Articles Posted in Auto Accidents

IMG_5818-225x300

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.

 

 

IMG_0525-225x300

 

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.

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.

Continue reading

IMG_5781-225x300

Red light camera program has been met with hostility from the residents of Cook County. The program has not ceased to be a controversial issue since its inception and implementation in 2003, in many circles, that include ordinary residents and drivers, business owners, law enforcement and government officials.  Its objectives and merits are dubious at best when there’s scarcely a published study with persuasive data proving its efficacy in reducing car crashes.  Personal injury attorney, Peter A. Zneimer notes that statistics have shown that while side impact accidents have decreased in Chicago, rear end collisions have increased. A Chicago Tribune study found that while side angle “T-bone” crashes were reduced by 15%, rear-end crashes increased by 22% during the same period of time.

The Chicago Tribune has criticized the Illinois Department of Safety for approving red light cameras in intersections considered safe when the whole premise of red light cameras was for the reduction of dangerous crashes in accident-prone areas. A Tribune analysis found that more than half the intersections with cameras did not meet the IDOT’s own threshold and were among the safest in IDOT studies at the time the agency approved the cameras. It bemoaned the installation of red light cameras at Illinois Highway 83 and 22nd Street and exposed the politics of IDOT’s decision in doing so. In a separate occasion, policemen in West Dundee lauded red light cameras for their usefulness in catching other road-related incidents such as a hit and run, an inebriated man behind the wheel and a road rage accident – however, if the fundamentals apply in this case, it can be legitimately argued, these are not the primary objectives of the red light camera program.

The lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. understand the concept of red light cameras and how it strives to address immediate problems such as preventing deadly right-angle crashes and in the long run, help facilitate a change in motorists’ behavior while on the road.  Drivers in an effort to avoid being recipients to costly citations are induced to be more mindful and slow down once the light turns yellow, instead of speeding ahead to narrowly miss a red light. Studies are inconclusive whether or not this is working. It has yet to be proven that red light cameras are more about saving lives than filling coffers.

 

832022_1280x720-300x169

The National Highway Traffic Administration has recently posted the latest traffic fatality figures and they show deadly car crashes rising to a nine-year high.  The statistics show that car accidents accounted for 37,461 fatalities in 2016 which is a rise of 5.6% over 2015.  Personal Injury lawyer Peter Zneimer notes that surprisingly, distracted driving deaths actually fell 2.2% from 2015 to 2016.  Two categories where fatalities did rise were deaths caused by speeding (4% rise) and deaths caused by not wearing seat belts (4.6% rise).  The attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C.  are concerned that the NHTA recorded a 9% jump in pedestrian deaths.  The large jump in pedestrian deaths underscore the need for more focus on making urban areas safer for pedestrians.  As discussed in previous Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. blogs, the city of Chicago has endorsed the Vision Zero initiative which is a movement that seeks to eliminate pedestrian deaths entirely.  Cities that are adopting the vision zero philosophy utilize technology, traffic engineering along an emphasis of enforcing traffic safety laws to reach this goal. Pedestrians are the category of people that are most vulnerable to injury from traffic accidents.

ChicagoExpo-1-300x209
You want to go for a walk or a run along a road that has a shoulder but no sidewalk and you cannot decide whether to walk or run with traffic or against traffic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Transportation Department and the personal injury lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. recommend walking or running against traffic.

A recent Chicago Tribune article takes note of a study undertook in Finland that looked at data from 2006 to 2010 involving 258 pedestrians being hit by cars.  The study concluded that facing traffic when walking is significantly safer than walking with traffic. The study found that pedestrians facing traffic had a 77 percent lower risk of being hit and injured by a car than pedestrians walking with traffic.

The reasons appear to be obvious.  When a pedestrian is facing on coming traffic, the pedestrian can see and react to the motorist.  If the motorist is distracted by texting or by talking on the phone and is driving near the shoulder, or if the motorist is sleepy and is weaving and drifting near the shoulder, the pedestrian can react by getting farther from the roadway when the car is passing. Attorney, Peter Zneimer has handled an injury case where a runner was hit from behind by a car while running on the shoulder with the victim receiving no warning whatsoever.   In that situation, the runner would have been much safer facing traffic when running which would have enabled him to watch for cars driving near the shoulder and to take defensive measures when necessary.

IMG_5740-225x300
As the city of Chicago’s way of advancing its commitment to prioritizing traffic safety, it created a comprehensive plan called Vision Zero. It is spearheaded by Mayor  Rahm Emanuel and was modeled after a road traffic safety project that began in Sweden and has since influenced many U.S cities, many of which have adopted it.

According to the Illinois Department of Transportation 2010-2014, someone dies every three days as a result of a traffic crash. Personal injury attorney, Peter Zneimer believes that Vision Zero will help in reducing traffic-related deaths and serious injuries.  This city has seen an alarming increase of bicycle crashes by 67% last year, based on data from the Chicago Police Department. Vision Zero seeks to lessen this number, while encouraging more people to walk, bike and take public transit.

Chicago is already the national leader on Complete Streets that largely focuses on pedestrian safety, designing streets that are intended to promote a culture of safety especially for the most vulnerable roadway users.  Vision Zero will take it further by studying how the design process can be integrated into determining the correct speed limits for each street in every community. It calls on law enforcement to focus on so-called high-crash areas.  The Mayor is seeking funding to carry out these goals.

IMG_0528-225x300

More young professionals are investing in bicycles as an alternative mode of transportation especially in big cities such as Chicago which has been named last year as the most bike-friendly U.S city. Millennials not only invest in bicycling as a pastime or a good way to exercise, they have embraced it as part of a healthier, greener lifestyle.

While the city of Chicago has been making strides at making its rowdy city streets easier on bike commuters with the creation of its popular bike-share program, Divvy Bikes, the Illinois Department of Transportation reports 1,171 individuals injured and 10 bicyclists killed on average every year. But here’s the catch: these fatalities do not occur in the city but in suburbs where the infrastructure was designed not with bicyclists in mind years ago, but with people driving cars. Individuals behind the wheel more often than not look at the lone bicyclist with mistrust and sometimes with animosity because of the liability they are sure to face. This mentality, though faulty, is spawned from years of auto-centric planning on a large scale and because historically, America has been a driving nation.

Personal injury attorney, Peter Zneimer, notes that this is not the case anymore. As more individuals become more socially and environmentally conscious, biking is no longer a hobby but a practical reality for many in our streets. As personal injury cases arise out of bike-related accidents whether in congested cities or quiet suburbs, the question of safety and liability should be discussed at length.  The Governors Highway Safety Association reports an alarming increase in bike deaths by 12.2 percent in 2015 as published in a Washington Post article. Personal injury lawyers at Zneimer and Zneimer P.C.  believe both drivers and bikers have an equal amount of responsibility on the road, as they should, but the truth is that bikers are more prone to grave injuries or worse, death.

The advent of a global ride-hailing app is probably one of the most ingenious innovations of the last 10 years. It has radically altered the ride-sharing business, disrupted the cab-industry and possibly, renewed car ownership interest for people in big cities who rely on public transportation to get them to their destinations. Personal injury lawyer, Peter Zneimer notes that while the convenience of having a ride at the click of a button cannot be beat, the question of safety is always a topical discussion, not only between passengers and drivers but also for personal injury attorneys due to the question of liability.

Uber, though faced with strong competition in the face of Lyft, is still the biggest player out there and has come under fire lately for the way it has addressed safety issues. Both passengers and drivers alike share an understandable apprehension of the ride-sharing app despite the convenience. UberPool, a service introduced as a way to reduce fares by allowing two or more passengers travelling in the same direction to share one Uber vehicle, is under controversy for the number of high-risk incidents associated with it. One particular incident reported in the Chicago Tribune on April 5, 2017, highlights the hazards of ride-sharing with complete strangers. Twenty-five year old Jennifer Camacho called for UberPool on January 30, 2017 and was the second of two pick-ups. According to Ms. Camacho, as soon as she got inside the UberPool vehicle, “the passenger in the front seat allegedly turned around and began slashing Camacho with a 3-inch blade”. Camacho incurred wounds to her face and is likely to be scarred for life.  Camacho with the help of her attorneys sued Uber for at least $50,000 in damages for negligence. Uber’s insurance company denied coverage because the incident was not considered an auto accident.

This incident is just one too many being reported nationwide, prompting the question: What is Uber doing to address the issue of safety concerns? From a legal standpoint, it seems fair to argue that Uber does have a duty to protect both its employers (drivers) and passengers who can be victims in cases that are not auto accidents but in circumstances far more insidious than a regular rear-ender, such as the Camacho case. The lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer believe that since Uber has control of who its drivers pick-up, the drivers have the duty to do all they can to ensure the safety of their customers after they have entered their vehicle.

taxi-300x197
A Chicago Tribune article from September 5, 2016 points out that no statistics are kept by the city of Chicago regarding how many rideshare drivers for Uber and Lyft are involved in crashes every year.  The Chicago personal injury lawyers of  Zneimer & Zneimer are surprised by the lack of safety data given the large number of Uber and Lyft drivers on the road.  Attorney, Peter Zneimer is currently handling many accident cases involving Uber and Lyft drivers involved in traffic accidents that have caused serious injuries due to the negligence of the rideshare driver.  Police crash reports do not have any box to check if a Lyft or Uber driver was involved in the crash.  Chicago Police officer and spokesman Jose Estrada was quoted in the article, pointed out that “Taxicabs are easier to identify and document on the traffic crash report because of their specially issued Illinois license plates and medallion numbers,” “For Uber or Lyft, there is no designation because they are regular vehicles with no special municipal or state licensing. It may be designated as an Uber or Lyft if the reporting officer writes that in the narrative portion, but that’s left up to the discretion of the officer.”

Illinois Department of Transportation uses this information to track the number of taxi accidents.  From this data, it was revealed that there were 4,129 crashes taxi crashes in Chicago.  830 of these crashes caused injuries and 3 of these crashes caused fatalities.  It would be useful to have accident data for Uber and Lyft drivers to make a safety comparison  between rideshare drivers and taxi drivers to see if there is a difference in frequency of crashes. Given the popularity of ridesharing services these days it would be nice to know if there is any greater risk of accident by using a rideshare service versus using a taxi service.

Uber passengers and Lyft passengers can have some reassurance that if they are injured due to the negligence of their driver, Uber and Lyft drivers are covered by a one million dollar insurance policy while they are “on the clock”  meaning from the time they are picked up until the time they are dropped off.  Other drivers on the road that may be injured by an Uber or Lyft driver can also make a claim against the one million dollar policy when the rideshare driver is “on the clock”.  If the driver is not “on the clock” then that driver’s own insurance policy  has to provide coverage.