Wednesday, May 21, 2014

"Denied" Lawsuit Settled for Chicago Bicyclist Injured in Bike Accident at Congested Grand - Halsted - Milwaukee Intersection

The Illinois Bicycle Lawyers at the Keating Law Offices have successfully settled a lawsuit for a Chicago bicyclist who was seriously injured in a collision with a motor vehicle at the six-cornered intersection of West Grand Avenue, North Halsted Street and North Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago. At this intersection, Grand Avenue runs east and west, Halsted Street runs north and south and Milwaukee Avenue cuts through at a 45 degree angle, running southeast and northwest.  This complicated intersection is often congested at all hours of the day with all kinds of traffic, including bicyclists who use the popular bike lane on Milwaukee Avenue. 

One late night in February of 2013, the bicyclist was headed westbound on Grand Avenue near the six-way intersection on his way home from work at a restaurant near Millenium Park. At the same time, the motorist, who was traveling eastbound on West Grand Avenue, attempted to make a left turn onto northbound North Halsted Street. The motorist cut directly in front of the bicyclist and the two collided in the intersection. This type of collision is known as a "left hook" crash. 

The bicyclist immediately experienced intense pain throughout his body and was later diagnosed with multiple injuries. Most significantly the bicyclist learned he had suffered a broken left leg. The motorist, despite the well lit intersection, claims not to have seen the bicyclist. After taking both parties’ statements and reviewing physical evidence at the crash scene, the responding Chicago police officer determined that the motorist was at fault for failing to yield to the bicyclist. 

Chicago law is clear on a motorist’s duty to yield the right of way when making a left turn across traffic. Section 11-902 of the Illinois Motor Vehicle Code states:

"The driver of a vehicle intending to turn to the left within an intersection . . . shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction which is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard."
In simple terms, even though both the bicyclist and motorist had a green light, since the motorist was attempting to make a left turn across the westbound lanes of traffic and the bicyclist was headed straight through the intersection, the bicyclist had the right of way.  The motorist should have yielded to the bicyclist and when she didn't, the crash occurred and the bicyclist was injured.

Furthermore, the Chicago Municipal Code also makes it clear that a motorist’s claim not to have seen a bicyclist is not a valid excuse. The Code specifically offers legal protection to the bicyclists by requiring motorists to utilize "due care" in driving around bicyclists. 
The requirement to exercise “due care” basically means that all motorists are required to operate their vehicles in a careful, reasonable and safe manner. This requirement varies case by case, depending on things such as traffic conditions, weather conditions and time of day. In this case, the “due care” requirement for a motorist driving through this particular six-way intersection late at night necessarily included the responsibility to look out for the numerous bicyclists that utilize Milwaukee Avenue's bike lane. 

The injured bicyclist came to the Illinois Bicycle Lawyers at the Keating Law Offices for legal advice. Despite the facts of the case and the early determination by the police officer, the claim had been initially denied by the insurance company and its lawyers. The insurance company argued that the motorist did nothing wrong and it was not her fault she couldn't see the bicyclist at night. 

However,  we felt that the argument was superficial at best. After filing a lawsuit and litigating the case, Attorneys Mike Keating and Joseph Vietri were able to settle the lawsuit and compensate the injured bicyclist for his 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 type of “damage” that can be compensated for under Illinois law. It “includes a person’s inability to pursue the pleasurable aspects of life.” 

Unfortunately for this bicyclist, his serious injuries greatly limited his daily life. An avid bicyclist and father to a young child, the bicyclist was unable to ride his bicycle or care for his young child for some time following the crash.
Keating Law Offices is the premiere Chicago law firm concentrating its practice on representing victims of bicycle accidents and 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: Office: 312-239-6787 or Cell: 312-208-7702 or, any time of the day, any day of the week. All emails and phone calls are promptly returned. All initial consultations are confidential and free.