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. 

Thursday, February 25, 2021

The "Open and Obvious" Defense In Pothole and Roadway Defect Bicycle Crash Cases


Far and away the most common types of cases we handle as bicycle law attorneys involve collisions between motor vehicles and bicyclists where the driver of the motor vehicle is at fault. Common examples of this are doorings, right hook crashes, left hook crashes, failure to give the bicyclist 3-Feet when passing. However, a large number of the cases Keating Law Offices has handled involve bicyclists who were injured when their bicycle hit a defect in the roadway and they crashed.

Illinois law on these types of cases is very, very fact specific. IllinoisBicycleLaw.com has previously delved into the crucial Illinois Supreme Court Case of Boub v. Wayne County which holds that for a bicyclist to hold a municipality (think city, town county, etc.) the bicyclist has to show that they were on a section of the road way where a bicyclist was not only permitted but also intended. An example of a roadway where bicycles are both intended and permitted would be a roadway where there is marked bike lanes or even signs indicating plans for bicyclists on that roadway.

The attorneys at Keating Law Offices also have a long history of representing bicyclists injured in crashes where a problem with the roadway caused the crash. When a road defect, such as a pothole or a hazard within a construction zone, causes the crash the at-fault parties often argue that even though there was a defect, and even though they may have put the defect in the roadway, that the bicyclist should have "watched where they were going." This defense is known as the "open and obvious doctrine." This doctrine provides that a defendant has no duty to protect against a condition that is both open and obvious. The open and obvious doctrine can be a powerful defense if they can show the court that the defect really was both open and obvious to the bicyclist. However, there are a number of elements for cyclists to consider when faced with this defense.

For a condition to be open and obvious, the risk caused by the condition needs to be apparent to a reasonable person exercising ordinary perception and judgment. This essentially means that would a regular person under regular circumstances see what is in the roadway? The doctrine essentially puts the burden on us cyclists to take care to avoid any obviously dangerous conditions that appear risky to your average person. The doctrine prevents a cyclist from suing someone responsible for a dangerous condition when the cyclist knew that the condition existed and knew that the condition was dangerous before that condition injured the cyclist.

Much of the Illinois law regarding the open and obvious doctrine has developed through cases that involved people who trip while walking. For example, the doctrine can defeat the claim of someone tripping over a sidewalk defect that is clearly marked with a hazard cone or bright spray paint. Or someone who tries to sue a grocery store for slipping on a bright yellow lemon on a dark black floor mat might lose their lawsuit because of the open and obvious doctrine.

Reasonable cyclists encounter the world differently than someone walking. The perception of road conditions of someone riding at 10 to 12 miles an hour is different than the perception of someone walking at 3 to 4 miles per hour. Thus, the opportunity to observe a small but dangerous road defect, like a pothole, is dramatically different while biking than while walking.

As attorneys, we investigate all of the factors that go into a reasonable person’s ability to perceive a condition when cycling. For example, in a pothole case we analyze whether the condition is open and obvious by asking:
  • How big is the pothole?
  • How deep is the pothole?
  • Where is the pothole?
  • What color is the pothole compared to the surrounding roadway?
  • Is something blocking the view of the pothole?
  • What were the lighting conditions around the pothole?
  • Was the pothole filled with material that disguised its dangerous size or depth?
Again, each of these cases are very "fact specific" and no two cases are really ever the same. The open and obvious doctrine only applies when a reasonable person can appreciate the risk involved. It’s not always possible to comprehend every risky condition, no matter how safe or reasonable we are while riding. Nevertheless, injured cyclists routinely face the open and obvious defense when a road defect causes a crash. The firm recently resolved a complicated case where the bicyclist suffered and injured collarbone after crashing on a defect during a road resurfacing project involving the Halsted Street bike lane. In that case we used an iconic Coke can to provide scale and contrast to depict the height of a defect that otherwise blended into the roadway at first glance. 

It takes an experienced and well-qualified attorney to help fight back against the open and obvious doctrine to protect your case from being thrown out of court. Keating Law Offices attorneys are available for a free consultation to discuss any claim today.

Friday, February 5, 2021

Settlement Obtained for Bicyclist Injured By Construction On Halsted Street Bike Lane

In the summer of 2018 a Chicago bicyclist was riding up the Halsted Street bike lane near her home like she had hundreds of times before. One day she was commuting home from work and was on the Halsted Street bike lane near its intersection with Wellington. Despite the construction in the area the bike lane looked the same as it had on other days. There were no warnings or indications that anything on this stretch was different. 

In reality there was a hidden defect in that some of the contractors working on the bike lane had placed a "patch" that created a large bump that was undetectable because it was almost the same color as the road. It was basically camouflaged. As the front wheel of the cyclist's bike hit this bump the bike became uncontrollable and she crashed to the ground. 

Keating Law Offices went to the scene of the crash and took photographs illustrating that the change in elevation was almost as high as a Coke can that was used for scale. These timely photos ended up being a significant piece of evidence in the case. After investigating, Keating Law Offices filed a lawsuit against multiple defendants, including the City of Chicago which was the owner of the construction project. The City hired a local paving company to act as the project’s General Contractor and a private engineering company to serve as the project’s Resident Engineer.

After the crash, our client fell onto her right shoulder. The force of the bicycle crash fractured her collarbone and required extensive medical intervention. The fracture limited our client’s range of motion and strength in her shoulder. It also limited her ability to ride as she routinely did before her crash. After extensive litigation, the case was settled for $200,000.00 after a Pre-Trial Conference with a judge in the Law Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County. 

As the City of Chicago expands its bike infrastructure, the importance of safety within construction zones is greater than ever. In this case, we alleged that the change in elevation that caused our client’s injuries was a danger introduced by careless construction work that did not properly create a ramp between the old and new road during the construction. Moreover, there was no appropriate signage or safety warnings to alert oncoming traffic and cyclists of the dangers ahead. 

While Keating Law Offices salutes the efforts by our city to maintain our roadways and further develop bike-friendly infrastructure, safety during construction must be a priority for all involved. When safety measures fail or construction shortcuts lead to dangerous conditions and injuries, hiring an experienced attorney can be the best option for many cyclists.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Chicago Bicyclist Injured In Hit And Run Receives Settlement from Chicago Transit Authority


Attorneys Catelyn Viggiano and Michael Keating of Keating Law Offices recently obtained a favorable settlement for a Chicago bicyclist that was injured in a collision with a Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) bus. On July 20, 2017, our client was struck by a negligent CTA bus operator who improperly tried to pass her on her left. The crash occurred on Clark Street near its intersection with Webster Avenue in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. The CTA bus came from behind the cyclist and attempted to pass her on her left, and in doing so, the CTA bus contacted her left side. 

The bus operator apparently was not even aware he struck the cyclist and drove away from the scene. The cyclist was able to locate surveillance footage from nearby and the bus route and unique CTA bus number were then used to identify the bus operator. 

As a result of the contact from the CTA bus, the cyclist was thrown from her bicycle and struck her head on the pavement. The cyclist sustained a concussion and suffered from post-concussion syndrome. She underwent months of neurological treatment. The settlement reached with the CTA compensates her for the damages she suffered such as medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and loss of normal life.

All Chicagoans are intimately familiar with the presence of CTA buses on the roadway which serve as a valuable transportation resource. The large volume of people that rely on CTA bus transportation for their everyday commute, requires the actual size of the CTA bus to be substantial when compared to other vehicles on the roadway. While CTA busses provide an essential service to the community and combat other societal concerns such as roadway congestion and pollution, they do pose substantial threats to other users of the roadways, such as bicyclists. The main concern is the disparity between the size and weight of a bus compared to a bicycle, which can lead to serious bodily injuries.

Over and above the general expectation that CTA bus operators will operate the busses in a safe manner for all users of the roadway, there are other protections in place to prevent instances like the one here, involving our client which resulted in serious bodily injuries. For example, the Illinois Vehicle Code states that a driver of a vehicle overtaking a bicycle traveling in the same direction shall pass to the left of that bicycle at a safe distance in order to safely clear said bicycle. 625 ILCS 5/11-703(a). Similarly, section 9-36-010 of the Municipal Code of Chicago requires something known as the “3-Foot Rule.” That is, the operator of a motor vehicle (in this case a bus) that is overtaking a bicycle traveling in the same direction on a highway must leave a safe distance, but not less than 3 feet, when passing the bicycle. The motor vehicle must then maintain that distance until safely past the overtaken bicycle. 

The CTA requires its bus operators to obtain a special driver’s license and undergo extensive training before being eligible to operate a CTA bus. Part of the CTA's training and standard operating procedures focuses on safe vehicle maneuvering when cyclists are present. Unfortunately, despite all these safeguards serious collisions continue to occur with CTA busses and cyclists.

Keating Law Offices has handled numerous cases for clients who were injured in a collision with the CTA. This includes not only settlements but taking the CTA to trial and successfully obtaining a verdict in favor of our client in a case where the CTA offered nothing to settle the case prior to trial. 

If you were hurt in a crash involving a CTA bus or other motor vehicle contact us to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys. We can review the details of your case, answer your questions and go over your legal options. Consultations are always absolutely free and with zero obligation.

Monday, February 1, 2021

All Keating Law Offices Attorneys Named SuperLawyers for 2021

All three Keating Law Offices attorneys have been honored by SuperLawyers Magazine for 2021. Keating Law Offices founding attorney Michael S. Keating has been rated a SuperLawyer. Attorneys Thomas Reuland and Catelyn Viggiano have been named "Rising Stars" by SuperLawyers Magazine. 

Only 2.5% of Illinois attorneys receive the “Rising Stars” honor. To be eligible for "Rising Star" designation the attorney must be under a certain age or within the first decade of their career. The selections for SuperLawyer are even more selective with only 5% of all attorneys of any age or number of years practicing recognized by Super Lawyers magazine each year. 

In order to become part of 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. Recently Leading Lawyers magazine honored Michael Keating as a Leading Lawyer and Thomas Reuland and Catelyn Viggiano as Emerging Lawyers. 

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. 

Monday, January 25, 2021

Keating Law Offices Is Proud To Be The Presenting Sponsor of the 2021 Active Trans Winter Bike Challenge

 
The Active Transportation Alliance's Winter Bike Challenge Presented by Keating Law Offices kicks off January 25th. Registration is FREE and it is still open. Click here to REGISTER

Once registered participants can track your trips, challenge riders and win prizes. And its not just bike commutes that count, ANY trip on your bike between January 25th and February 7th counts!

Keating Law Offices is a long time supporter of the mission of the Active Transportation Alliance. As part of its commitment to Chicagoland's cycling community the firm has been a sponsor of Bike The Drive, the Bike Commuter Challenge and the Winter Bike Challenge. Keating Law Offices was the first law firm in Chicago to sponsor Active Transportation Alliance events and is proud to continue to do so. 

To learn more about Keating Law Offices, please click here

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Keating Law Offices Supports Equiticity on Giving Tuesday 2020

In the spirit of giving, Keating Law Offices is proud to announce it is matching donations made to Equiticity’s end of the year “
Turn on the Power, and Let Equity Flow” fundraiser up to $1,000.00 for Giving Tuesday.

About Equiticity

Equiticity, a racial equity movement founded in Chicago which advocates for racial equity, increased mobility and racial justice for communities of color across the United States, is embarking on a campaign to raise $10,000.00 before the end of the year through their “Turn on the Power and Let Equity Flow” campaign. The funds raised will go towards research, advocacy, and programs for racial equity, mobility justice, and environmental justice including: 
  • Racial Equity Training Academy: A training and leadership development program for residents, organizers, advocates, activists, academics, philanthropists, and policymakers, designed for people to explore a foundational understanding of racial equity and its operational implementation. 
  • Bike design and fabrication: A job creation and workforce development program for young adults. 
  • The Go Hub: A Community Mobility Center as a physical space for community- and power-building, providing access to the necessary hardware (mobility devices and infrastructure) and software (community mobility rituals and socialization programs) to increase mobility. 
  • The Equiticity Bike Team: Engaging young people in the vast world of bikes, and related careers, competitions, tours, and programs. 
  • Community Mobility Rituals: Inclusive of three distinct series of community bicycle rides, neighborhood walking tours, and public transit excursions, designed to increase social cohesion and collective efficacy, as tools to reduce violence at the hyperlocal, neighborhood level. 
Equiticity’s fundraising efforts are scheduled to be announced on November 30 and Keating Law Offices will announce its match at the same time. More information about Equiticity’s movement and giving campaign can be found at Equiticity.org/Campaign.

About Keating Law Offices

Keating Law Offices is a personal injury law firm representing victims of bicycle crashes. The firm is based in Chicago, Illinois and represents clients throughout Illinois. Keating Law Offices is located in Chicago's Loop and on the Milwaukee Avenue bike lane in Chicago's West Town neighborhood. Since it was founded in 2008, Keating Law Offices has recovered tens of millions of dollars for injured cyclists and their families. 

Monday, November 16, 2020

75-Year Old Cyclist Killed in Crash with Driver of Motor Vehicle in Cicero


75-year-old cyclist, Efren Avitia, was killed in a crash in near west suburban Cicero on Friday, November 13, 2020. According to a Chicago Sun-Times
article, the victim was struck by a vehicle when he was biking near 31st Street and Austin Boulevard at about 10:00 a.m. The victim was transported via ambulance from the scene of the crash to Northwestern Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead early Saturday morning.

An autopsy of the victim found that the person died of multiple blunt force injuries and the death was ruled an "accident." The use of the term "accident" is one chosen by law enforcement and only means that the crash was not caused intentionally. The term "accident" in this context does not mean that the crash was determined to be unavoidable. "Accident" in this context is also meant to be distinguishable from "intentional" which is when the driver purposefully causes the crash. 

While details about this crash are otherwise limited, based on the facts available it seems to be a case where the Illinois Vehicle Code would still provide protection for the cyclist. 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 . . . .”
The key component of Section 11-1003.1 of the Illinois Vehicle Code is the “due care” clause. Under the law, "due care" means the "care that an ordinarily reasonable and prudent person would use under the same or similar circumstances." In other words, cutting off bicyclists, making left-hand turns in front of bicyclists, tailgating bicyclists, etc. are actions far from "due care." Motorists not only should give bicyclists respect, but they are required to give respect as it is what the legal notion of "due care" requires. The driver involved in this collision should have exercised all reasonable precautions to avoid crashing into Mr. Avitia and causing this horrendous result.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the victim of this crash as well as their family and friends.

Aurora Police Request Help in Identifying Driver in a Fatal Hit-and-Run

Another Chicago-area bicyclist has lost their life in a hit-and-run crash. On November 14th, 27-year-old Dragomir Misic was struck in a fatal hit-and-run collision in west suburban Aurora. The bicyclist was riding near the intersection of Montgomery Road and White Eagle Drive around 7:30 p.m. The driver then fled the scene. Aurora Police are asking for the public’s help regarding any information about the crash. 

If anyone knows any information about the collision, you are encouraged to call the Aurora Police Department at 630-256-5330 or the Aurora Area Crime Stoppers at 630-892-1000.

Key Steps To Follow If A Victim Of A Hit-and-Run

Based on the facts reported, the driver involved in this bicycle crash violated many of the Illinois Rules of the Road. The fear of knowing they were in the wrong is the motivation behind many drivers fleeing. Regrettably, hit-and-run collisions are a reality and it is important to protect yourself in such a scenario, especially if you are a bicyclist. Bicycle accidents are very sensitive and often more challenging than cases involving just motor vehicles. Therefore, any bicyclist that was hit by a motor vehicle, even one that fled, has rights and should protect them by ensuring a few things:
  • Even if the at-fault driver has fled the scene, it is essential to still file a police report. Police resources will greatly increase your chances of identifying and locating the hit-and-run driver. Additionally, when it comes to filing a claim, an insurance company providing uninsured motorist coverage will almost always require that an investigation was initiated in an effort to identify the at-fault individual.
  • Taking care of yourself and your health is the most important thing after any type of injury. Likewise, it is crucial that you seek medical attention immediately following the collision, as there need to be records and documentation of the injuries, in order to be able to recover later.
  • Lastly, identifying any potential witnesses to the collision and taking down their contact information is key. Individuals who were present at the collision scene might not only be able to help identify the fleeing motorist, but they can also help with identifying what exactly happened during the collision.
Illinois Laws Require Drivers To Give Aid To Injured Bicyclists

It is the law in Illinois for drivers to render aid to an injured bicyclist. Drivers in Illinois who are involved in a crash are legally required to:
  • Stay at the scene of the crash long enough to provide the injured party with their information; and
  • If necessary or if requested to arrange for medical care for the injured bicyclist. 
Section 11-401(a) of the Illinois Vehicle Code provides the groundwork for the motorist: 

"The driver of any vehicle involved in a motor vehicle accident resulting in personal injury to or death of any person shall immediately stop such vehicle at the scene of such accident, or as close thereto as possible and shall then forthwith return to, and in every event shall remain at the scene of the accident until the requirements of Section 11-403 have been fulfilled."

Beyond the law, there is a fundamental human need for all users of the roadways to assist one another. The act of a hit-and-run is indefensible. The driver involved in this crash should face swift and certain justice.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Keating Law Offices - A Nationally Recognized Bicycle Law Firm

In the last year, the attorneys at Keating Law Offices obtained several million dollars in total settlements for its clients. The 2020 Chicago Lawyer Settlements Report recognized the firm among the top in Illinois for the past year. The 2020 Settlements Report features 118 firms in Illinois with settlements of $500,000.00 or more that were reported between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020. Keating Law Offices is proud to be recognized for two of its cases with settlements over the $500,000.00 marker which, combined, total $1,525,000.00 in settlement funds recovered.

Among Keating Law Offices’ most notable successes this year, the firm’s attorneys secured $1,250,000 for the family of a bicyclist who was tragically killed in a motor vehicle collision in Chicago. The firm has been consistently recognized as a leading legal authority on cyclists’ rights in Illinois and for obtaining significant settlement money for their clients with injuries to any extent.

Notable 2020 results by Keating Law Offices include:

  • $1,250,000.00 for the family of a Chicago bicyclist killed in a crash with a motor vehicle on Chicago's north side. 
  • $500,000.00 for a Chicago bicyclist who suffered a broken arm when doored while biking in Chicago.
  • $400,000.00 for a West Suburban bicyclist who suffered a broken leg when struck by an uninsured driver.
  • $300,000.00 for a Chicago bicyclist who suffered a concussion after being struck by a delivery truck.
  • $300,000.00 settlement for a Northern Illinois bicyclist who was struck by a driver while on a training ride.
  • $300,000.00 for a Northwest Suburban girl injured in a bicycle crash. The money was placed in a structured settlement to help pay for college. 
  • $200,000.00 settlement for the victim of a crash. 
  • $175,000.00 for a bicyclist who was doored by a driver exiting a semi-truck. 

Keating Law Offices’ attorneys have consistently secured significant settlements for a wide variety of cases ranging from personal injury, wrongful death, and nursing home abuse while specializing in securing settlements for injured bicyclists. Over the years, Keating Law Offices has helped hundreds of injured clients recover financial compensation and have been recognized for their success in the field. In 2020 alone, Leading Lawyers Magazine named attorney Michael Keating as a Leading Personal Injury Plaintiff’s Lawyer and also named attorneys Thomas Reuland and Catelyn Viggiano as Emerging Personal Injury Plaintiff’s Lawyers, a considerable achievement and honor in the field. In addition, SuperLawyers Magazine and Chicago Magazine named Michael Keating a 2020 SuperLawyer and Tom Reuland and Catelyn Viggiano as "Rising Stars" within the SuperLawyers network. 

With decades of experience, Keating Law Offices is honored to serve the bicycling community and earn the reputation of national leaders in bicycle law. The firm is proudly active in the Chicagoland area’s cycling community and will continue to fight for the rights of injured cyclists.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Illinois Bicyclist Killed in Crash with Passing Truck in Southern Illinois

Last Thursday, November 5, 2020, a bicyclist was killed in a collision with a truck while cycling in southern Illinois. According to reports, 58-year-old David Coleson was riding a bicycle southbound on Illinois 3 near its intersection with Airport Road in Alexander County. Alexander County is best known for being the southernmost county in the State of Illinois. 

The Illinois State Police reported that Mr. Coleson was killed after we was struck by a truck while riding his bicycle. According to the Illinois State Police the collision occurred when both Mr. Coleson and the driver of the truck were both travelling southbound on Illinois 3. The driver reported that Mr. Coleson turned left into the truck at the moment the truck passed and the driver of the truck was unable to avoid striking the bicycle. 

The Illinois State Police continue to investigate this fatal crash. 

"Improper Passing" of a Bicyclist: The 3-Foot Rule

The only available information is contained in news reports which seem to primarily use the Illinois State Police's report as the basis of their information. As such, the information available is limited and it would be unfair to make conclusions as to what exactly occurred. 

What we do know is that in Illinois a driver of a motor vehicle passing a bicyclist has certain duties to the bicyclist when passing. If there was contact between the truck and the bicyclist then there could be a violation of the "3-Foot Rule" which is based on sub-paragraph (d) of Section 11-703 of the Illinois Rules of the Road. This Illinois Rule of the Road provides as follows:

(625 ILCS 5/11‑703) (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 11‑703)

Sec. 11‑703. Overtaking a vehicle on the left. The following rules govern the overtaking and passing of vehicles proceeding in the same direction, subject to those limitations, exceptions, and special rules otherwise stated in this Chapter: 

(d) The operator of a motor vehicle overtaking a bicycle or individual proceeding in the same direction on a highway shall leave a safe distance, but not less than 3 feet, when passing the bicycle or individual and shall maintain that distance until safely past the overtaken bicycle or individual.
The 3-Foot Rule requires a minimum of 3 feet between the bicycle and the motor vehicle when the motorist passes the bicyclist. The motorist is required to "leave a safe distance" that is not necessarily determined by the number of feet. In addition, the driver must maintain this distance of at least three feet until the motorist is "safely past" the overtaken bicyclist. While the specific information available is only available from these reports, common experience suggests that there was little reason for a bicyclist to turn into a passing truck. Ideally the Illinois State Police's investigation provides more information, on way or another, as to the circumstances surrounding this tragedy. 

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Mr. Coleson and everyone affected by this tragic loss of life. 

Thursday, November 5, 2020

The Difference Between "Riding in Front of a Vehicle" and the Vehicle Not Yielding to a Bike

Left Hook Crashes are prohibited by both the Chicago Municipal Code and the Illinois Vehicle Code. The prohibition against Right Hook Crashes is specific to the Chicago Municipal Code. 

A 12-year-old Chicago cyclist was struck by a car on Chicago South Side in the South Chicago neighborhood. This is a sequence of events that unfortunately happens often on the densely populated streets of Chicago. Different news reports and the accounting from the Chicago Police Department illustrate how a few differences in the explanation of a crash can make a giant difference in understanding what actually occurred. This particular instance also raises the issue of how the details of a crash matter in determining who bears responsibility under the law for a crash.

According to the Chicago Sun-Time article regarding the incident the crash occurred as the boy "traveled in front of the turning vehicle." Details in the Sun-Times article about the incident are otherwise limited. However, with that limited information the crash would seem to be yet another “right hook” collision involving a Chicago bicyclist and motor vehicle operator. 

Section 9-16-020 of the Municipal Code of Chicago specifically prohibits right turns in front of bicycles and 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.” 

The key words in Section 9-16-020 of the Chicago Municipal Code are "until such vehicle has overtaken and is safely clear of the bicycle." These key words specifically require a driver to be absolutely certain that the path is clear before initiating a right turn.

Streetsblog Chicago later tweeted a statement from the Chicago Police Department that the motorist was in the left turn lane on South South Shore Drive when the bicyclist rode in front of the motorist. Without any further indication of the presence of traffic signals like stop signs or traffic lights it is difficult to determine which vehicle - the bike or the car - had the right of way. If the bicyclist was oncoming and the motorist was travelling the other direction and then made a left turn in front of the path of the bicyclist this would be a "left hook crash" and the driver would bear responsibility. 

Under Illinois law, the driver of any vehicle that is waiting to turn left at an intersection is required to yield to any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction if the approaching vehicle makes completing the left turn hazardous. (625 ILCS 5/11-902). In addition to the statewide law, this requirement is also found in Section 9-16-020 of the Chicago Municipal Code that provides additional protections to bicyclists by specifically stating that a car driver waiting to make a left turn at an intersection must yield to any approaching bicyclists. 

In any event, the how/where/when/why of any cases depends on the specifics and the details of any given case. As attorneys who focus our practice on representing bicyclists injured in collisions with vehicles, we know that thorough investigation is most important. Many attorneys only get the Illinois Traffic Crash Report (a/k/a the "police report") and consider that the final say in what happened in a crash. But with out combined decades of experience, we know that obtaining witness statement, canvassing for video, and investigating the location of the crash can provide many more details that shed light on a crash. If you have any questions regarding a bicycle crash, please do not hesitate to contact us at any time. 

The Chicago Police Department reports that the child sustained bruising to the face and leg and was transported to Comer Children’s hospital. We wish the young cyclist a speedy recovery.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

The Duty of "Due Care" in the Chicago Municipal Code and Illinois Vehicle Code

The City of Chicago has garnered a great deal of attention for its efforts in making Chicago more friendly to cyclists. A large part of the city's efforts have been in enacting new laws designed to try and protect bicyclists. What is interesting is that one of the most explicit laws in Illinois is nearly forty years old. On August 12, 1981 Public Act 82-132 became law when it amended the Illinois Vehicle Code. It stated: 


Every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any person operating a bicycle or other device propelled by human power…and shall exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or any obviously confused, incapacitated or intoxicated person.


Thirty years ago in 1990 the City of Chicago incorporated this language into its own specific Municipal Code and thus made the "duty of due care" the clear law in Illinois generally and the City of Chicago specifically. This law can be found in Section 11-1003.1 of the Illinois Motor vehicle Code and Section 9-40-160 of the Chicago Municipal Code.


This specific traffic law came to mind this week when considering the tragic death of Czeslaw Kosman. According to 
reports, Czeslaw Kosman was fatally struck by a motorist on Friday afternoon of October 23, 2020 in the Jefferson Park neighborhood of Chicago. The Cook County medical examiner’s autopsy report confirmed Mr. Kosman died of head injuries sustained in the fatal crash.

 

Witnesses relayed to responding officers that Mr. Kosman was riding his bicycle near the 6200 block of West Higgins Avenue in Chicago when he was struck by a westbound driver of a 2005 Nissan Pathfinder SUV. Eyewitnesses allegedly observed Mr. Kosman riding his bicycle in circles and veering into traffic. 


However, responding officers issued the motorist citations for failing to reduce speed to avoid the accident and for no insurance. Interestingly, this 40-year old law might have been the most precise allegation against the driver given the reports of the cyclist's riding in circles and engaging traffic. If the reports are accurate, these actions would clearly fall under any definition of a "confused" person's actions and the driver holds to duty to avoid a collision. 

 

Under the law, "due care" means the "care that an ordinarily reasonable and prudent person would use under the same or similar circumstances." In this case, the driver upon observing an apparently confused Mr. Kosman who was veering into traffic on his bicycle, failed to exercise due care by swerving to avoid or simply altogether stop and wait for the cyclist to clear the roadway. 

 

Unfortunately, this is now the eighth Chicago cyclist killed this year, which is notably the most since 2012.  This is another unfortunate fatality in Chicago, Illinois where a bicyclist lost his life. This incident reflects how the failure of a motorist to adhere to the rules of the road can lead to death. It is important for all users of the roadways to remember that bicyclists are vulnerable users of the roadway. 

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Mr. Kosman. 

 

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Bartlett Woman Killed In Elgin Hit-and-Run

Another Chicago-area cyclist has been killed in a hit-and-run. This most recent tragedy unfolded this past Tuesday in Elgin when a reckless driver struck and killed one cyclist and left another critically injured.

According to the Chicago Tribune and the Elgin Police Department, the shocking timeline began around 4 pm near East Chicago and Villa Court when the driver, Lance C. Neal of Elgin, IL struck his first victim. That victim was able to flag down police in the area who then pursued Neal. As police attempted to stop him, Neal fled at a high rate of speed. Unfortunately, as police neared, they came upon the vehicle involved in another collision at the intersection of Raymond and Purify Drive, also in Elgin. This second collision claimed the life of bicyclist Sandra Sampey, a 52-year-old woman and left a 58-year-old male bicyclist in critical condition. Both bicyclists are from Bartlett, Illinois. Neal then fled on foot but was apprehended a few hours later after an extensive police search.

Hit-and-Run in Illinois

When hit-and-run incidents occur, in Illinois the Illinois Vehicle Code requires that a motorist stay at the scene of a crash. Additionally, that motorist is legally mandated to:

1. Stay at the scene of the crash long enough to provide the injured party with their information.

2. If necessary or if requested to arrange for medical care for the injured bicyclist.

Sections 11-401(a) and (b) of the Illinois Vehicle Code lay the groundwork for the motorist:

(a) The driver of any vehicle involved in a motor vehicle accident resulting in personal injury to or death of any person shall immediately stop such vehicle at the scene of such accident, or as close thereto as possible and shall then forthwith return to, and in every event shall remain at the scene of the accident until the requirements of Section 11-403 [625 ILCS 5/11-403] have been fulfilled. Every such stop shall be made without obstructing traffic more than is necessary.

(b) Any person who has failed to stop or to comply with the requirements of paragraph (a) shall, as soon as possible but in no case later than one-half hour after such motor vehicle accident, or, if hospitalized and incapacitated from reporting at any time during such period, as soon as possible but in no case later than one-half hour after being discharged from the hospital, report the place of the accident, the date, the approximate time, the driver’s name and address, the registration number of the vehicle driven, and the names of all other occupants of such vehicle, at a police station or sheriff’s office near the place where such accident occurred. No report made as required under this paragraph shall be used, directly or indirectly, as a basis for the prosecution of any violation of paragraph (a).

Neal failed to do any of what was required and not surprisingly, today the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office released a statement via Facebook announcing the charges Neal is facing. All are felony charges and are listed as reckless homicide, failure to report an accident or death, aggravated fleeing a police officer and driving without insurance. Not surprisingly, due to the driver’s conduct and the heartbreaking loss, Judge Noland has set bail at 1 million dollars with a court hearing scheduled for August 7, 2020.

A Community Impacted

Every time a bicyclist is injured or killed is a tragedy. Even more poignant here perhaps, is Elgin’s love for the sport of cycling and its role as the host for the Dennis Jurs Memorial Race. This race is an annual tradition honoring the life and passion of fallen cyclist Dennis Jurs and part of the 10-day Intelligentsia Cup Race which is seen as one of the most well-respected bike races in the country. Keating Law Offices is a proud sponsor of Dennis Jurs Memorial Race and is always impacted when a member of the community is lost. This year the event was cancelled due to COVID-19, however the race is set for next year from July 16 – 25, 2021 and we like everyone else are looking forward to it.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of this senseless incident and to the Elgin and Bartlett communities.