If you are a victim of any type of bike injury in Chicago, it can be a stressful time. You may be dealing with injuries, medical bills, and loss of income due to the inability to work. And, that’s not even touching upon the emotional trauma that can come from being exposed to this type of frightening event.
Chicago was named the top biking city by Bicycling magazine in 2016, in part due to its myriad trails and separated bike lanes designed to make the sport safer for riders.
“Awareness of infrastructure, through separated bike lanes, is the next thing that needs to happen to really change cycling and what it means to live in an urban area,” the magazine’s editor, Bill Strickland, told the Chicago Tribune after awarding the Windy City the honor.
Still, bicycling can be dangerous business for riders, who face the risk of injury or death every time they share the road with motor vehicle traffic.
In 2014, Illinois was named by the non-profit Governors Highway Safety Association one of the top states in the nation for bicycle deaths, with 27 cyclists killed that year and 3,020 injured.
Accidents that result in a personal injury case are most commonly caused by:
- Motor vehicles striking a cyclist while passing.
- Motor vehicles turning in the path of a cyclist.
- The driver of a motor vehicle failing to yield the right of way to a cyclist.
- Distracted driving or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Dooring, which occurs when a driver opens a car door into the path of an oncoming cyclist.
The last thing you should have to worry about if you are trying to juggle all these difficult effects of getting into an accident on your bicycle is how to ensure your rights are considered.
What Should I Do If I’m in a Bicycle Accident?
If you are in a bicycle accident, your first priority should be to make sure you are safe. As long as you are conscious and able to move, get yourself to a safe area. That means if you landed on the road, you should get off to the side to make sure you aren’t the victim of another injury.
It can be difficult to make sound decisions with all the emotions and shock you are going through, but avoiding any other potential injury should be your priority.
Take a seat somewhere safe and set aside some time to calm down. Adrenaline can cause you to feel like you have superhuman strength. Therefore, it’s important to really assess the extent of your injuries before you try to do anything else. You should always call for help. Even if you think you aren’t injured, or your injuries are minor, it is important that you document what happened.
And you never know whether or not you have sustained an injury you aren’t aware of until later.
The police are an important part of your overall safety and will help you hold whoever hit you liable for any damage done. They will file an accident report. Try to remember any important details. Take documentation of your own, like the responsible party’s name, contact information, and insurance information.
You should also document any witnesses who saw the accident.
Take pictures of the scene, your bike, and your injuries. It’s important to document all damage that occurs.
Even if you and your bike seem okay, you should arrange for someone to come bring you home. Being the victim of an accident can result in many different health issues. You want to make sure you get home safely. Plus, your bike may not be in proper working order. Getting back on can result in a potential hazard that leaves you injured again or worse.
Be sure to have your bike checked before you get back on the road once you heal.
The Law as it Pertains to Bicycle Riders
There are many rules and laws that come into play when a bicyclist is involved in an accident with a vehicle. Although many laws vary from state to state, all states have what are referred to as “side-of-the-road” rules. This means that bicyclists are required to stay in the bike lane or to the side of the road if there is no bike lane.
When bicyclists are on the road, they are sometimes the victim of an accident.
The three most common types of bicyclist and motor vehicle accidents:
- when a bicyclist is hit or hits an opening door of a parked car
- when a bicyclist is brushed by a passing vehicle
- when a bicyclist is directly struck by a vehicle
When it comes to your rights, you are entitled to the road as much as a motor vehicle driver is. Let’s break it down further to get specific with the laws that pertain to bicycle riders.
- Side-of-the-road and bike lane laws pertain to cyclists who are not traveling at the same rate of speed as the average motor vehicle. In this case, the bicyclist must stay as far to the right of the road as possible or use a bike lane if there is one. The only time a bicyclist may leave the side of the road or the bike lane is if they are keeping up with moving traffic, attempting to make a left hand turn, dodging hazardous debris that’s in their lane, or safely passing vehicles on the side of the road. As long as a cyclist follows by these rules, the person who caused their injury is generally at fault. Even if a cyclist hits or is hit by an opening door, it is the person who is opening the door’s responsibility to be sure that it is safe to do so. So, cyclists hit by opening doors are almost always protected by legal rights if they are injured.
- Passing motor vehicle laws protect cyclists as they share lanes with traffic. Because side-of-the-road laws force cyclists to share lanes with passing traffic, motor vehicles are expected to maintain a safe distance when passing. As we said earlier, bicyclists have as much right to the road as motor vehicle drivers. So, it is the motor vehicle driver’s responsibility to not pass another vehicle unless it is safe to do so. That means they must watch for bicyclists as well. If there is not enough space or time to change lanes safely, they must wait. If you were hit by a motor vehicle that was passing another, it is important to understand that you have rights to compensation for any damages caused by your accident. Even if the at-fault driver’s attorney or insurance company argues that you were not as far to the side of the road as you should have been, it was the motor vehicle driver’s responsibility to ensure it was safe to pass before they hit you.
- Right turn right-of-way laws exist because motor vehicles cross the path of cyclists when turning right. This is the most common cause of motor vehicle-bicycle accidents. In almost all situations, the motorist is liable for the accident. It is the driver’s responsibility to make sure it is safe to turn before crossing into the cyclist’s path.
What Are My Legal Rights If Someone Hits Me on My Bicycle?
If you are a victim of a motor vehicle-bicycle accident caused by a driver’s negligence, you are legally entitled to compensation for your injury. In many cases, insurance companies will handle these settlements out of court. If it is clear that the driver was negligent, the insurance company will likely offer you a settlement for your injuries.
If the case is taken to court, it is your responsibility to prove that the driver was negligent. Once you prove the driver was negligent, you are entitled to compensation for your injuries. The amount of compensation you receive depends on the degree of your injuries and the damage caused by the accident.
In many cases, those who are victim of a motor vehicle-bicycle accident will be awarded compensation for all medical costs linked to the injury sustained, lost wages due to missed work, disability or permanent injury caused by the accident, and, in some cases, emotional trauma or pain and suffering that occurred as a result of the accident and the injuries.
It is important that you thoroughly document all information pertaining to the accident. This is the best way to ensure that you receive appropriate compensation for your injuries.
Do NOT rely on documentation from the police or the other party involved in the accident. Although a police report is crucial to your case, sometimes the police reports don’t cover the full severity of the accident.
If you are able, document everything you can about the accident. Gather information of witnesses, the party at fault, any details about the scene, and take as many pictures of the accident scene, the damage, and the injuries sustained.
While all these steps may sound extreme, they can be the determining factor to whether or not you are awarded the compensation you deserve after the accident.
What Do Bike Injury Attorneys Charge in Illinois?
If you contact a bike injury attorney, you won’t be charged for your initial consultation, and if they take your case, you won’t be charged unless they win.
Like other personal injury attorneys, attorney fees come in the form of a percentage of your settlement, usually 33 percent, from your verdict after your case has been settled.
While the percentage may seem high, attorneys typically earn their wages by securing a settlement that is higher than what you may have gotten without an attorney.
Bike injury attorneys may also deduct fees from a final settlement for any expenses including fees for obtaining medical records, accident reports, 911 recordings, investigator fees, travel expenses and printing or copying charges.
Why Hire a Bike Injury Attorney?
Abraham Lincoln is well-known for many reasons, not least of all his opinion about the perils of handling your own legal cases.
“He who represents himself has a fool for a client,” Lincoln once said, which is one of the most important reasons to hire an attorney following a bike injury.
If you’ve been injured in a bike accident in Illinois, an attorney can help you navigate the complexities of a personal injury case while protecting you from predatory insurance companies that are most interested in saving money, not in protecting your personal interests.
A bike injury settlement will cover not only medical expenses but also lost wages, pain, and suffering and other damages including damages to your bicycle, but insurance companies may fail to mention what is covered under the law.
A competent attorney understands personal injury laws and is prepared to fight for fair compensation for you, whether in court or without a jury trial.
An experienced lawyer will have a clear understanding of the laws protecting cyclists and will do his or her best to ensure that you receive compensation to cover the costs of your injuries, which can often be extensive given the weight of a vehicle compared to a bicycle.
Can I Deduct Attorney Fees from My Bike Injury Case?
While deducting attorney fees on your taxes might seem like a good way to erase what might seem like large monetary losses, such fees are only taxable if the settlement itself was taxable, which is rare in a personal injury case.
With Schwaner Injury Law, there are no upfront fees. When we take on your case, all initial expenses are covered. We get paid on a contingency basis. So, if you don’t win, we don’t get paid.
If your settlement is one that is required to be declared Attorney fees should be subtracted from the amount of your total settlement.
Deduct attorney fees for personal injury cases only if the settlement you receive is taxable. If you receive a non-taxable settlement, the attorney fees are not a tax deduction. The amount of the attorney fee should be subtracted from your total settlement and the difference should be reported as income on your 1040.
How Does a Bicycle Injury Attorney Settle with Insurance Companies?
The majority of personal injury cases are settled before they go to trial.
Attorneys will gather essential evidence in your case before negotiating directly with insurance adjusters, either to reach a mutually acceptable settlement or to take the case to mediation or arbitration before enduring the cost and time associated with a jury trial.
Because attorneys have experience dealing with insurance adjusters, they are better equipped to handle negotiations with insurance company reps, who are now only able to communicate about your case with your attorney.
If a settlement is offered, you have the power to decide whether to accept or reject it, and your attorney must act on your wishes, although he or she will provide advice on what is best for you and your case.
Because insurance companies tend to take attorneys more seriously, it’s likely that an insurance company will be more likely to negotiate a fair settlement earlier to avoid going to court and facing a jury.
How to Find a Bike Injury Attorney
If you are the victim of a bicycle accident, you should consider hiring a bike injury attorney to handle your case. The last thing you want to worry about is more stress during this trying time. When you hire a personal bike injury attorney, you are protecting yourself and your legal rights.
Find an attorney that understands the laws as they pertain to cyclists. Be sure they have experience with other bicycle injury cases. You should also discuss the specific details of your case and choose someone who you trust.
While many cases will never go to court, it is the burden of the victim to prove liability it the case does go to court. Your attorney will gather their own evidence to help prove your case. So, you need to be sure you find someone you can trust.
Being the victim of a bicycle accident can be a scary and difficult thing to handle. When you find an attorney who can handle the legal technicalities, you can spend time on healing and recovering.
Get in touch with our team to see how we can help.