December 17, 2009

Hurley McKenna & Mertz client Mark Stephan inspires the world with his courage

Hurley McKenna & Mertz is proud to represent Mark Stephan who was injured when the front wheel of his bicycle fell off as he was riding on a Chicago area roadway. Mark has inspired our firm with his tireless efforts to return to his prior life. Mark embodies the American spirit. He simply refuses to quit and he never complains. It is an honor and privilege to represent a man of his incredible courage.

If you have not already seen it check out Mark Stephan's story as told by Mike Leonard on the Today Show.

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December 11, 2009

Mark Stephan walks out of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

Check out this u tube clip of Hurley McKenna & Mertz client Mark Stephan walking out of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. Even though his arms and legs were nearly lifeless after breaking his neck when his front wheel suddenly came off his bike, Mark said he would walk out of the RIC someday. After months of therapy by the wonderful staff at the RIC Mark Stephan made good on his word.

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June 4, 2009

Missouri columnist: Nixon should veto motorcycle helmet bill

In a column in the Columbia Daily Tribune (6/2) J. Scott Christianson wrote that the original intent of Senate Bill 202 "was to prevent insurance companies from assigning blame to motorcycle riders involved in an accident simply because they were riding a motorcycle." Yet, "during its travels through the General Assembly, Senator Schaefer's bill was amended so that it would also repeal Missouri's law requiring all motorcycle riders to wear a helmet while on public roads; only those under 21 or riding interstate highways would still have to wear a helmet if SB 202 is signed into law." Thus, Christianson concludes that "Governor Nixon should veto SB202."

Many studies have confirmed the positive relationship between helmet use and protection from head injury. One particularly poignant study in Florida showed that motorcycle deaths rose significantly when its mandatory helmet law was repealed. One newspaper, the Florida Today, “found ‘unhelmeted’ deaths in Florida rose from 22 in 1998 and 1999, the years before the helmet law repeal, to 250 in 2004, the most recent year of available data” (CBS, 6/19/06).

This trend is not limited geographically as death rates for motorcyclists have been rising since repeals of helmet laws began in 1995, as reported by USA Today. Department of Transportation (DOT) statistics reflect that “5.6 motorcyclists per 10,000 registered motorcycles were killed in 1996, and the number jumped to 7.3 in 2006. The number of motorcyclists who wear helmets has dropped from 63% in 1994 to 51% in 2006”.

Both common sense and empirical evidence lead to the conclusion that mandatory helmet laws would diminish unnecessary motorcycle injuries and deaths. As a personal injury lawyer in Chicago with experience in motorcycle injuries, I adamantly support mandatory helmet laws.

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November 16, 2008

Insurance study shows ABS cuts rider deaths and bike damage

The Chicago Tribune is reporting that antilock brakes could help motorcycle riders avoid fatal crashes. A study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says the fatal crash rate involving motorcycles with optional ABS was 38 percent lower than the rate involving similar cycles without the systems.

ABS, like its counterparts on cars and trucks, helps riders stop their bikes abruptly without locking the wheels or fishtailing. The system allows riders to brake both wheels in an emergency without hitting the pavement. ABS is typically found on touring bikes and has been available on a limited number of motorcycles since 1988.

As of late, there has been a steady rise in motorcycle deaths--more than 5,100 cyclists died in 2007, compared with 2,294 in 1998. In one report focusing on the 2005-2006 time period, researchers studied eight motorcycles that offered ABS and found 6.6 fatal crashes per 10,000 registered motorcycles without ABS and 4.1 per 10,000 with ABS. In a second study that looked at Honda, Suzuki, Triumph and Yamaha bikes found insurance losses were 21 percent lower for motorcycles with ABS than for bikes without.

ABS is standard or optional on about 40 motorcycles from the 2008 model year including bikes manufactured by BMW, Harley-Davidson and Honda.

Continue reading "Insurance study shows ABS cuts rider deaths and bike damage" »

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July 23, 2008

New Bicycle Laws Protect Illinois Bicyclists

Long-time bicycling enthusiasts who are hitting the roads during the summertime are being met by a new wave of bicyclists who have adopted bicycling as a convenient form of transportation and an affordable alternative to record-high gasoline prices. As the number of bicyclists in Illinois has increased, so has the number of accidents in which bicyclists are injured. In an effort to address these increases, the Illinois General Assembly and the Chicago City Council have recently passed several laws in an effort to keep the streets safe for bicyclists.

The 2008 Chicago Bicycle Ordinance amends the Chicago Municipal Code in several ways to make Chicago more safe for bicyclists. The 2008 Chicago Bicycle Ordinance requires motorist to give greater clearance to bicyclists when passing and turning in front of bicyclists. It also makes it illegal for a driver to open their door into the path of a bicyclist, an act known in the bicycling community as "dooring." Any violation of the ordinance would result in a fine of $150. Any violation of the ordinance that resulted in a collision between a motor vehicle and a bicycle would result in a fine of $500.

The primary purpose of Illinois' Public Act 95-0231 is to amend the Illinois Rules of the Road to require drivers to keep a minimum of 3 feet between their motor vehicle and a bicycle when trying to pass the bicycle. Prior to the passage of this Act, drivers could legally pass bicyclists with less than 3 feet between them and the bicyclist. The Act also allows bicyclists to signal a right turn by not only extending their hand and arm upward, but also by extending their entire right arm horizontally to the right side of the bicycle. The intention of the legislature was to reduce confusion among drivers who may not be familiar with the hand signals used by bicyclists. The Act also clarifies that bicyclists should ride as close as practicable and safe to the curb, instead of just practicable, and may ride around right turn lanes on one-way streets instead of staying next to the curb and riding in the turning lane.

Bicyclists are entitled to the same protections under the law as any other user of the roadways. If your rights as a bicyclists have been violated and have resulted in an injury, or you have any questions about this blog entry, please contact Mike Keating of Hurley, McKenna & Mertz at 312-553-4900.

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