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In the times of quarantine in Chicago, many of us find ourselves jumping at any chance we get to enjoy the lovely springtime weather. These opportunities seem to be too infrequent to pass up the chance to get a little exercise. If you find yourself outside on one of these wonderful spring days, take a look around you and you will notice you are far from the only one. It seems like every good day we have the streets and paths are packed with runners, walkers and bikers getting every moment they can under the sun. These outbursts of athletic enthusiasm beg the question, is our city truly able to handle the amount of people out and active on the streets? Biking is the prime example where the shortcomings our of cities infrastructure and have caused dark tragedies from our bright moments of exuberance under the sun. This is rooted in our cities failure to even come close to there stated goals for biker safety. This was not always the case with Chicago, eight years ago bikers had every reason to be excited about the way their city was progressing. At that time, the city had plans to identify and make a 645-mile network of on-street bikeways and up until 2015 real steps where taken to build and upgrade biking paths and general biker safety.[1] Also, during that time fatalities from biking accidents where going down and it had never been safer to be a biker in the city of Chicago. Sadly, after that golden age, complacency set in and our city biker safety momentum slowed to a standstill. So, this leads us back to today, where in our brief moments of freedom in a life of quarantine we may be in the more danger than ever. So for everyone who decides to take there bike outside or go for a run or walk around Chicago streets be sure to be careful, there may never be a time where more people are exposed to dangerous conditions all at one time like they are now. If  you or someone you know has been injured trying to stay active in these spring days’ you should make sure they are being treated properly and to make sure that they get the compensation they deserve. That is where we come in. The lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer are here to make sure that anyone who has been hurt while just trying to stay active in these inactive times should not be forced to face mounting bills that come with being injured in Chicago. Here we will fight for you and the ones you love to make sure that the moments you get to spend in the sun do not turn into years of financial instability and worry.

Please call the attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer  at (773) 516-4100 or visit our website at zneimerlaw.com if you or anyone you know has been injured in these troubling times.

[1] https://chicago.suntimes.com/2019/11/17/20954155/chicago-bicycling-cyclist-bike-lanes-parking-trucks-traffic-deaths-vision-zero

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Illinois state officials expressed concern in early April as the weather starts to improve and people take to the city seeking fresh air outside of their homes. As COVID-19 continues to shut the country down and the warm weather entices people to go outside, Chicago police officers have conducted roadside checkpoints from April 7 to April 9 between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. in each police district, lasting for about 45 minutes per the Chicago Police Department, for drivers on the roads in the Chicago area. These checkpoints were set up to provide information to motorists about the stay-at-home order in effect until April 30, as well as to check for drivers under the influence and other traffic safety issues. Each driver that went through the roadside checkpoint was given a flyer providing information about the Illinois stay-at-home order. This is an important step by Chicago police to help educate the public on what is currently being done for them regarding COVID-19 as well as providing any useful tips to help minimize exposure and ultimately help flatten the curve.

The important thing to note with these roadside safety checkpoints, however, is that travel is not banned in the state of Illinois, and there are designated activities that residents are allowed to engage in that involve travel. In fact, there is a specific list provided by the state of Illinois that lets all people in Illinois know what the rules are when it comes to what defines an essential reason. According to state officials, essential reasons include: performing essential activities, governmental functions, business and operations; caring for elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities or other vulnerable people; receiving materials for distance learning, receiving meals and any other related services from an educational institution; returning to a place of residence from outside of jurisdiction; following the direction of law enforcement or court order, including to transport children pursuant to a custody agreement; and returning to a place of residence outside the state for non-residents. The important take away is that as the stay-at-home order continues, some travel is still allowable meaning that people are still on the roads and accidents can still happen. If you have an essential reason to be on the roads during this time period you are allowed to travel, but use extra caution as drivers attempt to return to normalcy.

As the weather gets nicer and people begin to settle into their homes for the foreseeable future, it is inevitable that people will eventually need to get behind the wheel of a vehicle for supplies and other essential activities. Even though police are cracking down on those who are engaging in non-essential travel, cars will still be on the road and accidents will still happen. Whether it’s to go to the grocery store, the pharmacy, or whether it’s the delivery order coming to your house, people are going to continue driving through this quarantine.  The lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C.,  know based on our experience as personal injury attorneys in the Chicago area that even with less than normal traffic accidents can still occur.

 

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As most of the nation grapples with the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent executive orders deterring individuals and groups to be outside save for when fulfilling what are considered “essential tasks”,  it is admittedly a challenge for Chicago residents to ignore a beautiful spring day. Lulled by the sun and the warmth, add to that the unmistakable signs of life and growth with flowers budding in abundance and grass an almost mocking green —  many Chicagoans have crawled out of their trenches to discard their solitude temporarily for a brief return  to normalcy. Some stroll, others take a road trip, while others dust the cobwebs off their bicycles to go out for a ride. The streets once devoid of traffic are now humming with life.

Prior to waging war with a highly transmissible virus, Chicago has long waged war on curbing congestion, especially downtown. Chicago has been successful in adopting Vision Zero in recent years, affording cyclists more room even in busy areas, as well as the construction of dedicated bus lanes for transit users. But as Martin Luther King once remarked, “All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem”. In addressing safety concerns over cyclists and pedestrians through the adoption of Vision Zero, out of the woodwork arise the ride-hail apps such as Uber, Lyft and Via, giving the city another problem to contend with. Since we are living in the age of convenience, where we can order merchandise and food on-demand, our streets are rife with delivery vehicles that park improperly on bike and bus lanes. Personal injury attorney Peter Zneimer knows the dangers posed when vehicles encroach bus and bike lanes are real. The injuries stemming from such grisly accidents are horrendous and in most cases, result in death. Far too often, scofflaws get away with not getting a ticket by driving off while the ticket is being written.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot clearly had enough already when she proposed a new ordinance last February allowing parking aides to take a photo of the insubordinate driver’s vehicle without having to hand the citation in real time. Instead, the citation will be mailed to the vehicle owner. Should this legislation pass, it can ease congestion in glutted areas, increase transit ridership and decrease accidents involving cyclists and pedestrians alike. If there is any takeaway from the onslaught of Covid-19 into our lives, it’s that whatever role we play, be it that of a motorist, a cyclist or a pedestrian, we should all look out for one another and stay safe.

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A $2 billion entered in favor of a Livermore, California couple that had contracted non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma because of their use of  Round-Up Weed Killer produced by Monsanto.  Monsanto is appealing the verdict.

The root of the legal issue revolves around the key ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate. Bayer maintained that glyphosate is not a carcinogen, but plaintiffs offer research that shows glyphosate can cause non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and multiple myeloma. Glyphosate is the most widely-used herbicide in the United States. It is used on nearly every acre of corn, cotton, and soybeans grown in the United States and many Americans have used it to treat their lawns and gardens. Despite its common use, many jurisdictions across the country have banned or restricted the use of glyphosate until more is known about its health effects.

Roundup was first sold commercially by Monsanto in 1974, but Monsanto genetically engineered crops to tolerate glyphosate in 1996, which became known as “Roundup Ready” seeds, that furthered Roundup’s use on farms across the globe. Due to its widespread use, glyphosate can be found in water, food, and dust. However, little is known about the magnitude of human exposure because of minimal testing for glyphosate residue. While Bayer maintains that the active agent in Roundup does not pose a risk to people and the Environmental Protection Agency decided that it did “not likely” cause cancer in humans, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer called glyphosate a “probable human carcinogen.”

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Dogs are man’s best friend, but even friends make mistakes. Dog owners understand that dogs need to be trained and restrained in order to keep themselves and the public safe. However, sometimes animal instincts kick in and accidents happen. In February, a man from Plainfield, Illinois died from dog bites following an unprovoked attack by his family’s pit bull. (https://chicago.suntimes.com/news/2020/2/11/21133286/devin-white-dies-plainfield-pit-bull-attack-judith). Three other people were treated for minor injuries and, after police officers failed to get the dog under control, the dog was put down.

Under Illinois law, “If a dog or other animal, without provocation, attacks, attempts to attack, or injures any person who is peaceably conducting himself or herself in any place where he or she may lawfully be, the owner of such dog or other animal is liable in civil damages to such person for the full amount of the injury proximately caused thereby.” (510 ILCS 5/16). In other words, for a person to successfully recover from a dog bite, she must prove that:

1) the dog attacked, attempted to attack, or otherwise injured the victim;

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More macabre numbers for pedestrians as the Governors Highway Safety Association released on Thursday disturbing statistics regarding pedestrian deaths. According to the GHSA report, a total of 6,590 pedestrian lives were lost last year – the highest number in 30 years. (https://www.ghsa.org/resources/news-releases/pedestrians20.  The numbers speak for themselves and warrant intervention from everyone involved, including pedestrians themselves and spurs the question, how can walking claim so many lives?

Interestingly enough, there has been a steady decline of traffic casualties over the last few years. We have seen improvements in vehicles equipped with the latest crash avoidance and mitigation technology. Many US jurisdictions have implemented traffic safety programs, addressing poorly designed roadways and educating motorists on basic safety practices to prevent distracted driving, especially in the smartphone age. Why then are we seeing an uptick in pedestrian deaths? To Chicago personal injury attorneys at Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C., this comes as no surprise. It is important to note that most pedestrian deaths occur in metropolitan areas, where there is high foot traffic, as more people are willing to commute less and walk more. Metropolitan areas normally have a profuse nightlife, with many bars and entertainment venues, thereby increasing the likelihood of alcohol impairment in individuals walking the streets at night, in the dark. There is a proliferation of SUV’s on the streets, behemoth vehicles that as studies have shown in the past, accounted for an 81 percent increase in single-vehicle pedestrian fatalities. These behemoth vehicles with their unforgiving higher front-end profile does not discriminate between walkers, joggers, the old and the young and have killed numerous, from the strong impact combined with the velocity at which the SUV was running. (https://www.chicagoaccidentlawyerblog.com/big-increase-in-pedestrian-deaths-linked-to-suvs/)

Vehicles will always win over pedestrians and cyclists, the latter of which has about a 2% share in all traffic related fatalities each year. Though the city of Chicago has embraced initiatives such as Vision Zero and recently, a proposal (https://chicago.suntimes.com/politics/2020/2/19/21143864/lori-lightfoot-bike-lanes-bus-crackdown)  to curb bad driving behaviors downtown like scofflaws parking in dedicated bus and bike lanes, the challenge to reduce pedestrian and cyclist death looms ahead.  The lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer note that we have a long way to go.

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The Land of Lincoln greeted the year 2020 with the much sought-after legalization of recreational cannabis, becoming the 11th state to legalize the product. Dispensaries are struggling to keep up with the medical and recreational demand, selling $40 million dollars’ worth of legal weed in January alone.  Chicago dispensaries have long lines with people waiting to make purchases.  Indubitably, Illinois had a successful weed industry launch however, personal injury lawyer, Peter Zneimer of Zneimer and Zneimer P.C.  notes that the question of impairment and the proper ways to determine it remains controversial in many circles, particularly in law enforcement.

People driving stoned and the methods employed to determine a driver’s impairment, is in its infancy and experimental stages, which is a struggle that law enforcement officials and legislators continue to deal with, even in states like Colorado where weed has been legal since 2014 (https://www.summitdaily.com/news/how-high-is-too-high-5-years-after-legalization-colorado-struggles-to-test-marijuana-impairment-for-drivers/) . While intoxication can be easily deduced from the smell or with the 12-step Sobriety Test, there is yet to be a standardized test designed to accurately measure weed impairment. Under Illinois law, it is illegal to drive high and if you test positive for five nanograms of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) per milliliter of blood, your driver’s license will be revoked  on top of potential criminal charges. Carol Stream Police Department has rolled out a saliva testing program to measure marijuana impairment (https://abc7chicago.com/5526516/). Police officers are using an mLife Diagnostics manufactured device to determine the presence of THC. This sounds easy enough, but the problem lies in the body’s extended retention of THC as opposed to alcohol which the body eliminates faster.  Whether you are an avid smoker or not, THC stays in your body for weeks even after the high has worn off, which means should your saliva get tested, it will produce a positive result but a positive result is not necessarily tantamount to impairment.   Since science has not fully caught up with the popularity of weed use, police officers cannot merely rely on the device’s detection of THC. They can only use it as evidence to support probable cause to arrest the person. The police officer must make the final determination for impairment. https://herald-review.com/news/state-and-regional/crime-and-courts/illinois-police-want-to-know-who-s-driving-while-stoned/article_0e4c663d-8e4b-5d54-aac3-3c7a251b07a4.html

The effects of THC include an increased sense of well-being or euphoria, relaxation, slowed psycho-motor response, an altered sense of time, short term memory impairment and impairment of multi-tasking performance. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found in 2016, that 38% of fatally injured drivers in the country, tested positive for marijuana  https://herald-review.com/news/state-and-regional/crime-and-courts/illinois-police-want-to-know-who-s-driving-while-stoned/article_0e4c663d-8e4b-5d54-aac3-3c7a251b07a4.html. Personal injury attorneys at Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. can see the likelihood of this percentage increasing if more people who have ready access to weed are unable to ascertain their own impairment and take the wheel. Not only that, weed smokers who are stopped on the road suspected for impairment, may not willingly submit to being swabbed. Despite the murkiness of marijuana impairment, the real responsibility lies on weed users and to drive sober.

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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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Biking advocates are pushing for the city to recommit to its goal to make biking safer after the recent deaths of three cyclists. Although Chicago has a reputation for bicycling and was named the top city for bicycling in 2016, the city has averaged 5.5 deaths of cyclists per year since 2012.

In 2012, the city adopted a plan to build more protected bike lanes across a 645-mile network of on-street bikeways by 2020. Although Chicago initially pursued this plan by building or upgrading 116.25 miles of bike lanes between 2012 to 2015, the pace of bike lane construction has fallen significantly. Since 2015, the city added merely 66.4 miles of bike lanes, and only 8.5 of those miles were protected. Yet in this time (from 2012 to 2018), 5.5 bicyclists were killed per year in the city.

In 2017, in the wake of a “right hook” incident where a bicyclist was killed after a truck that was traveling in the same direction turned in front of her and trapped her under the truck’s wheels, bike advocates effectively lobbied city officials to pass an ordinance requiring the city’s truck fleet to be equipped with convex mirrors and side guards – to prevent someone from falling under the truck’s wheels – by 2026. This ordinance also requires trucks operated by companies with city contracts to implement these changes by 2021.

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.

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