Bicycle Collisions with Pedestrians in Chicago
When it comes to determining fault in road accidents, the issue of whether you are driving a car, riding a bike, or a simply walking is almost never determinative of fault.
Instead, insurance companies and courts determine fault and assign liability by applying the law of negligence. A driver, cyclist, or pedestrian is negligent when he or she:
- Owes a duty of care to someone else
- Breaches this duty of care
- The breach of duty causes injury and property damage to another person
As you can see, the test for negligence has little to do with what type of vehicle—if any—is involved in the accident.
What Is the Duty of Care?
The duty of care is different in every situation and is owed to anyone who could be injured or incur a financial loss as the result of your actions. Both cyclists and pedestrians are under a duty to exercise the same amount of caution as a reasonable person would under the circumstances. Thus, if the visibility is bad or the road is slippery, cyclists and pedestrians alike will have a duty to be extra careful.
If there is an accident between a cyclist and a pedestrian, a court or an insurance company will look at whether the cyclist or the pedestrian broke their respective duties of care.
For example, if a cyclist is riding very quickly down a hill in the rain with a vintage bicycle equipped with ineffective breaks, the cyclist is breaching her duty of care. This is because a reasonable person would not ride in such a way given the weather and the condition of the bike. If the cyclist hits a pedestrian, she will be liable to pay for the pedestrian’s injuries.
On the other hand, the pedestrian would be breaching his duty of care if he crossed the road outside of a cross walk, emerging suddenly from in between two parked cars. The breach of duty occurs here because no reasonable pedestrian would cross a street outside of a sidewalk in a way that gives no reaction time to traffic. If the cyclist hits the pedestrian and gets injured, the pedestrian would have to pay for the cyclist’s injuries.
In Illinois, Liability is Determined According to Proportion of Fault
Let’s assume both examples of breach of duty outlined above occur simultaneously. The cyclist is riding carelessly and the pedestrian suddenly crosses in front of her. Both are injured. Both are in breach of their respective duties. In this case, who is liable to pay for the injuries?
Whether the case gets settled through the insurance claims process, a private settlement, or in court, the assignment of liability depends on who was more at fault. In Illinois, anyone who is less than 50% responsible for an accident can recover for their injuries and property damage.
In our example, both the cyclist and the pedestrian have about the same amount of responsibility, so it’s far form clear whether one could recover from another. In such a close case, the outcome depends on each party’s insurance company’s willingness to settle, or whether one of the parties hires a lawyer.
A Good Lawyer Can Make All the Difference
A skilled bicycle or pedestrian accident lawyer will be able to collect evidence regarding the accident and organize it into a convincing demand letter or legal complaint. It might be possible to convince a jury or an insurance claims adjuster that the ratio of fault is closer to 60/40 than 50/50, in which case recovery would be possible.
At Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C., we focus on how to get our clients the best possible compensation while making every effort to reduce the stress of the recovery process. If you want to talk to us about your case, you can call one of our personal injury attorneys today for a free consultation at (312) 236-2900. If you decide to hire us, you won’t have to pay us any fees until we win or settle your case.
if you’ve been hurt, staver can help.
Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. can help you manage the paperwork, insurance adjusters, and defense attorneys so you can focus on your health and getting the appropriate treatment. Please call us today for a free legal consultation with one of our personal injury lawyers.
Call Today: (312) 236-2900