Friday, October 23, 2015

Chicago Bicyclist Injured When Tow Truck Makes Illegal "Right Hook" in Lincoln Park

A 38-year old Chicago bicyclist was injured in a crash with a tow truck in Lincoln Park early Thursday. The bicycle accident took place when both the bicyclist and the tow truck were travelling east on Fullerton Avenue and approaching Halsted Street near DePaul University. This is a six-corner intersection with Fullerton and Halsted intersected diagonally by Lincoln Avenue as well. There are bike lanes at or near this intersection on all three of these major Chicago streets. The official bike map for the City of Chicago clearly marks the presence of bike lanes on Fullerton, Halsted and Lincoln. 

Chicago Bicycle Crashes Often Occur At Intersections

According to the original news reports, the collision between the bicyclist and the Ford F-650 truck occurred when the driver of the tow truck apparently did not check the blind spot of the vehicle and turned across the bicyclist as the tow truck turned from Fullerton onto Halsted Street. 

Since the initial reports it has been clarified that the bicyclist was injured but not killed. As a result of the impact, the bicyclists was knocked off of her bicycle and suffered a head injury. Paramedics responded to the scene and transported the bicyclist to Illinois Masonic Hospital.

Chicago Bike Law Prohibits Right Hooks

This type of collision is what is known as a "right hook" turn and it is specifically prohibited by the law. Section 9-16-020 of the Municipal Code of Chicago specifically prohibits right turns in front of bicycles. The ordinance states:
When a motor vehicle and a bicycle are traveling in the same direction on any highway, street, or road, the operator of the motor vehicle overtaking such bicycle traveling on the right side of the roadway shall not turn to the right in front of the bicycle at that intersection or at any alley or driveway until such vehicle has overtaken and is safely clear of the bicycle.” 
In very simple terms, a motorist MUST make sure that they do not make a right turn in front of a bicyclist. This is particularly crucial in urban areas such as Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood where there is a large amount of bicycle traffic. In fact, immediately west of the intersection of Fullerton and Halsted there is a marked bike lane and signage indicating the presence of bicycles and other signs providing bicyclists directions. 

Chicago Police Department's Major Accident Investigation Unit (MAIU)

Given that this was an accident that involves serious bodily injury or death, the Chicago Police Department policy is that the Major Accidents Investigation Unit are to conduct a full investigation. The driver of the tow truck was issued a traffic ticket at the scene, but there are no further details as to the exact charge for the citation. 

The traffic laws in place are to protect all users of the roadway, including bicyclists. This collision could most likely have been avoided by the driver of the truck simply checking the blind spot of the vehicle before turning across Fullerton where the bike lanes on Fullerton and Halsted intersect and bicycle traffic is frequent and well known. 

Chicago Bicycle Attorneys - Keating Law Offices

Keating Law Offices 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. The founder of the firm, Mike Keating, is the current Chair of the Bicycle Litigation Committee of the American Association for Justice which is the nation's leading organization of trial lawyers. Mike Keating has been honored by SuperLawyers Magazine, The National Trial Lawyers Association, the Leading Lawyers Network among other honors and awards for his work as a trial attorney in 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 312-239-6787 (Office) or 312-208-7702 (Nights/Weekends). Our staff and operators are available around the clock. You can also 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All e-mails and phone calls are returned promptly. All initial consultations are confidential and free.