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.

 

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Uber has been mired with scandals since its inception in 2009, although its popularity has not waned much, even in light of more competition such as Lyft and Via. Even as lawsuits pile up, and stories of drivers accosting passengers and vice-versa abound, notwithstanding lawsuits alleging sexual assaults, Uber has remained at the top. The constant scrutiny regarding safety has always been present but it appears Uber, and its new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, are taking steps towards making both passengers and drivers safer when using this ride hailing platform.

A Chicago Suntimes article has reported Uber hiring a company called Checkr to conduct background checks on its employed drivers, a move that Chicago Alderman Anthony Beale (9th) has called an act of “self-preservation” on the part of Uber. Personal injury attorney, Peter Zneimer, finds it reassuring that a company as large and popular as Uber is addressing the growing safety concerns the general public and its consumers believe are pressing issues. Though, Uber is increasingly pressured to subject its drivers through more rigorous background checks, including fingerprinting, as cab drivers have to undergo, they do not intend to do so. Nevertheless, hiring Checkr to perform annual background checks is a start.

Chicago as a busy city uses these on-demand mobile apps heavily especially during the weekends, when ridership is at its highest and when the city is at its rowdiest. Consumers use these for the convenience but safety is of the utmost importance at the end of the day. The lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. believe that in the long run, it will benefit Uber to perform background checks as consumers can at least rely they’re not being driven around by a sex offender or someone with a long, violent criminal history.

 

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As more people have taken to driving and more people now own smart phones, pedestrian deaths have increased dramatically, giving rise to 6,000 fatalities on a national level last year and up to 46 fatalities here in Chicago, according to a recent Chicago Tribune article.

Chicago personal injury attorney, Peter Zneimer, believes that these numbers  are only going to keep rising unless the city’s focus is not re-directed to promoting street safety for everyone on the street – motorists, bikers and pedestrians alike. Sustainable initiatives such as Vision Zero are already underway to reduce the occurrence of serious injuries and fatalities.  The plan is broad in scope and calls on ordinary citizens, law enforcers and the government to act more responsibly. It involves adding more pedestrian islands and bike paths and the implementation of policies geared towards the creation of safer vehicles and safer professional drivers. It also involves looking into high-crash areas which comprise 20% of Chicago and are located in the South and West sides of Chicago.

Safety experts have observed the tragic increase of pedestrian deaths heavily linked with the use of smart phones and other electronic devices by pedestrians and motorists. Distracted pedestrians and motorists are everywhere you turn, with their heads down, staring at their phones, scrolling, listening to music with headphones on, and barely paying attention to the traffic around them. Vision Zero ultimately will not work as envisioned without the cooperation of the most important participant: the people themselves.  The lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. support efforts to reduce pedestrian injuries.  One idea would be to eliminate right turns on red lights.  From experience, the lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. have noted that many of the pedestrian cases that they have handled have resulted from drivers turning right on red and hitting pedestrians that are properly in the cross walk.

 

 

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A company’s thirst for profits with little regard for the employee’s welfare has always been problematic. Scores of extremely fatigued employees work daily for companies that only care for their bottom lines. This poses a danger not only to the employees’ well-being but to the general populace, as well. Trucking companies, for one, are notorious for dispatching drivers to work unreasonable hours without enough sleep. The result: hundreds of impaired drivers on the streets and senseless deaths.

Personal injury attorney, Peter Zneimer finds it alarming that despite federal safety regulations in place to prohibit trucking companies from pushing drivers to work without adequate sleep, a significant number of accidents still occur because of this foul practice.  USA Today conducted an investigation on several trucking companies and the investigation unearthed dreadful data proving just how much trucking companies take advantage of their employees for their own gains. Their research showed that 470 trucks serving the ports in the Los Angeles and Long Beach areas operated nonstop without the requisite and federally-mandated full 10-hour break. The harmful effects of sleep deprivation go beyond bleary-eyed days and irritability—it costs lives. One such incident that occurred in August 2013 cost the life of a teenager and injured seven people.

A Mr. Jose Juan Rodriguez who used to work for Morgan Southern for five years would be on the road for 16-hour shifts, with a bucket of ice by his seat to splash on his face whenever he felt himself slipping away behind the wheel. Extreme cases of sleep deprivation cause cognitive impairments, affecting the memory, performance and alertness. It is crippling when you have to commute to work but to be the operator of a vehicle working 15 hours straight is reckless. The reality is most of these truck drivers are under pressure to meet deadlines and/or to pay their debts to their own employers under their lease-to-own programs. Many of them are trapped and are forced to work unforgiving shifts.  The lawyers of Zneimer and Zneimer, P.C. applaud the fact that Electronic log devices are now required to be installed in commercial trucks to prevent violations of federal rules but it is uncertain how many trucking companies have complied since the enforcement in December 2017.

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Smartphones are almost indispensable in one’s day-to-day; you can see adult hands holding them and eyes as young as five years old affixed to them.  Waiting rooms all over the world are filled with the motionless, hunched figures of people in the secure company of their phones. The extent to which the general population depends on the phone is dramatic; some would go so far as to say, their whole lives are IN their phone. What we may overlook in our obsession with it, are the actual lives at stake when we abuse the phone. It is a personal injury matter when innocent acts of texting, mindless scrolling or calling endanger lives and kill people.

Using your phone while driving is one of the many common forms of distracted driving and it is lethal. Many tragedies have resulted from distracted driving and it has been outlawed in many states including Illinois.  Personal injury attorney Peter Zneimer is more than aware of the dangers distracted driving poses to the safety of motorists and pedestrians alike. One way to curb this type of distracted driving is through the adoption of a new technology called “Textalyzer”, developed by Israeli mobile forensics company, Cellebrite. A grieving New York father, Ben Lieberman, has urged Chicago’s City Counsel’s Public Safety Committee to consider this technology so as to prevent senseless accidents from happening. He has lost his 19 year old son himself from a distracted driver who was never prosecuted. The Textalyzer acts the way a Breathalyzer acts for intoxicated drivers. The idea is for law enforcers to determine if a driver was swiping, scrolling etc. with his phone minutes before a crash, with the use of Textalyzer.

It is relatively new and will have hurdles to jump through due to privacy concerns but past that, the Textalyzer has serious potential to save lives and give more accountability to motorists.

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Cook County’s attempts to mitigate the black hole debt it is in has at times, taken dark turns, such as the 321 layoffs announced last month, to somewhat comical, as in the new proposal to fine pedestrians for “distracted walking”.  Aldermen Ed Burke (14th ward) and Anthony Beale (9th ward) justify this proposed ordinance on deficient grounds by citing 27 pedestrian deaths in the first half of 2017.  While these figures are tragic, there is scant data to prove that distracted walking caused these deaths. Mimicking the successful passing of a similar law in Honolulu, this proposal came guised as concern for general public safety, but ultimately, fails to see the bigger picture.

Chicago personal injury attorney, Peter Zneimer, knows that distracted pedestrians, though problematic, are the least of this city’s worries and fining them is not the answer. All focus should be directed instead to promoting street safety for everyone on the street – motorists, bikers and pedestrians alike. Sustainable initiatives such as Vision Zero are already underway to reduce the occurrence of serious injuries and fatalities.  It is a more prudent, long-term approach as compared to issuing fines of up to $500 to a “distracted” pedestrian. The plan is broad in scope and calls on ordinary citizens, law enforcers and the government to act more responsibly. It involves adding more pedestrian islands or refuges and bike paths and the implementation of policies geared towards the creation of safer vehicles and safer professional drivers.

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The personal injury lawyers of Zneimer and Zneimer P.C. have handled many dog bite cases and most are governed by the Illinois Animal Control Act.  Historically, under common law,  a dog was allowed “one free bite;” which meant that a dog owner was not liable for injuries caused by a bite if that dog had never bit anyone else.  More recently, the law has evolved so that a dog owner will only be liable if he if his negligence caused the injury.  The “one free bite” rule and negligence standard are common in many jurisdictions throughout the country, but not in Illinois.  Illinois is one of the few states that have passed laws that apply strict liability to dog owners whose dog bites a victim.  The Illinois law is helpful to victims of dog bites and now Illinois ranks second to California, in the number of dog bite claims brought per year.

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DSCF0089-300x225Your teenager just got a drivers license and is bugging you for a car.   Eventually you agree and begin looking for an old used car, a training vehicle bound to get scratched and bent here and there until your teenager gets more experience.  You settle on an old 1994 Chevrolet Camaro for less than two hundred dollars.  A car-mechanic friend inspects the Camaro and thinks it’s in good shape and will do as a learning vehicle.  You get the key and can’t wait to see the happy face of your teenager.

Chicago personal injury attorney Peter Zneimer warns:  you just put your child in a death trap.

According to CDC,  “six teens ages 16–19 died every day from motor vehicle injuries.”

When choosing a car for an inexperienced driver, safety should be the primary concern.  Budget limitations aside, a newer car usually incorporates updated or newer safety technologies.  The best buy would be the newest model that has the best safety features available on the market your money can buy.  The most important features include curtain airbags, electronic stability control, forward-collision warning, and automatic emergency braking.  Having these key safety features may make a difference between life and death.

Older cars have fewer safety features, and some older cars are just too dangerous to drive.  For example, according to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, the Chevrolet Camaro has the highest on-road death, three-times higher than average.  The Chevrloet Camaro is not alone.  Several other cars are just as dangerous.

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