Chicagoland Personal Injury Law Blog

Brake Safety Week coming to Illinois in September

This fall, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance will hold Brake Safety Week in Illinois and across North America. During the initiative, which takes place Sept. 16-22, CVSA inspectors will check commercial vehicles for critical brake violations. Vehicles that fail inspections will be pulled from service.

According to the CVSA, poorly maintained or improperly installed brake components pose a serious public safety risk. In order to ensure brake systems are in good working condition, commercial vehicles must be routinely inspected. However, statistics show that trucking companies aren't always doing this. For example, a study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found that 32.7 percent of large trucks that had pre-crash violations had problems with their brake systems. The study also discovered that vehicles involved in brake-critical crashes were 50 percent more likely to have a brake violation than those that were involved in collisions where brakes were not a factor. Finally, brake violations were the No. 1 reason vehicles were pulled from service during the CVSA's 2017 International Roadcheck.

Deadly pedestrian accidents linked to driver distraction

For Illinois pedestrians, the consequences of distracted driving can be deadly. Both distracted driving and the number of pedestrian deaths due to motor vehicle accidents has been on the rise. While experts say that cars have become safer, the popularity of SUVs means that many vehicles sit higher on the road, potentially leading to more dangerous pedestrian impacts. In fact, pedestrian fatalities have shot up by 49 percent since 2009, which is well above the 11 percent increase in overall traffic fatalities.

Smartphones are perhaps the most well-known and common causes of distracted driving. Because these devices are now so ubiquitous, almost everyone has a smartphone that's ready to chime in with news of incoming text messages and emails. The allure of the devices can all too easily distract a driver's eyes and mind from the roadway, potentially leading to devastating and even fatal car crashes. In 2007, 17,851 people went to the emergency room across the United States in incidents related to mobile phone use. In 2016, that number grew to 32,755.

Drugs and alcohol create dangerous drivers

According to a 2016 Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) report, 44 percent of drivers killed in car crashes tested positive for controlled substances. This figure was based in cases where test results were known for a driver. That is an increase of 16 percent over a period of 10 years. Of those who were on drugs when killed, 38 percent had marijuana in their system. Furthermore, 4 percent had both marijuana and opioids in their system.

It is believed that the lack of testing for drug impairment is one reason why drugged driving is becoming a larger problem. As different drugs have different effects on a person, it may not be possible to come up with a single comprehensive test. While drugged driving has become an increasingly common occurrence, the percentage of drivers killed in car accidents with alcohol in their bodies decreased. In 2016, 38 percent of drivers in fatal accidents were impaired by alcohol compared to 41 percent 10 years prior.

What to do if you suspect abuse in a nursing home

You wish the best for your parents. You searched for just the right kind of nursing home. However, you might be afraid that your parents are being abused. Perhaps there are unexplained bruises, behavior differences or changes to medication.

How high is the level of nursing home abuse?

Important steps to take following a car accident in Illinois

A car accident can happen in a split second, even when drivers are cautious. If the unexpected does occur, anyone involved is legally obligated to stop regardless of the extent of the damage. When engaging with the other people involved, it's wise to not admit any responsibility. There are other important steps that can be taken following any type of car accident that may facilitate certain insurance and legal processes.

With car accidents, the top priority is to seek any necessary medical attention and wait for the police to arrive. It's best not to move involved vehicles unless there is serious danger due to traffic. Even with minor accidents, contacting authorities can provide legal documentation of the accident in the form of a police report. Medical records can also document injuries sustained.

Unsafe driving is the top cause of commercial truck crashes

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance plans to bring attention to dangerous driving behaviors during its annual Operation Safe Driver Week, which is scheduled to begin July 15. Law enforcement in Illinois and throughout the nation will focus on drivers engaging in reckless actions like speeding, distracted driving, tailgating or breaking other traffic laws. Commercial vehicles come under particular scrutiny during the enforcement event. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, bad decisions by drivers contribute to 88 percent of crashes involving large trucks.

The alliance's week-long event adds to its mission of educating all drivers about distracted or reckless driving. The organization sponsors programs, often in partnership with the transportation industry, to improve traffic safety enforcement and promote safe driving practices.

Rideshare drivers at risk for drowsy driving

Rideshare drivers in Illinois and across the U.S. are at elevated risk for drowsy driving, according to a position statement from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. The statement was published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine on April 15.

According to the position statement, rideshare drivers are more likely to suffer from on-the-job fatigue and drowsiness because many of them work night shifts and drive for long periods of time without a break. Rideshare drivers are also largely classified as independent contractors, which means they are not screened for medical conditions that could negatively impact their alertness on the job. The problem is further exacerbated by low fares and pay concessions that encourage drivers to work longer hours than their bodies can safely handle. The AASM believes the situation constitutes a grave safety risk for both rideshare drivers and the general public.

How truck accident victims achieve a settlement

Truck accident victims in Illinois who know that they were not at fault can file for compensation with the other side. However, going through with a personal injury lawsuit can take a substantial amount of time and money, so victims may consider opting for an informal settlement. This is where both parties settle out of court without publicly holding anyone liable for negligence or recklessness.

Settlements are usually achieved through one of three ways: mediation, negotiation or arbitration. These are known as methods of alternative dispute resolution, or ADR. One of the advantages of ADR is that it promotes a confidential environment where both sides can speak candidly and not defensively about who is responsible and how much should be paid out. The trucking company may be more willing to reach an amicable agreement with ADR.

Why teen sobriety is important on prom night

With teens across the Chicagoland preparing for prom season, it is important to realize the potential for drunk driving accidents. In fact, car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It may go without saying, but teen drivers are known for taking risks while behind the wheel, such as driving above the speed limit and using electronic devices while driving (i.e. texting and driving). While alcohol use is prevalent among high school students, the potential for drinking and driving remains a serious issue, especially given the mentality that many teens carry: “it won’t happen to me.” Unfortunately, the combination of cavalier attitudes towards personal safety combined with lowered inhibitions due to alcohol consumption make drinking a driving an extraordinary danger for teens.  

Authorities struggle to cope with surge in distracted driving

Motor vehicle accidents caused by distracted drivers claimed 3,477 lives throughout Illinois and the rest of the country in 2015. Unfortunately, most road safety experts expect the problem to get even worse in the years ahead. Smartphones and automobile entertainment and navigation systems are often blamed for the recent surge in distracted driving accidents and injuries, but studies have found that talking to passengers may actually be the most distracting behavior that motorists engage in.

Collisions involving distracted drivers are often deadly because evasive action is rarely taken during such incidents. Efforts to deal with the problem include stricter distracted driving laws, more rigorous policing and public awareness campaigns. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 660,000 U.S. motorists are using their cellphones while behind the wheel during daylight hours.

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Ryan, Ryan & Landa

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