Articles Posted in Auto Accident

After a person has been hurt in a Chicago accident, they often put off filing a personal injury lawsuit—whether because of commitments, family obligations, or other reasons. However, many people do not realize that there is a time limit for bringing a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party. This time limit is called the statute of limitations. Because states differ in their statute of limitations, it is important for people to be aware of the time limits they are facing—especially if they are relying on the financial compensation that comes from the lawsuit.

Recently in Chicago, a woman was killed while trying to pass the street after two cars crashed into each other. According to a local news report, the driver of the first vehicle was headed north when it slammed into another car coming from the opposite direction. The pedestrian was in the crosswalk when this occurred, and she was hit. She was pronounced dead at the scene, and people in the second vehicle were taken to the hospital to be treated for their injuries. If either the victim’s family or the injured people were to bring a lawsuit against the responsible driver in the above case, they would have to file the case within a certain timeframe to ensure they are not barred by the statute of limitations.

What is a Statute of Limitations?

Being injured on the job can often be traumatic and life-changing. However, it can be even more difficult to recuperate if the insurance company argues the accident is not covered under the insurance policy. In a recent Illinois Supreme Court case, the court was tasked with deciding whether an auto policy exclusion was ambiguous – and thus, whether the insurance company was required to cover the plaintiff’s injuries from the accident. Ultimately, the court decided the exclusion was not ambiguous and the insurance company did not need to provide coverage for the accident.

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was injured on a farm after backing up a grain truck to an auger – a drilling device for making holes in the ground – when attempting to get more leverage to open the truck’s gate. In doing so, he stepped onto the auger and his foot was exposed to the turning shaft of the auger. The plaintiff wound up losing his leg below the knee. The insurance company that covered the grain truck argued they did not need to provide coverage because the injury was caused by an auger, not the truck. Since the auger is a mechanical device, coverage was therefore precluded under the policy’s mechanical device exclusion. The trial court agreed with the insurance company, ruling the mechanical device exclusion was unambiguous and thus ruled in their favor.

Courts have previously ruled that if a policy exclusion is ambiguous, it must be construed in favor of coverage. According to the court, ambiguity only exists where the policy language is susceptible to more than one reasonable interpretation. If the policy can be reasonably interpreted under its plain or popular meaning, the provision should be applied as written.

We have all experienced the flashing lights and blaring siren as an ambulance speeds past us. However, no one plans to be involved in a car accident with one. Unfortunately, Chicago ambulance accidents regularly occur, and when they do, an ambulance driver may be liable for any resulting injuries.

In a recent Illinois Supreme Court opinion, the plaintiff suffered bodily injuries when a private ambulance ran a red light at an intersection and crashed into the plaintiff’s vehicle. The plaintiff claimed that at the time of the accident, the driver was not operating the ambulance with his siren and lights engaged. Further, the plaintiff argued that the defendant was not proceeding in response to an emergency and that no passengers were in the process of providing emergency or non-emergency medical services at the time of the collision. The plaintiff sued the company that owned the ambulance, as well as the driver.

The defendant ambulance company and driver moved to dismiss the claims based on the immunity provision of the Emergency Medical Systems (EMS) Act. Because the driver was operating the ambulance and providing non-emergency medical services at the time of the accident, the defendants argued they were immune from all civil liability unless the driver’s actions constituted willful misconduct. The plaintiff responded by arguing that the immunity provision of the EMS Act does not apply unless the ambulance is engaged in providing medical services to a patient. The mere use of the vehicle to pick up a patient for non-emergency transport, the plaintiff asserted, was not covered under the statute.

A federal court of appeals recently considered an Illinois car accident case in which the defendant construction companies failed to properly disclose their complete insurance coverage before a settlement. The case began after a van carrying six family members fell off the side of a road. One of the family members died and the others were all injured. The guardrail had been removed in the construction zone where the accident took place. There were also lines on the road that had been repaved and not repainted and there were pieces of asphalt left on the shoulder of the road.

The family filed a lawsuit against two construction companies that had done the construction work on the road. The attorney representing the two companies said to the plaintiffs that the defendant had a joint venture that had a $1 million insurance policy. The defendants’ attorney also sent required disclosures under Rule 26 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which listed that the $1 million policy joint venture insurance policy as the defendants’ only insurance coverage. The parties then agreed to settle the case for $1 million based on the policy limit. The plaintiffs also signed a release with a non-reliance clause, saying that they were not relying on the statements of any of the attorneys.

Four years later, the plaintiffs discovered that the defendants had their own insurance policies in addition to the joint venture insurance policy. After this discovery, the plaintiffs filed a subsequent lawsuit, alleging that the defendants concealed their actual available insurance coverage. The plaintiffs claimed that the defendants’ failure to disclose their coverage under Rule 26 was a misrepresentation and that the plaintiffs settled the case for $1 million based on that misrepresentation. The second lawsuit went to trial and a jury awarded the plaintiffs $8,169,512.84 in damages for negligent misrepresentation.

Illinois Personal Injury LawsuitsThe primary role of the jury in an Illinois personal injury lawsuit is to determine whether the named defendant was responsible for the accident resulting in the plaintiff’s injuries. In so doing, the jury must consider all the evidence presented and come to a reasoned conclusion based on that evidence. Frequently, the question comes up, what if the plaintiff was partially responsible for the accident resulting in their injuries?

Defendants in Illinois car wreck cases and slip and fall claims will often argue that the accident victim was at least partially responsible for their own injuries. For example, a defendant may argue that a plaintiff failed to exercise caution when they slipped and fell on the defendant’s property, or that a car accident victim’s negligence contributed to the accident. These questions implicate the doctrine of comparative negligence.

Comparative negligence is the legal concept that determines which accident victims can recover for their injuries. It used to be that a plaintiff who shared even the slightest amount of responsibility for an accident could not recover for their injuries because they were considered to have been contributorily negligent. However, in a 1981 case, the Illinois Supreme Court abandoned the defense of contributory negligence in favor of pure comparative negligence.

Rideshare operations such as Uber and Lyft have become extremely popular in Chicago and other cities throughout the United States–and it is easy to see why. Ordering a ride through your smartphone is faster, easier, and often less expensive than hailing a cab. In addition, many people believe that rideshare services are safer. Unfortunately, Uber accidents still often happen in the Chicago area.

Uber does insure drivers and passengers involved in car crashes. However, when drivers are using their vehicles for personal use, they are covered under their personal auto insurance policy. If a driver is using the app but has yet to start a trip, they are covered under their personal insurance policy and Uber’s contingent liability policy, which provides up to $50,000 per injury for a total of $100,000 and up to $25,000 in property damage in the event the driver’s personal insurance does not cover the issue. If an Uber driver has accepted a fare or is on a trip with a passenger, they are are covered by a one million dollar liability policy and a one million dollar uninsured/underinsured policy. The UM/UIM coverage protects drivers and passengers in event of an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist.

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Death is an unfortunate part of life, but sometimes due to the negligence of others death comes too soon. When someone dies due to the fault of another’s recklessness or negligence their loved ones, under Illinois law, may be able to claim damages against the at-fault party.

There is no amount of money that can compensate fully for the loss of a loved one but damages can help families cover medical costs, funeral costs, and the cost of living after the loss of the loved one. This allows the family to focus on what matters most – healing. Damages can help a suffering family begin to move forward with their lives without the stress of financial debts hanging overhead.

Wrongful death claims can include a number of types of fatal accidents and can stem from most negligence claims, but most often these claims arise from motor vehicle accidents. A myriad of scenarios can give rise to wrongful death claims.

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The phrase “multi-car collision” typically is used to describe accidents with a large number of cars. However, it can mean anything from a crash with two or three vehicles to one with hundreds. These incidents happen most commonly in areas with heavy traffic, unexpected congestion, and in parts of the country where weather can be treacherous. Put simply, Illinois faces an incredibly large risk of being home to multi-car collisions at any time of the year but particularly during the winter months.

Like most types of car accidents, multi-car collisions can happen for a number of reasons and therefore can be difficult to prevent or avoid. One of the most common causes of these crashes is a vehicle following too closely for safety. A driver who keeps her vehicle too close to the vehicle in front of her is at risk for causing a rear-end collision, and if traffic is heavy, that initial rear-end collision may turn into a chain reaction crash involving several vehicles all being struck from behind. Areas like the Kennedy Expressway and the Eisenhower and known for having chain reaction collisions particularly during morning and evening rush hours.

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Traditionally, the Thanksgiving holiday is one of the most traveled times of the year in America. Those in Chicago are no exception to this as thousands both leave and enter the city each year, traveling to celebrate with friends and family and to give thanks for all they have in their lives. This year, AAA predicts that the roadways in Illinois and elsewhere will be congested as 48.7 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles from home during the weekend.

Experts believe that this will be the highest-traveled Thanksgiving holiday since 2007 and that approximately one million additional travelers will hit the road when compared to the numbers seen in 2015.

Travelers will be using numerous modes of transportation including planes, trains, and automobiles this weekend but AAA reports that the vast majority will travel by car. Nearly 90 percent of those leaving their homes this year will use a personal vehicle of some sort to get to their destination and relatively low prices of gasoline may be encouraging some of the driving.

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All kinds of accidents happen in the United States every year. If you drive in Illinois or if you happen to use public sidewalks, crosswalks, or areas near roadways, you face the risk of being involved in a car accident or other traffic incident with little or no warning. Some collisions are due to a driver’s lack of attention while others may be blamed on alcohol or drugs. In reality, thousands of factors can lead to and even cause a collision between one or more parties.

Chicago sees more than its fair share of traffic incidents every year. In 2014, the Illinois Department of Transportation noted that 143,943 accidents happened in Cook County, the majority of which happened within or immediately around Chicago’s city limits. Among those collisions, 27,075 caused injuries and 211 proved to be fatal, changing the lives of those involved and their loved ones forever.

Across the state that year, 296,049 collisions occurred which averages out to 811 traffic accidents every single day.

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