619More and more people in the Chicago area are ditching traditional forms of transportation and opting to grab an Uber instead. Uber, a rideshare company based on the west coast, allows those who want to catch a ride to request one via an app, enabling a car or SUV to pick up the rider at the rider’s specified location. Unlike a city bus which follows a specific route, an Uber car can travel anywhere in an approved service area. And unlike a taxi cab which may be difficult to find, an Uber vehicle literally comes to the place where a rider needs it to be within a specified time frame. For many, long gone are the days when they waited on a corner in the rain, trying to grab a ride to make it to work or school on time.

However, as the number of Uber rides and passengers continue to swell in Illinois, so do the number of Uber car accidents that result. Though some of these are minor, many have turned serious and caused injuries to the drivers and passengers involved, leading the victims to wonder where they stand legally and what options they have to get help if a crash affects their lives.

Passengers who were riding in an Uber car at the time of a collision may face a more complicated path to help than those involved in car accidents not involving such a major corporation. First, the victims will need to determine who is legally liable for the crash and whether more than one entity bears the blame. Typically, the driver of an Uber or another driver in another car will have made a mistake or error, leading to the impact between vehicles. However, in other situations, faulty mechanical work, a poorly designed car, negligent maintenance of a road or intersection, or even inclement weather may be blamed for an accident.

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9315.jpgWorkers in Chicago often take on tasks without a second thought. They show up on time, do their job, and then go home, all to support themselves and their families. And in exchange for their efforts, these workers are compensated with wages and in some cases additional benefits by their employers which make the time spent on the job worthwhile.

But what happens when something goes wrong at the workplace? This is a scenario that construction workers in Chicago know all too well as there are numerous incidents on construction sites each year involving employees. Often, those incidents result in injuries to the workers who are involved or to others who may be on the site at the time, potentially leading to the need for medical treatment and time missed from work.
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91815%282%29.jpgOne of the biggest causes of injuries for those in Chicago each year continues to be car accidents and other traffic incidents that occur on local roads and expressways. In fact, the Illinois Department of Transportation reported that 285,477 such traffic crashes happened in the state in 2013 alone. Of those, the official statistics report that 21.4 percent resulted in injuries to at least one person involved.

The percentage allocated to injury accidents likely is low, though, because it is based upon the self reports of victims immediately after they are involved in a collision. Typically, vehicles collided and a law enforcement official is sent to respond to the scene. That officer will ask the drivers and passengers involved if they are hurt and in need of an ambulance if an ambulance has not already been called to the area. There is a tendency among accident victims to underplay their symptoms right after an impact because they are in shock and unsure exactly how they feel. Often, their minds have not slowed enough for them to process what happened to them and the adrenaline rushing through their veins may delay the onset of pain.
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102215.jpgThe laws in Illinois are designed to protect the safety of all who call the state home, yet when individuals ignore or violate the law, that safety can be jeopardized. One area that receives little attention but makes a massive impact on others is in the arena of automobile insurance. If you live in Illinois and you own a personal vehicle, you are required to carry insurance on that car that meets or exceeds state minimum levels. The purpose behind this mandatory insurance provision is to protect the innocent victims of car accidents who are hurt by enabling them to obtain financial compensation, a form of relief that can help victims get the medical treatment they need as well as provider payment for all of their other expenses.

Though the law applies to all drivers, the fact remains that every day, motorists without valid insurance drive in an around Chicago, posing a serious threat in the event they are involved in a crash. In fact, the Insurance Information Institute reported that an estimated 13.3 percent of all motorists on Illinois roads in 2012 were uninsured, contrary to and in violation of state laws. Victims who are hurt by these uninsured drivers soon realize that there may be no insurance funds to provide for their damages, pay for their medical expenses, or even compensate them while they are forced to miss work.
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5316(2)Traffic safety does not just affect those who are driving on the roadways in Chicago and elsewhere in our country. Rather, anyone who is on, around, or near a public street may find themselves involved in an accident or other traffic-related incident simply by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Our city has a high number of and a high percentage of pedestrian foot traffic when compared to other forms of transit particularly in the downtown Loop and areas known for heavy commuting. This leads to countless interactions between pedestrians and cars, trucks, vans, SUVs, buses, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and others every day and an unfortunately number of pedestrian accidents annually.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that more than 150,000 pedestrians were treated in emergency rooms in 2013 for nonfatal injuries following a pedestrian crash and that an additional 4,735 pedestrians lost their lives in such incidents. On average, this means that more than 410 people were hurt every day while walking and that someone died approximately every two hours in that year alone.

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10816There is a fallacy among drivers that is widely held in Chicago: drivers tend to believe they are better and more skilled than other motorists on the road. Regardless of how long they have been operating a car, where they learned and how they learned to drive, whether they have been cited for illegal conduct or caused a collision in the past, or even whether they have had subsequent training since an initial driver’s education program, the majority of motorists describe their skills as “better than average” when surveyed.

In fact, many Illinois drivers have the educational basis to be very effective and safe on the roadways but in practice, these drivers often ignore what they consider to be good advice for others. A typical example involves texting while driving or other distracted behaviors while behind the wheel. A survey from last year found that 98 percent of adult drivers stated that texting while driving was unsafe yet shockingly, 49 percent of surveyed drivers admitted to texting while driving.

This “do as I say, not as I do” approach is not only ignorant but it can be lethal. Experts have concluded that using a cell phone increases the risks of a car accident by 400 percent and that many of these collisions result in injuries or death to those involved.

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train tracksThreats are everywhere in our modern society. It is a sad reality that you can become the victim of negligence at any time, whether it takes the form of a car accident, slip-and-fall incident, or even on-the-job work injury. However, not everyone is at the same risk for the same types of injuries and those who reside in Illinois may be surprised to know that the odds they will be involved in a train accident may be higher than some of their friends living in other states.

Train traffic is high, especially in the Chicago area where commuter trains and commercial trains fight for space at the same terminals. This means that the trains must cross paths with one another on the rails and also must cross paths with passenger vehicles at designated grade crossings. Trains also encounter pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists with some regularity at these groups must cross the same areas though should not do so at the same time.

According to the Federal Railroad Administration, Illinois experienced 140 train collisions in 2015, making it the state with the third highest number of train accidents. Those collisions resulted in 24 deaths and 79 injuries in the same year which means that these incidents are affecting far more than just the trains themselves. Rather, victims and their loved ones, family members, friends, and coworkers all feel the fallout from train accidents in Illinois. Some losses are so great that victims will never fully recover.

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10416It is basic human instinct to try and control the circumstances surrounding our daily lives and that often stretches to our driving habits. Most motorists will claim that they operate their cars in a reasonable and safe manner, desiring to keep themselves and others near them safe and accident-free. However, a deeper look into Chicago’s driving scene reveals that numerous drivers speed, tailgate, exhibit signs of road rage, weave in and out of traffic, and even drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol on an occasional basis. With so many threatening and reckless factors contributing to roadways safety, it may be surprising just how many people avoid a car accident daily.

Any type of traffic accident can be serious but a rollover collision always poses a significant threat to personal safety. In fact, rollovers are estimated to make up about three percent of all collisions nationwide but they are involved in about 30 percent of deaths among those in a passenger vehicle. The most troubling aspect of a rollover crash is that so many can be prevented when you realize that nearly half of rollover incidents involve one or more drivers who have enough alcohol in their systems to make them impaired.

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12315Chicago’s streets are crowded with all types of traffic. From pedestrians to bicyclists to trucks, vans, and SUVs, it is rare to find an empty street in downtown. If you move to other areas of Illinois, you may find anything from school buses to motorcycles or even farm equipment using the roads on occasion. So what duties do you owe to others if you are driving on a road?

At the end of the day, it is up to every motorist to know their duties and responsibilities when driving and to abide by those duties. Failing to do so can lead to multiple consequences including traffic tickets, criminal charges, fines, fees, the loss of a license, or even legal liability for any harm that results.

Bicyclists are a category of street user who legally can occupy the roadways just like a motor vehicle. They have the right to ride where and when they choose unless an area is otherwise marked. This means that a bicycle can ride in a marked bicycle lane where one is present or otherwise can occupy a lane of traffic like a car can, enabling that rider to move through Chicago with ease.

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12715(2)What concerns you about the conduct of other drivers? Do you worry about people driving while using their cell phone? What about driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs? Are those who speed and dart in and out of traffic your primary concern? What about confused motorists who brake or stop in the middle of heavy traffic simply because they do not know where they are going?

Everyone has concerns about the actions of others and for good reason – your safety on an Illinois roadway depends in part upon your conduct and in part upon the conduct of others. But while speeding, failing to yield, and driving erratically are widely understood, few people realize how much of a threat truck driver fatigue poses to them and to those they love.

Truck driver fatigue accidents plague Chicago and the rest of our state just as they plague roads all across our country. These collision occur when the driver of a semi-truck or other large truck operate while they are tired or sleepy, limiting their ability to act in a reasonable and responsible manner and increasing the odds that they will be involved in a crash. It is hard to know exactly how many lives are affected by truck driver fatigue crashes annually but the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reports that nearly 4,000 people die every year in large truck accidents and that driver fatigue is believed to be a leading cause in those crashes and the resulting deaths.

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