Kaveny + Kroll obtain $5.25 million verdict in First U.S. Bike Share Death

APRIL 17, 2019

The most common motorist error is failure to yield to a bicyclist.

CHICAGO—A Cook County jury deliberated for less than two hours and came to a verdict of $5.25 million for the family of a 25-year-old woman killed while riding a Divvy bike. The woman, an experienced cyclist, was following the rules of the road when a truck driver failed to keep a proper lookout when making a right-hand turn at the intersection of Sacramento and Belmont Avenues striking and rolling over the cyclist. Even with the entire crash being captured on video the cyclist’s conduct was called into question. This incident marked the first bike share death in the United States. The cyclist is survived by her mother, father and brother.

On July 1st, 2016, the woman picked up a Divvy bike at Pierce and Damen Avenues. A straight-A student and graduate of both St. Ignatius High School and the University of Illinois, she was also conscious of the dangers of riding in the city and wore her helmet as a safeguard. When the woman approached the corner of Sacramento and Belmont, she was struck by a flatbed truck. Despite her efforts to alert the driver by pounding on the side of the truck, the driver proceeded to make his turn and rolled over the cyclist. The attorneys at Kaveny + Kroll contended the cyclist was visible the entire time she was riding alongside the truck.

The trial comes at a time when the city of Chicago is encouraging cycling. According to a major newspaper, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has put one of his last signatures on a deal with Lyft to increase the number of Divvy bikes to 16,500 docked at 800 stations by 2021. In one of his own recent Instagram posts he announced:

While @divvybikes program has expanded substantially since its launch in 2013 & helped make Chicago the best bike city in America. I’m proud that the City Council approved a $50 million proposal with Divvy to expand and serve the entire city, creating more than 200 new jobs.

In a similar article, Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot has commented that there needs to be a better balance of shared bike lanes throughout the city.

“We all have to become better at sharing the roadways – pedestrians, motorists, motorcyclists, cyclists and truck drivers,” explains Jeff Kroll, lead trial lawyer and principal at Kaveny + Kroll. “With today’s infrastructure, we need to better respect our fellow travelers. When you have an eight-ton truck and a Divvy bicycle on the same roadway, in the same intersection, it’s a recipe for disaster. Drivers have to be more conscientious of cyclists and pedestrians.”

This trial is the first significant jury trial in just over a month of Kaveny + Kroll’s formation. The firm has committed to its clients – those existing clients that followed them to Kaveny + Kroll and the new clients they are accepting – that their cases would be treated as importantly as they are, and that justice would be achieved as expeditiously as possible.

“Jeff’s greatest strength is the bond he forges with his clients,” remarked Elizabeth Kaveny, principal at Kaveny + Kroll. “It allows him to tell their story in a compelling and authentic way. Jeff’s talent in this regard played out beautifully in this trial and is the chief reason for this tremendous success.”

“It did not take me long to trust Jeff and know that he was the right trial lawyer for our case,” the mother of the deceased said. “He understood my sadness, he understood my anger, he understood that I lost my daughter. I really did not want to relive this moment over and over. His empathy is what helped me get through this. He helped me protect my family and vindicate the actions of my daughter, Ginny.” stated the mother of the deceased.

Photo Credit: Tony Webster