Recent Changes to Illinois Law and How They Apply to Cyclists
As a personal injury attorney for injured cyclists, it's important for me to stay current on the latest changes to Chicago municipal traffic ordinances and the Illinois Motor Vehicle Code. Although it's true that evidence of criminal offenses such as tickets often can't be used in personal injury cases, simply proving that a defendant driver committed a ticketable offense during an accident can help an injured cyclist win their case and get the compensation they deserve. If a certain behavior is explicitly made illegal, it is easier to convince a jury that the defendant needs to be held financially accountable for engaging in that behavior and causing an accident as a result.
Changes to traffic laws can also have other consequences that are more indirect and difficult to measure, but real all the same. For example, the Chicago Municipal Code was changed several years ago to make dooring a ticketable offense, and was then updated to raise the fine for dooring to $1,000 whenever contact is made with a cyclist. The high price tag for the offense raised awareness amongst the general public, and that might have had the effect of lessening the number of dooring incidents in the city.
Additionally, plaintiff cyclist injury attorneys can now quickly point insurance defense attorneys and adjusters towards an ordinance showing their insured's actions to be a ticketable offense, making it easier to get a better settlement in pre-trial settings.
The state legislature has recently made some additional changes that might have similar impacts on cyclists who are injured in accidents. Here's a quick rundown of laws that will go into effect on January 1st, 2018:
-- The New Law will allow rear red lights on bikes in addition to red reflectors: As silly as it may seem, cyclists in Illinois are required to use rear red reflectors on their bikes, while rear red lights technically don't comply with the law. The current state of the law could possibly lead to the absurd result in court: a cyclist with a bright blinking rear light, with much greater visibility than a reflector, could be help comparatively negligent in an injury case for not having the far less effective red reflector. The new law makes it ok to have either or, a plus for cyclist safety while riding at night.
-- 3 Feet Passing Law: While it may sound strange, this law actually eliminates no passing zones on two lane roads. You might wonder how this helps cyclist safety, but essentially what it does is require anyone passing a cyclist at any time to have at least three feet between the bike and the vehicle while doing so, which is something that doesn't always happen when vehicles attempt to squeeze by bikes in order to avoid getting stuck behind in a no passing zone. Might not have much impact on riders in the city, but will certainly help with safety out in the suburbs and beyond.
-- Riding on the Shoulder Will Be Permitted for All Cyclists
Many bike accidents resulting in injury involve complex questions of law that you'll want a lawyer to resolve. Reach out and tell us about your accident today. A lawyer will get back to you via email or phone within two hours and meeting with us is ALWAYS free. We don't get paid a dime unless we win or settle your case.