Motorist Action Versus Bicyclist Action in Bike Accidents

As bicycle accident attorneys, the law firm of Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C., recognizes that there are multiple ways in which injury or fatality can occur as bicyclists and motorists struggle to share Chicago’s busy streets. In some cases, the cause or a contributing factor to a collision can be attributed to the negligence of a third party, such as with an improperly maintained roadway, or a defective or faulty component of a bicycle or motor vehicle. Most commonly, though, bike collisions occur as a result of the negligence of a motorist, the negligence of a bicyclist, or a combination of both.

According to the city’s 2012 Bike Crash Report, data over a 6-year period showed that, on average, more than 40% of bicycle injury crashes were caused by a motorist’s failure to yield. In addition, disregard of a traffic control device and improper turn occurred at the same frequency, together accounting for approximately 5% of Chicago bike accidents involving injury that were caused by the actions of a motorist. The report further provides that nearly 20% of bike crashes, which resulted in injury, were caused by some ‘other’ motorist action. What these figures show us, is that motorists either cause or contribute to bike crashes close to two-thirds of the time. However, this does not even take into consideration of the accidents that go unreported.

With regard to bicyclist action, there are many causal factors that can be attributed to bicycle collisions. Alcohol impairment, riding against traffic, crossing against signal, excessive speed, and traveling at nighttime without headlamps or reflectors, all serve as examples of the various ways in which a bicyclist may contribute to the cause of an accident or injury. Another bicyclist action, which has become an increasing concern in Chicago, is a cyclist’s use of mobile devices while riding. An additional factor to take into consideration is a bicyclist’s failure to wear a helmet, which can contribute to the extent of injury, or increase the risk of fatality.

Because bicycle accidents can involve a combination of factors involving both motorist action and bicyclist action, the issue of fault is a common area of dispute in such claims. Pursuant to 735 ILCS 5/2-1116, subpart (c), which provides in part:

The plaintiff shall be barred from recovering damages if the trier of fact finds that the contributory fault on the part of the plaintiff is more than 50% of the proximate cause of the injury or damage for which recovery is sought. The plaintiff shall not be barred from recovering damages if the trier of fact finds that the contributory fault on the part of the plaintiff is not more than 50% of the proximate cause of the injury or damage for which recovery is sought, but any economic or non-economic damages allowed shall be diminished in the proportion to the amount of fault attributable to the plaintiff.

What this statute means, put simply, is that so long as the Plaintiff is found to be 50% or less negligent, than they may still recover damages, although an award would be reduced by the Plaintiff’s percentage of fault. The assignment of fault in accident claims is crucial, because it can bar recovery in some cases, but can also drastically increase the amount of a damage award in other cases. Whenever an issue of fact, such as fault or liability, is in dispute in a matter, it imperative that the victim of an accident have a skilled attorney that is capable of effectively representing their interests.

A qualified lawyer should be proficient in the art of negotiation, but also have extensive trial experience, such that they are able to meritoriously argue disputed matters, whether in front of judge or jury. During our decades in practice, the bicycling accident attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. have attained numerous personal injury victories, on behalf of hundreds of clients. If you or a loved one were involved in a bike crash, contact the Chicago injury team at 773-516-4100, and let us help you and your family obtain the compensation that you deserve.

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