Friday, August 9, 2013

Keating Law Offfices Settles Case For Bicycle Commuter Injured In Harvey for $550,000.00

The Illinois Bicycle Lawyers of Keating Law Offices have reached a settlement in excess of half a million dollars on behalf of a Chicago bicyclist struck by a school bus in Harvey, Illinois on December 9, 2011. At the time of the bicycle accident, the bicyclist lived in Chicago and worked at a school in Harvey. Her typical commute involved riding her collapsible bicycle to the Metra station in Chicago, taking the Metra to the station near Harvey, and then riding the bicycle to her school. She was a committed bicyclist who rode in all weather year round.

On the day of the collision, the bicyclist was taking her usual route back to the Metra station and rode north on Wallace Street towards  147th Street. Because there was not a designated bicycle lane, the bicyclist was appropriately riding on the right edge of the traffic lane in accordance with the Illinois Rules of the Road. At the same time, the bus driver was about to exit a school parking lot and turn left onto southbound Wallace Street. This path of the bus required the bus driver to cut across the bicyclist's lane of traffic. As the bus driver exited the school's private driveway, the driver claims his vision was obstructed by the sun and this limited his ability to see the bicyclist. As a result, the bus driver did not yield to the oncoming bicyclist, entered the roadway, and struck the bicyclist's right knee with the front bumper of the school bus. This threw the bicyclist to the ground and towards the center of Wallace Street. 

The Harvey Police Department responded to the scene and found the victim of the collision laying in the middle of the street. The victim was soon transported to the emergency room in an ambulance. An initial evaluation revealed that the victim suffered a badly fractured tibial plateau, which is the top of her shin bone, and other injuries. The bicyclist's tibial fracture required reconstructive surgery and a lengthy period of rehabilitation.

The Harvey Police Officer who responded to the scene conducted an investigation and issued a citation to the bus driver under 625 ILCS 5/11-906. This statute states,"The driver of a vehicle about to enter or cross a highway from an alley, building, private road or driveway shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles approaching on the highway to be entered." Bicycles qualify as "vehicles" under the Illinois Rules of the Road according to 625 ILCS 5/11-1502. The Illinois Bicycle Lawyers of Keating Law Offices relied upon the failure to yield statute  as well as the general common law duty to keep a proper lookout in advocating on behalf of the victim. It was later learned during the investigation of the case that the bus driver was fired from his job for his part in this unfortunate collision and a series of other problems at his job. 

Despite this unfortunate past history, the attorneys for the bus company raised several defenses, including that the victim was on the wrong part of the road at the time of the collision and that it was not their fault that the sun obstructed the bus driver's ability to see the bicyclistWith respect to the bus driver's argument that the victim was riding in the private drive at the time of the collision, the Illinois Bicycle Lawyers referenced the victim's testimony, the responding officer's testimony, and the bus driver's own testimony to prove that the bus driver had in fact entered the roadway by the time the collision occurred. 

In response to the argument that the bus driver's vision was obstructed, the Illinois Bicycle Lawyers relied upon a series of Illinois legal cases which establish that an individual cannot escape a claim of negligence by stating that he did not see something he should have observed if he was exercising ordinary care. In addition, we analogized the driver's argument to an Illinois case which states that it is negligence as a matter of law to proceed when blinded by the headlights of an oncoming vehicle. In essence, we established that there is no excuse under Illinois law for failing to yield to the right-of-way due to obstructed vision. Drivers are required to use an alternate route, seek assistance from others, or find any other method to overcome their inability to clearly see the roadway they intend to enter. 

In reaching such a high settlement amount, the Illinois Bicycle Lawyers emphasized the victim's significant medical expenses, lost wages, permanent disability, significant pain and suffering, and loss of a normal life. In addition, we hired an orthopedic surgeon who is a national leader in knee injuries to examine our client and review her medical records to determine the severity of her injuries. This expert physician helped establish the cost of future surgical operations and medical treatment the victim will almost certainly require. 

The Illinois Bicycle Attorneys at Keating Law Offices are national leaders in the field of bicycle-related claims and lawsuits. The firm is currently litigating more bicycle related cases in courtrooms in Illinois than any other law firm in the state. In the process we  have reached numerous successful results on behalf of injured bicyclists. This settlement is one of the largest personal injury settlements ever in Illinois for injuries stemming from a bicycle accident that did not result in death or paralysis.

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