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City of Chicago May Be Legally Responsible for Injuries at Dangerous Intersection if Changes Aren’t Made

One might think that if a municipality were aware of a particular danger, officials would work to eliminate that hazard. In fact, under Illinois law, it’s the city’s responsibility to do so. It’s not just a good idea, it’s an obligation.

However, contrary to this legally imposed duty, administrators responsible for the city of Chicago may not be working to sufficiently fix one of Chicago’s most dangerous areas for pedestrians. According to the Chicago Sun Times, a four-lane stretch of Cottage Grove Avenue between 79th and 80th streets on Chicago’s South Side is one of the most crash-prone intersections for pedestrians in the city of Chicago, as per an analysis by the Chicago Department of Transportation.

In fact, four of the twenty most dangerous intersections in the Chicagoland area lie within a two-mile corridor along 79th Street; those locales had the highest number of fatal- and incapacitating-injury crashes involving pedestrians from 2005 to 2010, according to state transportation department data analyzed by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning. Said the Sun Times, drivers don’t seem to notice the people streaming in and out of clothing, grocery and liquor stores at both intersections, or other pedestrians who are waiting for buses.

Illinois personal injury law dictates that the City of Chicago has a responsibility to enact and enforce laws to protect its constituents. This includes the duty to ensure that traffic safety controls are properly placed and in working condition, and that intersections are as safe as possible, both for the benefit of motorists and pedestrians. When the City fails in its obligations to implement precautionary measures, and individuals are harmed as a result, the City may be legally responsible for the injuries caused.

The Chicago Sun Times reported that between 2005 and 2009, hit-and-run crashes accounted for 33 percent of all pedestrian crashes and 40 percent of all fatal pedestrian crashes in Chicago, according to the city’s 2011 Pedestrian Crash Analysis report. By comparison, hit-and-run crashes account for only 20 percent of fatal pedestrian crashes nationwide, which highlights the particular dangers of Chicago intersections – in particular the highly unsafe junctions in Chicago’s south side.
Apparently, City officials ultimately hope to work to reduce the number of pedestrian crashes in those intersections by reducing the number of lanes of traffic tin an effort to force drivers to slow down. The idea is that when roads are more narrowly defined, drivers reduce speed. Nevertheless, changes aren’t currently under way.

In the meantime, our attorneys urge anyone who goes near those intersections, either by car or on foot, to use extreme caution.

Our attorneys have taken on the City in a number of other cases in which Chicago was negligent, even having won a $10 million settlement for a 5-year-old boy who was run over by a City of Chicago Fire Department truck while playing in an open fire hydrant on the Fourth of July, resulting in the loss of his leg and half of his pelvis. Though a lawsuit can never bring a loved one back to life or undo an injury, it is a step in the right direction for achieving justice, instigating change toward safer conditions, and making those at fault pay for their carelessness. If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of the negligence of another person, business, or municipality, contact an attorney to be apprised of your rights under the law.