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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.

3 code violations that can lead to a slip-and-fall accident

dead manA personal injury attorney in Chicago understands that whenever people step foot outside, they are placing their lives in the hands of the individuals and businesses all around them. When these people fail to properly maintain their properties, injuries and fatalities are often the result.

Code violations occur when buildings and the properties on which they sit are not constructed or maintained according to municipal, state and federal codes. These codes are used to ensure that every building that people may use is safe and habitable. Unfortunately, some businesses or other property owners fail to properly maintain these structures. Others may choose to save money in the building process by forgoing necessary safety features. Many of these violations can cause life-altering accidents, including slip-and-falls. The following three code violations are particularly dangerous and may greatly contribute to slip-and-fall accidents.

1. Improperly built stairs

Stairs have a significant number of codes associated with their construction due to their high potential for falls. Virtually all codes state the need for handrails at certain heights and at certain widths. When these details are neglected they can cause patrons to slip and fall, even if nothing else was improperly constructed or maintained. Additional potentially dangerous code violations include improper stair height and depth, uneven stairs, broken or crumbling steps, and rotting wooden stairs.

2. Inadequate lighting

Property owners are required to provide adequate lighting for those in or around their buildings. When people cannot see potential obstacles all around them due to dim or missing light, they can easily become injured in a slip-and-fall accident. Areas that must be lighted include hallways, entry ways, stairwells, common areas and parking lots or garages. When inspectors discover these lighting code violations, they often give property owners no more than three days to remedy the situation. A personal injury attorney in Chicago knows that when landlords and property owners fail to act appropriately in these situations, many people may be injured.

3. Pooling downspouts

In Illinois’ warmer months, pooling downspouts are often more of an annoyance than a danger. However, as the temperature drops these pools of rainwater can freeze into large, slick patches of ice. Under Illinois code, property owners may be held liable for damages caused by slip-and-falls due to these frozen puddles.

Slip-and-fall accidents can lead to serious life-long injuries, including traumatic brain injury and broken bones. Those who have suffered these or other injuries due to code violations should contact a personal injury attorney in Chicago immediately. With their assistance, injured parties may be able to recover damages for their injuries and associate future medical expenses.

Delays in recall repairs cost lives

Explosion  a car on the roadWhen manufacturers build vehicles, they must adhere to specific laws and guidelines to ensure that their vehicles are the safest they can possibly be. Unfortunately, these laws are often not enough, and serious vehicle defects create potentially fatal situations for many motorists and pedestrians all around them.

A Chicago Auto Accident Lawyer understands these defects are a relatively common occurrence in the automotive industry. While many are minor, some can be deadly. U.S. regulators began an investigation in 2010 which was aimed at determining the cause behind fires in Jeep SUVs. Investigators concluded that 51 deaths were linked to crashes in which rear-mounted fuel tanks ignited in rear-end collisions. In 2013, the manufacturer of these vehicles issued a recall, yet repairs have only recently begun for affected cars.

How recalls work

Recalls only occur when a company voluntarily issues notice of potential injury to customers, or following an investigation by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, the U.S.’s primary regulator. Unfortunately, the NHTSA fails to meet its own deadlines in 70 percent of cases. This can greatly prolong the recall process. After an investigation results in a recommendation for a recall, the automaker may opt to fight the recall in court if they feel it is unwarranted. This can significantly add to the time it takes to repair these dangerous vehicles.

Low rates of repair

Even after a recall has been issued to owners it can take years for manufacturers to actually fix the vehicles. A Chicago auto accident lawyer understands delays are exacerbated when manufacturers cannot or will not timely find or create necessary parts. Despite the potential for further fatalities, regulators rarely force manufacturers to adhere to a strict deadline for repairs. The NHTSA has linked over 4,500 crashes with 1,600 injures and 20 fatalities to 279 separate recalls. Ultimately, both automakers and regulators are responsible for the delays that keep these dangerous recalled vehicles on the roads and cost lives.

A perfect storm for deadly accidents

According to the Wall Street Journal, preventable recall-related fatalities continue to occur due to these delays. One family lost their mother and father after the couple’s 2004 Jeep was rear-ended. The jeep was part of the gas tank recall, and exploded upon impact. Law enforcement officers report that the couple died due to a combination of burns and smoke inhalation. After their deaths, one of their sons found a notice from the car’s manufacturer stating that their vehicle had been recalled.

Those whose loved ones have died or were injured in an accident involving a recalled vehicle should contact a Chicago auto accident lawyer as soon as possible. With an attorney’s help, accident victims may be able to receive necessary compensation for their costs, healing and future medical expenses.

Rollover accidents are avoidable

Car accident CrashAccording to Mystateline.com, a Machesney Park, Illinois man was killed and his passenger was critically injured after a recent rollover accident. Rock County Police report that the 25-year old motorist lost control of his vehicle as he drove on I-90 near Janesville, causing the car to roll and collide with a nearby tree. He was pronounced dead at the hospital. His passenger, a 27-year-old man, was in serious condition following the accident.

A car accident attorney in Chicago understands that tragic rollover accidents are usually avoidable. In many instances, those injured and killed in these accidents may have had a different outcome if the drivers of these vehicles acted differently.

What causes rollovers?

Rollover car accidents are caused by a combination of driver actions, the vehicle, road conditions and environmental factors. According to Safecar.gov, vehicle type plays a significant role in whether or not these accidents are likely to occur. Taller, narrower vehicles like SUVs, vans and pickup trucks have higher centers of gravity and are thus more likely to be involved in rollovers. Other contributing factors include vehicle speed, alcohol use and location.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 40 percent of rollovers involve speeding and nearly half involve alcohol use. Three quarters of these accidents occur on rural roadways. Most importantly, over 90 percent of rollovers occur when drivers are making routine driving maneuvers, such as driving straight or going around a curve. Potentially deadly driver distraction may be a causal factor in these crashes as well.

Preventing rollovers

Any car accident attorney in Chicago should understand that drivers have the power to prevent rollover accidents from occurring in many situations. Motorists can take the following steps to reduce the likelihood that their vehicles will be involved in these accidents:

  • Avoid making sudden changes in speed if the vehicle starts to leave the road.
  • Ease the car back onto the correct path with small adjustments once it is safe to do so.
  • Maintain vehicle tire pressure. Improperly inflated or worn tires reduce a driver’s ability to control the vehicle and may increase slipping and sliding, particularly on slick surfaces.
  • Properly load vehicles, staying within the maximum load limits listed in the vehicle.

The key to preventing rollovers is avoiding strong steering maneuvers in potentially deadly situations. Motorists should learn how to drive on all road types to ensure that they are prepared in emergency situations.

Those who have been injured in a rollover accident may successfully seek compensation for their time away from work, medical bills, and the pain associated with their injuries. Injured individuals should contact a car accident attorney in Chicago for assistance with their matter.

Suspending truck safety regulations puts motorists at risk

Preparing for a longhaulIn the middle of February of this year, a tractor-trailer failed to come to a stop as traffic slowed on the Interstate 88 in Illinois. According to WIFR, the semi-truck rear-ended a Ford vehicle, which in turn ran into another car. As a result of the incident, the driver of the Ford was taking to the hospital with serious injuries.

As any truck accident attorney in Illinois knows, there are regulations in place that are intended to prevent such incidents from occurring. Unfortunately, some lawmakers are trying to change those guidelines for the worse.

By the numbers

The U.S. Department of Transportation delivers shocking trucking accident statistics, including that nearly 4,000 people lost their life in 2012 due to these incidents. Further, more than 100,000 people suffered an injury after a run-in with a tractor-trailer. The number of fatalities in 2012 reflect a 4 percent increase over the same number in 2011.

Driver fatigue

Many people in the trucking industry log long hours every week, which can lead to exhaustion. For this reason, lawmakers have put in place regulations to prevent fatigue. For example, under current rules, truckers can work up to 14 hours a day, which includes 11 hours of driving. However, someone who works 70 hours in a week must have a 34-hour rest period.

Some lawmakers are looking to increase that maximum workweek from 70 to 82 hours. Opponents claim this this increases the risk of driver fatigue. The U.S. Secretary of Transportation opposes the change, but the American Trucking Association calls the current rules “unjustified.”

Other factors behind accidents

Several factors in addition to fatigue explain why large trucks are involved in a substantial number of traffic incidents. Drinking and driving can play a role, though it is not as widespread as it is on other accidents. The DOT notes that when it comes to fatal accidents, only 2 percent of truck drivers had blood alcohol concentrations of .08 or higher. This is relatively low, as 23 percent of drivers in fatal passenger car accidents are inebriated.

Trucking accidents often occur due to the very nature of the large vehicle. Semis often hold heavy cargo, which can shift and cause an accident. As a truck accident attorney in Illinois has seen, these vehicles take a long time to come to a stop and can be difficult to negotiate over curvy roads. Other factors include the following:

  • Poor maintenance of the vehicle
  • Blind spots
  • Careless driving

These factors further illustrate why a truck driver should always be alert. Someone who is exhausted will have a slower reaction time to potential hazards.

Safety should be the driving factor behind any laws that are put in place. Anyone with questions regarding the matter should consult with a truck accident attorney in Illinois.

4 injury risks found on a construction site

builder worker installing concrete slabIn January of this year, a 45-year-old man died at a construction site in Chicago. According to The Chicago Tribune, the man was operating a crane on a high-rise residential building. He had leaned into a shaft and an elevator descended, pinning and crushing him. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has launched an investigation into the incident.

As any Chicago construction accident lawyer knows, there are four main threats present on any construction site. Understanding how to mitigate these risks can help workers remain safe.

  1. Falls

OSHA reports that in 2013, there were 4,405 construction workers killed due to suffering on the job injuries. The leading cause of these fatalities are falls, which accounted for nearly 37 percent of all deaths. The incidents can occur when a worker falls off a ladder, scaffold or platform, or it is classified as an event in which a worker falls into a hole or trench.

To prevent a fall, OSHA suggests using proper fall arrest equipment. Additionally, businesses should install and maintain proper protection around the perimeter of holes and floor openings.

  1. Struck by

The second leading cause of a construction site death is an event in which a worker is struck by something. A Chicago construction accident lawyer may have seen that these incidents often involve moving vehicles and equipment that hit and severely injures or kills a worker. Wearing brightly colored clothing can help to reduce the number of struck by accidents.

  1. Electrocutions

Electrocutions account for 8.9 percent of all fatal site accidents. This often occurs as a result of a missed utility line or workers who are too close to active wires. Someone may also be injured due to operating portable electric tools that lack proper insulation.

OSHA suggests that businesses can improve safety on a construction site through keeping workers aware of any electrical hazards present, including the following:

  • Overhead power lines
  • Utilities surrounding the project
  • Risks involved with those working on scaffolds and ladders

Further, experts recommend training workers on the what the requirements are for maintaining a safe distance from utility lines.

  1. Caught-ins and caught-betweens

A caught-in or caught-between incident refers to an accident in which a worker is pinned or stuck somewhere. This commonly occurs when a trench is unprotected or when a worker is operating a heavy construction vehicle. OSHA advises that all trenches should have an adequate protective system in place. Further, trenches or excavations should be protected through sloping, shield systems or shoring.

Anyone with questions regarding this matter should consult with a Chicago construction accident lawyer.

Older drivers could be impaired after just one drink

Senior woman alcoholic with a bottle of boozeIn 2014, researchers from the University of Florida tested how alcohol affects drivers from two different age groups. According to their report, the team reviewed how drinking a non-intoxicating amount of alcohol would impair the abilities of 25- to 35-year-olds and 55- to 70-year-olds. The results demonstrated that even just one drink had an adverse effect on older drivers.

As a Chicago auto accident attorney has seen, impaired driving can have fatal consequences. It is important for drivers to understand how alcohol may detract from their ability to operate a motor vehicle properly.

The effects of alcohol on driving

The University of Florida study intended to review how even low levels of alcohol could impair a driver. The participants involved had just one drink to produce a blood alcohol concentration of between 0.04 and 0.065 percent. In a controlled environment, researchers then assessed the participants’ abilities to maintain a constant speed and stay in their lane. Despite having a BAC of less than the legal limit of 0.08 percent, older drivers showed poorer precision and impairment.

Why it happens

Numerous studies have shown that older people have an increased sensitivity to alcohol. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, older Americans often suffer the effects of alcohol quicker than younger people due to several phenomenon that happen as people age. For example, there is less water in the body, which leads to a higher blood alcohol concentration. Additionally, older bodies tend to take longer to metabolize alcohol, which results in the substance remaining in the body longer.

Further, the DHHS reports that elderly people may be more sensitive to alcohol due to the following reasons:

  • Symptoms of health conditions such as memory issues, diabetes or liver problems are often exacerbated by alcohol.
  • Older adults often take medications that should not be combined with alcohol.
  • Tolerance wanes as people get older.

Many a Chicago auto accident attorney has probably seen what can happen when older people are unaware of the effects alcohol will have.

Putting the information to use

Experts note that the University of Florida study is an important reminder that impairment will begin at the very first drink. While this project focused on older drivers, people of all ages should walk away with the message that alcohol and driving do not mix. Drivers should take into consideration what they have eaten that day, what medications they are taking and how they tend to respond to alcohol.

Anyone with questions regarding this matter should consult with a Chicago auto accident attorney.

 

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.

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