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With 2,500 new dockless electric scooters, and countless first-time riders on the road, Chicago’s new e-scooter pilot program has gotten off to a rocky start. In the first six days alone since the launch, at least ten people went to emergency rooms for scooter-related injuries, with two of these injuries requiring surgery.

These accidents, ranging from hit-and-runs to cyclist injuries, are a rising threat for people simply getting around in the 50-square-mile testing area outside of the Loop. However, A study by the CDC and the city of Austin, TX (another city in the e-scooter boom) found that 33% of scooter accidents happen during a rider’s first time on a scooter. Another 30% of accidents occurred within the riders’ first ten rides. The data out of Austin combined with the rainy weather during Chicago’s pilot week is a recipe for deadlier accidents than ever. A 2011 study by the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society found that the risk of fatal car crashes rises by 34%, the wetter the roads are.  The injury lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. urge everyone to exercise extra caution given that many first-time and new riders are getting their bearings in the direct line of traffic.

E-scooter riders are relegated to bike lanes, but lack of enforcement by the program vendors finds pedestrians dodging riders and side-stepping e-scooters left in the sidewalks and streets. The CDOT and partner vendors have distributed guidelines, via fliers, to communicate expectations of scooter use, with rules such as “We walk scooters on the sidewalk. We keep our eyes on the road. Be alert and pay attention. We wear helmets. We park scooters with care outside of sidewalk paths and by bike racks where possible. We ride in the bicycle lane. We obey all local traffic laws. They apply to us.” However, once off the bicycle lane, the app-based leaves it up to riders to decide where to park the scooters after use.

The Chicago dog bite lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer, receive many calls from personal injury victims of a dog bite. According to the CDC, over 36% of households in the United States own at least one dog.  While dogs can be close friends, sometimes this best friend will bite.  Dog bites often cause painful deep wounds, nerve damages or infection. Children become victims of dog bite more often than adults, and the injuries are more severe. The majority of the injuries occur at home with familiar dogs. As the number of dogs in a household increases, so does the likelihood of being bitten.  According to the CDC, adults “with two or more dogs in the household are five times more likely to be bitten than those living without dogs at home. Among adults, men are more likely than women to be bitten by a dog.”

The American Veterinary Medical Association reports that in 2017 approximately 350,000 people treated at hospital emergency rooms for non-fatal dog-related injuries. Of them approximately 10,600 were children two years old or younger.
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This springtime in Chicago has been the 8th rainiest year on record, according to WGN’s Tom Skilling. Although that may be good news for the flowers, it can be dangerous for everyone else. A new study by the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society found that the risk of fatal car crashes rises by 34%, the wetter the roads are.

Even a light drizzle raised the risk of crashes by 27%, the study found.  Scott Stevens and his team at the North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies reported that less than 1/10 of an inch accumulation of rain is enough to turn road conditions. Moderate rain boosts the chance of motor injury and fatality up to 75%, and heavy rain nearly doubles that to nearly 150%.

Stevens and his team looked at information from the 48 states in the continental U.S. and found that the risks especially increase during the morning rush hour, and in the winter months. Morning rush hour provides more congestion on the roads, and thus more opportunity for a crash.

Dog bites are unexpected, devastating, and sometimes deadly. As increasing numbers of Americans welcome canines into their homes, it is crucial to be educated about breeds and aware of the risks that may come with ownership. Pit bulls in particular have a longstanding reputation as an aggressive breed, dominating headlines about dog bite injuries that happen across the U.S.

The latest statistical information compiled by DogsBite.org reveal the grim reality behind the most fatal attacks. Between 2005 and 2018, pit bulls killed 311 people. In 2018 alone, pit bulls accounted for 72% of deaths caused by dogs in the United States. Put another way, pit bulls were the cause of 26 out of 36 total dog bite deaths.  Both adults and children are at risk for injury, with 42% of victims being children and 58% adults. Of the 26 attacks, 22 happened on the dog owner’s property. This illustrates the risks of not only owning pit bulls, but even visiting those who own them.   The lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. note that the vast majority of their dog bite cases involve pit bulls.

The costs of a dog bite does not end with medical treatment, either. Complications like infection can arise from the injuries. Facial and reconstructive surgery, not to mention therapy, can quickly add up as additional expenses. The American Society for Plastic Surgeons reported over 28,000 reconstructive procedures done for dog bites in 2015. The Animal Control Act in Illinois places full liability on the owner of the dog; However, reaching a settlement can take months or years, depending on the severity of the injuries.

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While biking along Chicago’s lake front bicycle path near Diversey Harbor, personal injury attorney, Peter Zneimer of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. observed much confusion regarding which lanes were to be used by bikers and which lanes were to used by pedestrians.  Some bikers were riding on the pedestrian path while some joggers and walkers were in the bike lanes.  A number of near miss collisions ensued even during the short observation period.  There were no markings on the pavement that would give some instruction to bikers, joggers and walkers as to which lane they were supposed to be in.

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However, farther north near Montrose Harbor, the confusion was alleviated by clear pavement markings that designate that bikers use the two lanes to the west while pedestrians use the two lanes to the east, closer to the lake.  Lawyer, Peter Zneimer strongly urges that these simple and seemingly inexpensive lane markers be painted on the lanes south of Montrose Harbor, near Belmont Harbor and Diversey Harbor and farther south to avoid serious collisions which most certainly will occur without these lane markers.  It is hard to understand why the lanes are not marked with painted designations given the amount of traffic on the path and how cheap it would be to paint them.

 

The Chicago attorneys at Zneimer & Zneimer handle numerous dog bite cases, and have seen many cases where the bite was  not solely the dog’s fault.   Dogs are living beings who can feel startled, stressed, or in a threatening situation and can try to defend themselves by barking or biting.  Dogs have loved ones and may try to protect their puppies.  Illinois law recognizes that dogs are feeling, living creatures, and puts the burden on the dog bite victim to show that he or she was conducting himself or herself peacefully and did not provoke the dog.  The Illinois Animal Control Act provides that the dog owner is “liable in civil damages” to the victim if the dog “without provocation, attacks, attempts to attack, or injures any person who is peaceably conducting himself or herself in any place where he or she may lawfully be…”  (510 ILCS 5/16).

The Animal Control Act does define what is “provocation”.  Because the statute does not define the term, the courts give the term its ordinary and popularly understood meaning within the purpose and objective of the statute. The purpose and objectives of the Animal Control Act are to “encourage tight control of animals in order to protect the public from harm. . ..” Wilcoxen v. Paige, 174 Ill. App. 3d 541, 543 (3d Dist. 1988).  Because the law applies to all dogs, it measures the provocation from the perspective of a fictional normal dog, and not from the vantage point of any one specific dog. Provocation is a question of whether the victim’s conduct would upset a normal dog to react the way the specific dog reacted.  Such fictional dog is average and “neither unusually aggressive nor unusually docile.” Kirkham v. Will, 311 Ill. App. 3d 787, 794 (5th Dist. 2000). A normal dog may react to violent conduct, and in reacting a normal dog would act proportionally. Continue reading

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The Governors Highway Safety Association has recently reported that pedestrians killed in the United States have hit the highest level in 28 years.  Data compiled from the states show that there were 6,227 pedestrian deaths in the United States in 2018 which represents a rise of 4% over 2017 and a rise of 35% since 2008.  The Association pointed to the fact there are more distracted drivers on the road and more people walking to work as possible culprits.  Another likely reason that there are more pedestrian deaths is the fact that there are more SUV’s on the road and studies have shown that SUV/pedestrian crashes are more likely to result in the pedestrian being killed than a smaller size automobile hitting a pedestrian.

The personal injury lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. note that pedestrian deaths in Chicago have also been steadily rising over the last five years.  Chicago Department of Transportation reported 46 pedestrian fatalities in 2017 compared to 27 fatalities in 2013.   Attorney, Peter Zneimer believes that pedestrian safety is an issue that deserves more attention that it is currently receiving in the city of Chicago.  Police need to enforce the traffic laws that are designed help keep pedestrians safer such as traffic laws requiring drivers to stop when pedestrians are in a cross walk and traffic laws prohibiting drivers from texting while driving.

 

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

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.