“Due Care” and Bicycle Accidents

A driver that struck and fatally wounded a five year old girl in Chicago on September 6th was ticketed for the bicycle accident. The five year old was riding her bike on Sacramento Ave when she was struck by a 64 year old woman coming out of an alley and passing onto the road. The young girl was taken to Saint Francis Hospital in Evanston and pronounced dead shortly after six o’clock Sunday evening.

The driver was issued two citations. She was cited for not stopping when emerging from an alley and for not providing “due care” for a pedestrian in a roadway. The Chicago Police are big promoters of the idea that “Bikes Belong” according to the Chicago Bicycle Program.

“Due care” is often discussed during bicycle accident cases and personal injury cases in general. It means that the defendant is required to operate a vehicle or truck, etc. with the same “ordinary care” that a reasonable person would do in the same situation. Negligence cases often come down to the reasonableness of the defendant. The police and courts take into account the relative reasonableness of the defendant in making citations or negligence decisions. “Due care” is about responsibility including the responsibility you have when operating a vehicle knowing that there are other cars and bikes and trucks on the road.

Courts do not hold children to the same standard of care as an adult. They are held in a modified standard according to their age and development. The only time children are held to the same standard of care as an adult is if they are participating in an adult activity such as snowmobiling.

It is not known how this bicycle accident case will turn out. The police have found that the defendant did not provide “due care”. A reasonable person would have known to stop before emerging onto the roadway and to have been aware of other users of the road. Unfortunately a small child had to die due to that negligence.