With increasing numbers of bicycles on the roads, the risk of traffic accidents continues. Last year, Illinois reported 3,100 motor vehicle accidents involving injuries to persons on bicycles; 20 of which were fatalities. http://www.dot.state.il.us/travelstats/2009cf.pdf.
When a negligent motorist strikes and injures a cyclist, the cyclist may be entitled to recover against the at-fault motorist for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, loss of income, disfigurement, loss of normal life, and other damages resulting from the accident. Given that cyclists have little protection in the event of an accident, injuries are often severe, and sometimes fatal.
An injured cyclist should contact the police so that an official report can be completed, witnesses interviewed, and statements taken as soon as possible following an accident. A claim may be brought against the at-fault motorist’s automobile insurance company in the same way a car accident claim can be brought.
If the at-fault motorist has no automobile insurance, or was never identified in the police report, the injured cyclist may be able to bring an “uninsured motorist” claim against his or her own automobile insurance policy. In some instances, even if you do not have your own automobile insurance policy, you may be able to make a claim against an automobile insurance policy of a household or family member. There are written notices that must be filed and other steps that must be taken in order to bring an uninsured motorist claim; therefore, you should consult with a knowledgeable attorney right away.
For a current copy of the IDOT safety brochure, entitled, “Safe Biking in Illinois”, see http://www.dot.state.il.us/bikemap/safekids/safebike.pdf.