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Articles Posted in Automobile Accidents

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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In the past, this blog has informed readers about how they may potentially be able hold their rideshare service like Uber or Lyft liable for negligence for injuries riders suffer as a result of the rideshare service contracting with a driver that the service knew or should have known was unsafe. That type of liability, where an entity is held liable for negligently hiring and/or training a driver, even if that driver is an independent contractor, is not something that is limited to situations involving rideshare services. This technique may also be an important element of your successful Chicago truck accident case against a transportation company for the injuries you suffered as a result of an unsafe truck driver. Whether you were hurt by an unsafe Uber driver or an unsafe trucker, there may be many different ways to get the compensation you deserve, not just from the driver but from the entity that put that unsafe driver on the road.

Recently, the Illinois Appellate Court affirmed a multi-million dollar jury verdict against a trucking company that employed a driver it knew or should have known was dangerous. A Michigan-based trucking company received an application from D.L.J., who was applying to be a truck driver. The company discovered that the applicant had never completed a truck driving course and, in the three years before submitting his application, had racked up four accidents, three moving violations and two license suspensions. In the previous 10 years, the applicant had been fired from four differed truck driving jobs, including one termination for crashing into another vehicle while the trucker was driving aggressively on an interstate highway. He also had a felony conviction in connection to his truck driving, where he tried to shatter the headlights of a woman’s car after he perceived the woman to have tailgated him.

The company declared D.L.J. a marginal candidate and hired him. The driver quickly picked up a speeding citation and again got his license suspended. Nevertheless, the company kept using the man. A year later, the driver rear-ended a man, causing him to suffer massive but non-fatal injuries.

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Senator and presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren is drafting a bill that would ban “mega mergers” between the nation’s largest companies as well as try to improve the bargaining power of short-term and temporary workers.

The forthcoming legislation, a collaborative effort with Rep. David Cicilline of the House antitrust subcommittee, would bar tie-ups including a company with over $40 billion in annual revenue or two companies each with at least $15 billion in annual revenue, according to a person familiar with the matter.

It would also grant gig workers the power to unionize, a potential landmark change for rail-hailing companies like Uber Technologies and (click here) to read the full article via CNBC.

In many auto accident cases, insurance policies and insurance coverage will play an important role in securing payment for the damages you suffered. That inevitably means dealing with, and sometimes battling in the courts against, insurance companies. The law has rules designed to protect consumers when it comes to insurance coverage and dealing with insurance companies, which is just one of many reasons why it is so important to make sure you have skilled Illinois car accident counsel on your side before you take on an insurance company in court.

A case from southern Illinois recently provided an example of how the law can help you in the case of an ambiguous insurance policy. A Massac County teen, Austin, and his passenger, Lesley, were hit by an underinsured driver in June 2015. Both the driver and the passenger settled with the at-fault driver for $25,000. Austin and Lesley’s total damages were far greater than $25,000, however.

The pair then pursued Austin’s parents’ insurer. They asserted that the insurance policy that the parents had signed allowed for $75,000 of underinsured motorist coverage and that, since there were four vehicles on the policy and the insurer charged four separate premiums, they were entitled to seek payment of $300,000 in underinsured motorist coverage.

Rideshare services in the U.S. have been in the news recently with the tragic death of a South Carolina university student, who was kidnapped and murdered by the person she mistakenly believed to be her Uber driver. While events like that are thankfully rare, car accident injuries involving rideshare drivers are less so. Sometimes, those damages are suffered due to the missteps of a rideshare driver, sometimes the rideshare driver is the person who was harmed.

Whether you’re an injured rideshare driver or someone hurt by a rideshare driver, there are several things you need to know in order to take legal action in the most effective way possible. One of the most basic of these is: whom should I sue? This can be more complicated than you might think, given the complexity of the corporate structure of some of the rideshare services. Every choice you make matters and may mean the difference between success and defeat, so be sure you have a skilled Chicago injury attorney representing you at every step along the way.

One question being asked these days, in relation to rideshare services, is “what is Raiser, LLC?” Raiser is an integral part of the corporate structure of Uber and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Uber. (Uber has several of these entities.) Raiser is the business entity with whom Uber driver are technically contracted. When an Uber driver gets paid, it is Raiser that is technically paying that driver.

Many major national and international entities use complex corporate structures to attempt to minimize or avoid civil liability, especially in today’s more complicated “gig” economy. They may have layers of subordinates or franchisees which, they will argue, are independent and solely liable for negligence that injures you. These large entities can range from online retailers to pizza restaurants to rideshare companies. Many times, these franchisees or subordinates may be very small and/or very financially limited.

The law, however, recognizes some important exceptions when the larger entity is actually the one “pulling the strings” and maintaining control of the activities being performed, and therefore potentially liable. With the right proof, you may still be able to get the full recovery you deserve by pursuing the (often much larger) parent or principal entity. To accomplish these kinds of goals (and others) in your Illinois accident case, be sure you have placed a skilled Chicago injury attorney on your side.

A case from Florida gives some insight into how success might be achieved. In the Florida case, a former fire chief was traveling a state highway when a pizza delivery driver cut in front of him. The chief reportedly swerved to avoid contact but lost control of his truck and flipped. The accident left the chief with permanent spinal injuries that rendered him a quadriplegic. He died 15 months later as a result of complications of the accident, according to a Florida Today report.

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settlementstick-300x276There may be many different possible ways to resolve your Illinois personal injury action. You can litigate the case all the way to a verdict, you can work out a settlement with the other side, or you may achieve a settlement through an alternative dispute resolution process like mediation. In order to protect yourself, you need to make sure that you understand your case in great detail, including the monetary value of your case. Without this knowledge, you may fall into the trap of accepting a low-ball offer to settle your case. Retaining knowledgeable Chicago car accident counsel to represent you is one important way to make sure that your interests will be properly safeguarded, whether through trial, mediation, or any other process.

The case of Keenan, reported by the Madison-St. Clair Record, was an example of how mediation can fail because the defendant does not submit an appropriate offer. According to Keenan, Anne rear-ended him in the town of Shiloh, causing him to suffer significant injuries. When you’re injured in an auto accident, there are several steps that are involved in the process to obtain compensation for the harm you suffered. Whether you want to settle or go to trial, whether you seek a courtroom resolution or an outcome achieved through alternative dispute resolution, knowledgeable legal representation will know how to handle any of these scenarios.

The defense asked for the two sides to participate in mediation. Mediation can be a useful way to reach a fair and beneficial outcome without having to go through everything that is inherently involved in a full trial. Some of the keys to a successful mediation generally involve a strong knowledge of what your case is worth (so that you don’t agree to a settlement that is too small) and an opponent who participates in the process in a serious manner.

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