Bicycle Accident Injuries

Bicyclists in Chicago and the greater Chicago area face many challenges to their safety.  Many of these challenges have been discussed on the “Bicycling Accidents In Cook County” and “Chicago Bicycling Accidents” pages.  As well, many individual Cook County bicycling accidents – including those with accident injuries as well as with fatalities – have been summarized in this site in the “Bicycle Accidents” category.  Various lawsuits regarding Illinois bicycle accidents, including wrongful death suits – have also been discussed.

The issue of bicycle rider safety has recently received considerable attention due to some recent high-profile Chicago area fatal bicycle accidents.  As well, many non-fatal bicycle accidents continually occur.

Bicycle accidents can cause a wide range of accident injuries.  While some of these injuries are relatively insignificant – such as minor cuts and bruises which don’t require a trip to the emergency room hospitalization – many are more significant and can require ongoing hospitalization as well as have long-term adverse impacts on one’s health, including mental and physical vitality.

In an effort to safely accommodate both traffic and increased riding of bicycles, many cities have created “bike lanes.”  These bike lanes, in theory, allow bicyclists to have a protected, segregated area from motorists.  By creating such bike lanes, the intent was that regular traffic and bicycle riders would be able to both function in a safer, more efficient manner.  However, as discussed below, there have been numerous impediments to the implementation and usage of “protected” bike lanes.

On September 27, 2016, CBS Chicago aired an investigative segment titled “Chicago’s Cyclists In Danger Biking City’s 100 Miles Of Bike Lanes.”  In this segment, notable aspects of the various dangers that Chicago bicyclists face are discussed, particularly those riders who are attempting to ride in the City’s designated bike lanes.

In the CBS segment’s video, many potential safety hazards facing Chicago bike riders are discussed and shown.  Some of the main discussion points include:

  • Vehicles parking in the bike lanes – thereby causing cyclists to navigate around such vehicles, and likely having to go into traffic
  • Vehicles driving into the bike lanes – thus defeating the safety benefits of having designated bicycle lanes.
  • Substantial potholes and severe ruts in the bicycle lanes – which cause a safety hazard to those riding in the bike lanes.  Accident injuries to riders who lost control after hitting potholes included head trauma and neck injuries.

Also mentioned is bicycle “dooring” accidents, which continue to be a serious ongoing issue.  The CBS segment features two people who were injured during “dooring” accidents, with one bicyclist injuring his leg, and one female rider receiving a traumatic brain injury (TBI) which she says has had ongoing effects.

Another hazard discussed in the segment is sewer grates that have openings running parallel to the street.  One such sewer grate on Lawrence Avenue caused an accident injury that led to a lawsuit against the City of Chicago.

While the CBS Chicago segment discusses various safety issues that impact those attempting to safely ride in Chicago’s bike lanes, there are many other potential threats to bicyclists.

While the issue of “dooring” and various accident injuries was mentioned in the CBS Chicago segment, these “dooring” accidents are not limited to those who ride in bike lanes.  For those unaware, “dooring” accidents (a slang phrase is “door prize”) occur when a driver opens a car door, and a bicyclist who is approaching the car from the rear runs into the opening door.  As the bicyclist is typically riding at a significant – if not fast – speed, the collision between the bicycle and the stationary car door is often substantial.  The bicyclist can suffer a range of accident injuries.  One Chicago “dooring” accident (summarized in the July 6, 2016 post titled “Chicago Bicycling Dooring Accident“) featured the aftermath of a “dooring” accident in which the cyclist suffered a significant – and possibly life-threatening – neck laceration or puncture.  Other types of potential “dooring” accident injuries include scrapes; bruises; concussions and other head trauma; neck trauma; broken collarbones; and other various types of broken bones and fractures.  These broken bones and fractures can be caused by either the collision between the bicyclist and the vehicle door, or how the cyclist subsequently falls to the ground.  Fractures of the wrist, hands, arms and legs can happen during the landing, as the cyclist typically is falling onto pavement in an awkward fashion at a significant speed.

Other reasons for accidents include:

  • Motorists who attempt to pass bicyclists too closely:  This is a potentially dangerous situation, and one that is more likely to occur on busy two-way streets with narrow lanes.  Any time a car or other vehicle attempts to pass a bicyclist too closely, there is always a possibility that there will be contact between the bike and vehicle.  If such contact should occur, the bike rider can lose control of the bike, and a crash can occur.  Such a crash in traffic can have a variety of outcomes, and can lead to various serious injuries, including those that prove fatal.
  • Hazards caused by “distracted” drivers:  Distracted drivers pose a potential safety threat to bicyclists as they may not “see” or otherwise realize the presence of a bike rider.  If such a condition occurs, a range of bicycle accidents can occur, including “left cross” accidents and “right hook” accidents.  While “distracted driving” is typically thought of being caused by the driver’s usage of electronic devices – such as when texting –  distractions can also happen during any activity that causes the driver to not be fully engaged in driving.
  • Bicyclists are always at risk when drivers are impaired, either by driving after drinking alcohol or otherwise intoxicated, such as driving while “high” on drugs.  There have been many examples of accidents in which bicyclists have been hit by intoxicated drivers.  Due to the nature of these accidents – including that some drivers don’t want to face the repercussions of their drunk driving – often drivers who hit bicyclists while the driver is intoxicated will “flee” or otherwise leave the accident scene, i.e. the accident is a “hit & run” accident.  Several high-profile fatal bicycle accidents involving intoxicated drivers have recently occurred, including a bicycle accident in Michigan’s Kalamazoo County on June 7, 2016. In this accident, the driver of a SUV crashed into a group of bicyclists, resulting in five bicyclists being killed and four cyclists being injured.

Should You Be Injured In A Bicycle Accident

The types of bicycle accidents discussed above are but a sample of the types of bicycle accidents that can occur.  Reasons for bicycle accidents are extensive, as are the accident injuries that can occur.  Many of these injuries are “serious” in nature, and can lead to significant impairments that may lead to a need for ongoing medical care, which is often costly.

Should you be injured in a bicycle accident – or another type of accident elsewhere in Illinois – there are various recommended steps you should take in order to protect your legal rights and maximize your ability to get accident injury compensation.  In the case of a fatal bicycle accident, filing a wrongful death lawsuit may be appropriate.  Regardless of whether the bicycle accident was fatal or led to injuries, a key factor is whether the accident was caused by another party, either by that party’s negligence, carelessness, or by another relevant factor, such as by intention.

It is very important that legal counsel is attained as soon as possible after an accident.  While, due to many factors, it may be inconvenient to speak with a personal injury lawyer immediately after an accident, there are many reasons why such a discussion soon after the accident is critical.  The accident injury lawyer can tell you what steps to take, as well as what actions you should not take, in order to protect your legal rights and to seek compensation for the harm caused by the accident.

Tony Elman, Lead Trial Attorney at the Elman Law Group, offers a free legal consultation to those who have been injured in an Illinois accident.  He can be reached at (773) 392-8182. This consultation is free, is confidential in nature, and is provided without further obligation.  During this consultation, Tony can provide guidance as to what actions you should be taking to protect your legal rights and help you maximize your potential to receive injury compensation.  He can also answer any questions you may have.  As well, he can provide an estimate as to how much compensation a lawsuit may provide (i.e. how much your case may be worth.)   

Elman Law Group, LLC, has been handling Illinois personal injury cases for over 25 years.  During this time we have handled 10,000+ personal injury cases.  Through this extensive litigation experience we have built a reputation for our court trial performance.  As seen in many cases, this successful trial experience may well increase potential accident injury compensation.

Please Note:  Elman Law Group handles personal injury cases on a contingency basis, which means that you will not be charged legal fees unless and until you get compensation.