As the season of gloom and doom starts, the Chicago Automobile Collision Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. remind motorists to use caution when traveling in inclement weather. According to the Federal Highway Administration, close to 6 million accidents occur each year, and of these, nearly a quarter are weather-related. NHTSA reports that more than 6,000 persons are killed, and close to half a million people sustain injury due to weather-related crashes, on average, each year. Although a large percentage such accidents are attributed to rainfall, many car wrecks also occur due to winter weather conditions (i.e. snow, sleet, ice, slush).

While seemingly obvious, speed is an important factor to take into consideration during inclement weather, and should be assessed in terms of both visibility reduction, as well as roadway/ pavement conditions. In inclement weather, a motorist’s ‘reasonableness’ is a far more significant factor than are posted speed restrictions. Pursuant to Sec. 11-601(a), of Illinois Vehicle Code, which pertains to general speed restrictions:

“No vehicle may be driven upon any highway of this State at a speed which is greater than is reasonable and proper with regard to traffic conditions and the use of the highway, or endangers the safety of any person or property. The fact that the speed of a vehicle does not exceed the applicable maximum speed limit does not relieve the driver from the duty to decrease speed when approaching and crossing an intersection, approaching and going around a curve, when approaching a hill crest, when traveling upon any narrow or winding roadway, or when special hazard exists with respect to pedestrians or other traffic or by reason of weather or highway conditions. Speed must be decreased as may be necessary to avoid colliding with any person or vehicle on or entering the highway in compliance with legal requirements and the duty of all persons to use due care.” [Emphasis added]

Noting the emphasized portions of the statute, determining the reasonableness of one’s traveling speed requires an assessment of all attendant circumstances. Studies have shown that, depending on the conditions, a driver’s speed may need to be reduced by as much as 50% or more than the posted limit. However, what may be reasonable for one particular driver, may not be reasonable for another (i.e. a vehicle equipped with snow tires versus a small passenger vehicle or vehicle with worn tread on tires). Likewise, what may be reasonable for one weather-condition, may not be reasonable in another (i.e. heavy snow versus light snow versus ice-covered roadway surfaces; cleared roadways versus non-cleared roadways).

Often time, a driver’s speed can combine with other factors that cause or contribute to an accident. Just a few include, tire-related issues, improper vehicle maneuvering, as well as driver impairment, fatigue, inexperience, or distractions, such as texting while driving.

Given inclement weather related crash data, and with weather forecasts predicting snow in the coming weeks, we hope that motorists take the necessary precautions to ensure their own safety, as well as that of other motorists that share our roadways. Our Chicago personal injury team wholeheartedly believes that the prevention of accidents, injuries, and fatalities requires a concerted effort amongst all road-users to remain aware of incidental factors associated with the reasonable operation of a motor vehicle.

In the unfortunate event you or a loved one were involved in an automobile collision, protecting your legal rights should be the next step following emergency medical treatment. Our veteran attorneys are here to help. Contact Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. today, either online, or by calling us at 773-516-4100.

With the cold weather upon us, now is a good time for motorists to inspect their vehicles and ensure preparedness for the winter season, particular with regard to tires. The Chicago Automobile Collision Attorneys, of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C., discuss some Tire Safety Tips in hopes of promoting awareness, improving safety, as well as reducing injuries and fatalities associated with car accidents, for the residents of Chicagoland and surrounding communities.

Tire-related issues commonly cause or contribute to car wrecks during the winter season. However, through fully understanding tire safety in cold weather, and taking the proper precautions, many of these auto accidents can be prevented. In example, drivers should know the safety implications associated with the particular type of tire that their vehicle is equipped with, as well as the benefits of upgrading to a tire that is specifically designed for winter weather.

A common misconception shared by many motorists relates to the protection offered by all-season tires, which, despite their name, are not the same as winter tires. The problem with typical all-season tires is that when the temperature falls below 45-degrees, the tread compound gradually hardens, resulting in decreased traction. All-season tires are also more prone to collecting debris. Winter tires, on the other hand can increase traction by as much as 50 percent, and have a special tread design that more effectively expel snow and ice.

Further, when replacing tires, drivers should make sure that all four tires of the same size, speed rating, load index, and construction. Mixing radial and non-radial tires is not recommended for most typical passenger cars, particularly in inclement weather conditions. However, if tire mixing is unavoidable, then the general rule for most standard passenger vehicles is that the two radial tires should be installed in the rear-axle, with two non-radials on the front axle.

Regardless of which type of tire your vehicle is equipped with, it is important to consider the manners in which both tire pressure and tire treads can play a role in motorist safety. While tire pressure increases in warm weather, it typically decreases in cold weather. In fact, studies have shown that tire pressure can decrease by as much as 2 PSI for every 10 degree reduction in outdoor temperature. Motorists are encouraged to continuously monitor their tire pressure, to ensure proper inflation, particularly during winter months.

Tire tread is an equally important consideration during winter months. Given the expenses associated with tire replacement, motorist often attempt to stretch the life of their tires. However, doing so during the winter season, can have grave consequences to motorist traveling upon snow or ice covered roadways. There are several ways to check tire tread depth, including ‘coin tests,’ as well as checking the ‘treadwear indicator bars’ that are molded into your tires.

Common coin tests are the penny and quarter tests, which involves inserting a coin upside down in the tire’s groove tread, with the coin’s face side facing you. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head using a penny, the tread on your tires is worn, and if the tread partially covers Washington’s head using a quarter, your tire tread is likely good. Coin tests should be performed along multiple tread grooves across the tire. Tread depth can also be assessed by locating the tread indicator bars in the tread grooves-when the bars are flush with adjacent ribs, the tire should be replaced.

As a final note, while proper vehicle maintenance is certainly critical to preventing accidents, the unfortunate truth is that some collisions occur even where a motorist has fully adhered to all tire safety tip guidelines and recommendations, such as those involving faulty or defective tires. Consequently, it is vital for accidents to ensure that a full and proper investigation is undertaken immediately following a crash, to determine all potential causes.

If you sustained injury, or a loved one was killed, as a result of a motor vehicle accident, contact the Chicago Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. at 773-516-4100, to discuss your rights to financial compensation during a FREE, comprehensive, and no-obligation consultation.

The Bus and Train Injury Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. take note of the continued increase in Chicago Transit Authority employee firings, since 2011, when Forrest Claypool took over as president of the agency. According to reports, roughly 900 CTA employees have been dismissed under Claypool’s watch, a significant portion of which were related to violation of agency rules. As personal injury lawyers, we certainly welcome Claypool’s efforts to clean-up the transit authority. Yet, when considering both the reasons behind such dismissals, as well as the reinstatement of approximately a fifth of these workers, we remain concerned over the safety of public transportation passengers.

As reported by Chicago Tribune, during the 3 ½ year period between January 2011 and June 2014, CTA firings included:

• 293 for violations of agency rules • 289 for excessive absenteeism • 64 for “other reasons”
• 56 for unexcused absenteeism • 27 for insubordination/violation of authority’s rules • 24 for safety violations • 22 for falsification of authority records
Of the employees dismissed, approximately 94% were union workers, and backed by union support, many of these workers were ordered reinstated as a result of the arbitration process, with more workers expected to be reinstated in the future. According to union leaders, Claypool’s augmented disciplinary policy is flawed, because it allows for an employee to be fired after a single incident involving a rule violation, as opposed to a progressive approach that regulates employees through the use of warnings, mandatory restraining, and unpaid suspensions, followed by dismissal upon problem persistence.

While we do have sympathy for the employees that lost their jobs, as injury attorneys, we are compelled to side with the CTA, in that one incident is sufficient to warrant dismissal, particularly in regard to firings associated with safety violations and falsification of records. Further, while absenteeism cannot be said, in and of itself, to pose a risk to public safety, it does demonstrate a lack of commitment, not only to one’s employer, but to one’s position as a public transportation service provider, which some would say, in the very least, places in question a worker’s ability to ensure passenger safety while on duty.

As stated by CTA spokesman Brian Steel, “We are looking for the best-caliber employee,” and “we don’t apologize for setting a pretty high bar for meeting all safety requirements.” Although union leaders would disagree with our contentions, we simply must view the issue from the perspective of our own profession-legal representatives that serve and protect the interests of injured public transportation passengers.

In a series of statements, which we find highly contradictory, union president of the Amalgamated Transit Union, Robert Kelly, acknowledged clear safety concerns with regard to rail operator platform-berthing errors, yet maintains his position against Claypool’s one-strike approach. Kelly notes the CTA’s dismissal of a 25-year veteran rail-operator with a spotless record, due to the employee’s failure to stop the train at the proper spot, opening the doors, and then closing them again upon realization of his mistake.

Again, although we recognize that humans are imperfect beings, and often make mistakes, we must err on the side of public safety. Consider the incident in March, in which a CTA Blue Line Train jumped the platform as it was pulling in at O’Hare, causing the front-car to land on the escalator, resulting in the injury of more than 30 train passengers. This is the precise type of preventable accident that demonstrates are reasoning behind supporting Claypool’s efforts to improve safety.

Further, for those not persuaded by safety risk issues, perhaps the financial impact upon community members, associated with government liability claims brought forth by public transportation passengers, provides a more convincing argument. Shortly after the March incident, we discussed such claims in ‘Multiple Lawsuits Expected to be Filed Following CTA Derailment.’ Despite the presence of liability insurance held by public entities, it would be a falsity to believe that actions against governmental entities have no impact on the allocation of taxpayer dollars.

Rail Station customer service assistants (CSAs) is another issue addressed under Claypool’s watch. CSA employees are responsible, not only for general station maintenance, but also for responding to passenger inquiries, assisting disabled riders, as well as reporting problems associated with equipment and facilities. Certainly one could see how failing to instruct or properly instruct, both disabled and non-disabled passengers, as well as failures in identifying equipment or facility problems, can pose a safety risk to rail users.

In addition to train-operation service employees, bus drivers appear to be most problematic of all, both in terms of safety, as well as financial impact on the transit agency. Nearly 60% of CTA firings between 2011 and 2014 were bus drivers. According to reports, the CTA incurred $30 million in 2013 alone, due to bus operator absenteeism. Yet, union representatives of bus-related CTA workers continue to reject Claypool’s disciplinary initiatives, again, arguing that progressive measures are a more suitable solution to regulating CTA employees.

In conclusion, safety concerns provide us with sufficient reasoning to support both the CTA and Claypool-and the allocation of public funds serve to supplement our contentions. While injury or death caused by accidents involving a bus collision or train derailment are more common, many passengers fail to consider the potential for injuries in other types of incidents, such as slip & fall accidents that occur while aboard a public transportation vehicle or at a rail station facility.

Accidents come in many forms, and negligence can often be attributed to person or entities that victims may never even consider. By contacting an experienced professional, you can protect your legal rights to compensation. Contact Chicago attorneys, Zneimer & Zneimer P.C., either online, or by calling 773-516-4100.

Claims against governmental entities (i.e. state, county, school district) are highly unique in comparison to other types of actions brought forth to recover damages for a death, injury, harm or other loss. This is because most government-associated entities enjoy some form of immunity from such suits. Further, actions against the government are subject to distinctive procedural rules, standards, and guidelines, which vary greatly from the usual personal injury lawsuit involving non-government defendants. Here, the Chicago Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. discuss government liability in motor vehicle collisions involving roadway safety issues.

Our concerns over the need to address this topic extends from a string of accidents in Oregon involving median crossover collisions, purportedly caused due the Transportation Department’s failure to install proper barriers to separate opposing lanes of traffic. Although department officials have acknowledged concerns over roadway barrier issues along several hundreds of miles of highway in Oregon, certain portions have been identified as particularly problematic, due to their high rate of crossover collisions.

In particular, a the 5-mile stretch of I-5, between Keiser’s Chemawa Road NE and Salem’s Santiam Hgwy SE, has seen more than 22 crossover crashes since 2005, many of which were exacerbated by the state decision-making over the use of earthen-berm, as opposed to the use of cable barriers. As accident and injury attorneys, we find both the quantity and nature of these collisions highly concerning, given the government’s more than decade-long knowledge and awareness of this important safety issue.

Even more troubling is that concerns over median crossover crashes in this vicinity date back to the early 1990’s, which resulted in the state’s erection of 5-foot earthen berm barriers in 1994. However, many say the berms not only fail to protect motorist traveling in opposite directions along a highway separated by a narrow 30-foot median, but in some cases have also worsened accidents by causing vehicles to propel or ‘vault’ over the low-lying earthen barrier into the pathway of oncoming traffic.

Amongst recent accidents, was the September 24th collision that took the life of a vehicle passenger, 25-year-veteran State Mental Health therapist Cary Marie Fairchild, as well as the driver of the car she was carpooling in, being operated by Dr. Steve Fritz, when a vehicle crossed the median and struck the victims head-on. Less than 24-hour after this tragic incident, a third motorist was killed in another crossover collision-this time, the victim was the driver responsible for crossing the median. Yet these are just two of the numerous tragedies that continue to plague Oregon motorists, both along I-5, and other highways in the state as well.

Following these two recent collisions, the department announced its intention to immediately procure contractors to construct the cable-barrier system that it had been contemplating for years. In a statement prepared by Matt Garret, the Director for the Oregon DOT, “Extreme conditions call for extreme measures.” While the implementation of safety barrier improvements is certainly long-awaited and necessary, as injury attorneys, we can’t help but reflect on the numerous accidents, injuries, and especially deaths, which could have been prevented.

Our primary concerns reside in what it takes for a government to constitute a safety hazard as an emergency. With regard to Oregon, it seems that fatality related incidents have been more influential in promulgating safety improvements, than have decades of crash data evidencing a clear safety risk-which appears to be a more reactive approach, as opposed to a preventative one. In doing so, the government is, in a sense, blurring the lines between the duty that they owe persons who utilize public roadways, and motorists’ reasonable expectation that such roadways will be maintained in a manner that provides adequate safety.

To continue reading on this topic, see ‘Claims against Public Entities: Government Liability in Roadway Maintenance Safety Issues – Part II.’

While the median-barrier problems in Oregon serve as a perfect example of the complexities involved in defining the parameters of government responsibility in providing safe roadways, this particular issue applies to a number of highways located throughout the U.S., Illinois included. The law pertaining to the maintenance of roadways is fairly uniform in most states, in that a duty exists to provide reasonably safe roadways, which includes protecting the public from inherently dangerous conditions that pose safety risks or hazards to persons that the entity intended, permitted, and reasonably expected to make use of, in the manner for which it used (i.e. motorists and passengers of motor vehicles).

And although the government can shield themselves from liability-at least in some ways-however, the duty to exercise ‘due’ and ‘ordinary’ care remains, as it would for any property owner, whether the government or a private individual. So then, at what point can the government be held responsible for their failure to remedy a known hazardous roadway condition?

Well, the answer to this inquiry will depend on several factors, including (1) the specific circumstances of the incident involved; (2) precise statutory language provided under the applicable law; (3) prior case law; and (4) other factors, such as judicial discretion in ruling on evidentiary matters, as well as the effectiveness of the claimant’s legal representation.

With regard to Illinois law, 745 ILCS 10/3-102(a), provides that:

“Except as otherwise provided in this Article, a local public entity has the duty to exercise ordinary care to maintain its property in a reasonably safe condition for the use in the exercise of ordinary care of people whom the entity intended and permitted to use the property in a manner in which and at such times as it was reasonably foreseeable that it would be used, and shall not be liable for injury unless it is proven that it has actual or constructive notice of the existence of such a condition that is not reasonably safe in reasonably adequate time prior to an injury to have taken measures to remedy or protect against such condition.”

In interpreting the statute, it is helpful to assess four key concepts, keeping in the legislative purpose and intent behind its enactment:

(1) ‘ordinary care to maintain its property in a reasonably safe condition’
(2) ‘intended and permitted property user’
(3) ‘actual or constructive notice’

For explanatory purposes, let’s consider a highway collision in Illinois involving the same factual circumstances as the median-barrier safety issues as in Oregon. First, operating a permitted motor vehicle along a public highway is certainly an intended use of such property. Second, the government appears to have been well-aware of the safety issues for some time, as is evidenced by the initial construction of the berms; subsequent recognition of the berms exacerbating the problem in several accidents; and plans to remedy the issue by installing cable-barriers, construction of which was delayed for years-as well as several years of crash data, and expressions of community concern and input from residents, government-affiliated officials, safety advocates, public-interest groups, and others.

Although the element of ‘actual or constructive notice’ may perhaps be debatable, it appears that the primary issue-at least with regard to barrier-related roadway maintenance problems that mirror the ones in Oregon-reside in whether the government exercised ‘ordinary care’ in maintaining its property in a ‘reasonably safe condition.’ Now, this is where matters can be more complex, in that defining what is ‘ordinary,’ and what is ‘reasonable,’ can vary greatly, depending on the facts involved, as well as a persons or court’s individual assessment.

As motorists in the U.S., we have, in the very least, a reasonable expectation that our highways will be adequately maintained, repaired, inspected, and updated, as is necessary to ensure the safety of motorists. To this extent, it would seem reasonable for a motorist to expect that state highways that are heavily occupied by fast-moving traffic, will be separated from opposing traffic in a manner that effectively protects motorists from injury or harm. Further, one would think that ordinary care would include remedying a known roadway hazard that has contributed to numerous accidents, injuries, and wrongful deaths.

From the legal perspective, prior cases have shown that what is ordinary and reasonable can be ascertained not only from prior case law, but also from what safety improvements have been implemented in surrounding areas. With regard to barrier-related median crossover safety issues, the neighboring state of Washington has not only identified barrier issues, but implemented a significant number of changes along I-5 to improve safety. In addition, the Federal Highway Administration discussed this specific issue in April 2014 report, noting their concerns over crossover collisions, which could be reduced through the use of cable-barriers.

So, why then have public entities in Oregon done so little to address safety concerns related to median-barrier crossover collisions? Moreover, has the government breached their duty of ordinary care owed to motorists in providing reasonably safe roadways? In assessing the presence of breach, consider the following, as indicated by the Oregonian, a local media source, upon their review of interviews and documents regarding this safety issue,


“the highway north of Salem went unprotected for so long because of changing political priorities, lack of money, decentralized ODOT decision-making and a traffic safety formula that doesn’t look at crash potential the way some other states do.”

Provided with the foregoing, it is not difficult for one to conclude that the government’s continued inaction appears to be an apparent breach in duty of care. Our automobile collision attorneys are aware of at least one potential claim against the government extending from a recent I-5 crossover fatality, which reportedly alleges that the state “negligently and carelessly permitted unsafe road conditions by the continued and repeated delay in the installation of life-saving cable barriers on a known hazardous stretch of highway.”

It is important to note that, while there are variations between states, both in statutory provisions and case law, the underlying issue in claims against the government associated with roadway maintenance, remains the same-that is, ‘Did the government breach their duty to provide reasonably safe roadways?‘ As veteran attorneys, we are compelled to answer this in the affirmative, and look forward to seeing whether justice is carried out, in the form of financial compensation provided to the victims of tragic and preventable I-5 crossover accidents.

The Chicago Personal injury & Wrongful Death Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. practice solely in the state of Illinois. However, we note the Oregon issue, because we see similar roadway safety hazards in our own state that we feel either have already, or could in the future, contribute to automobile accident injuries and fatalities. In addition, we find it necessary to stress the importance of having a legal professional review the factual circumstances of an automobile collision, immediately following its occurrence, to determine all potential sources of liability to direct claims at.

Claims against the government are often overlooked by victims, and in some cases, even lawyers as well, either due to their complex nature or lack of familiarity in handling such claims. At Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. we explore all potential liability sources, and have the litigation and practice experience necessary to provide effective advocacy and achieve meritorious results on behalf of all auto collision victims, whether the injured, family members of the deceased, or the decedent’s estate. Protect your legal rights to financial recovery-contact us, either online, or by calling 773-516-4100.

The Chicago Accident & Injury Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. take note of an alert, issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA), regarding the recall of nearly 5 million vehicles due to defective airbags. Recalled vehicles include several early 2000 models of certain Honda, Toyota, Mazda, Nissan, BMW, and GM vehicles. According to reports, the airbag inflators, made by Takata Corp., can fail to deploy in the event of collision, thereby posing a serious risk of injury or fatality.

Rarely does the NHTSA issue alerts of this nature, which demonstrates the critical nature of this safety hazard. As stated in NHSTA’s Consumer Advisory Press Release, owners of vehicle affected by the recall are “urged” to “act immediately.” To view a full list of all vehicle affected, click here. The alert further provides that “[This] message comes with urgency, especially for owners of vehicles affected by the regional recalls in the following areas: Florida, Puerto Rico, Guam, Saipan, American Samoa, Virgin Islands and Hawaii.” Apparently, the problem can potentially be aggravated by the humid weather in these particular regions.

This recall should not be confused with the recent airbag-related recall announced by Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler, as we discussed in ‘Two Major Auto Manufacturers Recall Over a Million Vehicles.’ Although both recalls involve defective airbag components, they are separate and distinct issues. Consumers can check to see if their particular vehicle is subject to either of these, as well as other recalls, by going to www.recall.gov, and clicking on the tab for Motor Vehicles.

As Automobile Collision Attorneys, that represent both the injured, as well as family members of the deceased, Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. finds the astounding number of vehicles, which may be in operation on our roadways with potentially defective airbags, to be highly concerning. In combination, the two recalls affect close to 5.8 million vehicles. However, these are just two of many recalls involving vehicle safety components. Often time, recalls affecting a smaller quantify of vehicles, are not given the media attention necessary to provide owners with notification regarding potential problems.

For many motorists, the purchase or use of vehicle is undertaken with the expectation that the vehicle’s safety equipment will protect the driver and/or passengers from serious injury or fatality, if an accident were to occur. Sadly, motorists’ ability to rely on protective safety components, is a concept that is quickly diminishing. It seems that with more technology, has come more problems. We have concerns that drivers may have a false sense of invincibility, especially when operating top-safety rated vehicles, which may not provide the protection that one would have expected if a collision occurred.

The alarming increase in vehicle-component recalls demonstrates why it is an absolute necessity to fully investigate the circumstances associated with each and every auto crash. While it is true that negligent motorists, and not vehicle malfunctions are more likely to cause accidents, it is also important to take into consideration any other factors that may have contributed to an injury or fatality, such as defective safety components.

The Chicago Accident Lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. have decades of practice experience and have obtained financial compensation on behalf of numerous victims. In short, we know precisely what to look for in terms of both establishing and identifying sources of liability. We offer FREE consultation in all personal injury cases, and encourage you to contact us online, or by calling 773-516-4100.

The Automobile Collision Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. take note of two recent auto manufacturer recalls, affecting more than a million vehicles, of various types and years, that present serious safety concerns to motorists, in the event a crash were to occur. On Tuesday, Chrysler announced a recall of more than 184,000 vehicles due to a short circuit issue that could potentially disable airbags and seat-belt petitioners. This announcement comes just three weeks following a recall by Ford Motor Co. affecting an estimated 850,000 vehicles, for the same restraint control module part.

As provided in Ford Motor Company’s media statement, the recall affects certain 2013 and 2014 models of the Ford C-Max, Fusion, Escape and Lincoln MKZ vehicles. According to Chrysler’s media statement, the recall affects certain 2014 models of the Dodge Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokee. If you feel you have a vehicle that may be subject to the recall, Chysler encourages motorists to call Chrysler Group’s Customer Information Center at 1-800-853-1403, while Ford Motor Co. states that dealers will replace the restraint control module on affected vehicles at no charge to the customer.

Although both automakers report that they are not aware of any accidents or injuries related to the issue, it is too soon to tell what impact the recall has already had, or will have in the future upon accident victims. As personal injury attorneys that practice both auto negligence and products liability, we find the magnitude of these recalls, while only a sixth in size of the GM recall, to be quite concerning.

In addition, we take issue with the fact that the maker of the restraint control module, Robert Bosch, has not made recall-related information available its primary website, but rather discusses the protection offered by passive safety restraint systems, and, ironically, the “reliability” of such components:

“With over 30 years of experience Bosch develops and manufactures advanced and reliable occupant and pedestrian protection electronics which precisely trigger passive safety systems such as airbags and seat-belt tensioners in the event of a crash or collision. We thus help vehicle manufacturers to provide better protection for both vehicle occupants and other road users.” [Source]

Given the recent recall, we do not find the language provided by Bosch regarding reliability, nor claims of helping vehicle manufactures to ‘provide better protection’ to be a fully honest and accurate statements. Both automakers and their suppliers owe a duty to consumers to prevent defective products from entering the stream of commerce, and further, upon becoming aware of potential safety issues, should take adequate measures to inform the public. As product liability attorneys, we feel that Bosch, given their well-recognized presence in the auto part industry, is certainly in a position to assist in promoting awareness of this important safety recall.

Auto-component recalls serve as the perfect example as to why it is critical for accident victims to have collisions evaluated by a legal professional that has the experience and know-how to identify all potential causative factors. Our Chicago Automobile Collision Attorneys have several decades of practice experience and remain dedicating to obtaining the maximum compensation deserved on behalf of our clients. Contact Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. online, or by calling 773-516-4100.

The Chicago Pedestrian Accident Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. take note of a promising new campaign developed for the purpose of promoting awareness, as well as pushing for increased funding, to improve intersection safety for pedestrians in the Chicagoland Area. The campaign is based upon a compilation of recent crash data, including factors such as location, time-of-day, age of victim, and types of injuries sustained in pedestrian crossing-related incidents. As injury lawyers, we support campaign efforts, and hope that residents of our communities will do the same.

Perhaps most noteworthy is the campaign’s identification of Chicagoland’s most dangerous intersections, and focus on implementing changes to enhance safety in these areas. As provided on the Active Transportation Alliance ‘Safe Crossings Fact Sheet,’ the top ten intersections deemed to be most dangerous in the City of Chicago are:

• N. MILWAUKEE AVE/W. NORTH AVE/N. DAMEN AVE • N. CICERO AVE AND W. CHICAGO AVE • N. HALSTED ST/N. LINCOLN AVE/W. FULLERTON AVE • S. COTTAGE GROVE AVE AND E. 79TH ST • N. DEARBORN ST AND W. ONTARIO ST • S. ASHLAND AVE AND W. 63RD ST • N. CICERO AVE AND W. MADISON ST • N. ASHLAND AVE AND W. CORTLAND ST • S. MARTIN LUTHER KING DR AND E. 63RD ST • N. ELSTON AVE/N. WESTERN AVE/W. DIVERSEY AVE

As discussed by the Chicago Tribune, between 2006 and 2012, more crashes, involving either a bicyclist or pedestrian, occurred at the Milwaukee/North/Damen intersection, than in any other intersection in Chicago-making this junction the city’s most dangerous. In addition to Chicago-specific areas, the Safe Crossings campaign also examined intersections in suburban Cook County areas, concluding the most dangerous to be:

• N. MCCORMICK BLVD AND W. TOUHY AVE (SKOKIE)
• S. CICERO AVE AND W. CERMAK RD (CICERO)
• U.S. ROUTE 12 (MANNHEIM RD/LA GRANGE RD) & W. CERMAK RD (WESTCHESTER)
• SHERMER RD AND DEMPSTER ST (MORTON GROVE)
• N. LA GRANGE RD AND W. OGDEN AVE (LA GRANGE)
• HARMS RD AND GLENVIEW ROAD (GLENVIEW)
• 1ST AVE AND MADISON ST (MAYWOOD)
• N. HARLEM AVE AND MADISON ST (FOREST PARK/OAK PARK)
• HARLEM AVE AND 79TH ST (BURBANK)
• E. 147TH ST AND HALSTED ST (HARVEY)

As stated by the Active Transportation Alliance, the list of intersections are “based upon analysis of crash data, staff input and more than 800 suggestions from community members,” and “will serve as focus areas for our outreach team as they mobilize supporters to advocate for pedestrian improvements and increased enforcement of existing traffic laws region-wide.” The Alliance also discussed age-based and pedestrian-type safety statistics, finding that “these crossings are particularly perilous for our most vulnerable users such as children, people with disabilities and seniors.” The time of day in which pedestrian accidents occurred most often was assessed as well, and according to the Alliance, 3 pm to 6 pm was found to be the highest crash time period, with 6 pm to 9 pm noted as the second highest.

While the Safe Crossings campaign hopes to reduce the incidence rate of all pedestrian crossing accidents, a chief goal is to address the issue of pedestrian fatalities, a problem that that is particularly problematic in Chicago, given its fatality rate that more than doubles the nationwide average. In conjunction with other pedestrian safety efforts, such as promoting awareness of the ‘Must Stop for Pedestrians Law,’ as set forth in 2010 amendments to the Illinois Vehicle Code, Safe Crossings aims to put an end to motorist-inflicted pedestrian deaths.

Additional safety efforts, supported by the Alliance’s Safe Crossing campaign, include the CDOT’s “Zero in Ten” goal, a plan appearing first in the city’s 2012 Pedestrian Plan, which is aimed at eliminating all pedestrian fatalities in Chicago within the next ten years. As provided in plan documents:

“The Zero in Ten program will identify locations that are in the most need of pedestrian improvements and implement aggressive measures to improve pedestrian safety. The program will include design improvements, enforcement initiatives, and education campaigns along two corridors and four separate intersections in Chicago on an annual basis.”

Although, for many, the city’s goal to completely eliminate all pedestrian fatalities by 2022, may appear to be an insurmountable endeavor, it is not altogether impossible. In the interim, a perhaps more realistic goal may be to achieve, in the very least, a significant reduction in pedestrian fatalities each year-and with 29 deaths in 2013, and more than 20 reported in 2014 so far-we certainly have a long way to go.

Our Pedestrian Accident Attorneys encourage residents to support safety initiatives such as the Alliance’s campaign. By Signing the Safe Crossings Petition, residents can show their support of more funding dedicated to improving pedestrian safety.

If you or a loved were the victim of a bicycling or pedestrian-related accident, contact Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. by calling 773-516-4100, or by using the online form provided on this page.

The Wrongful Death Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. take note of a tragic series of events that claimed the life of 51-year-old Dennis C. Hunke II, of Plainfield, as he was attempting to render assistance to an elderly motorist. The incident occurred at approximately 10 am, on Wednesday, October 8, 2014 at the first block of South Buell Avenue in Aurora. According to Authorities, 84-year-old Joyce A. Baudouin, of Aurora, was backing her Dodge Caravan out of a driveway, when she apparently lost control of her vehicle, and collided with a southbound vehicle. Thereafter, Baudouin, who was still in reverse, hit the gas pedal rather than the brake, causing her vehicle to travel into two yards, and subsequently back onto the roadway.

Noticing the crash, and wishing to assist the elderly woman, Hunke began to run towards the out-of-control caravan, as he yelled for her to apply the brakes. Heartbreakingly, this is where Hunke’s Good Samaritan efforts took a tragic turn. Hunke, who attempted to help the woman engage her brakes, put his foot inside the open driver’s side door. For reasons unknown, the elderly woman then hit the accelerator again, thereby striking Hunk with the door, and causing him to fall backwards and violently strike his head and suffer a traumatic brain injury.

While neither Baudouin nor the driver of initial vehicle she struck sustained injury, Hunke’s injuries were severe, and tragically, the victim passed away on Friday evening. Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. send our heartfelt condolences to family and friends of Dennis C. Hunke II, as they grieve over the loss of their loved one.

At the same time, we do hope that this incident is fully investigated, and that the parties involved takes measures to protect their legal rights. While nothing can every replace the loss of a loved one, family members of the deceased should be aware that they may be entitled to financial recovery as a result of the fatality. In addition to compensation for medical expenses, and general death-related expenses (i.e. funeral and burial expenses), the victim’s survivor’s may be entitled to compensation for other types damages.

In example, a wrongful death action may allow certain family members of the deceased to recover financial compensation for damages involving psychological harm, caused by the death of their loved one, such as grief, sorrow, and mental suffering. Further, a survival action can result in recovery on behalf of the victim’s estate, for lost wages, as well as pain and suffering endured by the victim prior to death.

Given the limited facts made available by authorities and the media, another consideration, that we feel may be necessary to further investigate, is whether the victim received appropriate medical treatment. In other words, the possibility of medical malpractice. Initially the victim was transported to a local hospital, where he was subsequently airlifted to another hospital-ironically, ‘Good Samaritan Hospital.’ As personal injury attorneys, that also practice medical malpractice, we hope that the severity and extent of the victim’s injuries were properly assessed and identified by medical professionals, including emergency response technicians, as well as those that treated the victim upon arrival to the initial hospital.

The nature of this particular incident also compels us to consider other potential legal issues. For example, as product liability attorneys, we wonder whether a vehicle malfunction or defective vehicle component, such as with the braking or acceleration components, may have caused or contributed to the incident. We do hope the possibility of a vehicle failure is at least considered. However, if subsequently eliminated as a cause, then we also feel it is necessary to consider whether the elderly woman should have been driving at all.

Whether additional facts of this incident may ultimately be revealed upon investigation, we have yet to know. However, this tragedy does demonstrate two things—ensuring your own safety when rendering assistance to others—and protecting the legal rights of the victim and their family following an accident.

Statistical data demonstrates that the drivers of passenger cars and other motor vehicles, as opposed to truck drivers, are more commonly identified as the cause of trucking collisions. In addition, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, passenger car occupants are nearly four times more likely than truckers to suffer fatality in such collisions. Consequently, the Truck Accident Injury & Fatality Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. find it beneficial to remind motorists of the dangers of sharing roadways with semi-tractor trailers, and more importantly the appropriate safety precautions to take.

While ideally it would be best if motorists could completely steer clear of big-rigs, we know this is nearly impossible. However, by understanding the manners in which truck accidents often occur, motorists are that share the roadway with these massive vehicles are better able to protect themselves from accident, injury, and fatality.

Tip #1 — Beware of Truckers that are Tailgating
Although tailgating is unlawful, truckers do it all the time. If a truck driver is traveling too closely behind you, and you suddenly brake, the driver may not be able to react in time. Also keep in mind, that whenever descending from an incline, a large truck, due to its weight, will pick up speed. Passenger car drivers should immediately move over, in a safe manner, whenever possible, if they feel they are being tailgated by a large truck.

Tip #2 — Keep a Safe Distance behind Trucks
In other words, refrain from tailgating yourself. Studies have shown that remaining at least 20 car lengths behind a truck is considered to be a safe distance. This is often referred to as the ‘four-second rule.’ Tailgating a truck not only puts you in the truck driver’s blind spot, but also restricts your own ability to see what is ahead of you (i.e. roadway obstructions; slowing/stopped traffic; motor vehicle collisions).

Tip #3 — Beware of Speeding Truckers
Truck drivers that speed put everyone at risk that they share the roadway with, especially in inclement weather. In addition, because drivers of passenger vehicles have no way of knowing whether the truck’s cargo has been properly loaded, or if the truck’s mechanisms are in proper working condition (i.e. steering, brakes tires), a speeding semi can have devastating consequences, in the event that a truck driver or another motorist loses control of their vehicle.

Tip #4 — Know the Truck Driver’s Blind Spots
There are four areas that surround a truck-left side, right side, front, and rear-referred to as ‘no-zones,’ that motorists should steer clear of. Driving directly next to the truck’s right passenger side can be particularly dangerous, because the trucker may change lanes into your pathway if he/she is unable to see you. If you feel that a truck driver cannot see your vehicle, or if a truck has begun to move into your lane, use your horn to signal the driver of your presence.

Tip #5 – Use Caution when Passing, Overtaking, or Changing Lanes
If you must pass/overtake a truck, only do so from the lane to the left of a truck. Use your turn signals and give the truck driver ample time to become aware of your intention to pass. Pass the truck quickly, and refrain from lingering alongside a truck. After passing a truck, make sure that there is sufficient space between the rear of your vehicle and the front of the truck, particularly if you intend on changing lanes back to the lane occupied by the semi. Make adjustments as necessary, depending on roadway conditions and weather-related factors.

Tip #6 — Report Dangerous Drivers
If you feel that a semi-truck is being operated in a dangerous, reckless, unlawful, or negligent manner, report the driver. Take note of the contact information located on the rear of the truck and/or the logo on the truck, as well as your precise location, date, and time. You can then contact local authorities, the Illinois Department of Transportation, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and/or the parent company of the truck being reported.

Tip #7 – Know your Legal Rights
The trucking industry is strictly regulated by the federal government. If you or a loved one are involved in a collision with a large truck, it is important to know that in addition to criminal liability, the truck driver and/or their employer can also be held civilly liable for damages caused as a result of negligent, reckless, or unlawful actions or omissions. Depending on the truck’s weight, and the cargo being carried, FMCSA requires proof of financial responsibility, either through liability insurance or the purchase of a surety bond, ranging in amounts from $750,000 up to $5 million.

Given that 1 out of every 10 highway deaths involve large trucks, it is critical that drivers use the utmost of caution whenever sharing a roadway with a semi-tractor trailer. In the unfortunate event a collision does occur, the Chicago Trucking Accident Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. want to help you and your family in obtaining the maximum amount of financial compensation deserved. Contact us to schedule your FREE case evaluation by calling 773-516-4100, or by using the online form provided on this page.