By Erin Meyer on November 6, 2013 9:39am | Updated on November 6, 2013 9:39am
LINCOLN PARK — A bicyclist badly injured when he was “doored” while riding a rented tandem bike through Lincoln Park has agreed to a $700,000 settlement, his attorneys said.
The July 21, 2012, accident left Winfield Cohen of Vernon Hills with a head injury and a broken leg. He also was hit by a passing car that propelled him 20 or 30 feet after his bike hit the door of the parked car, attorneys said.
Cohen, 35, was riding the rented bike near Webster and Hudson avenues when the driver of an illegally parked car opened his door, and Cohen’s bike hit it, sending him airborne into moving traffic, attorneys said.
Cohen was knocked from the passenger seat of the bike and struck “in midair” by an SUV traveling east on Webster. When he landed, Cohen hit his head on the ground and was knocked unconscious, his attorney said. The SUV driver fled and was never identified.
More than a year later, the company that rented Cohen the tandem bicycle agreed to a settlement, according to attorney Jeffrey Kroll, of Salvi, Schostok & Prichard, who represented Cohen in a personal injury lawsuit.
The $700,000 settlement includes $350,000 from the bike rental company, $100,000 each from the insurance company of the driver who “doored” Cohen and the insurance company of the driver of the bike and $150,000 from Cohen’s insurance company.
According to Kroll, employees at Lakeshore Bike N’ Tune did not give him a helmet or school him in safe cycling on Chicago’s busy streets, violating company policy.
The company did not immediately return calls for comment.
“Winfield’s life is forever changed, all because a driver did not look before opening their door,” Kroll said, adding that the number of dooring incidents in Chicago appears to be increasing.
“Doored cyclists cases have become more common in the personal injury field. This could be because the City of Chicago has become more bike-friendly, encouraging bicycling with added bike lanes and Divvy rental bikes,” Kroll said. “As more people travel by bike, we are also seeing more accidents involving bicyclists.”
Many “dooring” cases never make it to court.
“We have about half a dozen cases that involve a “doored” cyclists,” Kroll said. “In Winfield’s case, he was on a rented bicycle. Most of our cases involve bicyclists who are riding their own bike.”
Cohen apparently recovered from the head injury, but he continues to suffer from pain in his leg. The other cyclist, who was pedaling the tandem at the time of the incident, was not injured.
“He can no longer run, or even kneel, for an extended period of time. He is left with a titanium rod and screws between his knee and ankle,” Kroll said.
This report should make it clear that in cases of bicycle versus car door collisions there really is no such thing as “total fault“. Bicyclists really need to get it straight in their heads that at the very least 50% of the “fault” is theirs when they choose to ride in the “Door Zone“.
What is even more interesting is the fact that the captain of the tandem’s having to pay illustrates this point. This translates into the same responsibility if the bike has only one rider, namely you.
Either get out of the Door Zone or rider slowly enough to be able to avoid sudden exits.