Articles Posted in Auto Accidents

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The Chicago Tribune reports that Chicago Mayor Emanuel’s plan to make city trucks safer has been advanced in the Chicago City Council.  Chicago lawyer, Peter Zneimer observes that many fatal bike accidents that have occurred in the last few years in Chicago have involved trucks.  Visibility for bicyclist riding in traffic is always a major problem even for people driving automobiles.  The visibility of bicyclists is a much greater problem for truckers.  Almost all of the bicyclist accident cases handled by the attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer involve a motorist not seeing the bicyclist  prior to the crash either due to distraction, lack of attention or the bicyclist was in a blind spot.  Guarded bike lanes are the best solution but they are cost prohibitive to construct everywhere.

The Mayor’s proposes to require city trucks to install side guards, which cover the area between the front and rear wheels of a truck to make it harder for pedestrians or bicyclists to be caught under the wheels of the truck after a crash.  The ordinance would also require trucks to have additional convex mirrors.  The law would also mandate additional training for city employee truck drivers and contractors to improve safety awareness.

The one downside of the proposed law is that the ordinance would give the city almost ten years to make the changes on city trucks.  Contractors who do business with the city would get four years to make the safety changes on their trucks.

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The Chicago Tribune reports that one in four motorists were using their phone shortly before a crash occurred.  The report cited a study conducted by Cambridge Mobile Telematics, a company that makes applications for insurance companies.   The personal injury lawyer, Peter Zneimer notes that more and more of the pedestrian and bike cases he handles involve a driver who is on his or her cell phone and is distracted at the time the crash occurs.  The personal injury attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer have even handled a case where a motorist dropped her cell phone on the floor of her car while driving and was rummaging around the floor of her car with her eyes completely off the road when she hit our client who was bicycling and was completely in his bike lane at time of impact.  Our client suffered serious injuries because of the gross negligence of this extremely distracted driver.

The state of Illinois has had a law against using a cell phone while driving since 2014.  A ticket for driving while using a cell phone is $75.00, going up to $150.00 for repeat offenders.  One would expect to see a big difference the amount of time that drivers spend on the phone in the state of illinois that has a ban on driving and talking on a cell phone and states that do not have any prohibitions for cell phone use. However, the Cambridge study, which looked at more than 100,000 drivers over 18 months, found little difference.  In Illinois, the average time on the phone was 3.17 minutes per 100 miles versus 3.82 minutes on the phone for drivers in states with no cell phone law.

Not too surprisingly, the top 10 percent of distracted drivers, i.e. the drivers who spent the most time on the phone were 2.3 times more likely than the average driver to get into a crash.

More and more Chicago bicyclists each year are getting severely hurt in dooring accidents, but there is a simple solution that can prevent numerous people from getting hurt.

According to a recent report put forth by the Illinois Department of Transportation, “doorings,” or traffic accidents where a cyclist is struck by a car door, have increased by 33% between 2014 and 2015.  While the number of reported crashes in Chicago involving bicycles remained relatively the same, the percentage of dooring accidents has jumped up from 10% in 2014 to 17.5%.  Jim Merrell, advocacy director of the Active Transportation Alliance, said these numbers represent “a step backward for safety in the city.”  Moreover, the City also saw a bump in fatalities from 6 in 2014 to 8 in 2015.   This presents a problem for Chicago, which sees an average of 125,000 daily bike trips and over 45,400,000 bike trips per year. 

The lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. has seen an uptick in bicycle accidents and, more specifically, dooring cases in the past few years.  Attorney Peter A. Zneimer, name partner and personal injury attorney in Chicago for over twenty years, remarked on the subject that, “our firm has seen an increased number of accidents involving bicyclists to the point where they have become a cornerstone of our business.  Many times, bicyclists are severely hurt and need our zealous representation to get compensation for their injuries.”

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On June 12, 2017, Chicago Mayor Emanuel introduced a plan aimed at completely eliminating traffic fatalities in the City of Chicago by 2026.   The Chicago personal injury lawyers of Zneimer and Zneimer applaud the ambitious goals of the plan.

Following principles of the International Vision Zero movement, the Mayor has directed City department agencies to develop an action plan that based on traffic crash data.  Vision Zero plans have also been adopted in many European cities, such as Stockholm, Berlin and Rotterdam along with many American cities such as Boston, New York, Los Angeles and Seattle.

Part of the focus of the movement is to treat traffic injuries and fatalities as a pressing public health problem.  The Mayor’s office points that more than 2,000 people are killed or seriously injured in Chicago every year.  Chicago personal injury attorney Peter Zneimer can attest to the devastating impact a serious injury or death related to a traffic accident can have on a person and his or her family.  The loss of income and the medical bills that result from an injury victim injuries are bad enough. Many victims are left with life altering disabilities that they must bear for the rest of their lives.

Since initiating the program more than a decade ago, the use of red-light cameras has been highly debated. While some focus on the legality of the cameras in general, our primary concern is whether they are effective or not in improving safety. What seems to be the problem is in the way in which the term “effective” is viewed, in terms of reducing injuries and fatalities versus simply reducing crashes in general. On one end, there is the argument that even though red-light cameras decrease side-impact collisions, they increase rear-end collisions, and therefore add to the overall crash rate. On the other end, there is the argument that decreasing right-angle collisions is more beneficial because these accidents are more likely to cause serious injury or fatality than are rear-end collisions.

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For decades, research studies and statistical data have continued to show the effectiveness of ‘Graduated Driver Licensing’ (GDL) programs. With every state having adopted GDL laws between 1996 and 2011, the efficacy of such programs in improving safety, preventing accidents, and reducing fatalities, is now clearer than ever. While all states utilize a three-stage system, specific GDL regulations vary by state, including those pertaining to age minimums, supervised practice requirements, as well as restrictions on nighttime driving and passengers. Safety experts argue that even more lives could be saved, and accidents prevented, if states with weaker GDL laws enacted tougher standards.

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Earlier this year, an investigation by the Tribune, which examined demographical factors in sobriety checkpoint, first revealed the harsh reality of what many say is a blatant example of racial profiling. Specifically, that Chicago officials are unfairly targeting Black and Latino communities by employing a racially-based approach in selecting DUI checkpoints locations, as opposed to an objective approach that selects checkpoint locations based upon alcohol-related crash data.

Despite identification of the issue several months ago, ongoing investigation shows that DUI checkpoints still target minority neighborhoods.

As injury attorneys, our concern is accident prevention—-and if sobriety checkpoints can prevent accidents by catching drunk drivers, then shouldn’t their location be determined according to where alcohol-related crashes occur most frequently?

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Drunk driving has been an issue since the invention of the first automobile. Despite efforts of lawmakers, advocacy groups, and local authorities to address this issue, motorists continue to drive while intoxicated. Encouraging new technology, though, seems to offer a sound solution to this age-old problem—breath and touch sensors that can measure alcohol levels, and disable a vehicle when the driver is above the legal limit. In fact, these breakthroughs appear to be so promising that many have compared them to the advents of seatbelts and airbags, in regard to both life-saving potentials as well as affordability.

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Gone are the days of simple dashboards. What once was quite basic—climate controls, audio features, and a small handful of other options—has progressed into oversized sophisticated dashboards equipped with a multitude of features, including smart technology that allows the vehicle to interact not only with occupants but other devices as well. Although designed to improve safety, many question whether incorporating what is essentially a mini-computer mounted to the vehicle’s dash has actually done just the opposite—increase accident risk factors, rather than reduce them. As personal injury lawyers, we can’t help but ignore the dangers associated with the increase of vehicles equipped with these so-called ‘smart dashboards.’

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Since their introduction in the 1980s, airbags have been identified as proven, effective safety devices that drastically reduce the risk of fatality and serious injury to vehicle occupants involved in automobile collisions. The protection offered by airbags is a factor that many car buyers take into consideration when purchasing a vehicle. What many fail to consider, though, is the potential for airbag safety issues associated with the purchase of a used vehicle. After all, airbags are only useful if they are correctly installed, properly functioning, and deploy in the manner in which they are intended to. The Chicago Injury Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. discuss some important tips for consumers to keep in mind when purchasing a used vehicle equipped with airbags.

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