When a Car and Bicycle Meet or Why Such Accidents are Never Romantic

Bicycle accidents with motor vehicles typically result in one of several scenarios, none in which the bicyclist comes out the better. Along with wearing a helmet and obeying traffic laws, nothing could contibute more to the safety of a bicyclist than to be aware of these scenarios and avoid them at all costs.

All of us have noticed the memorials to cyclists that dot the roadways of Chicago. Nine times of ten, these are located in the right lane, at a corner. The most common motor vehicle/bicycle accident occurs when a motorist makes a right turn across the bicyclist’s lane of traffic. The results are almost always dire or deadly.

The second most common accident is when a bicyclist or motorist fail to stop at a red light or stop sign or thirdly when a bicyclist or motorist pass improperly on the right.

In these types of accidents a bicyclist may face serious personal injury or even death. If there is a silver lining in these scenarios it will involve questions of liability which may be cleanly attributable to the motorist. When not clear, counsel must deal with insurance company and jury perceptions which cut against a cyclist which hold that a bicyclist is by his/her nature the more reckless party.

The most difficult and perhaps most unavoidable accident in a crowded urban environment such as Chicago is when a motor vehicle “doors” the bicyclist.

Dooring occurs when a motor vehicle driver or passenger opens a door into the bicyclist’s path. When a door opens suddenly and there is little room to maneuver due to traffic, the bicyclist will either “T-Bone” the open door, which results in the rider being thrown over the handlebars, or hit the door in a way that crushes or pinches the cyclist’s hands. Resultant injuries are serious and include comminuted fractures to fingers, hands or wrists. Counsel may only be able to find liability when the offending motor vehicle was illegally stopped i.e., a taxi driver stopped to let out a passenger in moving traffic. Otherwise, it is an uphill battle.

Bicyclists are at severe disadvantage to motor vehicles when it comes to accidents. They are unprotected, not easy to see, just plain smaller and face negative jury perception. It is incumbent upon cyclists to always be defensive and never, ever, count upon the competency or awareness of the motorist.

Remember, it is always best to stay safe, but is you can’t stay safe, stay with Grazian and Volpe, Chicagoland’s Injury Lawyers for over 30 years.

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