Being involved in an accident is scary. Often, you will need to seek medical treatment for your injuries after the accident and the medical bills to treat your injuries can quickly add up. You may even consider putting off medical treatment until you figure out how your medical bills will get paid. While it is not a good idea to delay your medical treatment, there are several options to deal with medical bills while you receive treatment for your injuries. Continue reading
Dangerous Car Accidents Are On The Rise
A recent study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has shown that in the last year, more drivers are participating in dangerous driving activities, such as speeding, running red lights, and driving under the influence of alcohol. Data from the study shows that 24% more drivers drove while under the influence of alcohol from 2020 to 2021, 13% more drivers drove after an hour of consuming cannabis, 10% more drivers drove through a red light, and 12% more drivers drove 15 miles-per-hour over the speed limit when on the highway.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), traffic fatalities have risen since the beginning of the COVD-19 pandemic. The NHTSA estimated that 42,915 people died in motor vehicle accidents in 2021, an increase of 10.5% from 2020.
Why Do I Need to Notify My Insurance When I Wasn’t at Fault?
Often, our clients ask why they need to notify their insurance company of the motor vehicle accident when they weren’t at fault. They are concerned that notifying their insurance company of the collision will raise their insurance rates and negatively impact them in the future. Even if you weren’t at fault in causing the motor vehicle collision, there are several reasons why you should notify your insurance company.
First, your insurance company may require you to notify them of an accident regardless of whether you were at fault or not. Different insurance companies have different notice requirements, including the time frame of when notice must be given and whether notice must be given in writing. If you fail to comply with your insurance company’s notice requirements, there may be adverse consequences, including your insurance company dropping your insurance or an inability to bring an uninsured or underinsured claim. Continue reading
Accidents Caused by Lost or Falling Cargo
Every vehicle has experienced the occasional rock or road debris striking their windshield. While the resulting damage is usually minor and covered by auto insurance, what happens when you encounter a dangerous road hazard such as fallen semi-truck cargo? If the cargo in a commercial truck is not properly loaded or secured, the cargo can shift in transit, causing the driver to lose control and tip over. Falling cargo can act as a projectile and penetrate the windshield of a trailing vehicle resulting in serious bodily injury or even death.
According to AAA, over a period of three years, more than 200,000 accidents were caused by falling debris. Approximately 25,000 crashes and 80-90 deaths occur in the United States each year. Traveling at a high rate of speed increases the risk of cargo falling from vehicles but decreases other drivers’ ability to react to hazards created by the airborne debris or debris on the roadway. More than one-third of all deaths reported in the study occurred when a driver swerved to avoid the falling debris. Overcorrecting at the last minute to avoid debris also increased a driver’s risk of losing control of their vehicle and making a bad situation even worse.
Hit and Run Collisions on the Rise
While leaving a Christmas party in Orland Park, Illinois in December 2019, school teachers Rone Leja and Elizabeth Kosteck were struck by a 2016 Buick Regal in a parking lot. The high-impact collision caused Ms. Leja to suffer fatal injuries, and Ms. Kosteck to suffer serious injuries. The driver of the 2016 Buick Regal was a 73-year-old retired priest named Paul Burak. Mr. Burak was also a guest at the Christmas party. Mr. Burak had consumed alcohol that night, but he told partygoers he was ‘fine’ to drive. According to a prosecutor subsequent trial, Mr. Burak thought he backed into a curb when he struck the two women, before he drove away down a service road. A witness followed him in his car and requested that Mr. Burak return to the scene. Paul Burak is due in court again this month to face his punishment for striking and killing Rone Leja with his vehicle. The attorney for the Leja family spoke with the Chicago Sun Times, calling what happened to Leja a ‘senseless death’ that could have been easily prevented. Continue reading
The Dangers of Hungover Driving
We all know the dangers of drinking and driving. But what about getting behind the wheel the morning after a night of heavy drinking? The average person can break down a single unit of alcohol — a 12-ounce beer, 5 ounces of wine or a 1.5-ounce shot — in about an hour. (Bear in mind that bars and restaurants may serve you more than a single unit of alcohol per drink.)
One hour to break down one standard drink is an estimate for the average person, but not everyone breaks down alcohol at the same rate. There are several factors which affect how quickly your body breaks down alcohol, including your height, weight, gender, age and metabolism, whether you were eating, and whether you take medications that affect the absorption of alcohol. Ultimately, the only thing that can actually reduce your blood alcohol content is time. Late nights and excessive drinking lead to painful mornings and the dreaded effects of a hangover.
Distracted Driving Update: Car Accidents Involving Distracted Drivers are on the Rise
In November of 2019, Alexandra Mansonet was on her way to work at a New Jersey non-profit at around 8:30 a.m., when she smashed into the back of a parked Toyota Corolla. The Corolla subsequently shot forward and struck a pedestrian, Yuwen Wang, which sent her flying into the air. Ms. Wang had just said goodbye to her husband for the day as she went out for her morning walk. Following the collision, she was transported to the hospital and died several days later. Ms. Mansonet told police that she looked up to see the Corolla right in front of her as she was driving. She admitted that she was texting and driving at the time of the collision.
The prosecution equated the crime of her distracted driving with that of someone who had been drinking and driving. People seemingly check their phones and send text messages while driving all the time, but according to Cambridge Mobile Telematics, distracted driving can actually be more dangerous than drunk driving. Drunk drivers need about four more feet added to their stopping reaction time than non-distracted sober drivers. However, a distracted sober driver (for example, someone who is texting) needs about 70 more feet to look up and realize what is going on. Continue reading
Pedestrian Accidents Rising Across the Country
Last month, 10-year-old Srijan Panthi and his mother, Mina Panthi, were hit by a city garbage truck in Corona, Queens, New York at around 7 a.m. on their way to school. The garbage truck was pulling out of a commercial driveway and making a right turn when it struck Mina and Srijan. According to a local resident, there was a stoplight at the intersection where the truck turned, but there was no dedicated crosswalk sign for pedestrians. Because there was no crosswalk sign, authorities had difficulty determining who had the right-of-way.
After the accident, the truck driver stayed at the scene, but no charges were filed against him. However, he was suspended from work immediately following the fatal events of the morning. Mina and Srijan were taken to a nearby emergency room. Mina survived, with serious injuries, but Srijan was pronounced dead four hours later. Continue reading
The De Minimis Rule in Trip and Fall Premises Liability Cases in Illinois
What is the De Minimis Rule?
There are several nuances to premises cases, especially trip and fall cases caused by defective pavements. One of the nuances to a premises case is the de minimis rule. Under the de minimis rule, liability for the defendant generally attaches for sidewalk defects approaching two inches in height. Birch v. City of Quincy, 241 Ill. App. 3d 119, 121 (1993), Harris v. Old Kent Bank, 315 Ill. App. 3d 894, 900 (2000). Courts are hesitant to find a defendant liable for sidewalk or pavement deviations less than two inches in height because the de minimis rule was originally intended to protect [defendants] from the burden of having to monitor and maintain great lengths of sidewalk in perfect condition. Id.
“Whether a height variance between two sidewalk slabs is de minimis depends on all of the pertinent facts, and there is no simple standard to separate de minimis defects from actionable ones. St. Martin v. First Hospitality Group, Inc., 2014 IL App (2d) 130505 ¶14 (quoting Arvidson v. City of Elmhurst, 11 Ill. 2d 601, 604 (1957)). Illinois has held that, although a displacement of two inches in a residential area is actionable, a variation of only 1 1/8 inches is de minimis. Id. However, the de minimis rule’s application depends upon multiple factors, such as heavy foot traffic, distractions, and congestion. Id. at ¶ 19. Continue reading
Uber Self-Driving Vehicle Hits and Kills Pedestrian
Last week, a self-driving vehicle operated by Uber struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona. Uber’s car, which was utilizing an autonomous mode, similar to Tesla’s autopilot feature, struck and killed the pedestrian, Elaine Herzberg, around 10 p.m. At the time of the incident, there was a driver at the wheel, but the Uber car did not have any passengers. Even though the car was a self-driving car, a driver was at the wheel to take over in case the car’s autonomous system failed.
The fatal accident occurred as Ms. Herzberg was walking her bicycle across the street. The street she was crossing did not have a crosswalk and the speed limit was 45 miles-per-hour. At the time of impact, Uber’s car was going about 40 miles-per-hour. Initially, the driver of the Uber vehicle, stated that Ms. Herzberg “darted” out in front of the Uber vehicle and as a result, the driver was not able to stop the vehicle in time to avoid hitting her. However, video from the accident, which contains both interior and exterior views, shows that Ms. Herzberg was more than halfway across the road at the time of impact and that driver at the wheel of the Uber was looking down and not looking at the road at the time of the accident. Continue reading