Here’s what other personal injury and workers’ compensation lawyers have been talking about over the past few weeks: Jury Instruction Social Networking (Day on Torts) North Carolina: Jail Time for Uninsured Employers (Workers’ Compensation Blog) Cell Phone Use Cited in 24% of Motor Vehicle Crashes (Personal Injury and Social Security Disability blog) NFL Concussion Website (Torts Prof Blog) Members of UNC Create App to Aid in the Diagnosis of Concussions (Brain Injury Lawyer blog) The Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. You can reach the firm by calling (312) 346-8780.
Currently in Illinois, repeat speed offenders are oftentimes sentenced to court supervision and fines instead of license suspensions. According to this Chicago-Tribune article, sometimes the supervisory sentence is handed down improperly and the motivation for these types of alternate sentences is to allow the chronic speeder to avoid a license suspension. However, as reported in the article, chronic speeders can be a harzard on the road. For example, a horrific car accident occurred in June of last year that resulted the tragic death of a innocent 17-year-old young woman whose car was struck by one driven by a young man who was a chronic speeder and who was currently under “court supervision” for his multiple speeding infractions. As explained in the article, this accident has spurred Illinois legislators to introduce a proposed law that would reduce the number of people eligible to receive “court supervision” as a sentence for speeding: The June 2011 crash has sparked new legislation intended to curb who can get court supervision, barring anyone who is caught speeding by more than 25 mph on a nonrural road, or 30 mph on a highway, from getting the special probation. If passed, it will be the third law in six years to restrict who is allowed to get court supervision…The most popular sentence for traffic offenders, supervisions allow governments to collect fees for traffic violations and drivers to avoid traffic convictions that can lead to increased insurance rates and, in the extreme, license suspensions. Hopefully this proposed legislation will pass and will be enacted as soon as possible. Doing so will appropriately penalize chronic speeders and prevent them from causing car accidents on Illinois roadways. The only way to protect Illinois residents and make the roads safer for everyone is to suspend the licenses of chronic speeders. It’s the right thing to do. The safety of our roadways should always be the paramount concern, not the protection of the licenses of people who choose to drive without concern for the safety of others on the road. The Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. You can reach the firm by calling (312) 346-8780.
Are brake-override systems necessary? Should they be mandatory for all new vehicles? Federal regulators seem to think so. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration just recently proposed that all automobile manufacturers implement design changes in future vehicles that would include a brake-throttle override system. A number of car manufacturers already include this feature in their vehicles, including Nissan, Volkswagen, BMW and Chrysler. The reason behind this move is the Lexus crash in 2009 caused by a floor mat interfering with the braking system and the subsequent recalls of Lexus and Toyota vehicles because of unintended acceleration. Many believe that brake override systems will effectively prevent crashes of this type from occurring in the future, as explained in this Los Angeles Times article: The systems act as an electronic fail-safe that automatically releases the throttle when a car’s onboard computer senses that the brake pedal is depressed. Designed for cars with electronic throttle control, which use wires and software rather than mechanical cables to connect the gas pedal to the engine, it has been available for nearly a decade. According to proponents of the proposed law, the roads would be safer if the regulations were implemented and American drivers would have more confidence in the safety of their vehicles and the roadways: Safety officials believe brake-override systems — in which the application of the brake pedal by the driver would instantly disengage a stuck throttle — can prevent such crashes… “America’s drivers should feel confident that any time they get behind the wheel they can easily maintain control of their vehicles — especially in the event of an emergency,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “By updating our safety standards, we’re helping give drivers peace of mind that their brakes will work even if the gas pedal is stuck down while the driver is trying to brake.” Of course, not everyone supports this change, least of all the car manufacturers who don’t yet include this feature in the design of their cars, since adding it will affect their bottom line. And, some also dispute the effectiveness of brake-override systems in preventing accidents caused by unintended acceleration. Even so, the addition of this feature can’t hurt, and if it saves lives, then it is undoubtedly worth the cost and inconvenience of adding this feature to new cars. After all, shouldn’t safety always trump the bottom line? The Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com)[READ MORE…]
It may surprise you to learn that it wasn’t until 2003 that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) began to sometimes use female crash test dummies when simulating crashes to determine the safety of vehicles. Why does it matter whether female crash test dummies are used? Well, because as explained in the ABC.com article, women’s bodies react differently during car accidents than men’s: The reason for using female dummies is simple, says Lynda Tran, spokesperson for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA): Studies show that women, having smaller bones and lower bone density, are at greater risk than men of suffering injury or death in crashes. Their less muscular necks make them more vulnerable to whiplash. In general, smaller people cannot tolerate crash forces as well as can full-sized men. So, it only makes sense that when automakers or governmental agencies like the NHTSA test vehicles to determine crashworthiness, both male and female dummies should used. However, although things have improved somewhat, male dummies are still the norm, especially when it comes to determining the safety of the driver versus the passenger. In that situation, as discussed in the ABC.com article, male dummies are still the most tested and there is, therefore, far less data available regarding how automobile crashes affect women drivers: (A)ny woman trying to use Safercar.gov to determine in which car she would be safest as the driver (as compared to passenger) is in for a frustrating experience: Two out of the three of the NHTSA’s test situations presume the driver to be male: In the head-on crash and the crash into a side barrier, it’s a male dummy behind the wheel. Data for a female driver is not provided. Only in the third test situation–a side crash into a pole–is the driver female. So, while we’ve made some strides to protect women who travel in automobiles, far more needs to be done. After all, women make up more than 50% of the population, so shouldn’t at least 50% of the crash test dummies used to test the safety of cars be comprised of female crash test dummies? It only makes sense and women deserve to know whether a particular car will protect them in the even of a car accident, don’t they? The Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. You can reach the firm by calling (312) 346-8780.
Many of us fondly recall the Jetsons cartoon from our childhoods. It was a show that still seems incredibly futuristic, and yet many of the inventions envisioned in the Jetsons aren’t yet a part of our reality. But one concept–driver-free cars–is already a possibility in 2012. Search engine leader Google is currently testing driverless cars and Nevada has already passed regulations that pave the way for use of these car’s on Nevada roadways. But, are they safe? According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, many features of driverless cars make the roads safer, as reported in this Chicago-Tribune article: One argument for driverless cars, is, ironically, an argument for safer roads. The reason the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has required that all new auto models include electronic stability control is that it makes vehicles safer. The agency predicts that once every vehicle on the road has the system, the feature will prevent up to 238,000 crashes and save up to 9,600 lives per year. Windsor said electronic stability control, collision warning systems, adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping systems are good for safety and can help drive down the cost of car insurance. One would think that insurance companies would embrace these safer vehicles, but according to the Chicago-Tribune article, the exact opposite is true. It seems that insurers are instead turning a blind eye to the possibility that use of the cars by the public will likely soon be a reality–possibly within a matter of years. So why aren’t insurers hard at work underwriting policies for these cars? According to the article, it’s because they’re just not ready to accept the idea that these cars will be ready for mass use in just a few years: With companies working to develop completely autonomous vehicles — in which passengers can read, sleep or work on a computer while they travel to their destination — you’d think insurance companies are developing models to underwrite insurance policies on these types of vehicles. Not really. Several companies haven’t looked into it at all, and the ones that have say it will be several years — perhaps decades — before automated vehicles are ready for the market. The insurers may be right. Only time will tell. But knowing how innovative Google can be, it’s a big gamble to ignore the very real possibility that driverless cars may soon be on our roadways–making the[READ MORE…]
If you’re injured as a result of an automobile accident with an emergency services vehicle that is responding to a call, are you be able to receive compensation for your injuries? Well, the answer is–it depends. In Illinois, in many cases, responding emergency vehicles maybe held to be immune from liability, but ultimately, the facts of the case will control whether you will prevail if you file a personal injury lawsuit based on your injuries. Recently, the Appellate Court of Illinois, First District, considered just such a case. In Wilkins v. Williams, No. 1–10–1805, plaintiff was injured when an ambulance which carrying a patient during a nonemergency transport collided with her car at an intersection. The issue considered by the court was “whether Williams’ actions in making a nonemergency transport of a patient to a facility is covered by the immunity provision of the EMS Act and, if so, whether the immunity extends to cover injuries sustained by innocent third parties not directly serviced by the emergency workers.” In reaching its decision, the court reviewed the EMS Act, which established immunity for operators of emergency vehicles when performing their duties and rendering medical aid, in conjunction with the Illinois Vehicle Code, which addressed the duty of emergency vehicle operators to other motorists on the road: (T)he EMS Act cannot be read to immunize ambulance drivers from third-party claims of negligence in the ordinary operation of a motor vehicle. To allow such immunity would render meaningless the Vehicle Code’s provisions that the driver of an authorized emergency vehicle must drive with due regard for the safety of all other drivers. It follows that in order to harmonize the Vehicle Code with the EMS Act, the immunity provision of the Act does not extend to the negligent operation of a motor vehicle resulting in injuries to third parties. So, applying that rule to this case, the court concluded that the EMS Act did not operate to extend immunity to the defendant for the plaintiff’s claim of ordinary negligence in the operation of the ambulance. Accordingly, the court allowed the car accident lawsuit to proceed so that the plaintiff could attempt to prove that the defendant was liable to her for her serious injuries. The Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. You can reach the firm by calling (312) 346-8780.
In late March, the United States Senate approved legislation that would increase the fines levied against U.S. automakers who failed to comply with automobile recall regulations. Currently, automakers are fined a maximum of $17 million but the proposed legislation would greatly increase the maximum fines to $250 million. As explained in a Detroit News article, the rationale behind the proposed increase is to encourage recall regulation compliance on behalf of automakers: National Highway Traffic Safety Adminstrator David Strickland told a House panel on Thursday that higher fines would help deter automakers. Strickland said the $17 million maximum fine is a “pittance to most of these automakers” because of their large size. Not surprisingly, automakers opposed the change alleging that the current fine structure was more than sufficient and higher fines would do little to change the rates of compliance. But consumer advocacy groups disagreed, contending that public safety should be the primary concern and higher fines would ultimately serve the greater good: But Ami V. Gadhia, senior policy council at Consumers Union, said the fines make sense, saying they “will help act as a deterrent against future violations that imperil public safety. While the $250 million figure is the outermost limit of what NHTSA could fine a company for a series of violations, this cap can help ensure that violations do not become a ‘cost of doing business’ for a large, multibillion dollar company.” This argument simply makes sense. After all, if automakers comply with the regulations, the higher fines won’t even be an issue. Not to mention that the higher fines simply encourage automakers to place public safety and the prevention of automobile accidents ahead of their business concerns–and public safety should always trump business profits. Complying with recall rules is the ethical thing to do–and for companies subject to the potentially increased fines–it will undoubtedly be the best business decision as well. The Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. You can reach the firm by calling (312) 346-8780.
When someone slips and falls in a public place in Illinois such as a mall, in order to prevail in a personal injury lawsuit, the person who fell must establish that the owner of the property was somehow responsible for the fall. Sometimes this can be a difficult proposition, as the plaintiff in Ishoo v. General Growth Properties, Inc., 2012 WL 933383, recently learned. On the day of her fall, the plaintiff in Ishoo was working as a sales representative at the make up counter at Neiman Marcus. She took a break to purchase a cup of coffee from Starbucks, and as she was walking there, she slipped and fell on a wet substance on the floor. As a result of the fall, she injured her right shoulder. She later filed this personal injury lawsuit alleging that the owners of the mall were responsible for her injuries because they either knew or should have known that a wet substance had accumulated on the floor and posed a hazard to shoppers and others walking through the mall. The Appellate Court of Illinois, First District, explained what was required in order for the plaintiff to prove negligence on behalf of the defendants: To establish negligence on the part of the defendants, the plaintiff need only bring forth facts that her fall was caused by a liquid substance on the floor attributable to the defendants. Liabilityon the part of the defendants may arise if (1) one or more defendants is directly responsible for the liquid substance on the floor or (2) the defendants had actual or constructive notice of the liquid substance on the floor…(T)his appeals turns on whether there is any evidence that directly proves, or gives rise to a reasonable inference, that the presence of the liquid substance on the floor is tied to one or more of the defendants… Unfortunately for the injured plaintiff, after reviewing the facts and applying the relevant legal standards to the fact of the case, the court concluded that the plaintiff had failed to show that the defendants had actual or constructive notice of the wet substance on the floor: (U)nder the facts of this case, actual notice can only be established by a showing that the housekeeping staff “squeegeed” cleaning solution from the escalator on to the floor. As we have already concluded, no facts exist that the activities of housekeeping staff were responsible for the liquid[READ MORE…]
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