Articles Posted in Bicycle Accidents

Bicycling in Chicago is becoming safer but accidents continue to happen.  Knowing what to do immediately after a bicycle accident can make a significant difference in your health recovery and legal outcome as to who will be responsible for the medical expenses and your damages.  Zneimer & Zneimer PC have legal expertise in handling bicycle accidents and this checklist provides steps what to do in case of an accident:

  • Move to a safe place. Move to a safe location if you can. Ensure that you and others involved are out of harm’s way. Check yourself for injuries and seek medical attention immediately, if you feel  even if you feel fine. Some injuries may not be immediately apparent.
  • Call 911 to report the accident and notify the dispatcher if you have been hurt and if you need an ambulance.  An official police report will be important for your insurance claim and any potential legal action

Bicycle riding, while offering a host of benefits such as improved physical health, reduced environmental impact, and an economical mode of transportation, also comes with its risks, particularly in urban environments like Chicago. Cyclists often share the road with larger, faster-moving vehicles, increasing the potential for accidents and injuries. Among the most distressing types of these incidents are hit-and-run accidents, where the responsible party leaves the scene, often leaving the cyclist with injuries and no immediate means to claim compensation. Understanding the intricacies of bicycle injuries, the importance of immediate medical care, and how insurance can play a critical role in such situations is crucial for every cyclist.  The Chicago personal injury law firm of Zneimer & Zneimer PC has encountered people with serious injuries as a result of bike vs. automobile accidents.

Bicycle injuries can range from minor scrapes and bruises to more severe injuries such as head traumas, broken bones, internal bleeding, or even spinal injuries. The severity of injuries can often be compounded by the lack of physical protection that bicycles offer compared to motor vehicles. This vulnerability underscores the importance of seeking immediate medical attention following an accident, even if the injuries appear minor initially. Some injuries, especially internal ones, may not manifest symptoms immediately but could have serious, long-lasting effects.

Immediate medical care not only facilitates a quicker recovery but also plays a pivotal role in legal claims related to the accident. Medical records serve as vital evidence in documenting the injuries sustained and their impact on the victim’s life, which is essential for pursuing compensation.

One of the complexities arising from hit-and-run accidents is the challenge of identifying and claiming compensation from the fleeing party. However, cyclists may have options through their own insurance policies or those of a family member. Many are unaware that certain types of insurance coverage, such as uninsured motorist (UM) or underinsured motorist (UIM) policies, can offer protection in these scenarios. Continue reading

Montar en bicicleta ofrece numerosos beneficios como la mejora de la salud física, la reducción del impacto ambiental y una opción económica de transporte. Sin embargo, también conlleva sus riesgos, especialmente en entornos urbanos como Chicago. Los ciclistas a menudo comparten la carretera con vehículos más grandes y rápidos, lo que incrementa el potencial de accidentes y lesiones. Entre los incidentes más angustiosos se encuentran los accidentes de fuga, donde la parte responsable abandona la escena, dejando a menudo al ciclista lesionado sin medios inmediatos para reclamar compensación. Comprender las complejidades de las lesiones en bicicleta, la importancia de la atención médica inmediata y cómo el seguro puede desempeñar un papel crítico en tales situaciones es crucial para todo ciclista. El bufete de abogados de lesiones personales en Chicago, Zneimer & Zneimer PC, ha encontrado personas con lesiones graves como resultado de accidentes de bicicleta contra automóvil.

Las lesiones en bicicleta pueden variar desde raspaduras y moretones menores hasta lesiones más graves como traumas craneales, fracturas, hemorragias internas o incluso lesiones espinales. La severidad de las lesiones a menudo puede verse agravada por la falta de protección física que las bicicletas ofrecen en comparación con los vehículos motorizados. Esta vulnerabilidad subraya la importancia de buscar atención médica inmediata después de un accidente, incluso si las lesiones parecen menores inicialmente. Algunas lesiones, especialmente las internas, pueden no manifestar síntomas inmediatamente pero podrían tener efectos graves y duraderos.

La atención médica inmediata no solo facilita una recuperación más rápida sino que también juega un papel crucial en las reclamaciones legales relacionadas con el accidente. Los registros médicos sirven como evidencia vital para documentar las lesiones sufridas y su impacto en la vida de la víctima, lo cual es esencial para perseguir la compensación.

Una de las complejidades que surgen de los accidentes de fuga es el desafío de identificar y reclamar compensación de la parte que huye. Sin embargo, los ciclistas pueden tener opciones a través de sus propias pólizas de seguro o las de un miembro de la familia. Muchos desconocen que ciertos tipos de cobertura de seguro, como las pólizas de automovilista sin seguro (UM) o con seguro insuficiente (UIM), pueden ofrecer protección en estos escenarios.

Las coberturas UM y UIM están diseñadas para compensar al asegurado por las pérdidas sufridas debido a las acciones de un conductor sin seguro, con seguro insuficiente o no identificado. Esto significa que si un ciclista está involucrado en un accidente de fuga, potencialmente pueden buscar compensación bajo su cobertura UM. De manera similar, si el ciclista es dependiente o vive en un hogar con un miembro de la familia que tiene cobertura UM o UIM, podrían ser elegibles para reclamar bajo esa póliza. Continue reading

Muchos de nuestros nuevos vecinos o migrantes optan por la bicicleta como su principal medio de transporte, ya sea por no disponer de un automóvil o por preferir una alternativa más sostenible y accesible. En este contexto, es fundamental conocer las mejores prácticas para protegerse de posibles lesiones al transitar por las calles de Chicago. El bufete de abogados de Chicago, Zneimer & Zneimer, se preocupa profundamente por nuestros nuevos vecinos y desea enfatizar la importancia de ser ciclistas seguros en la ciudad. Entendiendo los riesgos y estando informados sobre cómo navegar el entorno urbano de manera segura, los ciclistas pueden disfrutar de los beneficios de este medio de transporte mientras minimizan la posibilidad de accidentes y lesiones.

Tras revisar el caso de Alave v. City of Chicago, se hace evidente que el panorama legal para los ciclistas que navegan por las calles de la ciudad presenta desafíos matizados, particularmente cuando los accidentes ocurren fuera de áreas designadas para bicicletas. La decisión de la Corte Suprema contra el señor Alave subraya una distinción crítica en las protecciones legales para los ciclistas, dependiendo de si se clasifican como usuarios intencionados o simplemente permitidos de la vía.

En este caso, el señor Alave resultó lesionado tras encontrarse con un bache mientras montaba su bicicleta cerca de una estación de compartición de bicicletas Divvy, no en un camino designado para bicicletas. El argumento legal central se centró en si la ciudad tenía un deber de cuidado hacia el señor Alave, encontrando la corte que, dado que no estaba en una ruta designada para bicicletas, se consideraba un usuario permitido pero no intencionado de la carretera. Esta clasificación impactó significativamente en la evaluación de la corte sobre las responsabilidades de la ciudad hacia él en el momento del accidente.

La distinción entre usuarios intencionados y permitidos influye fundamentalmente en el grado en que los municipios deben garantizar la seguridad de los diferentes usuarios de la carretera. A los usuarios intencionados, como los automovilistas en las carreteras o los ciclistas en caminos designados para bicicletas, se les debe un mayor deber de cuidado, que abarca el mantenimiento regular y las medidas de seguridad. Por el contrario, los usuarios permitidos, aunque legalmente autorizados para usar el espacio, pueden no beneficiarse del mismo nivel de medidas de seguridad proactivas.

La decisión de Alave resalta la importancia de que los ciclistas comprendan las implicaciones de dónde eligen montar. También plantea preguntas sobre la adecuación de la infraestructura actual y los marcos legales para proteger a los ciclistas, especialmente en entornos urbanos donde los caminos designados para bicicletas pueden no conectar de manera continua o cubrir todas las áreas frecuentadas por ciclistas.

Para las personas afectadas por incidentes similares, este caso enfatiza la necesidad de experiencia legal en casos de lesiones personales que involucren accidentes de bicicleta. Zneimer & Zneimer P.C., con su profundo entendimiento de la ley de lesiones personales y dedicación a abogar por los derechos de los ciclistas, está listo para asistir a aquellos que navegan las secuelas de tales accidentes. El enfoque de la firma es examinar meticulosamente los detalles de cada caso, aprovechando su conocimiento para abogar por un trato justo y una compensación adecuada para los ciclistas, independientemente de su estatus técnico como usuarios de las vías. Continue reading

The personal injury bicycle attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer PC. represent many injured bicyclists in Chicago and the surrounding areas.  Most injuries arise from collisions with cars, trucks, busses, and in such a case, the insurance of the responsible party likely will provide coverage, often after a lawsuit is filed.  However, when a bicyclist is injured by a street pothole, the municipality responsible for maintenance of the road, may avoid responsibility for the injury if the road is not a designated bike path or bike route.  After reviewing the Alave v. City of Chicago case, it’s evident that the legal landscape for bicyclists navigating city streets presents nuanced challenges, particularly when accidents occur outside designated biking areas. The Supreme Court’s decision against Mr. Alave underscores a critical distinction in legal protections for cyclists, hinging on the categorization of riders as either intended or merely permitted users of the roadway.

In this case, Mr. Alave was injured after encountering a pothole while riding his bicycle near a Divvy bicycle-sharing station, not on a designated bike path. The crux of the legal argument centered on whether the city owed a duty of care to Mr. Alave, with the court finding that because he was not on a designated bike route, he was considered a permitted but not an intended user of the road. This classification significantly impacted the court’s assessment of the city’s responsibilities toward him at the time of the accident.

The distinction between intended and permitted users fundamentally influences the extent to which municipalities must ensure the safety of different road users. Intended users, such as motorists on roads or cyclists on designated bike paths, are owed a higher duty of care, encompassing regular maintenance and safety measures. In contrast, permitted users, while legally allowed to use the space, may not benefit from the same level of proactive safety measures.

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Anyone who regularly rides their bicycle along Chicago’s Lakefront Trail will have noticed the proliferation of people riding electric bikes in the last few years.  The bike injury lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. note there appears to be a dearth of research regarding the safety of electric bikes in relation to regular pedal bikes.  As the popularity of electric bikes continue to grow and as more electric bikes  are being ridden on our roads and bike paths, there has been growing awareness that perhaps electric bikes need to be treated differently than regular bicycles.

In a recent study conducted by U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission it was reported that there were 53,200 e-bike crash injuries recorded.  More telling is that the study showed that electric bike injuries increased from 3,500 in 2017 to 24,400 in 2022 which shows how rapidly electric bike injuries are increasing.  Governmental entities are currently grappling with how to treat electric bikes.  Should they be treated like pedal bicycles or should they be treated more like motorcycles. Safety experts point out that electric bike users face a greater risk of serious injury or death for the obvious reason that electric bikes are heavier and faster than regular bikes.  WaBiffl MD, trauma medical director at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla and trauma surgeon at Scripps Clinic is quoted on Scripps Health website regarding electric bikes: “They go much faster, and this may create risk for hitting pedestrians who can’t get out of the way in time, or with motor vehicles, whose drivers do not anticipate a bike moving so fast,” He continues: “There’s also more momentum and the stopping distance will be much greater.”

As a frequent bicycle bike rider on Chicago’s Lakefront Trail, Chicago bike accident lawyer, Peter Zneimer, of Zneimer & Zneimer PC has noticed a big change within the last two years with the increase of electric bike usage.  The Lakefront trail has always been dangerous. The path is often congested in the summer months with bicyclist of all types from people who regularly ride on the path to tourists who have rented bikes and are on the path for the first time. Add to the mix pedestrians, including children and people unfamiliar with the park walking and crossing the path without paying attention, unaware of the dangers. There are also roller bladders, runners, families with baby strollers, skateboarders and everyone else enjoying Grant Park in the summer. The trail was plenty dangerous already with bicyclists riding too fast given the many potential dangers, causing serious injuries to both pedestrians and other bicyclists.  Now the situation is exponentially  more dangerous.  It is not unusual today to be pedaling a bicycle at a good clip on the bike path and be passed by someone on an electric bike that more resembles a motorcycle than a bike a bicycle going 20 to 35 miles per hour.  At the present time, there appears to be no restrictions as to what class of electric bikes are permitted on the Lakefront Trail.  There are no Chicago ordinances nor any signage on the path itself restricting speeds  or restricting the types of electric bikes allowed.  The city of Chicago seems to be relying on people to use their common sense to go slow in crowded areas when so many children, pedestrians and tourists are present. Unfortunately, common sense seems to be in short supply on the bike path.  Peter Zneimer has on many occasions witnessed people on electric bikes weaving at high speed through crowds of pedestrians and other bicyclists. Sadly, Peter Zneimer, has also witnessed serious injuries and even death on the bike path due to bike riders going too fast for conditions. Inevitably, with the higher speed and heavier electric bikes there will be even more severe injuries and deaths on the Lakeshore Bike Trail.  The wise course would be to restrict electric bike speed and classes on the bike path proactively and not wait until the injuries and deaths pile up before taking action.

 

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The Chicago Tribune recently published an article with the results of a study they conducted which seem to indicate that Chicago police tend not to issue tickets in pedestrian and cyclist crash cases.   The Tribune study of Chicago police data shows that out of more than 4,000 crashes between 2018 and November 2023 only 26% resulted in a traffic ticket or more serious charges.  The Chicago personal injury lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer, PC see many police reports and we observe that the police rarely actually witness the accident. When the police arrive on the scene of the crash, they interview the parties involved and the witnesses to determine what happened.  From experience, the lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer PC have observed that when there is an independent witness who will assign fault to one party or the other, then the police will be more likely to issue a ticket. Usually if there is no independent witness and both parties are blaming each other, then the police officer will not give a ticket to either party. Of course the injured pedestrian or cyclist can hire a personal injury lawyer to make a claim against the at fault motorist for damages.  If the motorist’s insurance company denies the claim then the injured party’s lawyer can file a lawsuit and have the case decided by a jury.

The Chicago Department of Transportation has  accelerated improvements on the roadways in Chicago, adding more protected bike lanes, pedestrian islands and speed bumps.  However, infrastructure improvements can only go so far in protecting pedestrians and cyclists.  Chicago Department of Transportation’s data shows that most traffic deaths involve motorists who were driving recklessly.  Almost 60% of the traffic deaths involved speeding.  Astonishingly, more than half of the pedestrian deaths in Chicago were hit and run crashes with the motorist fleeing the scene of the crash.

The bicycle lawyers of  Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. in Chicago, have observed a concerning trend in the increasing use of electric bikes (e-bikes) and the corresponding rise in injuries. Bike paths and lanes, once tranquil routes for cyclists, are transforming into high-speed thoroughfares, rife with risks. E-bikes, capable of speeds that rival motor vehicles, are not only challenging for the riders themselves but also pose significant dangers to traditional bicyclists.

The change in bike path dynamics is notable. Cyclists are now navigating a more complex environment, where they must manage high-speed e-bikes passing by, while also dealing with parked cars on one side and traffic on the other. This situation is leading to a spike in accidents and injuries, many of which we are encountering in our practice.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s data showing a significant increase in micromobility-related emergency visits is alarming. These injuries often mirror those seen in motorcycle accidents, both in severity and complexity.

BIcycle-in-Pothole-300x300The Illinois Supreme Court issued its decision in Alave v. City of Chicago. This case holds implications for the rights and safety of bicyclists in urban areas. Our team of bicycle injury lawyers at Zneimer & Zneimer represents bicyclists injured by potholes and has litigated issues of municipal liability when a person is injured on a street, sidewalk, or an alley.  The law makes a distinction between intended and permitted user and does not recognize right of recovery for users on the road who are considered permitted but not intended.  Thus a bicyclist who is not on a bike path or bike designated street has no recourse against the city for damages caused by defect on the street because the law deems such bicyclists permitted but not intended users.

In the case, Clark Alave was riding his own bicycle near a Divvy bicycle sharing station when he hit a pothole, resulting in permanent injuries. The complaint alleged that the City was negligent in its maintenance of the roadway, which led to the formation of the pothole that caused Alave’s accident. The City, in its defense, argued that the specific roadway where the accident occurred was not intended for bicycle use, as it was not a designated bicycle route and lacked signs or markings for bicyclists​​.

Initially, the City of Chicago won a motion to dismiss, arguing that Clark Alave was a permitted user only and that the city is immune from liability for his injuries. The appellate court overturned the circuit court’s decision, considering several factors.  According to the court, City ordinances against sidewalk cycling implied that cyclists were expected to use the road. The presence of a Divvy bike station suggested the city’s endorsement of road use by cyclists in that area.

However, the Illinois Supreme Court ultimately reversed the appellate court’s decision, focusing on the lack of specific markings or signs indicating intended bicycle use on the road in question.  The Illinois Supreme Court focused on determining whether the plaintiff, a bicyclist, was an intended user of the roadway where he was injured. The Court examined the roadway’s physical characteristics, signage, and markings to assess the city’s intent. Ultimately, the Court concluded that without specific indicators like bike lanes or signs denoting intended bicycle use, the bicyclist was not an intended user under the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act, thus negating the city’s liability for the plaintiff’s injuries. This decision highlights the complexities surrounding municipal liability and road safety for cyclists. It emphasizes the need for clear indications of intended road use for bicyclists, such as designated bike lanes or signs.

The Illinois Supreme Court followed its precedent in  Boub v. Township of Wayne, which established that the intended use of a roadway is determined by physical manifestations such as signs, markings, and other indications. This precedent was crucial in determining whether a bicyclist is considered an intended user of a roadway, impacting the municipality’s duty to maintain the road safely for that use. The Court’s analysis in Alave v. City of Chicago heavily relied on this precedent to assess the intended use and corresponding municipal responsibility. Continue reading

The Illinois Supreme Court case of Galarza v. Direct Auto Insurance Co. represents a significant judicial decision impacting uninsured motorist (UM) coverage in Illinois. This case arose from an incident where Cristopher Guiracocha, a minor, was injured by an uninsured motorist while riding his bicycle.  His father’s automobile insurer, Direct Auto Insurance denied coverage to Christopher arguing that he was not insured since he was on a bicycle and not in a vehicle at the time of the accident.

The Circuit Court initially granted summary judgment in favor of Direct Auto, agreeing with their argument that UM coverage did not apply as Cristopher was not an occupant of a covered vehicle at the time of the accident.

On appeal, the issue centered on whether the policy’s limitation of UM coverage to insureds occupying an “insured automobile” violated section 143a of the Illinois Insurance Code and was against public policy. The appellate court reversed the circuit court’s decision, finding that the policy’s terms were inconsistent with the statute and public policy, mandating broad UM coverage for “persons insured” under an auto insurance policy.

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