The Coronavirus pandemic has led to an increase in the number of people riding bicycles in Chicago. Unfortunately, this has also meant an increase in the number of traffic accidents, including fatalities, involving bicycles.
An Increase in Accidents
In September, Chicago saw its seventh on-street bike death of 2020, after a driver hit a man riding one of the new electric-assist Divvy bikes at Warren Boulevard and Damen Avenue near the United Center on the Near West Side. The cyclist was taken to Stroger Hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly after arriving.
With several months still left in 2020, Chicago has already seen more bicycle accident fatalities than in a typical year, likely because of more people riding during the pandemic.
No one needs to tell bike riders that cycling in the city can be dangerous. They’re already well aware. While city leaders and planners try to find ways to make the city’s streets safer for cyclists, the problem of accidents involving motorists and cyclists continues to rise as the number of cyclists rises.
In July, a crash between a city-owned truck and a woman cycling north along Milwaukee Avenue left the woman seriously injured and hospitalized. The woman had been turning right onto Belmont Avenue when she was hit and dragged by a Chicago Department of Transportation truck, which was also turning right. Witnesses were able to get the truck driver’s attention so that he stopped. The woman was taken to the hospital.
Even when they’re wearing helmets and other protective gear, bicycle riders are so vulnerable that their injuries are generally severe, especially in accidents that involve heavy trucks. Broken bones are common, and spinal cord and brain injuries are not unusual. Though some bicycle accident victims will make a quick and full recovery, others injured so seriously that their lives are never the same again.
Who is at Fault?
Bicycle accidents are almost always caused by the negligence of someone driving a car or truck. Motorists are prone to making sudden lane changes, turning at traffic lights, or opening car doors, and hitting a cyclist. Distracted driving is also a major reason for many accidents involving motorists and cyclists.
If you were the cyclist injured in an accident with a truck driver, you might have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit. If a negligent truck driver killed a bicyclist you love, you may have a wrongful death lawsuit.
Hit and Run Drivers
The injured woman in this instance will likely be able to seek compensation from the driver of the truck and the city of Chicago, but when hit-and-run drivers hit cyclists, they may not have the same options for justice.
When a driver illegally flees the scene of an accident, it may be because they are too impaired by drugs or alcohol to know that they have hit a cyclist, or because they want to avoid being questioned by the police. If law enforcement officers can arrest the hit-and-run driver, the injured cyclist may be able to recover damages.
Other Options for Recovering Damages
But, even if the driver is not apprehended, an injured cyclist may be able to be compensated for hospital bills and injuries incurred by filing a claim against the city, county, or state agency responsible for maintaining safe roadways.
In many cases, the city has not created enough bike lanes to accommodate the rising number of cyclists. Even where there are bike lanes, the city often does not do enough to prevent people, including city employees and construction crews, from using bike lanes as free parking or otherwise blocking them. More than 1,200 obstructions involving municipal vehicles have been recorded and submitted to an online database that tracks Chicago’s blocked bike lanes.
Talk to a Lawyer
If you or someone you love was injured or killed in an accident with a truck or car driver, you need immediate legal help. The Cullotta Bravo Law Group has expert attorneys who know how to help you. They will take your case very seriously and pursue every avenue available for helping you recover what you are entitled to receive. Contact or call the Cullotta Bravo Law Group at 630-898-7800 to discuss your options today.