Thursday, June 18, 2015

$350,000.00 Settlement for Chicago Bicyclist Injured When Riding Over A Pothole

A Chicago bicyclist who was severely injured in April of 2011 in a bicycle accident after hitting a pothole next to a rail track was awarded a $350,000.00 settlement to resolve her lawsuit against a local railroad. The bicyclist sustained fractures of both bones in her forearm and the bone in her upper arm. These fractures required two separate surgeries to repair the injuries. 

Defective Track Conditions Can Be Dangerous To Bicyclists

The incident occurred on Chicago's Goose Island on the near North Side of Chicago while the bicyclist was riding home. The crash occurred as the bicyclist rode over the rail road tracks near the intersection of Magnolia and Blackhawk near the Chicago River. The area is just to the east of Elston near the Morton Salt depot. 

The railroad tracks at this location are inlaid in the street itself so they are flush with the pavement. The bicyclist was unable to see the pothole because it was on the far side of the tracks as she crossed over the set of the railroad tracks to the east. Adding to this dangerous condition was the fact that the pothole was dark in color and from a distance appeared to be a part of the rail track itself, not a submerged defect that was not flush with the street and the railroad track. 

As a result of the nature of the pothole, the bicyclist did not see the defect until she was literally over it and her front wheel became lodge in it. When the wheel became lodged, the bicyclist's momentum carried her "head over heels" over her front handlebars. She instinctively put out her hands to break her fall and due to the way she landed she unfortunately sustained the fractures in her arm. 

Illinois Railroads Required To Repair Dangerous Conditions

Railroads have unique responsibilities to maintain their property under Illinois law.  Section 18c-7401(1) of the Illinois Vehicle Code provides that the railroad was generally required to maintain and operate all of its tracks and other property in Illinois in a manner that posed “no undue risk” to the person of any member of the public. Section 18c-7401(3) of the Illinois Vehicle Code specifically required  the railroad to maintain its tracks, in this case the property adjacent the tracks, as well as the road crossing over its tracks so that the “roadway at the intersection shall be as flush with the rails as superelevated curves will allow.” In short, the Illinois Vehicle Code says that all railroads have to work to eliminate any risks near the tracks and to make the roadways next to tracks as even and flush as possible. 

Most interestingly is that during the case it was discovery that the railroad had conducted several inspections of the area in the weeks leading up to this bicycle accident, including an inspection the very day before the crash. It was also determined that the inspection would have required the railroad inspector to literally walk over the area where the pothole was. Yet, the railroad unfortunately did not take any steps to either note the condition nor take action to correct it. 

Faced with these facts and the severity of the injuries, the railroad agreed to participate in negotiations to resolve the case. The case settled after two separate Pre-Trial Settlement Conferences with a judge in the Circuit Court of Cook County. This $350,000.00 settlement compensates the injured bicyclist for all of her medical bills as well as her pain and suffering, loss of a normal life, and the scars she has from her injuries and the surgery.

Keating Law Offices - Chicago Bicycle Accident Attorneys

Ironically, the bicyclist met with another personal injury law firm in Chicago that she contacted after seeing their ads near a CTA platform. The attorneys at that law firm told the bicyclist that she did not have a case and that they were not interested in pursuing the case. The bicyclist then contacted Keating Law Offices who, after four years of litigating the case, were able to obtain a successful resolution for the injured bicyclist.

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 312-208-7702 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.