Friday, February 14, 2014

Claim for Competitive Bicyclist Injured in Crash While on Bike Commute Settled

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Illinois Bicycle Lawyers Michael S. Keating and Joseph T. Vietri have secured a settlement for a bicycle commuter who was struck by an SUV at the intersection of Kingsbury Street and the bike lane on Kinzie Street in Chicago. The intersection of Kinzie Street and Kingsbury Street is a T-intersection with stop signs at all three corners. There is a protected bike lane that runs along both sides of Kinzie Street. 

The collision occurred on November 20, 2013 when the SUV driver failed to stop at the designated stop sign on Kingsbury Street near the East Bank Club prior to entering Kinzie Street. The bicyclist was riding in the designated bike lane westbound on Kinzie Street through its Kingsbury Street just prior to the collision. The Illinois Bicycle Lawyers of Keating Law Offices reached out to several witnesses of the collision, including fellow bicyclists, and confirmed that the vehicle illegally failed to stop before entering the intersection.

The law in Chicago is very clear on the responsibility of a motorist to yield to oncoming traffic. Ordinance 9-24-020 of the Municipal Code of Chicago states that if there is a stop sign the driver must 1) come to a complete stop and 2) proceed cautiously only if there is no oncoming traffic. The language of the Ordinance as it applies to this bicycle accident is as follows:
After the operator of a vehicle has stopped in obedience to a stop sign, at an intersection where a stop sign is erected at one or more entrances thereto, such operator shall proceed cautiously yielding to vehicles not so obliged to stop which are within the intersection or approaching so closely as to constitute an immediate hazard.
The bicyclist sustained a right ankle injury as a result of the impact. The bicyclist’s right ankle injury was especially troublesome because the bicyclist races competitively and was training for an upcoming USA Cycling event. Notably, the bicyclist’s physician ordered her to modify her training workouts due to her ankle injury. Thus, the Illinois Bicycle Lawyers made a claim with the SUV driver’s insurance carrier for the bicyclist’s injuries, medical bills, pain and suffering, and loss of a normal life. 

"Loss of a normal life" is compensable damage in Illinois that is defined as “the temporary or permanent diminished ability to enjoy life. This includes a person's inability to pursue the pleasurable aspects of life.” Here, the bicyclist sustained a temporary diminished ability to ride her bike. This compromised the bicyclist’s ability to train and compete at the level she did prior to the collision. "Loss of a normal life" varies from person to person. In this case, the bicyclist's competitive background made her "normal life" different than the average person's "normal life." Nonetheless, under the law in Illinois anyone injured in a bicycle crash that was caused by someone else is eligible to be compensated for their "loss of a normal life."

As is often the case, the insurance company of the SUV driver initially took the position that it was a “minor collision” and offered to pay only the bicyclist’s medical bills. The Illinois Bicycle Lawyers refuse to accept insurance companies' low ball settlement offers and vow to recover all compensable damages under Illinois law. The final settlement reached was more than three times the initial settlement offer made by the insurance company. The final settlement terms also provided additional compensation for the property damage to the bicycle. 

The Illinois Bicycle Lawyers take pride in successfully resolving cases without delay. The final settlement in this matter was reached within two months of the injured bicyclist retaining the Illinois Bicycle Lawyers.

If you have any questions regarding this post or an issue involving Illinois 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.