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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.

 

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An 18-year-old from Gurnee, Illinois has filed a lawsuit against JUUL Labs in the wake of his hospitalization caused by use of the e-cigarettes.

Chicago personal injury lawyer, Peter Zneimer notes that this suit comes after weeks of media reports of hospitalizations of hundreds across the United States due to “mysterious” respiratory conditions, some of which turned fatal. As of today, there have been at least 6 deaths attributed to the deadly conditions.

The first victim of this epidemic died in Illinois, the CDC reported on Aug. 23. In the last month alone, the number of hospitalizations skyrocketed across the United States, with 380 cases now confirmed across 36 states. 52 of those cases have been confirmed in Illinois. (CDC)

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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.

Dog bites are unexpected, devastating, and sometimes deadly. As increasing numbers of Americans welcome canines into their homes, it is crucial to be educated about breeds and aware of the risks that may come with ownership. Pit bulls in particular have a longstanding reputation as an aggressive breed, dominating headlines about dog bite injuries that happen across the U.S.

The latest statistical information compiled by DogsBite.org reveal the grim reality behind the most fatal attacks. Between 2005 and 2018, pit bulls killed 311 people. In 2018 alone, pit bulls accounted for 72% of deaths caused by dogs in the United States. Put another way, pit bulls were the cause of 26 out of 36 total dog bite deaths.  Both adults and children are at risk for injury, with 42% of victims being children and 58% adults. Of the 26 attacks, 22 happened on the dog owner’s property. This illustrates the risks of not only owning pit bulls, but even visiting those who own them.   The lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. note that the vast majority of their dog bite cases involve pit bulls.

The costs of a dog bite does not end with medical treatment, either. Complications like infection can arise from the injuries. Facial and reconstructive surgery, not to mention therapy, can quickly add up as additional expenses. The American Society for Plastic Surgeons reported over 28,000 reconstructive procedures done for dog bites in 2015. The Animal Control Act in Illinois places full liability on the owner of the dog; However, reaching a settlement can take months or years, depending on the severity of the injuries.

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.

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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The personal injury lawyers of Zneimer and Zneimer P.C. have handled many dog bite cases and most are governed by the Illinois Animal Control Act.  Historically, under common law,  a dog was allowed “one free bite;” which meant that a dog owner was not liable for injuries caused by a bite if that dog had never bit anyone else.  More recently, the law has evolved so that a dog owner will only be liable if he if his negligence caused the injury.  The “one free bite” rule and negligence standard are common in many jurisdictions throughout the country, but not in Illinois.  Illinois is one of the few states that have passed laws that apply strict liability to dog owners whose dog bites a victim.  The Illinois law is helpful to victims of dog bites and now Illinois ranks second to California, in the number of dog bite claims brought per year.

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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.

Jay Caldwell, a physician living in Tucson, Arizona, and his wife, Diana, a retired professor of English, were flying first-class from Chicago to Tucson on American Airlines Flight 1521 on June 13.

On the flight, they were fed well. He said his meal was amazing, consisting of four courses: a salad, an appetizer, a choice of entree and a dessert. The dessert was an ice cream sundae with cheesecake crumbles and raspberry syrup.

While he was eating his delicious dessert, he had a crunchy feeling in his mouth, but he did not know what it was at first. “I couldn’t have broken a tooth,” he thought. “I’m not chewing anything.”

As previously mentioned in our last post, the pit bull attack on Chicago resident Joseph Finley has caused quite the controversy. Per the Chicago Red Eye, it has sparked a conflict between Chicago dog owners, and residents who feel attacks such as this are reason enough to ban dog breeds such as pit bulls from the city limits. It has left our city divided. Everywhere you go, someone has an opinion on the matter. Even users of the popular social networking site facebook.com have begun circulating a petition not to ban pit bulls in Chicago. It is targeted toward Ward 2 Alderman Robert W. Fioretti and has a goal of 1000 signatures, but is already nearly 3000 strong.


Chicago
already has several ordinances in effect to impose penalties on irresponsible dog owners. Some of which include the leash ordinance, the dangerous animal ordinance, and the bite ordinance. A little more about the leash ordinance after the jump.

According to The Anti-Cruelty Society, in Chicago and many of its’ surrounding suburbs, the owner of a dog must restrain his or her animal by a leash, crate, cage or vehicle, or keep it confined on the owner’s premises. In other words, it is illegal for the animal to be outside the owners property lines without the proper confinement (leash), unless the animal is at a dog park.