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Understanding Illinois Law Regarding Shared Fault in Personal Injury CasesIn the majority of injury-causing accidents, determining why an accident occurred is not simple and straightforward. There may be many variables that combined to cause a “perfect storm” of circumstances. For example, in a drunk driving accident, the driver’s intoxication may not be the only reason the accident occurred. It may also have been raining, the road may have been in poor condition, or the other driver involved in the collision may have glanced down at his or her phone moments before the crash. In situations involving shared fault, who is deemed legally responsible for the harm caused in the accident? Illinois follows a legal doctrine called modified comparative negligence when a person’s injury was partially his or her fault and partially the fault of another party.

Understanding Modified Comparative Negligence

There are two main ways that states handle personal injury cases involving shared liability: comparative negligence or contributory negligence. In states that follow the doctrine of contributory negligence, if an injured person contributed to his or her own injury, he or she cannot collect compensation. This is considered an unreasonable rule in many people’s eyes because a person who is only one percent at fault for an injury is barred from collecting compensation from a party who was 99 percent responsible. Fortunately, Illinois is a comparative negligence state. This means that an injured person can still collect damages even if he or she is partially at fault for the injury-causing accident.

Illinois followed a slightly modified version of comparative negligence which is sometimes referred to as the “51-Percent Bar.” According to the rules of modified comparative negligence, an injured party may be eligible for compensation as long as he or she was not 51 percent or more responsible for his or her injuries. However, the amount of compensation he or she can receive will be reduced according to his or her percentage of fault. For example, if an injured party requested $50,000 in a lawsuit for a slip and fall accident but the court found him to be 20 percent responsible for the accident, he would receive $40,000.   

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Could Your Truck Accident Have Been Caused by Inadequate Truck Maintenance?In previous blogs, we have discussed the numerous problems within the trucking industry that lead to accidents. Many truck drivers are expected to work extremely long hours away from their families and tolerate erratic sleep schedules. Drivers may even turn to drugs and alcohol to help them cope with difficult working conditions. Truck accidents can be caused by driver inattention, alcohol and drug use, traffic violations, and more. However, it is important to note that a truck driver is not always the at-fault party in a trucking accident. A number of catastrophic truck accidents are the result of the truck being improperly maintained. Truck companies who do not keep up with truck maintenance may be liable for accidents caused by a malfunctioning truck.

Maintenance Failures Put Lives at Risk

Auto accidents involving commercial trucks such as tractor-trailers and semi-trucks often cause significantly more damage than auto accidents involving only cars. Truck accidents can cause devastating injuries that result in permanent disability or death. For these reasons, it is essential for truck companies to ensure that their vehicles are regularly inspected and properly maintained. Some of the most common maintenance failures that lead to truck accidents include:

  1. Brake Problems: A fully loaded 18-wheeler can weigh up to 80,000 lbs. Even in good weather, a loaded truck can take 200 yards to come to a complete stop. Large trucks typically rely on airbrakes to stop the massive vehicles. When there are issues with brake shoes, air valves, or another part of the braking system, the truck may take even longer to stop. According to the Large Truck Crash Causation Study conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), problems with the truck’s braking system were a factor in just under 30 percent of truck crashes.
  2. Steering System Failure: Large trucks may have hydraulic steering systems or electric steering systems. When the power steering fails on a truck, the driver will have an extremely difficult time maneuvering the vehicle. This means that the driver will have a much harder time reacting to dangerous situations and avoiding a collision.
  3. Tire Blowouts: Truck tires must be regularly inspected for signs of wear and should be rotated and/or replaced when necessary. Tires that are overinflated, underinflated, or worn down can be a major hazard. Tire blowouts can cause a truck driver to lose control of the vehicle and collide into traffic. In some cases, a truck accident is caused by a defective tire. This means that the company that manufactured or designed the tire may be the at-fault party.
  4. Broken Suspension: The collection of parts that cushion the driver and truck cargo from bumps is called the suspension system. The suspension includes shocks, springs, wheels, linkages and joints, and the steering system. Damaged suspension components can lead to catastrophic truck crashes.

Contact an Illinois Truck Accident Lawyer

A truck accident can be caused by almost countless factors. For help determining fault for your truck accident and pursuing compensation for your damages, contact Schwartz Injury Law. Call us at 815-723-7300 today and schedule a free consultation with a knowledgeable Joliet personal injury attorney from our firm.

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Nursing Home Neglect May Lead to Recurrent BedsoresResidents in a nursing home may have physical and mental disabilities that make them dependent on nursing home staff for help with daily living tasks like showering, eating, and taking medication. Some residents may also have significantly reduced mobility. They may be unable to get in and out of bed on their own or need help changing positions in their bed or wheelchair. Staying in one position for too long puts pressure on the skin and can cause painful bedsores. If a resident is experiencing frequent bedsores or bedsores that are not properly addressed, this may be a sign that he or she is suffering from nursing home neglect.

Causes and Treatment of Bedsores

Bedridden or immobile nursing home residents are very susceptible to bedsores. Also called pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers, bedsores are caused by unrelenting pressure that cuts off circulation to the skin. Bedsores can be very painful and may lead to serious infections or even sepsis. Nursing home staff must periodically reposition residents so that a body area does not receive long periods of pressure. If a bedsore does develop, staff should ensure that the wound is kept clean and protected by gauze or other appropriate dressings. The staff should carefully monitor the resident for signs that the bedsore is worsening or has become infected. In some cases, the wound may require debridement, skin grafts, or other major medical intervention.

The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act

The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act (NHCA) protects the rights of individuals living in nursing homes. The act asserts that nursing home residents have all of the rights that any other individual would have under state and federal law. It also gives residents the right to be free from physical and chemical restraints except under very specific circumstances, the right to manage their own financial affairs, the right to privacy, and many other rights. Most importantly, nursing home residents have the right to be free from neglect and abuse. The NHCA states that an owner and licensee are liable for any negligent or intentional act or failure to act that injures a resident. When nursing home staff fail to provide reasonable care to residents and the resident is injured or killed as a result, the nursing home may be legally responsible for the harm caused. The injured resident or his or her family may be entitled to damages. They may receive compensation for medical expenses caused by the injury, pain and suffering, and more.

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Can I Collect Compensation Even If I Was Partially Responsible for a Truck Accident?Imagine the following scenario: A man is driving down the freeway traveling about 10 miles per hour over the speed limit. Suddenly, a large metal container falls off of a flatbed truck and onto the road in front of him. He slams on the brakes but still ends up colliding with the container. His car is totaled and he suffers a head injury and two broken bones in the truck accident. He wants to recover compensation for his damages but assumes that he cannot bring a successful injury claim because he was speeding at the time of the accident. However, according to Illinois’ modified comparative negligence law, he may still be entitled to compensation.

Modified Comparative Negligence in an Auto Accident Case

Rarely are injury lawsuits black and white, and determining who is at fault for a truck accident is almost never straightforward. It is possible that several different factors led to your accident, including your own actions. In the previous example, it could be argued that the driver’s speeding exacerbated the damages caused in the accident. Perhaps if the driver was driving the speed limit, his injuries and the damage to his car would not have been as severe.

Fortunately, in Illinois, you are still permitted to bring an injury claim against a negligent party as long as you are not more than 50 percent responsible for the accident. If your contributory fault, meaning your portion of the blame, is found to be 50 percent or less of the proximate cause of your injuries, you may still recover compensation. However, the amount of compensation you recover will be reduced in proportion to your portion of fault. 

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How Can I Get Compensation For Medical Bills Caused by a Dog Bite?There are more than 76 million dogs living in homes across the United States. While the majority of these animals will never harm a human, dog attacks do happen. Dog bites can cause considerable damage, both physically and mentally. A person who is bitten by a dog may suffer deep puncture wounds and lacerations, torn ligaments, broken bones, and more. Because of the high level of bacteria in dogs’ mouths, these wounds may also become infected. Medical bills can quickly add up after a dog bite, but a personal injury lawsuit may help a dog bite victim recover compensation for these and other expenses.

When Is an Owner Responsible for a Dog Attack?

If you or a loved one have been bitten by a dog, you may wonder whether or not the owner is legally responsible for the damage caused by the attack. According to Illinois law, a dog owner is liable for bite-related injuries if the injured person was in a public place or lawfully on private property when the bite occurred and the dog was not provoked. If you were bitten while you were walking on a public sidewalk, for example, the owner would most likely be considered liable for the injury. However, if you were bitten while taking a shortcut through someone else’s backyard and you did not have permission to be on the property, the dog owner would likely avoid liability.

Illinois Is a Strict Liability State

In some states, a dog owner is not responsible for injuries caused by a dog attack if the owner had no reason to believe that the dog was aggressive. However, Illinois follows “strict liability” when it comes to injuries caused by a dog. This means that even if a dog has never bitten someone before, the owner may still be liable. The theory of strict liability applies to injuries caused by a dog bite as well as non-bite injuries. For example, if you were knocked to the pavement by a dog and suffered a concussion, the owner may still be legally responsible. You may be entitled to damages including but not limited to:

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How Do Helmets Influence Personal Injury Lawsuits Involving a Motorcycle Accident?For motorcycle enthusiasts, nothing compares to the feeling of the first motorcycle ride of spring. Illinois winters can be especially dreary, so many motorcyclists are eager to get back on the road as soon as warmer weather arrives. Unfortunately, motorcycle accidents are not uncommon, and many result in serious injuries or death. Experts estimate that motorcyclists are about 27 times more likely to die in a traffic accident than motorists driving a car. A person who is hurt in a motorcycle accident may be left with substantial expenses that are not covered by health insurance. If another party’s negligence led to the accident, it is very possible that the injured person will be entitled to compensation. If negligence led to a motorcyclist’s death, his or her surviving family may also be entitled to compensation.

What If I Was Not Wearing a Helmet?

Wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle is similar to wearing a seatbelt in a car. Everyone knows that these precautions help prevent injuries in the event of an accident, but they may not always remember to take these precautions. Motorcyclists hurt in an accident often wonder if they can still collect compensation for an accident even if they were not wearing a helmet. While helmets are not required by Illinois law, failure to wear a helmet can impact Illinois personal injury claims involving motorcycle accidents.

It is important for motorcyclists to know that they can pursue compensation via an injury claim even if they were not wearing a helmet at the time of their accident. Illinois personal injury claims are subject to “modified comparative negligence.” This means that an injured party can still bring an injury lawsuit even if he or she partially contributed to his or her own injuries. As long as the injured party is not found to be more than 50 percent responsible for his or her injuries and property damage, he or she may still be eligible for partial compensation. If the injured party is found to be partially responsible for his or her injuries, the compensation he or she receives may be reduced according to his or her percentage of fault. For example, if a motorcyclist was not wearing a helmet when he or she was struck by a drunk driver, it could be argued that his or her head injuries would have been reduced if he or she was wearing a helmet. However, the drunk driver still holds the majority of fault for the accident. If the motorcyclist was found to be 25 percent at-fault for his or her injuries, the compensation he or she receives is reduced by 25 percent.

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Truck Accidents Involving Drug Use Often Lead to LawsuitsFew would argue that being a long-range truck driver is a challenging job both mentally and physically. Spending hours and hours on the road can be lonely and tedious. Additionally, truck drivers often have very erratic sleep schedules. These issues can lead some truck drivers to use drugs or alcohol to cope. When a truck driver is impaired by drugs and causes a traffic accident, it is likely that the driver or the company that the driver works for will be held legally responsible for the damages caused. However, proving that a truck driver’s drug use led to an accident is often challenging. If you or a loved one were hurt in a truck accident and you suspect drug use played a role in the crash, contact an experienced personal injury attorney for help.

Drivers May Consume Stimulants to Stay Awake

Because fatigued truck drivers who are too sleepy to drive safely pose a major threat to other motorists and themselves, federal law regulates how many consecutive hours drivers can be on the road. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires truck drivers to stop for rest periods after a certain amount of time driving. For example, if a driver has been off duty for 10 hours, he or she is limited to a maximum of 11 hours driving. If the time off duty was only eight hours, the driver is limited to 10 hours of driving. Unfortunately, these rules do not totally prevent truck drivers from becoming dangerously fatigued. Drivers may consume stimulants like cocaine or amphetamines in an attempt to stay awake and alert. Unfortunately, these drugs do more harm than good and can lead drivers to make critical driving errors.

Marijuana Use Among Truck Drivers

In one survey published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine, approximately 20 percent of truck drivers admitted to using marijuana behind the wheel. Although many states have legalized the use of marijuana for medical or recreational purposes, it is still explicitly against the law to drive under the influence of marijuana. Employers often use random drug testing as a means of deterring drivers from consuming marijuana or other mind-altering substances, but this is not always enough to prevent drug use behind the wheel. Marijuana can cause reduced reaction time, disorientation, sleepiness, and other physical and psychological effects that make safe driving nearly impossible.

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Can I Collect Compensation After a Truck Accident Caused by Defective Equipment?Truck accidents can cause catastrophic damage to both property and human life. In 2017, almost 5,000 trucks and buses were involved in fatal auto accidents in the U.S. Truck accident liability could fall to a number of different parties. Some truck accidents are caused by truck drivers themselves. The driver may have been driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, driving while extremely fatigued or have been violating traffic laws. However, truck accident liability does not always fall to the driver. The trucking company, the company responsible for truck maintenance, or another party may be responsible for a serious truck accident. In some cases, a truck accident is caused by faulty equipment or auto parts. If malfunctioning equipment was the root of the accident, the company that manufactured, designed, or distributed the equipment may be liable for damages caused by the accident.

Defective Truck Parts May Be Responsible for Your Accident

In 2014, General Motors issued massive recalls after it was revealed that faulty ignition switches could cause some vehicles’ engines to suddenly shut off without warning. More than 124 deaths and hundreds of injuries were linked to the defective ignition switches. General Motors was eventually forced to pay approximately $870 million in personal injury and wrongful death claims.

Defective auto parts like the faulty ignition switches are more common than many people think. Problems with the truck’s tires, braking system, hydraulics, steering mechanism, or another defect can cause the truck to dangerously malfunction. Defective securing equipment such as faulty tie-downs, chains, clamps, latches, D-rings, or other equipment used to secure cargo can also cause catastrophic truck accidents. Falling cargo can strike another vehicle or fall onto the road and create a deadly obstacle. Cargo that is not properly secured can shift inside of a trailer and cause the truck to become dangerously unbalanced or even tip over. Proving that a truck accident was the result of defective truck equipment is often challenging and will require help from an experienced truck accident lawyer.

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Suing a Negligent Childcare Facility For Injuries to a ChildIf you are a parent, you know just how difficult it can be to leave your child in someone else’s care. Whether you are dropping your child off at school, a babysitter’s house, or a daycare facility, you may worry about the level of supervision and care your child is receiving. While many childcare organizations provide safe, loving environments for children, some childcare staff do not take their responsibilities seriously. Children can be seriously injured or even killed due to unsafe conditions and lack of supervision. If your child has been hurt while at daycare, you may be eligible for compensation through a personal injury lawsuit.

When Is a Childcare Facility Liable for Child Injuries?

Children who are playing often trip, fall down, bump their heads, or sustain other minor injuries. Some injuries are not preventable, but daycares should be organized so that there is as little risk of injury as possible. This includes installing child-proof locks on cupboards, keeping hazardous material such as cleaning agents out of children’s reach, and ensuring that small children are not left alone. The building itself should also be properly maintained so that issues like loose floorboards, wobbly handrails, broken playground equipment, or other hazards do not present a danger to children. Lastly, the facility should ensure that the staff hired to care for children are properly trained, do not have a history of violence or abuse, and can fulfill their jobs properly. If a childcare facility’s failure to maintain a safe environment for children leads to a child’s injuries, it is possible that the facility will be considered liable.  

Damages in a Child Injury Case

Negligent childcare workers can result in children being seriously hurt. Some children have even passed away due to negligent daycare facilities. If a facility is found to be liable for a child’s injuries, the facility may be required to pay damages. These may include medical expenses such as hospital bills and the costs of the child’s ongoing medical care as well as the child’s pain and suffering, disability, or disfigurement. It is often difficult to prove that a child’s injuries were caused by negligent staff. A lawyer experienced in premises liability cases involving childcare injuries can help you find evidence, witnesses, and other information that may prove the facility’s fault.

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Seeking Compensation for a Wrongful Death Caused by a Distracted Truck DriverBy now, most people have heard about the dangers of distracted driving. Unfortunately, despite dozens of public awareness campaigns and increased consequences for distracted drivers, cell phone use and other forms of distracted driving continue to be a major problem. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that accidents caused by distracted driving take the lives of nine people every day in the U.S. If you have lost a loved one in a car crash involving a distracted truck driver, you may be eligible for compensation.

Fatal Traffic Accidents Caused by Truck Driver Negligence

Motorists of all kinds should keep their eyes and attention on the road while driving, but for drivers of semi-trucks and tractor-trailers, careful attention to the road is even more crucial. A fully-loaded 18-wheeler can weigh up to 80,000 lbs and takes 40 percent longer to stop than a medium-sized car. Truck drivers taking their eyes off of the road for even just a few seconds can cause devastating accidents. In January of this year, two adults and a one-year-old child were killed on I-65 when a semi-truck collided with a line of slowing vehicles. The truck driver told police that at the time of the accident, he was looking down to put his coffee cup away. Another fatal truck accident that occurred last April involved a truck driver who was allegedly watching pornography on his cell phone at the time of the crash. The parents of an 18-year-old boy killed in the accident have filed a lawsuit against the company that owned the truck.

Wrongful Deaths Lawsuits

There is no amount of compensation that could ever fully make up for the tragic loss of a loved one. However, a wrongful death claim may help families receive financial compensation that lessens the financial burden caused by loss. A personal representative of the deceased person may bring a wrongful death claim against a party when that party’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional wrongdoing caused the person’s death. Compensation for the deceased person’s medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost income, and funeral and burial expenses may be available. In cases involving especially egregious conduct, the court may also award punitive damages, which is additional compensation intended to punish the wrongdoer.

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Common Mistakes Made After an Auto AccidentUnderstandably, many people are in a state of shock after being hurt in a serious traffic accident. They may not realize that the actions they take immediately after being in an auto accident can mean the difference between receiving full compensation for the expenses incurred by their injuries and being saddled with burdensome medical bills and other costs related to the accident. If you or a loved one are ever involved in an accident, make sure to avoid these common mistakes.

  1. Not Calling the Police: There are many reasons that a person involved in a car wreck may not call law enforcement to the scene of an accident. Perhaps the driver has had a negative interaction with a police officer in the past or does not realize how much a formal police report will benefit him or her if he or she ends up filing a personal injury claim. In some situations, a driver does not call the police because another driver involved in the accident suggests or outright demands that the police remain uninvolved. Do not let another driver convince you not to call law enforcement. Even if you do not plan on filing a claim, calling the police and getting a police report after an accident is essential.
  2. Underestimating Your Injuries: There are many injuries such as whiplash and traumatic brain injuries that are not immediately evident. You should always get checked out by a medical professional after a major auto accident – even if you think your injuries are only minor. If you do end up being more injured than you realized, receiving compensation for medical expenses or lost income caused by the injuries can be nearly impossible without an official record of these injuries.
  3. Not Gathering Evidence and Witnesses Information: After an accident, get the names and contact information of witnesses. These witnesses can be extremely helpful if you need other people to corroborate your version of the events in the future. Take pictures and videos of the accident scene, damage to your car, damage to the other car, and the position of the vehicles.
  4. Assuming You Cannot Receive Compensation if You Were Partially At Fault: Imagine this scenario: A man is driving down the highway when he is struck by another vehicle. He sustained major injuries in the accident, incurred massive hospital bills, and is left unable to work. However, he does not pursue compensation for these damages because he was speeding at the time of the accident and assumes that he cannot win a personal injury claim. This is a common misconception about personal injury claims. Under Illinois comparative negligence law, a plaintiff may still receive partial compensation for an injury as long as he or she was less than 51 percent at fault.

Contact a Joliet Car Accident Attorney

After an auto accident, you should always call the police, get evaluated by a medical professional, and gather evidence and witness information. If you or a loved one were hurt in a car accident and you want to learn more about your options for receiving compensation, contact an Illinois personal injury lawyer from Schwartz Injury Law. Call our office at 815-723-7300 to schedule your free, confidential consultation.

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Posted on in Personal Injury

What Qualifies as a Wrongful Death?The unexpected loss of a loved one can be an absolutely heartbreaking event to endure. In addition to the emotional anguish surviving loved ones feel, there are often significant financial consequences caused by an unexpected death. For example, a mother whose husband passes away does not only lose her spouse, but she also loses his income and possibly benefits such as healthcare coverage for their children. No amount of money could ever fully compensate a grieving family for the death of a loved one. However, through a wrongful death lawsuit, some surviving loved ones are able to receive the financial relief they desperately need. If you have recently lost a loved one, you may be unsure as to whether or not this death constitutes a “wrongful death.” Read on to learn about Illinois laws regarding wrongful death and how you may be able to pursue compensation through a wrongful death claim.

Illinois Law Regarding Wrongful Deaths

The Illinois Wrongful Death Act states that wrongful death occurs when:

  • The death was caused by a wrongful act, neglect, or default, and
  • If the deceased person had not died, he or she would have been entitled to maintain an action and collect damages

Consider an example in which a woman is killed in an accident caused by a driver under the influence of alcohol. In Illinois, most drunk drivers who cause serious accidents are considered “negligent per se.” This means that they are automatically presumed to have been negligent because they were breaking the law and harmed someone in the process. If the woman had survived the accident and suffered injuries instead of death, she would have had a legal right to pursue compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. However, because the woman passed away in the accident, a personal representative of her estate may bring a wrongful death claim.

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Falsified Log Books May Cause Truck Accidents by Sleepy DriversNo one would argue whether being a truck driver is a very tough job. Truck drivers are expected to drive for hours and hours each day and must meet strict delivery deadlines. This can often cause drivers to skip out on necessary sleep in order to meet these expectations. Sleep deprivation can significantly decrease a truck driver’s ability to safely maneuver through traffic. Many fatal truck accidents have been caused by truck drivers who fell asleep at the wheel or were too fatigued to react in time to prevent an accident. If you have been injured in a traffic accident caused by a fatigued truck driver, you may be eligible for compensation.

Laws Dictating Truck Drivers’ Sleep Schedules

In order to prevent accidents caused by sleepy truck drivers, a number of laws have been enacted that require drivers to take rest breaks. For example, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, truck drivers may drive for a maximum of 11 hours after being off duty for 10 consecutive hours. If they were off duty for only eight consecutive hours, then they are permitted to drive for a maximum of 10 hours. Truck drivers must keep a logbook that identifies the hours that they have been on the road and when they have stopped to rest. Unfortunately, some truck drivers falsify these records in order to get their driving assignments completed sooner. An experienced lawyer can analyze the truck driver’s logbook, receipts, delivery logs, and other information to find inconsistencies that show that the driver was lying.

Who Is At Fault for an Accident Caused by a Sleepy Truck Driver?

Determining fault in a truck accident is not always straightforward. Legal liability for a truck accident may fall to the truck driver himself or herself or the trucking company. If the accident was caused by a defective truck part or inadequate truck maintenance, the company responsible for maintaining the truck or the truck part manufacturer may be to blame. In many cases, there may be more than one problem that contributed to the accident. For example, the truck driver himself or herself may have been sleepy and did not react fast enough, but the accident was also worsened because the truck’s braking mechanism was flawed in some way.

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Drug and Alcohol Use Contribute to Many Serious Truck AccidentsThere is no doubt that the trucking industry is a vital part of our American way of life. Just under 70 percent of all goods in the U.S are delivered via semi-trucks. However, these trucks also present a grave danger when they are not operated properly. A fully-loaded semi-truck, tractor-trailer, or eighteen-wheeler can weigh up to a staggering 80,000 lbs. When a large truck is involved in a motor vehicle accident, the damage can be catastrophic. One contributor to major truck accidents is truck driver drug and alcohol use. If you or a loved one were involved in a major truck accident and the truck driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you may be eligible for compensation.

Study Shows Alcohol and Drug Use is High Among Truck Drivers

A study published in “Occupational and Environmental Medicine” analyzed the level of drug and alcohol use among truck drivers across the globe. Half of the truck drivers who participated in the study admitted to using alcohol while on the road, and 30 percent admitted to using amphetamines to stay awake on long hauls. The study also analyzed data gathered from drug and alcohol tests. The U.S. had the highest frequency of positive alcohol tests among all of the truck drivers tested. Approximately 12.5 percent of U.S. truck drivers who were tested for alcohol tested positive.

When Drug and Alcohol Use Causes an Accident

Drugs and alcohol have a significant impact on a truck driver’s ability to drive safely. Alcohol use decreases coordination, reaction time, and concentration – the very skills needed to maneuver through traffic. If you have been injured or a loved one was killed in an accident caused by an intoxicated driver, you may have a valid personal injury or wrongful death claim. Through a personal injury claim, you may be able to hold the negligent party accountable for the damage he or she has done. Furthermore, you may be able to receive compensation for both economic and noneconomic damages. You could be reimbursed for your medical bills, ongoing costs for physical therapy and rehabilitative medicine, lost wages due to time off of work, pain and suffering, and more.

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What Signs Can Help Detect Elder Abuse?Elder abuse can be classified as the negligent or intentional actions performed by a caregiver or trusted individual that results in pain and suffering for an elderly person. Several forms of elder abuse exist, including but not limited to neglect, physical and sexual abuse, and exploitation. Although elder abuse may be difficult to detect, there are numerous signs that can help determine if a crime is taking place. If you believe that a friend or family member is being victimized by a caretaker, it is important to seek legal help.  

How Can Neglect Be Identified?

Simply put, the neglect of an elderly person happens when adequate care and attention is not given by the attendant. Lack of medical treatment, an improper diet, and unsafe living conditions all qualify as different forms of neglect. Additionally, there are various signs that point to this form of abuse taking place, such as:

  • Lack of basic hygiene
  • Weight loss or trouble sleeping
  • Not being dressed appropriately for the weather conditions       
  • Missing medical aids (walkers, hearing aids, glasses, etc.)
  • Extended periods of time in bed without supervision, resulting in bedsores
  • Lack of living necessities (refrigerator, plumbing, electricity, etc.)

Signs of Physical or Sexual Abuse

In many cases, elderly people that are being physically or sexually abused can show changes in their appearance, mood, or overall body language and condition. Depending on the form of abuse and what body parts are being affected, different markings could help detect physical or sexual misconduct. Coinciding with any unexplained injuries, the discovery of a sexually transmitted disease (STD), an inappropriate relationship with a caregiver, torn clothing, or any aggressive actions could also be a warning that these types of abuse are transpiring.  

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What Should A Victim Do After a Hit-and-Run Car Accident?Being involved in an automobile crash can be a life-altering event. Pain and suffering, serious injuries, extensive medical bills, and extreme property damage can leave a victim unsure of how to proceed. After an accident takes place, it is likely that everyone who was linked to the collision will remain at the scene, exchange information, and wait for the authorities to arrive. However, there is always the possibility that the driver at fault will flee the scene. Before reckless actions are taken, there are several “Do’s and Don’ts” that the victim of a hit-and-run accident should consider.  

Do: Gather as Much Information as Possible

Without risking injury or breaking the law, the victim of a hit-and-run car accident should look to collect any relevant information for the police. For instance, if the at-fault vehicle starts to drive away, the victim should try to remember:

  • A description of the vehicle, such as the year, make, model and color
  • The license plate number
  • A depiction of any exterior damage done to their car
  • The direction the motorist was heading
  • The time and location in which the accident occurred

In addition, any pictures or video footage taken could immensely help law enforcement catch the driver. New information can be found within the footage that might not have been originally noticed, such as the motorist’s race, age, and gender.  

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Safety Tips to Consider When Driving Near TrucksWhether an individual is on the expressway or a city street, it is very probable that he or she will encounter a semi-truck. Although a motorist should always drive in a state of readiness, precaution levels should be further increased when a truck is nearby. Due to their size and weight, a semi-truck accident can lead to catastrophic injuries and fatalities. It is important for a motorist to understand the limitations that a larger vehicle is subjected to. Before getting behind the wheel, a motorist should consider these helpful suggestions:

  1. Avoid Blind Spots: The height and length of a semi-truck can create blind spots for the trucker from every angle. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), if an opposing motorist cannot see the truck driver in the vehicle side mirror, it should be assumed that the truck driver cannot see the vehicle. When driving near a truck, an individual should try their best to remain visible and never linger in a blind spot when trying to pass a truck.    
  2. Allow for Extra Room: Visibility is not the only concern an opposing motorist should think about when driving next to a truck. Considering that it takes much longer for a larger vehicle to stop, spacing should be planned. Drivers should also acknowledge the time and space needed for a truck to switch lanes. Furthermore, individuals should avoid tailgating a semi-truck. In the event of a rear-end collision, a car could slide or get pushed underneath a truck. 
  3. Expect Wide Turns: Often displayed on the back of a semi-truck is a warning that says, “this vehicle makes wide turns”. Opposing vehicles should never try to squeeze or get between a turning truck and the curb. In addition, intersection lines should never be crossed since they help trucks and other large vehicles safely navigate a turn. In many situations, a truck will have to conduct a turn from the middle lane in order to properly fit.
  4. Be Understanding: Semi-trucks are becoming more prevalent in our cites and on our expressways. It is important for fellow motorists to be patient with the setbacks that these vehicles have. Trucks take longer to accelerate and typically use speed limiters to prevent reckless behaviors. If a driver is looking at a long commute, he or she should plan to leave early. Driving aggressive and honking at trucks can lead to accidents occurring.   

Contact a Cook County Personal Injury Attorney

A traffic accident involving a semi-truck can be mentally and physically draining. If you or a loved one has been injured due to a truck driver’s negligence, financial compensation may be owed. With over $2.5 billion in verdicts and settlements in the last five years, the dedicated Orland Park, IL, truck accident lawyers at Schwartz Injury Law can help you seek restitution. To schedule a free consultation, contact our office at 708-226-9000.

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Most Common Traffic Laws Broken by Illinois DriversGetting behind the wheel means business. Abiding by Illinois driving laws, rules, and regulations is important to ensure the safety of yourself and others on the road. 

Unfortunately, rules get broken, accidents happen and injury occurs. The Illinois Vehicle Code lists hundreds of transportation offenses and their matching penalties, but there are the five outstanding rules of the road drivers constantly and continuously break:

  1. Failure to Stop at a Stop Sign or Running a Red Light: Red is the universal color of traffic signs and signals meaning “stop.” Even though you are supposed to come to a complete stop at stop signs, many drivers do what is known as a rolling stop. At a stop sign or stoplight, you are required to come to a complete stop before the white line, which marks the start of the intersection and allows other cars and pedestrians to travel safely when it is their turn to do so. Penalties for improper stopping at a stop sign, failure to stop at a stop sign, and/or running a red light range from a fine to points on your driving record.
  2. Speeding: Exceeding the posted speed limit decreases your ability to control your vehicle. If you are pulled over for speeding, there are different levels of consequences you could endure depending on how fast you were going.
  3. Operating a Vehicle Without a License or Proof of Insurance: A valid driver's license and auto insurance is required to operate a vehicle. Penalties for failure to have one or both range from license suspension to revocation.
  4. Driving without Wearing a Seatbelt: Illinois law requires all drivers and passengers age 8 and older to wear a seatbelt, regardless of whether they are in the front or back seat. Passengers under age 8 must be secured in an appropriate child restraint system that complies with the Child Passenger Protection Act.
  5. Distracted Driving: The odds of getting into a car accident increases drastically if you are distracted. It is important to minimize distractions before getting in the car and stay focused on the road while you are driving. Distractions while driving include but are not limited to:
  • Texting
  • Talking on the phone
  • Smoking
  • Eating and/or drinking
  • Singing or listening to music
  • Applying makeup or shaving
  • Trying to retrieve something that fell
  • Rubbernecking
  • Trying to read a map, newspaper or book

Providing Tinley Park, Oak Lawn, and Northern Illinois with Car Accident Representation

If you have been injured in a car accident from another driver breaking the law, contact Schwartz Injury Law. We will provide you with the best legal representation to get you the compensation you deserve for your case. To schedule a free consultation with a Cook County personal injury attorney, call our law firm at 708-226-9000 or fill out a form online today. 

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Four Tips for Reducing Roadway Collision Risk this Winter SeasonIn even the most ideal conditions, venturing out onto the highways as a motorist is scary and can be downright dangerous, posing many risks to our health and safety. Car accidents happen on all kinds of roadways, for a million different reasons, and no one is immune to the hazards responsible for these collisions. Whether the source of an accident is due to road construction, a negligent driver, or inclement weather, prevention efforts on behalf of motorists nationwide can go a long way in reducing our collision risks. This is especially the case for those who live in cold-weather regions throughout the winter season, as roadways are exceptionally hazardous during these icy, snow-filled months.

Preparation is Key

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) emphasizes the need to pay special attention to safe driving habits during the winter months, reminding us that preparation is key in not only the prevention of collisions but also in the event that you are involved in one. Being prepared better equips you to handle the challenges that come with the aftermath of a crash, like avoiding movement that might worsen any injuries you have incurred. As the winter months approach and you get ready to hit the roads, prepare in the following ways to lessen your chances of collision:

  1. Tune-up: Staying on top of your vehicle maintenance is crucial before and during the winter months. Be sure to inspect your tires and all of your lights, including headlights, brake lights, and emergency flashers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends having your mechanic check your battery as well to ensure you have enough amperage, voltage, and reserve capacity. Do not forget to keep your windshield wipers in proper working order, too, with enough fluid in the washer reservoir. Also, make sure your front and rear window defrosters are fully functional.
  2. Get Packing: Have a supply bag packed and stored away in your car for emergencies, should you end up stranded. This will come in handy in the event you are involved in a collision and need to wait for help. Pack blankets, food, water, medications, flashlights, jumper cables, and an abrasive material, like kitty litter. Flares, an ice scraper, and snow brush are also essentials for winter driving emergencies. 
  3. Rehearse: Carve out some time to practice driving your vehicle in winter weather conditions before you set out for longer trips. Rehearsing your movements beforehand will help you get comfortable operating your car in the ice and snow. OSHA recommends practicing in the daytime, in an empty lot. Try steering into a skid and getting familiar with your brakes by pumping non-antilock brakes or stomping on antilock brakes.
  4. Drive Defensively:  Brush up on defensive driving techniques and put them into practice the moment you hit the road. Continually scan your mirrors to keep an eye on what is happening around you, do not tailgate, and obey the rules of the road, especially speed limits. Cut out any distractions, from texting and talking on the cell phone to eating while driving. Keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the highway. In the wintertime, in particular, do not crowd snowplows. Give them space and pass with extreme caution.

Contact an Orland Park Car Accident Lawyer

If you find yourself in a car collision due to a negligent driver during the winter months, do not panic. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Reach out to a qualified Cook County personal injury lawyer, who can address your concerns and help protect your rights in a court of law. Call Schwartz Injury Law at 708-226-9000 today to schedule a free consultation.

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Research Shows Distracted Driving Is More Than Taking Our Eyes Off the RoadFrom the implementation of state-to-state cell phone laws and public awareness campaigns to startling news reports in the media, it seems the warnings about the dangers of distracted driving and related car accidents are everywhere we turn. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported over 3,000 deaths in 2017, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that in recent years, nearly 400,000 people have been injured due to distracted driving incidents. Despite the fact that statistics such as these keep surfacing, the number of alarming accidents continues to leave trails of both fatal and non-fatal injuries across our roadways.

Distracted Driving Takes Different Forms

Cell phone use is typically the first thing most drivers think of when it comes to the subject of distracted driving, but research shows that the issue is more complex than simply using a cell phone behind the wheel. According to the CDC, distracted driving takes many different forms and can be anything that pulls our attention away from the road. The CDC tells us that our attention can be disrupted in three different ways: visually, manually, and cognitively. Here are some examples of how these distracted driving incidents can take place: 

  • Visual Distraction: Texting alone takes our eyes off the road for a minimum of five seconds, but our ability to safely operate a vehicle is instantly impaired anytime we are visually distracted, whether our eyes are peeled from the road due to sightseeing or we are engaging in a heated debate with a passenger next to us. Not only are we unable to see what is happening directly in front of us, but we are also losing sight of our speed and the proximity of other cars around us, rendering us incapable of driving defensively. 
  • Manual Distraction: Physically removing our hands from the wheel can be just as deadly as taking our eyes off the road, and usually, these two forms of distracted driving intertwine. Some common dangers that involve taking our hands off the wheel include adjusting the radio or air conditioning or eating while driving. Operating a navigation system while in motion is another common, risky activity.
  • Cognitive Distraction: One of the biggest reasons texting and talking on the phone garners so much attention and racks up the highest statistics is the cognitive factor behind the risk. A cognitive distraction is considered anything that takes our minds off the road, and replying to a message or engaging in a phone conversation is more than a simple glance out the window. Conversations redirect our thinking entirely, consuming our attention and eliminating our ability to focus. While science may prove we are able to multitask, we also know that it does not automatically mean we can divide our attention evenly. We can only devote so much focus on a particular task, especially when it comes to driving and the distractions competing for our attention.

Contact an Orland Park, Illinois, Personal Injury Attorney

Studies show that young adults and teen drivers are most at risk for crashing due to distracted driving, but victims of all ages are affected on a daily basis by the negligence of those causing these types of accidents. If you have had the unfortunate experience of becoming a victim statistic, it is important to inform yourself of your rights so you can fully advocate for your health. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. The moment you are involved in a collision, speak with a knowledgeable Cook County personal injury lawyer, who can examine your case and determine the nature of the crash. Call Schwartz Injury Law at 708-226-9000 and ask for a free consultation today.

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