Stuff in the ‘Bicycle Accidents and Injuries’ Category

Cyclists: One Way Not to Get Hit

Grazian and Volpe have litigated thousands of car and bike accidents over the last 30 years. Some are unavoidable but we are constantly reminded how many accidents are totally preventable.

A growing area of our practice involves cyclists. Chicago strives to be a bicycle friendly city and we applaud the efforts. Cycling is healthy and good for the environment. However, the city has a long way to go before it is “bicycle friendly.” Drivers and cyclists are the main culprits in any bicycle/car accident. Most times it is the result of ignorance of proper protocol.

Bicycle accidents are often serious and sometimes fatal; not to the driver but always to the cyclist. Cyclists can scream and swear at bad drivers but cars are huge metal shells traveling at high speeds. Impact with a bicycle is of little consequence (physically) to the driver or passenger in a car. Our largest settlements are always for the cyclist because cyclists are unprotected and their injuries can be horrific. Many a cyclist have been grateful for a large settlement but all wish their accident never happened.

A proper fitting helmet, back and front lights and adherence to bicycle law is a given. After the basics a cyclist must be aware of the most vulnerable cycling situations.

The most common accident we have seen in the last year is what I refer to as the “Right Hook”. This involves a car passing you on your left and then making a right turn directly in front of you or right into you. Drivers think they can pass a slower bicycle and underestimate the speed at which a cyclist is traveling. This is a hard collision to avoid because the cyclist does not see the driver until it is too late. There is no escape maneuver available in this situation. There are three rules for avoiding the right hook:

1) Don’t ride on the sidewalk! You are invisible to a driver when you are on the sidewalk and enter the street to cross.
2) As you approach the intersection, take the middle position in the lane. If the street is narrow-definitely take the whole lane. Move to the right as you cross the intersection.
3) Add a mirror to your bike or helmet. Every cyclist knows that looking over your left shoulder causes the bike to serve dangerously to the left. A mirror allows you to see cars on your left without this risk.
4) Never pass a slow moving car on the right. Move to the left and make visual contact with the driver.
5) Watch for passengers that may be exiting on the right. A slowing car may indicate a driver who is about to unload a passenger.


Bicycle and Large Truck Accidents and Deaths Rise Suddenly and Sharply

Deaths of bicyclists and occupants of large trucks rose sharply last year even as total traffic fatalities dropped to their lowest level since 1949 according to federal safety officials. Bicyclists deaths jumped 8.7 percent and deaths of occupants of large trucks increased 20 percent while overall traffic fatalities dropped 1.9 percent.

The increase in bicycle deaths may reflect more people riding bicycles to work and for pleasure according to Jonathan Adkins, deputy executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association which represents state highway safety agencies.

For example, in Washington D.C. there has been at 175 percent increase in bicyclists during morning and evening rush hours since 2004.

The increase in large truck accidents in death may be more difficult to ascertain. The NHTSA is working with the Federal Motor Carrier Administration to gather more information to better understand the reason for the increase. Industry officials suspect there may be a connection between states increasing their speed limits and the increase in deaths. Texas has increased the speed limit to 85 mph on Highway 130 between Austin and San Antonio with a correlating increase in accidents.

Grazian and Volpe cannot stress enough the need for bicyclists to obey safety laws. where protective gear and use equipment and clothing that is lighted and/or visible in all weather conditions.

Remember-it is always better to stay safe and avoid accidents but if you can’t stay safe stay with Grazian and Volpe – Chicagoland’s Injury Lawyers for over 30 years.

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.

Challenges in Representing Bicycle Accidents

Bicycle traffic in Chicago is on a rapid growth track due to the price of gas, the green movement and more healthful living habits. The types and models of bicycles has ballooned and so has the incidence of bicycle accidents

Unfortunately, hundreds of Americans die and thousands more are injured in bicycle accidents each year. In 2009, 630 bicyclists were killed and 51,000 were injured in collisions with motor vehicles.

There are many similarities in representing clients who are injured in bicycle accidents and clients who are injured in motor vehicle accidents. There are common types of collisions, defenses to refute and juror biases. However there are key differences. For example, some roadway defects that pose hazards to bicycles are of little or no consequence to the motorist.

Potholes, improper trenching, loose debris and poor pavement transitions are some examples. Overgrown foliage or trees can cast a significant shadow on the roadway, obscuring the bicyclist from the view of oncoming traffic and contribute to collision if they impair the bicyclist’s vision.

Counsel should prepare for his/her case by researching these defects to determine if a single or combination of defects were responsible for the hazard. Counsel must establish the parties responsible for the creation of the defect, its length of existence and if there is a history of collisions at the site of the defect. Collision records may be requested from the city or county through a public records act request or through the highway patrol. A civil engineer familiar with roadway design and modification may be needed as an expert witness in cases where roadway design is to blame.

Several potential defendants may exist. Identify who was responsible for maintaining the roadway at issue. It may be a city or county, but private entities such as general contractors, project manager, and premises owners may also be responsible.

Grazian and Volpe has represented many victims of bicycle accidents in and around Chicago and South Chicago. Successful representation necessitates knowing the nuance particular to these types of accidents. In addition, counsel must understand basic bicycle mechanics and the bicycling laws in the jurisdiction where the accident occurred.

These are guidelines for representing the injured bicycle rider. Grazian and Volpe recommends first and foremost that riders wear helmets, have proper reflectors and lights on their  bikes, ride defensively and observe bicycle traffic laws.

Remember, it is better to stay safe, but if you can’t stay safe, stay with Grazian and Volpe, Chicagoland Injury Attorneys for over 30 years.

Seriously Hurt in a Bicycle Accident: You May Still Get a Ticket in Illinois

Personal injury lawyers and their clients are all too painfully aware that where a bicycle is involved in a serious bicycle accident – the bicyclist is the driver who sustains the worst injuries (see “bicycle accidents.”) Of course, motorcycle accidents share the same dynamic (same at “motorcycle accidents.”) A recent verdict reported notes the case of a plaintiff bicyclist struck in the pre-dawn hours of January. The young man who was a grocery clerk suffered traumatic brain injury with cognitive brain effect plus a pelvic fracture and aggravation of a hip condition.  It was determined that the defendant, who was operating a car, failed to maintain a proper look-out and safe speed resulting in his inability to avoid striking the bicycle. Plaintiff, however, was ticketed for failure to have reflective equipment on his bike and for improper position on the roadway. We have to ponder-a cyclist on a winter’s morning, traveling the wrong side of the road without reflective gear?!?!?! A hard lesson to learn, the hard way.

The Chicago Accident Lawyers at Grazian and Volpe value our avid cyclist clients and endeavor through our blogsite and TV appearances to provide tips on bicylcle safety and regulations. Please follow us on our website and on WCIU, You and Me in the Morning and help us help you stay safe!


Federal Judge in Bike Accident Rides Smart But Still Gets Hurt!

We read a story of a Federal Judge involved in bicycle accident and we thought his misfortune might drive home our messages on bicycle and motorcycle safety. Please see our blogs “Cyclists Get a Garmin” and “Don’t Buy Your Helmet at the Flea Market” ( July 28, 2011 and October 3, 2011).

According to the ISBA E-Clips, U.S. District Court Judge Michael Reagan has been ruling from a wheel chair after being involved in a bicycle accident on October 3rd. He landed on his shoulder and then is quoted in E-Clips as stating, “Then my head bounced twice followed by the impact to my left hip”. Reagan was knocked unconscious and credited his bike helmet with sparing him serious brain injury.

Grazian and Volpe loves that a Federal Judge can drive home our messages regarding bicycle safety. We are always sharing any information we can find to help our motor and non- motor cyclist clients avoid serious personal injury when cycling. Judge Reagan still suffered serious fractures his shoulder and clavicle and we can only hazard at the traumatic brain injury he may have suffered without a helmet. This is of especial note because he suffered a collision with another bicycle. Imagine the injury if he had an an impact with a fast moving motor vehicle! Even at lower bicycle speeds, the Judge lost consciousness. We hearken back to our article “Cyclists Get a Garmin”- and wish to remind our readers that the nature of impacts while cycling often lead to loss of memory and brain injury. A GPS system can help a bicycle accident victim reconstruct the accident and help prove liability. Any avid cyclist and motorcycle rider should consider carrying one when on the road.

There are few joys greater than open road riding on a bicycle and motorcycle. Your Chicago Bicycle and Motor Cycle Accident Lawyers at Grazian and Volpe want your experience to be safe and enjoyable. Please follow us on WCIU, You and Me in the Morning and at our blog on where we strive to keep you safe from injury and apprise you of laws and regulations which help protect you and your family. Remember, stay safe first and foremost, but if you don’t stay safe-stay with Grazian and Volpe, Your Chicagoland Accident Lawyers for over 25 years.