Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Jury Awards $213,000 To Chicago Bicyclist Doored in Chicago's Loop

A Cook County Jury has awarded a Chicago cyclist nearly $213,000.00 for injuries she sustained when she was doored in Chicago's Loop. The crash itself coincidentally happened on the Washington Street bike lane - across the street from the Daley Center courthouse where the jury trial was held. 

This monumental verdict and its importance as to the law protecting Chicago cyclists was the focus of a Block Club Chicago article by Chicago journalist Izzy Stoobandt

In June of 2017 the cyclist was riding to her job as a chef at a local restaurant on Michigan Avenue. The route was familiar to her and the final leg down the bright green protected bike lane on Washington Street was the final stretch. As she pedaled past Dearborn Street, the driver of a Lexus SUV pulled alongside her and partially onto the bike lane. A passenger in the backseat of the vehicle then swung the door immediately into the helmet of the cyclist. 

The impact from the door knocked the cyclist from her bicycle and she skidded along the bike lane. She later recalled briefly losing consciousness. As a result of the collision she sustained a concussion, severe road rash, and a herniated disc in her back. 

The jury trial focused on the actions of both the driver and the passenger. The injured bicyclist alleged that the driver was at fault for illegally parking on the bike lane. The allegation against the passenger was that she "doored" the cyclist by opening the vehicle door into the path of the cyclist. 

A local psychology professor was having lunch at the cafe next to the bike lane and witnessed the events. He testified that he was overcome by a feeling of shock and fear for the well being of the cyclist. His student was having lunch with the professor and she remembered the aftermath and her concern for the cyclist. Also at trial the responding Chicago Police Officer and one of the paramedics detailed what they observed and were told when they arrived at the scene.

The attorney hired by State Farm Insurance to represent the driver and the passenger denied that the defendants did anything wrong. Their argument was that this spot adjacent to the bike lane was the only available spot, that they put their hazard lights on, and that the door was already open when the cyclist rode into the door.  

The jury found the driver and his passenger who doored the cyclist 100% at fault for the crash. In the end t
he jury’s verdict forces State Farm to face an excess verdict that is over 400% of their offer on the courthouse steps to settle last week and is more than double the policy limits that the cyclist was willing to settle for years ago.

This verdict more than pays for the cyclist’s medical bills for an ambulance trip to the ER and doctor’s visits and the pay she lost due to being off work for a week.

This verdict also stands to show that Chicago’s bike lanes are for cyclists ONLY. Keating Law stands ready and willing to do whatever it takes to force justice for our clients and cyclist’s rights.