Monday, May 12, 2014

Claim Settled for Bicyclist Injured in Bicycle Crash with Taxi Cab

Eastbound Lake Street approaching Michigan Avenue: Scene of bicycle accident with taxi cab.
Illinois Bicycle Lawyers Michael S. Keating and Joseph T. Vietri have secured a substantial settlement for a bicycle commuter who was struck by a taxi cab near the busy intersection of Michigan Avenue and Lake Street in Chicago in September of 2011. The collision occurred in the middle of the day on September 13, 2011 as both the bicyclist and the taxi cab were headed eastbound on Lake Street.

The bicyclist was riding her bicycle along Lake Street when the taxi driver unexpectedly and without warning crossed over into her path, striking the bicyclist and knocking her to the street. This action was in violation of the City of Chicago and State of Illinois bicycle laws that are very clear on the responsibility of motorists who drive near bicyclists. 

Eastbound Lake Street is clearly marked as a a bicycle route by the Chicago Department of Transportation as indicated by the signage in this photograph. Signage serves the purpose of not only identifying a route for bicyclists, but also serves as notice to motorists that this is a roadway where bicycles are most likely going to be part of the traffic pattern.

CDOT Sign One Block Before Bicycle Accident Indicating that Eastbound Lake Street is a Bicycle Route to the Lakefront.
Generally speaking, all motorists have the duty to exercise due care when driving on the streets of Chicago. 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. The precise language of the statute as it applies to this bicycle accident is 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 power and shall give warning by sounding the horn when necessary.
Specifically, the taxi cab driver did not give the bicyclist the legally mandated "3 Feet" between the bicyclist and the motor vehicle. It is important to note that the law does not require "3 Feet" between the bicycle and motor vehicle, but a "safe distance" that the statute provides is a minimum of three feet. In other words, the law essentially provides that there should be more than three feet between the human powered vehicle and the motor vehicle. Section 11-703 of the Illinois Vehicle Code provides as follows: 
Overtaking a vehicle on the left. The following rules govern the overtaking and passing of vehicles proceeding in the same direction, subject to those limitations, exceptions, and special rules otherwise stated in this Chapter:

(d) The operator of a motor vehicle overtaking a bicycle or individual proceeding in the same direction on a highway shall leave a safe distance, but not less than 3 feet, when passing the bicycle or individual and shall maintain that distance until safely past the overtaken bicycle or individual.

The bicyclist sustained multiple injuries as a result of the impact. She was taken to the emergency room, complaining of pain throughout her entire body, intense tingling in her right arm, and severe pain in her right ankle and left hand. She suffered numerous abrasions and contusions all over her body, most severely on her right ankle and left hand.

Shortly thereafter, the bicyclist began to suffer excruciating pain in her upper back and neck. The bicyclist continued to experience aches and pains throughout her back for over a month following the collision, as well as pain radiating down her left arm.

The Illinois Bicycle Lawyers made a claim with the taxi cab’s insurance carrier for the bicyclist’s injuries, medical bills, pain and suffering, and loss of a normal life. “Loss of a normal life” is defined as “the temporary or permanent diminished ability to enjoy life,” and is a "damage" that can be compensated for under Illinois laws. Loss of a normal life “includes a person’s inability to pursue the pleasurable aspects of life.” Unfortunately for this rider, her injuries also meant time off of her bike while she recuperated.

Here, the bicyclist sustained a temporary diminished ability to ride her bike and engage in the daily activities to which she was generally accustomed. Her sleep patterns were constantly interrupted by pain and she was unable to engage in daily activities. Even something as simple as sitting down was a painful experience. This compromised the bicyclist’s ability to enjoy her life the way she wanted. “Loss of a normal life” varies from person to person and from case to case. Under Illinois law, anyone injured in a bicycle crash caused by someone else is eligible for compensation for their “loss of a normal life.”

After literally years of litigating and negotiating with the cab company and the cab company's insurance carriers, the claim was ultimately settled very favorably in favor of the bicyclist. The bicyclist has since gotten back on the bike and continues to enjoy bicycling in Chicago.

Keating Law Offices is the premiere law firm that concentrates its practice on representing victims of bicycle accidents and bicycle crashes in 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 312-208-7702 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.