If you live in Chicagoland, chances are you’ve seen a bicyclist that either violated a law or engaged in some type unreasonable or risky behavior. You may have even witnessed a crash, close-call, or other incident caused by an irresponsible cyclist. The rising trend of reckless bicycling is an issue that we have become increasingly concerned with in recent years. Some specific examples include speeding bicyclists, and cyclists that cross streets diagonally or against a signal. Bicycling while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is another. Then, of course, there are the countless number of cyclists that attempt to navigate busy roadways while using a mobile device. Finally, we have the bicyclists that travel along pathways and trails with little or no regard for the safety of others.

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Drunk driving has been an issue since the invention of the first automobile. Despite efforts of lawmakers, advocacy groups, and local authorities to address this issue, motorists continue to drive while intoxicated. Encouraging new technology, though, seems to offer a sound solution to this age-old problem—breath and touch sensors that can measure alcohol levels, and disable a vehicle when the driver is above the legal limit. In fact, these breakthroughs appear to be so promising that many have compared them to the advents of seatbelts and airbags, in regard to both life-saving potentials as well as affordability.

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In Illinois, the law has long recognized limitations in premise liability claims that fall under what has come to be known as the ‘open and obvious doctrine.’ The basic idea behind this doctrine is that landowners should not be required to foresee or protect against injury when the openness and obviousness of a dangerous condition is so clear that an entrant should be to prevent their own harm through the exercise of ordinary care.

Essentially the rule allows landowners to defend claims by asserting that the duty of reasonable care does not extend to open and obvious hazards. As a result, property owners have often escaped liability, while premise liability claimants have been presented with obstacles to obtaining financial compensation. A bill introduced this year, though, seeks to amend Illinois’ Premises Liability Act by altering the manners in which duty of care issues are evaluated in open and obvious hazard cases. By increasing landowners’ exposure to liability, and decreasing preclusions and limitations on recovery for victims, we find that HB 1441 provides a more equal balance between the rights of each parties.

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Gone are the days of simple dashboards. What once was quite basic—climate controls, audio features, and a small handful of other options—has progressed into oversized sophisticated dashboards equipped with a multitude of features, including smart technology that allows the vehicle to interact not only with occupants but other devices as well. Although designed to improve safety, many question whether incorporating what is essentially a mini-computer mounted to the vehicle’s dash has actually done just the opposite—increase accident risk factors, rather than reduce them. As personal injury lawyers, we can’t help but ignore the dangers associated with the increase of vehicles equipped with these so-called ‘smart dashboards.’

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The City of Chicago announced the launch of a new program that will offer low-cost annual Divvy Bike Share memberships based upon ability to pay, according to a last week’s press release. The program, called “Divvy for Everyone,” or D4E, will allow residents, with incomes below 300% of the federal poverty line, to obtain a one-time one-year membership for $5, without having to use a debit or credit card. Although we generally support initiatives that make bike-sharing a more accessible and affordable transit option, the D4E program leaves us with concerns over whether the city is putting ‘the cart before the horse’ by expanding bike-sharing to targeted neihgborhoods without fully considering the safety risks it presents.

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Since their introduction in the 1980s, airbags have been identified as proven, effective safety devices that drastically reduce the risk of fatality and serious injury to vehicle occupants involved in automobile collisions. The protection offered by airbags is a factor that many car buyers take into consideration when purchasing a vehicle. What many fail to consider, though, is the potential for airbag safety issues associated with the purchase of a used vehicle. After all, airbags are only useful if they are correctly installed, properly functioning, and deploy in the manner in which they are intended to. The Chicago Injury Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. discuss some important tips for consumers to keep in mind when purchasing a used vehicle equipped with airbags.

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Keyless ignitions are typically associated with convenience or theft-deterrence, and not with a risk of fatality. However, consider the combination of a keyless ignition and quiet engine, along with an enclosed space and little forgetfulness. The potential consequences—carbon monoxide poisoning. Prompted in part by the tragic death of a Highland Park couple last week, the Chicago Injury Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. comment on the dangers of keyless ignitions, and more importantly, the failure of federal regulators to take action to address a safety issue that they have been aware of for years.

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While a small number of parks and trails prohibit dogs altogether, the overwhelming majority permit dogs in some form or another, with certain limitations. Where dogs are allowed, it is typically under the condition that the dog’s owner will adhere to leashing, permit, vaccination, and other dog-related restrictions and/or regulations. With so many pathways, trails, and parks that are currently open, scheduled to open, or set for future construction, in and around the Chicago area, the attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. have concerns over the risks that dogs present to the persons that occupy these multi-use spaces.

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With so much attention focused on vehicle-component issues in the auto industry, it can be easy for a victim to overlook a potential claim against an automaker based upon an alternate theory. In addition to design and manufacturing related defects, product liability claims can also be grounded upon a defect in warning(s) or instruction(s) provided. Indeed, automakers have become increasingly aware of the potential for exposing themselves to liability due to improper, inadequate, or lack of warning or instruction—the result of which has led to significant improvements in recent decades, as well as a decrease in failure to warn/instruct claims. However, as technology continues to improve, auto manufacturers must remember their ongoing obligation to warn/instruct consumers in accordance with changes and improvements to safety features offered in new vehicles.

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The Chicago Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. first addressed this issue last June, specifically discussing the risk of injury along Chicago’s Lakefront Trail. Since last year, the controversy over whether to implement a more defined design approach, which divides paths and trails based upon user type has continued to be a highly debated topic. Ongoing concerns over trail congestion and user safety prompted the Active transportation Alliance’s December 2014 petition, urging Chicago leaders and officials to consider enhanced pavement markings and separate paths for bicyclists and pedestrians in the trail’s most congested areas.

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