Americans are increasingly bicycling to commute, for exercise, or just for fun. Unfortunately, the fun ends when a bike crash occurs with any kind of vehicle. Whether a bike rider is struck by a car, a truck, or even a motorcycle, it’s the cyclist who is most likely to be injured, even if you’re wearing a helmet and other safety gear. And the injuries can be catastrophic or even fatal. A bike rider has the same rights and responsibilities as a motorist. If a reckless motorist was irresponsible and violated your rights, you shouldn’t feel you have to deal with all of the consequences alone. Insurance companies can be difficult to deal with, especially if you are coping with severe injuries or even the loss of a family member. An experienced and compassionate Decatur bicycle accident lawyer can help you get the compensation you deserve and that fairness requires, while you concentrate on getting better and returning to a normal life. Call today to discuss your case with an experienced personal injury attorney.
Bike Accident Facts
According to the CDC, in one year alone in the United States, there were almost 467,000 bicycle-related injuries, and over 1,000 bicyclists died. And data from another year showed that fatal and non-fatal crash-related injuries to bicyclists resulted in lifetime medical costs and productivity losses of $10 billion. In December 2019, the US Department of Transportation posted that bicyclist deaths have increased 38% since 2010.
In Illinois, data published by the Illinois Department of Transportation in 2019 recorded that in one year there were 2,793 total crashes involving bicycles of all types. And, 2,689 of these resulted in injuries, with 390 of them being the most serious kinds. Sadly, there were 26 fatal crashes.
If you, or a loved one, was severely injured or killed in a bike crash, you need a knowledgeable central Illinois personal injury attorney in your corner fighting for your rights.
Illinois Bicycle Laws
The Illinois Vehicle Code (625 ILCS 5) provides that all the Illinois traffic laws apply to persons riding bicycles. With certain exceptions, bicyclists are granted all of the rights and are subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of any vehicle. Where permitted, bicyclists using the sidewalks also have all the rights and duties of pedestrians.
The code also provides that motorists overtaking a bicycle must leave a safe distance, but not less than 3 feet, when passing a bicycle and shall maintain that distance until safely past the overtaken bicycle. In 2018, to improve cyclist safety, new Code provisions provided that motorists were allowed to pass bicyclists in no passing zones under certain conditions, again while maintaining the state mandated 3 feet clearance of the bicycle. The new legislation also legalized bicycling on shoulders; but bicycling on shoulders is not required, as there are situations in which a cyclist may decide not to ride on the shoulder.
The law that requires at least 8 feet width for two-wheeled vehicles (such as motorcycles) to pass on the right does not apply to devices propelled by human power — like bicycles.
The code also has harassment provisions, which provide that a motorist shall not, in a reckless manner, drive unnecessarily close to, toward, or near a bicyclist. Depending on whether great bodily harm results, this is a Class A misdemeanor or a Class 3 felony.
Types of Bicycle Accident Injuries
When someone in any kind of vehicle causes a biking accident, under any circumstances, it’s usually the cyclist who’s injured. The careless and negligent driver usually walks away. They may not even stop — a hit and run. The bike rider on the other hand, often suffers serious and life altering injuries that can include:
- road rash or other skin injuries, such as deep cuts or lacerations
- embedded debris that can result in “traumatic tattooing”
- muscle sprains or other soft tissue injuries, like severe bruising (contusions)
- broken bones or other severe orthopedic injuries like tendon ruptures
- crushed limbs and amputations
- dental or other facial injuries
- eye injuries and loss of vision
- internal bleeding or other organ damage
- head injuries, like concussions or more severe traumatic brain injury, are responsible for most fatalities
- neck or spine injuries, including paralysis
- in the worst case, death
These injuries can have lifelong effects, including disfigurement, months or years of physical therapy and rehabilitation, and even permanent disability. You should have an experienced attorney working for you to make sure that you get what you deserve for the injuries you’ve suffered.
Causes of Bicycle Accidents
Negligent and reckless driving can take many forms, all equally dangerous when a bike crash results:
- failure of drivers to yield right of way to cyclists
- failure to heed traffic signals or the rider’s signaling
- speeding, which shortens reaction time and worsens the force of impact
- making illegal turns or failing to signal; cars often strike bicycles while making a turn
- failure to check whether a cyclist is approaching from behind before opening a door
- failing to adjust for road and weather conditions
- distracted driving (for example, eating or texting while driving)
- drunk driving or drug impaired driving
- vehicle malfunctions, such as defective or bad maintenance of equipment like lights, brakes, tires, etc.
- reckless and aggressive driving, such as tailgating a bicycle to try to get it to move over or speed up
- sadly, nowadays some motorists may even attempt to harass, threaten, or purposely injure bicycle riders
- finally, defective bicycle parts or safety gear can result in serious injury
A knowledgeable and experienced attorney, working for you as early as possible, can help you determine the responsible party or parties, identify all potential sources of financial recovery, and get just compensation for the negligence.
Bike Accident FAQs
What should I do after a bicycle accident?
The actions you take affect not just health, but also your ability to get fair compensation for the injuries. Some suggestions:
- Don’t assume your injuries are minor without a medical evaluation. Get evaluated as soon as possible and follow the medical advice you’re given.
- Get all the medical care you need. Don’t let the fear of costs or the uncertainty about who will be responsible for payments prevent you from getting proper evaluation and treatment.
- Keep track of all the providers you see, so your attorney can accurately account for all your medical expenses — ambulances, emergency rooms, hospitals, and physicians. But don’t forget other providers, like dentists, physical therapists, chiropractors, counselors or psychologists, visiting nurses, home health aides, etc. Keep receipts for things like prescriptions, and medical equipment like canes, crutches, braces, wheelchairs, etc.
- Keep track of all other economic losses and expenses resulting from the injuries: lost work or wages, and expenses for services you can’t do now, such as pet care, lawn care, household cleaning, etc.
- As soon as you can, write down as much as you can remember about the accident itself. Make notes of any conversations you had with people involved in the accident or with witnesses. Preserve any evidence — such as the bike, clothing, and any other physical items present at the scene; any photographs of the scene, the car, or your injuries; any information stored in any devices you used (such as a Garmin GPS, Strava, etc.), which may include helpful information about the location, grade of the road, your speed, time of day, weather, and much more.
- Never discuss any aspect of the accident with any of the drivers. Exchange contact and insurance information only.
- Your underinsured motorist insurance (UIM) may provide coverage and may require that you report the accident promptly. But remember that insurance companies and adjusters have a goal to minimize claim payments. Never admit any fault or give a written or recorded statement to any insurance provider without legal advice from your own attorney, the only one that will truly act in your best interests. Just report the basic facts about the accident – the who, where, and when. Let the details wait until you’ve consulted with your lawyer.
- A common mistake is to try to have all medical care billed primarily to the driver’s auto insurance company. In general, it’s best to provide your own health insurance information as the primary insurer and have them billed directly. This will usually result in a better recovery for your medical costs.
- But, don’t make the biggest mistake of all. Avoid the natural temptation to sign a settlement offer quickly, but prematurely — before all injuries, damages, and losses have become apparent, and before eventual outcomes become clear. Insurance companies may quickly offer a sum of immediate cash to get you to sign a settlement to resolve the case. Consulting with an experienced personal-injury attorney will almost always result in negotiating a better settlement for you.
What kind of damages can be recovered?
A skilled personal injury attorney is critical to ensuring that you recover for all of the damages allowed under Illinois law. These include:
- the expense of any necessary medical care, treatment, or services you have received or are reasonably certain to need in the future
- the value of any wages, profits, earnings, or benefits you lost because of the accident or are likely to lose in the future
- if there is evidence that life expectancy has been shortened by the injuries, this has been recognized as a separate compensable damage
- the cost of caretaking expenses or other necessary help resulting from the injuries, now or in the future
- compensation for “loss of normal life”, things you can no longer do — any temporary or permanent diminished ability to enjoy your life, including the ability to pursue the pleasurable aspects of life
- reimbursement for current or future disabilities resulting from the accident injuries
- compensation when the injury puts you at an increased risk of future harm
- disfigurement is recognized as a separate element of damages in Illinois when scarring or other kinds of disfiguring injuries occur.
- compensation for pain and suffering you experienced because of the injuries
- an award for emotional distress caused by the injury
- if you lost a loved one, you’re entitled to compensation for the wrongful death from the responsible party.
What kinds of insurance coverage are there when a vehicle causes a bicycle crash?
There are a number of possibilities, and we can help guide you through all of the options available for recovery from insurance companies. Some of the most likely sources of coverage include:
- You can probably recover from the at-fault driver’s liability insurance on their auto policy.
- You may have uninsured or under insured coverage on your own auto insurance policy that often provides coverage even when you weren’t driving in your car, but were injured by a car while riding your bicycle
- You may have medical payments coverage on your own auto policy that may provide coverage if you’re hit by another car while riding a bike.
- If the at-fault driver was driving a work vehicle or operating a vehicle in the course of their job, you may be able to recover from their employer’s liability insurance
- If you’re struck as a bicycle rider in the course of your work, such as a delivery service, you may be eligible to recover from your company’s workers compensation
But remember that any insurance company will try to minimize claim payments. Your best bet to get fair compensation is to let an experienced accident injury attorney represent you and protect your interests.
What can a Central Illinois bike accident lawyer do for you?
You already know that a bike crash can be devastating and that it affects all of your life. Never mind the medical problems, the paperwork alone can seem overwhelming. Don’t deal with this by yourself. You have enough to do to make sure that everyone gets well and back to as normal a life as possible. I know the law and have the experience to deal with the insurance companies and all of the paperwork. I’ll carefully listen to you to evaluate your situation, and then I can gather the evidence, determine fault, collect all the documents to fully assess your damages and losses, build your case, make a timely claim, and successfully resolve it in your favor. Most often, this can be done without going to court; I can usually negotiate for you to get a fair settlement on your behalf.
How much will it cost to get representation by a legal professional?
We usually represent clients in these cases on a contingency fee basis. There are no charges to you upfront and we are only paid from the settlement if and when successfully obtain a recovery for you. That means that you can afford to get the representation you need now to go up against the insurance companies and their legal teams.
Protect Your Legal Rights After a Decatur Bike Accident
Contact a Decatur bicycle accident lawyer now for a no-obligation, free legal consultation. The sooner you contact me, the faster I can get to work for you, make sure your rights and interests are protected, and let you focus on your recovery and getting your life back.