklessly on Chicago most busy bicycle lane. Section 9-40-160 provides: Drivers to exercise due care – Every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian, or any person operating a bicycle or other device propelled by human or animal power, upon any roadway, and shall give warning by sounding the horn when necessary and shall exercise proper precautions upon observing any child or any confused or incapacitated person upon a roadway.
  • The driver also violated Section 9-40-060 of the City of Chicago Municipal Code by driving across a bicycle lane in such a manner as to impede bicycle traffic, including The bicyclist. Section 9-40-060 provides: The driver of a vehicle shall not drive, unless entering or exiting a legal parking space, or stand, or park the vehicle upon any on street path or lane designated by official signs or markings for the use of bicycles, or otherwise drive or place the vehicle in such a manner as to impede bicycle traffic on such path or lane.
  • The overall rights of bicyclists in Illinois are solidified in “Dennis’s Law” which clarified that all bicyclists in Illinois are entitled to all of the rights of motorists. Specifically, this law establishes that bicyclists are equally entitled to the right-of-way. In Illinois, any person riding a bicycle is equally regarded as operating a vehicle. “Every person riding a bicycle upon a highway shall be granted all of the rights, including, but not limited to, rights under Article IX of this Chapter, [625 ILCS 5/11-901 et seq.] and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this Code.” 625 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. 5/11-1502. This amendment to existing law went into effect on January 1, 2017, and was the clear law of the land on the date of this crash.
Case Resolves Prior to October 2022 Trial

At the time of settlement a jury trial in the Circuit Court of Cook County was right around the corner. This lawsuit was successfully resolved after two separate mediations with two different judges. It was a hard fought battle over several years involving a total of three separate insurance companies. Yet, the patience through court closings and all the associated delays were worthwhile as it resulted in one of the highest settlements in Illinois history for a male victim of the same age with the same injury. This was a very deserving resolution for a tremendous client who was at motivated to protect the rights of all cyclists as anything else. The cyclist's commendable mindset and extremely credible demeanor were large factors in such a favorable resolution. Keating Law is extremely grateful to represent this client and proud of the final result. 

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Chicago Bicyclist Wins Jury Trial Against Law Professor Who Blamed The Cyclist For Crash

On August 29th Keating Law won a heavily contested jury trial for a Chicago bicyclist. The cyclist sustained a non-displaced fracture to his wrist when he was the victim of a "left hook" on Sheridan Road in Wilmette. The driver involved in the crash was a local law professor who insisted that the cyclist entered the intersection on a red light and was at fault.

State Farm, who insured the driver, considered this a “no-offer” case, meaning they were so confident they would win this case that they refused to pay even a dollar to compensate our client for his injuries. State Farm never even offered to pay for the injured cyclist’s medical bills, let alone any reasonable reimbursement for the other harms he incurred like pain and suffering.

Our client was out for a recovery ride after a morning race when a car turned left in front of him and crashed into him. He traveled through the intersection of Sheridan Road and Lake Avenue in Wilmette, Illinois. Many Chicagoland cyclist know that this is a popular route for cyclist due to its proximity to the lake and the Green Bay Trail.

This case involved a dispute over the color of the traffic lights at the four-way intersection of Sheridan Road and Lake Avenue. There is a designated bike lane that runs along Sheridan Road. The stoplight at that intersection has a green arrow for cars turning left across oncoming lanes of traffic. The defendant and a passenger in the defendant’s car both testified that the car entered the intersection on the green arrow. Our client testified that he had the solid green light when he entered the intersection.

The cyclist alleged that the driver had a duty to yield the oncoming traffic, in this case the bicyclist. The Illinois Rules of the Road explicitly provide that a motorist must yield to all oncoming vehicles. The 2017 landmark legislation, Dennis's Law, clarified that bicycles are included in the definition of a vehicle.

State Farm’s decision to never offer any money to settle this case turned out to be wrong. The Cook County jury found the defendant at fault for the crash. The defendant, a licensed attorney and law professor who also made a living giving expert testimony in front of judges and juries, was cross examined by Keating Law's attorney for nearly an hour and was caught giving inconsistent statements multiple times.

Our client is an experienced cyclist who knows the rules of the road when it comes to bike safety. Keating Law remains dedicated to safe cycling whether its in the City of Chicago, the suburbs, or anywhere else across Illinois. We are proud that our willingness to stand up to State Farm and refuse to take no as an answer yielded a trial victory in a Cook County courtroom.

Saturday, August 6, 2022

Keating Law's Mike Keating A Featured Speaker At Trial Lawyer's Continuing Legal Education Seminar

Keating Law founder Mike Keating was a featured speaker at the American Association for Justice’s Annual Convention in Seattle. Mike’s presentation was on the explosion in the number of bicyclists and cycling injuries since the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The American Association for Justice is the nation’s largest group of attorneys who represent injured persons and consumers. Mike is the longtime chair of AAJ’s Bicycle Litigation Group. 

Keating Law Offices is the premiere personal injury law firm representing victims of bicycle accidents in Illinois. The firm is based in Chicago, Illinois and represents clients throughout Illinois.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Jury Awards $213,000 To Chicago Bicyclist Doored in Chicago's Loop

A Cook County Jury has awarded a Chicago cyclist nearly $213,000.00 for injuries she sustained when she was doored in Chicago's Loop. The crash itself coincidentally happened on the Washington Street bike lane - across the street from the Daley Center courthouse where the jury trial was held. 

This monumental verdict and its importance as to the law protecting Chicago cyclists was the focus of a Block Club Chicago article by Chicago journalist Izzy Stoobandt

In June of 2017 the cyclist was riding to her job as a chef at a local restaurant on Michigan Avenue. The route was familiar to her and the final leg down the bright green protected bike lane on Washington Street was the final stretch. As she pedaled past Dearborn Street, the driver of a Lexus SUV pulled alongside her and partially onto the bike lane. A passenger in the backseat of the vehicle then swung the door immediately into the helmet of the cyclist. 

The impact from the door knocked the cyclist from her bicycle and she skidded along the bike lane. She later recalled briefly losing consciousness. As a result of the collision she sustained a concussion, severe road rash, and a herniated disc in her back. 

The jury trial focused on the actions of both the driver and the passenger. The injured bicyclist alleged that the driver was at fault for illegally parking on the bike lane. The allegation against the passenger was that she "doored" the cyclist by opening the vehicle door into the path of the cyclist. 

A local psychology professor was having lunch at the cafe next to the bike lane and witnessed the events. He testified that he was overcome by a feeling of shock and fear for the well being of the cyclist. His student was having lunch with the professor and she remembered the aftermath and her concern for the cyclist. Also at trial the responding Chicago Police Officer and one of the paramedics detailed what they observed and were told when they arrived at the scene.

The attorney hired by State Farm Insurance to represent the driver and the passenger denied that the defendants did anything wrong. Their argument was that this spot adjacent to the bike lane was the only available spot, that they put their hazard lights on, and that the door was already open when the cyclist rode into the door.  

The jury found the driver and his passenger who doored the cyclist 100% at fault for the crash. In the end t
he jury’s verdict forces State Farm to face an excess verdict that is over 400% of their offer on the courthouse steps to settle last week and is more than double the policy limits that the cyclist was willing to settle for years ago.

This verdict more than pays for the cyclist’s medical bills for an ambulance trip to the ER and doctor’s visits and the pay she lost due to being off work for a week.

This verdict also stands to show that Chicago’s bike lanes are for cyclists ONLY. Keating Law stands ready and willing to do whatever it takes to force justice for our clients and cyclist’s rights.

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

All Keating Law Attorneys Named Super Lawyers for 2022

All three Keating Law Offices attorneys have been honored by SuperLawyers Magazine for 2022. Keating Law Offices founding attorney Michael S. Keating has been rated a SuperLawyer. Attorney Catelyn Viggiano was honored as a "Rising Stars" by SuperLawyers Magazine. 

This is a significant achievement for any individual attorney and notable that the entire firm was honored. Super Lawyers is a very selective process. Only 2.5% of Illinois attorneys receive the “Rising Stars” honor. The process for selecting senior SuperLawyers are even more selective with only 5% of all attorneys practicing recognized by Super Lawyers. 

In order to receive a selection to this prestigious list, all attorneys go through a selection process. SuperLawyers magazine invites Illinois lawyers once a year to nominate the top attorneys they have personally observed in action while an attorney-led research team searches for lawyers who have a high degree of professional competence.

SuperLawyers research team then evaluates each candidate based on the following 12 indicators: verdicts and settlements; transactions; representative clients; experience; honors and awards; special licenses and certifications; position within the law firm; bar and or other professional activity; pro bono and community service as a lawyer; scholarly lectures and writings; education and employment background; and other outstanding achievements.

Based on these 12 indicators and final selection by the SuperLawyers team, the Keating Law attorneys were selected. This is the second time a well respected authority has honored all three Keating Law attorneys. In addition, Leading Lawyers magazine also honored Michael Keating as a Leading Lawyer and Catelyn Viggiano as an Emerging Lawyer. 

Keating Law Offices is located in Chicago, Illinois with locations in both the Loop and the West Town community. The firm represents clients throughout Illinois. Please feel free to contact the firm anytime at or 312-239-6787. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Winter Solstice Brings Winter And A Reminder To Use A Bike Light

December 21st marks the Winter Solstice for 2021. The Winter Solstice occurs when the North Pole is tilted the farthest from the sun and there is the least amount of daylight. After the Winter Solstice the days slowly get longer until then end of January when we gain two minutes of sunlight each day. While that doesn't sound that far away, there are some long and dark nights ahead of us. 

These long nights in winter mean that Illinois bicyclists who commute to work via their bikes will be riding home in the dark. It is important to note that a headlight not only gives you greater visibility while riding and makes you more visible to drivers, but it is also the law throughout Illinois. 

Bicyclists riding at nighttime must have the following on their bikes according to Illinois Bicycle Law:
  1. A lamp on the front that emits a white light that can be seen for 500 feet; and
  2. A red reflector visible from 100 to 600 feet by a car with its headlights on.
 The law from the Illinois Vehicle Code reads as follows: 

625 ILCS 5/11‑1507) (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 11‑1507) Lamps and other equipment on bicycles.
(a) Every bicycle when in use at nighttime shall be equipped with a lamp on the front which shall emit a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front and with a red reflector on the rear of a type approved by the Department which shall be visible from all distances from 100 feet to 600 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of headlamps on a motor vehicle. A lamp emitting a red light visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear may be used in addition to the red reflector.
Curiously, this Section of the Illinois Vehicle Code provides that a red light visible from 500 feet may be used in conjunction with the rear red reflector. This is somewhat awkward because it would make sense to allow a red light visible from 500 feet instead of a red reflector that may only be visible from as little as 100 feet. 

I'll give the drafters of this law the benefit of the doubt and conclude that this addition was to encourage bicyclists to use red lights on their bikes yet, at the same time, realize that many cyclists might only have the usual red reflector available. Illinois law (as well as sound safety measures) require the use of a headlight and a reflector and at least encourages the use of a rear red light. With these long winter nights ahead, the use of a headlight and a taillight will get you home safely - and legally in Illinois.

About Keating Law Offices

Keating Law Offices’ experienced bicycle accident lawyers have a long record of case results for clients and are considered national leaders in bicycle law. We are also bicyclists who are very active in Chicago’s cycling community. We put a lot of milesA on our bikes, support bike advocacy groups, and sponsor road bike and cyclocross bike races in Illinois.

Attorney Michael Keating is well known in Illinois as a leading legal authority on cyclists’ rights. He serves as the Chair of the American Association of Justice’s Bicycle Litigation Committee. Mike has been the featured speaker on bicycle law at legal seminars and published articles about bike safety in legal journals. Recognized as a leading authority on bicycle law, Mike has been interviewed on NBC, ABC, FOX and CBS news, as well as in numerous print publications including the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Chicago Cyclist Killed In Crash With Semi-Truck On Ashland Avenue

The Chicago cycling community is again faced with another tragedy due to the death of a young cyclist on Friday night. According to the Chicago Police Department, the fatal crash occurred at approximately 10:20 a.m. on Friday, December 10th in the 4000 block of South Ashland Avenue. This is a stretch of Ashland Avenue that is heavily trafficked with semi-trucks and other industrial traffic due to the nearby Norfolk Southern Railyard and accompanying rail road tracks.

According to the Illinois Traffic Crash Report, the collision occurred when a truck driver turned a 2017 International tractor and connected trailer right across the bicyclist as the truck turned from Ashland Avenue into the driveway of a business. The truck driver reportedly never saw the cyclist and was only aware of the collision because he heard the sound of the contact. The responding Chicago police officers ultimately ticketed for failure to exercise due care in the presence of a cyclist. The driver has a January court date at the Daley Center in Chicago.

Right Hook Crashes

This turn would put the semi-truck across the path of an oncoming cyclist. This type of crash is what is known as a "right-hook" collision. In Chicago, the Chicago Municipal Code addresses this scenario. Section 9-16-020 of the Municipal Code of Chicago specifically prohibits right turns in front of bicycles. The infographic at the bottom of this post details right-hook and left-hook bicycle crashes.

The City of Chicago's ordinance states:
“When a motor vehicle and a bicycle are traveling in the same direction on any highway, street, or road, the operator of the motor vehicle overtaking such bicycle traveling on the right side of the roadway shall not turn to the right in front of the bicycle at that intersection or at any alley or driveway until such vehicle has overtaken and is safely clear of the bicycle.”
Illinois and Federal Laws Address Duties of Truck Drivers

There are specific state and national laws that apply to drivers of commercial trucks. The drivers of commercial trucks are expected to be professionals and drive with the utmost care. These drivers are typically required to carry a Commercial Drivers License (CDL). These rules and regulations exist not just in state and local laws, but also in federal regulations. 

Here are some of the key laws that apply to a bicycle crash of this nature:
  • 49 C.F.R. Section 383.111 of the Code of Federal Regulations requires a professional driver to recognize and avoid potential hazards at all times.
  • Section 11-1003.1 of the Illinois Motor Vehicle Code states that every driver of a vehicle must 1) always exercise care to avoid colliding with pedestrians and bicyclists, and 2) sound their horn to provide warning of an impending impact.
A Loss of A Life

Often lost in the details of news stories is the person who lost their life. Many in the Chicago cycling community have posted heartfelt tributes to the cyclist and planned an upcoming memorial on the 606 trail. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the cyclist. May he rest in peace.

About Keating Law Offices

Keating Law Offices is the premiere personal injury law firm representing victims of bicycle crashes in Illinois. The firm is based in Chicago, Illinois with locations in Chicago's West Town Neighborhood and the Loop. The firm was founded by attorney Mike Keating who is the Chair of the Bicycle Litigation Committee for the American Association for Justice. The firm has successfully represented hundreds of cyclists and their families. Through the years the firm has earned a reputation as trusted and valued member of Chicago's cycling community. 

If you have any questions regarding this post or have a question regarding personal injury law, please contact Illinois Bicycle Attorney Mike Keating at 312-239-6787 (Office) or 312-208-7702 (Nights/Weekends). The firm has staff that also speaks fluent Spanish and Polish. 

Our staff and operators are available around the clock. You can also email 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All e-mails and phone calls are returned promptly. All initial consultations are confidential and free.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

$300,000.00 Settlement for Injured Triathlete Shows Importance of Fighting for Underinsured Motorist Insurance Coverage

Last spring on a beautiful day a local bicyclist and her adult daughter went on a bicycle ride through Naperville. Their pleasant day was cut short when a motorist failed to notice them and turned immediately in front of the bicyclists. The daughter was able to avoid the driver but the other bicyclist slammed into the side of the motor vehicle and was thrown off of her bicycle. She landed hard and struck her head in the process.
The Naperville police issued a citation to the motorist for failing to yield the right of way to the bicyclists. The driver of the motor vehicle - who had a troubled history of traffic tickets - pled guilty to the ticket in court and was fined and sentenced to supervision. 

The bicyclist was taken by ambulance to the hospital. Radiological exams later showed that the bicyclist suffered severe injuries including a lacerated spleen and a fractured left rib. The exams also showed some bleeding in the brain but doctors later considered this condition to be the result of a pre-existing condition and not necessarily directly related to the crash. The bicyclist was required to stay in the hospital for days while under observation, a circumstance made even more painful when she couldn't have any visitors due to Covid-19 precautions at the hospital. 

Underinsured Motorist Coverage 

The insurance company for the driver immediately paid the $100,000.00 policy limits for the claim. The driver was clearly at fault and the bicyclist suffered serious injuries. However, this case became complicated when pursuing additional insurance. 

The bicyclist and her husband also had what is known as Underinsured Motorist Coverage as a part of their insurance coverage with their insurance company. This Underinsured Motorist Coverage is for exactly this type of situation where the settlement value of the insurance claim far exceeded the $100,000.00 available through the driver's insurance company. In this instance the injured bicyclist was eligible for an additional $200,000.00 in insurance coverage. 

As her attorneys on the case, we immediately made what is known as a "policy limits demand" of the bicyclist's insurance company. In Illinois, the Illinois Insurance Code requires insurance companies to promptly pay valid claims. However, in this instance the bicyclist's insurance company attempted to claim that because the brain issue may have been pre-existing, that they did not have to provide insurance coverage. The insurance company flat out denied the claim.

Attorney Mike Keating refused to accept this argument and the denial. The reality is that in Illinois our laws provide protections for injured persons even in a situation such as this. What the insurance company failed to take into account was that the bicyclist was a nationally ranked triathlete in her age group. She obviously was not suffering from any kind of ailment. In other words, the insurance company was trying to take advantage of the situation to not pay the claim. 

Illinois Law on Pre-Existing Injuries

In law school we are taught about the "egg shell skulled" injured person. This old analogy is used to teach that even if someone is very fragile, an insurance company should not argue that an injury happened because of who they are. If they're legitimately injured, they're legitimately injured and the insurance company should provide insurance coverage to compensate the injured person. For example, you can't compare a senior citizen to an N.F.L. linebacker. 

Insurance companies are required to follow the personal injury laws in Illinois. In Illinois the law is that an injury can be proven to be "caused" by an incident even if it is a combination of factors that cause the injury. This is what is known as "proximate cause" and in Illinois the definition of that is "A cause that, in the natural or ordinary course of events, produced the plaintiff's injury. It need not be the only cause, nor the last or nearest cause. It is sufficient if it combines with another cause resulting in the injury.” In this case it was the pre-existing condition combined with the crash that led to the injuries. 

Moreover, in Illinois an insurance company can not claim that an injury was "only an aggravation" or "just a pre-existing condition" that caused the injury. If the injured person legitimately gets hurt, then the insurance company should provide coverage. This is how Illinois law is written on this issue, "You may not deny or limit the plaintiff's right to damages resulting from this occurrence because any injury resulted from an aggravation of a pre-existing condition or a pre-existing condition which rendered the plaintiff more susceptible to injury.”

Experienced Attorneys Are Here To Help

This case was a prime example of where experience and dedication to the case made all the difference. Refusing to "accept no for an answer" and continuously pushing back on the insurance company's misguided evaluation made a substantial difference to this client. Also, by aggressively pursuing the case from the onset both insurance claims were resolved relatively quickly given these issues. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Chicago Bicyclist Killed In Collision With Van In Jefferson Park

The Chicago Sun-Times reported that a 59-year-old man named Thomas Travers passed away on Monday July 26, 2021 after being struck by a van on North Milwaukee Avenue. The collision occurred in the northwest side neighborhood of Jefferson Park. Mr. Travers spent two days at St. Francis Hospital in Evanston, Illinois after the crash where he sadly passed away due to the multiple injuries he sustained from the accident.

The crash occurred in the afternoon of July 24, 2021, on the busy road of the 5300 block of North Milwaukee Avenue. Milwaukee Avenue is a popular street among cyclists in Chicago because of the miles of designated bike lanes that cross throughout the different neighborhoods in the city. The bike lanes of Milwaukee Avenue are used by cyclists of all ages riding throughout the day.

Although the report has limited details about the accident, the Chicago Sun-Times states Mr. Travers was traveling in the bike lane while having to "weave" around at times. This would seem to imply that the bicyclist was entirely at fault. However, the Municipal Code of Chicago mandates that every driver use extra caution to avoid crashing with a pedestrian or bicyclist on the road. 

Section 9-40-160 of the Municipal Code states as follows:

"Every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian, or any person operating a bicycle or other device propelled by human or animal power, upon any roadway, and shall give warning by sounding the horn when necessary and shall exercise proper precautions upon observing any child or any confused or incapacitated person upon a roadway."
Stated differently, drivers are required to be extra cautious and give a warning in order to avoid a collision with a pedestrian and a bicyclist in ALL situations and take extra care if the person appears to be confused or incapacitated. 

The tragic death of Mr. Travers is another unfortunate reminder of the dangers we all face while riding on the road. Although the 5300 block of North Milwaukee Avenue has a clearly marked bike lane as shown above, the paint that makes the bike lane is not enough to keep cyclists in our community safe. Our prayers are with the loved ones of Thomas Travers.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Chicago Boy Killed in Collision with Modified Truck Driven by Chicago Police Officer

A Chicago police officer tragically ran over and killed a 9-year old Chicago boy who was crossing the street on his bicycle. Chicago is in shock over one of the most tragic deaths of a Chicago bicyclist in the city's history. Beyond the massive tragedy, the death of 9-year old Hershel Weinberger in West Rogers Park stands out for many reasons: the young age of the victim, the vehicle involved and the status of the driver of the vehicle.

According to an interview with the father of the boy, Shamai Weinberger, to the Chicago Tribune, young Hershel Weinberger was riding his bicycle home from a friend's house. As Hershel was riding eastbound he crossed the intersection of West Chase Avenue and North Sacramento Avenue. This intersection is notable because it is a four-way stop with both stop signs at every corner and crosswalks across all four crossings at the intersection. So there was both a clear traffic control device in the form of a stop sign and a clearly marked crosswalk notifying drivers twice that they must stop at the intersection.

Chicago Police Officers Held To Higher Standards

Despite the requirements that drivers stop at stop signs and stop for anyone in a crosswalk the driver of the Toyota Tundra did not stop and struck the boy. This is a senseless and preventable act in any situation but is even more shocking because the driver was an off-duty Chicago Police Officer. All drivers are required to follow the Rules of the Road as found in both the Illinois Vehicle Code and the Chicago Municipal Code. 

Beyond this, a Chicago Police Officer is required to "serve and protect." The Mission Statement of the Chicago police department is "To serve our communities and protect the lives, rights, and property of all people in Chicago.The "Core Values of the Chicago Police Department" explicitly state that Chicago Police Officers are a part of a "highly trained profession" and that they are to conduct themselves in a consistent manner both on and off duty. 

Violations of Chicago and Illinois Traffic Laws

News reports indicate that the driver was cited for failure to "exercise due care." In Chicago this is a violation of a general provision applicable to all drivers. It is unclear why the Chicago Police Department would not cite the driver for failing to stop at the stop sign and failing to stop at the crosswalk. It is possible that upon reviewing the case that the Cook County State's Attorney's Office could file additional charges. 

The basic facts of the case suggest that there were additional violations of the Illinois Vehicle Code:
  • Section 11-1003.1 states: “[E]very driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian, or any person operating a bicycle or other device propelled by human power and shall give warning by sounding the horn when necessary . . . .”
  • Section 5/11-1002(e) states: “Whenever stop signs or flashing red signals are in place at an intersection or at a plainly marked crosswalk between intersections, drivers shall yield right-of-way to pedestrians as set forth in Section 11-904 of this Chapter.”
  • Section 11-904(b) requires drivers approaching a stop sign to come to a complete stop before entering a crosswalk at an intersection and to yield to the right-of-way of any vehicle that has entered the intersection.
  • Section 11-601 requires drivers to reduce the speed of their vehicle to avoid a collision.
Children Expected to Ride on Sidewalk

This young boy was clearly the victim and played no role in what occurred. In Chicago a child under the age of 12 may permissibly ride their bicycle on the sidewalk. This law exists for the sole purpose of providing children a safer place to ride than the roadway. 

Any bicyclist crossing on a crosswalk is also considered a "pedestrian" under the circumstances. Section 5/11-1512(c) of the Illinois Vehicle Code specifically provides that, “A person propelling a bicycle upon and along a sidewalk, or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk, shall have all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances.”

Truck Involved Aggressively Modified

The Toyota Tundra involved was not a typical passenger vehicle. In fact, the vehicle is not even a typical Toyota Tundra. The Chicago Police Officer was driving a heavily modified Toyota Tundra pick-up truck. A Toyota Tundra is a very large pick-up truck to begin with weighing over 5,000 pounds - in other words the truck weighs over two and a half tons. Video of the truck shows several obvious modifications. 

First the truck has a "lift" which is the terms used when additional suspension is added to the vehicle so that it can ride over terrain more easily and in the process literally raises the height of the vehicle. Images from news video from the scene shows that persons standing next to the vehicle, even a person standing on the curb, were not as tall as the roofline of the truck. The truck's lift is so extreme that it is outfitted with "step bars" because otherwise the truck is too big to climb into. Second, the vehicle is outfitted with knobby oversized tires such as those typically found on vehicles utilized for off roading. Third, the truck has a "bully bar" which is typically found on police and military vehicles that are used to push objects with the front of the vehicle. 

This truck was modified in a way that is suited only for off-roading in difficult terrain. This is not a vehicle that serves any reasonable purpose on residential streets in a quiet part of Chicago. 

A Senseless Loss

This tragic death could have been prevented on many levels. The simple act of following the Illinois and Chicago vehicle laws - the very laws the officer swore to uphold - would have prevented this death. In addition the sheer size and aggression of this vehicle created a nightmare scenario that may not have unfolded the same way if it was even a modest passenger vehicle. 

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Victim of Right Hook in Des Plaines Bike Lane Receives $405,000.00 Settlement

A Chicago bicyclist received a $405,000.00 settlement for injuries he sustained in June of 2018 when he was injured in a "right hook" crash. The driver involved in the crash claimed that she never struck the cyclist and that the cyclist was in large part to blame for the crash. However, an investigation and legal analysis by Keating Law Offices showed that the cyclist was in no way at fault and responsibility for this crash was 100% on the driver and her insurance company. 

Just before the crash the bicyclist was riding his bicycle in the designated shared bike lane northbound on North Des Plaines Street. The cyclist is a very experienced cyclist who was very familiar with the area. The photo above shows the green bike lane and sharrow on Des Plaines as it approaches the intersection of Des Plaines, Milwaukee and Kinzie. At the same time the driver was moving northbound on North Des Plaines Street near its intersection with West Kinzie Street. 

As the driver approached Kinzie she quickly turned right across the green bike lane. The driver never checked for the cyclist and turned right in from of him and caused him to crash. The cyclist struck the vehicle and then flew over his handlebars and crashed onto the road way. 

The presence of bicyclists in this area could not be more obvious. The Des Plaines bike lane is literally painted green and there was a sharrow next to the bike lane. This location is mere feet from where the bike lane intersects with the Milwaukee Avenue bike lane and the Kinzie Street bike lane. Bicyclists routinely flood this intersection and there is no reason to think that was any different than at the time of this crash in the middle of the day in June.   

The driver also violated provisions of the Municipal Code of Chicago and the Illinois Vehicle Code in making this illegal "right hook" turn into the cyclist. 
  • Section 9-16-020(f) of the Municipal Code of Chicago is the "Right-Hook Law." It states that “When a motor vehicle and a bicycle are traveling in the same direction on any street or road, the operator of the motor vehicle overtaking such bicycle traveling on the right side of the roadway shall not turn to the right in front of the bicycle at that intersection until such vehicle has overtaken and is safely clear of the bicycle.” (See also 625 ILCS 5/11-1003.1 of the Illinois Vehicle Code.)
  • Section 11-804 of the Illinois Vehicle Code also states that, “No person may turn a vehicle at an intersection unless the vehicle is in proper position upon the roadway or otherwise turn a vehicle from a direct course or move right upon a roadway unless and until such movement can be made with reasonable safety.” (625 ILCS 5/11-804). 
The cyclists suffered broken ribs, a punctured lung, and a fractured vertebrae in his back. The injuries required him to miss several months of work and endure lots of doctors visits and physical therapy. Fortunately, the cyclist is charging forward with his life and his career and this substantial settlement will help him as he moves forward. 

The cyclist originally tried to handle the case on his own until a co-worker recommended bicycle law attorney Mike Keating. Keating Law Offices filed a case in the Circuit Court of Cook County and secured this settlement in a Pre-Trial Conference with a Cook County trial judge. This settlement was completed within months of the case being filed and even with the delays caused by the courthouse being physically closed. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Kevin Clark, Chicago Cyclist and Noted Musician, Killed in Bicycle vs. Car Crash

Multiple news agencies are reporting that Chicago cyclist and noted musician Kevin Clark was killed in a bicycle crash early Wednesday in Chicago's Avondale neighborhood. Kevin was riding eastbound on Logan Boulevard across Western Avenue when he was struck by a Hyundai Sonata travelling southbound on Western Avenue. Early reports indicate that the light for eastbound Logan Boulevard was red at the time of the crash and the driver was proceeding through the intersection on a green light. 

However, news reports also indicate that the 20-year old driver was issued traffic tickets for undisclosed violations and that an investigation by the Chicago Police Department was still ongoing. It is very likely that the Chicago Police Department's Major Accidents Investigation Unit (MAIU) is involving in the crash given that it is a tragic fatality. It is important to note that under both Illinois and Chicago law a motor vehicle travelling through an intersection is supposed to slow at the intersection no matter what the traffic signal is at the time the driver enters the intersection. 

Kevin Clark, 32,  rose to fame early in life in the movie "School of Rock." Kevin was a Highwood native and a dedicated part of Chicago's music scene. It appears that like many of us Kevin chose to use his bike to get around the city. The loss of Kevin is another tragic reminder of the risks Chicago cyclists face.

Our most sincere thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Kevin Clark. 

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Six Figure Settlement for Cyclist Who Suffered Broken Leg Because of Distracted Driver

Early last fall a Chicago cyclist was riding in Lakeview when a motorist's distracted driving led to a broken leg for the cyclist. The collision occurred at the intersection of Pine Grove an Sheridan Road in north Lakeview. Both the cyclist and the driver came to the four way stop and stopped at the stop signs. 

The cyclist, who had the right of way due to being at the intersection first, proceeded in to the intersection. The driver unfortunately was not paying attention and did not see the cyclist. She struck the bicyclist as she was attempting to turn left onto Sheridan Road from Pine Grove. In doing so, the driver failed to yield the right-of-way to the bicyclist who was in the intersection first and over halfway through the intersection at the time the motorist hit the bicyclist with her car.

The responding police officer’s investigation of the scene, assessment of damage to the vehicles coupled with the parties’ statements, only bolstered the bicyclist’s claim that he entered the intersection first and had control of the intersection. The driver also admitted to the responding officer that she did not see the bicyclist prior to the crash.

  • Illinois vehicle laws and Chicago Municipal Ordinances are in place to protect cyclists in these scenarios by requiring all drivers to do the following: 
  • Exercise due care to avoid colliding with any person operating a bicycle, 625 ILCS 5/11-1003.1 and Section 9-40-160 of the Municipal Code of Chicago;
  • Yield to the preferential right-of-way while making a left turn at an intersection, 625 ILCS 5/11-902;
  • Decrease the speed of a motor vehicle when a special hazard existed with respect to pedestrians or other traffic, 625 ILCS 5/11-601(a); and
  • Avoid moving a motor vehicle into a lane of traffic without first ascertaining that such movement could be made with safety, 625 ILCS 5/11-709.

However, the most basic and fundamental protections that cyclists deserve is the complete and full attention of all users of the roadway. The cardinal rule of approaching an intersection is to slow down and stop, look both ways before entering and be alert for other vehicles proceeding through the intersection. 

Here, the driver was not paying attention or keeping a proper lookout which caused this horrendous accident. As a result of the accident, the bicyclist was taken by ambulance to the emergency room where he was diagnosed with a fractured leg which required surgery.

The bicycle attorneys at Keating Law Offices, P.C., recently obtained a six-figure policy settlement on behalf of the cyclist from Allstate Insurance. This settlement was reached within months of the collision. While the settlement recovered for the bicyclist will never undo his massive injuries and damages. The money will help cover the not only the cyclist’s medical expenses but compensate him for the pain and suffering and interruption to his life that he was forced to experience because of the driver's distracted driving. 

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

River Forest Cyclist Killed In Crash In Oak Park Near "Share The Road" Sign

The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that an Oak Park bicyclist by the name of Peter McDonnell tragically died as a result of injuries sustained in a bicycle vs. motor vehicle crash. According to the article, Mr. McDonnell tragically succumbed to the injuries sustained in the crash after days at Loyola University Medical Center. 

The crash occurred on March 9th at the intersection of Division Street and North Harlem Avenue in west suburban River Forest. This intersection is right by Dominican University and is regularly travelled by cyclists. Images of the area show that right on Division Street is a "Share The Road" sign warning drivers of the presence of cyclists and instructing them to give cyclists room on the roadway. 

While details of the crash have not been reported, it is worth noting that the Illinois Vehicle Code generally provides that motorists should give deference to cyclists. Section 11-1003.1 of the Illinois Vehicle Code states that all drivers must "exercise due care" to avoid colliding with any person riding a bicycle. Due care is the legal principle that one should act like any other reasonable person would act when faced with the same or similar circumstances. In other words, Illinois drivers should drive extra carefully around cyclists. 

This is another tragic reminder of the dangers that cyclists face on the roadways and how vulnerable we are when riding. Our most sincere thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Peter McDonnell.