October 20, 2014

Nearly 5 Million Vehicle Recalled due to Airbag Defect

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.

October 15, 2014

Two Major Auto Manufacturers Recall over a Million Vehicles

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.

October 15, 2014

Active Transportation Alliance Announces Launch of pedestrian-focused ‘Safe Crossings’ Campaign

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.

October 13, 2014

Plainfield Man Dies in Tragic Aurora Accident

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.

October 4, 2014

Sharing the Roadway with Semi-Tractor Trailers: Motorist Safety Tips

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.

October 3, 2014

Preventing Dog Attacks through Technology

According to the American Insurance Institute, nearly half of all dog bites occur while the dog is off the owner’s property. While in some cases, a dog may attack another person or animal while in its owner’s presence (i.e. unleashed dogs; improperly secured collar/harness; pulling/breaking away from owner’s control), many bites and attacks are caused when a dog escapes from their owner’s property. Often time, the dog’s owner is completely unaware that their dog has escaped. The Dog Bite Injury Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. take note of a promising new technology, which might aide in the reduction of dog-related incidents.

Micro-chipping pets has long been used as a means of recovering lost animals, however, the benefits of such microchips were dependent on whether (1) the animal was actually brought in to be scanned; (2) the scan was successful in identifying the owner (3) and the owner’s contact information was current. Traditional microchips can neither track a dog’s location, nor notify a dog owner that their dog has escaped their property, and therefore serve a highly limited purpose—the possibility that the dog and its owner may be reunited. Though, a new product, ‘Escape Alert,’ offers to change dog-to-owner reunification. As discussed by the Chicago Tribune in ‘Pet escape: How to deal with it—and prevent it,’ with the use of this device,

“a pet owner can set up a virtual boundary – his or her yard, for example. When their dog or cat crosses the boundary, they get immediate text and email alerts. Neighbors, friends, veterinarians and local animal shelters can also get notifications. Next comes the cool part: The implanted GPS chip then tells the pet owner the animal's exact location via cell phone, iPad, text message or computer.”

While the product is marketed with the marketing slogan “Putting an End to Lost Pets Once and For All,” as dog bite injury attorneys, we find this technology highly useful in terms of preventing escape-related dog attacks. Recently, we noted our concerns over escaping dogs that subsequently inflict injuries upon another person and/or animal, in ‘Protecting YOURSELF from Injury in Animal-on-Animal Attacks.’ Here, we discussed an incident in which a puppy, as well as both of its owners, sustained multiple injuries after being attacked by two pit bulls that had escaped their owner’s property.

Although it is unknown as to whether the pit bull incident occurred due to the owner permitting the dogs to roam, or the dogs escaping without the owner’s knowledge, it is certainly easy to see the benefits that Escape Alert’s GPS-tracking technology offers in attack prevention—at least with regard to Responsible Pet Owners.

With GPS and tracking-related technology having been around for years, you may be wondering why traditional pet micro-chipping devices have not already incorporated an option or means of providing the precise location of an animal, without needing to be scanned. Well, just like portable GPS devices and cell phones, they require power to work. And because you can’t plug a dog into an outlet, pet microchips equipped with locational-tracking must be operated by a battery that lasts long enough to make the device a worthwhile investment. Escape Alert’s device, developed using the same technology as in pacemakers, offers a battery that is powered and self-charged through movement.

As an added benefit, the device, which is expected to hit the market in 2015, offers both affordability and convenience of use. Costing slightly more, yet still comparable in price to traditional microchip devices, the grain-of-rice-sized technology, appears, at least from preliminary reviews, to be a worthwhile investment. Further, because the tracking utilizes geo-fencing technology, users need not purchase nor install boundary markers, as with traditional electronic fencing or collar-affixed tracking devices.

Having witnessed the devastation caused by dog attacks, the lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. look forward to seeing the extent to which this device might reduce injuries inflicted on persons and other animals, particularly those caused as a result of a dog’s escape.

If you were bitten or attacked by a dog or other animal, contact us at 773-516-4100, or by using our online form, and allow our experienced trial attorneys, to evaluate your case, and explain your legal rights and entitlement to financial compensation during a FREE consultation.

October 3, 2014

Divvy Bike Share to Expand to Oak Park and Evanston in 2015

The Chicago Bicycle Accident Injury Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. take note of recently announced plans to further expand the Divvy bike-sharing program throughout the Chicagoland area. Funded by a $3 million state grant, the expansion, planned to take place in 2015, will provide Evanston residents with 8 new docking stations, and Oak Park with 12 new stations. As stated in the Chicago Tribune, the funding will also help pay for 50 additional docking stations in Chicago’s West and far North Sides, including Rogers Park, West Rogers Park, Austin and Garfield Park.

Divvy Bike Share, commonly referred to as ‘Chicago’s newest transit system,’ has been quite successful since its launch last June, with nearly 2 million trips occurring this year alone, according to Divvy Trip Data. Further, membership to the program has almost doubled since last year, from 12,186 active members in 2013, to its more than 23,000 current members. In addition to the 70 new stations in Evanston, Oak Park, and Chicago’s West and North Sides, Divvy reports plans to add more than 100 more docking stations in 2015, for a total of 175 new stations and 1,750 more bikes. Upon completion, these expansions would provide Chicagoans with the most bike stations and largest service area in North America.

As bicycling enthusiasts ourselves, the attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. are pleased to see the growth of bike sharing in our communities. In addition to its health and environmental benefits, bike sharing contributes to economic growth, and has become an important component of the tourism industry. While we certainly support expansion efforts, riders are reminded to remain aware of the dangers of bicycling in the Chicagoland area, particularly when traveling along roadways shared with motorists.

As ridership rates continues to rise, it can be expected that more accidents will occur, simply due to the increased presence of bicyclists. However, bike sharing, in particular, presents unique concerns, because as statistics have shown bike share riders are much less likely to wear a helmet than other types of riders. As provided by WGN News broadcast, ‘Increase in Bike Use Brings Increase in Head Injuries,’ a study published in the American Journal of Public Health looked at the proportion and risk in cities with ride share programs, and found a 14% increase in bicycle-related head injuries.

Head trauma is amongst the most serious and devastating type of injury, and can lead to life-long complications, and even fatality. As noted in the WGN report referenced above, Dr. Jane Kayle Lee, a trauma surgeon, states that “the vast majority, so over 80% of the patients who come in for bicycle-related trauma who end up dying, were not wearing a helmet.” Lee goes on to say that “what we see here is a bleed in the left frontal lobe of the brain.”

As injury attorneys with decades of experience representing victims involved in bicycle accidents, we know firsthand the benefits that helmets offer in terms of reducing and preventing traumatic head and brain injuries. Quite simply, helmets save lives, and therefore we encourage their use at all times while bicycling, regardless of location (i.e. roadway or bike path), and regardless of rider type (i.e. tourist using bike sharing or experienced cyclist).

If you were injured or a loved one suffered a fatality in a bicycle accident that occurred in Chicago, or a surrounding suburb, the attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. want to help you and your family obtain the compensation deserved. Contact us online, or by calling 773-516-4100, and allow us to explain your legal rights during a FREE comprehensive case evaluation.

October 2, 2014

Protecting YOURSELF from Injury in Animal-on-Animal Attacks

The Chicago Dog Bite Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. represent clients in a wide range of dog-related incidents, including those in which a person sustained injury while trying to prevent or intercept an animal-on-animal attack. Any animal lover would agree that ensuring the safety of their beloved pets, which are often considered to be members of the family, is an important concern. However, it is also necessary to consider your own safety, particularly when a dog owned by another bites, attacks, or attempts to attack your own dog or cat. Prompted by a recent dog attack in a Chicagoland suburb, we feel compelled to remind dog owners of the risk for injury or fatality caused as a result of intercepting a potential or presently occurring attack on your animal.

In September, a McHenry man and his wife, Steven and Annette Cuda, were both injured while attempting to save their 6-month-old golden retriever puppy, Addie, from being mauled by two pit bulls. According to reports, the two dogs either escaped or were allowed to roam from the owner’s premises, and subsequently charged at the retriever as Mr. Cuda was taking Addie on an evening walk. Mrs. Cuda, who was driving home at the time of the attack, heard her husband yelling around the corner, and joined her husband in an attempt to stop the attack.

In the aftermath of the incident, three victims required emergency medical treatment. Both of Addie’s owners sustained injuries to their hands, and Mr. Cuda reports that he separated his shoulder, when he tripped over one of the pit bulls during the attack. In addition, Addie sustained multiple dog bite related puncture wounds, and has already undergone two surgeries. Mr. Cuda described the attack as the most terrifying thing he has ever gone through, further stating that “the more my dog screamed or cried, the more vicious the pit bulls became.”

According to local authorities, this attack is the third dog-related incident involving the pit bulls’ owner, which police have responded to in recent years, including prior citations for aggression in 2012, as well as one for running at large in 2011. Unfortunately authorities were unable to confirm whether previous violations involved the same dogs that attacked Addie and her owners. However, given the pending litigation on this matter, we expect that the injury attorney handling the matter will be able to determine the nature of prior incidents through evidence, such as statements and testimony provided from neighbors in the community.

At least one neighbor reports knowledge of the pit bulls being loose immediately prior to the incident, and we imagine that other witnesses may come forth or be revealed, whether through the Animal Control’s dangerous dog investigation, or the pending lawsuit. As dog bite injury lawyers, we feel that reporting dangerous and vicious dogs, or any other violations of local ordinances or state laws pertaining the control and regulation of animals, can greatly contribute to the reduction of attacks.

Fortunately the injuries suffered by the Cudas were not life-threatening in this particular attack. However, pet owners are reminded of the dangerous consequences that can occur while trying to rescue your animal from a dog attack. In short, protecting your own dog is certainly important, but in doing so, you must also protect yourself from injury. In addition to initial injuries sustained due to an attack, there are also concerns of medical complications, such as infection, that can occur during or following a dog bite injury.

If you, a loved one, and/or your dog were injured or harmed following an attack by a dog owned by another person, it is important to know that you may be entitled to financial compensation. Our experienced team of trial attorneys have obtained favorable results in numerous dog bite injury cases, and want to do the same for you. We offer FREE consultation in all personal injury matters. Contact Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. by calling 773-516-4100, or by using the online form provided on this page.

October 2, 2014

Driver Fatigue & the Trucking Industry: Motorists Beware

The Trucking Accident Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. take note of a recent investigation, as provided in a broadcast on ABC’s 20/20 regarding the deadly consequences of fatigued drivers, and the manner in which trucking companies contribute to these dangers through their negligent and unlawful practices.

As ABC’s Matt Gutman points out, “In 2012 alone there were over 300,000 large-truck crashed, with over 4,000 fatalities…the industry points out that truckers are not usually at fault in these accidents—but police do warn of a particular danger—tired truckers. While in some cases, it is the truck driver’s themselves that engage in risky behaviors, such as driving while fatigued, speeding or tailgating—in other cases, it is the trucker’s employer/trucking companies that are encouraging/supporting such recklessness. Consider both Truck Driver Negligence as well as Employer/Truck Industry Actions, as you view the following clip from the above-referenced ABC special:

http://abcnews.go.com/2020/video/fatigued-truckers-deadly-consequences-25639370

Although this footage may be quite alarming to most, it is something that we, as representatives of trucking accident victims, have come to know as fact. The unfortunate truth is that our nation’s dependence on the trucking industry has also compromised the safety of others that must share our highways and roads with these massive vehicles. We have both a need for the industry and need for public safety. However, within the trucking industry, we have companies running a business, and the employees that work for them, each of which present concerns with regard to public safety.

Continue reading "Driver Fatigue & the Trucking Industry: Motorists Beware" »

September 25, 2014

Motorists’ Noncompliance with Illinois’ ‘Must Stop for Pedestrians Law’ Raises Safety Concerns in Chicago

The Pedestrian Accident Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. take note of a concerning problem that continues to plague those that travel by foot in the Chicago area—crosswalk safety. According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, pedestrian fatalities in Chicago were more than double the nationwide average in 2012. Many of these fatalities occurred at pedestrian crossings. As Accident & Injury Lawyers, we find this highly troubling, particularly given the 2010 revisions to right-of-way laws in Illinois, which many expected would have significantly enhanced the safety of pedestrians throughout the city.

As suggested by an article in the Chicago Tribune, failure to comply with pedestrian crossing laws can at least, in part, be attributed to drivers’ unawareness of the law, as it was revised in 2010. Under the old law, drivers were only required to yield to pedestrians. However, in finding that this yield-only requirement was a law that was difficult to interpret, as well as difficult to enforce, the state amended it in 2010 to include a provision requiring drivers to both stop and yield at crosswalks. The 2010 revisions to Illinois Vehicle Code regarding ‘Pedestrians’ right-of-way at crosswalks,’ as set forth in 625 ILCS 5/11-1002(a), provides that:

“When traffic control signals are not in place or not in operation the driver of a vehicle shall stop and yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling, or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger.” [emphasis added]

While for some drivers failure to adhere to the law is due to motorists’ outright obliviousness to the new stop-requirement, for others, they are in fact familiar with the law, but do not fully understand when they are actually required to stop. In particular, for many there is confusion as to precisely how Illinois law defines a crosswalk. Pursuant to 625 ILCS 5/1-113, a “Crosswalk” is defined as:

"(a) That part of a roadway at an intersection included within the connections of the lateral lines of the sidewalks on opposite sides of the highway measured from the curbs or, in the absence of curbs, from the edges of the traversable roadway, and in the absence of a sidewalk on one side of the highway, that part of the highway included within the extension of the lateral line of the existing sidewalk to the side of the highway without the sidewalk, with such extension forming a right angle to the centerline of the highway; (b) Any portion of a roadway at an intersection or elsewhere distinctly indicated for pedestrian crossing by lines or other markings on the surface placed in accordance with the provisions in the Manual adopted by the Department of Transportation as authorized in Section 11-301."

Stated simply, regardless of pavement markings or signage, a sidewalk is created wherever a sidewalk leads into a street—and where a sidewalk exists, motorists must stop and yield for pedestrians. Yet, despite this requirement, many drivers continue to disobey the law, putting pedestrians at great risk for injury or death caused by these motorist’s negligent and unlawful actions.

In addition to crash data, the ongoing issue over noncompliance with the law, is supported by recent data collected through a study conducted by the Active Transportation Alliance. As provided in an overview of this observational study, released in August 2014, which observed and compared motorists/pedestrians at 52 sites of marked and unmarked crosswalks in the Chicago area, “it is apparent that Chicagoland motorists were significantly more noncompliant with the law than they were compliant.”

Most concerning for pedestrians, as this study concluded, are the variations amongst compliance rates at each type of crosswalk—5 % at unmarked crosswalks; 18 % common marked (painted) crosswalks; and 61% at crosswalks that are both marked and have other safety features (i.e. bricks, raised, in-street signage, parkway signage, flashing beacons). What this data indicated is that both motorist compliance and pedestrian safety can be improved through the use of more roadway indicators which notify motorists of the presence of a pedestrian crossing.

Lack of enforcement has also been identified as an additional factor which has contributed to motorists’ failure to abide by the 2010 amendments to crosswalk right-of-way law in Illinois, commonly referred to as the ‘Must Stop for Pedestrians Law.’ As noted by Executive Director of the Active Transportation Alliance, Ron Burke, and discussed by the Chicago Tribune, installing ‘must stop’ signs at every crosswalk would be impractical, and therefore gaps in compliance must be filled through promoting awareness of law, as well as heightened and consistent enforcement of the law. Burke paralleled the need for awareness and enforcement to the state’s ‘Click It or Ticket’ campaign, which was successful in increasing compliance with seat-belt use laws in Illinois.

While officials say that more than 60 ‘enforcement stings,’ at pedestrian crossing are scheduled for this year throughout the city, the Pedestrian Accident & Injury team of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. hope to see more done to promote awareness of the law. As stated by Chicago Attorney Peter Zneimer:

“Any law at improving safety for vulnerable road users in the city is certainly a step in the right direction. At the same time, however, the effectiveness of such laws are dependent on compliance, which at a very minimum must involve three components—(1) notifying the public about the law through promoting awareness; (2) educating the public as to how to properly comply with it; and (2) enforcing the law to increase compliance. Thereafter, we must rely on the prudence and reasonableness of the motorists whom share our roadways with pedestrians and bicyclists.”

If you or a loved one were involved in a motor vehicle-versus-pedestrian accident in Chicago, or a surrounding area, Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. want to help you and your family obtain the compensation deserved. Contact us online, or by calling 773-516-4100, to schedule a Free Consultation, and let our experienced attorneys go to work for you.

August 28, 2014

Truck Driver Charged with Reckless Homicide Following Fatal Crash

As Trucking Accident Attorneys, we are well aware of the hazards faced by motorists who are forced to share our roadways with truck drivers that operate semi-tractor trailers. Big-rigs are massive, heavy, dangerous vehicles, capable of mass destruction, as was demonstrated by a tragic accident last month that took the lives of five innocent victims. Zneimer & Zneimer P.C., along with the victim’s family, and residents of our community are pleased to see justice being carried out, at least in the criminal sense, following reports of the truck driver’s indictment for reckless homicide.

As provided by the Chicago Tribune, the crash occurred on the afternoon of July 21, 2014, along Interstate 55, south of Arsenal Road, near Elwood. According to authorities, 51-year-old Francisco Espinal Quiroz was operating a semi-truck, when he crashed into three stopped vehicles. Heartbreakingly, four people were killed immediately due to the crash, and fifth victim died later at the hospital.

Amongst the victims killed as a result of the truck driver’s negligence was an 11-year-old child, Piper Britton, of Urbana. The remaining victims, all adults, were 43-year-ol Kimberly Britton, of Urbana; 54-year-old Vicky Palacios, of Coal City; 48-year-old Ulrike Blopleh, of Channahon; and 64-year-old Timothy Osburn, also of Channahon. In addition to the five fatalities, four other victims were hospitalized due to injuries sustained in the crash.

Following the accident, Francisco Espinal-Quiroz, the truck driver responsible for the crash, was arrested, where his bond was set in the amount of $1 million. According to Will County court records, on August 28,2014, the driver was indicted on over a dozen counts extending from the deadly crash, 15 of which fall under 720 ILCS 5/9 3(a), Involuntary Manslaughter and Reckless Homicide, and 2 pursuant to 625 ILCS 5/18b-103, Failure to comply with Motor Carrier Safety

In addition to failing to keep proper lookout, and decrease speed, the indictment alleges that Espinal-Quiroz was speeding in a construction zone. The driver also had physical limitations, including complete loss of vision to his right eye, which prevented Espinal-Quiroz from safely operating a tractor-trailor in a lawful manner. Pursuant to 49 CFR 391.41(b)(10), the physical qualifications regarding visual capacity, as set forth by Federal Motor Carrier Regulations, requires that the truck driver:

“Has distant visual acuity of at least 20/40 (Snellen) in each eye without corrective lenses or visual acuity separately corrected to 20/40 (Snellen) or better with corrective lenses, distant binocular acuity of at least 20/40 (Snellen) in both eyes with or without corrective lenses, field of vision of at least 70° in the horizontal Meridian in each eye, and the ability to recognize the colors of traffic signals and devices showing standard red, green, and amber.”

According to reports, the driver had been previously charged with falsifying logbook records pertaining to Hours-of-Service, which the federal government requires for the purpose of discouraging truck drivers from continuing to drive without a break in a manner that exceeds the maximum time limitations set forth by law. Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. recently expressed our concerns over log-book falsification and driver-fatigue in ‘Improving Safety, Preventing Fatigue-Related Accidents, and Ensuring Regulatory Compliance in the Trucking Industry: Electronic Logbooks.’Given the dangers posed to other motorists that share the roadway, we find such offenses appalling, and feel that offenders should be penalized to the maximum extent permitted by law.

According to additional Will County court records, four victims have filed personal injury actions against the truck driver, and his self-owned and operated trucking company, Espinal Trucking. We suspect more claims may follow in the form of Wrongful Death and/or Survival Actions. The attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. send our heartfelt condolences to the victim’s family, friends, and loved ones, as they

If you were injured, or a family member was killed, as a result of trucking accident that occurred in Will County, Cook County, or a neighboring Chicagoland County, we encourage you to contact us, either online or by calling 773-516-4100. We offer FREE consultation in all personal injury and wrongful death matters.

August 25, 2014

Divvy Bikes: What to do After a Crash

As bike sharing continues to expand throughout Chicago, the Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. take note of the growing number of bicycle accidents involving Divvy bikes. Being involved in a bike crash can be stressful experience—so much so, that it can cause a victim to forget what actions need to be taken following an accident. In some cases, the victim may not know what post-accident procedures are necessary and/or appropriate. Our injury lawyers discuss the steps that a bicyclist should take in the event a collision occurs while using a Divvy bike.

Step 1. Call 911 immediately after the incident to obtain emergency assistance. For non-emergency situations, the victim can call 311 instead.

Step 2. Call the police district where the crash occurred, and file a police report. To find the appropriate district, see Police Districts in Chicago. Make sure the officer properly documents all information pertaining to the accident, including the facts of the incident, the parties involved, as well as any potential witnesses.

Step 3. Notify Divvy within 24 HOURS of the incident, by calling 1-855-55-DIVVY, and speaking with a Customer Service Representative regarding the facts of the crash. Divvy will provide the victim with a Divvy Crash Report to fill out.

In addition to the steps listed above, there are other measures that the victim can take to ensure proper documentation, preservation of evidence, and protection of legal rights. This is particularly important where the victim intends to file a claim seeking compensation for their injuries or damages. For more on this topic, see ‘What to do After a Bicycle Crash.’

Victims should also remember that the bicycle remains the responsibility of the pass/key holder that took out the bike, until it has either: (1) been properly locked at a dock; or (2) handed over to a Divvy representative. In some cases, the bicycle itself can serve as evidence in the event that a claim is subsequently filed. For this and many other reasons as well, it can be highly beneficial for the victim to discuss the incident with an attorney as soon as possible following the crash.

The Chicago Bicycle Accident Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. have decades of experience handling bike injury cases, and want to help in obtaining the compensation that you and your family deserve. We offer FREE consultation in all personal injury matters. Contact us online, or by calling 773-516-4100.