Chicago, IL Product Liability Attorneys
HM&M and Mark Stephan: Never Giving Up
Mark Stephan, Inspiration to us all.
It was a perfect summer day in August when Mark Stephan’s life changed forever. Before his injury Mark ran two Ironman Triathlons and 18 full marathons. He rode his bike regularly on weekends and after work for 30–50 mile rides. He never missed the annual ride from Vail to Aspen, Colorado with his large group of friends. Mark was and is a fitness fanatic.
He is also the father of four wonderful children and husband to a beautiful wife. He worked hard at an investment bank to provide a safe and happy home for his wife and family.
Mark Stephan played by the rules.
Mark had a professional bike mechanic maintain and repair his bike. Twice each season his mechanic made sure that Mark’s bike was in perfect working condition. Mark established himself as the safety enforcer with his regular group of riders. They rode hard, but they rode safely. Helmets were mandatory, no corners were cut and unsafe riding was never tolerated. Equipment was checked and well maintained.
Not everyone else plays by the rules.
Since the invention of the quick release wheel, it has been known that bicycle wheels can suddenly disengage while the bike is in motion. When a front wheel disengages the result is always catastrophic and the injury is severe.
Most bicycle manufacturers recognized this safety hazard and started to equip new bikes with “safety tabs.” Mark never heard of “safety tabs.” In fact, none of the more than 20 riders in his regular group had ever heard of “safety tabs.” Even to this day most amateur bicycle riders have never heard of or seen “safety tabs.” Unfortunately, the manufacturer of Mark’s bike deliberately chose not to include safety tabs on Mark’s front fork.
On Saturday August 11, 2007 Mark was about ten miles into his regular 30-mile ride when he hit a two inch crack in the pavement. Mark had hit thousands of similar bumps that day and prior days. But on this day his front wheel suddenly detached from his front fork causing him to be catapulted over the handlebars and into the pavement.
He broke his neck. The Highland Park, Illinois paramedics arrived within minutes and saved Mark’s life. But his struggle had just begun.
Mark hired Hurley McKenna & Mertz, P.C. to investigate his accident and seek justice from all responsible parties. As is often the case, there can be more than one person responsible for an accident. In this case, Hurley McKenna & Mertz, P.C. was able to make a case against the company that maintained the bike, the bike manufacturer and the maker of the quick release. Each played a role in this tragedy. After four hard years of legal battles and on the eve of a jury trial, Hurley McKenna & Mertz, P.C. settled Mark’s case for an amount that allowed Mark to pay for the massive costs to rehabilitate his body, compensate him for lost income and unspeakable suffering and to allow him the time to focus on getting his life back.
The Stephan Challenge.
Four years after his accident and after thousands of hours of grueling physical rehabilitation, Mark left for the California coast to begin the Stephan Challenge. Mark just never takes “no” for an answer. Despite the odds he rode his specially equipped bicycle across the continental United States in 3 months. Chris Hurley and Mike Mertz joined the ride in Louisiana where Mark’s incredible spirit has inspired us to work harder every day to help people like Mark Stephan.