Friday, August 3, 2012

U.S. Postal Service Settles Case Brought By Bicyclist, UIC Student For Injuries

The United States Postal Service has agreed to settlement in a case brought against one of its drivers who ran over the foot of 22 year old female student at the University of Illinois Chicago last summer. The case was brought against the USPS pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act by my law firm.

At around 6:15 p.m. on July 13, 2011 the student was riding her bicycle home from the lake front westbound on West Taylor Street.  As she approached the intersection with the 90/94 westbound entrance ramp the postal semi truck passed her on the left.  When the heavy vehicle came to the on ramp the driver swung the truck to the right directly in front of the cyclist.  She squeezed her brakes, bringing her bike to a halt as quickly as she could.  As the large truck veered right, the bicyclist realized that the semi trailer was coming right at her. She tried to lean away, but it was moving too quickly.  A portion of the trailer hooked and grabbed the rear of her bicycle dragging it and her several feet around the corner.  The rear wheels of the truck's trailer ran over her bicycle's rear wheel and her left foot.

The cyclist was transported via ambulance to the University of Illinois Medical Center for care and treatment of a crush injury to her foot. Surprisingly, she suffered no fractures and after a period of convalescence made a full recovery.

We brought our claim against the federal agency alleging that the postal driver violated Chicago Municipal Ordinance 9-16-020(f) which prohibits a motorist from turning right in front of a bicyclist unless it is safe to do so.  We also alleged that the driver executed his right turn too sharply for conditions and failed to appreciate the turning radius of the semi tractor trailer he was operating.  Of course, we also asserted that failed to look out for the presence of bicyclists at or near the intersection.

Complicating the matter was a witness whose testimony would have been damaging to the bicyclist's case.  He stated that the bicyclist simply rode into the side of the truck without attempting to stop.  However, we pointed out that the witness, a USPS employee who was driving another truck behind the vehicle involved in the collision, was obviously biased.  We also pointed out that his testimony was inconsistent with the physical evidence.  Had the cyclist simply rode her bike into the side of the truck she would have sustained injury to her head, face and neck and that her bike would have shown front end damage.  No such evidence existed.

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