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Chicago personal injury lawyerSpring is officially here, and while we are likely to get hit with at least one more round of winter-like weather, sunny days and warmer temps are on their way. Along with the improved weather comes the beginning of the travel season. This year, in particular, is likely to be busier than usual as families begin to venture out again after more than a year of limited activities caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Keeping your vehicle maintained can help avoid the headaches of breaking down and reduce the possibility of an accident. Taking the time to check just a few items could also help prevent a vehicle accident caused by faulty equipment.

Basic Maintenance Goes a Long Way

Before you get on the road for your first trip of the spring, it is important to make sure your vehicle is ready. Driving in spring weather is different from winter driving, and your car should be maintained properly to account for the differences. The good news is that most of the necessary maintenance tasks are fairly easy, including:

  • Check your tires: Vehicle owners should check the tires once a month, making sure the tires are at the correct pressure. This is important not only for good gas mileage but it is also important if emergency driving situations should come up. You should check the tread on the tire as well, looking for any signs of uneven wear, which could indicate an alignment is needed. And don’t forget to check your spare tire too.

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Chicago personal injury attorneyAlthough walking and cycling are two of the healthiest activities a person can engage in, they can also be the most dangerous. There are more than 6,000 pedestrians and almost 1,000 cyclists killed each year in the United States. Even more alarming is that these numbers keep going up each year, as the fatality rate for occupants in vehicle crashes goes down.

As the popularity of electric scooters continues to grow, it is critical to realize that e-scooter users are also at risk of being injured or killed if they are hit by a vehicle driver.

Victims who survive these accidents are often left with serious to catastrophic injuries due to the lack of protection around them when the vehicle slams into them. In one major study conducted by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), it was estimated that vehicle accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists account for $19 billion in economic cost and $90 billion in the societal impact cost in just one year.   

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Chicago personal injury lawyerAuto accidents are among the leading causes of brain injuries, accounting for approximately 14 percent of all non-fatal concussions and about 26 percent of all brain injury fatalities. At more than 2.5 million cases per year, that “small” percentage equates to thousands of TBI sufferers each year. If you have experienced an auto-accident-related brain injury, a qualified personal injury lawyer can help you understand the risks, and your right to compensation. 

Brain Injuries Are Often Serious and Long-Lasting

Each year, around 2.5 million people visit the emergency room for a traumatic brain injury (TBI). More than 50,000 of those result in death. The remainder eventually recover, but to varying degrees and over an unpredictable timeline. Some take months; others take years. Then there are those who never fully recover. Their memory or cognitive abilities may be permanently impaired, or they may suffer from sensitivity to lights and sound. Others are unable to read for long periods of time or stare at a screen for more than a few minutes, which can greatly hinder their ability to work.

A brain injury can also increase a victim’s risk of depression and other mood disorders. Some studies have even linked it to a higher risk of Alzheimer’s later in life. Children, who are also at risk for a TBI during an auto accident, have been found to have an even higher risk of lifelong emotional, social, and psychological issues after a brain injury. In short, brain injuries often have lasting and sometimes serious effects on the life of the victim. For this reason, it is critical that TBI sufferers understand their legal right to seek damages, and that they know how to improve their chances of full and fair compensation.

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Chicago scooter injury lawyerOver the last two years, the city of Chicago has been experimenting with electric scooters as a form of public transportation. During the pilot program, which took place over four months in both 2019 and 2020, scooters were placed in various areas of the city for riders to rent via a smartphone application. Each iteration of the program saw Chicago residents take more than 640,000 rides, as the city attempted to determine if and how the scooters could be added to the local infrastructure permanently.

Of course, with any mode of transportation comes the risk of accidents and injuries, and this is definitely true with e-scooters. Careless riders can cause traffic accidents, and scooters parked haphazardly on sidewalks can lead to trip-and-fall injuries to passing pedestrians or other riders. However, there are other ways in which e-scooters can cause serious injuries, including at least one that might surprise you.

Fire Linked to E-Scooter Battery

Last month, New York City firefighters were called to a blaze on Watson Avenue in the Soundview section of the Bronx. According to news reports, the fire started on the fifth floor of the seven-story apartment building. Officials from the FDNY said that it took about 30 minutes to get the fire under control, but the blaze left a dozen people injured. Four of them, including a 4-year-old little boy, were critically injured. Firefighters had to use their tower ladder to get people out of the burning apartment, as well as the adjacent apartments.

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Chicago personal injury lawyerThis week, a subsidiary of the Ford Motor Company announced plans to bring e-scooters with remote-operating features to cities in Europe and North America later this year. The announcement marks the first solid plans to introduce a new, three-wheeled scooter model. The remote-operating capabilities of the scooter are expected to promote safety and to decrease the number of injuries related to scooters left on sidewalks or on roadways.

A New Way Forward

Spin is the Ford subsidiary responsible for micro-mobility projects, including electric scooters and similar vehicles, and it was one of the three companies that provided e-scooters for the second iteration of the scooter test program in Chicago last year. The company said that it would be releasing the Spin S-200 model this year. In addition, Spin also indicated that its partnership with the software company Tortoise is giving the S-200 capabilities that no other widely-available scooters currently have—namely, the ability to be operated remotely.

According to the company’s announcement, the new Spin Valet software platform can use the built-in front- and rear-facing cameras on the scooter to allow a remote operations team to drive the scooter without being on it. The remote-operation feature will serve several purposes. First and foremost, the remote operations team will be able to find scooters that are left in the path of pedestrians and street traffic and move them at low speeds—3 miles per hour or less—to safer locations. The team will also use the feature to “deliver” scooters to those who request them using Spin’s scooter-hailing app. Eventually, the remote team will also direct scooters with depleted batteries to charging hubs.

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Chicago scooter injury attorneyLast month, the second year of Chicago’s electric scooter test program came to an end. Between August 12 and December 12, 2020, residents and visitors to the city took over 640,000 rides on “rented” e-scooters in a variety of areas and neighborhoods. While the city’s focus was on determining the feasibility of a permanent scooter program as a form of public transportation, riders were simply trying to get where they were going. Unfortunately, with so many people on scooters, accidents are bound to happen. If you were injured in any type of accident caused by someone on a scooter, you may have options for collecting compensation.

Establishing Fault

When an injury-causing accident occurs, the first step toward collecting damages is determining what caused the accident and which party or parties were at fault. Riders in the scooter pilot program were expected to follow very specific rules regarding where to ride, how fast to ride, and how to be safe. Not all riders follow the rules, however, and failing to follow the rules could make a rider liable for any injuries that he or she causes as a result. For example, if you were crossing the street at an intersection and you should have had the right of way, and you were hit by a scooter rider who failed to stop or yield for you, the rider is likely to be found at fault.

Keep in mind that it is possible for you to share in the liability for the accident and still collect compensation. To continue the example above, if you were crossing at the same intersection with your eyes glued to your phone, it could be argued that you were partially responsible for the accident for failing to look around you. Under Illinois law, you could still pursue compensation as long as you are not found to be more than half at fault for the accident. Your compensation, however, will be reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to you.

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Chicago personal injury attorneyFor the second time in two years, the City of Chicago experimented with an e-scooter pilot program to get a feel for how electric scooters might affect daily commutes and off-hour transportation in the city. This year’s program ran from August 12 to December 12 after being delayed by the COVID-19 health crisis. City officials, however, are now wondering what to do next after ridership dropped by over 20 percent compared to last year’s program.

Larger Program, Fewer Rides

In 2019, the e-scooter pilot program ran from June to October, and it saw approximately 821,000 trips on about 2,500 electric scooters. The program also served a relatively small portion of the city, but seasonable summer weather and the novelty of the idea encouraged many people to give e-scooters a chance. This year was quite different.

For the 2020 version of the program, 10,000 scooters were available across an area four times as large as last year, but only 640,000 rides were logged this year. While the program seemed to get off to a decent start, the delay caused by the pandemic pushed the four-month experiment from the summer into the fall—which had an effect on the weather during the program. Of course, the health crisis also forced the closure of countless businesses, meaning people generally had fewer places to go.

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Chicago personal injury lawyerThe 2020 edition of Chicago’s shared e-scooter pilot program is winding down, and it will officially end on December 12. While there is little question that the restrictions put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19 affected how many people utilized the shared scooters, city officials are optimistic about continuing to offer shared scooters in the future.

It is also important, however, to acknowledge that electric scooters pose a serious risk of injury, especially if they are not used properly and in accordance with local rules and ordinances. In fact, a recent study has found that e-scooter injuries have dramatically increased in recent years, including injuries to the head and neck.

A Look at the Numbers

Dr. Kathleen Yaremchuk is the chair of the Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, MI. She recently led a team of researchers who looked at e-scooter injuries treated in emergency rooms across the country over the last three years.

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Chicago personal injury lawyerIn many scooter accidents, one person is obviously to blame. For example, a motorist might have run a red light and slammed into you. However, in other accidents, the person on the scooter could also contribute to the accident. This is not surprising, since many people are not familiar with how to safely operate a scooter. Fortunately, the Illinois law on comparative negligence allows injured victims to receive compensation even if they did not operate their scooter with reasonable care. Please contact Livas Law Group, A Division of Kralovec, Jambois & Schwartz for more information.

Comparative Negligence

Once upon a time, Illinois’ contributory negligence laws prohibited a victim from receiving any compensation if he or she was found to be even a little bit negligent. This was a serious bar to recovery for many personal injury plaintiffs, who might have made some error that contributed, even slightly, to a crash.

Fortunately, Illinois has changed this unfair rule. After a period of uncertainty, the legislature ultimately updated the law to state that a victim is barred from receiving compensation if their fault was greater than 50 percent. In other words, a victim can be up to 50 percent to blame for an accident and still receive compensation—a level of blame that is greater than 50 percent will leave them unable to collect compensation.

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Illinois electric scooter injury attorney

Whenever a person uses a device powered by electricity, there is always the chance that they can suffer a burn injury. Electric scooters can cause several types of burn injuries which can lead to permanent disfigurement, infection, and other complications. If you were involved in a scooter accident, it is important to enlist the help of an attorney with experience in dealing with e-scooter concerns.

Fires and Electrocution

There have been problems with electric scooters malfunctioning. For example, in late 2018, the e-scooter manufacturer Lime pulled 2,000 electric scooters after several had caught on fire. Scooters even caught on fire at the company’s Lake Tahoe facility. The cause was eventually determined to be defects with lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries. Lime eventually pulled their scooters from several cities in California and designed a new program that would allow them to catch any malfunctioning batteries.

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Chicago e-scooter injury lawyerAs the city of Chicago continues the second year of its electronic scooter pilot program, fleets of the small, convenient vehicles have become widely available in other cities around the country as well. The explosion in popularity of e-scooters has created challenges for municipal regulators as they struggle to keep up with safety concerns and the impact of the scooters on city traffic patterns. According to a new study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), there are several factors that contribute to the likelihood of being injured on or around e-scooters.

Lack of Clear Rules

Electric scooters represent a relatively new phenomenon, and city planners and policymakers are playing “catch-up” in many cities. This means that too often, scooters are made available and are being used without consistent policies and rules in place regarding how to ride with safety as the top priority. The IIHS study found that e-scooter riders suffer more injuries per mile ridden than bicycle riders and were two times more likely to be hurt by potholes, lampposts, and cracks in the pavement. Bike riders, however, were three times more likely to be hit by a car. Thus, clear and consistent policies are extremely important for keeping riders and pedestrians safe.

Riding on Sidewalks

One of the biggest areas of concern is in regard to where e-scooters should be ridden. According to the IIHS, the jury is still out on whether it is actually safer to ride on sidewalks or on the road. The study found that riding on sidewalks creates more opportunities for the riders to be hurt, but riding on the road increases the chances of more severe injuries. Bicycle lanes may offer a potential solution, but combining e-scooters and bicycles—which usually travel at faster speeds—in one lane has risks as well. In the city of Chicago, e-scooters are not allowed to be ridden on sidewalks, so riders must use roadways and bicycle lanes.  

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Chicago e-scooter accident lawyerBy this point, most residents of Northern Illinois are aware that Year Two of the Chicago e-scooter pilot program is now underway. The second round of the program began in August and consists of about 10,000 electric scooters for rent throughout much of the city. During the first month of this year’s program, riders took more than 230,000 trips, which seems to indicate a level of acceptance from the general public.

It is important to remember, however, that e-scooters can be dangerous if they are not used properly and ridden in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. In fact, several dozen deaths have been linked to e-scooters and similar modes of transportation in the last few years, as well as tens of thousands of additional injuries.

Federal Estimates, Scary Numbers

According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), no fewer than 41 people have been killed between 2017 and 2019 in incidents involving e-scooters, e-bikes, and hoverboards—collectively known as “micro-mobility” devices. During that same period, approximately 133,000 people required emergency room treatment for injuries related to micro-mobility products. These figures represent an upward trend in injuries and deaths involving these items, which is hardly surprising, as the trend largely corresponds to the uptick in the devices’ popularity.

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Chicago scooter injury lawyerWe are now a month into the second round of Chicago’s experimental program to test the efficiency and usefulness of electric scooters in the city. City officials have been looking at e-scooters as an environmentally friendly way for people to move around the city without using buses, cars, and other transportation options that rely on fossil fuels. E-scooters are also faster and easier than walking on Chicago’s streets.

The first round of the e-scooter pilot program took place late last summer and into the fall. The second round started in August of this year and is expected to run until December. With the first month of the second test program now in the books, it seems that the novelty of e-scooters may be wearing off, despite an uptick in overall trips.

More Rides Taken, But…

This year’s program put nearly four times as many e-scooters on the streets of Chicago compared to last year, with 10,000 scooters made available from three different scooter companies. In the first month of the program last year, riders took about 218,000 trips, with an average trip covering about a mile and a quarter. This year, the first month saw 230,400 trips, and the average trip covered 1.87 miles.

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Illinois personal injury attorney e-scooter accident

For the second year in a row, the city of Chicago is experimenting with electric scooters. A new pilot program launched on August 12, as part of an effort by city officials to determine if e-scooters should become a permanent part of Chicago street traffic. This year’s version of the program is much larger than last year’s, both in terms of the number of scooters available and the areas of the city in which the scooter can be found.

The E-Scooter Program at a Glance

Three e-scooter companies are taking part in this year’s pilot program. Bird, Lime, and Spin have each pledged to provide one-third of the 10,000 total e-scooters that will be scattered across much of the city. This is about four times as many scooters than were used last summer, but the number of participating companies has dropped from 10 to just three. Each company uses a proprietary mobile phone app and is allowed to set its own pricing for scooter rental. Reports indicate, however, that the prices are similar across the board: about a $1 fee to unlock a scooter and an average of 35 cents per riding minute after that. Discounts, special pricing, and even free rides are available.

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Chicago personal injury lawyerEstablishing fault in a car accident is not always straightforward. Often, when motorists are involved in a car crash, there are a number of factors at play. For example, outside distractions, such as pedestrians, construction work, closed lanes, or heavy traffic, can make an accident more likely to occur. Car accidents often involve several vehicles, and it can be extremely difficult to determine which car actually caused the accident.

Proving who was at fault for a crash is crucial for several reasons. First, the at-fault party's car insurance company is usually responsible for paying repair costs for other vehicles involved in the accident. Secondly, if another person was injured in the accident, the at-fault party may be responsible for that person’s medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

No-Doubt Liability

Generally, it is up to the car insurance companies of the individuals involved in an accident to determine financial liability for a car accident. The insurance companies use the help of claims adjusters and police reports to determine which of the drivers involved in an accident was at fault.

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Chicago motorcycle accident lawyerIllinois is one of the few states in the country that does not have a motorcycle helmet law. Our state leaves it up to individual riders to decide for themselves whether to wear a helmet. At Livas Law Group, a Division of Kralovec, Jambois & Schwarz, we represent many motorcycle accident victims who have suffered terrible injuries, including traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). With this in mind, we encourage riders around the state to consider some of the evidence around the safety and effectiveness of motorcycle helmets.

Helmets Do Not Meaningfully Restrict Vision or Hearing

Many riders refuse to wear a helmet because they believe it will restrict their vision or ability to hear. These are certainly legitimate concerns. A rider’s safety would be compromised if they could not see or hear as well, in which case a helmet could be counterproductive and could, in fact, cause an accident.

However, research has shown that these fears are not well-founded or supported. As the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has stated, a person’s range of vision, including peripheral vision, usually covers between 200-220 degrees. Helmets provide up to 210 degrees of vision—so that is very slight impairment if any at all. Further, more than 90 percent of accidents happen within a 160-degree range, which means that vision impairment caused by a helmet will not contribute to most collisions. A rider can easily counter any slight restriction in peripheral vision by simply moving her head a little bit more in either direction.

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Chicago personal injury lawyerThe actions motorists take can often contribute to the severity of their injuries in the event of a collision. Refusing to wear a seat belt is a classic example. At Livas Law Group, a Division of Kralovec, Jambois & Schwartz, we routinely field questions about whether the refusal to wear a seat belt will harm a person’s personal injury lawsuit. In particular, accident victims want to know whether the seat belt defense is valid in Illinois.

Why the Seat Belt Defense Matters

Illinois recognizes the concept of comparative fault. Under this concept, a motorist cannot receive compensation if he or she is “more” at fault for an accident than all defendants combined. Put simply, a victim can be up to 50 percent responsible for their injuries—but not more—to collect compensation.

Failure to wear a seat belt probably sounds like a form of negligence. After all, seat belts have been proven to reduce the risk of injury and save lives. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), wearing a seat belt reduces the number of serious injuries by approximately 50 percent. In one year alone (2016), seat belts saved approximately 15,000 lives. Furthermore, wearing a seat belt is the law in our state. Everyone ages 8 or older must buckle up, even if the car is equipped with airbags.

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Chicago personal injury attorneyDistracted driving is a major threat to road safety and there is no bigger distraction than cell phones. Far too many people are texting behind the wheel of a vehicle and the results can be disastrous. At Livas Law Firm, a Division of Kralovec, Jambois & Schwartz, we represent motorists who have been injured in car accidents caused by distracted drivers.

Illinois has tried to address the dangers of distracted driving by making it illegal to text while driving. Any motorist convicted could have their license suspended and face various other penalties. Still, on any given day, countless motorists are driving with one hand on the wheel and the other hand clutching a cell phone. Below, our personal injury lawyers identify why the act of texting and driving is so risky.

Texting Delays Brake Onset

When drivers text, they have their eyes on their cell phones — not on the road. Consequently, they will not see anything that may be in their way, such as a pedestrian crossing the street or another vehicle stopped at an intersection. It is not surprising that brake onset is delayed while a person is sending or reading a text message.

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Chicago personal injury attorney sideswipe car accident

Before an accident victim can obtain compensation, he or she must show that another driver was at fault for the crash. In certain crashes, the fault is obvious. For example, a motorist might run a red light and T-bone another vehicle, all of which may be caught on camera if the intersection has video surveillance. Establishing fault for a sideswipe collision can be more complicated in some cases. Fortunately, the personal injury lawyers at Livas Law Firm, a Division of Kralovec, Jambois & Schwartz, have brought many successful claims for sideswipe car accidents.

Situations Where Sideswipes Occur

The location of the accident can help narrow down ways for proving fault. Most sideswipe accidents occur in the following places:

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Chicago personal injury lawyerTraumatic brain injuries are difficult to diagnose because they are so hard to see. If you cut your head, then the amount of blood flowing down your neck gives you some indication that you have been injured. But when injuries are internal, many people are unsure of whether or not something is wrong. At Livas Law Group, a Division of Kralovec, Jambois & Schwartz, we help car accident victims get compensation after a collision.

Traumatic brain injuries are some of the most devastating that a car accident victim can suffer. Meet with one of our attorneys to discuss your legal options.

Types of Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs)

Doctors typically classify brain injuries as either open or closed:

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