Friday, March 7, 2014

Lawsuit on Behalf of 70-Year Old Schaumburg Bicyclist Settled After Insurance Company Initially Denies Claim

Illinois Bicycle Lawyers Michael S. Keating and Joseph T. Vietri recently secured a personal injury settlement for a Schaumburg, Illinois bicyclist who was injured in a bicycle versus motor vehicle collision. The bicyclist's claim was originally denied by the driver's insurance company. A denial of liability is a position by an insurance company that, while there may have been an incident resulting in an injury, their insured driver was not responsible and therefore the insurance company does not have to provide insurance coverage. However, the attorneys at Keating Law Offices refused to accept this denial and filed a lawsuit on behalf of the injured bicyclist. The law firm ultimately secured the injured bicyclist a substantial settlement through litigation.

The incident occurred on June 15, 2012 as the 70 year-old bicyclist was traveling westbound on Grove Avenue at its intersection with Mercury Drive in Schaumburg. The bicyclist had traveled the same route around his neighborhood every morning for 8 years prior to the collision. Based on the layout of the roadways, the bicyclist had the right of way as he was riding through the T-intersection of Mercury Drive and Grove Avenue. 

At the same time the motorist was attempting to make a left-hand turn from eastbound Grove Avenue onto northbound Mercury Drive. The driver failed to see the bicyclist and proceeded to make his left turn in the direct path of the bicyclist. Just before striking the bicyclist the driver slammed on the breaks. Fearing imminent impact, the bicyclist jumped from his bicycle to the street. As a result of this incident, the bicyclist was knocked unconscious and sustained a fractured finger as well as a gash above his right eye that required stitches.

The driver told the investigating police officer that he never initiated the left turn and that the bicyclist lost consciousness and fell from his bike for reasons unknown. To his credit, the responding police officer didn't buy the driver's story and issued him a traffic ticket. 

Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the driver’s insurance company chose to believe the driver’s improbable story and denied the bicyclist's claim. In denying the claim, the insurance company alleged that the bicyclist “fainted or otherwise lost consciousness for reasons unrelated to any conduct” the driver’s conduct. Further, the insurance company alleged that the driver was not liable for the bicyclist’s injuries because there was no contact between the vehicle and the bicyclist.

Upon notice of the denial of liability, Keating Law Offices filed a lawsuit against the driver in the Circuit Court of Cook County. The firm immediately began preparing the case for trial. Throughout the case, the attorneys at Keating Law Offices were able to discover and present evidence that showed that the bicyclist’s fall and resulting injuries were caused solely by the defendant driver’s failure to yield the right-of-way to the bicyclist.

The investigating police officer testified in his deposition (a transcribed statement under oath) that his investigation led him to conclude that the driver’s story was false and that that defendant driver’s failure to yield the right-of-way to the bicyclist was the cause of the incident. Significantly, under oath at his deposition, the defendant driver recounted his original story to the police officer and admitted that he did not see the bicyclist approaching from the opposite direction and thus proceeded to make his left turn. The defendant further admitted that he slammed his breaks just before striking the bicyclist, thus causing the bicyclist to fall from his bike.

Despite the assertion of the defendant’s insurance company, whether or not there was actual contact between the defendant’s vehicle and the bicyclist was inconsequential. Section 11-703 of the of the Illinois Vehicle Code strictly prohibits drivers from operating a motor vehicle unnecessarily close to, toward, or near a bicyclist. Thus, the fact that there was no contact between the vehicle and the bicyclist was legally irrelevant.

Ultimately, the insurance company and its attorneys were forced to conclude that their initial position was wrong and that the injured bicyclist had a valid and meritorious claim. With their backs to the wall, the defendant’s insurance company offered to pay the bicyclist’s medical bills. The offer failed to account for the pain and suffering and loss of a normal life incurred by the bicyclist. Thus, the offer was rejected and the Illinois Bicycle Lawyers continued to prepare the case for trial. The defendant driver’s insurance company ultimately agreed at a mediation to pay several multiples of the bicyclist’s medical bills in order to settle the lawsuit.

The Illinois Bicycle Lawyers at Keating Law Offices are the top law firm in Chicago, 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 the rest of Illinois. 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 or 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All e-mails and phone calls are returned promptly. All initial consultations are confidential and free.