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Articles Posted in Pedestrian Accidents

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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

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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.

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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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Everyday, Chicago drivers navigate busy streets that are flooded with other vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians – all hurriedly trying to get to their final destination. And one maneuver drivers often make places everyone who shares the road in a tricky, and sometimes dangerous, situation – making a left turn.

Nationally, nearly 180 pedestrians die annually after being struck by a vehicle making a left turn. Peter Zneimer, personal injury attorney at Zneimer & Zneimer PC in Chicago, notes that these accidents can occur even though all traffic signals are obeyed – the turning driver has a green light at the same time pedestrians have the walk light. Before making the turn, the driver has to quickly consider when the light will turn, whether the oncoming lanes are clear, and if pedestrians are in the car’s blind spot (not to mention the distracting honks coming from the car behind). These split-second considerations make up what is called the “driver workload,” according to Jeff Shaw, the Intersections Program Manager for the Federal Highway Administration’s Office of Safety.

One factor of the driver workload is gauging the speed and distance of oncoming traffic, and often times drivers speed through the intersection to make it before light turns red. This acceleration is a primary reason why left turns are more deadly for pedestrians than right turns. Another factor contributing to the driver workload is a vehicle’s blind spot, specifically the car frame’s A-pillars. A-pillars, or windshield pillars, block a driver’s view of the road. The driver must break out of her normal field of vision to check for objects like pedestrians that may be positioned within these blind spots, which may pose a risk to hazards that may appear within the driver’s normal field of vision while she is performing the check. According to Dr. Matthew Reed, Professor at the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute, “When we compare the data, we find that drivers could see more outside their vehicles in the 1980s than they can now.” Many modern vehicles have wider A-pillars, and bigger blind spots as a result. One nationwide company has devised an innovative solution to dealing with the danger of left turns – it doesn’t do them!

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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.

 

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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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

 

Cook County’s attempts to mitigate the black hole debt it is in has at times, taken dark turns, such as the 321 layoffs announced last month, to somewhat comical, as in the new proposal to fine pedestrians for “distracted walking”.  Aldermen Ed Burke (14th ward) and Anthony Beale (9th ward) justify this proposed ordinance on deficient grounds by citing 27 pedestrian deaths in the first half of 2017.  While these figures are tragic, there is scant data to prove that distracted walking caused these deaths. Mimicking the successful passing of a similar law in Honolulu, this proposal came guised as concern for general public safety, but ultimately, fails to see the bigger picture.

Chicago personal injury attorney, Peter Zneimer, knows that distracted pedestrians, though problematic, are the least of this city’s worries and fining them is not the answer. All focus should be directed instead 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.  It is a more prudent, long-term approach as compared to issuing fines of up to $500 to a “distracted” pedestrian. 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 or refuges and bike paths and the implementation of policies geared towards the creation of safer vehicles and safer professional drivers.

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