21116There are dozens of issues contributing to a lack of safety on Chicago’s roadways every day of the year, including speeding, drinking and driving, running red lights, and operating a car while distracted. But while these aforementioned issues get media coverage and are widely known among drivers, operating while tired or sleepy does not get the same treatment despite the fact that it is linked to thousands of car accidents in the country annually and is blamed for the loss of far too many lives.

Put simply, drowsy driving happens anytime a motorist is behind the wheel and is tired or sleepy. It may be that the driver failed to get enough sleep the night before or that a driver has been awake too long during the day. Or, it can be that a driver is physically drained from being on the road too long, leading her to become drowsy. In our modern, busy world, most adults find themselves tired on at least an occasional basis so it can be easy for them to brush off their sleepiness and get in their cars to drive.

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123115Car accidents may seem like they come out of nowhere. One moment you are driving along, thinking about your destination and the next, you find yourself involved in a collision that may be due to nothing you did wrong. In fact, most multi-car collisions involve at least one driver who does not err but instead is in the wrong place at the wrong time, suffering due to the actions of a motorist who did make a mistake.

In the last few decades, the technological advances introduced into automobiles on Chicago roadways has been astounding. From minor improvements to major overhauls, the current driving landscape looks remarkably different than it did a mere 50 years ago, and as a result, fewer people are losing their lives in collisions. Yet until every car accident is prevented and no one is injured on our expressways, we still have a long way to go toward guaranteeing the safety of all drivers.

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122915More than 100 million Americans are estimated to have watched Super Bowl 50 last night as the Denver Broncos defeated the Carolina Panthers. Many of those football fans celebrated by watching the biggest game of the year with their families and their friends, rounding out their celebrations with food, drinks, and good times by all. Cheering for your favorite team or simply watching to find out which team would be crowned champions at the end of an NFL season can be a fun activity, but unfortunately for many, the number of drunk driving accidents and collisions is believed to increase around the Super Bowl as many fans will drive after drinking.

No matter what the reason for celebrating, it is always illegal to drive under the influence in Chicago. Doing so will subject a driver to many possible penalties including criminal charges, time in jail or prison, the loss of a driver’s license, mandatory use of an ignition interlock device, and/or fines and fees. All of these penalties are designed to benefit the public at large, though, and not anyone who is directly injured by a drunk driver. If an impaired motorist causes a collision that results in harm, those victims must affirmatively seek their own relief through the use of a separate type of legal action.

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2416Teenagers should be enjoying their lives to the fullest with the anticipation of everything that awaits them in their adulthood. They should be focused on their educations, their jobs, their families, and their friends. But for some teens, this joyful and mostly carefree approach to life is not possible because their lives have been forever affected by a car accident in or around the Chicago area. For others, their lives ended due to a car crash.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that car accidents continue to be the leading cause of death among teenagers in the nation, a troubling statistic made all the more distressing when you realize that the vast majority of collisions can be prevented if drivers act reasonably. This means that the youth of Illinois are facing serious risks to their lives every time they drive or simply ride in a vehicle as a passenger, and with each tragedy that strikes, the lives of that teen, the teen’s family, and the entire community will be altered forever.

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2316Trains present a unique issue to the safety of those in the Chicago area. While many utilize the CTA elevated trains, and others use Amtrak or Metra to commute longer distances, some avoid trains in their entirety and see them only from a distance. Yet regardless of your level of use, trains present an issue to your personal safety in the city.

When a train accident happens, it can involve a single train, multiple trains, a train and one or more cars, or even a train and a pedestrian. As a result, anyone – not only those who ride a train – can be the victim of a train incident in Illinois.

Recent years have seen terrifying and deadly train derailments and collisions including an Amtrak derailment last year that killed eight and injured more than 200 people. Faced with earlier accidents that were claiming lives, the U.S. Congress passed legislation in 2008 that required positive train control, or PTC, on all trains that operate on tracks which service passenger trains. As passenger trains often travel over leased tracks as opposed to tracks that they own outright, this means that a very high percentage of the nation’s tracks will fall under this new legislation.

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13116If a driver is involved in a collision in Chicago, the laws require that motorist to remain at the scene to provide relevant information or until cleared by police officers. Yet despite this, many drivers who find themselves in a crash choose to flee the scene, disregarding the laws and potentially endangering the safety of victims who were hurt in a crash.

The phenomenon of hit-and-run accidents does not extend only to collisions between cars, though, as an increasing number of accidents involving pedestrians involve drivers who flee. The Chicago Tribune analyzed data from accidents involving walkers in a wide expanse of the city between 2005 and 2009 and concluded that one-third of those crashes involved a hit-and-run motorist.

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12916In a city the size of Chicago, there is a constant need for construction. Whether it is repair work to the existing roads, the erection of new buildings, or even retrofitting existing structures, construction is happening twelve months a year in this area and is the source of countless jobs. Construction is needed for the city to flourish but it also can be a safety hazard, placing those who are employed to do the work in dangerous situations that may lead to an on-the-job accident.

In 2014, 4,679 workers lost their lives in job accidents in the nation. That averages out to nearly 90 deaths per week or more than 13 deaths per day. Not only did these victims lose their lives but the victims’ families, friends, and loved ones suffered from these accidents as well, losing important members of their families and of our community and being forced to pick up the pieces after a tragic incident. Of all the deaths in the nation, the vast majority of them – 4,251 – occurred in private industry, and among those, construction workers were at particularly high risks for fatalities. According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (“OSHA”), 874 of the private industry fatalities happened in construction settings which is just over 20 percent of all private industry deaths, or one out of every five fatalities.

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1716Often, the victims of Chicago car accidents are not sure of the rights they possess. They may wonder who is liable for their damages or whether they are entitled to payment for the harm they suffered. These are common questions asked of personal injury attorneys in the city because until an accident happens to someone, they may be unaware of the process.

So how exactly does a claim for injuries from a car accident work? First, it is important to know that the state where the crash happened matters. In Illinois, victims who are hurt in a collision are protected by state laws which enable them to seek relief. A civil claim for damages can be brought, if a victim chooses to do so, against anyone or any entity responsible for the damages. Typically, that can include an at-fault driver, the owner of an at-fault car, a corporation that owned the vehicle or employed the at-fault driver, a city or municipality that is to blame for roadway conditions, a company that negligently built or serviced a car or portion of the vehicle, or even a victim’s own insurance company.

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12516An average Chicago driver will find herself involved in multiple car accidents over the course of her life. Some may be blamed on the fault of a driver, some may be blamed on poor weather or on a mechanical failure. And some may be difficult to determine fault.

If a car accident happens, the best result is one where no one involved is injured or otherwise harmed. While a crash will still be an inconvenience to all, the biggest threat will be avoided and those involved will be able to move forward with their lives.

Part of the recovery process from a collision involves having a vehicle repaired and all the damage addressed. In Illinois, the at-fault driver’s insurance company generally will be charged with repairing the harm done in a collision and with righting the wrongs that were done. It is important that parents understand when and how to replace their children’s car seats because experts believe not enough are replaced after a collision.

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12116CTA buses can be seen around Chicago on any day of the week and during any time of the year. According to the CTA, there are more than 1,800 buses in its fleet and providers almost one million rides on weekdays. There are so many people using the CTA buses that it may not be surprising to realize collisions, accidents, and other incidents involving the CTA happen every day – and many of them result in injuries to passengers on board.

Though harm can occur in almost any type of action, there are some instances that are more likely than others to leave people injured. Based on our experience as Chicago personal injury attorneys, the following are some examples of factors that can lead to harm:

  • Improperly Trained Drivers – When the CTA employs a new bus driver, that driver is educated and formally trained in all aspects of the job. However, mistakes are sometimes made and some drivers are not given the education they need to operate a vehicle in a safe and efficient manner. When this lack of training happens, passengers on board the bus, pedestrians nearby, and others in nearby cars are the ones who will suffer. A bus driver who does not know the rules of the road, is unfamiliar with a route, or who does not understand how to operate all of the safety features of a bus is at a particularly high risk for causing injuries.
  • Bus Accidents – Perhaps the most serious of the possible occurrences that involve CTA buses, bus accidents take place when the CTA vehicle collides either with another bus or any other vehicle or object. In some situations, a CTA bus may be involved in a crash without any other vehicles, particularly if that bus strikes a bus station, a building, or a light pole near the roadway. Collisions on a CTA bus are very dangerous to passengers who generally do not have seat belts available to them. Further, many passengers may be standing and can be thrown in the event of an impact.
  • Pedestrian Accidents – Far too often, a CTA bus collides with a pedestrian who is walking in the Chicago area. Many of these incidents occur in the Loop or in other crowded portions of the city, and often bus drivers claim that they were distracted or otherwise did not see the pedestrian prior to the crash. It is the responsibility of a driver to operate safely and that includes respecting the rights of pedestrians on sidewalks, in crosswalks, and near a roadway.
  • Malfunctioning Equipment – CTA buses log many more miles than a typical passenger car which means that routine inspections and maintenance are critically important. Failing to maintain the bus in proper working order makes a malfunction or failure more likely, which in turn increases the odds of a crash happening and injuries resulting.
  • Tire Blowouts – Tires should be seen as part of a CTA bus that must be inspected regularly for wear, proper inflation, and overall condition. Tires can make a vital difference in the ability of a bus to slow or stop when a hazard presents itself and also can have a big impact when it comes to controlling the bus through winter weather. If a tire does blowout, it may be difficult for the driver to maintain control of the bus and there is a chance that the bus will crash due to the tire failure.

If a CTA bus accident happened and left you injured or claimed the life of someone you love, know that the laws of Illinois may protect you by offering you the right to seek payment for your damages. The personal injury attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. are standing by 24 hours a day, seven days a week to speak with you if you have questions about your rights or if you are looking for help. We offer a case consultation without cost or obligation to all victims who call us toll free at (855) 529-2442 or locally at (312) 924-7575 and we will keep everything discussed during the consultation confidential.

If we represent you, we will fight for the best possible outcome in your case and we will never charge you a fee unless we make a recovery on your behalf.

Prior Blog Entry:

Common Causes of Tire Blowout Accidents in Chicago, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, published January 20, 2016.