Friday, January 24, 2014

Injured Illinois State Cyclists Receive Compensation, Chicago Driver Gets Prison

Tracey Brent, now an inmate at
the Logan Correction Center
They never saw it coming.  Suddenly there was chaos and carnage, broken bicycles and bodies strewn everywhere.  Two summers ago, a 40 year old professor at Illinois State University was leading a group of a dozen students on a bike ride on Chicago's Southwest Side when a driver blasted through the group from behind then fled the scene.

Our law firm was retained to represent two of the injured cyclists, the professor, and one of the female students.  Their personal injury cases have now settled and the driver is behind bars.

On August 4, 2012 at around 11:00 a.m. the professor was leading a group of some dozen riders in the "Bike To Build Community" bike tour.  The ride was a part of a student immersion program for teacher education students at Illinois State where students teach in summer schools, complete service projects at community organizations, take seminars and classes and live with host families in partner neighborhoods.  The bike tour was meant as a means of exploring and getting to know the neighborhood.  The ride began at around 10:30 a.m.  The group passed several points of interest before they continued through a quiet resident area north on Green Street, just north of West 77th Street.  As they approached the end of the block, without warning Tracey Brent came barreling through the group in her Honda Quest mini-van striking many of the cyclists.  She did not stop, but proceeded down the rest of the street before jumping over a curb and up an embankment to some train tracks.  Several of the riders where injured and sent to nearby hospitals.  Two of the riders who were not struck raced after the van and managed to snap a photo of its license plate.

Both of our clients' injuries were serious, though, thankfully, not life altering.  The 40 year old man sustained fractured ribs and injuries to his neck and lower back.  The young student sustained a broken wrist, fractured teeth and numerous cuts and abrasions to her face.  She was knocked unconscious at the scene.  Not surprisingly (at least not to us) was that the driver did not have auto insurance.  Illinois requires all motorists to carry auto insurance coverage.  However, many drivers in Chicago flout the law.  We, therefore, made claims with our clients' own auto insurance carriers under the uninsured motorist provisions of their policies.  These provisions generally apply to protect cyclists, and even pedestrians, who are injured by uninsured drivers, even though they themselves were not operating a motor vehicle.  In Illinois, insurers may not raise the insurance rates of their insureds who utilize the uninsured motorist provisions of their own policies.  We are able to secure for our clients the full amounts of applicable insurance.

Thanks to the quick reactions of two of the riders in the group, the Brent was captured and subsequently charged with numerous violations.  On May 31, 2013 she was sentenced to five years in prison.  Now she is prisoner #R89625 at the Logan Correctional Center in Lincoln, Illinois.  She received credit for time served.  Her projected parole date is December 24, 2014.

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