Taking a selfie while driving can be fatal

pTextingDriver2_22350652_sIt is no secret that there is a widespread campaign to prevent drivers while texting behind the wheel. According to CNN, those efforts may need to branch out to include selfies. The news organization reports that thousands of motorists have been snapping pictures of themselves and posting them to social media sites.

As a Chicago car accident lawyer knows, distracted driving is a serious threat to safety. People in Illinois and across the country should understand the danger of such destructive behavior.

The scope of the problem

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatal car crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States. The agency attributes this phenomenon to a number of factors, including a lack of seat belt use, alcohol and inexperience.

Distracted driving is also a major culprit, accounting for 12 percent of the accidents that kill teenagers. Further, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that every day, nine people are killed and 1,153 are injured as a result of a driver who was distracted.

Inherent danger

Distracted driving campaigns largely target young drivers, though people of all ages are guilty of eating, drinking and cellphone use while on the road. CNN notes that people who are taking photos of themselves while behind the wheel appear to be teenagers and young adults. Researchers reviewed the driving-related hashtags linked to selfies in order to determine who has been posting.

A Chicago car accident lawyer could understand that drivers might take pictures of themselves while the vehicle is stopped. Social Media Week points out that the problem largely occurs when drivers upload those images to social networks – an activity that takes place while the car is rolling. Researchers have found time and again that drivers who take their eyes off the road for even just a few seconds double their risk of getting into an accident.

Regulating the behavior

Most states do not address social networking while driving and instead focus on texting. However, places like Illinois do ban cellphone use while driving. Illinois laws include the following:

  • No handheld device may be used while driving
  • Hands-free technology is permitted
  • All cellphone use is banned in school zones or highway construction zone
  • Novice drivers may not use a cellphone at all while driving

Drivers in Illinois who are caught using their phones while driving may be fined $75. The ban is considered a primary law, which means that law enforcement can pull over a driver simply for using the device without any other infraction present.

A fine may be the least of a driver’s worries following a distracted driving incident. Too often, these accidents cause serious injury and even death. Anyone with questions regarding this matter should consult with a Chicago car accident lawyer.


What does pain and suffering compensation cover?

A beautiful broken hearted multiracial girlRecently, a large pharmaceutical company was ordered to pay more than $2.3 million in damages to a consumer who took diabetes medication. According to Bloomberg Business, the man alleged that the drug caused his bladder cancer. More than $300,000 of the award was earmarked for medical expenses, leaving $2 million for the pain and suffering associated with the cancer diagnosis. Across the country and in Illinois, thousands of people have filed suit against the manufacturer.

As a personal injury lawyer in Chicago may have seen, pain and suffering is a damage that personal injury claims typically cover. Understanding what it covers and how it is compensated is key to putting together a strong case.

Anatomy of a personal injury lawsuit

According to the United States Courts, there were more than 63,000 personal injury lawsuits filed in district courts in 2013. That number reflects a nearly 11 percent increase over the number of claims filed in 2012. While the most common lawsuits stem from car accidents, there are a number of other events that can lead to a claim, such as medical malpractice, a defective product or a dog bite.

These claims cover a variety of damages, such as the quantifiable costs associated with property damage, lost wages or medical bills. As a personal injury lawyer in Chicago knows, pain and suffering is often the leading non-quantifiable damage for which a court gives compensation.

Defining pain and suffering

There are two types of pain and suffering that a court recognizes: physical and mental. Physical pain and suffering is the actual feeling of pain tied to a plaintiff’s injuries, starting from the time of the incident and extending into the future.

Mental pain and suffering refers to the feelings that plaintiffs suffer as a result of their physical condition. This can include experiences such as the following:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression and mental anguish
  • Fear, anger or humiliation
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Mood swings

Generally, mental pain and suffering damages cover any negative emotion associated with the victim’s injuries. These are also awarded based on past, current and future experiences.

Calculating the damages

Unlike medical bills or lost wages, pain and suffering does not have a monetary number assigned to it. Therefore, a judge or jury is often left to using common sense to establish how much the damage is worth. In many cases, the amount awarded is based on a multiplier of between 1.5 and 4. In other words, the court will multiply the amount of quantifiable damages by this number to ascertain how much will be given for pain and suffering.

There is no set method a court will use to determine non-quantifiable damages. People who have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence should consult with a personal injury lawyer in Chicago.

Where are a tractor trailer’s blind spots located?

pSunsetOverFourLane_Depositphotos_13321058_mWith so many tractor trailers filling the streets of Chicago, motorists are forced to share the road with massive commercial trucks. These big rigs can weigh up to 80,000 pounds and pose a serious risk to other drivers on the road. While motorists may have little time to react to a distracted, drunk or otherwise reckless truck driver, there are some things motorists can do to minimize the likelihood of a collision. An Illinois truck accident attorney knows that one of the easiest things that motorists can do is stay out of truck driver blind spots.

What are blind spots?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration started referring to tractor trailer blind spots as ‘no-zones’ in order to educate motorists on these deadly areas. These no-zone areas are located around the large truck and occur when the truck driver loses sight of other passing vehicles. When motor vehicles linger in no-zone areas, truck drivers are more likely to switch lanes or sideswipe into another vehicle.

Where are they located?

Tractor trailers have larger blind spots than most other vehicles, according to the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance. If a motorist cannot see the truck driver’s face in the side mirror of the semi, then the truck driver most likely cannot see the motorist.

The no-zones are located on all four sides of the tractor trailer, with the biggest blind spots occurring in the back and on the right-side of the truck. In order to steer clear from these areas, the American Trucking Association recommends the following:

  • Motorists should avoid following a commercial truck too closely and should stay at least four seconds or 25 car lengths behind a truck. Trucks may have to stop suddenly and a motorist following too closely may rear end the semi.
  • Motorists who wish to pass a large truck should do so quickly and on the left-hand side of the truck. This side has the smallest no-zone and is generally the passing lane.
  • Motorists should never pull out in front of a large truck. They should wait until they see the entire front of the truck before changing lanes, a fact known by an Illinois truck accident attorney. The truck may not see the motorist or could rear-end the vehicle, as tractor trailers require a longer stopping distance than cars.
  • Motorists should never linger in a lane on either side of a truck, especially on the right side. It is best to quickly and carefully pass the truck if possible.

Motorists should keep in mind that tractor trailers do not have a rear view mirror, as it would only show the drivers their trailer. Truckers depend on their side mirrors to see around their big rig.

Negligent truck operators who drive in a reckless fashion are at risk of causing a catastrophic truck accident. The victims of these accidents may want to consider seeking legal counsel from an Illinois truck accident attorney.

Why do drivers tailgate?

pThreeWayCarCrash_6997880_sMillions of American drivers tailgate on a daily basis. While most law enforcement officers will not pull drivers over for practicing this faulty driving behavior, a car accident lawyer in Illinois knows that tailgating may result in serious car accidents, injuries and even fatalities. In fact, a study conducted by Drivecam, Inc. found that motorists who follow the car in front of them with less than 2 seconds of stopping time are at an extremely high risk of causing an accident. So, why do motorists drive so closely to the car in front of them?

Reasons for tailgating

Whether a driver is distracted or drowsy, Infinity Auto states that there are many reasons why people tailgate. They list the following types of tailgaters:

  • Drivers who are distracted by other things going on in the vehicle may follow too closely. This includes motorists who are texting, eating, drinking, looking for items in the car or talking to other passengers in the vehicle.
  • Drivers who are running late or are normally in a rush to get where they are going may sneak up too close to the car in front of them. Motorists should understand that this close following behavior will not get them to their destination any faster.
  • Drivers who simply have a bad habit of tailgating can be found driving too close to other vehicles for virtually no reason.

Many chronic tailgaters are unaware of their bad driving behaviors and the devastating consequences of following too close, according to Smart Driving.

Ways to avoid a tailgating accident

People who are notorious tailgaters should consciously practice keeping a safe distance behind the vehicle in from of them. Generally, drivers can calculate a safe driving distance by leaving a three second gap between cars. This can be determined by starting to count when the first car passes a marker. The second car should not reach the same marker for at least three seconds. The distance can also be measured by staying at least 10 feet behind the first vehicle for every 10 mph the car is traveling. For example, a car driving 60 mph should stay about 60 feet behind the leading vehicle.

Motorists who have a tailgater behind them should never slam on their brakes, a fact known by a car accident lawyer in Illinois. Although angry drivers may be tempted to tap their brakes as a way to tell the tailgating car not to follow so closely, doing so can cause a collision. Drivers should try to switch to another lane and let the impatient driver pass. In a situation where the driver cannot switch lanes, motorists should leave a greater distance between their car and the vehicle in front of them. Slower drivers may want to stay in the right-hand lane to avoid a collision.

A motorist who is rear-ended may be left with serious physical and emotional trauma. Some may need the legal assistance of a car accident lawyer in Illinois.

Slip-and-falls often result in long-term injury

Unemployed and divorced woman with debts reviewing her monthly billsNot only can slip-and-fall accidents cause immediate scratches, bruises and pain, they also have the potential of causing serious injuries. These injuries can last long beyond the initial incident, and may require on-going medical care, physical therapy and medication. Icy sidewalks, cluttered store entrances and even unattended spills can cause a myriad of problems when someone falls because of another person’s negligence. Here are just a few of the devastating injuries that a personal injury attorney in Chicago is familiar with.

Traumatic brain injuries

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injury in the U.S. Approximately 40 percent of all TBI cases stem from a fall accident. A personal injury attorney in Chicago knows that brain injuries occur when a sudden impact causes soft brain tissue to hit against the skull, like when a person’s head hits against a hard surface after a fall. TBIs can range in severity from minor cases to severe, permanent trauma depending on the force of impact. The slip-and-fall victim may experience mild symptoms, such as headaches, dizziness, blurred vision and confusion, or extreme effects, including slurred speech, trouble communicating, visual dysfunction, mood swings or memory loss.

Broken bones and persistent pain

Whether an accident victim has a simple break or a complicated fracture, broken bones can lead to persistent pain if the break fails to heal properly. Acute pain, which occurs immediately after the break, and sub-acute pain that happens while the bone is healing are both a normal part of the recovery process. Some people, however, may experience chronic pain that continues long after the bone is healed, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. This may be caused by nerve damage, the formation of scar tissue or underlying arthritis. Victims of persistent pain may have to undergo continuing physical therapy and pharmaceutical treatment.

Neck and back injuries

There are many types of necks and back injuries that can occur from a slip-and-fall accident, including herniated discs, broken vertebrae, muscle tears and spinal cord damage. In some cases, back injuries can take months or years to develop after the initial incident occurred, according to the Mayo Clinic. The fall could cause a dislocated vertebral disc, which may lead to further issues months later.

In some severe cases, fractured or dislocated vertebrae can cause nerve damage. When nerves are pinched or severed completely, the brain’s motor and sensory signals are interrupted. This may affect a person’s ability to control his or her muscles, including legs, arms, bladder and bowel muscles. More than one-quarter of all spinal cord injuries are caused by falls, as reported by the Mayo Clinic.

In a split moment, a slip-and-fall accident can change the course of a person’s life forever. A personal injury attorney in Chicago may be able to help injured victims receive compensation.

Will FMCSA clearinghouse lower truck accidents?

clash truck and carTruck drivers must plan ahead and precisely execute maneuvers to avoid accidents. When these drivers are impaired, the consequences can be devastating, as any truck accident lawyer in Illinois knows. To address impaired driving accidents, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has proposed creating a clearinghouse for commercial drivers. This clearinghouse would enable companies to easily learn whether commercial driver’s license holders have violated drug and alcohol policies.

Current policies

At present, FMCSA-regulated companies must check each driver’s records prior to hiring the driver. The FMCSA also requires these companies to conduct random drug and alcohol testing. One-tenth of drivers must be tested for alcohol use each year, and half must be tested for drug use. Furthermore, companies must perform drug and alcohol tests in the following situations:

  • When new drivers are hired
  • When a supervisor believes a driver is under the influence
  • After a driver has been involved in a serious accident

As any truck accident lawyer in Illinois understands, these measures may not detect every case of substance use. In 2013, 2,095 commercial drivers were removed from service during roadside inspections for alcohol policy violations. An additional 1,240 were placed out-of-service for violations of controlled substances policies.

Unfortunately, no database currently contains information on every driver’s prior drug and alcohol policy violations. This leaves trucking companies vulnerable to hiring drivers with a known history of risky behaviors.

Proposed changes

The proposedFMCSA clearinghousewould indicate each time that a commercial driver failed a drug or alcohol test. Refusals to take these tests would also be recorded. Additionally, employers could use the clearinghouse to check whether drivers have received substance abuse treatment and can resume work.

The FMCSA would require drug-testing facilities and medical professionals that the FCMSA oversees to record failed or refused tests. Private drug testing facilities would also be required to share information.

Besides creating the clearinghouse, the FMCSA proposal would require all employers to check it before hiring new drivers. Employers would also have to conduct annual searches for any drug and alcohol violations by current drivers. Employers would not be able to search the clearinghouse without an employee’s permission. However, employees would lose eligibility to work as drivers if they refused to grant their consent.

Truck accident recourse

While this proposal may ultimately reduce accidents, it may not eliminate every crash involving an impaired truck driver. Sadly, these collisions often have the most devastating consequences for other road users. Anyone hurt in one of these crashes should consider discussing legal remedies with a truck accident lawyer in Illinois.


Improve your winter driving skills with these 4 tips

Snowy city roadIllinois has earned a reputation for its severe winter weather. This weather often brings frigid temperatures, low visibility and challenging road conditions. As any Illinois car accident attorney can attest, these conditions can greatly raise the risk of weather-related accidents. Fortunately, drivers can reduce this risk by making small adjustments to their driving habits.

1. Drive more deliberately

When roads are slick, sharp turns or sudden changes in speed can cause tires to lose traction. To maintain better control, drivers should accelerate and steer smoothly and slowly. Drivers should also eliminate hard braking, which can lead to slides.

To allow time for these deliberate maneuvers, drivers can increase their following distance. Drivers also should slow down to avoid traveling faster than surrounding traffic. As any Illinois car accident attorney knows, speed limits reflect speeds that are deemed safe during ideal conditions. Traveling at posted speed limits during inclement weather can be dangerous.

2. Effectively stop skids  

During winter, drivers also should be prepared for loss of traction. If a vehicle begins skidding, drivers should gently ease off of the accelerator or brake. Continued braking may lock up the brakes and worsen the slide. If the vehicle is skidding to one side, drivers should gently turn in the same direction. For example, if the rear of the car swings left, drivers should steer left. Gradual, careful movements allow drivers to regain control during skids.

3. Respect snowplows

Drivers should use caution when sharing the road with snowplows. Drivers should always leave extra space when approaching oncoming snowplows. Snowplow tips may cross into oncoming traffic lanes when clearing the center yellow lines. Drivers should also increase following distance behind snowplows and pass with care. Blowing snow can prevent drivers from seeing other vehicles ahead of the snowplow. Drivers should only pass when visibility is clear.

4. Use defensive driving

Finally, drivers should look ahead and proactively identify potential hazards. Larger vehicles, such as trucks, usually require more stopping distance in poor conditions. Shaded areas, including roads beneath bridges and overpasses, may be icy. After heavy snowfall, lane markings or signs may be obscured. During frigid weather or challenging driving conditions, vehicles that apparently are moving slowly may actually be stalled. Drivers should always project ahead and make plans to avoid potential hazards.

Unfortunately, these winter driving tips may not prevent accidents that occur because of the poor decisions of other motorists. If another driver acted negligently and caused a serious accident, injured motorists may have the right to seek compensation. An Illinois car accident attorney may be able to offer accident victims advice on the available legal remedies.


Older drivers: Are they a risk to others on the road?

Happy senior couple ready for driving a car on a journey trip - Concept of joyful active elderly lifestyle with man and woman enjoying their best yearsWhile many government programs have been tirelessly involved in reducing the number of teenage drivers involved in distracted driving accidents, little is currently being done to address an equally pressing issue of public safety: elderly drivers who are no longer fit to operate a vehicle. A car accident lawyer Berwyn may see several cases in their career involving elderly drivers who should no longer be behind the wheel. According to USA Today, health and safety officials contend that as more of the younger generations age, those who refuse to stop driving despite an inability to do so safely will become one of the greatest risks to motorists on the roads.

Abundant examples of dangerous elderly drivers

A Lake In the Hills bank was recently in serious need of repair following an accident involving an elderly driver. The 85-year old woman accidentally crashed her car into the bank and pushed a window for two feet before bringing the vehicle to a stop. One bank employee was taken to the hospital for treatment of minor back pain in connection with the crash. According to the NBC Chicago, the woman told law enforcement officers that she was trying to park her car at the bank when she accidentally accelerated instead of braking. Driver confusion is thought to be a major contributing factor in the accident.

Telling statistics

The American Automobile Association’s Foundation for Traffic Safety recently performed a study in conjunction with the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburg in which they found that fatality and injury rates for drivers rises after they reach the age of 65. When they reach 75-84, their fatality rates become equal to those seen with teenage drivers. Elderly fatality rates actually increase to four times that seen in teens when the drivers are over the age of 85. Road safety analysts believe that by 2030, elderly drivers will be so numerous that they cause or contribute to 25 percent of fatal crashes every year.

Illinois laws

Illinois currently has laws in place that are aimed at protecting motorists without infringing on the freedoms of many older drivers. Motorists between the ages of 69 and 80 are required to renew their license every 4 years. Drivers between 80 and 86 must renew every 2 years, and drivers over the age of 87 must do so annually. All renewals must be done in person for those over the age of 74, and motorists who are 75 or older have to pass a road test to receive their license.

Seeking help following an accident

Those who have been injured in an accident involving older drivers should contact a car accident lawyer in Berwyn for assistance in their matters. An attorney may help their clients receive the compensation and closure that they need following an injury accident.

Brain injuries: serious and long-lasting

pDistraughtManOnSteps_9366984_mBrain injuries are some of the least understood conditions among medical professionals. A slip-and-fall Chicago attorney often sees the effects of these accidents and understands just how severe they can be. This common injury can range from a mild concussion that heals after a few days to a completely disabling traumatic brain injury that affects an individual for the rest of his or her life.  Despite new advances in research, doctors still know very little about how to help these injuries heal or why some individuals with seemingly similar injuries display a wide array of symptoms.

About brain injuries

A brain injury can result from many different types of trauma to the head. The most severe form of the condition, a traumatic brain injury, occurs when a sudden movement causes the brain to become bruised. This can be caused by a direct impact to the head, by an object penetrating the skull or from the brain rebounding against the inside of the skull. Any of these injuries can have devastating, life-long consequences, including cognitive impairment or an inability to walk or talk. Some people are so affected by their brain injury that they are permanently disabled.

Slip-and-falls and brain injury

Slip-and-fall accidents can seem deceptively minor but have life-long or fatal consequences when they result in a head injury. Injured individuals may have no idea just how serious their condition is until they see a doctor for treatment of minor symptoms such as headaches or blurred vision. The brother of Camilla Parker Bowles, England’s Duchess of Cornwall, and Prince Charles’ brother-in-law recently had a slip-and-fall accident-related brain injury that proved fatal. According to the New York Daily News, the man was simply standing on a New York sidewalk when he slipped and fell, smashing his head on the pavement. First responders reported that he was alert and complaining of head pain but doing well. He was taken to a local hospital where he took a turn for the worse and died the following day.

Common tragedies

A slip-and-fall Chicago attorney knows that the tragedy the English Royal Family experienced is a common occurrence for many families in Illinois and throughout the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 2.5 million emergency room visits, deaths and hospitalizations are attributed to brain injuries annually and the condition claims more than 50,000 lives every year in the U.S. Falls account for 40.5 percent of these brain injuries every year, making them the leading cause of the condition.

Those who have sustained serious brain injuries in slip-and-fall accidents should contact a slip and fall Chicago attorney immediately. With the help of an attorney, accident victims can receive the compensation that they require in order to receive necessary treatment for their long-lasting condition.

4 ways to avoid a truck accident

trucks in opposite directions on freewayCommercial trucks are some of the largest, and therefore most dangerous, vehicles that travel Illinois’ roads. When they are involved in accidents, the results are often devastating. Regular passenger vehicles simply cannot withstand the force of an impact with a tractor trailer or other commercial truck, the results of which are well-known to any truck accident lawyer Arlington Heights. Motorists should, for this reason, remember the following tips in order to avoid being involved in a collision with a truck.

1. Remember no zones

Large trucks have “no zones”, or blind spots, which prevent truckers from clearly seeing all around the vehicle. These blind areas include the front, back and certain spots on the sides of a truck. When motorists are engaged in distracted driving and fail to stay out of these no zones, a trucker has no way to know that they are there. Truckers may thus attempt to move into the same area while changing lanes or making a turn. To identify a no-zone, motorists simply need to determine whether they can see truck drivers in the trucks’ mirrors. If a motorist is unable to see a trucker, the trucker cannot see the motorist either.

2. Prevent squeeze

A truck accident lawyer in Arlington Heights often sees the effects that “squeezing” can have on a car. This term is used to describe what happens when a truck initiates a turn but a motorist attempts to sneak in and pass the truck before it completes the turn. Some motorists are unaware that trucks require a large turning radius and think they should take the opportunity to pass these slower vehicles. When this risky driving behavior occurs, the passenger vehicle is often squeezed between the side of the commercial truck and the curb in an accident that can easily be fatal. Simply being patient and allowing trucks to execute their turns will prevent this type of accident from occurring.

3. Maintain appropriate following distance

Although this principle holds true for all driving, motorists should pay particular attention to how closely they follow a truck. Commercial vehicles weigh 20 to 30 times more than regular passenger cars and take much more time to stop. If motorists do not want to slam into the back of a truck, they should always maintain a three second following distance.

4. Pass appropriately

One of the easiest ways to be involved in a truck accident is to cut off a trucker. Before passing, drivers should make sure that they can clearly see the front of the truck to ensure that the large vehicle will have enough time to stop if necessary.

When motorists fail to follow these four tips, they are more likely to be involved in a truck collision. Those who have been involved in any kind of truck accident should contact a truck accident lawyer in Arlington Heights immediately to learn their rights and how to proceed with a claim.

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