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Bicyclists in Chicago face a lot of perils as they navigate the city streets.  Despite Chicago’s claim that it supports biking, the city does not do enough to protect bicyclists from danger.  Even on painted bicycle paths, bicyclists face many threats.  Squeezing in between parked and moving cars, cars turning right and left, car doors opening in bicyclists’ faces, meandering around various-sized potholes –  are all risks facing bicyclists in Chicago.  The Chicago personal injury law office of Zneimer & Zneimer helps many injured bicyclists each year.

Chicago boasts a Lakefront Trail, a shared path with pedestrians, roller skaters, and bicyclists along the lake. Biking there is not free from hazards.  Bicyclists face the dangers of colliding with other bikers, roller skaters, or pedestrians or falling because of cracks and potholes.

Injuries on the Lakefront Trail happen.  If a person suffers injuries there, the question is who pays for the medical bills, lost time from work, and any permanent damage that the injured biker may suffer.  Unlike a car-vs-bicycle collision where a car must have liability insurance, people using the shared path do not have to have insurance.   When a bicyclist gets injured because the path has a crack or a pothole, injured bicyclists can sue the Chicago Park District that maintains the path.  However, plaintiffs have a heavy standard to meet and show that the Chicago Park District was willful and wanton in its failure to maintain the path.

In a case involving the Lakefront Trail, a bicyclist got caught in a crack in the pavement and he fell.  The plaintiff sued the Chicago Park District, alleging that it had acted willfully and wantonly in failing to maintain the path in filling the crack right away. Therefore, the plaintiff alleged, the Chicago Park District was responsible for his injuries resulting from his fall. Continue reading

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Chicago is now issuing motorists tickets for getting caught on a speed camera for going 6 miles per hour over the speed limit.  The tickets are issued through the mail along with a photo of the speeder’s vehicle.  The City of Chicago asserts that the change was necessary to encourage drivers to slow down, noting that traffic fatalities rose 45 percent in 2020.   A total of 139 people died in traffic crashes in Chicago in 2020.

Alderman Anthony Beale and other critics are skeptical that safety was the major motivation in the change and suspect that the additional ticketing was implemented to raise revenue.  The City currently has 88 active speed cameras located around schools and parks to churn out tickets to a motorist going over 6 MPH over the speed limit.  One anomaly of the system is that 50 speed locations have cameras that are only facing one direction.  As a result, at these locations only vehicles with front license plates will get a ticket.  It was noted that Chicago’s top 15 speed cameras locations, 83,000 speeding vehicles were not ticketed because they did not have front plates.

The personal injury lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. take note of the rise of traffic fatalities in the city of Chicago in 2020 and encourage the City to take action and implement improvements that will slow traffic down and will make the streets and crossings safer for pedestrians and bicyclists.  Such changes could include dedicated bike lanes, pedestrian islands, and “bump-outs” that extend the sidewalk into the intersection. Additionally, restricting right turn on red would also help prevent pedestrian injuries.

 

 

 

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The weather brought us a lot of snow in Chicago, first sparkly and puffy, and now soggy and icy.  Walking in snow is a risky business, as every step carries the peril of slip and fall.  The ruts and the mounds of shoveled snow amplify the hazard.  The accidental step in a rut or step on a transparent ice formation from melted snow mound nearby can lead to very serious injuries.  Every winter brings along with the cold and snow, many injuries as a result of snow related hazards to both pedestrians and car drivers.  Paying attention, driving carefully, and minimizing winter driving can decrease the chance of a snow-related car crash.

For pedestrians: wearing proper shoes, walking carefully, and watching out for ice, can decrease the risk of slip and fall.   As personal injury attorneys we field a lot of calls from injured people as a result of ice and snow, and can help in some cases.   The law is not kind to people who slip and fall.

Under the common law, a property owner has no general duty to clear natural accumulations of ice or snow because it is unrealistic to keep all pathways clear from snow during winter.  An injured person in a slip and fall case must prove that the ice or snow is (i) an unnatural accumulation, and that (ii) the property owner knew or should have known of the condition.  In addition, the injured victim must establish that the specific unnatural condition caused the slip and fall. Continue reading

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Helsinki, Finland has made strides in pedestrian safety with zero pedestrian fatalities in 2019. Despite designing crosswalks with the safety of pedestrians in mind, 500 people in America are killed each year using them according to a Smart Cities World article. Though America is larger than Helsinki and more populated, 500 is disturbingly high for a country that has pledged to decrease that number. Perhaps, the commitment and the fervor for pedestrian safety needs to be restored?

Locally, the city of Chicago has rallied for crosswalk safety for the pedestrians who are the most vulnerable when road safety is not prioritized or overlooked. Areas considered high crash corridors such as Milwaukee Avenue in Logan Square would benefit in the formation of more protected bike lanes, bus boarding islands, a reduction of parking spots. Personal injury attorneys at Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C., believe the installation of more crosswalks in these areas would help save lives and prevent lessen accidents. Milwaukee from Western to Sacramento saw 446 crashes from 2014 to 2018. Zneimer& Zneimer PC see the need for an empathetic street design that will prioritize car-free modes, hence the implementation of adequate infrastructures like protected bike lanes and crosswalks. Dongho Chang of Curbed argues that, “More people feeling comfortable crossing will encourage more use and meet the federal guidelines for additional treatments like crosswalks and stop control.

Intelligent transportation infrastructure technology provider, Applied Information, is introducing a configurable Pedestrian Crossing Safety System (PCSS) to improve safety at midblock crossings, which if utilized might just help reduce the fatalities and crashes drastically in half or more for the entire nation. This technology, coupled with public awareness and the addition of more improvements such as bump outs and crosswalks make the streets and public spaces in general, more inviting and safer for pedestrians, cyclist and drivers, as well. Even as the pandemic rages, and people are suffering, it is essential not to lose sight of efforts to make our streets safer and aim for zero fatalities as  our European counterparts in Finland.

 

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Calls for more accommodations towards cyclists are growing as more people commute from one point to another using their bikes. To simply assign blame to reckless motorists is myopic and inadequate; revamping the city of Chicago’s streets will not only improve safety for cyclists, but will also induce people to drive less and bike more. Both Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Emmanuel Rahm have committed to supplementing the streets with 100 miles of protected bike lanes. A very noble goal that has yet to be fully realized.

Last November, Chicago bore witness to two fatal crashes involving cyclists. One occurred at a designated high crash corridor in Stony Island Avenue, involving 40 year old Lee Luellen and the other one killed 37-year old Carla Aiello who was struck by a right-turning motorist in Old Irving Park. Carla Aiello was biking on the heavily faded bike lane in Milwaukee Avenue, when the truck made an unlawful right turn and crushed her under his wheels. Personal injury attorneys at Zneimer & Zneimer P.C., know that these tragic deaths could have been prevented with the installation of protected bike lanes and safety bollards and even as simple as refreshing bikeway markings. Instead, the lack of funding, capable staff such as engineers at CDOT and the lack of cooperation between communities and IDOT have led to inaction and ultimately the deaths of Lee and Carla.

It is obvious that Chicago can and should do better. After all, a well-designed biking infrastructure if implemented properly. will promote equity, helping the neighborhoods that need it the most such as the communities on the South and West side. The Active Transportation Alliance has offered strategies to advocate for sustainable transportation will benefit these neighborhoods that are home to many designated high crash corridors. If the city acts now, families and loved ones would not have to bear such heartbreaking loss like that of Lee and Carla’s.

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Shared streets, for many pedestrians and cyclists, were a real boon to some Chicago neighborhoods in the wake of the Covid 19 pandemic and the shutdown that ensued. The concept of shared streets prioritizes the safety of pedestrians and cyclists, above all, forcing vehicles to slow down and yield to them instead. When the 606 and Lakefront trails closed, many took to the sidewalks to exercise or roam around leisurely, posing a challenge to social distancing rules. Shared streets, as an answer to this problem, provided a wider space for different activities and for community members to engage in a safe manner.

As Americans continue to adjust through the pandemic, the city has also adopted measures to make the adjustment easier. One such measure is the selection of temporary shared streets. The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) conducted a survey to evaluate which feature people enjoyed the most about shared streets. The results showed Chicagoan’s enthusiasm for car-free travel the most as well as the chance to be outdoors and practice social distancing at the same time. Personal injury attorneys at Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. agree that shared streets increase mobility with safety and social distancing in mind, therefore meeting a lot of the community’s multiple concerns and decreasing the likelihood of accidents or crashes to occur.

It is unclear whether or not Covid19 is ever going away. As it takes its toll on the nation and the economy, and on a molecular level, the mental health of individuals, many have conceded to the fact that the virus and the pandemic is here to stay. However, strategically implemented shared streets, give people more freedom to roam around and not be limited to crowded sidewalks. Shared streets enable  the most vulnerable individuals on Chicago streets such as pedestrians, cyclists, and scooter users to enjoy more green space without fear of getting struck by an irresponsible motorist or contracting Covid19.

 

 

 

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As the country continues to adapt to COVID-19 and Americans begin to return to the roads, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that drivers refrain from wearing N95 masks, a mask typically reserved for medical professionals, while behind the wheel. While masks have been recommended for situations in which a person is in public and unable to socially distance from others, a driver in New Jersey was found passed out behind the wheel with his N95 mask on. Police believe that wearing the N95 mask for several hours behind the wheel resulted in the incident. While the police say that they cannot be certain the mask was the primary cause of the driver losing consciousness behind the wheel, they have recommended drivers follow the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s warnings and refrain from wearing N95 masks while driving a vehicle. Dangers on the road have not gone away with COVID-19 and now more than ever it is imperative that drivers are safe and understand how best to protect themselves both on and off the road.

At Zneimer & Zneimer, our attorneys understand that even in the current circumstances around the world, safety on the roads is more important than ever. If you or a loved one are traveling on the road in a vehicle, it is imperative that you not wear an N95 mask due to the potential for disaster. While wearing a mask is an important public health concern, it is important to remember safety in all other aspects of our lives. Even during these times, accidents on the road are still taking place all over Chicago so it is important that drivers do everything in their power to continue safe driving practices and to take care on the roadways.

 

https://pittsburgh.legalexaminer.com/transportation/cdc-drivers-should-not-wear-masks-while-driving/?fbclid=IwAR3tpHjSfpZZw56sgRDO2U201bhwq0gPNqiLYRAbtj_GPmtiVNdcuAdRd_A

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Electric scooters are making a comeback this year, returning to Chicago streets by the end of July or early August, despite pandemic constraints. These e-scooters were popular for the entire duration of its first pilot program last summer which basically saw the City of Chicago conducting its own trial on the merits of these emerging mobility alternatives. Competing companies include Lime and a newer vendor offering seated models, Veo will be appearing on the scene to give the top companies a run for their money. While there are polarizing results on Chicago’s assessment on scooters based on equity and safety, there are real numbers as to injuries; of the 821, 615 rides taken in the course of four months in Chicago, 192 resulted in injuries.

While there were several reasons for giving e-scooters a second chance this summer such as to ease traffic congestion and encourage public transit ridership, the influx of e-scooters also produced a marked rise in injuries. Chicago Sun Times article reported the scooter injury rate among the general U.S. population climbed from 6 per 100,000 to 19 per 100,000. Dr. Adam Black of Amita Health Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center has witnessed “some really ugly fractures” from e-scooter related crashes, even going so far as to estimate that the hospital was treating at least one scooter rider a day. This has not deterred many riders, but the danger e-scooters pose as well as dealing with the aftermath of injuries are real. It is after all not news that most e-scooters require riders to sign a waiver of sorts as delineated on their rental agreements in respective phone apps before they can fully access the e-scooter, practically relieving the companies of liability. This leaves a great deal of risk to be absorbed by the riders themselves.  Most insurance companies do not recognize e-scooters as vehicles because they have less than four wheels.   “State Farm offers a personal liability umbrella policy that the company said may cover an electric scooter driver’s liability for damages they cause, but all claims are investigated based on their own merits. Allstate offers an umbrella policy to customers that have a qualifying auto or property insurance policy. The umbrella policy doesn’t specifically state that it covers electric scooters in promotional materials, but there is a “recreational vehicles” category”.  The lawyers of Zneimer and Zneimer P.C. note that it remains to be seen whether or not more insurance companies would offer coverage to minimize the burden on riders who will have to pay medical bills on their own.

There is a lot left to improve on in the safety side but the convenience of e-scooters definitely contribute to their popularity.

 

 

 

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There have been many changes to our city and state during the past several months as a result of coronavirus, including travel on the roads. While most stayed home during the lockdown beginning in March, causing fewer cars to be on the road, a study conducted by the Northwestern University Transportation Center found an increase in incapacitating or fatal crashes in Chicago. Specifically, the Center found that there was a 14% increase in speeding around the city. In fact, there was an increase in all categories of crashes except for those involving pedestrians. As our city and state begin to re-open, more and more drivers will return to the roads as well as more pedestrians making the likelihood of a crash even greater. When this happens, it is important for people to stay cautious and to pay attention to the other vehicles around them in order to avoid serious injury from a crash. Unfortunately, as these figures emphasize, it is impossible to truly eliminate reckless drivers and it is something we as the general public must always be ready to face.

The fact that there was an increase in incapacitating and fatal crashes around Chicago comes as no surprise to the lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C., as we deal with personal injury matters related to car crashes daily. It is clear that even with fewer cars on the road, there will always be drivers who speed and drive recklessly regardless of the circumstances. No matter where and no matter when, the attorneys at Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C., know that crashes can happen in any situation and that drivers should stay vigilant in exercising safety precautions while on the road. As the restrictions around Chicago begin to lift and life begins to return to some normalcy, keep safe on the roads and continue to watch for reckless drivers.

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Even as the city of Chicago has taken a multitude of steps to ensure the safety of non-vehicle participants on its streets such as cyclists and pedestrians, the city still sees a great deal of pedestrian deaths. Vision Zero has improved on a great number of aspects to Chicago’s walking culture but this year alone, but pedestrian fatalities went down from 41 in 2018 to 40 in 2019. Now after being cooped up for three months during the height of the pandemic in Chicago, individuals are out and about biking and walking. It is still too early to say whether this increase in individual behavioral patterns especially during a much-cherished season will dramatically affect the statistics. The personal injury lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C.  a compelling reason for the government and communities to invest in Vision Zero to reduce injuries and deaths.

The usual suspects related to pedestrian deaths are the popularity of SUV’s (70 percent of the 35 pedestrians who were killed in traffic were hit by the driver of an SUV or a large vehicle) distracted driving, speeding and driving while intoxicated. Personal injury attorneys at Zneimer & Zneimer P.C., foresee a rise in pedestrian deaths this year with more “angry driving” taking place due to the unfortunate repercussions of the pandemic such as unemployment, as well as the fact that the nation is embroiled in deep political turmoil. A newer suspect, the legalization of cannabis, and subsequent irresponsible usage might also negatively affect vulnerable pedestrians on Chicago streets.

These causes named above are to be clear, nothing new. Although the ambitious Vision Zero has improved on many things such as building more sidewalks or the addition of medians or pedestrian islands in high-crash corridors and busy highways, there is still a great deal of work left to so Chicago can aspire and get to zero pedestrian deaths.

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