In and around Chicago, people are taking up cycling recreationally and as an alternative method of transportation. With the help of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the city has become a friendlier environment for cyclists with the addition of bike lanes and stiffer penalties for motorists and bicyclists who fail to observe traffic safety laws. According to the Chicago Sun Times, the City Council recently agreed to raise fines for reckless motorists and bicycle riders who endanger one another on the roads. Accidents between cyclists and either pedestrians or motor vehicles can result in significant injuries for everyone involved. If you have been injured in such an accident, it is important to contact a local injury attorney with experience handling bicycle accidents.
In 2012, there were 1,675 bicycle crashes in Chicago. If the driver of an automobile negligently hits a bicycle rider, the cyclist may be entitled to compensation for any resulting injuries, pain and suffering, medical expenses, disfigurement, loss of income, and any other losses related to the collision. And if the bike rider negligently crashes into a pedestrian, by failing to heed traffic safety laws or for any other form of negligence, that pedestrian may be entitled to compensation as well.
According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, in a landmark case in California, a bicycle rider who fatally struck a pedestrian, pled guilty to felony vehicular manslaughter. This conviction is believed to be the first of its kind in the United States. The cyclist struck the deal in order to avoid spending any time in jail. Instead, he was sentenced to three years of probation and 1,000 hours of community service for the death of the 71 year-old pedestrian. It was reported that the cyclist was riding downhill at about 30 miles per hour when he entered a busy intersection and collided with the victim, who had been crossing the street. Witnesses also stated that the cyclist ran through a red light prior to crashing into the pedestrian.
While this case took place in California, and the laws and procedures in that state do not govern what happens in Illinois, it is still something that local lawmakers, district attorneys and other authorities may consider if confronted with a bicycle accident death under similar facts and circumstances. In a recent blog post, we reported on a tragic bicycle and pedestrian accident in Arlington Heights, in which a female pedestrian died after sustaining injuries after being struck by a cyclist on the Lake Arlington Path. In that case, the cyclist did not seem to break any traffic laws, unlike the California case.
It remains to be seen whether anyone from either case will attempt to bring a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the deceased pedestrians. Generally speaking, a wrongful death claim would entail allegations that the decedent was killed as a result of the defendant’s negligence (or other liability), and that the surviving dependents or beneficiaries are entitled to monetary damages as a result of the defendant’s actions. For help with a bicycle accident case, it is essential that you contact a local injury attorney who is fully familiar with Illinois law and local Chicago procedure.