Friday, December 28, 2012

Driver's Attempt To Divert Blame For Darting In Front Of Lake Front Bicyclist Fails

His time in the Marine Corps toughened him, but did not prepare him for being launched headlong into the side of an SUV.  The 40 year old Chicago man suffered a separated shoulder when he collided with the side of a 2007 Ford Explorer while riding along the lake front bicycle path on November 15, 2011.  With my law firm's help, the bicyclist's claim against the driver has successfully resolved for a significant sum of money.

The collision occurred at around 11:15 a.m. near the 1600 block of North Lake Shore Drive where the bike path is intersected by West LaSalle Drive.  When the southbound cyclist approached the short crossing he encountered a large truck parked nearby.  Its precise location at the time was a matter of considerable controversy during the case.  It was there to repair a malfunctioning light near the intersection.  As he approached the area, the bicyclist slowed to pass in front of the truck, which was pointed east toward the lake.  Unbeknownst to him, at the same time the Explorer was crossing on the other side of the International 4300 into the area from the adjacent off ramp of North Lake Shore Drive.  West LaSalle Drive at that location serves as an entry point for North Avenue Beach's parking lot.  With the truck blocking his sight of the off-ramp, the bicyclist was unaware what was happening.  When he rounded the truck the SUV suddenly appeared.  The bicyclist struck the driver's side of the vehicle, spearing it with his helmeted head and his shoulder.  He was taken from the scene by a City of Chicago ambulance to Northwestern Memorial Hospital nearby.

The driver of the SUV attempted to lay much of the blame for the crash on the operator the International truck.  He claimed that the truck was parked in the middle of the intersection so as to obscure view of bicycle traffic on the path, and that the operator actually waived him through causing the collision.  We conducted a thorough investigation of the incident.  The driver of the International emphatically denied that her truck was parked in the middle of the intersection.  She also denied that she waived the SUV driver through.  Further, we took the position that regardless, the SUV driver had a duty to proceed with caution across what he knew, or should have known, was a well used bicycle path.  If his view was obscured then there was all the more reason for him to proceed cautiously.  He could not transfer his responsibility to someone else.

The bicyclist lost consciousness at the crash scene.  He was placed on a backboard and in a cervical collar.  At the emergency department x-rays were performed on his pelvis and chest, and CT scans were done of his brain and cervical spine.  Thankfully, he was wearing a helmet and did not suffer a serious, permanent head injury.  However, he sustained a “grade 2 acromioclavicular separation.”  After discharge from Northwestern pain in his neck and right shoulder compelled medical follow up at the Lakeside Veterans Administrations Hospital and the Jesse Brown Veterans Administrations Medical Center.  (He was on active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1995 to 1999.)  At the VA he was noted to experience significant pain in his right shoulder and upper back that was 7 on a 10 scale with motion.  He was “having difficulty dressing, driving and lifting things.”  This was not surprising given the nature of his injury.  A Grade II separation means that the acromioclavicular ligament is completely torn and that the joint is at least partially torn with some displacement.  He was prescribed physical therapy which he underwent from mid-November until late December.  On December 30, 2011 he was finally able to see an orthopedic surgery consult.  At that time he was noted to have a “right shoulder with obvious deformity at AC joint.”  However, his healing had plateaued.  Presently, he still suffers from periodic pain in his right shoulder which waxes and wanes.  His pain increases while wearing a backpack and is impacted by the weather.  He continues to take significant doses of Motrin to help abate these flare-ups.

The bicyclist is presently enrolled in law school in Valparaiso, Indiana.

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