Memorial Day weekend is upon us and while we are all enjoying a day off and kicking off the unofficial beginning of summer, it is important to recognize the increased risk of traffic accidents when driving from one barbeque to the next. The National Safety Council projects that close to 400 people in the U.S. will die in traffic accidents during the upcoming Memorial Day Weekend.1 Unfortunately, this projection is not hard to believe given that the national forecast for travel volume for this Memorial Day Weekend is the highest it's been in 10 years. 1 In fact, fatalities from traffic accidents during Memorial Day Weekend are an average of 12.45% of the total fatalities in May.2 That number may seem small until you realize that an average of 393 people die from traffic accidents each Memorial Day Weekend. 2
Earlier this month, the Obama Administration announced a $70 million fine against automaker Honda. The fine--the largest civil penalty levied against an automaker--is in response to Honda's failure to report to regulators death and injury complaints for over a decade between 2003 and 2014.
Imagine being involved in a serious motor vehicle accident that results in significant personal injuries, medical bills, and lost wages. Under these circumstances, you would be correct in assuming that the insurance company for the person who caused the accident and your injuries would be "on-the-hook" to compensate you for your losses.
Everyone knows not to text while driving, but sadly, many people do it all the time, which leads to car accidents and personal injury lawsuits. On this blog it has previously been discussed that a case is pending in New Jersey related to if someone not in a car can be responsible for the personal injuries of someone hit by a texting driver who was texting back and forth with them. Earlier this month a New Jersey court ruled on that issue: "We hold that the sender of a text message can potentially be liable if an accident is caused by texting, but only if the sender knew or had special reason to know that the recipient would view the text while driving and thus be distracted." The court has spoken. This has the potential to drastically change the legal landscape for distracted driving injury lawsuits nationwide. However, for the time being, New Jersey is the exception. But, states across the country (including Illinois) continue to toughen laws related to cell phone use while driving and distracted driving in general. As personal injury lawyers who deal with the consequences of distracted driving have been saying for years, there is a simple way to solve this problem, use common sense when behind the wheel and stop looking at your phone and focus on the road ahead. The cure for this problem is simple; this is not curing cancer. If drivers would simply put down their phones and make driving the #1 priority when behind the wheel, the roads would be a safer place, the number of injuries and fatalities would drop, and this country could focus on much more difficult problems that need to be solved.
We are just past the halfway point of the year, and sadly, fatal car crashes in Illinois are on the rise. According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, as of today there have been 498 fatal crashes on the roadways of Illinois, which have resulted in 550 deaths. That is 15 more deaths than this time last year. Even scarier, 103 of these fatalities this year occurred in car crashes where there was an unlicensed driver involved, and 137 involved situations where it is known that a seatbelt was either not used or used improperly. A copy of the most current statistics from the Illinois Department Of Transportation can be found by clicking here. While cars have gotten safer, more and more travel on the roadways has lead to more fatalities. When you are behind the wheel you cannot control everything to prevent a serious injury to you or those you love. But there are many things you can control: drive safely, pay attention, use seat belts properly, and keep your car properly maintained (no bald tires, inoperable lights, cracked windows, or worn out brakes). If you are sadly the victim of a car accident that was not your fault, you should contact an experienced Illinois personal injury attorney as soon as possible to make sure you know your rights. All lawsuits and claims are subject to time limits known as statutes of limitations. Failure to properly file a case within the applicable time limit will result in any injury case being barred. It is imperative that you talk to an attorney familiar with Illinois personal injury law as soon as possible after you are hurt to make sure you are doing everything you can to protect yourself.
In an attempt to make the roadways safer, and cut down on personal injuries and deaths on American highways, recently the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has called on state authorities to reduce the legal limit for alcohol intoxication to 0.05 percent. All 50 states currently have a blood alcohol content (BAC) limit of 0.08 percent for drivers 21 years old and over. While the NTSB does not have the power to change state laws (such as here in Illinois where the legal limit for those 21 years and older remains at 0.08 percent) its initiative on the lower limit could pressure regulators to adopt the stricter rule. This is part of the NTSB's "Reaching Zero" campaign to help reduce alcohol-related accidents and increase awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving. A link to the NTSB safety report entitled, "Reaching Zero: Actions to Eliminate Alcohol-Impaired Driving" can be found by clicking here. All personal injury attorneys work towards not only getting compensation for those who are injured, but also help reduce the number of incidents that cause personal injuries and wrongful deaths; this initiative is focused squarely on that purpose through not only a reduction in the "legal limit" but also through a strong campaign of high visibility enforcement and education on the injury dangers of impaired driving. The statistics are grim when it comes to car and truck accident injuries: one in three U.S. highway deaths involves an alcohol impaired driver, according to the NTSB. This does not include thousands of serious non-fatal personal injuries suffered as a results of drivers who operate cars and trucks while under the influence of alcohol. Per the NTSB, in 2010 there were 292 fatalities in Illinois attributed to impaired driving -- 292 people lost their lives as a result of someone being impaired while behind the wheel. That is a number that needs to be reduced immediately. If you or someone you know has been involved in an accident, whether alcohol was a factor or not, you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Only an attorney familiar with accident cases can properly counsel you on your rights with respect to what happened, and what type of compensation you may be entitled to.
Many people do not realize that when they are in a car accident, whether minor or serious, two potential claims are created: property damage and bodily injury. With the way insurance polices are written these days, and the way the claims are processed, it is important for the average driver to understand the realities of how to get compensated for injuries suffered in a car accident, whether they be realted to your property or your body. Property Damage. The most common claim that gets attributed to a property damage portion of a policy is the damage to the car itself. But, it is not just limited to that. Items in the car, articles of clothing, or even damage to the area around the crash, all fall under property damage. The owners of this property are entitled to fair compensation for the value of what they lost, often determined by the fair market value of the item immediately before it was damaged, or the cost to fix it and put it back in the condition it was in immediately before it was damaged. What drivers need to be aware of is that these claims are often assigned to insurance adjusters who just handle these types of claims, and not bodily injury claims. Thus, for one accident, there can not only be two claims, but two insurance adjusters as well. Bodily Injury. These claims are for the people physically hurt in a car crash, whether they be the driver, a passenger, or even someone outside of the cars that was struck. Their personal injury claims fall under bodily injury coverage provisions of insurance policies. Whether the injuries are minor, some bumps and bruises, up to broken bones, concussions, or even death, all claims for injuries to a person in a car accident fall under bodily injury coverage. Given the complexities of modern insurance policies, and the practices of some insurance companies in processing claims, it is important that you know your rights if you are injured in a car accident, or any type of accident. Only an experience attorney can properly advise you of what your rights are in any given situation involving a car accident. Before giving any type of statement to an insurance company, if you are in an accident and suffered any type of injury, you should speak with an attorney who has your interest in mind.