Articles Posted in Pedestrian Accidents

Sofia Zneimer, Zneimer & Zneimer, PC

In a recent decision, the Appellate Court of Illinois distinguished immunity from liability.  According to the facts as stated in Williams v. Village of Berkeley, the plaintiff filed a premises liability lawsuit against the Village of Berkeley following an incident in which a large branch from a Village-owned tree outside his home fell on him, injuring him and killing one of his dogs. Williams argued in his lawsuit that the Village had negligently failed to maintain the tree and allowed it to become and remain in a dangerous condition. Additionally, Williams alleged that the Village’s conduct was willful and wanton. He testified that in July 2018, a large branch fell from the tree, and he reported this to the police.   A few days later a worker from the Village’s public works department came to remove the fallen branch. During the removal, the worker remarked to Williams, “Oh, yeah, this thing is rotten. It has to come down. It has to be cut down.”  However, the village never came to cut the tree.  Over the next year and a half, Williams asked various unnamed public works employees about the status of the tree removal on four or five occasions and each time the village informed me that they know about the tree and were “going to get to it” but was running behind schedule. In January 2020, when Williams walking his two dogs on the sidewalk outside his house, a large branch fell and injured him and killed one of the dogs.

The Village filed a motion for summary judgment claiming they are immune from suit.  The court initially denied the motion but then reconsidered it and decided that the Village was immune from suit.  The appellate court reversed the trial court’s decision and found that the trial court erred in concluding the Village was entitled to immunity.  The court noted that immunity applies only if an employee with policy-making authority consciously decided not to address the dangerous condition and the court found no evidence that the Village’s superintendent was aware of the tree’s dangerous condition (rot).  On the contrary, the superintendent testified that he believed that the tree was healthy in 2019.  The court found that a lack of awareness of the defect means there was no conscious decision made regarding the defect, thus precluding immunity.

A recent study done by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety indicates that the rise of pedestrian deaths in recent years could be attributable to the rise in popularity of larger vehicles.  The authors of the study conjecture that poor visibility  and blind spots that these vehicles have could be a major factor in their findings.  The Chicago personal injury lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer  have noticed that many of their pedestrian injury cases did in fact involve SUV’s and pick-up trucks.

The statistics are striking. According to the National Highway Traffic Administration, 6,519 pedestrians were killed in the United States in 2020.  That represents an astounding 59% increase since 2009.  Over the same period of time the sales of SUV’s and pickup trucks rose dramatically, now accounting for almost 50% of all new vehicles sold.

A North Carolina study was done from 2010 and 2018 that demonstrated the impact of SUV’s and pickup trucks on pedestrian injuries.  This study found that  pickup trucks were 42% more likely to hit pedestrians when making a left turn and  SUV’s were 23% more likely to hit a pedestrian.  Experts conjecture that this disparity is that the larger vehicles have poorer viability.    SUV’s and pickup trucks have A-Pillars which can block viability.  Additionally, Consumer Reports found that truck hoods have risen 15% since 2000.  The magazine also found that the Ford F-250 was a staggering 55 inches off the ground which is as tall as the roofs of many cars.  The high hoods obstruct the view of people walking in front of the truck, especially if the pedestrians and are short  or are children.


The Chicago Tribune recently published an article with the results of a study they conducted which seem to indicate that Chicago police tend not to issue tickets in pedestrian and cyclist crash cases.   The Tribune study of Chicago police data shows that out of more than 4,000 crashes between 2018 and November 2023 only 26% resulted in a traffic ticket or more serious charges.  The Chicago personal injury lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer, PC see many police reports and we observe that the police rarely actually witness the accident. When the police arrive on the scene of the crash, they interview the parties involved and the witnesses to determine what happened.  From experience, the lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer PC have observed that when there is an independent witness who will assign fault to one party or the other, then the police will be more likely to issue a ticket. Usually if there is no independent witness and both parties are blaming each other, then the police officer will not give a ticket to either party. Of course the injured pedestrian or cyclist can hire a personal injury lawyer to make a claim against the at fault motorist for damages.  If the motorist’s insurance company denies the claim then the injured party’s lawyer can file a lawsuit and have the case decided by a jury.

The Chicago Department of Transportation has  accelerated improvements on the roadways in Chicago, adding more protected bike lanes, pedestrian islands and speed bumps.  However, infrastructure improvements can only go so far in protecting pedestrians and cyclists.  Chicago Department of Transportation’s data shows that most traffic deaths involve motorists who were driving recklessly.  Almost 60% of the traffic deaths involved speeding.  Astonishingly, more than half of the pedestrian deaths in Chicago were hit and run crashes with the motorist fleeing the scene of the crash.


Chicago personal injury lawyer, Peter Zneimer of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. notes that one of the most common causes of pedestrian injury cases is when a driver makes a right turn on red and strikes a pedestrian or pedestrians who are walking in the crosswalk to the right of the driver. The problem is that when drivers make a right turn on red, their attention is focused to the left to watch for approaching cars.  When a driver sees that there are no approaching cars or that an approaching car is far enough back to make the right hand turn, his focus is still to the left to make sure that it is safe.  Then the driver is supposed to look to see if there are pedestrians in the crosswalk to the left. A recent study published in Transportation Research Interdisciplinary Perspective in May of 2023,  illustrated why right turns on red are so problematic.  The study concluded that “at red-light turns, driver attention was heavily skewed toward the leftward traffic.”  Additionally, the pedestrians may feel a false sense of safety and may not be looking out for cars since they have the walk signal.

Studies that looked into the effects of right on red on pedestrian safety  bear out the dangers of allowing right on red.  A study conducted by the Journal of Safety in 1982 after right on red was implemented in many states found that; accidents rose 40% for pedestrians and 82% for bikes in New York State. Likewise in Wisconsin, the figures were 107% for pedestrians and 72% bicyclists.  And finally,  Ohio saw an increase of accidents of 57% for pedestrians and 80% for bicyclists.  The statistics show that there were dramatic increases of pedestrian accidents after the implementation of right on red.

The city of New York has already banned the practice of right on red and San Francisco and Los Angles are considering a ban.  The personal injury lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. suggest that Chicago put pedestrian safety first and seriously consider of taking the lead and ban right on red in the city of Chicago.


Our personal injury lawyers handle many accidents caused by impaired driver.  Many impairments result from intoxicating substances recently taken or still lingering in the driver’s body.  According to Illinois Secretary of State statistics, in 2020

  • 254 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes, which was approximately 21% of the 1,195 total crash fatalities
  • 20,131 DUI arrests were recorded by the Secretary of State’s office


The Chicago personal injury attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer have seen an increase in serious car crashes that involve the use of pot. Recently the Chicago Sun Times reported that Illinois traffic deaths increased by 24%.  According to the organization Parents Opposed to Pot, since 2016, when Illinois legalized marijuana, traffic deaths increased from 1078 to 1091 in 2017, to 1038 in 2018. This increase has some people wondering if there is a correlation between the decriminalization of marijuana and the state rising the authorized limit of THC from 0 to 5 ng of THC.

Even though under Illinois law use of marijuana may be legal, driving stoned at any level is not safe.  From young age we learn that drinking and driving is a lethal combination.  We hear commercials and radio advertisements, and see signs deterring us from sitting behind the wheel when under the influence of alcohol.  Yet there is a paucity of advertisements or signs or warnings discouraging smoking pot and driving.

The fact is that pot-related driving under the influence represents a threat to the citizens of Illinois.  Driving under the influence of marijuana is dangerous.  Research shows that marijuana impairs reactions just like alcohol does.  According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, marijuana significantly impairs judgment, motor coordination, and reaction delay. Several meta-analyses of studies found that the risk of being involved in a crash significantly increased after marijuana use and in some cases, the risk doubled or more than doubled. Continue reading


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

Car and PeopleOur personal injury law firm has seen an increase in pedestrian injuries as a result of vehicles turning left and failing to see pedestrians even in a crosswalk.  This increase in pedestrian injuries is a result of many factors, including more traffic, larger vehicles with bigger blind spots, and more pedestrians.

A recent study from the Institute for Highway Safety found that pedestrian injuries have increased in frequency and fatality, especially in urban and suburban areas.  Although many crashes with pedestrians involved cars, fatal crashes involving SUVs increased by 81%, the highest increase of fatalities involving pedestrians than involving any other vehicle.  Pedestrian fatalities most often involved crashes with SUVs, vans, or trucks, or other high-powered vehicles.  Most incidents resulting in pedestrian fatalities involved vehicles turning left, and were more likely to involve SUVs, vans, or pickup trucks than cars.  According to Jessica Cicchino, Vice President of Research, when a pedestrian is killed at an intersection by a vehicle, the vehicle is twice as likely to be a SUV turning left, three times as likely to be a van turning left, and nearly four times to be a pickup truck turning left.

Vehicles manufacturers can make vehicle safer for pedestrians but are slow to implement safety features to decrease such injuries.  Vehicles with a front crash prevention system that recognize pedestrians even in low light can be effective to minimize injuries to pedestrians.  An analysis that the Institute for Highway Safety conducted on such vehicle detection systems found that Subaru vehicles that had such pedestrian detection system had 35% lower claim rates for pedestrian injuries than without one.  Similarly, vehicle equipped with automatic braking that detects pedestrians had 27%  less pedestrian crashes than vehicles that did not have such braking technology. Continue reading


Though it has been a snow free winter so far this winter, it may be about time to find the snow shovels and salt and get ready to shovel the sidewalk.  Shoveling the sidewalk in front of ones house or building is not only a considerate thing to do it is also required by law in Chicago.  The Municipal Code of Chicago 4-4-310 & 10-8-180 requires that property owners and occupants of land keep their sidewalks clear of snow and ice.  A five foot wide path must be created for pedestrians on sidewalks and crosswalks.  Additionally, the snow that is cleared should not be into alleys, crosswalks, bike-lanes or Divvy stations.  Chicago property owners must clear the snow anytime it snows.  For snow at night the snow must be removed by 10 a.m.  For snowfall during the day, the snow must be cleared by 10 p.m. at night.  The penalty for not following the law are possible fines ranging from $50-$500.  Violators can be reported by calling 311.

Ice and snow create a big fall risk for anyone using an uncleared sidewalk.   The fall risk is especially acute for people who have difficulty walking, such as seniors, people with disabilities and young children.  Every winter the attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. receive numerous calls from people have been injured from a fall after slipping on ice or snow on an uncleared sidewalk or walkway.  Additionally, uncleared sidewalks and walkways cause people to walk in the street which is especially dangerous since the roads will most likely be slick if there is snow and there is usually not enough room for both cars and pedestrians.   The lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer encourage everyone to shovel their sidewalks for everyone’s safety and shoveling has the added benefit of being great exercise.



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

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