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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 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 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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Chicago personal injury lawyersUnder Illinois law, anyone registering a vehicle must have adequate insurance. Currently, our state requires that you have at least $25,000 in bodily injury liability insurance, up to a maximum of $50,000 per accident (when two or more people are injured). The state also requires at least $20,000 in property damage insurance. At Livas Law Group, A Division of Kralovec, Jambois & Schwartz, we want to notify the public about the importance of uninsured motorist coverage, which is included in every car insurance policy sold in Illinois.

What UM Covers

Uninsured motorist coverage kicks in if you were struck by someone who lacks insurance. It is fault-based coverage, meaning you cannot use it if you were to blame for the collision. But if someone else is at fault, then UM coverage can pay out benefits up to the policy limit for:

  • Medical care
  • Lost income or lost wages
  • Pain and suffering

About 13 percent of all Illinois motorists lack coverage. This means that if you are hit by such a driver, you will not be able to make a claim with their insurer. UM coverage, however, can step in and provide benefits in this unfortunate event.

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Chicago personal injury attorneysHere in the greater Chicago area, winter weather ranges from mild and wet to very cold and very icy—a pattern that can create some serious hazards getting around. Whether you are travelling on foot or by car, one of the most dangerous of these conditions is black ice. With over 150,000 car accidents happening every year due to ice on the road—over 500 of which result in at least one death—it is easy to see why black ice is something every driver should take very seriously.

What Is Black Ice?

At its most basic, black ice is a transparent coating of ice that takes on the color of whatever surface lies beneath it. Most often, the surface is a roadway, and roadways usually have a black asphalt surface, hence the name “black ice.”

Black ice generally forms when temperatures warm up, and snow and ice starts to melt, leaving the surface wet and slick. Then, it gets cold again, and the ice-melt refreezes. It can happen anywhere along a road, but it often starts on bridges and overpasses because, unlike the regular road, these structures are exposed to freezing temperatures from top and bottom.

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Illinois personal injury attorneysAt the Livas Law Group, A Division of Kralovec, Jambois & Schwartz, we understand that a motor vehicle accident can happen to any person, at any given time. Regardless of your actions, a personal injury may result due to another individual’s negligence. Even if inclement weather conditions caused a car crash to happen, the driver may still be liable for the resulting damages and injuries. While factors such as rain, wind, sleet, ice, and snow may lead to a driver wanting to avoid the road, that might not always be possible. Driving in Chicago can already be a stressful scenario for many motorists; it is important to take extra precaution and remember these tips before driving in the winter: 

Prepare for Ice

Winter car accidents are commonly linked to vehicles sliding on icy roads. Throughout the city, ice can be prevalent and lead to devastating damage and injuries for both motorists and pedestrians. 

In an effort to avoid sliding on ice, motorists should:

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