OFFICE: 312-239-6787 - TOLL FREE: 855-IL-BIKE-LAW - AFTER HOURS: 312-208-7702 - Email: KLO Info

Monday, November 17, 2014

Chicago Bicyclist Receives $190,000.00 Settlement For Personal Injuries In Crash on Montrose

A long journey began for a Chicago bicyclist back in April of 2011. However, the journey he embarked on that day only started by bicycle. The journey itself was primarily made up of three years of medical care including a surgery. As is often unfortunately the case for many bicyclists who would much rather have their journeys only be by bicyclist, this journey started when a motorist, driving a company car, did not stop at a stop sign.

On that April day in 2011 the bicyclist was riding westbound on West Montrose Avenue. The bicyclist was traveling at a normal pace down a relatively busy Chicago street when he approached North Troy Street. At the same time as the bicyclist was approaching North Troy Street, the motorist was traveling southbound on Troy. North Troy Street is a one-way street flowing southbound with a stop sign at its intersection with Montrose Avenue. The stop sign at this intersection is in plain view. In contrast, vehicles (both motor and human powered) traveling on Montrose do not have a stop sign or a stop light at the intersection with Troy.

The motorist rolled through the stop sign and directly into the path of the bicyclist. This caused the bicyclist and his bicycle to collide into the driver’s door of the motorist’s vehicle. It may seem obvious, but what the motorist should have done was make a complete stop at the stop sign and then look both ways before continuing through the intersection. Had the motorist done the simple act of "looking", this bicycle accident could have been easily prevented.

Instead, the motorist failed to yield the right-of-way to the bicyclist. This failure to yield was a clear violation of the Illinois Rules of the Road. Section 11-902 states, that “the driver of a vehicle intending to turn to the left within an intersection” is required to yield the right-of-way to any bicyclist approaching from the opposite direction “which is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.”

As a direct result of the motorist’s failure to yield, the bicyclist suffered severe pain in his left shoulder that radiated down his arm. The injury also resulted in a severely limited range of motion, intense and constant pain, and difficulty sleeping in the days following his injury. He was diagnosed with left shoulder separation and shoulder bursitis. The bicyclist tried to treat the injury with rest and later physical therapy. But the pain did not go away and the shoulder was not getting better. Ultimately he was forced to undergo arthroscopic surgery and later received a cortisone shot, both unsuccessful in long-term alleviation of his pain levels.
 

The Illinois Bicycle Lawyers at Keating Law Offices were ultimately able to negotiate a $190,000.00 settlement on behalf of the injured bicyclist. This was a particularly successful settlement as it was 50% more than what the bicyclist was offered to settle his case by the insurance company for the motorist. It was only after being represented by Attorney Michael Keating, who litigated the case on behalf of the injured bicyclist, that the insurance company was forced to fully compensate the bicyclist.

Friday, October 31, 2014

What Can Be Done To Reduce Bicycle Crashes in Illinois?

Attorney Michael Keating of Keating Law Offices being interviewed by FOX Chicago.
Last Friday, Attorney Michael S. Keating of the Illinois Bicycle Lawyers at Keating Law Offices was interviewed by FOX News Chicago regarding new video technology that can record a bicycle crash in real time. The thrust of the segment was whether technology like this could help bicyclists by keeping motorists (and bicyclists) accountable because they know of the the possible presence of video surveillance. In the segment, Attorney Keating noted that a video of a collision could be very beneficial in proving in court who caused a bicycle accident. Keating noted that in most cases where there isn't an independent witness, there is the bicyclist's version of events and the motorist's version of events. The possibility of video footage, especially in cases involving a hit and run,would increase the chances that the offender could be held accountable.

As technology advances and the financial costs associated with it decrease, there will soon be a day where a camera strapped to a bicycle is very commonplace. While this will greatly assist law enforcement agencies and attorneys that litigate bicycle crashes, the threat of video surveillance alone may not have a direct effect on reducing the number of bicycle crashes. After all, most bicycle accidents occur when a motorist makes some unintentional mistake. Unlike a criminal action where a criminal intends to harm another person, most bicycle accidents stem from a "human error," not some malicious intent.

In fact, far too often the refrain from a motorist who hits a bicyclist is "I didn't even see" the bicyclist. This raises the questions of what CAN be done to reduce the number of bicycle crashes in Illinois? Yesterday we posted a lengthy post on the Governors Highway Safety Association's excellent report on the growing number of fatalities nationwide that stem from bicycle accidents. Between 2010 and 2012 the study found that nationwide there was a 16% increase in the number of fatal bicycle crashes.

The report of the GHSA concluded that the following actions, in their professional opinion, would reduce the number of collisions and injuries:
  • Implementation or amendment of existing bicycle-related laws and enforcement of those laws;
  • Increased education of both motorists and bicyclists;
  • Increased and improved bicycle infrastructure and road sharing;
  • Efforts to to increase use of helmets and the visibility of bicycles and bicyclists;
  • Reduce speeds of motor vehicles;
  • Reduce drunk bicycling.
As bicycle attorneys in Illinois, we see first hand the devastation that can occur when a bicyclist is involved in a collision with a motor vehicle. We applaud the efforts of the GHSA to give due attention to the very real issues surrounding safe bicycling. The findings of this will ideal serve as crucial information available to legislators to help increase these efforts.

In particular, federal funding that can lead to increased bicycle infrastructure would create roadways and bike lanes that would permanently be more conducive to safe bicycling. Particularly in congested urban areas, the presence of protected or buffered bike lanes can create a "safe zone" between bicycles and motor vehicles that would lead to fewer bicycle collisions. With more funding for these initiatives, the goal of safer bicycling could become a reality.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Keating Law Offices Sponsors Evanston's "Pedal Bright" Bike Light Giveaway and Installation Event

The Illinois Bicycle Law Shield
On the Eve of Halloween (tonight, October 30th) Keating Law Offices is sponsoring the City of Evanston's “Pedal Bright” Bike Light Giveaway and Installation event. The goal of the event is to
provide bicycle safety information and help cyclists increase the visibility of their bikes with bicycle lights.

Teams of volunteers will install 400 free bicycle lights, distribute city bike maps, and provide a quick tutorial on the rules of the road for bicyclists. Bicycle lights will be installed on Thursday, October 30, from 4:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m., at two Evanston locations:
  • The Robert Crown Center located 1701 Main Street; and 
  • The Weber Arch at Northwestern University located at Chicago Avenue and Sheridan Road.
Illinois law requires that every bicycle ridden at night time be equipped with 1) a front light capable of emitting a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet, and 2) A red reflector on the rear visible from 100 to 600 feet. A lamp emitting a red light visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear may also be used in addition to a red reflector according to the law.

This sponsors of the event are the City of Evanston, Northwestern University, the Evanston Bike Club, Wheel & Sprocket, Downtown Evanston, Active Transportation Alliance, Roycemore School and The Illinois Bicycle Lawyers at Keating Law Offices.

Attorney Michael Keating said the following about the event:
"I'm very proud to support the City of Evanston's "Pedal Bright" event. I lived in Evanston for years and am excited about this opportunity. This event will give us the opportunity to promote safe bicycling in Evanston. The use of bike lights not only make riding more fun because of better visibility but greatly increases the visibility of the bicyclist. It's also important that people know that it is the law in Illinois to use bike lights."

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Beyond the Numbers: IL One of the States With the Most Deaths While Bicycling. But why?

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) is a non-profit group made up of representative from each state to collectively work for national security goals. The GHSA has its roots in the Federal State and Community Highway Safety Grant Program. This program, commonly known as "Section 402" because of the section of the United States Code it is listed under, provide the federal guidelines required for states that receive Federal funding for their highways.

Typically the efforts of the GHSA delve into issues only involving motorists such as speed limits, teenage driving, drunken driving, and enforcement of motor vehicle laws. However, the GHSA also addresses issues involving pedestrian and bicyclist safety. The GHSA has issued a new report, the "Spotlight on Highway Safety - Bicyclist Safety" which can be found in its entirety by clicking the link.

Many news outlets in Illinois have discussed the fact that Illinois had the 5th highest number of bicycle fatalities in the United States. This is an alarming statistic on its face when you consider that Illinois is cold for several months out of the year and states on the West Coast, the Southwest, Gulf Coast and the Southern states all have climates that are conducive to cycling year round.

However, as Jim Merrill of the Active Transportation Alliance noted to the Chicago Sun-Times, this statistic does not necessarily mean that Illinois is the "fifth worst" state for bicycling. Jim stated the following about how to best interpret these statistics:
“The urge to say Illinois is the fifth worst state in terms of fatal bike crashes should be taken with a grain of salt. When you break those numbers down by the number of people biking [as a whole], we’re more in the middle of the pack.”
In the Sun-Times article, the statistical basis for Jim Merrell's position was broken down. In Chicago an average of 125,000 people ride a bike every single day. This sheer volume of bicyclists leads to the very unfortunate statistical probability that there could be more deaths by bicycle. Since 2000, the number of daily bicyclists in Chicago has tripled. 

Attorney Mike Keating of the Illinois-based law firm Keating Law Offices, P.C. that focuses its practices on representing bicyclists, stated in addition to the volume of riders, the density of the populations tend to correlate with the number of deaths of bicylists. The study noted that in 1975 only half (50%) of all bicycle fatalities were in urban areas, by 2012 more than two-thirds (69%) of bicyclist fatalities occurred in urban areas.

Attorney Keating stated as follows,"
"The top five states for bicyclist fatalities were California, Florida, Texas, New York, and Illinois. Outside of the fact each of those states have a strong bicycling culture, the other commonality between these states is that they boast large urban areas and college campuses where bicycling is a key factor in commuting. The density of an urban area - and the congestion that comes with it - creates traffic patterns and leads to motorist behavior that would suggest potentially dangerous conditions for many bicyclists."
Since 2010, California has experienced 338 bicycling fatalities, followed by 329 in Florida, 143 in Texas, 138 in New York, and 80 in Illinois. The tops six states accounted for 54% of ALL fatal bicycle accidents nationwide. In addition, the study found that there has been a 16% increase in the number of bicyclists killed in crashes with motor vehicles between 2010 and 2012. In fact, the total number nationwide went from 621 to over a hundred more in 2012 with 722 fatal bicycle crashes.

Other statistics that the study noted were:
  • Age Matters: In 1975 21% bicyclist fatalities were of riders age 20 and over. The remainder were teenagers of children. By 2012 this number had climbed to 84% of bicyclist fatalities by riders that were age 20 or older. 
  • Drunk Riding: A staggering 1 in 4 (25%) of all adult bicyclists killed in a crash in 2012 were impaired by alcohol.
  • Helmets Save Lives: More than two thirds of all bicyclists killed in a bicycle accident in 2012 were not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash. The study concluded that the lack of a national helmet standard is an impediment towards reducing the number of bicycle fatalities. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Victim of Left-Hook Bicycle Crash Receives Insurance Settlement

The Illinois Bicycle Attorneys at Keating Law Offices secured a substantial insurance settlement for a bicyclist who was the victim of a bicycle accident in west suburban Downers Grove in DuPage County. The crash occurred when the bicyclist was riding his bicycle along the curb eastbound on 55th Street through its intersection with Washington Street. The motorist made an illegal left turn from westbound 55th Street onto southbound Washington Street, failing to yield and instead unfortunately striking the bicyclist.

The motorist had a duty to yield the right of way prior to the crash. This failure to yield was a clear violation of the Illinois Rules of the Road. Section 11-902 of the Rules of the Road states, that “the driver of a vehicle intending to turn to the left within an intersection” is required to yield the right-of-way to any bicyclist approaching from the opposite direction “which is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.”In plain English, this means that if a vehicle (motor or bicycle) is approaching, that a vehicle turning left from the opposite direction MUST yield the right of way until the oncoming vehicle has cleared the intersection.

As a result of this crash the bicyclist was ejected from his bike and landed on the hood of the motorist’s vehicle before being thrown head first onto the pavement. Upon impact, his helmet was shattered, and he suffered excruciating pain in his left shoulder, right knee, and back. Overall, the motorist’s failure to yield the right-of-way resulted in the bicyclist sustaining serious injuries, requiring extensive medical treatment and physical therapy, incurring lost wages, enduring considerable pain and suffering, as well as a loss of a normal life.

As we have mentioned in previous blog posts, “loss of a normal life” is a compensable damage under  Illinois law that is defined as “the temporary or permanent diminished ability to enjoy life,” and “includes a person’s inability to pursue the pleasurable aspects of life.” As a result of the motorist’s failure to yield the right-of-way, the bicyclist suffered very significant loss of a normal life. He could not return to work and was unable to complete even routine activities, such as sleeping, without feeling significant pain and discomfort.

Because of the bicyclist’s loss of a normal life, loss of wages, and severe injuries, he rightfully received a settlement for his medical expenses, as well as receiving just compensation for the property damage to his bicycle, helmet, equipment, and gear.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Hit-and-Run Motorist Caught After Leaving Bicyclist With Head Gash

Chicago Bike Flag
A Chicago bicyclist was severely injured when she was struck by a motorist who then fled the scene. The bicycle accident occurred on Union Avenue and Roosevelt Road which is immediately adjacent to the Dan Ryan Expressway and next to the University of Illinois at Chicago campus. The bicyclist was riding eastbound on Roosevelt Road in the bike lane when the motorist cut her off to make a right-hand turn onto Union Avenue. The bicyclist could not avoid the car and she was hurled to the pavement.

The motorist then continued making the right turn onto Union, fleeing from the scene of the bicycle accident. Fortunately, a  witness was able to make note of the license plate and the Chicago Police Department were able to locate the vehicle and issue a police report. This was a big of "good luck" in an incredible unfortunate situation. If not for the witness the chances of locating the offending driver would have been much, much lower.

This type of bicycle crash is what is known as a "right-hook crash." Chicago law explicitly prohibits “right hooks” by turning vehicles. Section 9-16-020 of the Municipal Code of Chicago specifically addresses “right hooks.” The 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.”
Because of the motorist’s “right hook,” the bicyclist suffered a severe gash to the left side of her head, bruising on her side, and scrapes on her elbow. The head wound required the bicyclist to receive medical staples in order to close the wound.

The Illinois Bicycle Lawyers at Keating Law Offices have already begun legal action against the motorist and the motorist’s insurance company on behalf of the injured bicyclist. Keating Law Offices is the premiere law firm in Illinois that represents bicyclists injured in a collision with a motor vehicle. If you have any questions regarding this post or an issue involving Illinois personal injury law, contact Illinois Bicycle Attorney Mike Keating at 312-239-6787 (Office) or 312-208-7702 (24/7) or MKeating@KeatingLegal.com 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All e-mails and phone calls are returned promptly. All initial consultations are confidential and free.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Chicago Police Issue Photo of White Volvo 660 Semi-Truck Involved in Hit-and-Run of Bicyclist

White Volvo 660 Semi-Truck Involved in 10/7/2014 Hit-and-Run of a Chicago Bicyclist
The Chicago Police Department have issued a new photograph as a part of the hunt for the driver of a white Volvo 660 Semi-Truck that was involved in a hit-and-run of a bicyclist. A crucial identifying characteristic of this Semi-Truck is the severe damage to the roof of the truck on the passenger side.




Photograph highlighting damage to roof of Semi-Truck
The driver of the truck has been described as a white man, approximately 30 years old, with a "slender-to-medium" build. The driver has blond hair and a short, "clean-cut" beard according to the Chicago Tribune.

The Chicago bicyclist is a 47-year-old who was riding in the 3600 block of South Ashland Avenue around 4:25 p.m. in the afternoon on October 7th when the collision occurred. The truck was traveling southbound on Ashland when the driver of the truck hit the bicyclist. The driver of the truck then fled the scene of the crash. The bicyclist remains in critical condition as a result of injuries sustained in the crash.

In addition to potential traffic citations, the driver of the truck potentially faces felony charges for leaving the scene of an accident and misdemeanor charges for failing to render aid as well as failing to reduce speed to avoid a collision.

Anyone with information was asked to contact the Chicago Police Department's Major Accident Investigation Unit at (312) 745-4521. Below is an additional photograph of the truck taken from surveillance footage approximately four minutes prior to the subject crash. Note that the Semi-Truck's roof is not damaged on the driver's side, but has substantial damage on the passenger side.

Surveillance Footage of truck involved in hit-and-run collision that critically injured a Chicago bicyclist.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Bicyclist Doored on West Side of Chicago

The Illinois Bicycle Lawyers at Keating Law Offices have been retained to represent a Chicago bicyclist who was a victim of a dooring earlier this month. The dooring occurred on the far West Side of Chicago of Austin Avenue just north of its intersection with Fullerton Avenue in the Austin neighborhood.

The bicyclist is a high school student who was riding southbound on Austin Avenue when she was doored by a motorist getting out of a car parked along the curb also on Austin Avenue. When the bicyclist saw the car door open, she instinctively put her right arm up for protection, but was still "doored" as the door was swung into her.

This is a classic example of a "dooring." Illinois law is very clear regarding a motorist’s duty to carefully avoid dooring a bicyclist. Great efforts have been made to educate the public so that they LOOK! prior to opening their door into traffic. Legally speaking, Illinois law is very clear on the requirement that a motorist not open their door into the path of a bicyclist.

Section 11-1407 of the Illinois Vehicle Code states:
"No person shall open the door of a vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so, and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic, nor shall any person leave a door open on the side of a vehicle available to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers."
The statute, however, does not provide a definition of the act of opening a door into traffic AND a collision taking place. The law only talks about "interfering" with passengers. Illinois bicycle attorney Mike Keating has long argued for the following legal definition of a "dooring":
dooring. (Verb) doored. (Past Tense) doorings. (Plural)
The act of opening the door of a motor vehicle into the path of a bicyclist and causing a collision. Examples: "The bicyclist was a victim of a dooring while riding down the bike lane." "Several bicyclists were victims of doorings while riding on the same bike lane."
As a result of the dooring the bicyclist was thrown to the pavement where she suffered a serious arm injury that required her to be taken by ambulance to the emergency room at a nearby hospital. The arm was numb and immobile at the scene, symptoms that are often consistent with nerve damage. The bicyclist is now seeking follow-up treatment.

The Illinois Bicycle Lawyers at Keating Law Offices are the top law firm in Illinois representing victims of bicycles accidents and crashes. The firm has successfully represented numerous victims of bicycle accidents and collisions in Chicago, the suburbs, and throughout Illinois.

If you have any questions regarding this post or an issue involving Illinois personal injury law, contact Illinois Bicycle Attorney Mike Keating at 312-208-7702 or MKeating@KeatingLegal.com 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All e-mails and phone calls are returned promptly. All initial consultations are confidential and free.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Bicyclist Doored in Riverside Receives Insurance Settlement

Location in Riverside, IL where a bicyclist was doored. Illinois bike attorneys at Keating Law Offices helped secure an insurance settlement for the doored bicyclist who was injured in the crash.
Illinois Bicycle Lawyer Joe Vietri secured an insurance settlement for a bicyclist who was the victim of a dooring in Riverside last June. The dooring occurred on East Burlington Street near its intersection with Longcommon Road. This location in Riverside is often very congested because it is located near Riverside's village center and the local Metra stop.

The dooring occurred as the bicyclist road eastbound on Burlington at the same time that a driver of a parked vehicle suddenly opened his door directly into the bicyclist’s path. With absolutely no time to react, the bicyclist crashed into the door and landed directly on the pavement. The bicyclist sustained severe injuries and was immediately transported to the emergency room with lower back and hip injuries.

This dooring is a violation of the Illinois law that prohibits motorists opening their car doors into the path of traffic. Illinois law is very clear regarding a motorist’s duty to carefully avoid dooring a bicyclist. Section 11-1407 of the Illinois Vehicle Code states:
"No person shall open the door of a vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so, and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic, nor shall any person leave a door open on the side of a vehicle available to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers."
The Illinois Bicycle Lawyers made a claim with the driver’s insurance carrier for the bicyclist’s injuries, medical bills, pain and suffering, and loss of a normal life. As we have mentioned in previous blog posts, “loss of a normal life” is a compensable damage in Illinois that is defined as “the temporary or permanent diminished ability to enjoy life,” and “includes a person’s inability to pursue the pleasurable aspects of life.” As a result of this dooring, the bicyclist suffered very significant loss of a normal life. Before the crash, he was a man who led an active and independent life, spending much of his time bicycling and caring for others. After the crash, however, he was unable to complete the most routine, daily activities—he had to rely on the assistance of others and was entirely unable to lead his usually active lifestyle.

This bicyclist’s case is a good example of how compensation from an insurance company involves much more than repayment of a patient’s medical bills; the lasting effects of being the victim of a crash often reach much further than the emergency room door, and compensation for loss of normal life can help.


If you have any questions regarding this post or an issue involving Illinois personal injury law, contact Illinois Bicycle Attorney Mike Keating at 312-208-7702 or MKeating@KeatingLegal.com 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All e-mails and phone calls are returned promptly. All initial consultations are confidential and free.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Claim Settled for Bicyclist Struck While Crossing Busy Street in Crosswalk


Illinois Bicycle Lawyers Michael S. Keating and Joseph T. Vietri have secured a substantial settlement for a bicyclist who was struck by a motorist at the intersection of Janes Avenue and 83rd Street in suburban Woodridge last August. The bicyclist, who was riding northbound along the sidewalk parallel to Janes Avenue, was crossing the intersection in the crosswalk pursuant to a green light and pedestrian “walk signal.” The motorist, who was subject to a red light, attempted to make a left turn off of eastbound 83rd Street onto southbound Janes Avenue. As the driver proceeded in to the turn her entered the marked crosswalk and struck the bicyclist.

While adult bicyclists most often ride their bicycle in the street, this is not always the case due to the design of a roadway or intersection or when the roadway is an extremely busy and dangerous throughfare. Pursuant to Section 11-1512(c) of the Illinois Vehicle Code, when a bicyclist is using a crosswalk to cross a roadway, the rider is treated as a "pedestrian" under the law. And Illinois law is very clear on the responsibility of an Illinois motorist to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians in a crosswalk at an intersection. Section 11-1002 of the Illinois Vehicle Code states that “the driver of a vehicle shall stop and yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk.” This responsibility is made even more clear when the pedestrian is both in a crosswalk and with a green light and walk signal.

The bicyclist in this case sustained severe injuries as a result of this collision. The brunt of the impact was sustained by the bicyclist’s left leg, which was crushed between his bicycle and the driver’s car. The bicyclist was immediately taken to the emergency room with excruciating left leg pain and was required to undergo medical treatments for the next two months following the crash.

The Illinois Bicycle Lawyers made a claim with the driver’s insurance carrier for the bicyclist's "elements of damages." Elements of damages are the different categories of a claim that make up a claim. In this case claims were made for the bicyclist's personal injuries, medical bills, pain and suffering, and loss of a normal life. As we have mentioned in previous blog posts, “loss of a normal life” is a compensable damage in Illinois. It is defined as “the temporary or permanent diminished ability to enjoy life,” and “includes a person’s inability to pursue the pleasurable aspects of life.” Under Illinois law, anyone injured in a bicycle crash caused by someone else is eligible for compensation for their loss of a normal life, since “loss of a normal life” varies from person to person and case to case.

Here, the bicyclist sustained a temporary inability to ride his bike or engage in the daily activities to which he was generally accustomed. Before the crash, the bicyclist was extremely active—he worked out at the gym, ran, or rode his bike every single day. For six weeks after the crash however, he could not engage in any of his normal physical activities due to his injuries.

If you have any questions regarding this post or an issue involving Illinois personal injury law, please contact Illinois Bicycle Attorney Mike Keating at 312-208-7702 or MKeating@KeatingLegal.com 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All e-mails and phone calls are returned promptly. All initial consultations are confidential and free.


Friday, August 8, 2014

Niles Plans to Improve Bicycle Path Crossing at Location of Bicyclist's Death

In a previous post, we detailed the tragic passing of a 39-year-old bicyclist, Jeremy Ghisols. Jeremy was killed while bicycling in Niles near the intersection of the North Branch Trail and Howard Street. Prior to this bicycle crash, the Village of Niles identified the scene of the crash as one where safety improvements—such as flashing beacons, signage, and striping for a crosswalk—would benefit local bikers, pedestrians, and motorists.

Now, according to The Niles Journal, it appears that construction of a bike crossing is finally underway at this spot, no doubt inspired by Jeremy. Currently, there are no signals, signs, or markings whatsoever to indicate where the North Branch Trail crosses Howard Street, making the crossing incredibly dangerous for bicyclists and motorists alike. Soon, however, the new crossing will feature a push-button activated, rapid-flash beacon; advance warning signs; and even ADA-approved warnings and markings to make the crossing as safe as possible for the many bicyclists and pedestrians who use it every day.

While it is certainly a positive step by Niles to include these improvements, it is hard not to consider whether traffic safety infrastructure like this could have made a different in the bicycle crash that took Jeremy's life. This is why it is important that all cities and the state make efforts to be proactive, rather than reactive. 

If you have any questions regarding this post or an issue involving Illinois personal injury law, contact Illinois Bicycle Attorney Mike Keating at 312-208-7702 or MKeating@KeatingLegal.com 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All e-mails and phone calls are returned promptly. All initial consultations are confidential and free.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Taxi Involved in Hit-and-Run with Bicyclist in Lakeview - Help Requested to Identify Taxicab

Intersection of Halsted Street and Wellington Avenue near where a Chicago bicyclist was injured in a hit-and-run collision on July 19th in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood.
The Illinois Bicycle Lawyers at Keating Law Offices have been retained to represent a Chicago bicyclist who was a victim of a hit-and-run with a taxicab on Saturday, July 19, 2014 at approximately 10:15 p.m. The bicycle accident occurred in the Lakeview neighborhood at 3031 North Halsted Street which is just north of the intersection of West Wellington Avenue and North Halsted Street near Illinois Masonic Hospital.

The bicyclist, a local dog walker who was riding home, was traveling northbound in the marked bike lane on Halsted Street when the driver of a taxicab suddenly swerved the motor vehicle into the bike lane and struck the bicyclist. The driver of the taxicab then fled the scene of the bicycle collision northbound on North Halsted Street towards its intersection with North Clark Street. Three eyewitnesses confirmed that the hit-and-run vehicle was a taxicab. However, the witnesses were unable to identify the taxi number or license plate. There is an unconfirmed report that the taxicab may have been black and white in color, but there is some confusion from the scene as to the accuracy of this report. The Chicago Police Department responded to the scene but have since closed their investigation after the responding officer chose to not notify the police department's Major Accidents Investigation Unit (MAIU).

Keating Law Offices has commenced legal action against the "John Doe" driver on behalf of the injured bicyclist and are in the process of securing a protective order from a judge in the Circuit Court of Cook County to acquire security footage from nearby businesses. Yet, we are respectfully asking for your help to identify the hit-and-run taxicab driver and to identify any Chicago taxicab companies that operate taxicabs that are black and white in color. If you witnessed the bicycle collision or have any information regarding the hit-and-run taxicab driver please contact Keating Law Offices at (312) 239-6787 or email attorney Mike Keating at MKeating@KeatingLegal.com. Callers may choose to remain anonymous. 

The bicyclist sustained multiple severe injuries, including an open fracture to his left forearm. An open fracture is when the fractured bone breaks through the skin. The bicyclist was transported via ambulance to a local emergency room where he underwent open reduction and internal fixation surgery (“ORIF”). ORIF is a two-part surgery in which the broken bone is put back into place and then an internal fixation device (usually screws, plates, rods or pins) is placed on the bone to stabilize and facilitate healing of the fracture. The bicyclist spent four nights at the hospital before being released and has a long road of recovery in front of him.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Illinois Bicycle Lawyers at Keating Law Offices Sponsor Prairie State Cycling Series

The Illinois Bicycle Lawyers at Keating Law Offices are again sponsoring the Prairie State Cycling Series (PSCC). The PSCC is brought by the same race promoters as the Tour of America's Dairyland (ToAD) an immensely popular race series every June in locations throughout Wisconsin. Now in its second year, the Prairie State Cycling Series continues to experience incredible growth in popularity and number of racers. The goal of the promoters is that the PSCC would be a premiere event every July to complement the racing of ToAD every June.
Regarding Keating Law Offices' sponsorship of the PSCC, attorney Michael Keating of Keating Law Offices said:
"The Illinois Bicycle Lawyers of Keating Law Offices are very pleased to sponsor the Prairie State Cycling Series. This is the second year we have sponsored the Prairie State Cycling Series, but our sponsorship of races in Illinois with this group goes back years to when we sponsored the Prairie State Criterium in St. Charles in 2012. As advocates of Illinois bicyclists, we are committed to promoting bicycling in Illinois, whether it be advocating for safer streets, fighting for our clients, or even supporting pro-level bicycling in Illinois."
 Here is a listing of all of the races in the Prairie State Cycling Series along with links to each race.
Attorney Mike Keating and other members of Keating Law Offices will be at each race cheering on the riders. Please say hello if you are at the races. This is a very exciting time for bicycling in Illinois. The popularity of the Prairie State Cycling Series reflects the growth in the popularity of bicycling in Illinois whether it be recreational riding for fun or exercise, commuting by bicycle, or competitive bicycling.

Keating Law Offices is the premiere law firm in Illinois that represents victims of bicycle accidents and crashes. Attorney Michael S. Keating is the Chair of the Bicycle Litigation Committee for the National Trial Lawyers Associaiton, the American Association for Justice. The firm is nationally renowned for its experience in handling cases stemming from injuries or wrongful deaths as a result of collisions with motor vehicles.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Chicago Bicyclist Killed in Fatal Crash Near North Branch Trail in Niles is Identified

View of westbound Howard Street at the North Branch Trail.
The identity of a North Side bicyclist killed in a bicycle crash with a Mazda Miata has been identified as 39 year old Jeremy Ghisols of North Mulligan Street in Chicago.  The fatal crash occurred last week in Niles near the intersection of the North Branch Trail and Howard Street. At that location, the North Branch Trail runs in a direct North-South direction and Howard Street is a major East-West arterial street.

According to reports, police are still investigating the exact conditions and actions that may have caused  the fatal bicycle accident on July 9th. Niles police have indicated that the bicyclist may have "veered" off the path and was struck by a westbound Mazda. However, "veered" is an interesting verb choice given that the North Branch Trail path runs directly across Howard Street. Most bicyclists on the path therefore cross directly across the trail in a straight line. "To veer" is to change direction suddenly which would be an unusual action for a bicyclist traveling on the North Branch Trail across Howard Street.

However, no other details are available as of yet and no traffic citations have been issued. As of Monday morning, the investigation into the crash by the Niles police department remained ongoing. Niles itself had previously identified this location as one where improvements such as flashing beacons, signage and striping for a crosswalk could be implemented as a part of its multi-modal traffic plan to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists. The ability of Niles to implement these improvements is reportedly based on obtaining additional funding from the Regional Transportation Authority.

Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by this tragic event, especially the family and friends of Jeremy Ghisols.

What Are The Legal Responsibilities Of A Motorist Who Causes A Bike Crash in Illinois?

Unfortunately, many of the cases we handle involve bicyclists who were not only injured, but the driver then fled the scene of the crash. As the old expression goes, this is literally adding "insult to injury." Obviously, the decent, moral thing to do is for a motorist to put aside their legal or other practical concerns and tend to the injured bicyclist. Yet this often isn't the case. Hit-and-run collisions are a very real and very common issue for bicyclists in Illinois and nationwide. The National Highway Traffic Administration reports a 14% increase in fatal hit-and-run crashes between 2009 and 2011. The reality is drivers flee the scene for any number of reasons: legal concerns, fear of being financial responsible, or even basic fear and panic.
 

No reasonable person would defend a motorist fleeing the scene. It is wrong. A hit-and-run places the wrongdoer's immediate selfish concerns above the potentially serious injuries sustained by the bicyclist in the crash. But moral issues aside, what are the legal requirements in Illinois for a motorist who causes a bicycle crash?

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."
Section 11-403 of the Illinois Motor Vehicle Code more specifically lays out the requirements any such motorist must fulfill before leaving the scene of a collision that leads to personal injuries:
"The driver of any vehicle involved in a motor vehicle accident resulting in injury to or death of any person or damage to any vehicle which is driven or attended by any person shall give the driver’s name, address, registration number and owner of the vehicle the driver is operating and shall upon request and if available exhibit such driver’s license to the person struck or the driver or occupant of or person attending any vehicle collided with an shall render to any person injured in such accident reasonable assistance, including the carrying or the making of arrangements for the carrying of such person to the physician, surgeon or hospital for medical or surgical treatment, if it is apparent that such treatment is necessary or if such carrying is requested by the injured person."

In summary, any motorist involved in a motor vehicle vs. bicycle collision in Illinois resulting in personal injuries has a legal responsibility to:

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

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

 

Rather interestingly, in 2011 the law regarding hit-and-runs in Illinois was amended to allow the motorist to avoid prosecution for the hit-and-run by notifying the authorities within a half hour of the accident or within a half hour of being discharged from the hospital for an injury or incapacitation suffered in the accident. Section 11-401(b) provides as follows:
"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 (staying at scene requirements)."
The bottom line is there is no excuse for a motorist to flee the scene of a bicycle crash. At worst, a bicyclist may be literally left to die at the scene of the crash. At a minimum, a person who needs help may ironically need the motorist's assistance in that moment. Even if there is that moment of fear or panic, Illinois law provides a half hour for the motorist to right the wrong without any penalty.

If you have any questions regarding this post or an issue involving Illinois personal injury law, contact Illinois Bicycle Attorney Mike Keating at 312-239-6787 (Office) or 312-208-7702 (Nights and Weekends) or via email at MKeating@KeatingLegal.com 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All e-mails and phone calls are returned promptly. All initial consultations are confidential and free.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Importance of Uninsured Motorist Coverage: Victim of Hit-and-Run in Chicago Receives Maximum Insurance Settlement

Many bicyclist fear they would be the victim of a hit-and-run bicycle accident and would find themselves not only the victim of the crash, but also without any way to be compensated for injuries that were not their fault. A recent settlement on behalf of an injured bicyclist by the Illinois Bicycle Lawyers at Keating Law Offices shows the critical important of Uninsured Motorist Coverage in preventing this scenario from happening and adding "insult to injury" for an injured bicyclist.

The attorneys were recently able to attain a six-figure settlement on behalf of a Chicago bicyclist who was seriously injured in a hit-and-run accident involving a motor vehicle in downtown Chicago. This settlement reflected the maximum amount of the applicable Uninsured Motorist insurance policy.

This particular case reflects the importance of Uninsured Motorist Coverage. Last September, the bicyclist was struck from behind by a motor vehicle that was traveling eastbound on the same street as the bicyclist in Chicago. The impact caused the bicyclist to strike the pavement and land directly on his elbow. As a result, he suffered a compound fracture to his elbow that required immediate surgery on the very same day as the crash. Despite the bicyclist’s serious injuries, the motorist immediately fled the scene, never to be identified by authorities.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage is insurance that can be purchased through an insurance company that protects a person even if the other person who caused the accident did not have insurance. Some estimates place the number of uninsured drivers in Illinois at one in five drivers. The exact number is difficult to track due to the fact that some drivers not only do not have insurance, but do not even have licenses. There is a similar and related type of insurance called Underinsured Motorist Coverage which provides additional insurance coverage when the at-fault driver did not have enough insurance.

Due to the fact that the driver in this case fled the scene, it was not difficult to determine that the motorist was "uninsured," simple logic dictates that there can be no insurance for an unknown individual. Fortunately, the bicyclist carried  the Uninsured Motorist Coverage and a claim could be placed with that insurance company. It is important to note that even though the Uninsured Motorist claim is placed with the injured persons own insurance company, there is no guarantee that the insurance company will treat the injured individual any different than any other "claimant." Insurance companies make money by collecting more in premiums than they pay out in claims. "A claim is a claim" to many insurance companies and unfortunately there is a fight to obtain a fair resolution under the terms of the insurance policy.

If you carry auto insurance, you can check the amount of Underinsured or Uninsured Motorist Coverage you carry by checking you "Declarations Page" if you have it, by checking an insurance account with online access, or simply calling your broker. If you do not carry auto insurance, you can always ask a friend or family member to add you as an "insured" under their policy for this purpose.

If you have any questions regarding this post or an issue involving Illinois personal injury law, please contact Illinois Bicycle Attorney Mike Keating at (312) 239-6787 (Office) or  (312) 208-7702 (Nights or Weekends) or email at MKeating@KeatingLegal.com, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All e-mails and phone calls will be promptly returned, and all initial consultations are confidential and free.



Monday, July 7, 2014

Details Emerge in Barbie Eno Case

Stock Image of Kenworth W900 Cement Truck

The Chicago Sun-Times has reported additional details regarding the circumstances surrounding the death of 28-year old Barbie Eno of the Portage Park neighborhood. According to the report, based on the position of the Kenworth W900 truck and Barbie Eno's bicycle after the collision, both vehicles were traveling northbound on Cicero Avenue towards Belmont Avenue. Other reports indicated that the Kenworth W900 truck was a "concrete truck," meaning that the truck was pulling a concrete mixer as opposed to a trailer.

Northbound Cicero Avenue at Belmont Avenue
The Sun-Times article further indicates that the driver of the truck did not see the bicyclist prior to impact and only stopped when he noticed people waiving at him. A driver of a tractor truck like the Kenworth W900 is required to adhere to all of the applicable rules of the road, such as the Chicago Municipal Code and the Illinois Vehicle Code, and also to Federal requirements.These requirements provide that 1) the driver of a cement truck like this should "keep a proper lookout" for bicycles but 2) to not turn right until it is safe to do so. It is axiomatic that if a vehicle is "clear" to turn, that a bicycle crash cannot occur.

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 around a turning tractor truck. 
  •  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.
  • Section 9-16-020 of the Municipal Code of Chicago specifically provides that a motor vehicle should not turn right across the path of a bicyclist traveling in the same direction until it is "clear" and safe to make the turn. This is known as a "right hook."
DNAInfo Chicago provided a very thoughtful article on Barbie Eno that also contains service information.

Our thoughts and prayers remain with Barbie Eno's family and friends. God bless all of you at this difficult time.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Bicyclist Tragically Killed by Turning Truck Identified as Portage Park Native Barbie Eno

Northbound Cicero Avenue approaching Belmont Avenue in Chicago, IL.
On Thursday morning 28-year old Barbie Eno was riding her bicycle on northbound Cicero Avenue on her way back from the Secretary of State's Office where she was issued a new I.D. card. As she was riding along Cicero Avenue towards Belmont Avenue a cement truck was also driving northbound. As both the bicycle and the cement truck approached Belmont, the cement truck turned right onto Belmont Avenue and came across the bicyclist's path and into contact with Barbie on her bicycle. As a result of this collision, Barbie sustained multiple injuries that claimed her life.

DNAInfo Chicago has published an excellent article about Barbie Eno. In a tragic twist of irony, this bicycle accident took place just feet from the apartment in Portage Park where Barbie lived as a child. Barbie lived nearby on Addison Street near its intersection with Cicero Avenue and was known for her colorful tattoos, love of her cats, her devotion to her sister's three children, and her joy riding her bike. The article quotes Barbie's sister, Chrissy, as saying that she loved to ride her bike and rode it everywhere in the city.

Details regarding the Chicago Police Department's investigation into this matter remain unclear. Nonetheless, based on the positions of the cement truck and the bicycle prior to the collision, and the report that the truck was turning right onto Belmont, it would appear that this collision is what is known as a "right hook" bicycle crash. A "right hook" crash occurs when a turning vehicle travels directly across the path of a bicyclist and causes a collision between the turning motor vehicle and the bicycle.

Chicago law explicitly prohibits "right hooks" by turning vehicles. Section 9-16-020 of the Municipal Code of Chicago specifically addresses "right hooks." The 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.” 
Tragically Chicago has lost another bicyclist due to a collision with a motor vehicle. As a result a daughter, a sister, an aunt, and a friend to many is lost. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Barbie Eno's family and friends. 

Friday, July 4, 2014

Chicago Bicyclist Killed in "Right Hook" Crash with Truck on Northwest Side

Intersection of North Cicero Avenue approaching Belmont Avenue where a 28-year old Chicago bicyclist was killed in a collision with a truck on Thursday morning.
 A 28-year old Chicago bicyclist was killed after a industrial truck "clipped" her bicycle while she was riding north on Cicero Avenue near Belmont Avenue. The bicyclist has been identified as 28-year old Barbara Eno who lived on Addison Street not far from the site of the collision. According to reports the truck, described as a large semi-tractor trailer or dump truck, was also traveling northbound on Cicero and was attempting to turn east onto Belmont when the truck came into contact with the bicyclist and she was severely injured. The bicyclist was taken by ambulance where she was pronounced dead at 11:31 a.m. Thursday morning.

As of the time of the publishing of the DNAInfo article, no tickets had been issued to the driver and the article suggests that an investigation was ongoing. However, based on the information from the report the collision occurred when the bicyclist was riding to the right of the truck and was struck by the truck as the driver turned to the right across the path of the oncoming bicyclist. This type of collision is known as a “right hook” bicycle accident.

Section 9-16-020 of the Municipal Code of Chicago specifically prohibits right turns in front of bicycles. The 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.” 
Given that this was a fatal accident, Chicago Police Department policy is that the Major Accidents Investigation Unit are to conduct a full investigation. More information and details are certain to emerge soon. In the meantime, the family of Barbara Eno have lost a young lady in the prime of her youth. This is a very tragic incident and our thoughts and prayers are with the family at this difficult time.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Evanston Librarian Killed in Crash With Motorcycle


Media outlets are reporting that 55-year old bicyclist Gigi Galich has died as a result of injuries sustained in a collision with a motorcycle on Monday morning in downtown Evanston. According to reports, the bicyclist was riding eastbound in the bike lane on Church Street at the same time that the motorcyclist was riding eastbound on Church Street. The collision occurred when the bicyclist turned out of the bike lane towards the Evanston Public Library where she worked.

The bike lane on Church Street in Evanston at this juncture is a standard bike lane with white painted stripes. The Evanston library is located right in downtown Evanston just south of Northwestern University. Ms. Galich was remembered as a warm and caring librarian who worked with childrens' programs at the library.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Gigi Galich's family and friends as well as everyone affected by this tragic and unfortunate incident.