Articles Posted in Motor Vehicle Accidents

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As each day passes, experienced DuPage County Attorneys hear and learn about various types of vehicle accidents that occur throughout the State of Illinois. Although accidents at highway-railway intersections involving trains and automobiles are uncommon, they tend to be devastating when they occur.

The Facts & Figures

The Illinois Commerce Commission reported in 2012 that 89 accidents occurred at highway-railway intersections which resulted in 25 deaths and 34 injuries. Within the state of Illinois, there are over 7,300 miles of railroad tracks with more than 8,400 public crossings and just over 4,500 private crossings. Unfortunately, not all highway-railway crossings are made equal and some present more dangers than others.

Most highway-railway crossings have flashing lights and gates to inform motorists that trains are approaching, some only have reflective signs that advise motorists to use caution when crossing and few have no markings at all. (See the Illinois Railroad Safety Fact Sheet – 2013). Counties located within the Chicago area, including DuPage, are at the highest risk of experiencing a train-vehicle collision, due to the constant flow of daily trains and commuter traffic. Currently, DuPage County has 140 public highway-railway intersections and 18 private highway-railway intersections with a mix of the features identified above, but most have flashing lights and gates.
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Our team of lawyers is dedicated to keeping Chicago a safe place for the members of our community, and part of that job is alerting our readers to recent events, safety concerns, and local area legal knowledge. One important issue that should be consistently on all of our minds is public transportation safety. Chicagoans, and those who live in the surrounding suburban greater metropolitan area, rely on Chicago public transportation a great deal.

Every day in the Windy City, thousands of people utilize public transportation, including our CTA buses and el system, and Metra commuter trains. When riding Chicago public transportation, riders should be able to trust that they are on a vehicle that is safe, in fully operational and functioning condition, and that they are in the hands of a fully capable and competent driver. Riders should not have to distrust the public transportation system or fear that their safety may be compromised.

Not only should riders feel comfortable on the city’s public transportation system, but employees should be kept safe as well. For instance, according to a recent article by CBS Chicago, a CTA Yellow Line derailed. The train was southbound and derailed close to the Dempster-Skokie station in the evening time. Service was not restored until the next day’s morning. The worst part about this instance though, is not the loss of service, but that two CTA employees required medical attention for injuries. Not only are passengers owed a legal duty of care while riding public transportation, but the city of Chicago and the management of CTA owe a legal duty to their employees to keep them safe in their line of work and while on duty. Employees are legally required to provide their employees with a safe working environment, warn them of known dangers, and to prevent dangerous situations from occurring.
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We have all, for the most part, been there before. We have all been in a rush to get somewhere important. We have all been running late before. We have all been in that situation where you are trying to travel somewhere as quickly as you can, and every obstacle seems to be thrown your way. However, while inconveniences and running late are a huge annoyance and can greatly damper plans, in perspective, they are never worth risking your life for.

Far too often, people are reckless in common traffic situations due to being behind in time or being impatient. Too often though, the actions people take in order to save time and beat the clock put them in “life or death” situations. It is important people realize that a few saved minutes or being exactly on time is not worth the same value as being alive.

It is also far too often that people do not appreciate the risk of the situation or the recklessness of their actions. People too often feel invincible or that the scary stories they hear in the news are not likely to happen to them. The truth of the matter is though, that negligent and reckless driving, especially around large vehicles like semis, buses, and trains, puts a driver and passengers in serious danger.

According to a recent article by CBS, a southwest suburban train accident caused the death of two vehicle occupants. Four others were injured.
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The Christmas season is meant to be a happy and joyous time of year. It is meant to be a time for family, friends, and loved ones to gather together and celebrate time together inside from the cold with delicious drinks and food. It is meant to be a time to reminisce over the past year and look forward to the upcoming year ahead. It is meant to be a time to exchange gifts to show appreciation to those you care about. Unfortunately, this is also a time of year where many people are traveling, and when drivers are negligent and reckless, they put a stop to all of the things this time of year is meant to be.

A recent article by the Chicago Tribune relayed some tragic news that on Christmas Eve a hit-and-run pedestrian accident killed a pregnant woman. The young woman was walking across the street in the 4200 block of West Ogden Avenue on the evening of Christmas Eve. She was hit by a westbound motor vehicle, which then failed to stop and fled the scene of the accident. The victim, a resident of the 3000 block of South Keeler Avenue, was taken to the local hospital and then pronounced dead. Miraculously, after the crash, medical personnel successfully delivered the baby, who is in stable condition and expected to survive.

The driver at fault was a resident of the 2700 block of South Harding Avenue and has now been charged with the death of the victim as a felony count of aggravated driving under the influence in a fatal accident, a felony count of leaving the scene of a fatal accident, and two misdemeanor counts of driving under the influence. In addition, he was cited for driving with an open container of alcohol and a defective windshield. After appearing in court, the judge ordered that he be held in lieu of $750,000 bail at the Leighton Criminal Court Building.
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Often we discuss the responsibility of private and commercial drivers to be safe and respect pedestrians crossing the roads or walking on the sidewalks. However, at times it is also important to stress how important it is for pedestrians to appreciate the danger that large vehicles like cars and buses inherently present. Based on speed and size difference, motor vehicles are immensely larger than pedestrians.

For instance, per calculations available by Rush, a 5′ 10″ person should be between 132 to 173 pounds. However, the average weight of a new car in 2010 is 4009 pounds, according to Slate. A bus, on the other hand, weighs up to 33,000 pounds, not including the weight of passengers, per a report by the American Public Transportation Association. This extreme difference in mass is inherently dangerous to a person, and is why we as pedestrians must be cautious around motor vehicles and buses, just as they need to be vigilant of us.

A prime example of this was reported in the Chicago Tribune. According to the article, a man was struck and killed by an eastbound 72 CTA bus in the Chicago neighborhood of Austin. He chased after it and banged on the side of it when he was unable to board in time. A witness, who watched the incident from across the street at a local fast food restaurant, reported that the man and his girlfriend went to the bus stop where the woman was able to get on the bus, but the doors closed before the man was able to board. It began to head east toward Pulaski Road, and the man chased the bus while hitting on the side of it, yelling to the bus driver to stop. The man then slipped and fell, and the bus ran him over.
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People living and working near Chicago are well aware of how busy our interstates and highways are. These roads are more often than not very congested with cars and trucks en route to their place of work, driving family members to school, or on the road traveling for business. With how busy these roads are, they are already dangerous and high-risk accident areas. When we add negligent or reckless driving to these naturally present factors, then these roadways are a place of high risk for accidents, injury, or even death.

For instance, in a recent article by the Chicago Sun Times, a wrong-way driver has been charged in a crash that resulted in injuries to six people. The accident occurred on I-94 in south suburban South Holland. The crash occurred in the early morning when one car was traveling north in the southbound lanes of I-94 at 159th Street. Illinois State Police reported that three other vehicles were also involved in this accident.

Reports have revealed that the driver that was traveling in the wrong direction was a 22-year-old, who has been charged with an aggravated DUI. As a result of the crash six people were transported to local hospitals. Some of the injured passengers in the involved vehicles included young people, such as teens, who were taken to the hospital in critical condition. Lanes in both directions were closed, as crews needed to clear the scene for almost five hours.
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It’s becoming more and more common in the city of Chicago to use bicycles not just as a means for exercise or recreation, but as a method of transportation and a means to get from Point A to Point B. More frequently, Chicagoans are using bicycles for commuting to work and school or to travel for their chores and errands. The city has even recently seen the addition of bicycle lanes throughout major downtown streets. However, with more and more cyclists on the road, drivers and cyclists alike need to work together to learn to share the road and watch out for one another. When parties are negligent, accidents are almost always extremely serious, especially considering the difference is size and speed between a motor vehicle and a bicycle.

A recent article by the Chicagoist relayed some most unfortunate news about a Chicago bicyclist. An individual on a bicycle was struck by a car at a three-way intersection in the neighborhood of Lincoln Park. According to the original report, authorities believed that upon collision the cyclist died. Now, however, police are reporting that the cyclist survived the collision. Police stated that the individual is talking and in stable condition.

When the accident occurred, the cyclist was near the intersections of Lincoln Avenue, Fullerton Parkway, and Halsted Street around 12:30 in the afternoon – a busy lunch hour time in the city, where many leave work to grab a bite to eat. It is not uncommon for roads to be busy at this time, and all the more reason that everyone on the road needs to be vigilant drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists alike. At this time, the cyclist was hit by a car that was turning right on to Fullerton Avenue.
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It is fairly easy to observe how much Americans rely on cars. Vehicles are so important to our way of life that we utilize them on a daily basis for work, school, errands, and leisure. Because they are so necessary in our lives, it is especially important that vehicles are safe to drive. This means it absolutely vital that manufacturers of vehicle use the utmost care in the design, assembly, and inspection of our vehicles. With vehicles being so high in volume throughout our country, when manufacturers are negligent in providing safe vehicles, this can easily lead to serious harm, such as death and injuries.

The International Business Times reported that a switch flaw in General Motors ignitions has caused 169 deaths. Recent personal injury settlements in civil class action lawsuits surrounding the flaw totaled over $575 million.

The report indicates that the switch flaw was in regards to small-car ignitions in particular, such as the Chevrolet Cobalt and other small cars. The flaw causes the ignition to slip out of the “on” position, which cuts power to the vehicle’s engine, steering, brakes, and air bags. In addition to the 169 deaths, several hundred other people have suffered injuries due to this flaw. This resulted in a class-action lawsuit consisting of 1,385 clients.
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When visiting a major city as a tourist, or even being a tourist in your own city, one of the most popular activities to do are taking a guided tour. Chicago has many varieties of tours, both on land and water. People can choose between architecture tours on boats, Segway tours, double-decker bus tours, and more. Because these activities are so popular and receive the patronage of so many paying customers, it is extremely important that these companies have fully operational and safe vehicles that are frequently inspected for flaws and problems.

A recent story by CNN exemplifies how serious a situation can become when popular tourism companies fail to keep their vehicles in properly working order, and as a result, fail to keep their customers and others on the road safe. A Seattle land and water vehicle, known as a “duck,” collided with a charter tour bus filled with international college students. The accident killed four and left others in critical condition. According to emergency responders, after the accident 44 people were hospitalized, with 12 in critical condition. The popular tourism land and water vehicles, the “Ride the Ducks of Seattle” is now closed until further notice, due to this accident.

According to a follow-up article also by CNN, federal investigators discovered that the amphibious tour vehicle had an axle that had been sheared off. The axle broke, which likely could have been a cause of the crash. Investigators found red fluid, likely from the transmission, splattered on the front left wheel well. One duck passenger described how it felt like the vehicle lost control, and she saw them heading toward the charter bus headed towards them. The accident occurred as the duck was crossing a six-lane bridge off of the downtown area.
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Most often we blog about and discuss motor vehicle and truck accidents in and around the City of Chicago. Chicago is a large geographic area with a high volume population. This means there are many vehicles on the road at any given time, including people traveling in their cars, large semi-trucks en route on business, taxi cabs transporting people downtown, and CTA buses carrying commuters. However, it is not just the city of Chicago itself that is high density in population, and as a result motor vehicles, but the entire area of Chicagoland as whole is a high population and busy traffic region.

While Chicago may be the largest city in Illinois, the nearby southwest suburb of Aurora is second largest in the state, according to Newsmax. In fact, several cities in close proximity to the Chicago area all have populations in the hundreds of thousands, which means there are millions of motorists on the Chicagoland roads every day. Our firm represents clients throughout the state and region, including those in Kane County, and are proud to have recovered the largest settlement ever recorded in a Kane County wrongful death case.

For this reason our attorneys feel that it is important to discuss, not just the dangers of traffic in Chicago itself, but in the suburbs too. According to a recent article by CBS, the city of Aurora has reported its 10 most accident-prone intersections. Just through the end of August, the city reported 360 crashes in these intersections alone. The intersection that ranked at the top of the list – Route 59 and Liberty Street – experienced 51 crashes. This intersection is a popular shopping destination, near many big-box and grocery chains, as well as a large local area shopping mall. The next most accident prone intersections, in respective order are Eola Road and Aurora Road/Indian Trail Road, Frontenac Street and Ogden Avenue/U.S. Route 34, Galena Boulevard and Orchard Road, Ogden Avenue and Illinois Route 59, Eola Road and Ogden Avenue, Eola Road and New York Avenue, Eola Road and Liberty Street, Indian Trail Road and Lake Street, and Farnsworth Avenue and Molitor Road. What is especially alarming is that the majority of these intersections are in very close vicinity to one another, some just blocks apart.
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