The Chicago firm of Zneimer & Zneimer PC is prosecuting cases involving exposure to ethylene oxide, the poisonous gas released by Willowbrook-based company Sterigenics.  The Illinois EPA recently sealed Sterigenics-operated facilities because it detected high level of ethylene oxide, a carcinogen that is connected with breast cancer, leukemia, lymphoma and a score of other cancers, that the facilities be sealed.

The two buildings operated by Sterigenics are located at 7775 South Quincy Street and the other at 830 Midway Street.  Sterigenics conducted sterilization operations, using ethylene oxide, which Sterigenics released into the atmosphere.  Since 1990 the US EPA has listed ethylene oxide as a hazardous air pollutant as defined in Section 112(b)(l) of the Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. 7412(b)(1), and considers ethylene oxide as carcinogenic to humans, causing increased incidence o f mortality of breast and lymphohematopoietic system cancers observed in workers who were exposed ethylene oxide.

According to the CDC, exposer to 2.1 micrograms of ethylene oxide can cause cancer in six out of every one thousand people exposed to the chemical.  The detected concentration in Willobrook was 14.2 micrograms, which is toxic concentration.  The Illinois EPA ordered the Willowbrook facility to shut down due to the unacceptably high toxic concentrations.  According to the government agencies, EPA and CDC, there is enough evidence to establish a causal relationship between ethylene oxide exposure and breast cancer in women.  Ethylene oxide causes cancer by damaging DNA in cell, and the damaged DNA then duplicates when the cells divide.  Exposure to the chemical increases the cancer risk because DNA damage may take place with each exposure which is then passed as cells divide, increasing the number of damaged mutating cells.  Continue reading

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Chicagoans who take the eco-friendly approach to transportation by bicycling face daily dangers on busy downtown roads. Cyclists must be especially wary of drivers who suddenly open their doors after parking, without properly checking the oncoming traffic. Beginning January 2019, Illinois has taken a major step into preventing such door crashes by implementing the Dutch Reach into law. It is the 2nd state in the U.S. to implement the method, in hopes of raising awareness of cyclists on shared roads, and reducing door crashes.

The Dutch Reach, so called because of the practice’s origins in the Netherlands, is the method for drivers and passengers to open their car doors using their far hand. By moving your arm across your body, it forces you to twist and face the road behind you, making you vigilant to oncoming traffic.

The passed legislation adds the Dutch Reach to the Rules of the Road handbook that is issued to students and drivers in Illinois. RideIllinois, a nonprofit organization that advocates for cyclists in Illinois, has worked with the Secretary of State to include questions about the Dutch Reach in the driver’s license test. New drivers, along with those renewing their licenses and other adults getting their licenses for the first time, will have to study up on the method in order to pass both the written test and driving test.

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The last four years have seen a marked decline in mass transit nationwide. This is not surprising but nonetheless alarming. With the increasing popularity of ride-share services, lack of investments and a rise in car ownership, it is no wonder that rapidly growing areas such as Austin, for instance, suffered a double-digit decline in ridership this year at 19.5 percent.  The real shame about this data published by the Federal Transit Administration is that as more people commute with automobiles, the more they put themselves at risk for auto-crash related fatalities. Entire communities may well see a spike of auto accidents due to less public transit patronage.

The Victoria Transport Policy Institute conducted a study called The Hidden Traffic Safety Solution: Public Transportation stressing the significant connection between public transit ridership to traffic fatalities. The study shows that a person can reduce his or her chance of being in an accident by more than 90 percent simply by taking public transit and transit oriented communities are safer than automobile oriented communities. It also outlines the many incentives of taking the train or the bus as opposed to driving and how pro-transit policies can pave the way for pedestrian and cycling improvements, more efficient parking management, smarter street designs and more services to different routes. Why then does the CTA see a steady decline of ridership, especially, in their fleet of buses? Uber, Lyft and Via have taken a large chunk of the market while cheap gasoline prices have made car ownership attractive. Late night weekends in the entertainment districts of Chicago are when these apps tend to dominate over the CTA. It has lost 20% of riders in this period over the last two years according to a Chicago Business Article.

Much of the focus on road safety during the last decade or so has been devoted to automobiles and enhanced features within the car itself such as mounted cameras, emergency brakes etc., instead of investment in public transit. But owning a Ventra pass is truly one of the most effective life-saving tool there is and personal injury attorney, Peter Zneimer, agrees that public transportation investment is among the most cost effective ways to enhance traffic safety for a community.  The lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer encourage everyone to use public transportation where available.

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The city of Chicago has been touted as one of the most bike-friendly cities in the United States. Actual cyclists do not always share the same view. There is still tension and resentment between motorists and cyclists which does not directly result in a crash but is definitely a contributing factor in how biking as a socio-economic activity is being perceived in the city and the nation as a whole.  On stretches of busy streets such as Milwaukee Avenue, you will find cyclists and motorists warily sharing the road with each other as best they can.

Chicago Tribune reported during this summer, that cyclists’ deaths have increased by 34.8 percent—a disconcerting number considering the efforts the city and Vision Zero have put in to make biking safer for many who choose to do so.  Many bikeway paths downtown are sacrificed in the name of congestion and heavy construction, making them smaller than ever and more dangerous for bikers to traverse. August of this year, a 39 year old woman on her bike was pronounced dead after being struck by a truck in the West Loop on Halsted and Madison. In light of this recent tragedy, personal injury attorney, Peter Zneimer, notes that the city of Chicago still has a long way to go in protecting its vulnerable roadway user.

The personal injury lawyers of  Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. have represented numerous cyclists who have experienced the perils of biking first hand and have incurred harrowing injuries as a result. Nevertheless, avid cyclists and many cycling organizations in the country are relentless in their pursuit of safer bikeway conditions. For one, a Harvard study is delving into a smarter and more sophisticated design to safely separate cyclists, pedestrians and vehicles from each other. Cities around the world have started building barrier-protected bicycle-exclusive cycle tracks between the sidewalk and the street and if successfully implemented, this will increase levels of biking while improving safety.

Working as a truck driver is difficult and dangerous job.  The Bureau of Labor Statistic’s National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries reveals that between 2015 and 2016 all fatal work injuries in the United States jumped by 7%.  Reviewing the Census, the Chicago truck accident attorneys at Zneimer & Zneimer noted that driving a truck is a dangerous jobs, with increasing numbers of fatal injuries.  In 2016, for example, in transportation and material moving occupations fatalities increased by 7 percent from the year before.  The 2016 count is highest since 2007 and accounts for more than one-quarter of all work-related fatalities in the United States.  There were 24.7 fatal injuries per 100,000 workers in 2016.  The industry employs approximately 3 million drivers, the most jobs in this very dangerous field.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s research a number of factors contribute  to  fatal  highway  crashes  of truckdrivers, including:  the type of truck, whether it was maintained, the time of day, and the weather conditions.  According to the DOL, two-thirds of truck driver fatalities involved a driver behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer truck.  Incidents involved brake failure, road, and weather conditions.

Important factor contributing to truck driver fatalities is driver fatigue.  Data shows that approximately one-third of the fatalities occurred between 12 a.m. and 8 a.m. when the body naturally wants to rest, and almost half occurred during standard work hours, between 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.  On average approximately 200 truckdrivers were fatally struck by vehicles while out of their trucks; half of these occurred during hours of twilight or darkness, 4 p.m. to  8  a.m., but  almost  half  were  fatally  struck  during  the day.

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The number of bicyclists Chicago has increased and will continue to grow over the next few years as more people view biking as a healthier, earth-friendly alternative as opposed to driving to work and dealing with surging fuel prices and parking fees. Cycling, however, comes with its own set of hazards. Every cyclists out on the street are more vulnerable than motorists and while many factors pose as dangerous conditions for cyclists such as  bad street designs or reckless drivers, bike-related crashes come down to one important but slightly overlooked issue – visibility.  With the increase of bicyclists, attorney Peter Zneimer of Zneimer and Zneimer P.C. has noticed more bicycle crash cases involving serious injuries.

Many drivers gripe about not seeing cyclists from a distance resulting in crashes. For many behind the wheel, the bikers seem to appear out of nowhere. While Chicago personal injury lawyer, Peter Zneimer, of Zneimer and Zneimer P.C. believes drivers should pay close attention while driving, bikers can do their part in preventing accidents by simply wearing the right clothing so as to be more conspicuous on the road. Dr. Tyrell of Clemson University conducted an experiment demonstrating the effects of different styles of clothing on a cyclist. For instance, a cyclist wearing fluorescent leggings was discernible from three times farther away than average compared to the cyclist garbed in solid black leggings. Another potent and inexpensive tool to maximize visibility are flashing taillights. The same study found that from a distance of 200 meters, flashing taillights are more effective at catching observers’ eyes than an always-on taillight.

Bike-share bikes usually have the proper equipment installed such as Laserlight which is more visible to drivers during daytime. This is especially powerful because even when there is significant reduction of visibility during nighttime, 60% of crashes occur during daytime. It is projected that the likelihood of bike-related accidents are bound to decrease with the rise of ridership but safety is something that cyclists can claim for themselves, starting with the right gear.  Appropriate gear can mean the difference between life and death or life and life-altering injuries.

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Walking has morphed from a healthier alternative, that’s kinder to the environment, into a dangerous activity with a total of over 5,987 pedestrian deaths in the United States in the year 2016 alone.   As dismal as that sounds, pedestrian deaths have been surging over the past decade.  Chicago, in particular, has incurred 44 pedestrian deaths in 2016, up 26 percent since 2014.  Within that time, several reasons, some of them particularly glaring, have come to light. Poor infrastructure, bad road designs, distractions in the form of smart phones, to name a few, have been named culprits in the growth of pedestrian deaths.

Chicago personal injury attorney Peter Zneimer agrees that the abovementioned reasons are still ongoing issues that need to be addressed properly, however a new study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has unearthed new statistics highlighting the connection between SUVs and pedestrian deaths. As it turns out, among all types of vehicles, SUVs accounted for an 81 percent increase in single-vehicle pedestrian fatalities. SUVs, with their size, built and horsepower can inflict worse injuries to the head and chest than any other type of vehicle. Hampton Clay Gabler, a professor in the department of biomedical engineering and mechanics at Virginia Tech, wrote in a school paper that SUVs and pickups tend to be tall compared with pedestrians and have a blunter front end. That positioning is more likely to put someone’s head or chest in line to be struck during the initial impact with a vehicle. All the more concerning is that SUVs have surpassed sedans as the best selling vehicles in the US market, up to forty percent in 2017, which puts more pedestrians at risk.

The automobile industry has been slow to respond but many of them are making moves towards the creation of more vehicle safety features and incorporating them in their fleet.  The lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. note that advanced automatic braking has been gaining popularity with brands like Tesla, Volvo and Mercedez Benz making this life-saving feature a standard in all of their models. Others like Chrysler and Ford only have a percentage of their fleet with this technology. As with most introduction to new technologies, there is the initial resistance but if auto companies commit and adapt to these changes and motorists are more educated, we can delve a blow to the tragic trajectory of pedestrian deaths in the future and protect the most vulnerable members of our population.

 

The Chicago Tribune’s editorial today should outrage all parents, students, community members.  Sexual predators work for the Chicago Public Schools assaulting, molesting, groping, raping children.  In the era of the #MeToo hashtag, the Chicago Public Schools sit idly as students, from elementary to high school get abused, violated, and damaged.  “I am sick to my stomach” CEO Janice Jackson says, but the question is what she and others taxpayer-funded adults are doing to stop the outrage.  The Chicago Tribune Article tells the kids that they are on their own and that the adults aren’t doing a thing to protect them:

“If any adult at your school — from teacher to lunchroom helper — is a sexual predator, CPS officials can’t be counted on to fulfill their most critical duty to protect you.  You can’t trust them to conduct proper background checks on people they hire, or to keep track of employees who are accused of sex crimes while employed by the district. You can’t rely on district officials to immediately alert child welfare investigators or police when allegations are made, despite Illinois law. You can’t depend on them not to muddy the integrity of future investigations or to inflict more pain on victims who are brave enough to come forward.  You can’t even count on them to tell other schools in Illinois or in other states that an educator was disciplined or fired for alleged abuse.”

The newspaper published a report authored by investigative journalists David Jackson, Jennifer Smith Richards, Gary Marx, and Juan Perez Jr. titled Betrayed, a fitting title for the widespread betrayal of children’s safety, autonomy, dignity, and the ability to enjoy childhood.  According to the report, sexual predators are everywhere – from teacher, to lunchroom helper, to coach, to janitor.  Some of these characters are employees of CPS, others are contractors, and all are united in their depravity.

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DSCF0091-300x225Chicago personal injury attorneys at Zneimer & Zneimer welcome the federal regulation mandating rearview cameras.  Years of efforts from car-safety advocates and parents have finally paid off as a new federal regulation made it mandatory for all cars sold in the United States to have rearview cameras. Back-over crashes according to a USA Today article kill 200 people annually and injure 12, 000. This regulation which Congress passed in 2008, aims to reduce these numbers. It is long overdue especially for parents who fear running over their children while backing out of their driveway, for example.  With the adoption of rearview cameras and other backup warning devices, parents and motorists, in general will have improved visibility.

The cost to fully equip a car with this technology costs approximately $142 which personal injury attorney Peter Zneimer believes is a small price to pay in order to safeguard the most vulnerable victims of back-over crashes which are mostly children and seniors. Children are less adept at perceiving that a car is about to hit them as they are playing or walking in residential areas; so are senior citizens, whose reaction times are considerably slower than their younger counterparts.  In many instances, particularly, when toddlers are involved, motorists won’t even know immediately that they have struck a child. Children getting run over from behind could easily sustain serious head injuries causing death. Continue reading

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One March evening, a man exits a CTA bus on 47th and Western and crosses the street, when a careening pick-up truck hits him and flees, leaving the man seriously injured.  The pick-up truck driver’s whereabouts are mostly unknown to this day even as police officers comb the city for more information on the driver. The personal injury lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. are attempting to locate the driver of the pick-up truck so that the injured man can have his medical bills paid and so that he can be fairly compensated for the injures he sustained.  Unfortunately, these kind of hit-and-run crashes are becoming more common. According to new research from AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, more than one hit-and-run crash transpires every minute on U.S roads. Twice as alarming is the fact that hit-and-run fatalities rose to 61% from 2009 to 2016, resulting in 2,049 deaths nationwide.

Personal injury attorney, Peter Zneimer, believes that enterprising initiatives such as Vision Zero, will reduce these fatalities.  Bikers and pedestrians are the most vulnerable on the streets and are also most likely to get hurt the most. The healthy benefits of biking are so that 864,000 people rode to work between 2006 to 2016, according to the Census Bureau.  It is no surprise then that cyclists are among the most vulnerable commuters out there and constant distractions in the forms of smart phones, have made the streets a lot more dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists alike.

It is still uncertain why many drivers abscond after a crash, whether it is due to insurance reasons or fear of being penalized or imprisoned, but hit and run crashes can be avoided with a higher sense of awareness and cautiousness, especially on the part of the driver.  Drivers need to live up to their civic responsibility and stop when they hit another car, pedestrian or bicyclist.  If they don’t and are caught fleeing, they should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law given the damage that these crashes cause. The injured party may be left with not only devastating injuries, but crushing medical bills if the injured person is uninsured.  Additionally, the injured party may face the economic hardship of being unable to work for an extended period of time. In the saddest cases, friends and family are left to mourn the loss of a loved one, fatally injured by a hit-and-run driver.