Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Lawsuit Filed on Behalf of Chicago Cyclist Killed in Hit-and-Run


Attorney Michael S. Keating of Keating Law Offices has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a Chicago bicyclist who was tragically killed in a hit-and-run crash on September 23, 2018. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Estate of Jesse Rodriguez, the Chicago bicyclist who was riding near the intersection of Devon Avenue and the North Shore Channel trail when a juvenile driver turning from McCormick Boulevard to Devon Avenue jumped the curb and struck the bicyclist. The motorist then ironically struck a "Yield To Bikes" sign before fleeing the scene.

The North Shore Channel trail runs alongside McCormick Boulevard. Devon Avenue is frequently used by bicyclists connecting from the North Shore Channel trail on the west side of the channel to the east side. The trail on the east side of the river then connects to trails alongside the Chicago River.

The driver fled the scene before later turning himself into police after images of the vehicle and license plate were released. The boy was charged with felony counts of reckless homicide, leaving the scene of an accident and failure to report an accident. The juvenile case is currently pending under seal in the Juvenile Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County. It is notable that authorities charged the motorist with "reckless" driving meaning that the acts were egregious and not just a mistake. The civil case is currently pending in the Law Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County. The lawsuit alleges that this preventable crash occurred because the motorist did not follow even the most basic duties of a motorist. The lawsuit further alleges that the motorist:
  • Drove on a sidewalk contrary to and in direct violation of Section 9-40-070 of the Municipal Code of Chicago;
  • Failed to exercise due care to avoid colliding with any person operating a bicycle, contrary to and in direct violation of Section 9-40-160 of the Municipal Code of Chicago;
  • Drove unnecessarily close to, toward, or near a bicyclist, contrary to and in direct violation of 625 ILCS 5/11-703(e);
  • Carelessly and improperly operated his motor vehicle at a speed greater than was reasonable and proper in regard to traffic conditions, contrary to and in direct violation of 625 ILCS 5/11-601;
  • Failed to apply the brakes of his motor vehicle and reduce speed at such a distance as to control the movement of and stop said vehicle before impact, contrary to and in direct violation of 625 ILCS 5/11-601;
  • Failed to keep a proper lookout for bicycles and other vehicles on the roadway;
  • Failed to keep said motor vehicle under proper and sufficient control; and
  • Failed to stop and remain at the scene contrary to and in violation of Section 11-401(a) of the Illinois Vehicle Code.
Attorney Michael S. Keating said the following about this occurrence, "This is yet another tragic example of the life of a Chicago bicyclist lost in a crash that was entirely preventable. The bicyclist here could not have been more experienced and in a place where he could expect to be protected from motor vehicle traffic. This crash should simply have never occurred and the age of the motorist is no excuse."

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Illinois Drivers Now Advised to Use the "Dutch Reach" to Prevent Doorings



The Illinois Secretary of State will now be required to include the "Dutch Reach" as a part of the Rules of the Road for Illinois motorists. The "Dutch Reach" is where a motorist opens the car door with their right hand. This action naturally requires the driver to look over their left shoulder and towards oncoming traffic. The goal of the "Dutch Reach" is to teach motorists to always check for oncoming cyclists prior to opening their vehicle door into traffic and to prevent doorings.

Section 11-1407 of the Illinois Vehicle Code and Section 9-80-035 of Municipal Code of Chicago make it illegal to open a vehicle door into traffic with the same statutory language: 
"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."
As clarified in the 2017 Illinois bike law known as "Dennis' Law," a bicycle is a vehicle under Illinois law. According to data from the Illinois Department of Transportation, doorings area plague to Chicago cyclists in particular. In 2015 there were 302 cases of doorings. There were 203 in 2014, 270 in 2013, 334 reported in 2012 and 336 in 2011, the first full year IDOT collected data on the number of doorings.

It is important to note that from a legal perspective this legal change does not require motorists to utilize the "Dutch Reach." The law essentially requires Illinois drivers to be taught the "Dutch Reach." In other words, Illinois drivers are advised to utilize the "Dutch Reach" in the Illinois Rules of the Road Publication, but are not required to do so by law under the Illinois Vehicle Code.

This new Illinois bike law is nonetheless a giant victory for Ride Illinois and the Active Transportation Alliance who valiantly fought for the promotion of the "Dutch Reach" as a simple safety practice that can reduce the number of doorings in Illinois. The promotion of the utilization of the "Dutch Reach" will help the practice become more commonplace in Illinois and is a further reflection of the commitment by Illinois lawmakers to make cycling safer. 

The inclusion of the "Dutch Reach" in the Rules of the Road will also help establish safety practices for checking for oncoming bicyclists as "ordinary practice" for Illinois motorists. When a bicyclist is doored in Illinois and is injured, we need to establish that the driver was negligent. Establishing negligence is done by showing that they did not follow "ordinary care." While not quite the full effect of a rule under the Rules of the Rode, this advisory position carries some weight in arguing that a driver is acting most safely when they check for an oncoming bicyclist. 

Keating Law Offices' founding attorney Mike Keating has an extensive background in Illinois legislation. He is a former Assistant Counsel to the Illinois House of Representatives where he worked on hundreds of pieces of legislation. Mike is the author of "Dennis' Law" and worked with the Jurs family and legislators to pass the law. Keating Law Offices also represented the Jurs family in the case. In addition, Mike serves as a Chair of the Legislative Committee for the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association where he is a also a member of the Board of Governors. 


Friday, August 10, 2018

Chicago Bicyclist Angela Park Tragically Killed In Crash With Turning Truck

News outlets are reporting that the bicyclist who lost her life in a crash in the West Loop was 39-year old Angela Park of Chicago. The crash occurred at the intersection of Halsted Street and Madison Street. Angela was riding northbound on Halsted where the Halsted Street bike lake has existed for decades. The truck involved in the crash was a dump truck owned and operated by Lakeshore Recycling. The truck was turning right from northbound Halsted onto eastbound Madison when the crash occurred. The exact circumstances of the crash are yet to be determined as there is a major construction project on the southeast corner of Madison and Halsted that has led to frequent changes in the traffic patterns at that intersection. 

The crash was what is known as a “right hook” crash where the truck turned right across the path of the bicyclist. Since the Halsted Street bike lane is to the right of the northbound lane, the truck would cross over the bike lane when turning from Halsted onto eastbound Madison Street. The crash occurred at 7:10 a.m. on a weekday when this area of the West Loop is full of commuters on their way into the Loop for the workday. The presence of a bicyclist on the Halsted Street bike lane is not only common it is constant at this time of the day. Chicago law requires the operators of motor vehicles to utilize “due care” in looking for bike traffic. 

In addition, a “right hook” is strictly prohibited by law.  In Chicago the Municipal Code addresses right hooks. Section 9-16-020 specifically prohibits right turns in front of bicycles. The infographic below details right-hook and left-hook bicycle crashes. The Chicago bicycle law 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.” 
Based on the reports, it appears that the operator of the truck also acted contrary to the Illinois Vehicle Code and also 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. 
Legal analysis aside it is important to remember that Angela Park was a member of Chicago’s bicycling community. This is another unfortunate reminder of the need for not only laws and policies that protect bicyclists, but strict enforcement of those laws. This is beyond sad, it is tragic in the scope of the loss against reality that it could have been avoided. Our thoughts and prayers and most sincerely with the family of Angela Park. 


Monday, July 30, 2018

Chicago Bicyclist Luster Jackson Struck By Car After Avoiding Dooring

7200 Block of South Stony Island
Chicago bicyclist Luster Jackson was killed in a scenario that is a constant fear of Chicago bicyclists. Luster was riding his bike northbound in the 7200 block of South Stony Island. According to the Sun-Times, as he was riding a driver opened their car door into Luster's path. The bicyclist swerved to avoid the car door and Luster was fatally struck by an approaching vehicle.

According to the report, the driver of the vehicle that fatally struck Jackson was issued a traffic citation. However, given the scenario described in the article, there may have been traffic violations on the part of the driver opening their car door into Luster's path and on the part of the driver that fatally struck him.

Illinois Law Requires At Least 3 Feet When Passing A Bicyclist

Illinois law requires a minimum of three feet when passing a bicyclist. So any oncoming car on Stony Island should have given at least three feet of room to the bicyclist as they approached. The "3-Foot Rule" comes from sub-paragraph (d) of Section 11-703 of the Illinois Rules of the Road. This statute 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.
Key language in the statute is obviously that there must be a minimum 3 feet between the bicycle and the motor vehicle when the motorist passes the bicycle. But note that the statute also requires that this distance of 3 feet must be maintained until the motorist is "safely past" the overtaken bicyclist.

City of Chicago and State of Illinois Laws Prohibit Doorings

In addition to Municipal Code of Chicago, the Illinois Vehicle Code states that it is illegal to open a car door into traffic. A bicycle is a vehicle under Illinois law and is considered "traffic." 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.”
Tragic Loss of a Chicago Bicyclist

Tragically, another Chicago bicyclist has lost their life. What is somewhat unique about this case is that it involves the actions of two other vehicles that created a "worst case scenario." Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Luster Jackson. May he rest in peace. 

Monday, July 23, 2018

The Dennis Jurs Memorial Race Honors The Life And Legacy of Fallen Illinois Cyclist

The life and legacy of fallen Illinois cyclist Dennis Jurs was honored Sunday during the Dennis Jurs Memorial Race in Elgin. Dennis Jurs lost his life in May of 2015 in a collision with a motor vehicle while on a training ride. 

"Dennis's Law" Helps Protect Illinois Bicyclists

The Illinois law known as "Dennis's Law" is named after Dennis Jurs and came about after a Kane County judge dismissed a traffic citation against the motorist involved in the crash for failing to yield the right-of-way to an oncoming bicyclist. The judge incorrectly ruled that the right-of-way laws in the Illinois Vehicle Code did not apply to bicyclists. The judge cited non-traffic related cases that held that a bicycle was not a “vehicle” under certain legal definitions. The judge then dismissed the charges against the motorist involved in the fatal collision because of the uncertainty between the Illinois Vehicle Code and the case law.

"Dennis's Law" makes it absolutely clear that Illinois bicyclists are to receive all the same rights in traffic situations involving the right-of-way as the drivers of motor vehicles. Previous to this change, there was a conflict as to whether a bicycle was considered a “vehicle” under Illinois law and was therefore entitled to the right-of-way between vehicles. Since the prior right-of-way laws in Illinois referenced “vehicles” there was an issue as to whether the right-of-way laws explicitly applied to bicyclists.

New Bicycle Law Provides Clarity To Existing Laws

This change in Illinois bicycle law makes it absolutely clear that bicycles are “vehicles” as defined in the Illinois Vehicle Code and that motorists must provide the right-of-way to bicycles when the bicyclist is entitled to the right-of-way. "Dennis's Law" has been the law in Illinois since January 1, 2017. Keating Law Offices attorney Mike Keating was one of the attorneys who represented the family of Dennis Jurs in the civil case and lobbied on behalf of "Dennis's Law" by working with legislators and outside advocacy groups to push the legislation in Springfield. "Dennis's Law" passed both the Illinois House and the Illinois Senate with only one vote against it prior to being signed into law by the governor.

The Dennis Jurs Memorial Race - The Intelligentsia Cup

Dennis Jurs was a longtims member of Team MACK and was an organizer of the Four Bridges road race. He was a Vietnam Veteran who took up cycling later in life to rehabilitate an injury he suffered after stepping on a land mine. The 2018 Dennis Jurs Memorial Race was also the Illinois State Road Race Championship for the Illinois Cycling Association. The race is also a part of the Intelligentsia Cup which brings elite-level road racing to communities throughout northern Illinois.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Keating Law Offices Sponsors Intelligentsia Cup for 6th Straight Year

Keating Law Offices is again sponsoring the  Intelligentsia Cup powered by SRAM
The Intelligentsia Cup is produced by the same race team behind Tour of America's Dairyland (ToAD). The Intelligentsia Cup is a premiere road bike racing event every July in Chicagoland to complement the racing of ToAD every June in Wisconsin. 
Regarding Keating Law Offices' sponsorship of the Intelligentsia Cup, noted bicycle attorney Michael Keating of Keating Law Offices said:
"The Illinois Bicycle Lawyers of Keating Law Offices are proud to sponsor the Intelligentsia Cup along with our friends at Intelligentsia Coffee and SRAM. Sponsorship is more than just investing in the races. It is an opportunity to give back to the bicycling community in Illinois and showcase bicycling as not just a recreational activity but a pro-level sport. It is incredibly rewarding to see this series continue to grow. As advocates of Illinois bicyclists, we are committed to promoting bicycling in Illinois, whether it be advocating for safer streets, fighting for our clients who were injured in a bike accident, or even supporting pro-level bicycling in Illinois. We look forward to the 2018 Intelligentsia Cup."
Illinois Trial Attorney Mike Keating
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. If you have any questions regarding this post or have a question regarding personal injury law, please contact Illinois Bicycle Attorney Mike Keating at 312-239-6787 (Office) or 312-208-7702 (Nights/Weekends). Our staff and operators are available around the clock. You can also email Mike@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.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Obstructed Bike Lanes Plague Chicago Bicyclists

Every bicyclist in the City of Chicago knows the plague that is obstructed bike lanes. NBC 5 Investigates has produced a recent investigative report on all of the issues with obstructed bike lanes in Chicago. Stopping on a bike lanes is a minor convenience for the driver who uses the space of the bike lane to pull to the side of the road. But for the bicyclist this is massively dangerous as having to go around the stopped vehicle takes the bicyclist out of the marked bicycle lane and directly into the lane for motor vehicle traffic. 

It Is Illegal To Drive On The Bike Lane In Chicago

The Chicago Municipal Code is clear: A driver can't park or stand in a bike lane. Here's what the law says:
9-40-060- Driving, standing or parking on bicycle paths or lanes prohibited - 
The driver of a vehicle shall not drive, unless entering or exiting a legal parking space, or stand, or park the vehicle upon any on street path or lane designated by official signs or markings for the use of bicycles, or otherwise drive or place the vehicle in such a manner as to impede bicycle traffic on such path or lane. The driver of a vehicle shall not stand or park the vehicle upon any lane designated by pavement markings for the shared use of motor vehicles and bicycles, or place the vehicle in such a manner as to impede bicycle traffic on such lane. In addition to the fine provided in Section 9-4-025 of this Code, any vehicle parked in violation of this section shall be subject to an immediate tow and removal to a city vehicle pound or authorized garage.
Ubers and Lyfts Are Forbidden From Parking In The Bike Lane 

Part of the issue with vehicles in the bike lane is ride share operators such as Lyft and Uber use the bike lanes as easy spaces to drop off and pick up their passengers. However, these drivers are specifically trained NOT to do this. Section 9-115-150 of the Municipal Code of Chicago requires that all "transportation network drivers" (such as Uber, Lyft, etc.) to successfully complete an online or in-person transportation network driver training program. The program includes guidelines on safely picking-up and dropping-off passengers. Dangerous Driving Behavior No. 6: Safe Pick-Up and Drop-Off gives the following clear rules:
  • Passengers and driver cannot open car doors into traffic.
  • Drivers can NEVER stop, stand, or park in a bike lane. Passengers cannot be dropped off in a bike lane.
  • DOORING is opening a car door into the path of an oncoming cyclist. It is punishable by fines up to $1,000.
  • Pull all the way over to the curb when picking up or dropping off a passenger. DO NOT BLOCK travel lane.
Bike Lanes Help Promote Cycling

Chicago needs its bicycle lanes to be free and clear so that they are most effective and safe. The number of bicycle riders across America soared in the past 10 to 15 years. From just 2000 to 2014, bicycle commuting grew 62 percent. The number of bicyclists exploded from 488,000 people in 2000 to 904,463 people in 2014. While the overall percentage of bike commuters remains relatively low – approximately 1.0% of all commuters –this drastic increase is the single largest percentage increase of any transportation mode. 

The increase in bicycle commuting is largely the result of many of the country’s most prominent cities investing heavily in non-motorized travel-based projects like bike lanes. For bicycling to continue to grow, these very bike lanes need to be useful and effective. And that means stepping up enforcement of parking in the bike lane. Community groups like Bike Lane Uprising have done excellent work in putting a spotlight on this serious issue. 

Chicago Bicycle Attorneys

The attorneys at Keating Law Offices have fought for the rights of cyclists and advocated on behalf of bicycle infrastructure for over a decade. The law firm filed the very first lawsuit in Cook County over a driver striking a bicyclists on the Kinzie bike lane, which was one of the first protected bike lanes in the city. The attorneys have handled many cases involving issues with drivers riding on the bike lane or dooring bicyclists in the bike lane. The firm's West Town location is immediately on the Milwaukee Avenue bike lane where these issues are apparent on a daily basis. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Attorney Mike Keating Presides Over Meeting of Bicycle Attorneys at Trial Lawyer Convention

Keating Law Offices attorney Mike Keating presided over the annual meeting of the Bicycle Litigation Group for the American Association for Justice. The organization, commonly called “AAJ,” is the nation’s largest organization dedicated to protect the rights of accidents victims and fighting to protect the right to trial by jury. AAJ confronts corporate and political interests seeking to infringe upon the rights of American consumer and workers.

Mike Keating has been the Chair of the Bicycle Litigation Group since 2013. The group is comprised of attorneys throughout the nation who focus all or part of their practice on representing victims of bicycle crashes and their families. The group’s meetings regularly are focused on changes in bicycle laws and the members’ shared focus of advocating for their clients in claims against insurance companies and corporations. Meetings are held every February during the Winter Meeting and again every summer at the AAJ Annual Convention held each year in a different city throughout the country.


Attorney Mike Keating in Winter Park, Colorado 
This year’s event was held in Denver, the “Mile High City.” Denver is a very bicycle friendly city which was evident by the number of protected bike lanes and excellent signage. Given its location to the Rocky Mountains, the area also boasts some of the best mountain biking in the world. In addition to working as an attorney on behalf of the victims of bicycle crashes, Mike Keating is an avid bicyclist. While in Colorado Mike Keating had the opportunity to join other bicycle law attorneys and bicycle experts to the Trestle Bike Park at Winter Park Resort for a day of lift-accessed mountain biking at elevations over 12,000 feet.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Keating Law Offices Presents The Bike To Work Challenge


Keating Law Offices is proud to have been the presenting sponsor for Chicago's Bike To Work Challenge. The challenge took place between June 15th and June 29th and including teams that included hundreds of cyclists from companies throughout Chicago. Whether the companies were large or small, each rider played a part in racking up points based on the number of times they rode their bike to work and the number of miles bicycling.

Chicago Bicycle Attorney Mike Keating
Keating Law Offices attorney Mike Keating said, 
"We are very honored to support the Bike To Work Challenge. I'm a regular bicycle commuter and many of our clients commute by bike. By supporting the Bike To Work Challenge we help reinforce the important role bicycling plays in Chicago's transportation scheme. Commuting by bike is healthier for the bicyclist, reduces congestion on city streets, and makes the city more accessible. All of this helps us fight for the rights of cyclists in Chicago."
Keating Law Offices - West Town Location

825 North Milwaukee Avenue
The firm also hosted a "Pit Stop" at its West Town location on the Milwaukee Avenue Bike Lane. The Milwaukee Avenue location is the firm's second location. Keating Law Offices also has Loop offices at 111 West Washington Avenue on the Washington protected bike lane and across the street from City Hall and the courthouse at the Daley Center.

The West Town location provides a local presence on Chicago's most heavily trafficked bicycle lane to better serve the firm's clients and the Chicago bicycle community. The goal of the West Town location is also to reinforce the firm's absolute commitment to Chicago's bicycle community. The West Town location is located at 825 North Milwaukee Avenue near the intersection of Milwaukee and Chicago and is steps from the Elston bike lane.

Fighting for Chicago Cyclists

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. Keating Law Offices has represented hundreds of clients who were injured in bicycle accidents as well as their families. In the process the firm has also fought for the rights of bicyclists in Chicago and throughout Illinois.

Contact Keating Law Offices 24/7

The firm is always immediately accessible to its clients and anyone interested in discussing a legal matter. There are live operators available for live chat or text, and phone operators available 24/7. You can reach the firm directly at 312-239-6787 or via email at Info@KeatingLegal.com.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

How Safe Is Your Helmet? New Study Gives Safety Rankings of Helmets

"Wear your helmet" is solid advice. But not as much thought is given to the differences between various helmets. The general belief is that as long as you are wearing a helmet, any helmet, your head will receive some protection in case of a fall or a crash. As death and injury rates for bicyclists grow, researchers at Virginia Tech University and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety decided it was time to analyze which helmets reduce the risk of injuries for bicyclists.

Virginia Tech performed this study which 
focused on helmet impact tests to evaluate a helmet's ability to reduce linear acceleration and rotational velocity of the head resulting from a range of impacts a cyclist might experience. The researchers spent months researching how cyclists were most likely to hit their heads in crashes and used that information to replicate a dozen scenarios to replicate those hits. What they found may surprise you.

Urban-style helmets (Bern, etc.) are often purchased for their sleek design and with the thought that since the helmet covers more of your head, it must give you more protection. That thought process follows the conventional wisdom that "more is better," but this study proved it wrong. This style of helmet didn’t perform as well due to the fact that they have a thinner layer of the foam that compresses upon impact. This means that although there is more area of the head covered, the impact can still cause a significant head injury because there is less cushioning even though there is more surface area to the helmet.

One of the key findings is that a relatively new technology known as Multi-Directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) can lessen the risk of concussion. Helmets that have MIPS have an inner layer that lessens the forces that cause trauma. Of the 30 helmets tested so far, only 4 of them have been awarded Virginia Tech’s top five-star rating, all of which had the MIPS technology. Of those four helmets, the prices ranged from $200 down to $75, so protecting your noggin doesn’t mean you have to break open the piggy bank. 

The evidence is also clear that any helmet is better than no helmet. There are many steps cyclists can take to protect themselves, but making sure that they are riding with the safest helmet possible is one that easily in our control. 

Friday, June 15, 2018

Chicago Bicyclist Killed In Crash In West Town

A Chicago bicyclist was killed while riding his bike on North Ogden Avenue in Chicago's West Town neighborhood. The fatal crash occurred when the driver of a 2014 Lexus turned onto Ogden Avenue from Erie Street. This intersection is near the Ogden overpass over the Kennedy expressway where there is an on ramp for cars merging onto the northbound lanes of the expressway. This stretch of Ogden also connects the neighborhood along Grand Avenue with the River West neighborhood north of the expressway along Chicago Avenue. Due to this, many bicyclists frequently use Ogden Avenue to get over the expressway along this section of Ogden. 

No further details have been provided. The driver of the Lexus was issued a traffic ticket for failure to use due care while operating a motor vehicle. This is a general charge often used by the Chicago Police Department when the exact details are uncertain but there is evidence that the driver was not carefully operating the vehicle. The Chicago Municipal Code explicitly states that drivers must use "due care" to avoid colliding with a bicyclist. Under the law, "due care" means the "care that an ordinarily reasonable and prudent person would use under the same or similar circumstances."

Section 9-40-160 of the Municipal Code states as follows: 
"Every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian, or any person operating a bicycle or other device propelled by human or animal power, upon any roadway, and shall give warning by sounding the horn when necessary and shall exercise proper precautions upon observing any child or any confused or incapacitated person upon a roadway.Amended Coun. J. 3-12-08, p. 22781, § 1
This is a sad and tragic loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with the bicyclist and his family and friends. 

Friday, May 4, 2018

Dockless Bike Share Comes to Chicago

Divvy is in for some competition in the bike share market. A number of companies are trying to bring "dockless" bike share to Chicago. The idea behind dockless bike share is that bicyclists can rent a bike on a short term basis but without having to return the bike to a bike share location. While this sounds simple and convenient, it raises the issue of where and how the dockless bikes will be parked. The City of Chicago is requiring these dockless bikes to be affixed with hardware that will require to dockless bikes to have a "lock to" mechanism so that these bikes will not just end up in the middle of the sidwalk.

While dockless bikes have found some success in other cities, the success of dockless bike share will take some time to evaluate in a metropolitan city and vast and densely populated as Chicago. Dockless bikes also raise the issue of how they will be maintained and who will be accountable for the bicycles if they are left in an area where the bicycle is a danger to pedestrians, bicyclists or motorists. The operators of bike share systems have a legal duty to not create any potentially harmful situations and to warn of any risks. Legal issues will arise in the event that someone is injured because a dockless bike was left somewhere and an accident happens. 

Attorney Mike Keating of Keating Law Offices recently had an article published in "Trial Magazine" entitled "Bike Share Roadblocks" about the potential risks that bike share systems can present to attorneys representing bicyclists injured while use a bike share bicycle. Now with the presence of dockless bikes, bike share usage in Chicago continues to evolve. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Keating Law Offices Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit on Behalf of Fallen Chicago Bicyclist Louis Ray Smith

North Homan Avenue Towards Scene of Crash
Keating Law Offices has filed a Wrongful Death lawsuit on behalf of the family of deceased Chicago bicyclist, Louis Ray Smith. The lawsuit is against the driver of the motor vehicle involved in the fatal crash on the evening of June 5, 2017 near Chicago's East Garfield Park neighborhood.
Prior to the crash, Mr. Smith, a bicyclist was riding northbound on Homan Avenue near its intersection with West Lake Street. At the same time, the driver drove her motor vehicle southbound on Homan Avenue through its intersection with West Lake Street. The collision occurred on Homan Avenue.  Mr. Smith was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital following the collision, but unfortunately, he was pronounced dead within the hour.
On June 5, 2017 the City of Chicago Police Department issued the driver a citation and the traffic court proceedings are currently on-going. The crash also remains under investigation by the City of Chicago Police Department Major Accidents Investigation Unit. Investigations by MAIU can take days or even months before their findings are released. The Chicago Police Department has obtained video from a nearby business that depicts the fatal collision. 

According to the lawsuit filed on April 24, 2018 in the Law Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County, the driver allegedly failed to exercise due care to avoid colliding with a person operating a bicycle, an action that is in direct violation of 625 ILCS 5/11-1003.1 of the Illinois Vehicle Code and Section 9-40-160 of the Chicago Municipal Code. The lawsuit also alleged that the driver disregarded a traffic control signal, drove too fast for the dark conditions and failed to yield the right-of-way and these failures caused Mr. Smith to suffer injuries that resulted in his death.

All Illinois drivers have a duty to keep a proper lookout for bicyclists or other vehicles upon said streets. If a driver were to fail to keep a proper lookout for a bicyclist and then struck said bicyclist, that driver would be liable for the injuries the bicyclist suffered. All Illinois drivers also have a duty to make sure that their vehicles move into a lane of traffic safely and that they exercise due care to avoid colliding with any person operating a bicycle. 
The Estate of Louis Ray Smith is represented by attorneys Michael Keating and Catelyn Viggiano of Keating Law Offices. 

Friday, April 6, 2018

News Reports of Bike Crash Involving 14-Year Old Doored in Palmer Square

2600 West Armitage in Chicago, Illinois
News outlets, including the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times, are reporting that a 14-year old boy was seriously injured early this morning. The bicycle crash occurred in the 2600 block of West Armitage on the city's northwest side in the Palmer Square neighborhood. Given the time of the day and the age of the boy he was possibly riding his bicycle to school. The boy was taken via ambulance to Illinois Masonic Hospital for a reported head injury. Click here for the Chicago Tribune article. 

In an article published on Saturday, the Chicago Sun-Times provided more detail and that this was a "dooring" where a motorist opened their door directly into the path of the boy. The Chicago Municipal Code specifically prohibits "doorings." The Sun-Times reported that the driver was given a ticket related to this bike crash. 

The Chicago Municipal Code provides:

"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."

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. If you have any questions regarding this post or have a question regarding personal injury law, please contact Illinois Bicycle Attorney Mike Keating at 312-239-6787 (Office) or 312-208-7702 (Nights/Weekends). Our staff and operators are available around the clock. You can also email Mike@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, April 3, 2018

Attorney Mike Keating's Article On Bike Share Liability Published In "Trial Magazine"

Since 2010, bike share usage has increased exponentially throughout the nation. Chicago's Divvy system has proven very popular since its inception. By their very design these systems allow anyone with a credit or bank card to rent a bicycle from a designated station, ride the bicycle for either recreation or as a transportation alternative, and then return the bicycle to one of many available stations. This leads to riders with a wide array of skill and experience levels on the roadways. The increase in bike share usage correlates to massive increases in bicycling overall and, unfortunately, injuries from bike accidents.

Keating Law Offices's attorney Mike Keating wrote an article entitled "Bike Share Roadblocks" that was published in the April edition of Trial Magazine. The article discussed the legal issues that can arise if the bike crash occurred due to some kind of flaw in the bike share bike or the bike share station.

Cities Can Claim "Immunity" From Some Bike Accidents

Typically states and local municipalities are protected by some form of immunity statutes and laws from premises liability, motor vehicle, and roadway design claims. In Illinois this law is known as the Local Government and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act. Under this law, the City can claim it is not responsible for some failures of the stations or bikes under the same argument that municipalities make about not being responsible for a dangerous sidewalk or roadway. So you should expect the municipality or local government and the affiliated companies who operate and maintain the bike share systems to raise a tort immunity defense since the system is operated in part by the city government.

Laws Should Protect Bicyclists

In the article Mike Keating argues that cities should not be able to hide behind tort immunity when riders allege they failed to provide safe stations and bicycles. It is the responsibility of the operators of these systems to provide reasonably safe stations and bicycles for its riders. Divvy and the City of Chicago have made efforts to keep the system running smoothly. But inevitably issues can arise and accidents can happen. In these instances it is important that an injured bicyclist know that there are legal arguments that can be made to protect their rights.

The Attorneys at Keating Law Offices Are National Leaders In Bicycle Litigation

Attorney Mike Keating, founder of Keating Law Offices, is one of the nation's leading attorneys who focuses his practice on bicycle litigation. Mike Keating has been the Chair of the Bicycle Litigation Committee for the American Association for Justice for the past five years. All of the attorneys at Keating Law Offices are experienced and skilled transportation litigation attorneys.

The firm's commitment to bicyclists is simple: Keating Law Offices is committed to assisting any bicyclist injured anywhere in Illinois at any time. The firm offers free legal consultations with absolutely no obligation. There are never any attorney's fees unless the firm makes a recovery on behalf of the bicyclist injured in a bike crash. If you have any questions regarding Illinois bicycle laws or laws affecting a case involving a bike accident, contact Keating Law Offices today.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Pedestrian Fatalities in Chicago Have Increased Every Year for 5 Straight Years

The Editorial Board of the Chicago Tribune recently published an Editorial asserting that while pedestrian fatalities in Chicago can be reduced through policy changes, the onus is on both drivers and pedestrians to be less distracted and more aware of their surroundings. This assertion has led to extensive discussion among Chicagoans as to just what the responsibilities are for a pedestrian versus a motorist. 

The Chicago Tribune's Editorial Board makes the point that both distracted drivers and distracted pedestrians can contribute to injuries of deaths. This is obviously true. However, what the Editorial Board fails to take into account is how much more vulnerable a pedestrian is than a motorist strapped behind a steel box equipped with an air bag. In addition, the reality is that it is the law throughout the Land of Lincoln that motorists must STOP for pedestrians in a crosswalk. There is no exception for pedestrians who are on a smart phone or looking in the other direction. Pedestrian have the right of way. This law is a relatively recent change from the old law that motorists only needed to slow for pedestrians in a cross walk. The change was made so that there was no confusion as to what "slow" meant and to implement pedestrian-friendly policies. 

Here is the change that was made to the law is in Illinois for pedestrians in a crosswalk:
(625 ILCS 5/11-1002) (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 11-1002) Sec. 11-1002. Pedestrians' right-of-way at crosswalks. 
(a) When traffic control signals are not in place or not in operation the driver of a vehicle shall stop and yield the right-of-way, slowing down or stopping if need be to so yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling, or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger.
One thing is certain: there has been a tragic surge in the number of pedestrian deaths on Chicago's streets. Up every year over the past five years, Chicago saw 46 fatalities in 2017 as compared to 27 in 2013 according to the City Transportation Department. More than 2,000 people are killed or seriously injured in traffic crashes in Chicago each year. An average of five people are seriously injured each day. These numbers are not just seen is the bustling metropolis of Chicago. Nationally, the number of pedestrians killed by cars rose from 4,699 in 2007 to 5,987 in 2016 — an increase of 27 percent.

The City of Chicago considers all traffic fatalities to be preventable and seeks to implement news policies through Vision Zero Chicago. Announced in June of 2017, this three-year action plan uses a data-driven, multi-agency approach for improving traffic safety for all road users with the goals of reducing the number of roadway crashes and eliminating traffic fatalities completely by 2026. Chicago is one of ten Focus Cities in the Vision Zero Network and its implementation comes as pedestrian deaths in Chicago continue to rise. Prioritizing human life and the safety of our streets, Vision Zero pushes for more safety education, intersection changes like curb “bump-outs” to shorten walking distances across streets (as seen in the Loop as part of the LINK system), and encouraging policies and technologies that make for safer vehicles and professional drivers. 

There is no one "magic bullet" that can solve the scourge of crashes involving pedestrians. But any solution must recognize that a pedestrian will always be vulnerable. City and state laws must be enforced and enacted to prioritize the risks facing pedestrians and ensure that pedestrians and motorists are not treated the same. 

Keating Law Offices is the premiere personal injury law firm representing vulnerable users of the roadways. The firm is based in Chicago, Illinois and represents clients throughout Illinois. 

Monday, January 8, 2018

Keating Law Offices' Tom Reuland Authors Article On The Dangers of Uber and Lyft

Trial Journal, the leading print publication of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, published an article by Attorney Tom Reuland of Keating Law Offices in its Winter 2018 volume. The article addresses important implications for car crashes involving ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft.
In his article, Tom Reuland analyzes Illinois' law on rideshare companies, the Transportation Network Providers Act, and discusses its nuances and application to personal injury cases in Chicago and Illinois. This Act is an important tool for people injured in a Chicago car crash to integrate into their litigation strategy. The Act’s insurance provisions can change the settlement and trial outcomes for people hurt in car crashes in Illinois with Uber, Lyft and other ride-sharing companies.  Not knowing all the laws and statutes applicable to a client’s injury can lead some attorneys to not fully compensate their clients for the harms that a motor vehicle collision can cause.
Attorney Tom Reuland, who was recently recognized as an “Emerging Lawyer” in Illinois, represents seriously injured pedestrians, bicyclists, drivers, and passengers who have been involved in motor vehicle crashes involving Uber and Lyft. Keating Law Offices is the premiere personal injury law firm representing victims of negligence in Illinois and has been on the cutting edge of litigation involving Uber and Lyft. The firm is based in Chicago, Illinois and represents clients throughout Illinois.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

New for 2018: Cycling Is The "Official" State Exercise Of The State of Illinois

Text of Public Act 100-0383 Designating Cycling as the official State Exercise of the State of Illinois
As of January 1, 2018, Cycling is the official State Exercise of the State of Illinois. This is an actual law in the State of Illinois under the "State Designations Act." This is also the most recent change in the past couple of years to Illinois laws related to bicycling. On January 1, 2017 "Dennis' Law" which went into effect and clarified that a bicycle was a "vehicle" under Illinois law and that bicyclists are absolutely entitled to all of the "rights" of a vehicle. Keating Law Offices represented Dennis Jurs' family in their civil case related to his fatal bike crash and worked with Illinois legislators on the passage of "Dennis' Law." On January 1, 2018 three new bicycle safety laws went into effect. These new laws allow bicyclists to legally use rear lights instead of reflectors, enhance protections under the law from passing vehicles, and allows bicyclists to ride on the shoulder.

This "official designation" does not provide any new protections or rights to bicyclists. However, this official designation does show the strong cycling culture that exists in Illinois and reflects the important role that cycling has playing in Illinois both historically and currently. The designation also serves as a point of reference that Illinois does place a priority and emphasis on bicycling when lobbying for further changes in the laws to protect bicyclists. And on a personal level for all of us bicyclists this official designation honors our passion and is a source of pride.

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. The firm has a main location in Chicago's Loop near the courthouse and also on Milwaukee Avenue in the West Town community.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

New Illinois Laws to Protect Bicyclists Go Into Effect In 2018

The New Bicycle Laws

Three new bicycle laws that were signed into law as Illinois Public Act 100-0359 went in to effect on January 1, 2018. This new legislation advances the rights of bicyclists and the role of bicycles in a modern transportation scheme in Illinois. This was a particularly impressive result by statewide bicycle advocacy group Ride Illinois.  The new law makes changes in Illinois bicycle laws within the Illinois Vehicle Code

Provides Bicyclists Enhanced Safety In No Passing Zones

The new law Amends Section 11-703 of the Illinois Vehicle Code, "Overtaking A Vehicle On The Left," to allow for a motor vehicle to pass a bicycle in a "no passing" zone as long as three conditions are met. First, the bicyclist is going less than half of the posted speed limit. Second, the motor vehicle does not have to speed in order to pass the bicyclists. Third, that the motor vehicles adheres to Illinois' "3-Foot Rule" and gives the bicyclist at least three feet when passing. 

Prior to this change a motorist could face a traffic ticket for passing a bicycle (a vehicle under state law) in a no passing zone. This statutory change mitigates against the risk of a driver claiming that the bicycle was causing a "back up" because faster moving motor vehicles could not legally go around the bicyclist. 

Allows Bicyclists To Legally Ride On The Shoulder 

The new changes also provide that a bicycle may drive on the shoulder. According to the prior version of Section 11-709.1 of the Illinois Vehicle Code, "Driving On the Shoulder," only emergency vehicles, authorized transit buses, some farm equipment, and service vehicles could legally ride on the shoulder. This change clarifies that bicycles can do what may be the most safe thing in some situations which is to ride on the shoulder as opposed to directly on the roadway.

Clarifies That Rear Red Lights May Be Used Instead Of Reflector 

The prior version of Section 11-1507 of the Illinois Vehicle Code, "Lights And Other Equipment On Bicycles," stated that a rear red reflector was required by bicyclists in all situations. Under the prior law, a rear red light could only be used in addition to the rear reflector. Under this illogical construction, a red light on its own, no matter how bright, was technically not sufficient but a lone red reflector could be allowed. This obviously made no sense practically. Illinois bicyclists now will be able to "ride legal" with a rear red light without having to also have a reflector. It is the experience of most  bicyclists that a rear red light, especially modern LED lights, makes the rider much more visible than just a reflector. 

The work by Ride Illinois in successfully advocating for all Illinois bicyclists should be applauded by every bicyclist in the state. This legislation is an important part of continually advancing the rights of Illinois bicyclists and advocating for safe bicycling in Illinois. These changes will increase the safety for Illinois bicyclists and reduce the risk of injuries and deaths from bicycle accidents and crashes. Please click here for more information on Ride Illinois and supporting the organization's important legislative and advocacy efforts. 

Bicycle Law Attorney Michael S. Keating

Attorney Mike Keating has extensive legislative experience and a history of fighting for the rights of bicyclists in Illinois. In 2016, he helped draft "Dennis' Law," the landmark legislation that clarified Illinois law to mandate that bicyclists receive the same rights to the "right-of-way" as drivers of motor vehicles and that bicycles were "vehicles." Mike Keating is one of the Chairs of the Legislative Committee for the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association where he reviews all legislation that might affect the rights of those injured in a bicycle crash. In addition, he is the Chair of the Bicycle Litigation Group for the American Association for Justice, the nation's largest trial lawyers organization. Mike previously served as the Assistant Counsel to the Illinois House of Representatives. 

Keating Law Offices

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. Keating Law Offices has recovered millions of dollars on behalf of hundreds of Illinois bicyclists who were injured through no fault of their own while bicycling. The firm is nationally recognized as leaders in bicycle litigation. 

Friday, December 15, 2017

Bicyclist Killed In Bridgeview In Crash With Motor Vehicle

A bicyclist was killed in suburban Bridgeview on Tuesday evening. The person was fatally struck by the driver of a motor vehicle while either walking or riding their bicycle. The crash occurred on the 87th Street Bridge between Oketo Avenue and 78th Avenue at about 6:50 p.m. The 87th Street bridge is a long bridge with multiple lanes. 

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" 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. In fact, the driver of the vehicle that killed the pedestrian was taken into custody by police and charges are pending.

There are specific sections of the Illinois Vehicle Code that protect individuals, whether they are walking or riding their bike, in situations such as this. Here are a few key sections of the 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 11-601 requires drivers to reduce the speed of their vehicle to avoid a collision.


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


Chicago Bicyclist Killed in Hit-and-Run in Humboldt Park

A 46-year old bicyclist was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver yesterday evening in the Humboldt Park neighborhood. The driver of a 2009 Saturn SUV struck the bicyclist from behind while pulling away from a stop sign in the 3800 block West Augusta Boulevard. The vehicle ran over the bicyclist and continued driving east on Augusta. 
If anyone has any information regarding this collision, please contact the Chicago Police Department by calling 311. Images of the scene indicate that there may be a City of Chicago surveillance camera at this intersection. 
It is of great concern that as we approach 2018 so many fatal bicycle vs. motor vehicle accidents continue to occur, even with all of the progress that has been made in improving safety and increasing rights for bicyclists on the road. This collision serves as a reminder to us all about the responsibility we each owe to one another. If you have been involved in a collision, the law imposes certain responsibilities on you; however, these responsibilities should come naturally as the only right thing to do. A bicycle vs. motor vehicle collision can often be more sensitive than a collision involving just motor vehicles because the bicyclist does not have the bodily protection of a vehicle. Therefore, it is even more critical that every driver stays at the scene of the collision in a bicycle vs. motor vehicle collision. It can be the difference between life and death if there is no one else around to render help to the injured bicyclist.
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."

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 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)."

This is the second death of a bicyclist in the Humboldt Park neighborhood this year. Early in 2017 Jezniah Smith was killed in a collision with an out of state driver in a rental car. Keating Law Offices represented Mr. Smith's family in the resolution of that case.