Taking the Boat Out Today? Check the Weather Report First

Did you know that 319,559 boats were registered in the state of Illinois in Federal Fiscal Year 2011? That’s a lot of boats and a lot of people on the state’s waterways. Although the state provides free training courses to encourage boater safety, not many people attend the training and as a result, accidents occur.

Even though the number of accidents was lower in 2011 than 2010, fatalities increased. According to the Recreational Boating Report, 103 U.S. Coast Guard reportable accidents occurred in 2011 resulting in 70 injuries and 21 fatalities. In 2010, there were 105 accidents with 76 injuries and 16 fatalities. One is too many accidents resulting in personal injury and death no matter how you look at it.

If you are a boating enthusiast, you know how quickly a day of fun out on the water can turn to disaster. A sudden change in weather conditions, operators driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and excessive speed are all contributing factors to boating accidents.

Obviously, drowning is the leading cause of death in boat accidents. Injuries resulting from accidents can include:

  • Lacerations
  • Head trauma
  • Contusions
  • Broken bones
  • Back injury

If you were injured in a boating accident, what recourse do you have? Call an Illinois boating accident attorney experienced in transportation-related accidents that result in personal injury. The lawyer has a wealth of knowledge in handling all aspects of these situations from investigating what caused the accident to presenting a solid court case, if necessary. Reach out now to help ensure the most positive outcome for your case.

When a Roadside Argument Becomes a Legal Argument

A DuPage County criminal case was filed after a road rage incident led to the death of a Lombard man in June, 2012. A loving grandfather of 12 grandchildren and a Vietnam veteran, 63-year old Gerald Puglise was eastbound on Ogden Avenue on his 2005 Triumph Rocket III motorcycle on June 13, 2012. Approaching the intersection at River Road, Mr. Puglise had the right of way and proceeded through the intersection.

Unknown to Mr. Puglise, 31-year old Plainfield resident Michael Moreno was also quickly approaching the same intersection. Mr. Moreno had allegedly used cocaine and marijuana earlier in the afternoon before becoming embroiled in a road rage incident with a teenage girl.

In what prosecutors describe as a fog of rage Mr. Moreno, driving a silver 2006 Infiniti M45, was chasing a Honda driven by a 16-year-old girl. In pursuit of the teen, Mr. Moreno made an abrupt turn in front of Mr. Puglise in the intersection. Trying to avoid collision, Mr. Puglise laid down his bike but was struck in the head by the rear wheel of the car driven by Mr. Moreno, killing him almost instantly. Hesitating only seconds, Mr. Moreno left the scene of the accident, still pursuing the teen driver.

With a record of driving violations, Mr. Moreno faces felony and misdemeanor charges in the case. A ruling is expected in late March. When arrested, Mr. Moreno claimed the teen girl initiated a roadside argument and threatened him. Witness accounts did not support his view, instead painting Mr. Moreno as initiating the argument, the pursuit and later, the reckless, tragic death of someone not even a party to the argument, Mr. Puglise.

If you are injured, or suffer the wrongful death of a loved one through the negligent or reckless actions of another, speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer about your right to justice and compensation for your loss.

No You Cannot Multi-Task . . . Especially When Driving

In our Chicago legal practice, we focus on people injured by others on the job, on the road, in healthcare and other settings. Serious injury through needless transportation accidents happens every day. In recent years, highway fatalities in Illinois have been on the increase. Why?

While no one can definitively answer that question right now, across the nation fatality figures are seeing a boost from distracted driving. While annual public safety campaigns warn of the dangers of drivers impaired by alcohol, we are only now realizing that every day most of us also qualify as impaired drivers at some point during our drive time.

A 2007 study at the University of Utah broke early ground on the concept of inattention blindness. Inattention blindness is the term used to describe a process where the brain unconsciously filters information out of its perceptive field to maintain focus and attention on a task at hand. In the case of cell phone use and driving, cell phone conversations win out, whether hands-free or not.

The University of Utah study found drivers engaged in cell phone conversations while trying to operate a car were driving impaired, literally unable to see obstacles, signs, signals and cars in front of them. At its perceptual core, the brain of a distracted driver does not see the environment correctly while the driver is engaging in an additional sensory task like talking on the phone.

On the road or off, there is no pride in multi-tasking. You can do one task well or several tasks poorly. When driving, save the conversation for later. If injured by a distracted driver, seek legal advice from a strong auto accident lawyer to gain compensation for your injury and their lack of attention.

Getting the Message About Traffic Fatalities

We think about traffic accidents when they make front page news or happen to someone else. Until recently, few commuters could say how many people died on Illinois roads each year. But because of a campaign by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), that has changed.

On July 5, 2012, in response to a sharp increase in Illinois traffic fatalities from the prior year, IDOT launched a public awareness campaign aimed at providing motorists with a running record of the number of people killed during the year in traffic accidents. While any traffic fatality is one too many, IDOT has real reason for concern. The number of people dying in Illinois traffic accidents increased two percent from 2009 to 2010, from 911 to 927. In 2012, there were 957 traffic fatalities, compared to 918 in 2011.

Auto accident statistics are particularly tragic. Not just a number, each digit represents a mother, father, sibling or friend who died in a probably preventable accident. As Chicago personal injury attorneys, we pursue compensation for motorists seriously injured or killed by the negligence of others.

By increasing public awareness of these numbers, IDOT hopes to keep highway fatalities down. Anecdotal evidence points to a drop in highway fatalities after IDOT began publicizing the number of yearly traffic deaths across highway message boards. Even on their website, IDOT is trying to get the message across. As of this writing, there were 222 roadway fatalities this year.

When driving, stay alert and obey the rules of the roads. If involved in an accident, get good medical help and then seek an experienced Chicago personal injury attorney.

Road Warriors — Watch Out

Motorcyclists are already more likely to be involved in a serious or fatal accident than a motorist driving a car. The features that attract motorcycle riders — low profile, wind in the hair freedom of the road — are the same features that took 145 lives in our state alone in 2011. A new study identifies yet another risk factor of bike riding: age.

In a Brown University study published online in Injury Prevention journal, researchers examined the circumstances of roughly 1.5 million motorcycle accidents occurring between 2001 and 2008 that resulted in injury serious enough to seek emergency medical care.

The Brown University research clarifies what older people already know — passage of time means becoming more fragile. Among findings of the study:

  • Of riders over 20, those over 60 were most likely to suffer serious injury and require hospitalization
  • Middle and older age riders suffer more head injuries and broken bones
  • While injury rates for all riders are increasing across the nation, fatalities are rising more rapidly for riders over 60

What is it about age that makes an older adult more vulnerable to injury in a motorcycle accident?

  • Reaction time, strength, visual acuity and balance decline with age
  • Bones thin, muscle mass is lost and chest wall flexibility diminishes, leading to more severe injury
  • Older riders may ride bigger bikes, causing more serious injury upon collision

Last year the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) found little progress is being made to reduce motorcycle fatalities across the nation. Rising fatalities combined with a bump in Baby Boomers riding bikes means fatality rates may not go down any time soon.

If you ride at any age, stay fit, get your vision checked if needed and contact an experienced motorcycle accident attorney at our office if you are injured in any transportation accident.

Could the Recent Meningitis Outbreak Lead to Litigation?

Pharmaceutical litigation most frequently occurs when drug companies fail to adequately test medications prior to release or fail to properly inform consumers of the potential side effects. In these cases, the drugs are manufactured properly but the drugs themselves are flawed. But pharmaceutical litigation can also occur when good drugs are improperly manufactured, resulting in sickness and injury to the people who use them.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is currently investigating a multi-state outbreak of fungal meningitis that has been linked to a certain type of steroid injection. As of October 20, there have been 284 confirmed cases of fungal meningitis following steroid injections, with most cases occurring in Tennessee and Michigan, and at least one confirmed case in Illinois. This outbreak has led to 23 deaths. And because as many as 14,000 people may have received these injections, the numbers are expected to rise.

The steroid injections in question are not a new or novel treatment, as doctors frequently use similar injections to treat joint and back pain. In this particular case, however, a number of injections appear to have become contaminated with the fungus Exserohilum rostratum during the manufacturing process. The contaminated specimens have been traced to the New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Massachusetts. Lawsuits in this matter will likely begin to appear once more information surfaces regarding how the vials became contaminated. In the meantime, the contaminated lots have been recalled as doctors work to contact patients who may have been exposed.

Can Attorneys Apply Blame in Accidental Situations?

Accidents happen, but usually individuals are responsible for injuring other people, due to negligence or reckless behavior. When this type of incident — a personal injury — occurs, the burden of proof rests on the plaintiff and the injured person’s estate.

In Illinois, there was a recent wrongful death lawsuit where the estates of three individuals sued a construction worker and a construction company after the worker drove through a stop sign at high speeds and caused an accident that killed three people.

This catastrophic crash took place on June 17, 2011, in Lee County, Illinois. According to the complaint, the construction worker was driving a company vehicle when he ignored a stop sign, while a vehicle with two passengers was traveling east on U.S. Route 30. The construction vehicle shot across the road and struck the other car, causing a violent collision. The plaintiffs’ personal injury attorneys alleged that the accident caused the premature death of all three travelers. In the complaint, the construction company and the employee were named as defendants. Neither the company nor the driver could be reached for comment. This case is ongoing.

When fatal accidents occur, a wrongful death lawsuit is often the best way to recover monetary and punitive damages for actual losses and emotional deprivation. Vehicles can turn into dangerous weapons if they are handled improperly and aren’t operated according to the rules of the road. These actions lead to allegations of gross negligence, endangerment, reckless conduct and other counts in the court system.

The personal injury experts at the Phillips Law Offices have helped countless families in Chicagoland, and they can represent you, too. If you or a loved one were injured or harmed in an auto accident, contact our experienced personal injury law firm today.

Live or Work in Chicago? It’s Time to Learn to Drive More Safely

Chicago has a massive amount of commuter traffic. With so many drivers on the road, the risk of being involved in a serious automotive accident is always present. To avoid causing an accident or being struck by another car, all Chicago drivers need to adopt practical driving habits to make the city’s roads safer.

Many Chicago drivers use dangerous strategies to get to their destination on time. Unfortunately, when these people come to their senses, it’s often after they have injured a family or spent weeks in a hospital bed recovering. City driving requires patience and a high level of awareness. Here are a few tips that all drivers can use to travel through Chicago safely.

Be aware of your intersections

The first rule of city driving is to always let minor inconveniences happen. You’re not going to make every green light. People have to cross the street. Stopping at intersections and waiting for traffic to clear is far better than causing an accident and being liable for someone else’s injuries. Experts estimate that 50 percent of all collisions in cities occur at intersections. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, drivers who run red lights cause 260,000 injuries annually, including 750 fatal accidents.

Green lights are also dangerous. When you’re approaching a “stale” light, be prepared to brake. If traffic is moving, pedestrians are standing at the corner and cross-traffic is waiting, the light is probably stale. Always yield the right-of-way, and avoid rolling stops. Bad driving habits can cause auto accidents and pedestrian collisions. Once the light turns green, make sure the intersection is clear before you proceed.

In addition to obeying traffic lights, it is best to:

  • Avoid distractions such as cell phones, fiddling with a GPS, changing music, etc.
  • Always check your blind spots when changing lanes
  • Don’t tailgate
  • Keep a safe following distance — three seconds is recommended
  • Always make a complete stop when turning right on red (when it’s legal) and check both ways for pedestrians before accelerating
  • When waiting to make a left, keep your wheels straight. In case you get rear-ended, you won’t end up in oncoming traffic

Exercising safe driving habits is the easiest way to avoid collisions. Auto accidents can inflict debilitating injuries on both drivers and passengers. If you have been injured in a car accident, call experienced Chicago law firm Phillips Law Offices to get the compensation and professional representation that you need.

Know Your Rights: Injuries in Transit

In the United States, several organizations are charged with regulating transportation throughout the country. There are hundreds of laws, rules and regulations on the books that apply to all forms of transportation. These laws and rules apply to motor vehicles, trains, airplanes, boats and every other conceivable method of transit. With that in mind, it’s crucial to seek the right legal representation if you have been injured in a transportation-related accident.

Know your rights

On any given day in the Chicago area, residents travel by car, bus, train, plane and even water taxi. While it’s reassuring to know that there are many government bodies that are tasked with ensuring the safety of these forms of transportation, the truth is that it’s not so easy to make sense of all of those laws. There is no question that the majority of those laws, rules and regulations are in place to ensure the safety of passengers, but everyday people can’t be expected to understand how those laws apply to them. That’s where an experienced transportation accident attorney can be invaluable.

Transportation accidents are often caused by negligence

As nice as it would be to live in a world where everyone did the right thing, the reality is that many people seriously miss the mark. From failing to maintain equipment to ignoring important safety regulations, the negligence of such individuals often results in serious injury and wrongful death.

Line up legal representation right away

In the aftermath of a transportation accident, confusion reigns. However, it’s important to get in touch with a competent attorney as quickly as possible. Without doing so, there is no way to ensure that your rights are being protected. The laws regarding various forms of transportation can be very confusing. A talented lawyer can help you get through the process as smoothly as possible.

Must-Haves in your Auto Insurance Policy

Illinois takes auto insurance seriously. By law, Illinois residents must have auto insurance in mandatory minimum amounts. The penalties for failure to have auto insurance are severe, so one must comply with the state requirements.

To be in compliance with the Illinois law, you must be carry the following minimum amounts of vehicle liability insurance.

  • For the injury or death of one person in a collision, the minimum coverage is $20,000
  • For the injury or death of more than one person in a collision, the minimum coverage is $40,000
  • For damage to the property of another person, you must have a minimum of $15,000 coverage

Remember that these figures are the state minimum. In the event of an accident, the medical bills could far exceed the minimum amounts. To protect yourself from a financially crippling lawsuit or crushing debt, you should carry as much liability insurance as you can comfortably afford. Personal umbrella insurance policies that apply to all your assets are usually $400 – 500 per year and will provide extra insurance of at least one million dollars. Umbrellas above a million are also available.

We also strongly suggest that you carry uninsured/underinsured coverage for the highest available limits. This will protect you and your family in case a driver with no or low insurance injures you or a passenger in your vehicle.

What else you need to know

It’s important to keep your insurance current. The state conducts random surveys to catch violators of the law. The police also ask anybody stopped for a moving violation to produce evidence that they are insured. If your insurance has lapsed, your driver’s license will be suspended, and you will receive a $500 mandatory fine. If you get caught driving on a suspended license, you face a mandatory four-month license suspension and a fine of $1,000. To further complicate matters, some insurance companies will not insure drivers who have been operating their vehicle while uninsured.

Keeping your insurance at or above state minimum will save you money in fines and legal liability. Always be sure you have at least the Illinois state minimum coverage.