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Archive for the category: Trucking Accidents
  • New California Car Seat Law Targets Older Children

    With the new year came new laws, including a new California car seat law that requires children to use a booster seat until they are age 8 or 4 feet, 9 inches tall.  The previous California law only required children to remain in car seats until they were 6 years old or weighed 60 pounds.  The new law eliminates any weight requirements.   Although children over the age of 8, but under the height requirement, are not required to use a booster seat, California’s Office of Traffic Safety has stated that it considers the use of a booster seat in the cases to be “best practice.” Because seat belts are designed to fit adults, a booster seat “boosts” a child up to allow the adult-sized seat belt to fit properly.  In order for a seat belt to fit correctly, the lap belt should be low on the hips, touching the upper thighs, with the shoulder belt crossing the chest without touching the face or neck, according to the Office of Traffic Safety.  If the belt is ill-fitting (for instance, it crosses the stomach instead of the hip bones), a child can be severely injured by the seat belt itself in an auto accident.  It can also be dangerous for children to put the shoulder belt behind their back or arm as it can increase the risk of head and spinal cord injuries. Parents or drivers can be fined a minimum of $475 and receive one violation point on their driving record for each child under 16 who is not using a booster seat as required by the new law. The use of booster seats has been shown to increase a child’s chance of surviving a crash by 45 percent, according to Christopher J. Murphy, director of California’s Office of Traffic Safety. Illinois Seat Belt Laws Illinois law also requires that all children younger than 8 years of age be properly restrained in a child safety seat.  Additionally, as we recently reported, a new Illinois law that went into effect January 1, 2012 requires that everyone in a vehicle buckle up (with a few exceptions), including backseat riders.  Previous Illinois law only exempted backseat riders over 18 from the requirement to use a seatbelt. The new Illinois law exempts passengers in ambulances, taxis, school buses, delivery trucks that make frequent stops and do not exceed 15 mph, and anyone with a physical[READ MORE…]

  • Illinois Court Considers Liability of Truck Driver for Amtrak Accident

    In March of 1999, in Bourbonnais, Illinois, an Amtrak passenger train collided with a semi-tractor trailer driven by John Stokes, causing a serious accident that resulted in many deaths. A number of lawsuits followed and, recently, in Dowe v. Birmingham Steel Corporation, Nos. 1–09–1997, 1–09–2006, the Appellate Court of Illinois, First District, considered liability for the accident in a consolidated appeal. The facts in this case are simple. The driver of the tractor trailer, Stokes, ignored flashing warning lights at the railroad crossing and attempted to drive through the crossing ahead of an oncoming train. As he did so, the Amtrak passenger train collided with the rear of the tractor-trailer as Stokes. The accident caused pieces of rebar that were loaded onto the back of the truck to be thrown onto the tracks. This in turn derailed the locomotives and most of the passenger cars, killing 11 passengers and injuring many others. One issue on appeal was whether Birmingham Steel was negligent in using nylon straps instead of steel chains when anchoring the load of steel rebar to the flatbed trailer. The Court concluded that the method in which the rebar was anchored to the trailer had nothing to do with the cause of the accident. Instead, the accident occurred because of the tractor trailer driver’s negligence: “The manner in which the load of rebar was anchored and secured to the flatbed trailer had nothing to do with the cause of the accident. The accident arose from Stokes’ conduct in ignoring the flashing warning lights at the railroad crossing and attempting to drive through the crossing ahead of an oncoming train traveling at nearly 80 miles per hour, where the resulting collision caused pieces of rebar to be thrown onto the tracks derailing the train. In this case, the activity of transporting the oversized load of steel was not a peculiar risk within the meaning of sections 413 and 416 of the Restatement (Second) of Torts.” Because the Court concluded that Stoke’s negligent driving was the proximate cause of the truck accident, the Court denied that alternate arguments regarding causes of liability applied and thus upheld the judgment of the court below. 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.

  • Should truckers be banned from using cell phones?

    The National Transportation Safety Board recently recommended that commercial truck drivers be banned from using cell phones while driving. A horrific car accident that occurred in Kentuckyin 2010  was the impetus behind the recommendation. In that case, a trucker who was believed to have been talking on his cell phone at the time of the accident, crossed the left lane of Interstate 65, crossed a 65 foot wide median, drove through a cable barrier system, entered the opposite lane of traffic, and collided head on with a van carrying 12 people, killing 10 people. As explained in this article from Truckinginfo.com, the ban is recommended because of the extreme dangers presented when an 18-wheeler crashes, but not everyone agrees with the proposed ban: “Distracted driving is becoming increasingly prevalent, exacerbating the danger we encounter daily on our roadways,” said Deborah Hersman, NTSB chairman. “It can be especially lethal when the distracted driver is at the wheel of a vehicle that weighs 40 tons and travels at highway speeds”… Cell phone distraction and regulation has been a hot topic recently in the industry. Texting was successfully banned last year, and hand-held cell phone use is expected to be banned later this year. While texting rules were accepted largely universally, other proposed bans have received mixed reactions from the industry. The NTSB’s report on the incident and its recommendations can be found here. Unfortunately, the NTSB cannot enforce the recommendations since it has no power to enact rules. Rather, its function is simply to advise other agencies and provide them with the tools and data needed to enact appropriate regulations. That means it’s up to the individual states and other agencies to actually enact the recommended rules, thus reducing the number of car accidents and making our roadways safer for everyone who uses them. The Ankin Law Firm is committed to reducing the number of accidents caused by distracted driving. Please take a pledge not to drive while texting and get a chance to win a new Flip video camera. Howard Ankin of Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles  workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. Mr. Ankin can be reached at (312) 346-8780 and howard@ankinlaw.com. Related articles NTSB Backs Transportation Dept.’s Trucker Phone Ban (phonescoop.com) Board Urges Cellphone Ban for All Commercial Drivers (nytimes.com)

  • NTSB focuses on deadly truck and bus accidents

    Last week, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) convened a 2-day panel focusing on ways to reduce truck and bus accidents. Participating in the discussion were federal regulators, safety experts and representatives from both the truck and bus industries. One of the goals of the panel was to examine the trends relating to truck and bus accidents and discuss ways to reduce the number of accidents. Another area of focus was safety recommendations for buses and trucks. Many recommendations have been made in the past to reduce the frequency of accidents and the injuries that occur in the unfortunate event of an accident. Unfortunately, many of the recommendations have not been acted upon and buses and trucks are still lacking safety features regularly found in automobiles, as explained in this article: The NTSB has been pushing for years for stronger bus roofs that won’t crush in rollover accidents, better emergency exits, better fire protection and windows that prevent passengers from being ejected. They also want trucks and buses to have some of the safety technology that’s available on many cars and on buses in other countries. That includes electronic stability control to prevent rollovers, adaptive cruise control that automatically adjusts speed to traffic, warning systems that alert drivers when they’re drifting into another lane, and warning systems that alert drivers to an impeding collision. Bus and truck accidents are a very serious problem and oftentimes result in serious injuries or death. Although some of the recommended changes may be costly to implement, the failure to do so will result in the unnecessary loss of life. For the safety of everyone on the road, let’s hope that some of the recommended safety regulations are enacted. Howard Ankin of Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles  workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. Mr. Ankin can be reached at (312) 346-8780 and howard@ankinlaw.com.   Related articles Panel to focus on deadly truck, bus accidents (seattletimes.nwsource.com) Fatal Bus Accidents Renew Interest in Safety Bill (abcnews.go.com) Congress to renew talk of bus safety regulations following fatal accidents, including one in N.J. (nj.com) ‘Technology does exist’ to make buses safer, NTSB chief says (washingtontimes.com)

  • Family of Worker Killed on the Job can Sue Third Party – ‘Logo Liability’ Imposed on Owner of Truck

    By Howard Ankin Illinois attorneys might be surprised by the recent holding of the state Appellate Court that allowed tort damages in a case involving injuries on the job. The ruling shows that workers’ comp attorneys should routinely assess all potential third party claims before concluding the sole source of recovery is under the Workers’ Compensation Act. The well-known general rule is an employee injured by a co-employee during the course of employment cannot sue the co-employee or employer for damages in tort. Instead, the exclusive remedy for the employee is under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act.[i] The public policy underlying this law is to provide efficient recovery for petitioners in exchange for limited exposure to employers.[ii] However, the decision in U.S. Bank v. Lindsey and Carmichael Leasing Co., Inc.[iii] shows that public policy under federal law trumps Illinois state law and provides a surprising outcome. In the case, the plaintiff was injured by a co-worker negligently operating a licensed interstate truck displaying a company logo. Interstate trucking law allowed recovery in tort against the co-worker and the owner of the truck. When an employee is injured by the negligent operation of a licensed interstate carrier, the truck owner can be vicariously liable for the actions of the truck driver – even if the driver is not employed by the truck owner.[iv] Delivery gone awry In U.S. Bank v. Lindsey, a driver backing up a delivery truck struck and killed a co-employee who was unloading supplies from another truck in a dock area. Both men worked for Open Kitchens, a food delivery company based in Chicago. The truck was owned by a third party, Carmichaels Leasing Co., Inc., which leased the truck to Open Kitchens. The driver was guided by another co-employee to a stop, but then the truck suddenly lurched backwards pinning and crushing the decedent against another truck. Evidence at trial indicated the decedent had a high level of morphine in his bloodstream when the accident occurred, and Carmichael Leasing argued that the decedent was impaired as a result. After trial, a Cook County jury returned a $3 million verdict against Carmichael Leasing, although the jury reduced the verdict by 50 percent because of the decedent’s contributory negligence. The trial court judge rejected Carmichael Leasing’s argument that it was immune from suit under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, and denied its motions for directed verdict and for judgment[READ MORE…]

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    Our firm handles workers' compensation and personal injury claims in Chicago, Berwyn, Joliet, Cicero, Waukegan, Chicago Heights, Elgin, Aurora, Oak Park, Oak Lawn, Schaumburg, Bolingbrook, Glendale Heights, Aurora, Niles, Schaumburg, Arlington Heights, Naperville, Plainfield and all of Cook, DuPage, Lake, Will, McHenry, LaSalle, Kankakee, McLean and Peoria Counties.