Every year, thousands of Illinois cyclists collide with other vehicles, and almost all of them result in injuries. While some riders may escape with only minor bumps or bruises, many others suffer debilitating injuries that alter the course of their lives.
If you or a loved one experienced were struck by a negligent driver while riding your bike, you should consider contacting a Decatur bicycle accident lawyer. An experienced injury attorney could guide you through the demanding process of obtaining compensation.
How Can a Decatur Bike Accident Attorney Help You?
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 is the cyclist who is most likely to be injured. Even if you are wearing a helmet and other safety gear, 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 should not 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 bike accident attorney in Decatur, Illinois can help you get the compensation you deserve, and that fairness requires, while you concentrate on getting better and returning to a normal life.
Laws that Keep Illinois Bicycle Riders Safe
The safety of Illinois roads rests upon both bicyclists and motorists. Under 625 Illinois Compiled Statutes 5/11-1502, cyclists enjoy the same rights and are subject to the same duties as all drivers in the area. For example, bicycle riders may travel on the same streets as cars and trucks, and while doing so, they must obey all traffic control signals (i.e., stop signs and traffic lights). However, there are laws directed exclusively at motor vehicle drivers or cyclists to make travel safer for those on bikes.
Motorists must exercise due care when bicycles are present to avoid collisions, and failure to do so violates 625 ILCS 5/11-1003.1. When passing a bicycle, 625 ILCS 5/11-703(d) instructs motor vehicle drivers to provide a minimum of three feet of space. This statute further clarifies that motorists must refrain from reckless maneuvering and coming unnecessarily close to a cyclist. The disregard of this statute is a criminal offense. If permanent bodily harm or disfigurement results, the culprit may be guilty of a Class 3 felony.
To prevent “dooring” (opening a vehicle’s door into traffic while parallel parked and striking a rider), 625 ILCS 5/11-1407 prohibits individuals from opening their doors without confirming that it is safe to do so. Lawyers in Decatur who regularly handle bicycle crashes may help injured cyclists use violations of these and other laws to support their claims for damages.
Many of the laws applicable to cyclists focus on safely sharing the road with larger vehicles. Generally, bike riders should operate as close to the right side of the road as possible, as per 625 ILCS 5/11-1505. When traveling in groups, bikers may not ride more than two abreast, and as further explained in 625 ILCS 5/11-1505.1, such action may not impede the normal flow of traffic.
At all times, bicyclists must have at least one hand on the handlebars and be able to use both hands to control the bike if necessary. So, carrying packages or items that prevent the rider from utilizing both hands is prohibited under 625 ILCS 5/11-1506. Additionally, 625 ILCS 5/11-1503 requires the person directing the bike to sit on a permanent seat and limits the number of individuals on the bike to that intended by the manufacturer.
Illinois also mandates specific safety equipment, such as brakes, reflectors, and front and back lights. However, the state does not mandate helmet wearing. Nevertheless, bike riders should consider the benefits of helmets for their health and safety. Parents should encourage helmet use and provide helmets for their children.
Fatal Bike Crashes
In addition to debilitating injuries, such as broken bones and head trauma, collisions between bicycles and automobiles can result in death. In these unfortunate instances, surviving family members may file a wrongful death suit under 740 ILCS 180/1. Under this cause of action, family may pursue any claims and damages that the decedent could have filed. Also, 740 ILCS 180/2(a) allows family members to collect all fair and just damages arising from their relative’s passing, including funeral expenses and compensation for grief, sorrow, and mental anguish.
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 percent 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 in Decatur, you need a knowledgeable central Illinois attorney in your corner fighting for your rights.
Types of Bicycle Crash Injuries
When someone in any kind of vehicle causes a biking accident, under any circumstances, it is usually the cyclist who is 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 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 bike crash attorney in the area working for you to make sure that you get the compensation you deserve for the injuries you have suffered.
Causes of Bike 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
It is important to get in touch with a local attorney who is knowledgeable and experienced with bike accidents early in your case to 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:
- Do not assume your injuries are minor without a medical evaluation. Get evaluated as soon as possible and follow the medical advice you are given.
- Get all the medical care you need. Do not 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 do not 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 have 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.
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.
Speak with a Decatur Bicycle Accident Attorney Today
If your bike wreck left you injured and in need of compensation, take advantage of a free consultation with an experienced Decatur bicycle accident lawyer. We have years of experience in this area and are dedicated to helping injured bicycle riders. Contact us today to discuss your case