On a pleasant April morning last year a 59 year old Chicago accountant was riding his bicycle to his accounting job. He was obeying the law and wore a helmet. He was a very experienced city cyclist, typically spending thousands of miles each year in the saddle. Those factors did not prevent one foolish driver from plowing into him causing very serious injuries.
At around 10:20 a.m. on April 14, 2013, the bicyclist was riding southbound in a marked bicycle lane on Broadway Street in Chicago with a solid green traffic indication. At the same time, the 24 year old driver of a 2012 Dodge Charger, travelling northbound on Broadway attempted a left turn onto westbound Grace crashing into our client. The impact was heavy. His heavy steel bicycle was destroyed. The man suffered fractures to both lower bones of his left leg, a torn left meniscus, a fractured left hand and a broken nose. He underwent several surgeries to treat his injuries and spent months in a wheelchair.
The driver was ticketed by Chicago police at the scene for failing to yield to a bicyclist under Section 9-16-020(d) of the Municipal Code of Chicago which states:
The driver of a vehicle intending to turn to the left within an intersection or into an alley, private road, or driveway shall yield the right‑of‑way to any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction which is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard, but said driver, having so yielded may proceed at such time as a safe interval occurs.
Months after the crash, we accompanied the cyclist to traffic court, making sure that he was prepared to testify against the driver. His presence at the hearing compelled the driver to plead guilty to the charges against him. That admission of guilt could have been used against the driver if the civil personal injury case went to trial.
We later secured a settlement from the driver's insurance company for the full amount of his coverage, $100,000, plus $1,600 for the damage to his bicycle. Thankfully, our client's own auto insurance policy had a high underinsured motorist limit. Though he was not driving at the time, we were able to secure a $390,000 settlement from our client's auto insurer bringing the total settlement to over $490,000.
Our client has made a good recovery. His left knee is still periodically painful. His comfortable walking speed is about half of what it was prior to the crash. He also has yet to achieve full flexibility of his left hand. However, he is back on his bicycle, and remains physically active. This is not luck. Rather, his recovery is attributable to his own good health, his internal fortitude and excellent healthcare.