In many aspects of life, people often pay attention to the issues that affect them. For example, parents of young children are more concerned about schools in their area than are older adults whose children are grown. Similarly, workers who are employed in high-risk situations might be worried about on-the-job safety while those who work in an office setting may not give those issues a second thought.
It is natural and very common to focus on issues that you encounter on a daily basis, pushing to the side those that will have a lesser impact on your life. In Chicago, this means that many who drive a car or who utilize some form of vehicular transit around the city do not spend much time considering the safety issues that affect those who ride a bicycle: the common belief is that if they do not ride a bike, they do not have to know about the rules and regulations that apply to cyclist.
This thought is not only incorrect but also dangerous as bicycle safety has an affect not only on riders but on others who use the roadways, whether they are motorists or even pedestrians.
First, motorists should note that cyclists are legally entitled to ride in the roads just like cars can drive in the roads. This means that motorists must look out for bicycles at all times and respect the rights of riders when they are in the vicinity of a car. Failing to do so often is negligent conduct, a violation of state driving rules and an action that may lead to legal liability in the event that a bicycle accident takes place.
Next, drivers must understand that when a crash happens and a bike is involved, a motor vehicle is likely to be involved to some extent as well. While it is true that collisions between cyclists happen in Chicago, far more often it is a car and a bike that crash, potentially leading to serious injuries. Unlike an impact between cyclists, a vehicle is a large, heavy, and reinforced piece of machinery that does not give much when struck by a bike. In almost every situation, this leaves the biker as a distinct disadvantage in the event of a collision, injuring those who ride a bicycle in more than 90 percent of all Illinois accidents involving a car.
Finally, the fallout for motorists can extend to all aspects of their lives if they are determined to be responsible for a bike collision. It may begin with a citation received at the scene from a police officer, indicating their improper action while driving. But that can lead to fines, fees, loss of a driver’s license, time in jail or prison, and other punishments following a court hearing and upon conviction. Fewer motorists realize that their actions can also cause them to be responsible for the financial toll enacted by a crash if someone else is hurt and that the monetary damages done may leave them personally responsible if they do not have enough insurance coverage to fully pay.
In Illinois, bicycle accident victims have the right to seek payment for their injuries, medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, permanent harm, scarring, and any other losses they experienced due to the negligent conduct of another. In the event that injuries are serious or if a cyclist loses his or her life, the value of these claims can often exceed the amount of insurance carried by a typical driver in the state, which means that a victim or that victim’s family may be able to recover against an at-fault driver personally. This can involve the seizure of assets, including bank accounts or real estate, and can leave a responsible driver paying for her negligence for the rest of her life.
It is clear that it is everyone’s duty to put bicycle safety first in Chicago. If someone failed to respect your rights while you were riding and you were hurt as a result, know that you are not alone and that the law firm of Abels & Annes, P.C. is standing by to help.
We offer a no-cost, no-obligation case consultation to victims who call us 24 hours a day, seven days a week toll free at (855) 529-2442 or locally at (312) 924-7575. Everything discussed will be kept confidential and if we represent you in your case, we will never charge you a fee unless we make a recovery on your behalf.
At Abels & Annes, P.C., we believe in helping injury victims and if you were hurt, we want to help you. Call us now and let us explain your options for relief.
Prior Blog Entry:
Playground Injuries are More Common than Parents Realize, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, published December 1, 2015.