JEFFERSON PARK — It’s been more than two months since a driver hit Mike Galati, and he still can’t get a full night’s sleep.
Galati, who lives in Jefferson Park and is the founder of screen printing company Modest Merch in Edgebrook, was riding a moped in Bridgeport in April when a driver hit him in with her car. Video of the crash from a nearby surveillance camera shows Galanti driving through a green light and is nearly through the intersection, when the car driver going the opposite direction turns left and slams into his left side, throwing him off his moped.
Galanti broke two bones in his leg, dislocated his shoulder, fractured his wrist and hurt his head. The woman driving the car was not injured and received no citations, according to police.
The crash forced Galati to temporarily close his business while he recovers and focuses on daily physical therapy. He’s suffering from pain and nerve damage. His partner started a fundraiser to help offset medical costs and support the 31-year-old artist and skateboarder while he’s out of work. It has raised over $24,000 so far.
Galati has been speaking out about the crash, saying it’s a wake up call for riders to be safer on the roads, and for drivers to be more vigilant and to carry enough insurance coverage in case of situations like this.
“I am hurting but if I can help … make someone wear a helmet, put their phone down, maybe we can have a positive effect on someone else,” he said.
Fatal crashes in Illinois have risen since the pandemic, and at least three Chicago bicyclists have been killed this year. The Far Northwest Side has seen a series of close calls and fatalities involving cars in the last two months.
After his crash, Galanti learned more about the state’s bodily harm laws and minimum insurance policies. Although Illinois requires drivers to buy uninsured motorist limits of at least $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident, the minimum often isn’t enough to cover serious injury expenses.
Because the woman who hit him had the minimum level of insurance, Galati’s medical expenses are high. He has health insurance but has been battling with the company to cover more expenses since he was taken to a hospital out of his insurance network.
Joseph Kramer, Galati’s attorney who specializes in personal injury litigation, said he has seen many traumatizing cases involving car and bike crashes and wants to make sure drivers know the benefits of paying for higher limits of uninsured motorist coverage if they can afford it.
“Only a small percentage [of drivers] have adequate coverage,” Kramer said. “There is not enough money in the low policy to adequately cover the injuries that are caused. In my line of work, we have to think about what a collision does to a person’s body that will require costs to fix but also to care for them for the rest of their lives.”
Kramer recommends people purchase insurance policy limits between $100,000 and $300,000, which would ensure that the victim’s insurance company covers the expenses that exceed the limits of the other driver’s policy.
“Spend $20 more a month and get quality coverage if God forbid, you need it,” he said. “If you do, you will be very glad.”
Kramer, who has been practicing personal injury law for 10 years, said he’s seen an increase in distracted drivers recently. In the last three years, 70 percent of his cases involve distracted drivers rear-ending others, which is becoming “more and more problematic.”
“Distracted driving is a serious issue and it’s exacerbated by the fact that social media applications are designed to make people addicted to their phone,” he said. “Unfortunately, we are seeing a trade-off with public safety while social media apps are doing their jobs.”
Though not clear what caused this crash, Kramer said, “Our eyes are trained to see big things on the road like cars, not motorcycles [or bikes].”
Galati is not suing the woman who hit him because she is only liable for the amount from her insurance policy. Her insurance company has reached a settlement of $25,000 to be used for medical expenses, but Kramer needs to first contact Galati’s medical providers to request a lower amount of expenses, given the minimum insurance coverage.
If they do not accept, Galati may be entitled to sue the medical providers to force them to lower costs, his attorney said.
“I can’t keep seeing this in my practice; it breaks my heart,” he said. “It is not good for anybody — medical providers, me and most importantly, the plaintiffs.”
Galati has at least 10 motorized scooters and was organizing group rides in Chicago for the last six years with other scooter lovers. He’s had close calls before but never a crash this bad, he said.
Knowing the woman who hit him isn’t facing consequences and did not receive citations “makes me livid” but he at least hopes his experience can serve as a warning to drivers and other riders to be vigilant on the road, always wear a helmet and be aware of cyclists.
“My life is ruined right now and it’s upside down… but I am lucky to be alive,” Galati said. “She took away what really mattered to me and I am still torn if I will ever ride again.”
Despite the emotional, mental and physical difficulty, Galati said he’s thankful to everyone who has helped him financially and otherwise. He hopes to reopen his shop soon and get back to what he loves: skateboarding, designing and hanging out with friends. In the meantime, he’s spending more time with his 5-year-old son Spencer and taking one day at a time.
“The support I have had makes me feel so good,” he said. “It blows away all the negative feelings.”
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