Chicago cyclists deal with a lot on the city’s streets – from potholes, road construction, snow, and ice to aggressive drivers who won’t share the lane. Bicycling for any part of your commute benefits your fitness and the environment. But biking on Cook County roads comes with one major drawback – the danger of crashing, getting hit, or knocked off your bike by a car.
Unfortunately, bicycles offer little protection against the elements or from other drivers. While a helmet always helps, you can still get hurt badly from the sheer physics of a car crash. The force of any car is enough to overwhelm a cyclist, no matter how slow the impact.
And although the city of Chicago has made an effort to create safer roads for cyclists by adding hundreds of miles of bike lanes in the last ten years, bicycle accidents still happen often. Chicago has averaged over 5 bicycle accident deaths per year since 2012.
Injuries from a bicycle crash can change your life as you know it. You may need extensive medical treatment or physical therapy and even then you may not fully recover. You might lose the ability to perform your job while you face growing medical bills that threaten your financial future. This medical and financial double-punch can weigh heavy on your family and your spirit.
The worst part is that as a cyclist, you’re at the mercy of other motorists. No matter how careful you are, a distracted or reckless driver could hit you with no fault on your part. Bicycle accident injuries can be severe, from broken bones and concussions to internal bleeding and even death. If you’ve suffered any injuries in a bike accident, no matter how minor, or if you’ve lost a loved one to a bicycle accident, you could have a personal injury or wrongful death claim.
While the law cannot undo your injury, a personal injury lawsuit can help “make you whole” as if your accident never happened. Under Illinois law, you can receive compensation for damages you’ve suffered because of a bicycle accident that was not your fault.
As a bicycling accident victim, you could have the right to damages for medical bills, lost earnings, property damage, pain and suffering, and any other actual losses you’ve experienced. This could add up to thousands or even millions of dollars.
Our experienced Chicago personal injury team fights passionately for clients who’ve been injured while biking. No case is too small for our legal team. At Kramer Injury Law, we often take bike accident cases on a contingency fee basis, so you don't pay us any legal fees until we recover damages for you. We know that during this time, the last thing you need to think about is whether you can afford a lawyer. Call our Cook County personal injury Law Firm at (312) 775-1012 for a free case consultation with our experienced attorneys today.
What Should You Do After a Bicycle Accident in Chicago?
Many cyclists have experienced near misses on their bikes. Even the most careful cyclists can get blindsided by inattentive or reckless drivers. When the worst-case scenario comes to pass, you may be hurt and disoriented. At that point, your priorities are to:
- Check yourself and others for safety, and
- Document the scene of the accident.
You want to speak to a personal injury attorney as soon as the dust settles. You may receive an insurance company settlement offer shortly after the accident but you shouldn't sign anything without speaking to a lawyer first. You may have more rights than you realize and an attorney at Kramer Injury Law LLC will maximize your recovery.
Check for Immediate Injuries from the Accident
Immediately after your bike accident, check yourself for injuries if you're able. Try to get to a safe location out of traffic if possible.
If you took a hard fall or hit in the crash, you might want to avoid moving and injuring yourself further before medical help can arrive. You may have hit your head without realizing what happened. Call 911 to get a police officer or medical help on the scene if necessary.
Keep in mind that many accidents result in latent injuries, which means you might not be conscious of the true extent of your injuries until much later. You're bound to get an adrenaline rush after any kind of traffic accident. A head injury or concussion could cloud your judgment. This makes you much more likely to underestimate the severity of your injuries, which can show themselves days, weeks, or months down the line.
Make Sure to Get Medical Attention and Treatment
This step is extremely important. Even if you feel “fine,” you should get checked out by a medical professional shortly after your accident – ideally within the next few days. The sooner a doctor can look at your injuries and give you a diagnosis, the sooner you can start your road to recovery. Your medical record also provides evidence of your injuries.
When it comes to personal injury cases, showing proof is extremely important. The only way to prove you suffered a medically diagnosable injury is through medical records and physician testimony. You must be able to convince a judge or jury of the facts behind your claims. The stronger the evidence you have, the stronger your case, and the stronger your position at the settlement negotiation table.
Document as Much of the Scene of the Accident as You Can
The outcome of any personal injury case depends heavily on the details of the accident. This is why it's important to document as much of the facts while they're as fresh as possible.
Photos and videos of the site of your accident can play a valuable role in establishing your case. If you’re physically able, take photos and videos of the accident, your bicycle, any cars that are involved, and your surroundings. Small details could end up being relevant to establishing who is actually at fault for the accident, especially if there are any obstructions on the road. Make sure to get contact information and statements from any eyewitnesses.
If a police officer arrives at the scene of your accident, you can file a police report with them right then and there. You can also file a police report later at the police station, but it's better to do so sooner, especially if the officer at the scene can also act as a witness on the report.
Not all personal injury cases go to trial, but at Kramer Injury Law we prepare all of our cases as if they'll go to court from the beginning. Why? Because any settlement negotiations will be based on how your case will do if it goes to trial.
Insurance companies almost always lowball settlement offers if they can get away with it. Insurance providers don't want to pay any more than they have to – but you may be entitled to much more than they’re offering. When you show that you have a high chance of success in court, you have a much better bargaining position at the negotiation table.
You deserve to be compensated properly for your injuries. Call our Chicago area bicycle accident lawyers today at (312) 775-1012 for a free case consultation.
Most Common Bicycle Accidents and Injuries
Even minor auto accidents or “fender benders” can result in significant injuries for a cyclist. Protective gear like helmets can help lessen the impact but it’s simply impossible to brace against the size and weight of a car or truck. As a bicyclist, you are exposed on the road.
The most common types of bike accidents are:
- Crossing a vehicle’s path – Getting hit while crossing in front of a car is the most common type of bicycle accident. As a cyclist, you take up much less space than other cars. As a result, you’re much harder to see. At slower speeds, these types of accidents are not often fatal but you can still suffer serious injuries.
- Left hook accidents – The second most common type of bicycle accident is also the most dangerous because of the high speeds involved. Left hook accidents happen when a car turning left fails to yield to a cyclist coming from an oncoming lane. This results in either a direct collision or the cyclist getting cut off and crashing.
- Right hook accidents – Nearly half of all bicycle accidents involve the cyclist and vehicles going in the same direction. Right hook accidents happen when a car turning right at an intersection fails to yield to a bicyclist traveling in their lane. This can be extremely dangerous for cyclists who get caught in a motorist’s blind spot.
- Side-swipe accidents – Because bicyclists don’t have nearly as much visibility on the road, you can easily get caught in a car's blind spot. It is a driver's responsibility to check their own blind spots before merging into other lanes. Side-swiping occurs when a driver going the same direction fails to see you and hits you with the side of their car or truck.
- Car door accidents (dooring) – Car door accidents or “dooring” happens when someone gets out of their car without checking for cyclists, who could be coming at high speed when they collide with the car door. This can lead to significant injuries. The party who opened the door can be responsible for your injuries if they acted carelessly.
Chicago has a number of traffic and right-of-way laws to protect cyclists from accidental injury, but those rules can’t protect against careless, distracted, or reckless driving. Drivers may speed, fail to yield, ignore traffic signals, drive intoxicated, or mistake who has right of way. Helmets are essential for your safety, but you could still get a head injury while wearing a helmet – although your injury would probably be less severe than if you had gone without.
Bike accidents can result in serious injuries, particularly for the cyclist. Even a nonfatal bicycle accident can have major consequences for your life that could last years.
Common types of bike accident injuries include:
- Broken or shattered bones, broken collarbones/clavicle fractures are common
- Muscle, tendon, and ligament pulls or strains
- Cuts, scrapes, contusions, and bruises
- Head Concussions or other traumatic brain injuries with potentially lifelong effects
- Neck and spinal injuries including whiplash, herniated discs or bulging discs
- Bodily harm that results in bruising, hematoma, lung collapse or hemorrhaging
- Broken ribs, broken sternum, internal injuries, or internal bleeding
You should get checked out by a medical professional as soon as possible after a cycling accident, even if you feel “fine.” Latent injuries might not become obvious to you until hours, days, or weeks after your accident. The sooner you get medical attention and treatment, the sooner you can see if anything is wrong and start the healing process.
In addition – when you get medical treatment, you start a medical record to document your injuries. Your medical record plays a huge part as evidence in a personal injury lawsuit or trial. In order to get compensated for any injuries you’ve suffered in your accident, you must prove the extent of your injuries and that your injuries were caused by the accident. You have the best chance to record your injuries immediately after your accident occurs.
If you’re worried about medical bills, a personal injury lawsuit can help cover your costs. You can even get compensation for pain and suffering. Kramer Injury Law has recovered millions in damages for our cyclist clients in the Chicago area. Call our Cook County offices today at (312) 775-1012 to talk to a bicycle accident lawyer about your case.
Types of Damages Awarded in Bicycle Accident Lawsuits
A bicycle accident can completely change your life, with both economic and non-economic consequences. You may no longer be able to carry out your job, causing you to lose your income. You may also experience pain and PTSD from the accident. If a loved one has died in a bike accident, you’re mourning a tremendous loss that cannot be quantified.
Personal injury lawsuits exist to help “make you whole” under the eyes of the law, as if the accident never happened. In many cases, this is impossible to do literally – the law simply cannot reverse an injury or death. Instead, the law offers monetary compensation for what you’ve suffered, to be paid for by the party responsible for your accident.
Compensatory damages cover both economic and non-economic damages. These include:
- Property damage to your bicycle or the cost of a replacement bike
- Medical expenses covering treatments you've received for your injuries (past or future)
- Any lost wages as a result of being unable to work because of your injury
- Pain and suffering, emotional trauma, and PTSD
- Care for a temporary or permanent disability that affects your mobility or quality of life
In the case of a loved one’s accidental death, you would get damages for wrongful death.
In Illinois, personal injury lawsuits can also get punitive damages, which are meant to punish the responsible party for especially bad conduct, recklessness, or extreme negligence. For example, driving under the influence (DUI) could be enough for punitive damages.
The Legal Process After a Bicycle Accident in Chicago
The clock starts ticking on your case immediately after your accident. You have two years from the date of your bicycle accident to file a personal injury lawsuit for compensation.
You may receive a settlement offer from the insurance company of the motorist who hit you. Although you may be tempted to take the offer just to get the ordeal over with, it's important to discuss your rights with a lawyer before you sign anything.
Documentation and Investigation
Evidence is a critical part of a successful personal injury lawsuit. To have a strong negotiating position, you must be able to prove to a judge or jury:
- The extent of your injuries, pain, and emotional suffering, and
- That your injuries were caused by the accident.
Proof requires evidence. And the stronger your evidence, the stronger your case.
The documentation process begins at the scene of your accident. If you’re physically able, you should try to document as much of the accident scene as possible. That includes:
- Photos and videos of the scene from all angles
- Witness statements and contact information
- A police report filed with an officer at the scene or at a police station later
- Medical records from any treatment you receive for your injuries after the accident
Medical records play a huge part in your case. You should get immediate medical attention after your accident not just for your health but to start a paper trail of your injuries. Evidence is strongest when it’s “fresh,” before enough time has passed to muddle the circumstances.
Your personal injury lawyer will help you with the investigation and documentation process. That could mean going back to the accident location to take photographs and videos if necessary. The smallest details can make a big difference in your case.
At Kramer Injury Law, we prepare all of our personal injury cases as if they're going to go to trial from the beginning. We put all of the evidence together to show the most compelling case possible. Ironically, the better you can show that you'll be successful in court, the less likely you are to actually go to court. Insurance companies will be much more willing to negotiate with you out of court when they know they’ll probably lose if they go to trial. We will make it clear to the insurance company your case will be presented to a jury.
A pre-trial settlement agreement helps you resolve your personal injury lawsuit without having to go to trial. This is advantageous for many reasons – chiefly among them, time.
Negotiation settlements take much less time to resolve compared to court. You may come to a settlement agreement within just a few months if you have a really strong case.
In contrast, depending on the complexity of your lawsuit, a court case could take several months to years to resolve. In most cases, you don't get any compensation until after the final verdict. Including appeals, that could mean waiting a long time before you see a payout. Meanwhile, you have to deal with medical expenses or income loss. That could mean a lot of hardship.
On the other hand, you also don't want to settle too early. Insurance companies will often lowball their first offer, hoping you'll take the settlement and move on. But you could be entitled to thousands or even millions more. If you agree to a settlement offer without talking to a lawyer, you could be leaving a lot on the table. Once you agree to a settlement offer, you forfeit the right to sue the same party for the same accident again. So this is your one shot.
Your personal injury lawyer can help you assess the value of any settlement offer you receive from either your insurance company or the responsible party’s insurance company. At Kramer Injury Law, our experienced bicycle accident lawyers will take a look at your case and let you know what you can expect based on the unique facts of your situation.
When you work with us, our passionate lawyers represent you at the negotiation table. Our legal team is dedicated to your best interests as a client. Our years of experience in bicycle injury law in the Chicago area give us the insight and expertise necessary to level the playing field when you’re facing a large insurance company with deep pockets and significant resources.
Taking Your Personal Injury Case to Trial
Sometimes, you have no choice but to go to trial because you simply cannot come to a proper settlement agreement. This can happen if you or another motorist’s insurance company is stonewalling you or if you have a much stronger case than they’re willing to consider.
When settlement negotiations fall apart, your personal injury lawyer will take your lawsuit to civil court to be heard by a judge and/or jury. At trial, the outcome of your case is decided by the court. This process takes the outcome largely out of your hands, compared to negotiation settlements where you have more control over the terms of your final settlement offer.
A trial isn't easy but it might be necessary for your case. At Kramer Injury Law, our aggressive trial preparation helps make the process easier on our clients. Leave it to us to present your strongest case. Call our Chicago offices at (312) 775-1012 today for a free consultation.
Contingency Fee Arrangements in Bike Accident Lawsuits
Worried about how you can even afford a lawyer? At Kramer Injury Law, we take bicycle accident injury cases on a contingency fee basis, which means you don't pay us upfront. In fact, we don't get paid until we recover damages for you.
You have the right to get compensation for injuries caused by someone else. You shouldn’t have to worry about additional legal bills right now when you’ve already suffered so much from the accident. Our lawyers know what you’re going through. That’s why we’re passionate about protecting our clients and fighting for their rights – at no additional risk to you.
Call our seasoned personal injury attorneys for a free case consultation now at (312) 775-1012.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is It Worth Getting a Bicycle Accident Lawyer?
Yes, especially when you have the option of a contingency fee arrangement. Simply put, you are much more likely to get better compensation for your injury with a lawyer than without.
Without a personal injury lawyer on your side to protect your interests, you end up facing insurance companies with way more resources and deeper pockets than you. They don't have your interests in mind like a lawyer does – even if it's your own insurance company. Instead, insurance companies want to minimize any injury payouts as much as possible to protect their bottom line. They don’t have your back like your own lawyer would.
You could be leaving thousands or even millions of dollars on the table if you simply accept the first settlement offer you’re given without talking to a lawyer first. A personal injury lawyer can review the facts of your accident and let you know what you can expect to receive in damages.
When Should You Call an Attorney for a Bike Crash?
You should call a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after your biking accident. This is because gathering evidence is extremely important in personal injury cases – and evidence is the most compelling when it's gathered “fresh,” or soon after the accident occurred.
At Kramer Injury Law, we can help you collect the relevant evidence, documents, and eyewitness statements you need to prove your case. We make sure the legal process goes smoothly so you can focus on healing. The sooner you consult with a personal injury lawyer, the sooner you can get on the right track to receive the compensation you deserve.
In Illinois, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury or wrongful death claim is 2 years after your accident occurs. If you delay too long, you could lose your chance.
What’s the Average Compensation for a Cycling Accident?
The answer depends on the specifics of your bicycle accident and the severity of your injury. Because cyclists are so vulnerable in traffic, an accident on the road could lead to devastating injuries. Personal injury settlements and judgments can vary between several thousand to millions of dollars. The more severe or permanent your injuries, the more you’re likely to get in a settlement. In addition, Illinois has no cap on the amount of punitive damages you might get in the case of drunken or reckless driving.
Sometimes, you may not know what you'll get for damages until you complete your medical treatment. The best way to get a better idea of what to expect is to discuss the details of your bicycling accident with a Chicago area personal injury lawyer.
Can You Get Damages if You Were Partly at Fault?
What if you got hurt in a bicycle accident where you were also violating traffic laws? Even if you were partly at fault in the accident, you can still get compensation in the state of Illinois.
That's because Illinois is a modified comparative negligence state. As long as you're no more than 50% responsible for the accident, you can get damages for your injuries. Your compensation will be reduced by the proportion of your responsibility. So if a court finds you 30% responsible for the accident, you would receive 30% less in damages.
How Long Will Your Bicycle Accident Lawsuit Last?
Depending on the direction your legal case takes, your personal injury lawsuit could last anywhere between a few months to even years. Personal injury lawsuits that resolve in a settlement agreement tend to take less time than those that go to trial.
The length of your case may also vary based on the severity of your injuries and the intensity of your medical treatment. Your personal injury attorney can help you understand what kind of timeline to expect. At Kramer Injury Law, our attorneys work tirelessly to help the legal process go as smoothly and quickly as possible while protecting your interest.
How Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Help Your Bike Accident Case?
A good personal injury lawyer is a guide who advocates for you at all points in the legal process. If you are a cyclist who's been struck by a vehicle on the road, you're already fighting for your health. If you've lost a loved one in a bicycling accident, you’re mourning a difficult loss. The last thing you need right now is the stress of fighting an insurance company about covering all that you’ve lost. So let our lawyers take care of all of that for you.
At Kramer Injury Law, we fight passionately for our clients so they can focus on their family and health. You can trust our combined decades of award-winning experience to get you the compensation you deserve under the law. Call our Chicago offices today at (312) 775-1012 to get started with a free consultation of your case.