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Determining Fault in a Chicago Bicycle Accident

Negligent drivers often try to place the blame on cyclists

After a serious bicycle accident involving another vehicle, it’s critical to determine who’s at fault—and by extension, whose insurance company is financially responsible for the crash. If a reckless driver hits you while you’re on your bike, the amount of compensation you’re eligible to recover can be negatively affected if you’re found to be partially responsible for the crash.

That’s why if you were injured in a Chicago bicycle accident, you should talk to a lawyer who’s familiar with Illinois’ civil justice system and has experience representing injured riders. That way, you can get a clear understanding of your legal rights and options.

At Keating Law Offices, our Chicago bicycle accident attorneys have an in-depth understanding of how the state’s legal system works. We know what it takes to prove fault in a bicycle accident, and we know how to find the facts that matter to build a winning case in Illinois. To see how we can help you, schedule a free consultation with us today.

Who determines fault in a bicycle accident?

You might think that the police officer who responded to the scene and generated a crash report will play a significant role in determining who’s responsible for your accident, but it’s often the at-fault driver’s insurance company that has the final say.

This might not seem fair, especially since the at-fault driver’s insurance company is more concerned about protecting its bottom line than making sure you get compensated for your accident-related expenses.

This is just one of the many reasons why you need a lawyer on your side, looking out for your best interests. Your attorney can present evidence and prove who is liable for your damages.

If a bike hits a car, who is at fault?

If the cyclist was not obeying the rules of the road (riding on the wrong side of the road, running a red light), then the cyclist could be found partially at fault for the accident.

However, there are many situations in which a driver can be found responsible, such as:

  • A driver slams on the brakes (brake checking), causing a rear-end bicycle accident.
  • A driver turns at an intersection without signaling, resulting in a bicycle accident.
  • A distracted driver veers into another lane, causing the cyclist to crash into the car.

Who’s at fault in dooring crashes?

Liability for dooring accidents generally falls on the person who opened the vehicle door into the path of the bicyclist. Often, the at-fault party’s insurance company will try to claim that the cyclist caused the dooring.

Insurance adjusters like to paint all bike riders with a wide brush and label everyone who rides a bicycle as reckless. That’s why if you were injured in a dooring accident, you need an attorney to investigate the circumstances of your crash and build a convincing case that shows who’s really responsible.

Section 11-1407 of the Illinois Vehicle Code makes it illegal to open a door into the path of oncoming traffic – including bicycle traffic. The Vehicle Code says:

"No person shall open the door of a vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so, and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic, nor shall any person leave a door open on the side of a vehicle available to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers."

Can cyclists receive compensation if they’re partially at fault?

You can still recover financial compensation after a bicycle accident even if you’re found partially at fault. However, the amount of money you’re eligible to recover will be reduced proportionately by your percentage of fault for the accident, and you have to be less than 51 percent responsible to pursue damages. This is because Illinois follows a “modified comparative negligence” insurance system.

What can you be compensated for after a bicycle accident?

The financial impact of a bicycle accident can be significant and cover a wide range of economic and non-economic damages. Common accident-related expenses include:

  • All medical bills related to the bicycle accident, including the cost of future medical care.
  • Property damage, such as the cost of repairing or replacing a bicycle.
  • Lost income due to missed time at work or having to take on a reduced role to accommodate an injury.
  • Lost future income due to a long-term or permanent disability.
  • Replacement services, such as childcare, housecleaning, and yardwork.
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Pain and suffering

Depending on the specific details of your case, other losses may be covered as well. Only an attorney will be able to give you an accurate estimate of what your case might be worth.

Get a Chicago bicycle accident lawyer to investigate your case

Chicago bicycle accident attorney Michael S. Keating knows what’s at stake for injured riders and understands how the legal system works in Illinois. We’ve handled more bike accident cases in courts in Illinois than any other firm in the state—and we’re Chicago’s go-to firm for injured cyclists. We have resolved bicycle injury claims in every way possible. Whether it be an out-of-court settlement, mediation, arbitration, or trial, we have the skill and experience to get results for our clients.

To learn more about how we can help you, contact us today for a free consultation with an experienced Chicago bicycle accident attorney at Keating Law.

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