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Common types of motorcycle injuries

pMotorcylistOnCurve_10260362_sA sharp rise in motorcycle injuries in Illinois recent years has motorcycle enthusiasts, lawmakers and a Chicago personal injury law firm looking for ways to reduce related injuries and fatalities in the state. According the Illinois Department of Transportation, 3,312 motorcyclists were injured in the state in 2012, an increase of 9.7 percent over the year prior. Furthermore, the number of overall motorcycle crashes in the state soared by an estimated 61 percent between 1997 and 2006, driving home the point that more must be done to minimize crashes and prevent associated injuries.

A study released by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration outlines the most common motorcycle injuries sustained during crashes. The results show that lower-extremity injuries, such as those to the feet or legs, are most common. Upper-extremity injuries and head injuries follow behind. While lower-extremity injuries were shown to be most prevalent, injuries to the head, chest and abdominal areas were generally the most severe. Here’s a closer look at some of the most common motorcycle injuries seen in the U.S.

Lower-extremity injuries

Generally, lower-extremity injuries are grouped into one of eight injury categories:

  • Foot
  • Ankle
  • Leg
  • Knee
  • Thigh
  • Hip
  • Pelvis
  • Other

While lower-extremity injuries are the most common type of injury sustained during motorcycle crashes, leg injuries are the most common type of lower-extremity injury, accounting for 44 percent of cases. Bone fractures within the leg are especially common, while soft-tissue injuries follow behind. Among motorcycle accident leg injuries, 95 percent resulted in a tibia or fibula fracture.  Three percent of all leg injuries were severe enough to warrant partial or complete leg amputations.

While lower-extremity injuries take a physical toll on riders, they also take a financial one. Motorcyclists affected by single lower-extremity injuries were billed an average of $20,745 in medical fees. When patients have more than one lower-extremity injury following an accident, that figure rises to approximately $56,288.

Upper-extremity injuries

Upper-extremity injuries, or those affecting the shoulders, arms or hands, are the second-most common type of motorcycle injury seen in U.S. level I and level II trauma centers. Forearm fractures are the most common upper-extremity injuries that result from motorcycle crashes. According to a study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, upper-extremity injuries account for about 35 percent of all motorcycle injuries. Shoulder girdle injuries are most common, while forearm fractures follow behind. Attorneys at a Chicago personal injury law firm know that while upper-extremity injuries don’t always prove fatal, they may result in substantial disabilities that affect the victim’s quality of life for months, years or even permanently. Additionally, while upper-extremity injuries are sometimes less severe than those affecting the head or lower extremities, they are more 1.82 times more apt to require rehabilitation following the initial hospital say.

Head and brain injuries

According to the NHTSA, head and brain injuries are the third most-common type of motorcycle injury seen at level I and level II trauma centers. Head and brain injuries are also generally the most severe type of motorcycle injury, because even when they don’t prove fatal, they can have tremendous physical and financial repercussions for the victim.

Traumatic brain injuries are especially concerning, and in some cases, result in permanent disability and impairment. Motorcycle crash survivors with brain injuries may face cognitive or learning impairment, or may experience nerve damage, concentration issues, emotional changes or any number of other side effects. Side effects experienced vary based on the severity of the TBI. All TBIs are grouped into one of four categories: severe, moderate, minor or potential. A study by NHTSA on motorcycle crash outcomes revealed that 34 percent of all TBIs sustained during motorcycle crashes were considered severe. TBIs were considered moderate in about 43 percent of all cases, mild in only 2.1 percent of cases, and potential in 22 percent of crashes.

The NHTSA study also covered costs associated with head, facial and brain injuries, and found that as the severity of the injuries increase, hospital charges increase 32 fold. The median spent on hospital visits for motorcyclists suffering from head injuries was $2,285. Those with head injuries that ranked 4 or 5 on what’s known as the Abbreviated Injury Scale, a system used to categorize injuries by severity, saw median hospital charges of $73,179. A similar spike was seen in hospital charges assessed to those suffering from TBIs. Hospitalized motorcyclists without TBIs spent an average of $2,461 on their hospital stays, while those facing severe TBIs were assessed an average of $31,979.

Injury prevention

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cite wearing a helmet as the single most effective motorcycle injury prevention method. Not only do helmets reduce the chances of death in a motorcycle accident by 37 percent, but they also reduce the risk of head injury by 69 percent.

Furthermore, as report released by NHTSA detailing the costs of injuries associated with different types of motorcycle crashes found that non-helmeted motorcycle riders accrued substantially higher hospital bills than helmet wearers. While there was some variation as to the extent of the difference, the organization ultimately concluded that hospital fees for non-helmet wearers were about 30 percent higher than for those wearing helmets. Attorneys at a Chicago personal injury law firm know that abiding by posted speed limits and avoiding aggressive driving behaviors also improve one’s chances of avoiding motorcycle crash injuries.

Motorcycle crashes are increasingly common in Illinois and across the U.S., and many victims of crash-related injuries find themselves facing significant physical and financial hardship. Those seeking additional information about motorcycle crash-related injuries should contact an attorney.

5 aggressive driving dangers that put others at risk

pThreeWayCarCrash_6997880_sAggressive driving behaviors continue to be of concern to Illinois motorists, as evidenced by a report released by the Illinois High School and College Driver Education Organization. According to the professional teaching organization, Illinois law enforcement officials receive more calls regarding aggressive and reckless driving behaviors than they do any other type of service request.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines aggressive driving as, “when individuals commit a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property.”  While nothing can be done to eliminate all risks associated with traveling Illinois roadways, injury lawyers in Chicago know that learning to identify these aggressive behaviors is a motorist’s best chance at staying safe. Here’s a look at five of the most common aggressive driving behaviors as well as tips on how to avoid them.

  1. Following too closely

Following too closely behind another vehicle, or tailgating, as it is often referred, is one of 12 common aggressive driving violations seen in the state of Illinois. According to the Illinois General Assembly, drivers of motor vehicles must not follow behind another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent given the speeds traveled, traffic on the roadway, and road conditions. The NHTSA recommends that drivers who are followed too closely make every attempt to avoid the aggressive driver. It is also advised that motorists avoid eye contact and refrain from making rude gestures or taking other actions that may invoke the ire of the aggressive driver.

  1. Improperly passing on the right

Illinois law states that a vehicle proceeding in the same direction as another vehicle must pass to the car’s left while maintaining a safe distance between vehicles. Motorists are not allowed to return to the right side of the road until they have safely cleared the overtaken vehicle. Additional stipulations prohibit drivers from leaving the pavement or the primarily traveled portion of the road while passing others. Injury lawyers in Chicago know that it can prove irritating to follow behind a slow driver traveling in the fast lane. However, doing so without taking additional action is a motorist’s best bet at avoiding an accident or angering an already reckless driver.

  1. Disobeying law enforcement

Failing to obey the directions of law enforcement is another common aggressive driving behavior in Illinois. State laws prohibit motorists from intentionally failing or refusing to comply with directions given by law enforcement, fire officials, crossing guards or anyone authorized to direct traffic.  Those convicted of this type of offense face mandatory fines of $150. Paying close attention to authorities on Illinois roadways is essential for avoiding this type of infraction. Motorists who see other drivers engaging in disobedient behavior are encouraged to place a call to the appropriate authorities. If possible, get a description of the aggressive driver’s vehicle, as well as his or her license number, location and direction of travel, if available.

  1. Failing to signal

Failing to properly use turn signals is a common aggressive driving behavior in Illinois and across the nation. According to NBC News, failing to signal accounts for more than 2 million accidents in the U.S. each year, which is more than twice the number of accidents attributed to distracted driving behaviors. Additionally, motorists were shown to either neglect using their turn signals entirely or fail to turn them off at an appropriate time in 48 percent of cases. Illinois laws dictate that motorists must signal their intent to turn left or right at least 100 feet before turning in a business or residential district. When turning outside of a business or residential district, signals must be used 200 feet prior to the turn.

  1. Speeding in School and Construction Zones

Speeding is a dangerous driving behavior under any circumstance, but it becomes even more so when the motorist speeds through a school or construction zone. The presence of a school zone indicates children are present in a given area, and motorists can’t rely on children to obey the rules of the road. Construction zones present additional hazards. Loud noises and irregular road patterns make it difficult for construction workers to remain aware of what’s around them, meaning it is largely up to other drivers in the road to maintain reasonable speeds in construction and school zones.

When facing aggressive drivers

When confronted with aggressive and reckless drivers on Illinois roadways, injury lawyers in Chicago know there are several steps drivers can take to avoid exacerbating the problem. NHTSA recommends first attempting to get out of the driver’s way. Additional courses of action include ignoring eye contact, refraining from making rude or obscene gestures, and reporting those engaging in dangerous driving behaviors to the proper authorities. Motorists are also advised to push pride aside when dealing with reckless drivers, and refrain from challenging them in any form. Finally, motorists who spot an aggressive driver and then see that driver in an accident down the road are advised to stop a safe distance from the crash scene. Once authorities arrive, let them know about the dangerous behaviors witnessed.

While there is only so much that can be done to avoid aggressive drivers on Illinois roadways, taking into account the aforementioned tips substantially lowers one’s chances of becoming an aggressive-driving crash statistic. Those who have been injured or lost a loved one due to the actions of an aggressive driver are advised to contact an attorney.

 

Speed cameras in Illinois: Can they reduce car accidents?

pRollOverB&W_shutterstock_78347797In 2012, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn sighed a bill into law allowing speed cameras to be placed in areas of the state that had more than 1 million residents. This requirement limited the placement of speed cameras to the city of Chicago. A new bill, filed by State Representative Jay Hoffman, would remove the population requirement from the law and allow these cameras to be placed anywhere in the state, should individual city governments choose to do so. However, according to KWQC, a local NBC affiliate, few in Illinois want to see an increase in their use even though significant evidence shows that these cameras can reduce speeding and thus reduce the incidence of serious accidents throughout the state.

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Suspending sleep rules for truckers puts others in danger

velocidad del camión. Camiones en entrega de la mercancíaOn July 1, 2013, federal regulations took effect that aimed to increase highway and traffic safety by reducing truck driver fatigue. Now, a Bloomberg report states that Congress may temporarily suspend the new rules as part of a budget agreement. The reversal comes up against strong opposition from both consumer activists and the U.S. Transportation Secretary, who believe allowing increased driving time would mean putting the public in danger in Illinois and on highways throughout the country. A Chicago truck accident lawyer understands that increased hours of service may mean more accidents.

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3 new driver technologies that could improve road safety

pTrafficJam_4603263_sCar accidents occur for many reasons, but one fact remains consistent: according to Edmunds.com, 90 percent of collisions are caused by driver error. This statistic has the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration pushing aggressively for the implementation of three technologies designed to override driver error and save lives. Under consideration are seatbelt interlocks, driver alcohol-detection systems and forward collision avoidance and mitigation systems. Every personal injury lawyer in Chicago knows the statistics regarding driving fatalities in Illinois. Many people in law enforcement and in the auto industry believe these technologies may lower the chances of injury or death while driving.

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Are you suffering from whiplash?

pDistraughtManCrash_21810631_sFollowing an auto accident in Illinois, and elsewhere, most people’s first thought is of their own safety, and that of their passengers. After checking to ensure that no one is visibly injured, people may be thankful that they seem to have made it through the collision unharmed. As a Chicago auto accident attorney knows, however, with some injuries, such as whiplash, it may not be immediately apparent that a person has been injured.

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Does Illinois’ law deter drivers from texting?

pTextingDriver_22185068_sThe use of cellular phones by drivers is almost commonplace in Chicago, and throughout Illinois. In January of 2014, however, a statewide ban on talking and texting while driving went into effect. Seeking to deter drivers from engaging in this dangerous, distracting behavior while operating motor vehicles, the ban’s aim is to cut down on distraction-related accidents. While passing the law is one thing, getting drivers to obey is quite another. That raises the question – are drivers listening?

Whether talking, texting, playing games, checking e-mails or taking pictures, using cellular phones can be one of the most significant distractions for motorists. As any car accident attorney in Chicago can confirm, these tasks may cause cognitive, visual and manual distraction, often all at the same time. Taking a driver’s attention off of the task of driving, eyes off of the road and hands off of the wheel can easily result in a motor vehicle accident.

Illinois’ talking and texting while driving ban

Under Chapter 625 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes, motorists are not permitted to use electronic communication devices while driving on Illinois roadways. As defined in the law, these devices include handheld cellular phones, mobile or portable computers, and handheld personal digital assistants. The use of global positioning systems and other navigation systems, however, are not prohibited. It may be considered an aggravated violation of this law when people who are talking or texting while driving are involved in auto accidents that cause serious injury or death.

Increased enforcement may help reduce use over time

Despite the law banning the use of handheld cellular phones for drivers, many continue to talk and text while driving, according to NBC Chicago. Although some motorists are not taking the law seriously, law enforcement is. NBC Chicago reported that, within the first three months, law enforcement officers in Chicago had issued more than 900 tickets for using handheld devices while driving.

Authorities in other areas have taken a softer approach, issuing more warnings than tickets. This, according to the State Chiefs of Police Executive Director, may be in order to allow time for people to become familiar with the new law. Over time, it is believed that more motorists will begin to obey the law. In all likelihood, this will contribute significantly to reducing distracted driving accidents, as any car accident attorney in Chicago knows.

Becoming involved in a car accident can have a devastating impact on people, and their families. As a car accident attorney in Chicago can attest, when distracted driving causes a collision, the motorist responsible could be held financially liable for the resulting damages. Working with an attorney may help those who have experienced this type of situation to understand their rights and options.

Why aren’t there standards set for all truck driving instructors?

pTruckDriverInRig_3953254_sFor drivers in Illinois, and elsewhere, sharing the roads with large commercial vehicles can be dangerous. In 2012 alone, more than 330,000 large trucks were involved in collisions, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. As any personal injury attorney in Chicago knows, the truck drivers themselves, as well as other drivers and passengers are often seriously injured or killed in such accidents. The prevalence of crashes involving commercial vehicles may be, at least in part, due to the lack of set training standards for truck driving instructors.

Formal training programs

Often, those seeking to obtain their commercial driver’s license, or CDL, will complete formal training programs. There are federally stipulated minimum requirements that people must meet in order to obtain this type of license. There are not, however, set standards for training programs and instructors. As such, the decision of what to teach aspiring commercial vehicle operators is largely up to the instructors themselves.

In general, there are three primary sources where truck drivers obtain their training. There are a number of private trucking schools in Illinois, and throughout the U.S. Additionally, a number of community colleges and public junior colleges also offer CDL training. The third source where people receive training to operate large trucks is through the carriers and companies themselves, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Training programs focus on minimum requirements, not safety

For the most part, formal training programs generally include three components – classroom instruction, off-road skills training and on-the-road instruction. Each of these components can be highly beneficial in preparing people to obtain their truck driving licenses. Their focus, however, is often on the information that potential truckers need to know to pass their written and skills driving tests. Sometimes, trainees may learn in simulators, instead of behind the wheel of actual commercial vehicles. As a personal injury attorney in Chicago can attest, all of these factors may contribute to truckers lacking understanding of important aspects regarding the safe operating their vehicles.

Federal standards require drivers to understand how poor health and fatigue can affect truck drivers. However, for the most part, they do not mandate that drivers have knowledge of the effects of other negligent driving actions. This includes engaging in secondary tasks, such as using cellular phones, while driving. As is the case with fatigue and health issues, these behaviors can, and often do, lead to trucking accidents.

The impact of collisions involving large commercial vehicles can be devastating for those involved, as a personal injury attorney in Chicago knows. People who are seriously injured in such accidents may require extensive medical treatment and care. Whether due to a lack of adequate training, or not, if a negligent driver caused the collision, he or she could be held financially liable. Those who have experienced situations such as this may benefit from seeking legal counsel and representation.

The hazards of overloaded trucks in Illinois

trucks in opposite directions on freewayTrucks are some of the most powerful, dangerous vehicles on U.S. roadways. These large commercial vehicles often dwarf other cars and trucks, most of which they would seriously damage in any accident. For this reason, trucks are heavily regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

One of the most important rules that the organization set forth was the prohibition on overloading trucks with cargo. Chicago truck accident attorneys know this practice is common among carrier companies who place profits above safety. They are often tempted to pack their vehicles to the max to decrease shipment expenses, and thus increase profits. However, this often leads to trucks that do not maneuver properly or that are prone to dangerous problems.

Preventable loss

New Jersey 101.5 reports that an 11-year-old New Jersey girl was recently killed when her school bus prematurely pulled into an intersection. A large commercial dump truck had the right-of-way, but should have had sufficient time to stop in order to avoid the collision. However, the truck was overloaded by 5,000 pounds. This, in combination with a defect in the brake system, caused the two vehicles to collide. Five other students were injured in the crash. Chicago truck accident attorneys understand that these preventable accidents often occur in Illinois.

Cause of the increased danger

According to Automotive Fleet, overloading is the number one danger for truckers and those around them. Overloaded vehicles have reduced emergency handling capability. Braking distance increases, and truck drivers often misjudge stopping distances for their heavier-than-normal vehicles. Depending on how loads are placed, trucks may experience a raised center of gravity as well. This dangerous condition can greatly increase the chances of the truck being involved in a rollover accident. Overloaded hauls are also more likely to shift while in transit, which can cause drivers to completely lose control.

Laws and regulations

Illinois law utilizes a formula to determine how much weight each vehicle can safely handle. According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, the maximum weight for trucks is dependent on the space between the outer axles and the number of axles on the vehicles. Carriers must also be sure to not overload one of their axles on a multi-axle truck. This can be as dangerous as overloading the entire vehicle. Additionally, no matter how large a vehicle is, even those with five and six axles, no truck may have a maximum weight greater than 80,000 lbs. However, carriers may petition for a permit to allow exceptions to these rules in certain situations.

Those who have been injured in a truck accident may have cause to receive compensation for their damages. Injured individuals should discuss their cases with Chicago truck accident attorneys to ensure that they have the best chance at a recovery.

The dangers of using prescriptions while working on a construction site

Dangerous PrescriptionsPrescription drug use in the U.S. has been climbing in recent years and seems to be on a trend with no end in sight. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nearly half of all Americans are taking at least one prescription medication for treatment of one or more conditions. While these drugs are being used legally and under the supervision of a doctor, their use may still create potentially dangerous situations at job sites.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are more than six million workers in the construction industry. This may indicate that as many as three million construction workers go to work every day while using prescription drugs. A Chicago construction accident lawyer understands that when construction workers come to job sites while under the influence of these drugs, they may be more prone to causing dangerous accidents.

Common side effects of prescriptions

While many drugs have minor or negligible side effects, some can cause workers to lose their ability to think clearly, work safely, or use proper judgment. Some of the most dangerous drugs for construction workers are among the most widely used in the profession: opioid pain relievers. The strenuous physical demands of construction often leave workers with constant aches and pains that they relieve by using these prescription drugs. According to Health.com, opioids often have the following side effects:

  • Confusion – changes in cognitive functioning may occur, causing decreased coordination and a “slower” feeling.
  • Drowsiness – As many as 60 percent of patients taking prescription pain killers experience an increase in sleepiness while first taking these medications or increasing their dose.
  • Brain fog and dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting

Other prescription medications may cause similar alarming side effects in construction workers. Allergy medications are notorious for causing drowsiness. Anticonvulsants, antidepressants, and corticosteroids may also cause side effects similar to many of those seen with opioid pain relievers.

Potential for danger

Construction sites are inherently dangerous places. Specialized tools and equipment must be handled with care to ensure that injuries or fatalities do not occur. Additionally, one person’s actions could put multiple lives in danger. When prescription medications are in play, they may cause a serious decline in construction workers’ ability to safely operate machinery, work with specific tools, or use safe judgment. A Chicago construction accident lawyer knows that these errors can have tragic consequences.

Those who have been injured in a construction accident should immediately contact a Chicago construction accident lawyer. With their assistance, injured claimants may receive compensation for their injuries, including medical bills, time away from work, and pain and suffering.

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