Every year, thousands of people across the country are injured in car accidents with semi-trucks. In 2014, famed comedian and actor Tracy Morgan was severely injured, and his friend was killed, when a semi-truck rear-ended the limousine they were passengers in. The truck driver stated that he had been awake for more than 28 hours straight when his semi-truck rear-ended the limousine. The truck driver told officials that he had spent 12 hours driving his own vehicle from his home in Georgia to pick up his semi-truck in at a Walmart facility in Delaware. A spokesperson for Walmart stated that the company did not believe the semi-truck driver violated any federal safety regulations. The semi-truck driver later pled guilty to vehicular homicide and four counts of aggravated assault. The estate of the friend that was killed, James “Jimmy Mack” McNair, received a $10 million settlement with Walmart. Tracy Morgan also received an undisclosed amount in a settlement with Walmart. 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.
On November 23, Governor Quinn signed SB 1694. The new legislation allows access to a deceased family member’s medical records without the requirement of opening of an estate. SB 1694 will add 5/8-2001.5 to the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure entitled: “Authorization for release of a deceased patient’s records.” 735 ILCS 5/8-2001.5. The new law makes it easier for families of victims to investigate wrongful death claims. Under the new rule, a decedent’s records may be released upon written request by a deceased person’s estate or agent appointed under a power of attorney. If no executor, administrator, or agent exists (and the deceased person made no prior objection), then the deceased’s medical records can be obtained in one of two ways. First, the medical records may be attained by the deceased’s surviving spouse sending written request to the medical facility. Second, if surviving spouse exists, then medical records may be obtained by written request by one of the following: an adult son or daughter of the deceased, a parent of the deceased, or an adult brother or sister of the deceased. The person requesting the records must sign an “Authorized Relative Certification” attesting the fact that the person is entitled and authorized to receive the records under the statute.
The decision in Nicholson v. State Farm Mut. Ins. Co. is a win for automobile insurance policyholders in Illinois. It also imposes a new obligation on insurance carriers to obtain a signed coverage election form before binding coverage, when the insured makes a “material change” in the policy.
The Illinois Supreme Court has denied an appeal by State Farm Insurance, thus, allowing to stand the decision of the Illinois Appellate Court in Nicholson v. State Farm Insurance, No. 2-08-0639 (2nd Dist. 2010) construing the obligations of an insurance carrier to provide underinsured motorist coverage pursuant to Section 143a–2 of the Illinois Insurance Code (215 ILCS 5/143a–2 (West 1998). Under the decision, “whenever liability coverage is increased above that provided under the previous policy, insurers must again offer UM (“uninsured motorist”) coverage equal to liability coverage and obtain a signed election declining such equal coverage.” The decision represents an expansion of consumer rights for purchasers of automobile insurance in Illinois in those instances in which UM coverage is elected in amount that is less than the amount of BI (“bodily injury liability”). Previous to the decision announced in Nicholson, only new “applicants” (not existing insureds) were required to be given an offer of coverage. Now, every insured must sign an election of coverage form before any material change in the policy is made, assuming they are selecting coverage for UM that is less than BI.