Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

29216Every year, the number of traffic accidents and the resulting injuries and fatalities are closely monitored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”), a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation. NHTSA describes its mission as to save lives, prevent injuries, and reduce vehicle-related crashes. This is an incredibly important task as car accidents continue to be a leading cause of death among Americans of all ages, leading to the loss of tens of thousands of lives annually and causing pain and suffering to hundreds of thousands.

As part of its mission, NHTSA monitors numerous factors that go into and stem from traffic crashes each year and a review of their preliminary data from 2015 shows an increase in the total number of fatalities by 7.7 percent over 2014 numbers.

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29216In recent years, officials with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) have confirmed that the number of traffic deaths taking place on American roads have decreased. However, that trend has now come to an abrupt halt as data from 2015 shows not only a lack of a decrease but instead, a significant increase in the number of fatalities reported.

Based on its numbers, the NHTSA concludes that traffic deaths in the first nine months of 2015 rose 9.3 percent over the same period in 2014. This means that more than 26,000 people lost their lives in traffic collisions in the first nine months of 2015 while 23,796 people were killed in that time span in 2014, an increase of more than 2,200 lost lives.

Experts are now debating the causes for this increase in an effort to understand it and then to reverse the trend.

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31815.jpgWhat are the odds that you will be involved in a car accident while in Chicago or elsewhere in Illinois? If you are like the typical driver or passenger, you may believe the odds are low and that you are relatively safe while traveling the expressways, interstates, and streets of the Chicago area and while navigating the city itself. However, statistically, an American motorist will be involved in 2-3 car accidents during his or her lifetime and there are indications that those who reside in densely populated areas will be involved in more. By all definitions, Chicago is densely populated and even those who reside in the suburban areas surrounding the city often must deal with city traffic, placing them at an increased risk for a collision.

Fortunately many of these crashes are minor and will result only in damage to the vehicles involved. It may be described as a “fender-bender” that lets the motorists drive away from the scene and only inconveniences them with the damage done to their cars. In other cases, the damage may be extreme and a vehicle may be totaled, leaving a driver to walk away from the crash but to wonder how he or she was lucky enough to avoid an injury.

In the worst instances, at least one person involved in a crash is injured or is killed due to the accident and either that victim or the victim’s surviving family members are left to pick up the pieces of their lives following the collision. Though nothing can erase the harm done by these accidents, those who are affected may be able to seek financial compensation for their damages that can enable them to obtain payment for losses like medical expenses and pain and suffering. Speaking with a personal injury attorney about the possibility of a wrongful death claim or an injury claim can help you understand your options if a collision has affected you or someone you love.

So far in 2015, the Illinois Department of Transportation has confirmed that 141 fatalities have occurred on Illinois roads. With the year less than 25 percent over, that number should raise an alarm in the minds of drivers because it is relatively high and it represents an additional 14 fatalities when compared to this time last year. The 2015 fatalities happened in 127 different car accidents meaning that some collisions were dire enough to cause the deaths of more than one victim.

These fatal accidents were caused by a number of factors and some remain unclear at this time. Typical accidents that lead to wrongful death claims can be caused by drunk or impaired drivers, motorists on their cell phones or who are otherwise distracted, drivers who travel too fast for conditions, mechanical failures, and even inclement weather. An analysis of a collision may reveal that multiple factors – not one single action – caused a crash and may reveal that more than a single driver bears some responsibility.

As long as motorists continue to operate their personal vehicles, accidents likely will occur in the Chicago area and unfortunately, drivers and pedestrians will be injured and killed. When an incident affects your family’s lives and their personal safety, make sure you understand your legal options and whether you are entitled to obtain compensation for your damages.

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066.jpg A 28-year-old Glenview man has been formally charged for his part in a fatal collision last Sunday that left a Motron Grove man dead and a woman injured. The defendant driver is currently in jail in lieu of a $600,000 bond and is facing charges of reckless homicide, driving under the influence, and improper lane usage.

The collision that gave rise to the charges occurred on September 22 on Milwaukee Avenue, near the intersection with Zenith Drive and Castilian Court in Glenview, shortly before 3:00 p.m. Police believe that the defendant was under the influence of an unspecified intoxicant as he was driving his vehicle in the area, leading him to cross into a lane for opposing traffic and striking a second vehicle in a head-on collision.

The driver of the second vehicle was killed upon impact and a passenger in his vehicle was injured but is expected to survive. Officials transported the female passenger to an area hospital where she has been evaluated and treated for her crash-related injuries, the extent and nature of which are not currently known.

If the charges alleged thus far are proven true, the defendant in this case may face a serious sentence in prison in addition to other potential penalties, including the loss of his driver’s license, a felony record, community service, and fines. But many people do not realize that the extent of a negligent driver’s liability does not end with criminal prosecution but rather may also include a civil claim by any victims who were injured as a result of an accident. In cases where a victim is killed, the victim’s surviving family members may have the right to bring a claim for their damages and for the loss of their loved one.

Driving impaired by an intoxicating compound is illegal in Illinois and is a serious threat to public safety. Intoxicating compounds often include alcohol and/or drugs but in actuality can be anything that influences a driver’s ability to control or operate a vehicle. This means that driving under any substance that impairs your ability to function may be a violation of Illinois laws and may place a driver at risk for criminal penalties. Yet despite these strict interpretations, may motorists continue to drive when they shouldn’t.

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182.jpg Authorities believe a 58-year-old woman was in the wrong place at the wrong time when she was killed on a Thursday morning. The woman was walking on a sidewalk in the 4400 block of South Saint Louis Avenue in the Brightton Park neighborhood when a truck crashed through a garage and struck her.

Police say that a pickup truck was loaded with construction materials or metal scraps as it sat in an alley. The driver exited the truck with the truck in park to pick up something from the alley. Witnesses state that the driver’s son, a 13-year-old boy, was in the truck and accidentally put the truck in gear as he sat in the front passenger seat. The truck began to roll forward, prompting the 13-year-old to climb into the driver’s seat and attempt to stop the truck. Though he attempted to use the brake pedal, the teen hit the gas instead, sending the truck flying into a garage. The truck crashed through the garage and struck the woman on the other side.

The truck crossed the street and then hit another garage before colliding with a brick wall, where it came to a rest. Authorities were called and emergency medical personnel transported the victim to Mt. Sinai Hospital where she underwent treatment for several hours before dying of her injuries in the early afternoon.

The driver of the car received citations for leaving a vehicle unattended while running and for driving on a suspended or revoked license. At this point, there is no indication that the teen will face any charges but authorities state that they are still investigating the incident.

Accidents can happen to anyone on any given day. But describing incidents like this one as accidents is not absolutely accurate in many cases. Here, there is no indication that either the man or his son intended to hurt anyone, including the female victim, but that is exactly what happened. Though the driver may have not had ill will towards the woman, by leaving his truck running in an alley and by letting his unlicensed son to remain in the truck where the son could operate the vehicle, the driver risked the safety of others in the area. Additionally, the driver at issue did not have a valid license at the time of the crash and therefore could not legally drive, yet he chose to drive anyway. Even after the state of Illinois determined that he was not legally allowed to drive, the man determined that he could get behind the wheel and drive anyway. His actions created a dangerous situation that cost an innocent woman her life.

Regardless of what happens with the man’s traffic or criminal charges brought by the state, the surviving family members of the victim may be able to bring a civil claim for their losses. These claims are often referred to as wrongful death cases and they allow families to obtain financial compensation for their losses, including the loss of companionship they are forced to endue as the result of their loved one’s death.
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Former NBA star and fan favorite Mookie Blaylock is facing charges of driving on a suspended license and failing to stay within his lane after he caused a car crash on Friday morning that left one woman dead. 448500_basketball.jpg

Blaylock is best known for his years with the Atlanta Hawks but also played for the Golden State Warriors and the New Jersey Nets, now the Brooklyn Nets, following his draft into the NBA in 1989.

The collision occurred just outside of Atlanta on Tara Boulevard, a popular four-lane highway in the area. It appears that Blaylock was traveling in one direction and lost control of his Cadillac Escalade, crossed a center median, and entered the highway going the other direction. Blaylock’s SUV collided head-on with a van in a violent collision. A 43-year-old female front seat passenger in the van was killed in the crash and Blaylock was critically injured. Emergency medical technicians transported Blaylock by air ambulance to an area hospital where he was placed on life support for several hours.

Following surgery for a broken ankle, Blaylock is in critical condition and reportedly is no longer on life support. However he is currently being sedated by his physicians. Once he is able to speak, police intend to interview him about the collision and may level additional charges against Blaylock, including a potential charge for vehicular homicide. So far, Blaylock has been charged with driving on a suspended license and failing to stay within his lane of traffic.

The family of Mookie Blaylock have reported that he suffers from seizures and has received medical treatment for them and recently had an episode where paramedics had to be called to his home during one of Blaylock’s seizures. It is not clear whether doctors had given him any instructions regarding his ability to drive. Reports indicate that an arrest warrant was recently issued in Spalding County, Georgia for Blaylock on charges of driving under the influence and a drug charge though it does not appear that these prior charges had anything to do with the current accident.

Head-on collisions of the type involved in this accident are often violent and account for a disproportionate number of fatalities each year. Though head-on collisions account for only two percent of all crashes, they are responsible for nearly 10 percent of all fatalities. One of the reasons they are so deadly is that these collisions often occur when one driver fails to stay within his own lane and crosses a center line or median. Statistically this results in serious collisions most often on roads with high rates of speeds, like rural highways or other areas with light traffic.

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Chicago pedestrian accident lawyers at our office know too well that the streets in our city can be a very dangerous place for people traveling on foot. Sometimes no matter what you do, no matter where you are, no matter how cautious you are, there are risks to pedestrians.

The Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune are both reporting that today a taxicab driver has been charged with reckless homicide for his involvement in a pedestrian collision on August 14. The incident occurred in the River West neighborhood and a pedestrian, 30-year-old Eric Kerestes was pronounced dead at the scene.

The victim was innocently sitting at a bus stop bench at the intersection of Milwaukee Ave. and Chicago Avenue. At that time a taxicab struck several light poles before hitting the bench. He was reportedly thrown 15 feet or more in the collision.

The cab driver was initially charged with driving on the sidewalk, improper lane usage, disobeying a red light, damage to public property, speeding, negligent driving and failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident.

The victim, a North Side resident, died from multiple injuries sustained in the accident, according to autopsy results from the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Two other people were seriously injured in the accident. One victim was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, the other to Stroger Hospital.

According to newspaper reports, the defendant received more than 30 traffic citations from 1988 through 2009, including speeding and stop sign violations.

This accident occurred just weeks before a five-year-old child was killed in north suburban Highland Park when a vehicle jumped a curb and hit her. The Chicago Trib is now reporting that police are looking into whether the 18-year-old driver was using illegal drugs before she struck the child with her father’s car on Labor Day.

Our office works on pedestrian accident claims in regular basis. Injuries from these collisions can be severe, due to the fact that you have a motor vehicle hitting a totally unprotected pedestrian. These accidents often occur when drivers keep a sufficient lookout for other vehicles in an intersection but then fail to observe pedestrians in crosswalks.

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Illinois auto accident lawyers at our office often deal with cases involving drunk drivers. The outcomes of these collisions are often deadly.

The Chicago Tribune is reporting that one such accident happened in Chicago last weekend. The incident occurred around 2 AM Sunday morning near the intersection of Sawyer and Archer. An alleged intoxicated motorist was traveling in a Chevy Malibu northwest on Archer Ave. when she failed to yield while making a left turn at Sawyer Avenue. She struck a 2011 Nissan Maxima that was headed in a Southwest direction on Archer. The Nissan was traveling straight and had the right-of-way.

The 28-year-old driver of the Maxima was pronounced dead in less than an hour later at Mount Sinai Hospital. The victim was a resident of Chicago Ridge in the 9700 block of S. Harlem Ave.

Chicago police officers arrived at the scene to find the defendant had an order of alcohol on her breath and bloodshot eyes. She admitted drinking alcohol before the accident. She said she never saw the other vehicle before the crash. The DUI driver injured her hands and legs in the accident and was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital. There a blood-alcohol test showed her BAC level to be .094. She was placed under arrest at the hospital.

Police initially charged her with DUI, failure to yield, driving without a license and no insurance. Since then the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office have upgraded the charges to aggravated DUI.

The defendant, a South Side resident, is at the Cook County Jail with a $10,000 bond from the original charges. It is likely her bail will increase with the new felony charges.

Passengers from the Nissan were taken to Stroger Hospital and passengers from the Chevy were taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center and Mount Sinai Hospital.

This accident serves as a strong reminder of the dangers of drinking and driving. According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, accident fatalities have significantly increased this year. There has been 201 accident fatalities so far this year, up from 178 on this date last year. Of those fatalities this year, 59 were alcohol-related.

In the year 2010, of the 607 people killed in Illinois accidents, around 30% of them were over the legal drinking limit, and 12% had a BAC of over .20.

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An Illinois truck crash on Illinois 394 has claimed the life of a 49-year-old woman, according to Fox news. The incident occurred on Friday around 6 PM during the evening rush hour.

A semi truck driver traveling north on the highway somehow lost control and drove cross the grassy center median into oncoming southbound traffic. This occurred just as the vehicle passed Glenwood Lansing Road.

After the truck entered the southbound lanes it collided with an SUV, which burst into flames, killing the driver. She has been identified as Mary Lacy. There were no passengers in the SUV. The truck came to a stop in the middle of the southbound lanes. The driver, a Valparaiso Indiana resident, was reportedly not hurt.

The Illinois State Police are handling the investigation and crash reconstruction. They’re trying to figure out what caused the trucker to lose control.

It is being reported that several sand barrels were hit by the truck. The barrels were being used to mark a construction zone. The Fox news story is speculating that the truck driver possibly drifted off the side of the road, struck a guardrail and then lost control, driving across the median and into oncoming traffic.

Once the state police investigation has been completed, they should be able to determine if speed played a role in the crash.

Police are reportedly speaking with the trucker. They will also be checking his log books to see if fatigue may have been a factor, and they will also investigate whether he was on his cell phone or texting. There was supposedly no evidence of drugs or alcohol playing a role.

It has not been reported if a Chicago personal injury law firm is involved in the case yet or if there is a civil lawsuit on file.

After the crash, both sides of the highway had to be shut down for a period of time.

According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, in the year 2010 alone there were 10,343 accidents involving tractor-trailers. Of those truck accidents, 84 resulted in fatalities and 1,836 resulted in injuries.

The State of Illinois further reports that semi truck accidents made up 9.8% of all fatal crashes last year. The number of fatal tractor-trailer crashes increased by over 35% from the year 2009, with the number of fatalities going up by 50%, from 64 in 2009 to 96 in 2010.

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A Chicago-area motorcycle crash that occurred on Friday night on Interstate 88 has claimed the life of an Aurora resident, according to the Beacon News. A witness to the accident is saying that an Illinois state trooper caused the accident.

The victim, age 29, was riding to Chicago with two friends who were on two separate motorcycles. According to state police, around 9:15 PM in the area of Winfield Road, one of the bikers swerved in front of the other, and that led to the second biker taking evasive action.

But a friend of the motorcyclist killed is stating that a state trooper was the main factor in causing the accident. The witness is saying that the motorcyclists were cut off by a police car. The witness was reportedly riding around 150 feet behind the accident.

He says that, for reasons unknown, the police vehicle passed motorcycle riders, and then hit the brakes. This caused the victim to swerve, but he was unable to complete the maneuver, and was ejected off of his bike. He might have then been hit by a passing truck. The rider next to him was able to pull his cycle over to the side of the interstate.

Witnesses also said that the state police car did not have lights or sirens activated. The other bikers did not know the vehicle was a police car until it passed them by.

A spokesperson for the Illinois State Police is stating that the accident is still under investigation and that no further information is being released yet. They are also saying it is also unknown yet if drugs or alcohol played a role in the accident. However, the victim’s friends and stated that he had not been drinking and that he was wearing a motorcycle helmet.

To make matters worse, it is being alleged that when the victim’s wife arrived at the scene, she started to run towards the victim and was then tackled by police, causing minor injuries.

It is further being reported that friends and family of the deceased have called in a branch of the NAACP to help fully investigate the occurrence. Other than the fact that the victim was African-American, there is no other reason given as to why the NAACP was contacted, and no other indication that race played a role in the state trooper’s alleged actions. Further, it was nighttime and the victim was wearing a helmet, so it is unclear as to how the state trooper would have known the race of the motorcyclist.

It has not been reported if a Chicago motorcycle accident lawyer is involved in the case yet or if a civil lawsuit has been filed.

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