August 19, 2011

Calirfornia teen arrest for fatal auto accident

I am disturbed by the story of a recent arrest of a California teen. As a Chicago auto injury attorney, I am all too familiar with the deadly combination of teens, alcohol and reckless driving.

18 year old Ryan Armstrong was driving under the influence when he crashed his car, killing his passenger. According to Officer Robert Lehman of the California Highway Patrol, the Carmel Valley resident was arrested on charges of felony DUI and vehicular manslaughter.

Armstrong’s vehicle drifted off of the edge of Tasajara Road, and rolled several times. His passenger, Keenan Lucero, 19, of Carmel, was not wearing a seatbelt and was thrown from the vehicle as it flipped. Lucero died at the scene.

Lucero was a well-liked student-athlete at Carmel High School and went on to Chico State University.

Two other passengers suffer minor to major injuries.

This tragedy might serve as a reminder to all about auto safety. I strongly urge my clients to always wear seatbelts when travelling in a vehicle and to be cautious and alert -- not only as a driver, but also as a passenger. The family of Kevin Lucero and other victims of careless drivers have the right to seek justice for their losses, pain, and suffering.

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May 20, 2011

Automakers investigate potential fuel leaks

Honda Motor Company announced this week that it's recalling more than 1,000 Honda Civics in the U.S. because the cars could leak fuel. Many of these 2012 models have not been sold yet, so the repairs will take place while still on the dealer lots. However, Honda will begin to notify customers on May 27, and owners can check the Honda website to determine if their car is affected.

This news comes on the heels of a report that U.S. safety regulators are investigating a fuel tank problem that could affect more than 2.7 million Ford F-150 trucks. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that the steel straps holding up the gas tank can rust and break, creating the potential for a fuel spill and fire. Owners of 1997 through 2001 Ford F-150 pickups should contact their dealer for more information. No injuries have so far been reported.

Fuel leaks and defects related to the fuel distribution system can lead to vehicle fires and have the potential to cause serious injuries. As a Chicago product liability attorney, I recommend that consumers adhere to all product recall warnings, both to prevent injury and to ensure complete economic recovery should an injury occur.

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April 5, 2011

Highway deaths fall to lowest level since 1949

As a Chicago area car and truck accident attorney, I am thrilled by the recent reports showing that “highway deaths have fallen to their lowest levels in more than 60 years.” (K.Thomas, Washington AP, 3/31).

The U.S. Department of Transportation cited a 3% decrease in highway fatalities from 2009. Moreover, the total estimated number of fatalities at 32,788 people is the lowest number since 1949. Certainly, nearly 33,000 deaths is still far too many, but the government attributed decreases in fatalities to numerous factors including higher rate of seatbelt usage in consumers, technological increases making vehicles safer, and effective and widespread efforts to prevent drunk driving.

Even more promising is the fact that the decline in fatalities came during a year when Americans, on average, drove more miles. Although there is still much room for improvement, I am pleased with this report and am hopeful that seatbelt usage and other preventative measures will safe more lives in the years to come.

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February 14, 2011

Nearly 800,000 Dorel Child-Safety Seats Are Recalled

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, almost 800,000 child seats are “being recalled because their harnesses may not hold the child securely.” (C. Jensen, NY Times Wheels, 2/14). As a Chicago personal injury attorney, I encourage parents to act swiftly to ensure their children’s safety.

The recall covers a “wide range of booster, convertible and infant seats, including some sold as part of a stroller travel system, made by the Dorel Juvenile Group of Columbus, Ind.” The recall was triggered by the NHTSA, after an investigation resulting from nearly 150 consumer complaints that the restraining straps had loosened over time.

The restraints were sold “under the brand names Safety 1st, Maxi-Cosi, Cosco and Eddie Bauer.” They were manufactured from May 1, 2008 to April 30, 2009. A list of the affected models can be found .

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January 31, 2011

Toyota recalls nearly 1.7 million vehicles

Toyota is recalling “nearly 1.7 million vehicles around the world for various defects that may cause fuel leakage - the latest in quality control woes for the Japanese automaker.” (Y Kageyama, AP Business, 1/25). Unfortunately for Toyota, this is yet another problem that the manufacturer must face.

The recall affects several models including “the IS and GS Lexus luxury models in North America and the Avensis sedan and station wagon models in Europe.” According to Toyota, no accidents directly related to the defects have been reported but they have received nearly 300 complaints world wide.

As a car and truck accident lawyer in Chicago, I always encourage consumers to act quickly and monitor any vehicles recalls that may affect their vehicles.

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January 9, 2011

A Record Year for Heatstroke Deaths

As a Chicago personal injury attorney, I am saddened by this story, and hopeful that the dim statistics will change in the future. Despite “repeated efforts to alert parents and caretakers about the dangers of leaving children and infants in automobiles on even moderately warm days,” heat stroke deaths continue in distressingly large numbers. (P. Stenquist, NY Times Wheels, 12/22).

Safety advocacy group KidsAndCars.org, reported 49 vehicular heatstroke deaths this year in the United States. Sadly, this is a record high number. The deaths occurred in two primary situations: first, when children were left inadvertently in parked cars; and when children played in unlocked cars. The dangerous of unlocked cars have certainly been underestimated.

As a car and truck accident lawyer, I join KidsandCars.org in urging the legislature to take action and encouraging parents and other caregivers to be extraordinarily careful.

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January 5, 2011

CDC: Seat belt use reaches 85 percent

Recently, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention released encouraging statistics regarding seatbelt usage. As a Chicago area personal injury lawyer, I am thrilled by the news that seatbelts are used by “nearly six in seven U.S. adults.” (Atlanta AP, 1/14).

To put the results in perspective, 85 percent of adults said they wore seatbelts, which is up four percent from 2002, but is a dramatic increase from 1982 when only 11 percent of adults wore seatbelts. The first state law requiring seat belt use was passed after 1982, which kicked off the trend.

The CDC also reported Tuesday that there has been a marked “ decline of more than 15 percent in non-fatal vehicle crash injuries from 2001 to 2009. The government previously reported traffic fatalities fell in 2009 to 33,808, the lowest number since 1950.”

All statistics are pointing in the right direction, thanks, in large part, to the laws passed to make our highways safer.

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October 3, 2010

NTSB cites fatigue in fatal Oklahoma crash

As a personal injury lawyer in Chicago, I feel strongly that driving while exhausted is never the solution. Fatigued drivers cause many accidents annually, and most drivers do not think they are too tired to drive. Please be safe and smart when deciding whether you are or are not capable of driving safely.

Federal safety investigators say “a tractor-trailer truck driver who slammed his rig into a line of cars stopped on a stretch of Oklahoma highway last year, killing 10 people, was likely suffering from fatigue.” (Washington AP, J. Lowry, 9/28).

Investigators determined that the 76 year old driver likely had less than five hours of sleep before beginning his work day. At the time of the accident, he had already been on the road for 10 hours. The driver’s prior history of sleep apnea may have also contributed to the crash.

Inattention and fatigue caused this driver to fail to stop at a traffic jam resulting from a minor accident. These factors created a major accident, which killed 10 people. In a split second, many lives changed forever, thus proving the urgent necessity of strict regulations of truck driving work hours, sleep requirements, and possibly medical evaluations. In my opinion, serious evaluation should have been undertaken to determine if a 76 year old with a history of sleep apnea could drive long hours safely.

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September 6, 2010

New Phenomenon of Billing Crash Victims

As a personal injury lawyer in Chicago with car and truck accident experience, I am disturbed by the following story, especially in light of the lack of transparency. I further believe that victims of negligence should not be forced to pay for emergency response, especially when the responders are not needed or called by the victim.

Christopher Jensen reports for the New York Times, “about a year ago Cary Feldman was surprised to find himself sprawled on the pavement in an intersection in Chicago Heights, Ill., having been knocked off his motor scooter by the car behind him. Five months later he got another surprise: a bill from the fire department for responding to the scene of the accident.” (Wheels, 8/3). Mr. Feldman stated he had no idea why the fire truck came since he was not hurt badly and did not go to the hospital.

This scenario has become enmeshed in what appears to be “a nascent budget-balancing trend in municipal government: police and fire departments have begun to charge accident victims as a way to offset budget cuts.” Although ambulance charges are common and are usually paid by health insurance, fees for other responders are new. The fee for other responders, such as the one Mr. Feldman received, is “variously called a “crash tax” or “resource recovery,” depending on one’s point of view. In either case, motorists, even those who are innocent victims, are billed for services they may have thought were covered by taxpayers.”

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September 27, 2009

Toyota Orders Inspections after a Deadly Crash in Southern California


Toyota said recently, “it will order all dealers to inspect their cars for mismatched floor mats after a mat was suspected of snagging a gas pedal on a runaway Lexus, ending with a fiery crash that killed four family members in San Diego County” (Robert Jablon, AP for FindLaw, 9/15).

Toyota ordered about 1,400 Toyota and Lexus dealers nationwide to ensure that each of their new, used, and loaner vehicles have the correct and properly secured floor mats. Customers are also encouraged to check their floor mats, and go to a dealer with any questions.

On August 28, four were killed in an automobile accident while in a Lexus ES 350 loaned by a dealer while their vehicle was being serviced. One of the passengers “made a 911 call about a minute before the crash to say the vehicle had no breaks and the accelerator was stuck.”

As part of the investigation of the crash, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigators determined “a rubber all-weather floor mat found in the wreckage was a couple of inches longer than the mat that belonged in the vehicle.” This lead to speculation that the mats “could have snared or covered the accelerator pedal.” In 2007, the company recalled all-weather mats from some of its Lexus ES 350s after complaints that they could slip and trap the accelerator.

As a personal injury lawyer, I encourage everyone to be aware of small defects that may lead to terrible accidents. Although it is unclear if the incorrect floor mats were a primary cause of this tragic accident, it nonetheless sheds light on a possible defect that all Toyota and Lexus drivers should be aware of.

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July 30, 2009

Support Grows for Alcohol Interlocks on Cars

The New York Times’ blog, Wheels, discusses a recent campaign to “stop drunken driving by putting some form of alcohol interlock in every new car” (Wald, 5/19). The Alliance of Automobile Manufactures suggested that Congress budget for “spending $30 million a year on developing devices that would sense alcohol in a driver.”

The problem with the current means of regulating drunk drivers is that drivers without a prior history of drunk driving cause many accidents. These drivers would not have interlocks in their cars because current protocol calls for installation of such devices only when the driver has previous, and often multiple offenses.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety “estimated that in 2007, if anyone with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher could have been prevented from starting a vehicle, almost 9,000 lives would have been saved.” In New Mexico, for example, interlocks are installed after a first drunk driving conviction. Alcohol related accidents in the state are down 30 percent.

To combat heavy criticism, proponents stated, “no one is proposing a breathalyzer in every car,” and offered several other less intrusive means of detecting a driver’s blood alcohol level such as bouncing near-infra-red wavelength light off the driver’s skin, measuring the sweat on the driver’s skin, or analyzing eye movements.

Although drunken driving is a clear cause of many accidents and fatalities annually, I understand that whatever method is chosen to regulate driving while intoxicated needs to be both cost effective and efficient. As a personal injury lawyer in Chicago, I support further researching the many alternatives for reducing alcohol related crashes.

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July 24, 2009

Ford Focus and Volvo C30 excel in Crash Tests

The New York Times (Jensen, 7/21) discusses crash tests performed on two-door versions of popular sedan vehicles. The 2009 two-door models of the Ford Focus, Chevrolet Cobalt, Honda Civic, Scion tC, and Volvo C30 were recently tested.

The crash tests were just released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which usually focuses its testing on four door models generally used by families, but “the organization said the results of these tests could not automatically be applied to two-door versions of the same car because of design and structural differences.” The cars underwent a series of crash tests including frontal, side, and rear impact crash tests. None of the vehicles tested got a poor rating on any of the three tests, and the Volvo C30 and the Ford Focus qualified as “Top Safety Picks,” meaning these vehicles earned at least a rating of good in all three tests and have an electronic stability control option.

All five cars were rated acceptable or better in the side-crash test, which simulates a crash with a larger S.U.V. – a concern of many driving small cars. Overall, the small cars fared well on safety ratings, and those given “acceptable” ratings on certain crash tests were given a lesser rating only because of the possibility of relatively minor injury.

As a personal injury lawyer, I am pleased to see that the recent safety checks on cars were thorough. Given that all the cars tested fared well on the crash test, I am encouraged that the automobile industry appears to be making safety a top priority.

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July 10, 2009

Texting is more dangerous than driving drunk

Although neither texting while driving nor driving drunk is ever a good idea, recent studies comparing the two have shown just how dangerous texting while driving really is. Richard Chung writes for the New York Times Automobile blog, Wheels, the current issue of Car and Driver magazine discuses recent results from a study testing the differences in reaction times when texting while driving versus when driving drunk.

The drivers’ reaction times were tested first at 35 mph and then at 70 mph. They were then tested at the same speeds while reading text messages, while writing text messages, and finally while driving with a .08 blood alcohol level (as determined by an on scene by a Lifeloc FC10 breath-alcohol analyzer). Each test was performed five times, and the slowest time in each set was dropped.

The magazine found that reaction time was “much worse for both drivers when they were texting while driving than when they were under the influence of alcohol. At 35 miles an hour, [Driver One’s] average reaction time was .57 seconds, but while texting it rose to 1.36 seconds, more than twice his average reaction time of .64 seconds while under the influence. [Driver Two] fared better, but his average reaction time of .45 seconds rose to .52 seconds while texting, worse than his average time of .46 seconds while driving drunk.”

The results of the test at 70 miles an hour were better in terms of reaction times, but at high speeds, even a small difference in reaction time can lead to a much greater distance before the vehicle comes to a complete stop. For example, Driver One traveled “an average of four feet farther while driving drunk and an average of 70 feet farther while texting.” At high speeds, short distances can make the difference between a minor crash and a fatal crash.

As a personal injury lawyer, it is important for me to emphasize that the point of this article and discussion is not to make driving drunk seem relatively safer, but to emphasize how truly dangerous using a cell phone while driving is. Several states have considered banning texting while driving and some have considered banning cell phone usage while driving outright. Safety on the roadways should be a top priority, and it seems logical that if texting while driving is at least as dangerous as driving drunk, it should be prohibited.

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July 1, 2009

Safety Investigations stepped up on several models

Christopher Jensen reports for the New York Times (6/26) “There were no significant automaker recalls this week, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stepped up safety investigations into three models: the Mercedes-Benz ML, the Chevrolet Corvette and the Toyota Sequoia.”

These types of investigations begin based on consumer complaints. Currently, investigations of the ML, Corvette, and Sequoia are undergoing engineering analysis. Engineering analysis usually occurs when investigators are concerned about what they found in the preliminary stages of investigation.

The Mercedes inquiry involves over 50,000 models from 1999 to 2002. The agency is investigating the brake line from the master cylinder to the antilock brake pump to see if it “may be damaged and rupture from chaffing with a fuel line.” The agency said it had “one report of a crash in which an inspection found a leak that was caused by the fuel line’s rubbing against the brake line, resulting in a loss of braking effectiveness.”

The Corvette investigation involves about 48,000 2005 and 2006 models, which may have an issue with the electronic stability control system. Some consumers claimed the electronic stability control system malfunctioned, “causing a sudden and inappropriate braking action without illumination of the brake lights and causing the vehicle to swerve left or right unexpectedly.”

68,000 Toyota Sequoias are being evaluated after allegations that the electronic stability control or traction control became inappropriately activated. When this occurs, the driver “loses throttle control and one or more brakes may apply, causing the vehicle to slow suddenly,” according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigation. Furthermore, in instances of “inappropriate activation,” the brake lights do not illuminate. In response to the investigation, Toyota has said it believes the traction control system, and not the stability control system, is the source of the problem.

As a Chicago personal injury lawyer, I urge anyone with these vehicles to be aware of the potential malfunctions and pay close attention to upcoming recalls. More information on safety investigations, defective products, and issued recalls is available through the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI).

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July 1, 2009

General Motors attempts to leave injured families behind in the bankruptcy process

American Association for Justice President Les Weisbrod, released an urgent action alert on June 29, 2009 asking all those who seek justice to contact the White House immediately to keep GM from abandoning over 300 people injured by serious defects in their vehicles.

The Obama Administration’s Auto Task-Force, which falls within the Treasury Department, is responsible for the decision allowing GM to leave injured families behind in the bankruptcy process. This is upsetting especially because GM “decided last Friday to take responsibilities for injuries caused by vehicles in the future.”

Mr. Weisbrod called on American consumers to tell GM they “will not stand for leaving hundreds of injured families behind in the GM bankruptcy process… will not buy their cars until these families are protected, [and] will not stop speaking up until GM takes full responsibility for injuries caused by all GM cars.”

Hurley, McKenna & Mertz in Chicago handles product liability cases against automakers when severe injuries are involved. I feel strongly as both an American consumer and a personal injury lawyer that filing for bankruptcy should not give companies a free ticket to abandon those previously injured by their products.

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June 18, 2009

Mercedes Benz unveils safety research car

Mercedes-Benz is known for pioneering advanced safety technologies (New York Times, 6/18). This week, the automaker introduced a concept car built to illustrate some ideas to protect drivers and pedestrians.

The concept car, the ESF 2009, was unveiled at the Enhanced Safety of Vehicles Conference in Stuttgart, Germany. The car includes 13 safety innovations, some of which are improvements on current features, and others that are new inventions.

For example, “the Belt Bag, a combination seat belt and air bag, is a good example of something we may see in the not-too-distant future. It’s a seat belt with two layers, and when crash sensors detect a serious impact, a generator at the belt armature inflates the seat belt.” The “Child Cam” is another fairly simple technology that allows the driver to monitor passengers in the back seat by placing a small camera on the roof lining between the front and back seats. A series of still frame images then appear on the dashboard.

The company has previously produced 35 Enhanced Safety Feature (ESF) vehicles. Past vehicles have included technologies such as antilock breaks, seat belt tensioners, airbags, and side impact protection, which have eventually appeared on the market. As a Chicago personal injury lawyer, I find new automobile safety features to be exciting news.

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June 18, 2009

Airbags may cause hand injuries

Ken Thompson began to question airbag safety after he suffered a partial amputation of his right thumb after minor impact (New York Times, 6/17). This was the only injury he sustained in the very minor collision as both cars were able to drive away from the accident virtually undamaged. Doctors were able to reattach his thumb and restore much of its functionality. However, Thompson plans to file a personal injury lawsuit against BMW, the manufacturer of the vehicle, alleging that his injury was caused because the horn was placed in the center of the steering wheel, and he was honking the horn at the time of impact.

Horns could be placed on the spokes of the steering wheel, and there does seem to be an inconsistency between automobile manufacturing and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s warning, “air bags deploy very rapidly and very close or direct contact with a deploying air bag can cause serious or even fatal injury.”

One BMW spokesman said, “Our experience has shown that the most effective position of the horn button is in the center of the steering wheel. In a surprise driving situation, the driver has the best chance of activating the horn if a large portion of the center of the steering wheel will activate the horn.” However, in an automobile accident, drivers with their hands on the horn and very close to the airbag are at increased risk for hand and arm injuries.

“No system is perfect, but the combination of seat belts, air bags and crumble zones are remarkably safe,” wrote James M. Williams, an emergency-room doctor from San Antonio. “Given the high-speed accidents that occur, it is amazing to see what people walk away from.” In serious accidents, airbags are clearly essential, but overly sensitive airbags that deploy in very minor collisions, such as the personal injury case at hand, warrant further research as to the safest location for both horns and airbags to save lives while avoiding injuries.

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April 22, 2009

Illinois Death by Dragracing Results in Settlement; Highlights Need for Adequate Underinsured Coverage

As reported in The Pantagraph by Edith Brady-Lunny, a Bloomington, Illinois family settled their suit against two drivers for a 2007 collision which resulted in the death of the 25 year-old Bloomington resident. The deceased was the passenger in one of the vehicles, which was apparently drag racing when it struck the other vehicle head-on. The vehicle which was drag-racing appears not to have been insured, and that driver, allegedly drunk at the time and now in prison for ten years, paid only $16,000 as part of the settlement. The other driver looks like he paid his insurance policy limit of $100,000.

This case highlights a common problem that we see today-- the prevalence of many negligent uninsured or underinsured drivers. At Hurley McKenna & Mertz, we advise all of our clients to purchase uninsured and underinsured insurance coverage, with limits of no less than $1,000,000 per occurrence. You take a risk every time you drive in your car that a collision will occur, and that you may experience significant injuries, medical expenses and lost time from work. To have little or no compensation available for yourself, or for your family, because you assume other drivers are carrying adequate insurance, is a risk you cannot afford to take in today's world.

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December 26, 2008

Chicago man charged with DUI in crash that killed his wife

The Chicago Tribune is reporting that the Cook County State Attorney’s Office has filed criminal charges in relation to last week’s Southside car accident where the driver’s wife was killed in the crash. Reports showed that the car was hit by a semitrailer. The Chicago man was charged with DUI and reckless homicide.

If you or a loved one has been killed or injured in a car or truck accident involving a drunk driver, you may have rights against the driver or the person or business that provided the alcohol to the drunk driver. The car accident attorneys at Hurley McKenna & Mertz have vast experience handling cases for clients who have been hurt by another driver’s negligence. Please call us for a consultation at (312) 553-4900.

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December 1, 2008

Hit and run accident kills Chicago girl

The Thanksgiving holiday weekend took a sad turn for two Chicago girls who were victims to a hit and run accident. An 18 year old girl was killed walking on Lake Street in Chicago, when a car struck her and a friend. Her friend ultimately survived the crash.

The young women were hit shortly after three people were stabbed outside a nightclub three blocks away. It was unclear whether the hit-and-run was related to people fleeing the club. Stone Park police are still searching for the driver of the car.

If you have been involved in a car accident, you may have rights against the driver who caused the crash. And, if you have suffered physical injury or lost wages because of another driver's negligence, you may have grounds for a lawsuit. Regardless of the cause of an accident, you should seek the advice of a qualified lawyer anytime you have been injured in an accident.

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November 23, 2008

Chicago family wants more serious charges filed in fatal DUI accident

The family of a woman who died in a Southside accident wants more serious charges filed against two drivers who were involved the a deadly crash. Prosecutors now say they believe police improperly investigated the crash where one of the alleged offenders was an off-duty Chicago police officer. ABC 7 News reports that the family wants felonies filed in the case.

The June 2007 accident occurred at a Southside Chicago intersection when the victim was riding on the back of a Harley Davidson motorcycle driven by off-duty Chicago police officer Eugene Bikulcius. They were coming from a neighborhood bar. According to the police report, the motorcycle struck a Dodge Charger as its driver, 49-year-old Carol Miller, was making an illegal left-hand turn. The impact was so hard police diagrams show the motorcycle impact turned the car 180 degrees.

On the night of the accident, the driver of the car, Miller, was arrested for misdemeanor DUI. Police reports show that Officer Bikulcius wasn’t given a breathalyzer test because he was taken to the hospital. Eventually- five months later- the Cook County state's attorney office uncovered hospital blood tests that showed Bikulcius was intoxicated that night. Blood tests showed he was three times the legal limit. That's when the state's attorney also charged him with misdemeanor DUI charges. Drivers under the influence who cause a death usually are charged with Class 2 felonies that can hold a penalty of up to 14 years in prison and subject them to civil liability.

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October 7, 2008

DUI Death Toll Decreased in Illinois in 2007

The Department of Transportation announced the latest national drunk driving-related death statistics. The report, found here, showed that in most states the total DUI deaths in 2007 dropped significantly since the year before, but nearly half of the states experienced an increase in drunk driving-related motorcycle fatalities.

Nationally, almost 13,000 people died in accidents involving motorists with a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or more which is a drop from the almost 13,500 people who died in DUI car crashes in 2006. The number of drunk driving deaths in Illinois was 434— twelve less than in 2006—but consistent with the nationwide trend, Illinois DUI motorcycle deaths increased nearly 32 percent.

If you have been injured in a crash involving a drunk driver, you may have rights against the person or even the business that provided the alcohol to the drunk driver. Under Illinois law, this type of liability is often known as dram shop liability.

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September 11, 2008

Chicago Alderman Calls For Ban On Texting While Driving

On Wednesday, Chicago politician Edward M. Burke proposed a crackdown on drivers who text message or surf the internet while driving—presumably to cut down on car accidents in the City of Chicago. CBS 2 Chicago reports that the ban would fine motorists who take their hands off the wheel to text $75, or $200 if an accident resulted.

"It's time for us to revisit the issue," Burke said. "It's as much a part of educating the public as anything else. Maybe people [who] are driving and texting don't realize the kind of hazard that's created." Studies by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggest that distracted driving triggers nearly 80 percent of the nation's car crashes. If the latest crackdown flies, Burke said he may attack other forms of distracted driving such as ticketing pedestrians, an increasing number of whom are landing in emergency rooms for injuries suffered sending texts while crossing the street.

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August 27, 2008

Antidepressants and depression may increase chance of car accidents

A new study suggests that depressed drivers who take antidepressants are more prone to car accidents. The study, published by a University of North Dakota psychology resident, focused on the impact antidepressants have on driving performance.

During the study, the research team asked 60 people to "drive" a computerized version of a car in a program that replicated real-life conditions. Approximately half of the participants were taking at least one type of antidepressant, and the level of depression for those on antidepressants were subsequently categorized as experiencing either low or high depression at the time of the driving test. Participants had to perform common driving tasks such as braking, steering, and scanning sightlines in response to an unfolding video of car traffic, stop signs, speed limit signs and traffic lights. The research team found that the drivers on antidepressants who were highly depressed registered markedly worse scores on some driving skills than those not taking antidepressants.

Ultimately, the study appears to correlate poor concentration and a weakened ability to react to situations where a divided attention is required to depression. More details about the study can be found here. Comments about this post can be directed to Chicago Car Accident Attorney Chris Hurley at (312) 553-4900.

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August 21, 2008

Car accidents eliminated by 2020?

Car accidents may be eliminated by 2020. That’s the plan established by Volvo, who claims that its drivers and passengers will escape even the most serious car crash without harm as a result of new technologies and designs they are developing. Ford-owned Volvo is not the only car market participant who has set their sights on injury-free accidents—other automakers, parts suppliers, government and global agencies from the United Nations to the OECD are all looking at ways to eliminate the 1.2 million deaths and 50 million injuries related to car accidents each year. However, Volvo is the first to set a deadline to accomplish this endeavor.

It is no secret that safety sells cars and as recently as January, nearly 77 percent of U.S. consumers polled by Consumer Reports ranked Volvo as the safest car brand. Consumer Reports shows NHTSA’s Volvo crash test here. Now, other carmakers are following suit and are putting out their own safety credentials. Regardless of the car manufacturers’ motivation, there is no argument that safer cars save lives, and that’s something that we all can get behind. Comments about this post can be directed to Car Accident Attorney Chris Hurley at (312) 553-4900.

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