Articles Posted in Car Accident

Route 53 has notoriously been a dangerous highway for motor vehicle drivers, but the construction being completed there may soon alleviate the number of serious accidents. Last week marked the expected half-way point for the Illinois Department of Transportations (IDOT) Route 53 construction project, which began on August 29, 2011, and has an anticipated end date of October 17, 2013. Originally slated to end sooner, the project has been plagued with various setbacks, including several heat waves (effecting the ability to pour concrete) and a brief hiatus for the Labor Day holiday. Of course, drivers’ safety, however invaluable, does not come cheaply: this project will cost roughly $45 million.

The portion of Route 53, also known as Rohlwing Road, subject to construction consists of 4.1 miles running from Army Trail Road to the Elgin O’Hare Expressway. IDOT hopes that the project will reduce the congestion, which has plagued this stretch of road in recent years, leading to multiple car accidents and fatalities. Similarly aimed construction commenced on Butterfield Road (Route 56) in DuPage on June 1, 2011. The Rohlwing Road construction will include a second lane added in both directions and the intersections at Army Trail Road, Lake Street, and Irving Park Road will be improved to include additional through lanes, left turn lanes, barrier medians, and modernized traffic signals. As part of the project, part of Army Trail Road will also be reconstructed. A report released by the Addison Police Department showed that car accidents at the intersection of Route 53 and Army Trail Road had increased by 28% from the year 2009 to 2010; the intersection of Route 53 and Lake Street had increased by a remarkable 58%. These troubling statistics no doubt reinforced IDOT’s decision to commence construction.
Continue reading

Reckless driving in Illinois carries stiff criminal and civil penalties. Reckless driving poses a danger to drivers, pedestrians, and innocent passengers on Naperville Roads. Too often, reckless driving causes significant injuries. Recently, a Macon County Sheriff’s Deputy was arrested by Decatur, Illinois police for reckless driving that resulted in serious and permanent injuries to an innocent driver. To deter reckless driving, a criminal court may impose a variety of severe penalties. In 2007, a then Illinois State Trooper had his license revoked after killing two young women when he was traveling over 120 miles per hour while sending email and talking on his cell phone.

A study conducted by the AAA Foundation, which examined the cause of fatal accidents from 2003-2007, found that reckless and erratic driving was a factor in 7.4% of fatal accidents. According to Illinois law, reckless driving occurs when a person drives a vehicle with willful or wanton disregard for the safety of others or property, or who knowingly drives a vehicle and uses an incline in the road, like a bridge, railroad crossing, or hill, to cause the vehicle to become airborne. 625 ILCS 5/11-503.
Continue reading

When a plaintiff pursues a personal injury lawsuit as a result of a motor vehicle accident in Illinois, it is imperative to properly serve the defendant with a complaint and summons. Failure to properly serve a defendant may be fatal to a plaintiff’s case. Under Supreme Court Rule 103(b), a plaintiff is required to exercise due diligence in their attempts to serve the defendant, and failure to do so may result in the dismissal of the case. To determine the proper method of service, or the act of physically giving the complaint and summons to the defendant, a plaintiff must evaluate the amount of their damages and ascertain the location of the defendant.

To determine the proper method of service upon an individual, the plaintiff must first evaluate and determine the approximate amount of their damages.
Continue reading

Rental car insurance is confusing. Before you rent, it is important to know if your insurance provides coverage for the rented vehicle, and under what circumstances that coverage may be limited. The answers to these questions may depend on the language of your own automobile insurance policy concerning “substitute vehicles.” To trigger a “substitute vehicle” clause, an important fact to consider is whether your car is “disabled” and “withdrawn from use,” rather than when you simply are concerned that it may be on the brink of becoming disabled or possibly in need of repair. If your rented car is involved in a car accident, questions may arise as to whether your own insurance policy will still cover you for a bodily injury liability claim (if you cause an accident, injuring someone), an uninsured motorist claim (if you become injured due to the fault of an uninsured driver) or an underinsured motorist claim (if the at-fault driver carries an insufficient amount of liability coverage to adequately cover your injury claim).

Your automobile insurance policy likely has a “Substitute Vehicle” clause, which provides coverage for a “temporary substitute vehicle” when the insured vehicle is not in “normal use” or has been “withdrawn from normal use.” When your rented vehicle meets the requirements of a “Substitute Vehicle,” the rented vehicle is covered to the same extent as your own vehicle. The public policy behind enforcement of substitute vehicle clauses is to prevent an insurance company from being liable for two vehicles while the insured has paid only one premium.
Continue reading

Motor vehicle accidents raise many complicated issues of fault and proof. One way to prove a defendant’s liability is by using an admission of guilt (“guilty plea”) in the underlying traffic court proceeding, which is ordinarily conducted soon after an accident is reported. Often, a potential defendant will plead guilty to a traffic citation. The guilty plea may be used in the civil case to demonstrate the fault of the motorist. “[G]uilty pleas to traffic offenses have been admitted in subsequent civil proceedings as admissions.” Young v. Forgas, 308 Ill.App.3d 553, 565 (4th Dist. 1999). A defendant’s claim he did not appreciate the effect of a guilty plea in a traffic case is irrelevant. As stated in Young, a “person must realize that civil litigation is a very real possibility and that the guilty plea to the traffic charge could reflect adversely upon him in a subsequent proceeding.” Id.

A guilty plea is an exception to the hearsay rule. “A guilty plea to a traffic violation is admissible as an admission against interest in a later civil action on the same facts.” Mivatovich v. Chicago Transit Authority, 112 Ill.App.2d 437, 442 (1st Dist. 1969). Courts reason that “a judicial admission is a deliberate, clear, unequivocal statement of a party about a concrete fact within that party’s peculiar knowledge.” Sohaey v. Van Cura, 240 Ill.App.3d 266, 280 (2nd Dist. 1992). “[A] judicial admission is conclusive upon the party who made it, and the party may not controvert the admission at trial or on appeal, so the effect of a judicial admission is to withdraw a fact from contention. Id., at 280-81. Additionally, “a party cannot create a question of fact for purposes of a summary judgment motion by attempting to contradict a previous judicial admission.” Id.
Continue reading

Naperville truck accidents cause serious injuries each year, including: broken bones, back and neck injuries, and in some cases even fatalities (wrongful death). The City of Naperville, recognizing the dangers posed by truck traffic, has designated specific routes for trucks. Naperville’s truck route plan has many advantages, including: reducing congestion; decreasing air pollution; and perhaps most important, providing safer neighborhood travel. By allowing trucks to “use” neighborhood streets, but forbidding travel “through” neighborhoods, Naperville’s plan recognizes the need for goods and services to be delivered to homes, businesses and facilities. The program also recognizes that limiting large truck travel (semi trailers, 18 wheelers) to specific routes is an excellent way to prevent pedestrian and motorist accidents. Statistics show that limiting the opportunities for large commercial trucks to interact with other motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists lowers the likelihood that a truck accident will occur.

Specific Initiatives

Truck traffic patterns from the area’s main highway–Route 88–place burdens on many local roads. Interstate 88 (Ronald Reagan Memorial Tollway) runs through the north part of Naperville carrying millions of tons of cargo every year. Much of that cargo must find its way to the residents and businesses that call Naperville home. In order to efficiently serve the City of Naperville, a truck permit plan has been implemented. Commercial trucks that travel upon Naperville streets pay permit fees. The City of Naperville’s Truck Route Plan provides a Designated Truck Route System and implements a Road Damage Overweight/Over-dimension Truck Permit Program. Trucks carrying heavy loads that exceed 73,280 pounds pay a fee for the privilege of using Naperville roads. The funds from the program go into the Road and Bridge Fund, which is used to repair, maintain, and construct the roads and streets in Naperville. The program represents a compromise between the need for goods to be delivered with the need to safely maintain Naperville streets. The truck permit plan promotes the following best practices and methods:

– Integrate truck route planning with land use planning.
– Coordinate the location of truck routes with roadway design and land uses.
– Consider regional implications of truck route locations.
– Enforce truck route policies.
– Reevaluate existing truck routes periodically.
Continue reading

The City of Naperville is situated in a diverse area of DuPage County. Naperville contains residential areas, commercial areas, schools, churches, parks, and rivers. In addition, unincorporated areas surround Naperville. Naperville’s recent growth and development have presented challenges for city officials, who are charged with providing and maintaining safe transportation. In order to prevent car accidents, truck accidents, and motorcycle accidents, the City of Naperville has developed a comprehensive Traffic Safety Plan (the “Plan”). A goal of the Naperville Comprehensive Transportation Safety Plan is intended to save lives and reduce injuries by lowering the number and frequency of crashes. Like the Truck Route Plan, Pedestrian Plan, and Bicycle Plan, the Traffic Safety Plan sets forth policies and practices designed to achieve the plan’s goal to reduce car accidents in Naperville.

Some of the policies include:

– Requiring developers to provide dedicated sidewalks for pedestrians and bicycles.
– Lobbying state and federal governments for additional traffic safety funds.
– Considering car crash rates or truck accident frequency when prioritizing capital
improvement projects that may impact vehicle crash rates.
– Promoting and enforcing seat belt usage to reduce injuries and save lives.

Some of the practices include:

– Considering traffic safety when reviewing new development plans.
– Developing and implementing driving education programs, especially for younger, less
experienced drivers.
– Identifying and examining locations with a high frequency of car accidents.
– Evaluating school access in terms of motor vehicle safety issues.
– Encouraging alternative forms of transportation, such as bicycles and walking paths.
– Minimizing conflicts between motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists in all future
development plans.
Continue reading

A common risk faced by Illinois drivers is being struck by a driver that is underinsured. To save money on premiums, many drivers carry only the minimum amount of bodily injury liability coverage, which is $20,000. So what happens when you are involved in an accident with a driver who does not carry enough liability insurance to cover your personal injuries? If you elected to carry underinsured motorist insurance coverage, you may be protected from the risk posted by an underinsured driver.

History of UIM Coverage

Prior to underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage being offered by Illinois insurance carriers, motorists had the option of carrying only uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. UM coverage is insurance that offers protection from drivers who do not carry automobile liability insurance at all. If an insured motorist carrying $100,000 of UM coverage was involved in an accident with a motorist who had bodily injury liability limits of $20,000, the injured person could recover nothing from his or her UM policy; the only remedy was to collect the at-fault driver’s limits of $20,000. In effect, the responsible, insured driver would have been in a better position if the other driver had been completely uninsured. E.g Hathaway v. Standard Mut. Ins. Co., 285 Ill. App. 3d 67 (1996). Legislators responded to this inequity in 1980 by enacting a statute requiring insurance companies to offer underinsured motorist coverage in amounts equal to uninsured coverage. See 215 ILCS 5/143a-2.
Continue reading

In car accident cases, lawyers for each party are permitted to conduct written discovery by issuing subpoenas, propounding a list of written questions called “interrogatories,” or serving document requests. The use of discovery to obtain personal information posted on social media sites has recently become a hot topic. To what extent should discovery in a lawsuit be allowed when it seeks information from personal social media accounts? More specifically, should someone’s Facebook account be a subject of discovery when that person has been involved in a motor vehicle accident?

Recently, Federal Courts have addressed whether Facebook and social media sites are discoverable in civil litigation. In 2011, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, in Chauvin v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., denied the defendant’s request to access the plaintiff’s Facebook account and held that “…discovery requested is available through less intrusive, less annoying and less speculative means…there is no indication that granting access to Plaintiff’s private Facebook account would be ‘reasonably calculated’ to lead to discovery of admissible information.” Chauvin v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., Case No. 10-11735 (E.D. Mich 2011). The Court saw no reason for one party to have access to the other’s Facebook page where there were much less intrusive ways to obtain the same information. In 2011, a Pennsylvania Court in Piccolo v. Paterson held that the plaintiff in a car accident did not have to accept a friend request on Facebook from the defendant, particularly since the defendant wished to access the plaintiff’s posts and view pictures of the accident.
Continue reading

Most Kane County residents are aware of the dangers of using cell phones while driving, but many still answer the phone while driving or even text while driving. Significantly, statistics show that a driver who is texting has the same impaired response time as an intoxicated driver. If you must use your cell phone while driving, some helpful safety tips are:

– utilize a hands free device – avoid using your phone in bad weather, stressful situations, or heavy traffic – make phone calls when you aren’t moving – avoid looking up numbers or trying to take notes while driving and
– keep your conversations short
The risks are more pronounced when drivers text. While texting, the driver’s gaze constantly shifts between his phone and the road. Experienced drivers, including truck drivers, fare no better when texting. A study showed that truck drivers who text and drive are approximately 20 times more likely to get into an accident.
Continue reading