Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Winter Solstice Brings Winter And A Reminder To Use A Bike Light

December 21st marks the Winter Solstice for 2021. The Winter Solstice occurs when the North Pole is tilted the farthest from the sun and there is the least amount of daylight. After the Winter Solstice the days slowly get longer until then end of January when we gain two minutes of sunlight each day. While that doesn't sound that far away, there are some long and dark nights ahead of us. 

These long nights in winter mean that Illinois bicyclists who commute to work via their bikes will be riding home in the dark. It is important to note that a headlight not only gives you greater visibility while riding and makes you more visible to drivers, but it is also the law throughout Illinois. 

Bicyclists riding at nighttime must have the following on their bikes according to Illinois Bicycle Law:
  1. A lamp on the front that emits a white light that can be seen for 500 feet; and
  2. A red reflector visible from 100 to 600 feet by a car with its headlights on.
 The law from the Illinois Vehicle Code reads as follows: 

625 ILCS 5/11‑1507) (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 11‑1507) Lamps and other equipment on bicycles.
(a) Every bicycle when in use at nighttime shall be equipped with a lamp on the front which shall emit a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front and with a red reflector on the rear of a type approved by the Department which shall be visible from all distances from 100 feet to 600 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of headlamps on a motor vehicle. A lamp emitting a red light visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear may be used in addition to the red reflector.
Curiously, this Section of the Illinois Vehicle Code provides that a red light visible from 500 feet may be used in conjunction with the rear red reflector. This is somewhat awkward because it would make sense to allow a red light visible from 500 feet instead of a red reflector that may only be visible from as little as 100 feet. 

I'll give the drafters of this law the benefit of the doubt and conclude that this addition was to encourage bicyclists to use red lights on their bikes yet, at the same time, realize that many cyclists might only have the usual red reflector available. Illinois law (as well as sound safety measures) require the use of a headlight and a reflector and at least encourages the use of a rear red light. With these long winter nights ahead, the use of a headlight and a taillight will get you home safely - and legally in Illinois.

About Keating Law Offices

Keating Law Offices’ experienced bicycle accident lawyers have a long record of case results for clients and are considered national leaders in bicycle law. We are also bicyclists who are very active in Chicago’s cycling community. We put a lot of milesA on our bikes, support bike advocacy groups, and sponsor road bike and cyclocross bike races in Illinois.

Attorney Michael Keating is well known in Illinois as a leading legal authority on cyclists’ rights. He serves as the Chair of the American Association of Justice’s Bicycle Litigation Committee. Mike has been the featured speaker on bicycle law at legal seminars and published articles about bike safety in legal journals. Recognized as a leading authority on bicycle law, Mike has been interviewed on NBC, ABC, FOX and CBS news, as well as in numerous print publications including the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Chicago Cyclist Killed In Crash With Semi-Truck On Ashland Avenue

The Chicago cycling community is again faced with another tragedy due to the death of a young cyclist on Friday night. According to the Chicago Police Department, the fatal crash occurred at approximately 10:20 a.m. on Friday, December 10th in the 4000 block of South Ashland Avenue. This is a stretch of Ashland Avenue that is heavily trafficked with semi-trucks and other industrial traffic due to the nearby Norfolk Southern Railyard and accompanying rail road tracks.

According to the Illinois Traffic Crash Report, the collision occurred when a truck driver turned a 2017 International tractor and connected trailer right across the bicyclist as the truck turned from Ashland Avenue into the driveway of a business. The truck driver reportedly never saw the cyclist and was only aware of the collision because he heard the sound of the contact. The responding Chicago police officers ultimately ticketed for failure to exercise due care in the presence of a cyclist. The driver has a January court date at the Daley Center in Chicago.

Right Hook Crashes

This turn would put the semi-truck across the path of an oncoming cyclist. This type of crash is what is known as a "right-hook" collision. In Chicago, the Chicago Municipal Code addresses this scenario. Section 9-16-020 of the Municipal Code of Chicago specifically prohibits right turns in front of bicycles. The infographic at the bottom of this post details right-hook and left-hook bicycle crashes.

The City of Chicago's 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.”
Illinois and Federal Laws Address Duties of Truck Drivers

There are specific state and national laws that apply to drivers of commercial trucks. The drivers of commercial trucks are expected to be professionals and drive with the utmost care. These drivers are typically required to carry a Commercial Drivers License (CDL). These rules and regulations exist not just in state and local laws, but also in federal regulations. 

Here are some of the key laws that apply to a bicycle crash of this nature:
  • 49 C.F.R. Section 383.111 of the Code of Federal Regulations requires a professional driver to recognize and avoid potential hazards at all times.
  • 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.
A Loss of A Life

Often lost in the details of news stories is the person who lost their life. Many in the Chicago cycling community have posted heartfelt tributes to the cyclist and planned an upcoming memorial on the 606 trail. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the cyclist. May he rest in peace.

About Keating Law Offices

Keating Law Offices is the premiere personal injury law firm representing victims of bicycle crashes in Illinois. The firm is based in Chicago, Illinois with locations in Chicago's West Town Neighborhood and the Loop. The firm was founded by attorney Mike Keating who is the Chair of the Bicycle Litigation Committee for the American Association for Justice. The firm has successfully represented hundreds of cyclists and their families. Through the years the firm has earned a reputation as trusted and valued member of Chicago's cycling community. 

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). The firm has staff that also speaks fluent Spanish and Polish. 

Our staff and operators are available around the clock. You can also email Mike@KeatingLegal.com 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All e-mails and phone calls are returned promptly. All initial consultations are confidential and free.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

$300,000.00 Settlement for Injured Triathlete Shows Importance of Fighting for Underinsured Motorist Insurance Coverage

Last spring on a beautiful day a local bicyclist and her adult daughter went on a bicycle ride through Naperville. Their pleasant day was cut short when a motorist failed to notice them and turned immediately in front of the bicyclists. The daughter was able to avoid the driver but the other bicyclist slammed into the side of the motor vehicle and was thrown off of her bicycle. She landed hard and struck her head in the process.
The Naperville police issued a citation to the motorist for failing to yield the right of way to the bicyclists. The driver of the motor vehicle - who had a troubled history of traffic tickets - pled guilty to the ticket in court and was fined and sentenced to supervision. 

The bicyclist was taken by ambulance to the hospital. Radiological exams later showed that the bicyclist suffered severe injuries including a lacerated spleen and a fractured left rib. The exams also showed some bleeding in the brain but doctors later considered this condition to be the result of a pre-existing condition and not necessarily directly related to the crash. The bicyclist was required to stay in the hospital for days while under observation, a circumstance made even more painful when she couldn't have any visitors due to Covid-19 precautions at the hospital. 

Underinsured Motorist Coverage 

The insurance company for the driver immediately paid the $100,000.00 policy limits for the claim. The driver was clearly at fault and the bicyclist suffered serious injuries. However, this case became complicated when pursuing additional insurance. 

The bicyclist and her husband also had what is known as Underinsured Motorist Coverage as a part of their insurance coverage with their insurance company. This Underinsured Motorist Coverage is for exactly this type of situation where the settlement value of the insurance claim far exceeded the $100,000.00 available through the driver's insurance company. In this instance the injured bicyclist was eligible for an additional $200,000.00 in insurance coverage. 

As her attorneys on the case, we immediately made what is known as a "policy limits demand" of the bicyclist's insurance company. In Illinois, the Illinois Insurance Code requires insurance companies to promptly pay valid claims. However, in this instance the bicyclist's insurance company attempted to claim that because the brain issue may have been pre-existing, that they did not have to provide insurance coverage. The insurance company flat out denied the claim.

Attorney Mike Keating refused to accept this argument and the denial. The reality is that in Illinois our laws provide protections for injured persons even in a situation such as this. What the insurance company failed to take into account was that the bicyclist was a nationally ranked triathlete in her age group. She obviously was not suffering from any kind of ailment. In other words, the insurance company was trying to take advantage of the situation to not pay the claim. 

Illinois Law on Pre-Existing Injuries

In law school we are taught about the "egg shell skulled" injured person. This old analogy is used to teach that even if someone is very fragile, an insurance company should not argue that an injury happened because of who they are. If they're legitimately injured, they're legitimately injured and the insurance company should provide insurance coverage to compensate the injured person. For example, you can't compare a senior citizen to an N.F.L. linebacker. 

Insurance companies are required to follow the personal injury laws in Illinois. In Illinois the law is that an injury can be proven to be "caused" by an incident even if it is a combination of factors that cause the injury. This is what is known as "proximate cause" and in Illinois the definition of that is "A cause that, in the natural or ordinary course of events, produced the plaintiff's injury. It need not be the only cause, nor the last or nearest cause. It is sufficient if it combines with another cause resulting in the injury.” In this case it was the pre-existing condition combined with the crash that led to the injuries. 

Moreover, in Illinois an insurance company can not claim that an injury was "only an aggravation" or "just a pre-existing condition" that caused the injury. If the injured person legitimately gets hurt, then the insurance company should provide coverage. This is how Illinois law is written on this issue, "You may not deny or limit the plaintiff's right to damages resulting from this occurrence because any injury resulted from an aggravation of a pre-existing condition or a pre-existing condition which rendered the plaintiff more susceptible to injury.”

Experienced Attorneys Are Here To Help

This case was a prime example of where experience and dedication to the case made all the difference. Refusing to "accept no for an answer" and continuously pushing back on the insurance company's misguided evaluation made a substantial difference to this client. Also, by aggressively pursuing the case from the onset both insurance claims were resolved relatively quickly given these issues. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Chicago Bicyclist Killed In Collision With Van In Jefferson Park

The Chicago Sun-Times reported that a 59-year-old man named Thomas Travers passed away on Monday July 26, 2021 after being struck by a van on North Milwaukee Avenue. The collision occurred in the northwest side neighborhood of Jefferson Park. Mr. Travers spent two days at St. Francis Hospital in Evanston, Illinois after the crash where he sadly passed away due to the multiple injuries he sustained from the accident.

The crash occurred in the afternoon of July 24, 2021, on the busy road of the 5300 block of North Milwaukee Avenue. Milwaukee Avenue is a popular street among cyclists in Chicago because of the miles of designated bike lanes that cross throughout the different neighborhoods in the city. The bike lanes of Milwaukee Avenue are used by cyclists of all ages riding throughout the day.

Although the report has limited details about the accident, the Chicago Sun-Times states Mr. Travers was traveling in the bike lane while having to "weave" around at times. This would seem to imply that the bicyclist was entirely at fault. However, the Municipal Code of Chicago mandates that every driver use extra caution to avoid crashing with a pedestrian or bicyclist on the road. 

Section 9-40-160 of the Municipal Code states 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 or animal power, upon any roadway, and shall give warning by sounding the horn when necessary and shall exercise proper precautions upon observing any child or any confused or incapacitated person upon a roadway."
Stated differently, drivers are required to be extra cautious and give a warning in order to avoid a collision with a pedestrian and a bicyclist in ALL situations and take extra care if the person appears to be confused or incapacitated. 

The tragic death of Mr. Travers is another unfortunate reminder of the dangers we all face while riding on the road. Although the 5300 block of North Milwaukee Avenue has a clearly marked bike lane as shown above, the paint that makes the bike lane is not enough to keep cyclists in our community safe. Our prayers are with the loved ones of Thomas Travers.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Chicago Boy Killed in Collision with Modified Truck Driven by Chicago Police Officer

A Chicago police officer tragically ran over and killed a 9-year old Chicago boy who was crossing the street on his bicycle. Chicago is in shock over one of the most tragic deaths of a Chicago bicyclist in the city's history. Beyond the massive tragedy, the death of 9-year old Hershel Weinberger in West Rogers Park stands out for many reasons: the young age of the victim, the vehicle involved and the status of the driver of the vehicle.

According to an interview with the father of the boy, Shamai Weinberger, to the Chicago Tribune, young Hershel Weinberger was riding his bicycle home from a friend's house. As Hershel was riding eastbound he crossed the intersection of West Chase Avenue and North Sacramento Avenue. This intersection is notable because it is a four-way stop with both stop signs at every corner and crosswalks across all four crossings at the intersection. So there was both a clear traffic control device in the form of a stop sign and a clearly marked crosswalk notifying drivers twice that they must stop at the intersection.

Chicago Police Officers Held To Higher Standards

Despite the requirements that drivers stop at stop signs and stop for anyone in a crosswalk the driver of the Toyota Tundra did not stop and struck the boy. This is a senseless and preventable act in any situation but is even more shocking because the driver was an off-duty Chicago Police Officer. All drivers are required to follow the Rules of the Road as found in both the Illinois Vehicle Code and the Chicago Municipal Code. 

Beyond this, a Chicago Police Officer is required to "serve and protect." The Mission Statement of the Chicago police department is "To serve our communities and protect the lives, rights, and property of all people in Chicago.The "Core Values of the Chicago Police Department" explicitly state that Chicago Police Officers are a part of a "highly trained profession" and that they are to conduct themselves in a consistent manner both on and off duty. 

Violations of Chicago and Illinois Traffic Laws

News reports indicate that the driver was cited for failure to "exercise due care." In Chicago this is a violation of a general provision applicable to all drivers. It is unclear why the Chicago Police Department would not cite the driver for failing to stop at the stop sign and failing to stop at the crosswalk. It is possible that upon reviewing the case that the Cook County State's Attorney's Office could file additional charges. 

The basic facts of the case suggest that there were additional violations of the Illinois Vehicle Code:
  • Section 11-1003.1 states: “[E]very 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 . . . .”
  • Section 5/11-1002(e) states: “Whenever stop signs or flashing red signals are in place at an intersection or at a plainly marked crosswalk between intersections, drivers shall yield right-of-way to pedestrians as set forth in Section 11-904 of this Chapter.”
  • Section 11-904(b) requires drivers approaching a stop sign to come to a complete stop before entering a crosswalk at an intersection and to yield to the right-of-way of any vehicle that has entered the intersection.
  • Section 11-601 requires drivers to reduce the speed of their vehicle to avoid a collision.
Children Expected to Ride on Sidewalk

This young boy was clearly the victim and played no role in what occurred. In Chicago a child under the age of 12 may permissibly ride their bicycle on the sidewalk. This law exists for the sole purpose of providing children a safer place to ride than the roadway. 

Any bicyclist crossing on a crosswalk is also considered a "pedestrian" under the circumstances. Section 5/11-1512(c) of the Illinois Vehicle Code specifically provides that, “A person propelling a bicycle upon and along a sidewalk, or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk, shall have all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances.”

Truck Involved Aggressively Modified

The Toyota Tundra involved was not a typical passenger vehicle. In fact, the vehicle is not even a typical Toyota Tundra. The Chicago Police Officer was driving a heavily modified Toyota Tundra pick-up truck. A Toyota Tundra is a very large pick-up truck to begin with weighing over 5,000 pounds - in other words the truck weighs over two and a half tons. Video of the truck shows several obvious modifications. 

First the truck has a "lift" which is the terms used when additional suspension is added to the vehicle so that it can ride over terrain more easily and in the process literally raises the height of the vehicle. Images from news video from the scene shows that persons standing next to the vehicle, even a person standing on the curb, were not as tall as the roofline of the truck. The truck's lift is so extreme that it is outfitted with "step bars" because otherwise the truck is too big to climb into. Second, the vehicle is outfitted with knobby oversized tires such as those typically found on vehicles utilized for off roading. Third, the truck has a "bully bar" which is typically found on police and military vehicles that are used to push objects with the front of the vehicle. 

This truck was modified in a way that is suited only for off-roading in difficult terrain. This is not a vehicle that serves any reasonable purpose on residential streets in a quiet part of Chicago. 

A Senseless Loss

This tragic death could have been prevented on many levels. The simple act of following the Illinois and Chicago vehicle laws - the very laws the officer swore to uphold - would have prevented this death. In addition the sheer size and aggression of this vehicle created a nightmare scenario that may not have unfolded the same way if it was even a modest passenger vehicle. 

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Victim of Right Hook in Des Plaines Bike Lane Receives $405,000.00 Settlement

A Chicago bicyclist received a $405,000.00 settlement for injuries he sustained in June of 2018 when he was injured in a "right hook" crash. The driver involved in the crash claimed that she never struck the cyclist and that the cyclist was in large part to blame for the crash. However, an investigation and legal analysis by Keating Law Offices showed that the cyclist was in no way at fault and responsibility for this crash was 100% on the driver and her insurance company. 

Just before the crash the bicyclist was riding his bicycle in the designated shared bike lane northbound on North Des Plaines Street. The cyclist is a very experienced cyclist who was very familiar with the area. The photo above shows the green bike lane and sharrow on Des Plaines as it approaches the intersection of Des Plaines, Milwaukee and Kinzie. At the same time the driver was moving northbound on North Des Plaines Street near its intersection with West Kinzie Street. 

As the driver approached Kinzie she quickly turned right across the green bike lane. The driver never checked for the cyclist and turned right in from of him and caused him to crash. The cyclist struck the vehicle and then flew over his handlebars and crashed onto the road way. 

The presence of bicyclists in this area could not be more obvious. The Des Plaines bike lane is literally painted green and there was a sharrow next to the bike lane. This location is mere feet from where the bike lane intersects with the Milwaukee Avenue bike lane and the Kinzie Street bike lane. Bicyclists routinely flood this intersection and there is no reason to think that was any different than at the time of this crash in the middle of the day in June.   

The driver also violated provisions of the Municipal Code of Chicago and the Illinois Vehicle Code in making this illegal "right hook" turn into the cyclist. 
  • Section 9-16-020(f) of the Municipal Code of Chicago is the "Right-Hook Law." It states that “When a motor vehicle and a bicycle are traveling in the same direction on any 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 until such vehicle has overtaken and is safely clear of the bicycle.” (See also 625 ILCS 5/11-1003.1 of the Illinois Vehicle Code.)
  • Section 11-804 of the Illinois Vehicle Code also states that, “No person may turn a vehicle at an intersection unless the vehicle is in proper position upon the roadway or otherwise turn a vehicle from a direct course or move right upon a roadway unless and until such movement can be made with reasonable safety.” (625 ILCS 5/11-804). 
The cyclists suffered broken ribs, a punctured lung, and a fractured vertebrae in his back. The injuries required him to miss several months of work and endure lots of doctors visits and physical therapy. Fortunately, the cyclist is charging forward with his life and his career and this substantial settlement will help him as he moves forward. 

The cyclist originally tried to handle the case on his own until a co-worker recommended bicycle law attorney Mike Keating. Keating Law Offices filed a case in the Circuit Court of Cook County and secured this settlement in a Pre-Trial Conference with a Cook County trial judge. This settlement was completed within months of the case being filed and even with the delays caused by the courthouse being physically closed. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Kevin Clark, Chicago Cyclist and Noted Musician, Killed in Bicycle vs. Car Crash

Multiple news agencies are reporting that Chicago cyclist and noted musician Kevin Clark was killed in a bicycle crash early Wednesday in Chicago's Avondale neighborhood. Kevin was riding eastbound on Logan Boulevard across Western Avenue when he was struck by a Hyundai Sonata travelling southbound on Western Avenue. Early reports indicate that the light for eastbound Logan Boulevard was red at the time of the crash and the driver was proceeding through the intersection on a green light. 

However, news reports also indicate that the 20-year old driver was issued traffic tickets for undisclosed violations and that an investigation by the Chicago Police Department was still ongoing. It is very likely that the Chicago Police Department's Major Accidents Investigation Unit (MAIU) is involving in the crash given that it is a tragic fatality. It is important to note that under both Illinois and Chicago law a motor vehicle travelling through an intersection is supposed to slow at the intersection no matter what the traffic signal is at the time the driver enters the intersection. 

Kevin Clark, 32,  rose to fame early in life in the movie "School of Rock." Kevin was a Highwood native and a dedicated part of Chicago's music scene. It appears that like many of us Kevin chose to use his bike to get around the city. The loss of Kevin is another tragic reminder of the risks Chicago cyclists face.

Our most sincere thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Kevin Clark. 

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Six Figure Settlement for Cyclist Who Suffered Broken Leg Because of Distracted Driver

Early last fall a Chicago cyclist was riding in Lakeview when a motorist's distracted driving led to a broken leg for the cyclist. The collision occurred at the intersection of Pine Grove an Sheridan Road in north Lakeview. Both the cyclist and the driver came to the four way stop and stopped at the stop signs. 

The cyclist, who had the right of way due to being at the intersection first, proceeded in to the intersection. The driver unfortunately was not paying attention and did not see the cyclist. She struck the bicyclist as she was attempting to turn left onto Sheridan Road from Pine Grove. In doing so, the driver failed to yield the right-of-way to the bicyclist who was in the intersection first and over halfway through the intersection at the time the motorist hit the bicyclist with her car.

The responding police officer’s investigation of the scene, assessment of damage to the vehicles coupled with the parties’ statements, only bolstered the bicyclist’s claim that he entered the intersection first and had control of the intersection. The driver also admitted to the responding officer that she did not see the bicyclist prior to the crash.

  • Illinois vehicle laws and Chicago Municipal Ordinances are in place to protect cyclists in these scenarios by requiring all drivers to do the following: 
  • Exercise due care to avoid colliding with any person operating a bicycle, 625 ILCS 5/11-1003.1 and Section 9-40-160 of the Municipal Code of Chicago;
  • Yield to the preferential right-of-way while making a left turn at an intersection, 625 ILCS 5/11-902;
  • Decrease the speed of a motor vehicle when a special hazard existed with respect to pedestrians or other traffic, 625 ILCS 5/11-601(a); and
  • Avoid moving a motor vehicle into a lane of traffic without first ascertaining that such movement could be made with safety, 625 ILCS 5/11-709.

However, the most basic and fundamental protections that cyclists deserve is the complete and full attention of all users of the roadway. The cardinal rule of approaching an intersection is to slow down and stop, look both ways before entering and be alert for other vehicles proceeding through the intersection. 

Here, the driver was not paying attention or keeping a proper lookout which caused this horrendous accident. As a result of the accident, the bicyclist was taken by ambulance to the emergency room where he was diagnosed with a fractured leg which required surgery.

The bicycle attorneys at Keating Law Offices, P.C., recently obtained a six-figure policy settlement on behalf of the cyclist from Allstate Insurance. This settlement was reached within months of the collision. While the settlement recovered for the bicyclist will never undo his massive injuries and damages. The money will help cover the not only the cyclist’s medical expenses but compensate him for the pain and suffering and interruption to his life that he was forced to experience because of the driver's distracted driving. 

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

River Forest Cyclist Killed In Crash In Oak Park Near "Share The Road" Sign

The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that an Oak Park bicyclist by the name of Peter McDonnell tragically died as a result of injuries sustained in a bicycle vs. motor vehicle crash. According to the article, Mr. McDonnell tragically succumbed to the injuries sustained in the crash after days at Loyola University Medical Center. 

The crash occurred on March 9th at the intersection of Division Street and North Harlem Avenue in west suburban River Forest. This intersection is right by Dominican University and is regularly travelled by cyclists. Images of the area show that right on Division Street is a "Share The Road" sign warning drivers of the presence of cyclists and instructing them to give cyclists room on the roadway. 

While details of the crash have not been reported, it is worth noting that the Illinois Vehicle Code generally provides that motorists should give deference to cyclists. Section 11-1003.1 of the Illinois Vehicle Code states that all drivers must "exercise due care" to avoid colliding with any person riding a bicycle. Due care is the legal principle that one should act like any other reasonable person would act when faced with the same or similar circumstances. In other words, Illinois drivers should drive extra carefully around cyclists. 

This is another tragic reminder of the dangers that cyclists face on the roadways and how vulnerable we are when riding. Our most sincere thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Peter McDonnell. 

Thursday, February 25, 2021

The "Open and Obvious" Defense In Pothole and Roadway Defect Bicycle Crash Cases

Far and away the most common types of cases we handle as bicycle law attorneys involve collisions between motor vehicles and bicyclists where the driver of the motor vehicle is at fault. Common examples of this are doorings, right hook crashes, left hook crashes, failure to give the bicyclist 3-Feet when passing. However, a large number of the cases Keating Law Offices has handled involve bicyclists who were injured when their bicycle hit a defect in the roadway and they crashed.

Illinois law on these types of cases is very, very fact specific. IllinoisBicycleLaw.com has previously delved into the crucial Illinois Supreme Court Case of Boub v. Wayne County which holds that for a bicyclist to hold a municipality (think city, town county, etc.) the bicyclist has to show that they were on a section of the road way where a bicyclist was not only permitted but also intended. An example of a roadway where bicycles are both intended and permitted would be a roadway where there is marked bike lanes or even signs indicating plans for bicyclists on that roadway.

The attorneys at Keating Law Offices also have a long history of representing bicyclists injured in crashes where a problem with the roadway caused the crash. When a road defect, such as a pothole or a hazard within a construction zone, causes the crash the at-fault parties often argue that even though there was a defect, and even though they may have put the defect in the roadway, that the bicyclist should have "watched where they were going." This defense is known as the "open and obvious doctrine." This doctrine provides that a defendant has no duty to protect against a condition that is both open and obvious. The open and obvious doctrine can be a powerful defense if they can show the court that the defect really was both open and obvious to the bicyclist. However, there are a number of elements for cyclists to consider when faced with this defense.

For a condition to be open and obvious, the risk caused by the condition needs to be apparent to a reasonable person exercising ordinary perception and judgment. This essentially means that would a regular person under regular circumstances see what is in the roadway? The doctrine essentially puts the burden on us cyclists to take care to avoid any obviously dangerous conditions that appear risky to your average person. The doctrine prevents a cyclist from suing someone responsible for a dangerous condition when the cyclist knew that the condition existed and knew that the condition was dangerous before that condition injured the cyclist.

Much of the Illinois law regarding the open and obvious doctrine has developed through cases that involved people who trip while walking. For example, the doctrine can defeat the claim of someone tripping over a sidewalk defect that is clearly marked with a hazard cone or bright spray paint. Or someone who tries to sue a grocery store for slipping on a bright yellow lemon on a dark black floor mat might lose their lawsuit because of the open and obvious doctrine.

Reasonable cyclists encounter the world differently than someone walking. The perception of road conditions of someone riding at 10 to 12 miles an hour is different than the perception of someone walking at 3 to 4 miles per hour. Thus, the opportunity to observe a small but dangerous road defect, like a pothole, is dramatically different while biking than while walking.

As attorneys, we investigate all of the factors that go into a reasonable person’s ability to perceive a condition when cycling. For example, in a pothole case we analyze whether the condition is open and obvious by asking:
  • How big is the pothole?
  • How deep is the pothole?
  • Where is the pothole?
  • What color is the pothole compared to the surrounding roadway?
  • Is something blocking the view of the pothole?
  • What were the lighting conditions around the pothole?
  • Was the pothole filled with material that disguised its dangerous size or depth?
Again, each of these cases are very "fact specific" and no two cases are really ever the same. The open and obvious doctrine only applies when a reasonable person can appreciate the risk involved. It’s not always possible to comprehend every risky condition, no matter how safe or reasonable we are while riding. Nevertheless, injured cyclists routinely face the open and obvious defense when a road defect causes a crash. The firm recently resolved a complicated case where the bicyclist suffered and injured collarbone after crashing on a defect during a road resurfacing project involving the Halsted Street bike lane. In that case we used an iconic Coke can to provide scale and contrast to depict the height of a defect that otherwise blended into the roadway at first glance. 

It takes an experienced and well-qualified attorney to help fight back against the open and obvious doctrine to protect your case from being thrown out of court. Keating Law Offices attorneys are available for a free consultation to discuss any claim today.

Friday, February 5, 2021

Settlement Obtained for Bicyclist Injured By Construction On Halsted Street Bike Lane

In the summer of 2018 a Chicago bicyclist was riding up the Halsted Street bike lane near her home like she had hundreds of times before. One day she was commuting home from work and was on the Halsted Street bike lane near its intersection with Wellington. Despite the construction in the area the bike lane looked the same as it had on other days. There were no warnings or indications that anything on this stretch was different. 

In reality there was a hidden defect in that some of the contractors working on the bike lane had placed a "patch" that created a large bump that was undetectable because it was almost the same color as the road. It was basically camouflaged. As the front wheel of the cyclist's bike hit this bump the bike became uncontrollable and she crashed to the ground. 

Keating Law Offices went to the scene of the crash and took photographs illustrating that the change in elevation was almost as high as a Coke can that was used for scale. These timely photos ended up being a significant piece of evidence in the case. After investigating, Keating Law Offices filed a lawsuit against multiple defendants, including the City of Chicago which was the owner of the construction project. The City hired a local paving company to act as the project’s General Contractor and a private engineering company to serve as the project’s Resident Engineer.

After the crash, our client fell onto her right shoulder. The force of the bicycle crash fractured her collarbone and required extensive medical intervention. The fracture limited our client’s range of motion and strength in her shoulder. It also limited her ability to ride as she routinely did before her crash. After extensive litigation, the case was settled for $200,000.00 after a Pre-Trial Conference with a judge in the Law Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County. 

As the City of Chicago expands its bike infrastructure, the importance of safety within construction zones is greater than ever. In this case, we alleged that the change in elevation that caused our client’s injuries was a danger introduced by careless construction work that did not properly create a ramp between the old and new road during the construction. Moreover, there was no appropriate signage or safety warnings to alert oncoming traffic and cyclists of the dangers ahead. 

While Keating Law Offices salutes the efforts by our city to maintain our roadways and further develop bike-friendly infrastructure, safety during construction must be a priority for all involved. When safety measures fail or construction shortcuts lead to dangerous conditions and injuries, hiring an experienced attorney can be the best option for many cyclists.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Chicago Bicyclist Injured In Hit And Run Receives Settlement from Chicago Transit Authority

Attorneys Catelyn Viggiano and Michael Keating of Keating Law Offices recently obtained a favorable settlement for a Chicago bicyclist that was injured in a collision with a Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) bus. On July 20, 2017, our client was struck by a negligent CTA bus operator who improperly tried to pass her on her left. The crash occurred on Clark Street near its intersection with Webster Avenue in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. The CTA bus came from behind the cyclist and attempted to pass her on her left, and in doing so, the CTA bus contacted her left side. 

The bus operator apparently was not even aware he struck the cyclist and drove away from the scene. The cyclist was able to locate surveillance footage from nearby and the bus route and unique CTA bus number were then used to identify the bus operator. 

As a result of the contact from the CTA bus, the cyclist was thrown from her bicycle and struck her head on the pavement. The cyclist sustained a concussion and suffered from post-concussion syndrome. She underwent months of neurological treatment. The settlement reached with the CTA compensates her for the damages she suffered such as medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and loss of normal life.

All Chicagoans are intimately familiar with the presence of CTA buses on the roadway which serve as a valuable transportation resource. The large volume of people that rely on CTA bus transportation for their everyday commute, requires the actual size of the CTA bus to be substantial when compared to other vehicles on the roadway. While CTA busses provide an essential service to the community and combat other societal concerns such as roadway congestion and pollution, they do pose substantial threats to other users of the roadways, such as bicyclists. The main concern is the disparity between the size and weight of a bus compared to a bicycle, which can lead to serious bodily injuries.

Over and above the general expectation that CTA bus operators will operate the busses in a safe manner for all users of the roadway, there are other protections in place to prevent instances like the one here, involving our client which resulted in serious bodily injuries. For example, the Illinois Vehicle Code states that a driver of a vehicle overtaking a bicycle traveling in the same direction shall pass to the left of that bicycle at a safe distance in order to safely clear said bicycle. 625 ILCS 5/11-703(a). Similarly, section 9-36-010 of the Municipal Code of Chicago requires something known as the “3-Foot Rule.” That is, the operator of a motor vehicle (in this case a bus) that is overtaking a bicycle traveling in the same direction on a highway must leave a safe distance, but not less than 3 feet, when passing the bicycle. The motor vehicle must then maintain that distance until safely past the overtaken bicycle. 

The CTA requires its bus operators to obtain a special driver’s license and undergo extensive training before being eligible to operate a CTA bus. Part of the CTA's training and standard operating procedures focuses on safe vehicle maneuvering when cyclists are present. Unfortunately, despite all these safeguards serious collisions continue to occur with CTA busses and cyclists.

Keating Law Offices has handled numerous cases for clients who were injured in a collision with the CTA. This includes not only settlements but taking the CTA to trial and successfully obtaining a verdict in favor of our client in a case where the CTA offered nothing to settle the case prior to trial. 

If you were hurt in a crash involving a CTA bus or other motor vehicle contact us to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys. We can review the details of your case, answer your questions and go over your legal options. Consultations are always absolutely free and with zero obligation.

Monday, February 1, 2021

All Keating Law Offices Attorneys Named SuperLawyers for 2021

All three Keating Law Offices attorneys have been honored by SuperLawyers Magazine for 2021. Keating Law Offices founding attorney Michael S. Keating has been rated a SuperLawyer. Attorneys Thomas Reuland and Catelyn Viggiano have been named "Rising Stars" by SuperLawyers Magazine. 

Only 2.5% of Illinois attorneys receive the “Rising Stars” honor. To be eligible for "Rising Star" designation the attorney must be under a certain age or within the first decade of their career. The selections for SuperLawyer are even more selective with only 5% of all attorneys of any age or number of years practicing recognized by Super Lawyers magazine each year. 

In order to become part of this prestigious list, all attorneys go through a selection process. SuperLawyers magazine invites Illinois lawyers once a year to nominate the top attorneys they have personally observed in action while an attorney-led research team searches for lawyers who have a high degree of professional competence.

SuperLawyers research team then evaluates each candidate based on the following 12 indicators: verdicts and settlements; transactions; representative clients; experience; honors and awards; special licenses and certifications; position within the law firm; bar and or other professional activity; pro bono and community service as a lawyer; scholarly lectures and writings; education and employment background; and other outstanding achievements.

Based on these 12 indicators and final selection by the SuperLawyers team, the Keating Law attorneys were selected. This is the second time a well respected authority has honored all three Keating Law attorneys. Recently Leading Lawyers magazine honored Michael Keating as a Leading Lawyer and Thomas Reuland and Catelyn Viggiano as Emerging Lawyers. 

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. 

Monday, January 25, 2021

Keating Law Offices Is Proud To Be The Presenting Sponsor of the 2021 Active Trans Winter Bike Challenge

The Active Transportation Alliance's Winter Bike Challenge Presented by Keating Law Offices kicks off January 25th. Registration is FREE and it is still open. Click here to REGISTER

Once registered participants can track your trips, challenge riders and win prizes. And its not just bike commutes that count, ANY trip on your bike between January 25th and February 7th counts!

Keating Law Offices is a long time supporter of the mission of the Active Transportation Alliance. As part of its commitment to Chicagoland's cycling community the firm has been a sponsor of Bike The Drive, the Bike Commuter Challenge and the Winter Bike Challenge. Keating Law Offices was the first law firm in Chicago to sponsor Active Transportation Alliance events and is proud to continue to do so. 

To learn more about Keating Law Offices, please click here

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Keating Law Offices Supports Equiticity on Giving Tuesday 2020

In the spirit of giving, Keating Law Offices is proud to announce it is matching donations made to Equiticity’s end of the year “
Turn on the Power, and Let Equity Flow” fundraiser up to $1,000.00 for Giving Tuesday.

About Equiticity

Equiticity, a racial equity movement founded in Chicago which advocates for racial equity, increased mobility and racial justice for communities of color across the United States, is embarking on a campaign to raise $10,000.00 before the end of the year through their “Turn on the Power and Let Equity Flow” campaign. The funds raised will go towards research, advocacy, and programs for racial equity, mobility justice, and environmental justice including: 
  • Racial Equity Training Academy: A training and leadership development program for residents, organizers, advocates, activists, academics, philanthropists, and policymakers, designed for people to explore a foundational understanding of racial equity and its operational implementation. 
  • Bike design and fabrication: A job creation and workforce development program for young adults. 
  • The Go Hub: A Community Mobility Center as a physical space for community- and power-building, providing access to the necessary hardware (mobility devices and infrastructure) and software (community mobility rituals and socialization programs) to increase mobility. 
  • The Equiticity Bike Team: Engaging young people in the vast world of bikes, and related careers, competitions, tours, and programs. 
  • Community Mobility Rituals: Inclusive of three distinct series of community bicycle rides, neighborhood walking tours, and public transit excursions, designed to increase social cohesion and collective efficacy, as tools to reduce violence at the hyperlocal, neighborhood level. 
Equiticity’s fundraising efforts are scheduled to be announced on November 30 and Keating Law Offices will announce its match at the same time. More information about Equiticity’s movement and giving campaign can be found at Equiticity.org/Campaign.

About Keating Law Offices

Keating Law Offices is a personal injury law firm representing victims of bicycle crashes. The firm is based in Chicago, Illinois and represents clients throughout Illinois. Keating Law Offices is located in Chicago's Loop and on the Milwaukee Avenue bike lane in Chicago's West Town neighborhood. Since it was founded in 2008, Keating Law Offices has recovered tens of millions of dollars for injured cyclists and their families. 

Monday, November 16, 2020

75-Year Old Cyclist Killed in Crash with Driver of Motor Vehicle in Cicero

75-year-old cyclist, Efren Avitia, was killed in a crash in near west suburban Cicero on Friday, November 13, 2020. According to a Chicago Sun-Times
article, the victim was struck by a vehicle when he was biking near 31st Street and Austin Boulevard at about 10:00 a.m. The victim was transported via ambulance from the scene of the crash to Northwestern Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead early Saturday morning.

An autopsy of the victim found that the person died of multiple blunt force injuries and the death was ruled an "accident." The use of the term "accident" is one chosen by law enforcement and only means that the crash was not caused intentionally. The term "accident" in this context does not mean that the crash was determined to be unavoidable. "Accident" in this context is also meant to be distinguishable from "intentional" which is when the driver purposefully causes the crash. 

While details about this crash are otherwise limited, based on the facts available it seems to be a case where the Illinois Vehicle Code would still provide protection for the cyclist. Section 11-1003.1 states:
“[E]very 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 . . . .”
The key component of Section 11-1003.1 of the Illinois Vehicle Code is the “due care” clause. Under the law, "due care" means the "care that an ordinarily reasonable and prudent person would use under the same or similar circumstances." In other words, cutting off bicyclists, making left-hand turns in front of bicyclists, tailgating bicyclists, etc. are actions far from "due care." Motorists not only should give bicyclists respect, but they are required to give respect as it is what the legal notion of "due care" requires. The driver involved in this collision should have exercised all reasonable precautions to avoid crashing into Mr. Avitia and causing this horrendous result.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the victim of this crash as well as their family and friends.

Aurora Police Request Help in Identifying Driver in a Fatal Hit-and-Run

Another Chicago-area bicyclist has lost their life in a hit-and-run crash. On November 14th, 27-year-old Dragomir Misic was struck in a fatal hit-and-run collision in west suburban Aurora. The bicyclist was riding near the intersection of Montgomery Road and White Eagle Drive around 7:30 p.m. The driver then fled the scene. Aurora Police are asking for the public’s help regarding any information about the crash. 

If anyone knows any information about the collision, you are encouraged to call the Aurora Police Department at 630-256-5330 or the Aurora Area Crime Stoppers at 630-892-1000.

Key Steps To Follow If A Victim Of A Hit-and-Run

Based on the facts reported, the driver involved in this bicycle crash violated many of the Illinois Rules of the Road. The fear of knowing they were in the wrong is the motivation behind many drivers fleeing. Regrettably, hit-and-run collisions are a reality and it is important to protect yourself in such a scenario, especially if you are a bicyclist. Bicycle accidents are very sensitive and often more challenging than cases involving just motor vehicles. Therefore, any bicyclist that was hit by a motor vehicle, even one that fled, has rights and should protect them by ensuring a few things:
  • Even if the at-fault driver has fled the scene, it is essential to still file a police report. Police resources will greatly increase your chances of identifying and locating the hit-and-run driver. Additionally, when it comes to filing a claim, an insurance company providing uninsured motorist coverage will almost always require that an investigation was initiated in an effort to identify the at-fault individual.
  • Taking care of yourself and your health is the most important thing after any type of injury. Likewise, it is crucial that you seek medical attention immediately following the collision, as there need to be records and documentation of the injuries, in order to be able to recover later.
  • Lastly, identifying any potential witnesses to the collision and taking down their contact information is key. Individuals who were present at the collision scene might not only be able to help identify the fleeing motorist, but they can also help with identifying what exactly happened during the collision.
Illinois Laws Require Drivers To Give Aid To Injured Bicyclists

It is the law in Illinois for drivers to render aid to an injured bicyclist. Drivers in Illinois who are involved in a crash are legally required to:
  • Stay at the scene of the crash long enough to provide the injured party with their information; and
  • If necessary or if requested to arrange for medical care for the injured bicyclist. 
Section 11-401(a) of the Illinois Vehicle Code provides the groundwork for the motorist: 

"The driver of any vehicle involved in a motor vehicle accident resulting in personal injury to or death of any person shall immediately stop such vehicle at the scene of such accident, or as close thereto as possible and shall then forthwith return to, and in every event shall remain at the scene of the accident until the requirements of Section 11-403 have been fulfilled."

Beyond the law, there is a fundamental human need for all users of the roadways to assist one another. The act of a hit-and-run is indefensible. The driver involved in this crash should face swift and certain justice.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Keating Law Offices - A Nationally Recognized Bicycle Law Firm

In the last year, the attorneys at Keating Law Offices obtained several million dollars in total settlements for its clients. The 2020 Chicago Lawyer Settlements Report recognized the firm among the top in Illinois for the past year. The 2020 Settlements Report features 118 firms in Illinois with settlements of $500,000.00 or more that were reported between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020. Keating Law Offices is proud to be recognized for two of its cases with settlements over the $500,000.00 marker which, combined, total $1,525,000.00 in settlement funds recovered.

Among Keating Law Offices’ most notable successes this year, the firm’s attorneys secured $1,250,000 for the family of a bicyclist who was tragically killed in a motor vehicle collision in Chicago. The firm has been consistently recognized as a leading legal authority on cyclists’ rights in Illinois and for obtaining significant settlement money for their clients with injuries to any extent.

Notable 2020 results by Keating Law Offices include:

  • $1,250,000.00 for the family of a Chicago bicyclist killed in a crash with a motor vehicle on Chicago's north side. 
  • $500,000.00 for a Chicago bicyclist who suffered a broken arm when doored while biking in Chicago.
  • $400,000.00 for a West Suburban bicyclist who suffered a broken leg when struck by an uninsured driver.
  • $300,000.00 for a Chicago bicyclist who suffered a concussion after being struck by a delivery truck.
  • $300,000.00 settlement for a Northern Illinois bicyclist who was struck by a driver while on a training ride.
  • $300,000.00 for a Northwest Suburban girl injured in a bicycle crash. The money was placed in a structured settlement to help pay for college. 
  • $200,000.00 settlement for the victim of a crash. 
  • $175,000.00 for a bicyclist who was doored by a driver exiting a semi-truck. 

Keating Law Offices’ attorneys have consistently secured significant settlements for a wide variety of cases ranging from personal injury, wrongful death, and nursing home abuse while specializing in securing settlements for injured bicyclists. Over the years, Keating Law Offices has helped hundreds of injured clients recover financial compensation and have been recognized for their success in the field. In 2020 alone, Leading Lawyers Magazine named attorney Michael Keating as a Leading Personal Injury Plaintiff’s Lawyer and also named attorneys Thomas Reuland and Catelyn Viggiano as Emerging Personal Injury Plaintiff’s Lawyers, a considerable achievement and honor in the field. In addition, SuperLawyers Magazine and Chicago Magazine named Michael Keating a 2020 SuperLawyer and Tom Reuland and Catelyn Viggiano as "Rising Stars" within the SuperLawyers network. 

With decades of experience, Keating Law Offices is honored to serve the bicycling community and earn the reputation of national leaders in bicycle law. The firm is proudly active in the Chicagoland area’s cycling community and will continue to fight for the rights of injured cyclists.