Articles Posted in Bicycle Accidents

Forrest Buchtel, 74, was riding his bike southbound on Sherman Avenue in Evanston, Ill.  He stopped for a stop sign at Greenleaf Street, which is a four-way stop intersection and then began peddling his bike into the intersection when he was hit by an eastbound car driven by the defendant, Jason Whitaker.

Buchtel testified that he saw the Whitaker SUV about one-half block away as he peddled through the intersection and observed that Whitaker was not looking at the road ahead while talking to a woman in the front passenger seat.  Whitaker ran the stop sign.

The impact between the SUV driven by Whitaker and Buchtel on his bike, knocked him onto the hood of the SUV and then onto the pavement of the street.

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A bill signed into law decrees that cars and bikes must be treated as equals in Illinois. House Bill 5912 was signed into law by Gov. Bruce Rauner. The measure amends the Illinois Vehicle Code.  According to a recent report by the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, the amendment to the code was prompted by the death of Dennis Jurs, a 68-year-old Army veteran who was biking when he was hit by a vehicle in Kane County last year.  Jurs’s death occurred at an intersection where north and southbound drivers have stop signs, but east and westbound vehicles did not.

In the October 2015 case, the driver of the car was charged with a failure to yield, but the case was dismissed when the Kane County judge ruled that there were conflicting rulings showing that bicyclists did not have the same rights as automobiles under Illinois law.

According to the article, the Jurs family, with their attorney Michael S. Keating, drafted the amendment to the Illinois Vehicle Code and pushed for its passage.

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On May 24, 2011, Michael Racky was bicycling across 95th Street at LaCrosse Avenue in Oak Lawn, Ill. He jumped his bike over a 12-inch curb at the southwest corner to reach the sidewalk. There, the bike slowed and wobbled due to the loss of momentum.

Racky was 52 years old at the time. He continued riding south parallel to a commercial building, Karnezis Properties Plaza, when he extended his left arm and his right hand lightly touched a large, plate-glass storefront window while he attempted to retain his balance on his bike.

As he touched the window, it collapsed. He fell inside the storefront with his legs draped over the broken glass. His left leg was cut to the bone. An eyewitness to the incident, an off-duty Chicago Fire Department paramedic, tried without success to apply a tourniquet to Racky’s leg.

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In September 2010, Thomas Berz was riding his bike in an Evanston alley when he hit a pothole. Berz fell off his bike and suffered a traumatic brain injury. He sued the City of Evanston in July 2011 claiming that it was negligent for choosing not to maintain the surface of the alley. A month later, Evanston filed a motion to dismiss on the basis that the Tort Immunity Act (745 ILCS 10/1-101 et seq.) protects the city from plaintiffs who are injured from using property differently than its intended use. 

The circuit court judge dismissed the case in November 2011, but granted Berz leave to amend his complaint. Berz amended the complaint providing new photographs of the alley’s condition and included greater detail on how this incident took place. Berz argued that under the Evanston Municipal Code and city-published bicycle maps, he was an intended user of the alley.

However, the trial court disagreed with Berz and dismissed his amended complaint in August 2012. But Berz filed a third amended complaint, arguing that his bike was a vehicle and therefore an intended user. Again, the city moved to dismiss arguing that a bicycle rider was not an intended user of an alley and the court agreed dismissing Berz’s complaint in November 2012.  Berz appealed to the Illinois Appellate Court, which reviewed whether a bicyclist was considered an intended user of the alley based on state law, the city’s ordinance and signage in the alley.

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Michael Harvey was riding his bicycle north on Ashland Avenue in Chicago in the right lane as he approached Foster Avenue.  It was Aug. 12, 2010 when Harvey, 26, claimed to be cut off by the defendant, Vanna Phillips, who was driving her car northbound making a sudden right turn directly in front of Harvey. The bicycle and car collided. On impact, Harvey was propelled into Phillips’ rear window which shattered. Harvey then landed on the ground. 

The crash took place at about 11 p.m. while both plaintiff and defendant were traveling from separate bars. Harvey suffered  cuts to his chin, upper lip and required 29 stitches with permanent scars. He also had lacerations to his left forearm that required nine staples with scarring. Harvey also suffered from permanent left forearm nerve damage and numbness with pain. He may require future surgery to repair the nerve pain and plastic surgery for revision of the scars. 

Harvey was an actor and claimed difficulty getting roles after the accident due to his scars. He is now working as a waiter.

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On June 8, 2009, the defendant, Andrew Frank, was making a right turn from southbound Campbell Avenue in Chicago turning onto westbound Roosevelt Road when he hit the plaintiff bicyclist, Tyrone Butler. Butler was riding eastbound in the westbound lanes. Butler, a 51-year-old janitor, said he rolled over the hood of the defendant’s car after being hit. 

Butler said that he sustained a blunt head injury, an avulsion fracture of the left orbital rim, headaches, blurred vision, multiple facial lacerations and abrasions that required 22 stitches and strains to his cervical and lumbar spine.

Butler’s medical bills totaled $21,734. The plaintiff’s injuries and medical treatments were stipulated to and offered to the jury as facts consider in deliberations. 

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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.

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Cell phones have made it easier for people to stay connected and to access data while on the go. However, cell phones can cause car accidents, whether the driver is using them to talk or to text. And while many states, including Illinois, have passed bans on the use of cell phones while driving, doing so has not been able to halt the use of cell phones while driving.

Consequently, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is looking for other strategies to halt the use of cell phones while driving. Last week it suggested that insurance companies could help limit this widespread problem if they simply refused to pay out for accident claims caused by drivers texting or talking on their cell phones.

And while the NTSB’s idea makes sense and even seems like it could work, insurance companies are not jumping on board. To explain their reluctance to adopt the NTSB’s suggestions, insurance companies explained that one of the main reasons to have insurance is that insurance companies will cover the cost of injuries even if the auto accident is caused by careless or even reckless behavior. And as an insurance specialist and spokesperson for the Consumer Federation of America said, “An accident is an accident.”

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An Illinois jury evaluated a bicycle accident lawsuit to determine not only whether the defendant driver was liable, but also whether her employer was liable in Cedric Bacon v. City of Joliet, Sgt. Cordelia Dunn , 08L-859. The personal injury lawsuit arose out of a bicycle accident in which the defendant, Sgt. Cordelia Dunn, struck the plaintiff’s bicycle while driving 50 mph through an intersection. Sgt. Dunn was responding to a call under her duty as a Joliet Police Officer, thereby making her employer, the Joliet Police Department, liable as well.

Cedric Bacon, the injured bicyclist who brought the personal injury claim against Sgt. Dunn for the injuries he sustained from the Joliet bicycle accident. Bacon required an open reduction internal fixation (ORIF) surgery to repair the broken bones in his right leg; the breaks were so severe that the surgeons needed to place screws and plates to try to stabilize the bones. Despite the surgery, injuries to the surrounding artery and nerves caused Bacon to develop a severe foot drop. In addition, Bacon suffered a severe brain injury and developed subsequent anxiety.

At the personal injury trial, the bulk of the testimony centered on what happened at the intersection accident and whether Sgt. Dunn was acting within the scope of her employment. In an unusual turn of events, Sgt. Dunn refused to testify for her discovery deposition. As a result, the judge barred her from testifying at trial, forcing the defense to find an alternative way to represent Dunn’s versions of the events. To do so, the City of Joliet hired two accident reconstruction experts to reconstruct the intersection accident and testify before the jury at trial.

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When deciding a trial case, a jury has a duty to be consistent in its verdict, i.e., it can’t say one thing, but then enter a contrary verdict. If a jury contradicts itself, generally one party has cause to overturn or vacate that verdict. This is what happened in the Illinois personal injury lawsuit of Gerald English v. Anthony Daniel McLaughlin, 10 L 677 (DuPage County). A judge ruled to vacate the verdict in favor of the defendant after the jury entered inconsistent statements.

The facts of English v. McLaughlin involved a 2007 Glendale Heights bicycle accident. The plaintiff, Gerald English, was biking southbound on Glen Ellyn Road and crossing Armitage Avenue. At the Illinois personal injury trial, English testified that he entered the intersection on a green light and that the light turned yellow as he was biking through. English estimated that he was biking around 17 mph at the time and was therefore unable to stop when the defendant, Anthony McLaughlin, turned left in front of him.

English’s bike ended up striking the rear-end of McLaughlin’s car and resulted in multiple bone fractures. English fractured his right knee, left shoulder, and right finger. And while none of his fractures required surgery, his injuries did prevent English from performing his normal engineering duties for about two months following the Illinois bicycle accident.

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