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Articles Posted in Bicycle Accidents

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A new transportation trend is popping up in cities around the world. E-scooters are considered viable alternatives to other, less environmentally conscious ways to get around town. But the attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C., want to know how these scooters are being embraced by city-dwellers and visitors alike. Chicago created an e-Scooter Pilot Program, which gave permits to ten companies to test the viability of e-scooters as a mobility option and “was designed to maximize safety and minimize sidewalk clutter” within its city limits.[i] The pilot program lasted from June 15, 2019 to October 15, 2019 and reported over 800,000 rides.[ii] The city released an evaluation report to determine the impact of emerging scooter technologies on communities, the safety of residents and riders, and on existing transportation. The report showed that “nearly half of the scooter rides started or ended near public transit with the survey confirming 34 percent of riders used the scooters to connect to public transit.”[iii] Scooters are not only a convenient means of transportation, but they are also better for the environment. In fact, “[i]n the four-month pilot period, the e-scooters eliminated approximately 300,000 miles of vehicle travel, equivalent to approximately 116 tons of CO2.”[iv] Yet, e-scooters are not completely carbon neutral. North Carolina State University conducted a study that found each e-scooter contributes 50 to 200g of CO2 per mile.[v] While e-scooters are helping Chicago reduce its carbon emissions, more work needs to be done if the city wants to reach its goal to be carbon neutral by 2050.

The E-Scooter Pilot Evaluation also brought other issues to light, including accessibility and durability of the E-scooters. The executive summary from Chicago’s Business Affairs & Consumer Protection and Department of Transportation states, “Ridership was geographically concentrated in areas with a high density of other options such as Divvy, bus and rail, rather than in areas with fewer options. Analysis of the data also indicates that the jury is still out on whether e-scooters connect riders to public transit or replace private car or ride-hailing trips. More work also needs to be done to lower the environmental impact of the short life cycle of e-scooters.”[vi] E-scooters, while praised for their environmental sustainability benefits, need to be more sustainable in their design. NC State University also looked into this issue in its study, which found that a scooter’s life cycle produced emissions even before it hits the street. These emissions derive from “the production of the materials, like the lithium-ion battery and aluminum parts; the manufacturing process; shipping the scooter from its country of origin (mainly China) to its city of use; and collecting, charging, and redistributing scooters as part of the dockless service.”[vii] As e-scooters become more technologically developed, these durability concerns should diminish.

Chicago is a “Leadership City” in the American Cities Climate Challenge, a program designed by Bloomberg Philanthropies to reduce carbon pollution and deepen public support for a sustainable future.[viii] As a participant of the program, Chicago has pledged to reduce carbon emissions, including implementing changes within the city’s transportation and building sectors, and e-scooters seem to be helping. The city has recommended a second e-scooter pilot program to launch in 2020, where it can “implement lessons learned and test new solutions with a goal of identifying ways to expand access to safe, reliable and equitable mobility options for Chicago residents.”[ix]

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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.

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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.

 

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 city of Chicago has been touted as one of the most bike-friendly cities in the United States. Actual cyclists do not always share the same view. There is still tension and resentment between motorists and cyclists which does not directly result in a crash but is definitely a contributing factor in how biking as a socio-economic activity is being perceived in the city and the nation as a whole.  On stretches of busy streets such as Milwaukee Avenue, you will find cyclists and motorists warily sharing the road with each other as best they can.

Chicago Tribune reported during this summer, that cyclists’ deaths have increased by 34.8 percent—a disconcerting number considering the efforts the city and Vision Zero have put in to make biking safer for many who choose to do so.  Many bikeway paths downtown are sacrificed in the name of congestion and heavy construction, making them smaller than ever and more dangerous for bikers to traverse. August of this year, a 39 year old woman on her bike was pronounced dead after being struck by a truck in the West Loop on Halsted and Madison. In light of this recent tragedy, personal injury attorney, Peter Zneimer, notes that the city of Chicago still has a long way to go in protecting its vulnerable roadway user.

The personal injury lawyers of  Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. have represented numerous cyclists who have experienced the perils of biking first hand and have incurred harrowing injuries as a result. Nevertheless, avid cyclists and many cycling organizations in the country are relentless in their pursuit of safer bikeway conditions. For one, a Harvard study is delving into a smarter and more sophisticated design to safely separate cyclists, pedestrians and vehicles from each other. Cities around the world have started building barrier-protected bicycle-exclusive cycle tracks between the sidewalk and the street and if successfully implemented, this will increase levels of biking while improving safety.

The number of bicyclists Chicago has increased and will continue to grow over the next few years as more people view biking as a healthier, earth-friendly alternative as opposed to driving to work and dealing with surging fuel prices and parking fees. Cycling, however, comes with its own set of hazards. Every cyclists out on the street are more vulnerable than motorists and while many factors pose as dangerous conditions for cyclists such as  bad street designs or reckless drivers, bike-related crashes come down to one important but slightly overlooked issue – visibility.  With the increase of bicyclists, attorney Peter Zneimer of Zneimer and Zneimer P.C. has noticed more bicycle crash cases involving serious injuries.

Many drivers gripe about not seeing cyclists from a distance resulting in crashes. For many behind the wheel, the bikers seem to appear out of nowhere. While Chicago personal injury lawyer, Peter Zneimer, of Zneimer and Zneimer P.C. believes drivers should pay close attention while driving, bikers can do their part in preventing accidents by simply wearing the right clothing so as to be more conspicuous on the road. Dr. Tyrell of Clemson University conducted an experiment demonstrating the effects of different styles of clothing on a cyclist. For instance, a cyclist wearing fluorescent leggings was discernible from three times farther away than average compared to the cyclist garbed in solid black leggings. Another potent and inexpensive tool to maximize visibility are flashing taillights. The same study found that from a distance of 200 meters, flashing taillights are more effective at catching observers’ eyes than an always-on taillight.

Bike-share bikes usually have the proper equipment installed such as Laserlight which is more visible to drivers during daytime. This is especially powerful because even when there is significant reduction of visibility during nighttime, 60% of crashes occur during daytime. It is projected that the likelihood of bike-related accidents are bound to decrease with the rise of ridership but safety is something that cyclists can claim for themselves, starting with the right gear.  Appropriate gear can mean the difference between life and death or life and life-altering injuries.

Chicago 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

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.

 

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.

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.