Chicago Jury Verdict for Trucker Against Bicyclist; Assaley v. Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream, Inc.

Although a truck vastly outweighs a bicycle, accidents can occur in which the bike rider is at fault. A Cook County jury ruled that this was the case in a collision involving a rider named Kim Assaley and the driver of a Dreyer’s ice cream truck in the early-morning hours of October 2007.

In this accident, Ms. Assaley, 41, was riding her bicycle to work northbound on Western Avenue. She was hit by the defendant’s northbound truck as it made a right turn onto Madison Street just after the traffic light turned green.

Ms. Assaley suffered an injury to her left foot and incurred $61,000 in medical expenses as well as more than $21,000 in time lost from her work. The pre-dawn incident occurred at 6:40 a.m., when sunrise was at 7:04 a.m. that day.

Both the bicyclist and truck driver were in the right lane, which is almost twice as wide as the other northbound lane. There were no marked designations for right turns for buses or bicycles. The truck was stopped at a red light waiting to turn right onto Madison Street when Ms. Assaley’s bike approached from behind the truck riding into the right of the traffic. She slowly approached the red light but did not stop before the light turned green; according to testimony, she accelerated to ride straight through the intersection.

Ms. Assaley contended that the truck’s tail lights were on, but the right-turn signal was not in use. She assumed that the truck was also going to proceed straight through the intersection. As Ms. Assaley started to enter the intersection, the truck driver began to turn right. The driver testified that before he could complete his turn, he saw pedestrians gesturing him to stop. He stopped immediately, exited his truck and found the plaintiff lying partially under his truck.

Ms. Assaley testified that the truck driver told her he did not see her. The defendants asserted that the truck driver had his right turn signal on while stopped with his truck positioned at an angle to indicate his intention to turn right. It was still dark out with light rain and mist. The truck driver testified that there was nothing he could do to avoid the collision with Ms. Assaley because she was not visible to him when he checked his mirrors before turning. She was wearing dark clothing and riding in his blind spot before sunrise. He said he could not see her because she did not have a front-facing light on her bike while riding in the dark in violation of Illinois state and Chicago municipal laws.

The defendants — the truck driver and Dreyer’s — were self insured through the parent company, Nestle. The plaintiff’s demand to settle was $1 million, whereas the defendants’ offer to settle before trial was $225,000. The jury found in favor of the truck driver and Dreyer’s and against the bicyclist, Kim Assaley.

Assaley v. Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream, Inc., 09 L 11413 (Cook County).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling bicycle accidents for individuals and families for more than 36 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Hinsdale, Matteson, Chicago (Bridgeport), Bridgeview, Bensenville, Evanston, Frankfurt, Grayslake and Lansing, Illinois.

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