We can provide online consultations or phone consultations
Please click here for more information on Zneimer & Zneimer’s Coronavirus policies.

Articles Posted in Auto Accidents

IMG_0089-225x300IMG_5488-225x300IMG_9265-225x300

An estimated 9,560 people died in motor vehicle crashes nationwide during the first three months of 2022.  This number represents a 20% jump from the same period in 2021 according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  This number also represents a 20 year high in deaths.  The personal injury lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. sadly note that the NHTSA has reported the increase in motor vehicle fatalities was  even higher in Illinois.  Illinois has had 280 fatalities during the first 3 months of 2022 which represents a shocking 24% increase in deaths over 2021.  According to the National Safety Council there has been a long term trend of rising traffic deaths in Illinois.  In 2010 there were 927 traffic deaths in Illinois compared with 1,194 deaths in Illinois in 2020.

The personal injury attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. have observed that the blame for these increases have been placed on the usual suspects of drunken driving and speeding.  On top of these two causes and quickly becoming the top cause of traffic fatalities is distracted driving.  Almost everyone today has a cell phone and is constantly receiving text messages and e-mails.   Many drivers cannot resist  talking on their phones or checking in coming text or e-mails that ping on their phones.  Just a moment of distraction that takes a drivers eyes off the road is all it takes to cause a driver not to  see a pedestrian crossing the road or see a red light that has just turned or see a car that has made a sudden stop in front of their car.  It only takes a moment’s distraction to cause a life changing and tragic injury causing crash.  The lawyers of Zneimer and Zneimer P.C. urge all drivers to not use their cell phones when driving.

 

IMG_0584-225x300

The new Chicago public spot Ainslie Arts Plaza near the Lincoln Avenue McDonald’s where Ainslie, Western, and Lincoln cross, featured picnic areas with colorful tables, vibrantly painted planters, and mosaic street mural.  It was opened on May 21, 2021, and was designed to be an open public space where people can connect in person.  According to the Lincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce’s announcement, the Ainslie Arts Plaza is a “tactical urbanism at work,” and turned an underused location into “a pedestrian plaza with seating, newly installed landscaping and lights, and a street mural painted by artist Andrea Jablonski.”  Although it seems a lot of planning had gone into its décor, one thing that was lacking was planning for pedestrian safety.   The plaza did not have any protection for  pedestrians from errant vehicles.

Recently a woman speeding southeast on Lincoln Avenue at around 11:30 pm jumped the curb along Lincoln Avenue near the Ainslie Arts Plaza, lost control, crashed into the plaza, and demolished the furniture.  Thankfully, at that time people were not in the Plaza and only the driver suffered minor injuries.  Looking at the destruction caused by the crash, if there were pedestrians in the Plaza, people would have been seriously injured.   While comments from  Chicago officials show that they are sad and surprised at the turn of events, they should not be surprised.  It is foreseeable that an automobile driver may miss a curb, miss a turn, speed, and drive negligently.  The Chicago personal injury attorneys at Zneimer & Zneimer PC have seen many accidents where a driver drove negligently, jumped a curb, and crashed into a pedestrian, and are surprised that the design for this public plaza did not include pedestrian protection, since such lack of protection from out of control automobiles was previously litigated to the Illinois Supreme Court.

In 2006, in the case Marshall v. Burger King,222 Ill. 2d 422, 432 (2006), the Illinois Supreme Court was faced with the issue whether a Burger King  restaurant was liable for injuries as a result of a negligent driver who jumped the curb and crashed into the restaurant injuring its patrons.  The case arose when a driver in Rockford, Illinois, trying to drive out of a Burger King parking lot, backed into a lamppost, then drove forward, lost control of the car, hit the sidewalk near the Burger King, became airborne, and crashed through the brick wall and windows of the restaurant, fatally injuring a patron eating in the restaurant.  The estate of the decedent sued several parties, including Burger King.  The plaintiff argued that “no protective poles were built around the restaurant, the restaurant was “ bricked up” only a few feet from the ground, the restaurant was located in an area with heavy traffic, and the restaurant’s parking lot was located directly adjacent to its entrance and dining area,” and that such precautions would have been a “minimal undertaking” for the restaurant.  Marshall v. Burger King Corp., 222 Ill. 2d 422, 432 (2006)

Burger King argued that it had no liability because such automobile accident was not foreseeable.  Burger King suggested that it “owed no duty to the decedent to protect him against the possibility of an out-of-control car penetrating the restaurant and injuring him,” characterizing the incident as “highly extraordinary” and “tragically bizarre” and, “therefore, not reasonably foreseeable.” Marshall v. Burger King Corp., 222 Ill. 2d at 431.

The Illinois Supreme Court disagreed, noting:  “Initially, we note that it is reasonably foreseeable, given the pervasiveness of automobiles, roadways, and parking lots, that business invitees will, from time to time, be placed at risk by automobile-related accidents.” Marshall v. Burger King Corp., 222 Ill. 2d at 442.  Citing to the Restatement (Second) of Torts §344, the Illinois Supreme Court stated that the “plaintiff’s complaint clearly falls within its purview, as it alleges that, based on the place and character of defendants’ business, defendants had reason to know that the negligent conduct of third persons was likely to endanger defendants’ customers.”  Marshall v. Burger King Corp., 222 Ill. 2d at 445–46.  The Court specifically noted that the plaintiff’s complaint alleged that the restaurant was located in an area with a “high traffic count”; that various aspects of its design, including its “brick half wall,” and its sidewalk, render it susceptible to penetration by out-of-control automobiles; that defendants took no precautions, such as installing “vertical concrete pillars or poles,” to prevent automobiles from entering the restaurant; and that defendants had knowledge of all of the foregoing.”  Marshall v. Burger King Corp., 222 Ill. 2d at 445–46. Continue reading

IMG_0082-1-225x300IMG_0042-225x300 IMG_0039-225x300
The Chicago personal injury attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer encounter personal injury victims with serious injuries as a result of being involved in accidents against larger vehicles.  While newer vehicles are becoming safer for the people inside them, they are becoming larger, heavier, and more dangerous for the people outside that may collide with the larger vehicles.  The increase of safety for occupants inside the newer vehicles is a result of increased safety features such as warning systems, crumple zones, and airbags. Crumple zones are areas of a vehicle that are expected to deform and crumple in a collision, absorbing some of the impact’s energy and stopping it from getting transferred to the car’s occupants.  The crumple zones require room to collapse and dissipate force, warning systems require sensors, and airbags require 10 inches of clearance between storage sight and a human body. One example of this increased size is that since 2000 the weight of pickups has increased by 11% and the height by 25%.

Vehicle design is not the main cause for more large vehicles being on the roads. The shift in consumer taste towards SUVs and pickup trucks has made the streets of the US less safe for pedestrians. SUVs and pickup trucks now account for 60% of vehicle sales in the US. However, as SUVs and Trucks get taller and more common, they become more deadly for pedestrians. Traffic fatalities have declined since the 1980s, while pedestrian fatalities have increased by 50%. One out of every five vehicles sold in America is a pickup, and full-size pickups comprise a growing share of that fifth. For example, in 2021, Ford stopped selling passenger sedans, and the Mustang is the only vehicle Ford sells in the US that is not an SUV, truck, or van.

Higher vehicles are more dangerous than lower vehicles for multiple reasons. One reason is that bigger cars have more mass and therefore impact with more force than a smaller vehicle going the same speed. Another reason is that the direct impact is on the upper bodies of pedestrians. SUVs and pickups are more likely to have squared-off hoods than passenger cars. The vulnerability of pedestrians when struck by an SUV is a geometry problem. SUVs and pickups tend to be tall compared with pedestrians and have a blunter front end. That positioning is more likely to put someone’s head or chest in line to be struck during the initial impact. The sloped angles of passenger cars allow pedestrians to fall on top of the vehicle. High and squared fronts throw pedestrians to the ground, directly into the vehicle’s path, causing them to be run over.

IMG_9553-225x300IMG_9554-225x300IMG_9555-225x300

The intersection of Logan Boulevard and Western Avenue has the sad and tragic history of being the site of two fatal cyclist accidents in the last 15 years.  The intersection is congested and confusing in that the traffic lights and the intersection itself is primarily under the Kennedy expressway.  Add to that the Kennedy Expressway has both on ramps and off ramps that are situated at the intersection.   The intersection has been the site of many motor vehicle accidents.  The personal injury lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer have handled more than one personal injury cases that arose from crashes at that intersection over the years.   Bicyclists are especially vulnerable at that intersection due to the blocked vision under the expressway and the general confusing nature of the intersection.  Without the protection that the metal body of an automobile provides, bicyclist, sadly suffer serious and sometimes fatal injuries when involved in a crash with a car of truck.  The latest bicycle fatality was in the early summer of 2021 when the actor Kevin Clark, who was best known for his role as the young drummer in the hit movie “School of Rock”  was hit by a car while cycling through the intersection.

A separate bike lane has since been added for cyclists traveling on Logan Boulevard with the bike being painted green.  The motor vehicle traffic is also separated from the bicycle lane by plastic poles.  While cyclists applaud the new separate bicycle lanes, not everyone is happy with the new bicycle lane configuration at this intersection. Motorists note that before the changes, Logan Boulevard had two east bound lanes and two west bound lanes for motor vehicle traffic but now, with the new bike lanes, Logan Square Boulevard now has been reduced to one lane for east bound traffic and one lane for west bound traffic causing traffic backups.  Especially aggravating to some motorists is that it appears that there are very few bicyclist using the bike lane during the cold winter months.  This trade off between bicyclist safety and motorist convenience seems to be playing out all over the city of Chicago with motorists complaining that bike lanes take precious parking space and cause additional congestion by eliminating motorist lanes lanes while bicyclist arguing that the improvements are needed to protect the safety of cyclists on the roadway.  The injury attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. support bike safety and hope that solutions can be arrived at that accommodate both  the needs of motorists and bicyclists.

IMG_4920-300x225

 

Driver inattentiveness is one of the main reasons for car crashes in Chicago and elsewhere.  Distracted driving leads to personal injuries to drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists.  When people mention distracted driving, most people envision a driver texting on the phone.  However, texting while driving is not the only risky behavior causing injuries.  Distraction occurs with any activity that causes a driver to stop paying attention to the driving.  Drivers take their eyes away from the road and away from driving for actions like eating, looking for songs, adjusting radio stations, or climate controls.  According to the CDC ,  there are three types of distractions: Visual – taking your eyes off the road; Manual – taking your hands off the wheel, and Cognitive– taking your mind off driving.  Sometimes all it takes is a second away from the road to cause a car crash.  The younger the driver, the more prone to distractions while driving.  Continue reading

IMG_4566-e1569881472143-225x300

 

The state of Illinois is upping it’s reinforcement of Scott’s Law, nearly 19 years since the death of the law’s namesake, 37 year old fireman Scott Gillen, from a tragic accident. Governor JB Pritzker incorporated harsher penalties into the legislation, which is a variation of the “Move Over” law, increasing the fines for a first violation to at least $250, and at least $750 for any further violations.  The maximum fine could be up to $10,000. This comes as no surprise considering violators of the law cost the lives of three state troopers this year alone, with 22 drivers on record crashing into State Troopers along the side of the road this year.

Scott’s Law makes it a requirement for other drivers to cede their right of way, yield and slow down for any vehicle with its hazard lights on, to give emergency workers safe clearance while doing their jobs.  The morning of December 23, 2000, Lt. Scott Gillen was attending to a crash scene, doing everything he was trained to do and followed standard protocol, when an intoxicated Carlando J. Hurt failed to respect the flares and the warning signs surrounding the scene, pinning Lt. Scott Gillen to his firetruck and killing him. Earlier this year, State Trooper Christopher Lambert also died when he was struck by another vehicle that failed to slow down or move over.

Though Scott’s Law was enacted and designed with emergency workers in mind, in reality, it traces back to a more common issue which is distracted driving. Personal injury attorney, Peter Zneimer of Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. believes that as a general rule of thumb, all individuals sharing the road must proceed with caution, no matter their role in any given situation.

 

IMG_3970-169x300
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.

IMG_3790-e1560113681967-225x300
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.

IMG_3210-e1560114933228-225x300

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.

 

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.

Contact Information