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Articles Posted in Automobile Accidents

Anytime you set out on Illinois’ roadways and expressways, there is an element of danger. That’s especially true if your vehicle comes into contact with a “big rig.” These truck accidents, due to trucks’ size and weight, have an elevated tendency to cause major damage, injuries and death. Getting the full amount you deserve in this type of situation may involve many different types of evidence to establish all the damage for which you are entitled to receive compensation, so be sure you have an experienced Chicago truck accident attorney handling your case from the very start.

Just a few weeks ago, the state Department of Transportation released its latest accident statistics report, which covers January – December 2018. During that year, the state logged more than 13,000 accidents involving tractor-trailers, with 2,235 causing injury and 122 causing death. These numbers represented a significant increase over 2017, when there were only 11,700 truck crashes, 1,949 of those causing injury and 107 fatal accidents. In each of those three categories, the year-to-year increase was more than 10%.

Recent news stories provide further examples of the problem. In early July, the Chicago Sun-Times reported on a motorcyclist who lost his life while traveling north on Lewis Avenue in Waukegan. The driver of the Freightliner that was immediately next to the motorcyclist switched lanes to the right… and right into the path of the Harley Davidson. The motorcyclist was declared dead at the scene.

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It is sometimes said that no one likes attorneys until they need one. It can be easy to form negative opinions about lawyers based upon what you see a small minority doing in the news headlines. However, when you’re hurt and a powerful entity on the other side is inaccurately representing what happened in your accident in order to deny you the recovery you urgently need, you may feel overwhelmed or plain hopeless if you are without counsel. When that happens, you definitely need the services of the right Chicago car accident attorney. Your experienced injury lawyer can help you make sense of your case, take control and acquire the evidence you need (like eyewitnesses, forensic crash-scene evidence or video footage) to expose the truth.

An example of that type of situation happened recently in the Chicago suburb of Hometown. A Metra train crashed into a compact sedan one night at around 7:30 p.m. A WGN report indicated that, according to Metra, “the lights were flashing, the gates were down and other vehicles had stopped, but the female driver sped around the gates.” The accident critically injured three women inside the car. A 19-year-old male pedestrian struck by the car and died in a hospital two days later.

Obviously, if Metra’s description were true, that could be incredibly damaging to the court cases that the injured passengers and fatally injured pedestrian’s family might pursue against Metra, as it would indicate that the car’s driver, not Metra, was to blame for causing the accident. This is why you need ample resources on your side to discover all the favorable evidence that may be out there. The unfortunate reality is that, without strong evidence to contradict Metra’s description, may people might find the story of a relatively young driver in her 20s recklessly choosing to “beat” the train to be persuasive.

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Statistics from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) showed that, in 2015, some 13% of all large truck accidents were the result of driver fatigue, a percentage greater than alcohol and illegal drugs combined (11%). Drowsy truck drivers represent an extreme danger risk on Illinois’s highways, as an accident involving a sleepy (or sleeping) truck driver often also involves a big rig traveling at high speeds. If you or a loved one have been hurt by a trucker who drove while drowsy or otherwise fatigued, you may be able to recover substantial compensation in court, so you should act quickly to contact a knowledgeable Chicago truck accident attorney.

A tragic January accident is an example of just damaging semi accidents can be. The driver of a FedEx semi, traveling eastbound on I-90 near Rockford at roughly 1:00 a.m. one morning, crashed into the rear of a disabled vehicle that was positioned along the right-hand shoulder of the highway. The disabled vehicle’s driver, a young mother who had run out of gas and was standing alongside her vehicle, died at the scene. Her 4-year-old child, who was still in the vehicle, suffered minor injuries, according to a WIFR report. The report indicated that the truck driver was cited by police for “failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident.” Police indicated drugs and alcohol were not believed to be factors in the crash.

The information reported by the news media offers us some facts, but not everything, about this crash. We know that the accident happened in the wee hours of the morning. We know that the deceased driver pulled off the highway after her vehicle stopped running. We know semi driver was believed by police to be completely sober. The information from the news reports did not rule out driver fatigue as a factor in the crash.

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A multi-vehicle chain-reaction accident involving an Amazon semi-truck left two people dead in Houston, Texas shortly before Easter Sunday. Unfortunately, headlines and stories like this are popping up far too often. Amazon trucks are becoming involved in an ever-increasing number of accidents… accidents causing major injuries and sometimes fatalities. If you are injured in Illinois by an Amazon truck, or by a truck driver delivering items for Amazon, you may be entitled to compensation from the massive corporation. To find who owes you damages for the harm you’ve suffered, reach promptly and speak to a knowledgeable Chicago truck accident attorney about your circumstances.

In the Houston incident, the accident, which occurred in the wee hours of the morning, initially wrecked a Mazda, a Chevrolet pickup truck and a Lincoln SUV, according to the Houston Chronicle. The Mazda’s driver and a passenger in the Lincoln exited their vehicles. As they did so, “an Amazon 18-wheeler plowed through the crash site,” according to the report, killing them. A third person, a “Good Samaritan” who had stopped to help, only escaped the big rig’s path by jumping off the freeway overpass, landing some 10-15 feet below, whereupon he suffered serious injuries, according to ABC 13. The ABC report also indicated that the roads were rain-slickened at the time of the crash.

In late January, an Amazon Prime truck headed northbound on I-77 north of Charlotte abruptly crashed into and through a guardrail at roughly 1:00 a.m. Fortunately, in this accident, no one was seriously injured, as the truck collided with no other vehicles and the roughly 13,000 packages that spilled from the trailer generally landed on the grass to the east of the northbound lanes. WSOC, which covered the accident, stated that it was not known “yet what caused the truck to go off the interstate.”

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There are many ways that a commercial truck driver can err and cause an accident with injuries. These can include good-faith judgment mistakes, such as going too fast for a rain or ice-slicked highway. Other times, the driver’s actions are less “good-faith,” such as when a driver causes an injury crash because he was impaired by drugs or alcohol. When you’re injured by a commercial truck driver, you are entitled to sue for the harm you suffered. Getting the full recovery you deserve often depends on accumulating and presenting the right evidence about who was legally liable for those injuries caused, and getting a judgment against all of them. To ensure you are equipped to get that full recovery, be sure you have a knowledgeable Chicago truck accident attorney working for you.

In one recent Central Illinois commercial truck accident, the outcome was tragedy. According to WAND TV, a grandmother was outside her vehicle in the parking lot of a local gas station when a dump truck lost control trying turn at a nearby intersection. The truck slammed through a ditch, passed over a street and careened into the parking lot, where it hit and killed the woman.

A day after the crash, the state charged the truck driver with aggravated DUI, reckless homicide and various drug crimes, according to the WAND report. The driver was operating a dump truck for the local township at the time of the fatal accident.

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Many news reports in the past have covered the intense pressure Amazon drivers face to meet delivery deadlines during the winter holiday season, and the safety issues those demands trigger. New reports, however, are highlighting a uniquely 2020 problem: a coronavirus-fueled world where every day is like late December for Amazon drivers. These intense demands and pressures on Amazon’s fleet of drivers has the potential to cause injuries – both to the drivers themselves and also to the other drivers Amazon’s drivers encounter on the expressways and roadways. If you’ve been injured in such an accident, you may potentially have a right to pursue compensation from Amazon itself. Be sure to contact an experienced Chicago accident attorney about the facts surrounding your injuries.

One example of this occurred just an hour away from Chicago. On Dec. 22 of last year, a motorcyclist was involved in a terrible accident, according to a nwi.com report. Allegedly, an Amazon driver, L.H. excited a residence and improperly failed to yield to oncoming traffic. Her van collided with T.D.’s motorcycle, critically injuring T.D., according to the lawsuit he filed.

T.D.’s accident happened near the peak of what is typically Amazon’s busiest season for deliveries. The motorcyclist’s lawsuit alleged that Amazon’s “unreasonable and unsafe demands” placed on drivers contributed to the catastrophic crash. According to the nwi.com report, T.D. asserted in his court case that Amazon delivery drivers “often have to deliver upwards of 250 packages a day, which leaves less than two minutes per package during an eight-hour shift.”

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AMAZON-300x197Jeff Bezos can probably take credit for changing the way people shop online more than any single person. While the road to Amazon’s dominance as a retailer certainly has been fueled by a spark of ingenuity, that same road has also been filled with many strategies designed to protect the company to the detriment of its work force. While news stories have focused on Amazon fulfillment worker injuries at its numerous warehouses across the country, many Chicago area Amazon workers face other challenges. This is especially true as Amazon uses a strategy that involves treating its Flex drivers as 1099’s or independent contractors even though they are under the direction and control by Amazon.com, Inc. as to how they are required to do their jobs. For instance, Amazon uses GPS to tell the drivers where to go after the packages are picked up. Amazon has the right to control how many blocks a driver gets, which means that sometimes a driver will not get consistent work.

Many Amazon delivery drivers may be surprised to learn that Amazon.com, Inc. does not consider them to be employees. That means that Amazon Flex drivers will be told by Amazon’s lawyers that they do not have workers’ compensation benefits when they sustain a work injury. Amazon operates very much like Uber and Lyft as part of the gig economy that uses a strategy of evading the existing laws that are designed to protect workers when they are hurt on the job. This probably is not a surprise because it is a way of saving money and passing the buck to society both by not paying for work comp insurance and by pushing the costs onto local, state, and federal governments. They also operate like many delivery companies in that they tell their drivers that they are their own boss yet control they way they do their jobs from start to finish by using an app. For example, Amazon drivers must operate under a “Block.” This means that a driver must deliver a certain amount of packages in a set time based on what the company thinks that a driver should be able to accomplish. A driver is paid the same whether they complete this block in the allotted time or not.

Certainly, Amazon Flex drivers are at a higher risk of harm than most people because they are driving through many urban and suburban areas, parking, walking to doorsteps, and doing all of this through ice, snow, sleet, and rain, especially in Illinois. It comes as no surprise that Amazon delivery drivers sustain work injuries not only in major vehicle accidents, but also in slip and fall and trip and fall accidents. In the recent weeks, there have been many concerns voiced about Amazon drivers becoming infected with the Coronavirus and developing Covid-19 illness. According a a recent Seattle Times article, Amazon is telling drivers to knock with their phones, don’t sneeze on packages, and to have customers step away from their ID’s left on the ground to avoid spreading the virus. https://www.seattletimes.com/business/amazon/amazon-gives-delivery-drivers-detailed-guidance-for-working-amid-coronavirus/ Considering the recent surge in orders and Amazon increasing the hourly rate for Flex drivers, not only will there be an increase in the number of Amazon workers hurt at work and left in the cold from car crashes, but there will probably be a surge in the number of workers who fall ill with Covid-19 who are easily and rapidly replaced by Amazon. In fact, the way that Amzaon treats its workers is very close to treating them like robots. It is expected that Amazon will proceed this way until they can replace their drivers with automated vehicles and drones. Despite what Amazon’s lawyers say, Flex drivers are covered under Illinois Workers’ Compensation law.

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission announced a suspension of business to limit the effect of the COVID-19 virus. This suspension of operations is in effect until 3/31/2020 when the situation will be re-evaluated. Here is the link to the Commission’s announcement:  ⁣

http://www.iwcc.il.gov/ ⁣

Unfortunately, no hearings nor docket calls will take place during this period.  In order to comply with the order of Governor Pritzker, the law firm will not be traveling to the union halls for interviewing at least through the end of March.  However, your Katz Friedman lawyers are working hard for you and remain available to take telephone calls.  Our office is open with a reduced non-lawyer staff to insure we make progress on each and every case.⁣

In the last few years, some auto manufacturers (like Tesla) and rideshare companies (like Uber) have pursued autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicles in their fleet. Now, according to recent news reports, autonomous vehicle technology could possibly be coming to city buses in the near future. While we all applaud advances that improve people’s lives, we are also reminded that, when malfunctions and mistakes cause accidents, people may be left with life-altering (or life-ending) injuries. If that’s you, be sure you have a knowledgeable Chicago car accident attorney representing you to get you the compensation you need.

Back in November, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was planning to spend roughly $5 million on an autonomous pilot program. The hope is eventually to utilize autonomous buses in the Lincoln Tunnel’s exclusive bus lane. This technology, according to Port Authority estimates, “could allow for 200 more buses to run during each morning weekday rush,” providing a ride for an extra 10,000 commuters from New Jersey to Manhattan.

In other cities, self-driving buses are already in operation. Jacksonville, Florida and Las Vegas each have self-driving shuttles that run in special shuttle-only lanes. In Gainesville, Florida, the city is already testing driverless shuttle buses that, if all goes according to plan, would run on the city’s streets and roads before the end of 2020. Gainesville would be the first city to have autonomous buses on its roads in the United States, according to a WUFT report.

Autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicles are becoming more and more popular these days. At the same time, more accidents involving these vehicles are making the news. Many of these accidents are high-speed collisions and several have had tragic results. On December 29 alone, two accidents involving vehicles with autopilot technology killed three people. When these accidents hurt or kill people, someone is legally responsible for the harm that has been caused, whether that someone is the driver or the auto manufacturer. If you have been injured in an accident involving a vehicle with autopilot or driver-assist technology, you should reach out promptly to an experienced Chicago car accident attorney about your case. Your skillful attorney can help you do the discovery necessary to find those truly responsible and hold them accountable.

Two different December accidents – both involving Tesla vehicles and both involving fatalities – have once again brought Tesla’s autopilot feature into the spotlight. In one accident, a 23-year-old woman was riding with her 25-year-old husband when their Tesla Model 3 slammed into the rear of a parked fire truck along Interstate 70 in rural Putnam County, Indiana. In that accident, which occurred just before 8:00 a.m., several emergency vehicles (including the fire truck) were parked in the left lane to deal with an earlier incident. All of the emergency vehicles had their flashing lights on. Despite that, the Tesla barreled into the fire truck “at a high rate of speed,” according to Car and Driver.

In the other accident, a speeding Tesla Model S ran a red light in Southern California and crashed into a Honda Civic, killing the two occupants of the Honda. Reports indicate that these are not completely isolated incidents. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has, according to Reuters, investigated nearly two dozen accidents that involved self-driving or “driver assist” systems. More than half of those (14) involved a Tesla vehicle, with the Indiana crash representing the 14th.

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