A Chicago Accident Attorney Answers Common Questions About Car-Bike Collisions
As a cyclist myself, I experience firsthand things both cyclists and motorists do on the road. While many countries, and even some cities in the U.S., are known to be bike-friendly, there seems to be a great deal of enmity between cyclists and motorists. While Bicycling Magazine recently named Chicago as the number 1 best city for bicycling (based upon criteria such as miles of bike lanes and such), it is clear that both cyclists and motorists must do a better job of being aware of one another. Motorists, for example, are required to leave a cyclist 3 feet of space when passing, although few do. This may be further complicated by rough pavement the cyclist must avoid, as well as parked cars opening doors into the cyclist's path. More and more people are using the green-friendly bicycle to commute to and from work and social events. Some bike-laned streets in Chicago resemble skinny-jeaned fixed gear marathons during the morning and evening rush.
Sharing the Road: How to Avoid Accidents and Injuries
Bicycles are simply not visible to many drivers. They do not think to "look for" them, often do not anticipate where they will be, and sometimes disregard their need for space upon the shared roadway. Riders must be alert for these dangers, but also must realize that it is illegal to ride upon the sidewalk in Chicago if you are 12 years old or older. Bicyclists must follow the same rules of the road as motorists, so coasting through or ignoring stoplights or stop signs is not only rude and illegal; it is dangerous. It is also an Illinois requirement that cyclists ride in the same direction as traffic. In short, it's very difficult to share the road given the huge discrepancy in size between cars and bikes.
Crashes involving bicyclists often result in serious injuries. Let's face it; bike riders are not very well protected, and often hit the pavement when involved in a crash with a motor vehicle.
If you are a motorist, you have to be aware of cyclists, even those who do not follow the rules of the road. Be alert, be aware, and prepare to move over, stop, or go around bicycles.
Cyclists have to adhere to the rules of the road, signal when turning, and be alert for drivers who do not notice them. While helmets are not required, they certainly are advisable. Most bike helmets today prevent catastrophic injuries like skull fractures, but do not prevent concussions. Not much can prevent the fractured collarbones and wrists that are so common in cycling crashes.
What to Do if You Are Hit By a Car
If you are involved in a crash while cycling, here is what you need to do:
- Get up if you can and get yourself and your bike out of the road.
- Obtain insurance information from the other driver.
- Get medical treatment. What may seem like "only" road rash can often disguise fractured ribs or other broken bones. Further, as mentioned above, helmets do not prevent concussions. Get checked out immediately.
- Take photos of the vehicle, your bike, and your visible injuries. Photograph where the vehicles and bikes were at the time of impact.
- Report this to the police. A police report memorializes what happened when it is fresh in your mind.
- Do NOT provide a statement to anyone, especially the driver's insurer.
- Do talk to a lawyer as soon as you can, so you can evaluate whether you have a liability-based negligence claim against the driver.
- Report this to your insurer, and check to see that you have Medical Payments (PIP) coverage available.
- If you ride regularly, talk to your auto insurer to determine what parts, if any, of your policy cover you in the event you are involved in a crash with a motor vehicle.
Consult with a Chicago Bicycle Accident Attorney
If you were injured while riding your bike and are facing insurance claims or a possible lawsuit, I welcome you to contact me for a free consultation. Fill out our online information form, call (773) 944-9737, or email me directly at email@example.com. With 25 years of experience, I can answer your questions, guide you through your options, and advocate on your behalf. There is no cost until you receive a recovery.