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Drunk Uber Drivers – Who Can Be Held Responsible?

Drunk Uber Drivers – Who Can Be Held ResponsibleWere You Injured by a Drunk Uber Driver?

Under Illinois law, it is against the law to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or more. In fact, it is against the law to drive under the influence of alcohol generally, so it is possible to face DUI charges with a BAC of less than .08. Of course, these limits apply to everyone on the road – including people who drive others for money.

What is Uber and Lyft and How Are They Affecting Society?

Uber and Lyft are two of the most popular ridesharing companies around. These companies virtually have the whole market when it comes to inexpensive, reliable, and safe transportation. This is especially true for individuals who are traveling to and from airports, train stations, and other transportation centers.

Uber riders can download an app onto their iPhones and other smart devices. Further, when using the Uber app a rider can request and pay for rides and keep track of a driver’s physical location at all times. Riders are also told the amount of their fare and can store their payment information online for added convenience.

Despite the advantages and convenience that ridesharing companies like Uber have offered consumers, there are always risks associated with getting from place to place. For example, drunk or drugged drivers. Impaired drivers are at an increased risk of involvement in motor vehicle accidents. Further, serious injuries and damages may result to everyone in the vehicle(s).

In these cases, several individuals, companies, and/or insurance carriers may share in the potential liability to the injured passenger or passengers. This is known as a third-party injury claim.

If you sustain injuries as a result of an Uber drunk driving accident, you may be eligible to pursue monetary compensation. The personal injury lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. can investigate your case. If necessary, we can name all necessary (and potentially responsible) parties in a claim or lawsuit. By working with a rideshare accident lawyer, you will maximize your chances of recovering monetary compensation for your injuries in the accident.

Are Rideshare Drivers in Chicago Employees or Independent Contractors?

To drive for Uber, the company requires all prospective drivers to complete a background check. Drivers are also responsible for maintaining and paying their own motor vehicle insurance when they are not on the clock. While en route to a far or transporting a far, Uber provides the active insurance.

Even though drivers work for Uber, there is a debate over whether they are employees in the strictest sense. Uber tries to argue that they are independent contractors. Chicago Uber accident lawyers argue that they are employees due to all the rideshare rules and regulations that drivers must follow, and the way Uber controls the payments.

When it comes to personal injury lawsuits, the distinction between employees and independent contractors becomes very important. In prior years, Uber has tried to distance itself from problem drivers who cause accidents. They attempt to avoid being considered an employer to avoid responsibility for larger cases with values in excess of $1 million.

Uber’s Company Policies

Uber tries to claim their drivers are independent contractors, rather than company employees. However, these companies still have considerable control over their drivers’ activities. When it comes to drunk driving, Uber has a zero–tolerance policy. Uber does not permit alcohol or drug use by individuals who use the Uber app and who drive under the Uber name.

Uber’s company website even encourages riders to share their experiences publicly online. They do this in order to keep the ridesharing community safe. Specifically, the Uber site states that if you believe your driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you should immediately terminate your trip.

Moreover, you should report any feedback in the app by clicking on the Help Menu and selecting your issue. The website also encourages riders to email Uber’s customer complaint department at

Liability for Drunk Uber Drivers

If you have injuries from an Uber accident, several individuals or entities may share in the potential liability. The most obvious at-fault party is the drunk or negligent Uber driver.

As a prerequisite to driving with Uber, applicants must have and maintain their own motor vehicle insurance. Generally speaking, insurance coverage follows a vehicle, rather than the driver. Consequently, if a drunk Uber driver causes an accident while on the clock, Uber’s insurance policy will be available to provide some or all of the necessary insurance coverage.

Taking Legal Action Against Uber

Taking legal action against Uber directly can be complicated. In many cases, ridesharing companies like Uber will try and make you sign an agreement which limits your settlement or which precludes you from filing a claim or lawsuit directly against the company. You should never sign one of these agreements – under any circumstances – without first consulting with a personal injury lawyer. By signing one of these agreements, you can potentially lose out on recovering a large amount of compensation.

Uber’s liability policy limits for accidents which are caused by the driver of a ridesharing vehicle include:

  • $50,000/$100,000/$25,000 worth of contingent coverage by Uber in-between fares. Uber will only pay this amount if the Uber driver’s personal automobile insurance policy refuses to pay anything to satisfy an injured passenger’s damage claim.
  • $1,000,000 of liability coverage per accident when the Uber driver is on a ride or going to pick up a fare and is the cause of an accident.
  • $1,000,000 of uninsured/underinsured motorist benefits. This amount only provides insurance coverage for Uber passengers and drivers who sustain injury when another driver (i.e. not the Uber driver) causes the collision. Further, the at-fault driver must be uninsured or underinsured for the coverage to apply.
  • Finally, if the app is not in use at the time of the accident, Uber will not provide coverage. A party with injuries would have to pursue the at-fault driver’s personal auto policy.

Call a Chicago Uber Accident Lawyer to Discuss Your Case

If you suffer an injury in an Uber car accident where the driver was DUI, you may be able to recover monetary compensation. This money is for all of your damages from the accident, including:

  • medical and physical therapy bills
  • lost wages
  • pain and suffering
  • loss of enjoyment of life
  • emotional distress and mental anguish

The personal injury lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. can review your case and make the necessary legal claims against all potentially responsible parties. To schedule a free legal consultation and case evaluation with a Chicago, Illinois personal injury lawyer, please call us today at (312) 924-7575 or contact us online.

Chicago-Drunk Driving Accidents Lawyer

An Illinois Medical Marijuana Card Is Not a License to Drive High

Driving While High is Still a Crime in Illinois

Medical marijuana became legal in the State of Illinois on January 1, 2014. However, it is important to note that Illinois law applies strict regulations for using medical marijuana, especially when it comes to driving under the influence of marijuana.

Driving while drunk or drugged can significantly alter the driver’s perceptions and reaction times, leading to serious accidents and catastrophic injuries. If you have sustained injuries in a motor vehicle accident caused by a drugged driver, a lawyer can determine whether or not you are eligible to recover monetary compensation. The personal injury lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. may be able to represent you in your case and help you obtain the compensation you deserve.

Driving While Under the Influence of Medical Marijuana in Illinois

While an individual with trace amounts of medical marijuana technically can drive, it is best not to do so. Specifically, a medical marijuana card does not prevent the police from arresting the driver for operating the vehicle in a reckless or careless manner.

If a driver is operating their vehicle recklessly with marijuana in his or her system, Illinois DUI laws will still apply. Illinois had adopted a set of roadside tests designed to determine if the driver is impaired by marijuana, as well as threshold limits for blood and saliva levels of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

Drivers who need to be taken somewhere while they are still under the influence of their marijuana prescription should consider letting a friend or neighbor drive them, or grabbing an Uber or Lyft. Another option is to take public transportation.

Medical Marijuana DUIs in Chicago

Chicago and the whole State of Illinois considers a medical marijuana card an automatic authorization to submit to field sobriety testing. If the officer reasonably believes that the driver is impaired, the test will go forward. If the driver refuses, the State may suspend or revoke the driver’s license. Moreover, if the State suspects that the cause of the DUI was medical marijuana, the State can prosecute the driver under the State’s normal DUI laws.

A police officer is also allowed to testify against the offending driver in court – and to confirm the driver’s level of impairment at the time the driver was pulled over. The offending driver may also be subject to the State’s reckless driving laws, and a conviction can result in criminal fines or penalties.

Reckless Driving while Driving on Marijuana

Drugs, including medical marijuana, can seriously impact a driver’s abilities while behind the wheel of a car. Drugs and alcohol can cause blurry vision and may also affect a person’s perception – including depth perception – while on the roadway. Other common symptoms associated with drugged driving include bloodshot eyes, dilated pupils, slurred speech, and a dazed look.

Operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs can result in collisions with roadway objects, including guardrails, walls, or buildings. Pedestrian collisions are also possible, as are collisions with other motor vehicles on the roadway.

Proving Reckless or Impaired Driving in Illinois

Reckless driving is one form of negligent driving. In reckless driving cases, the injured accident victim has the burden of proving negligence and damages. The injured accident victim must be able to show that, as a result of the presence of drugs in the driver’s system, the driver operated a vehicle in a careless or reckless manner. A driver must ordinarily operate a motor vehicle as a “reasonable” driver would under the same or similar circumstances.

Arguably, if the driver operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs, including medical marijuana, it violates the “reasonable person” standard of care. This is because an impaired driver poses a potential hazard to all other motor vehicle drivers on the roadway at that time.

The injured accident victim must also be able to show that the impaired driver’s violation of the standard of care directly resulted in certain injuries and damages. Available damages may include both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are those types of damages that can readily be calculated in dollars and cents – such as medical bills and lost wages. On the other hand, non-economic damages, such as pain, suffering, inconvenience, and permanency, are more subjective and do not have a hard-and-fast number associated with them.

What should I do if a person who was high or on drugs caused my car accident?

If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident and suspect that the other driver was impaired by medical marijuana, there are several steps you can take. Immediately call the police and tell them that you were involved in an accident with a suspected drugged driver. When the police officer arrives on-scene, he or she may be able to administer the necessary tests and should also be able to compose a police report or incident report.

Moreover, if you have sustained an injury in the accident, it is best to travel in an ambulance to the nearest hospital. In the alternative, you should have someone drive you to an emergency room or urgent care facility. You should seek emergency medical care even if you do not believe that you sustained a serious injury in the accident. This is because many injuries do not come to light immediately, and it is usually best to have a medical professional diagnose your condition.

Contact a Chicago, Illinois Personal Injury Lawyer Today to Discuss the Facts and Circumstances of Your Case

Even though a driver may carry a medical marijuana card, that driver can still cause an accident if he or she drives while impaired. Motor vehicle accidents can produce serious injuries and damages, including soft tissue injuries, fractures, spinal cord injuries, head injuries, and even death.

How Intersection Accidents Happen

Chicago Has Lots of Intersections, and They All Possess a Special Kind of Danger

Driving a car means passing through some type of intersections, on average, every couple of minutes. And quite frankly, intersections are dangerous as they are a hotspot for car accidents. Intersections are busy places—cars are passing straight through perpendicular traffic or making left or right turns, all supposedly timed and organized by traffic signs or signals. Meanwhile, pedestrians are crossing the streets in various directions, all coordinated by different pedestrian signals. All this activity is a clear recipe for collisions, which are quite common in intersections.

In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) specifically studies the causes of intersection crashes and publishes reports on its findings. These reports by the NHTSA have found many interesting statistics, including:

  • An estimated 36 percent of all motor vehicle collisions take place in an intersection; and
  • error on the part of one or more drivers causes 96 percent of intersection crashes.

Because intersection accidents are so common, understanding what leads to these crashes is extremely important to keeping you and your family safe while driving.

What errors and incidents lead to dangerous intersection accidents?

How Intersection Accidents HappenAs we have mentioned, intersections are dangerous places. It only makes sense, as these areas are the most condensed places on the road where multiple directions of traffic, all types of vehicles, signs, and pedestrians converge. So what leads to intersection accidents? The answer is failing to make sure it is clear to cross or turn, incorrectly predicting another driver’s actions, having your view blocked while making a turning or crossing through the intersection, and failing to act in a responsible way while crossing through. More detailed information is found below, which was pulled from this report.

Failing to check if the intersection is clear leads to 44.1 percent of intersection crashes.

When a driver should look certain directions before completing a certain action but fails to do so, inadequate surveillance results. At an intersection, this most commonly occurs when a driver should look for oncoming traffic before making a turn but fails to adequately do so.

This can also include drivers who claim they looked but did not see oncoming cars. Inadequate surveillance commonly causes pedestrian accidents at intersections, because a driver may not sufficiently stop and check for any pedestrians before turning over a crosswalk.

Falsely predicting another driver’s actions leads to 8.4 percent of intersection crashes.

In some situations, a driver may incorrectly guess what another driver will do. For example, at a four-way stop sign, one driver may go, believing the other driver will yield—then both drivers accelerate at the same time and crash into one another.

Or a driver who fails to use a turn signal may give another driver the impression that he is driving straight through the intersection when he is actually going to turn, resulting in a collision. Fault in these cases may lie with the assuming drivers or of the other drivers who fail to adequately make their intentions known.

Having an obstructed view while turning leads to 7.8 percent of intersection crashes.

While drivers may face obstructed views whether they turn left or right, this type of accident most commonly involves one driver making a left-hand turn. Oncoming vehicles waiting to make turns, hills, buildings, and other factors can obstruct a driver’s view. Often, a driver will simply make a left-hand turn without knowing whether the coast is clear.

In other situations, the turning driver may have had plenty of time to turn, but an oncoming driver sped up or came out of nowhere. Always determine which driver is responsible for this type of crash on a case-by-case basis.

Illegal driving behaviors leads to 6.8 percent of intersection crashes.

For traffic to move through intersections smoothly and without collisions, all drivers must obey all traffic signals and rules of the road. Unfortunately, we all know that some drivers violate the law and such illegal driving behaviors commonly cause intersection accidents. Common illegal maneuvers include:

These are only some of the many traffic violations that can lead to intersection crashes.

Driver distraction leads to 5.7 percent of intersection crashes.

We know that distracted driving is an epidemic in Chicago—and throughout the United States. Drivers can become distracted at any time, including at intersections. When drivers allow something to distract them, they do not pay attention to what’s going on around them on the road.

This can create serious dangers at intersections where so much happens. When drivers are inadequately aware of the cars, bicyclists, and pedestrians around them, they can make mistakes that cause them to crash.

Misjudging your opportunity to ‘go’ leads to 5.5 percent of intersection crashes.

Not every intersection requires drivers to wait for a green arrow to turn. Instead, at many intersections, a driver may simply need to yield to oncoming traffic and use good judgment for when it is safe to turn. This can create dangerous situations when drivers misjudge whether they have time to turn.

Sometimes, drivers may simply think they have bigger gaps in which to turn than they do and may end up colliding with oncoming cars.

In other situations, a driver may make a judgment based on the expected speed limit of the road when, in reality, the oncoming driver is speeding and comes flying into the intersection faster than expected. Examine fault based on the circumstances of the specific accident.

Call for a Free Consultation With a Chicago Car Accident Lawyer Today

If a negligent driver hit you in an intersection—or anywhere else on the road—discuss your options with a car accident attorney who is familiar with these cases in Chicago. The team at Abels & Annes is here to help, so please contact us online or give us a call at (312) 924-7575 to schedule your free case evaluation with a member of our legal team as soon as possible.

The Ins and Outs of Rear-End Collisions in Congested Traffic

In congested traffic, the odds of a rear-end collision substantially increase. There are more drivers stuck in a smaller area. Not only is it more difficult to predict what those drivers are going to do, it can be difficult to maneuver in tight traffic. A moment’s distraction or inattention, and bang! Suddenly, you’re the victim of a rear-end collision. How do you proceed from here? What’s the right process after you’ve been rear-ended, especially in tight or congested traffic? While working with a qualified attorney is the most effective way to ensure that your rights are protected throughout the process, it’s important to proceed carefully in the initial stages after the accident.

What to Do If You’ve Been Rear-Ended

You were stuck in traffic, unable to move forward. Suddenly, a jolt hit you from behind. You’ve been rear-ended. Now what? There are several key steps that you should take immediately after your accident.

Step One: Seek Medical Care if Needed

If you’ve been involved in a traffic accident in which you’ve been rear-ended, receiving the right medical care should take top priority. If you feel disoriented, have lost consciousness, or are experiencing significant pain as a result of the accident, dial 911 from your vehicle or ask another driver to summon help. If you believe that you are seriously injured, try not to move around much, since this can contribute to increased injury. Even if you don’t believe you’ve been injured, it’s best to get checked out by an EMT, and at the very least you should seek medical attention from your usual medical provider in the next day or two. Failing to seek medical care can both harm your health and make it more difficult for you to recover compensation for your injuries down the road.

Step Two: Move the Cars if Possible

You’re already stuck in congested traffic. Ideally, especially if you’re on a highway, move your vehicle and the other vehicle involved in the crash to the side of the road. This will help allow traffic to flow more smoothly around you. If you or the other driver are severely injured or if it’s not possible to move the vehicles, wait for help to arrive. Pay attention to the area as you choose to move your vehicles. You don’t want to move your vehicles to an unsafe area, nor do you want to put yourselves at risk as you’re exchanging information. In some cases, if you move your vehicle off of the road into an unsafe area, you risk a secondary accident. If you’re unable to move your vehicle, determine whether or not you are able to move away from the vehicle and where you can find a safe place to wait for first responders to arrive.

Step Three: Collect Information

In most cases, a rear-end collision is solely the responsibility of the driver in the rearmost vehicle. Only if you attempted to cut sharply into traffic, leaving the driver behind you without adequate room to stop or slow down, will you likely be held at fault for the accident. Witness statements, however, can still be useful, especially if there was something unusual about the accident. You’ll also want to collect the other party’s insurance information and names of any witnesses. In most cases, rear-end collisions are fairly straightforward.

If the other driver involved in the crash attempts to flee the scene, make sure you collect as much information about the car as possible before they leave. This may include noting the make and model of the car and its color as well as collecting license plate numbers. In this case, congested traffic may work in your favor, since it will make it easier to examine the car in more detail.

Step Four: Take Pictures

If you’re physically able, take pictures of the accident scene, including both of the vehicles involved in the accident. This can help establish any damage that was caused by the accident later. You should be sure to take photographic note of any features of the area that may have contributed to the accident. For example, did the accident occur on a steep hill? Was there a reason why you had to slam on your brakes quickly, which may have contributed to the accident? Make sure to document anything that could have factored into your accident.

Step Five: Contact Your Lawyer

Because you were rear-ended, you may assume that your case is simple. Obviously, you think the other driver was at fault! That doesn’t mean, however, that you don’t need a lawyer to represent you throughout the process. Your lawyer can help you with a wide range of important tasks after a rear-end accident, including:

  • Negotiating with the insurance company
  • Checking your settlement offer to make sure you receive what you deserve
  • Working with you to make sure that the other driver is established as being at fault

Step Six: Continue to Document Your Injuries

In a simple rear-ending accident where no injuries occur, the resolution is often very simple. Damages to your vehicle are paid out, and you’ll take care of repairs and move on with your life. Again, however, don’t immediately assume you haven’t been injured. See a doctor after any auto accident, no matter how minor it initially seemed.

When an injury occurs, resolution can be far more complicated. Make sure to document your injuries and the progression of your healing. This includes:

  • Keeping track of immediate medical expenses, including ambulance transport or bills received from the hospital
  • Tracking any rehab appointments or ongoing visits to your doctor
  • Noting the healing of your injuries, including photographic evidence of that healing as needed
  • Tracking time spent off work as a result of your accident or your injuries

The more severe your injuries are or the more time you’ll need to recover, the greater the amount to which you may be entitled as compensation. Make sure that you keep track of everything related to your injuries so that you don’t miss out on any of the help you deserve.

Seeking the Help You Need

If you’ve been involved in a rear-end collision, make sure that you don’t miss out on the compensation you deserve! Call Abels & Annes, P.C. at (312) 924-7575 or contact us learn more about how we may be able to help you seek appropriate compensation for your injuries.

Are Chicago Streets Getting More Dangerous?

The Chicago Department of Transportation released the traffic accident statistics for 2017, and they are not good news. The number of fatalities due to traffic crashes sharply increased from 2016 to 2017, indicating that the streets of Chicago are getting more dangerous. These dangers are not due to crime, but due to the everyday actions of drivers. The following are some statistics:

  • The total number of traffic-related fatalities in 2017 was 132, an increase from 119 in 2016
  • The number of occupants of cars who died in 2017 was 80, up from 63 in 2016
  • The number of pedestrian fatalities in 2017 was 46, up from 44 in 2016
  • The number of bicyclists who died stayed steady at six in both 2016 and 2017

While a rise from 63 to 80 may not seem that substantial, it is a 27 percent increase. Considering the city’s goal to eliminate all deaths on the roads by 2026, the increase in fatalities is disheartening for many. City officials should carefully examine the possible reasons for the increase and take steps to head in the right direction again.

Some possible contributing factors for the increased dangers on our city’s streets may include:

  • The economy – While you may not immediately connect the economy with increased traffic crashes, it can be a factor. When the economy is better and gas prices decrease, more people tend to drive. With more people on the already congested streets of Chicago, the chances for accidents also can increase.
  • High-risk areas – There are a number of intersections and roads that Chicago officials deem “high crash>” locations. While officials may know that the risk of crashes in these areas is particularly high, statistics indicate that they have not done much to rectify the situations. In 2017, 45 percent of the fatal accidents happened in these high crash corridors.
  • Hit and run drivers – Hit and run drivers have always been a problem in Chicago, especially when it comes to serious pedestrian accidents. The 2017 statistics show that 40 percent of pedestrian fatalities occurred in a hit and run accident. Hit and run drivers are often trying to avoid the police – perhaps because they are driving drunk, do not have a license or insurance, or are committing another type of crime. For this reason, drivers who are breaking the law can often lead to hit and run accidents.

While we can try to pinpoint the reasons behind the high risks on Chicago streets, it does not change the fact that accidents happen on a daily basis. It is important to know how to handle the often difficult aftermath of a car accident, just in case one happens to you.

In the Minutes After a Crash

The minutes right after a car accident are often chaotic. Some accident victims are able to get out of their cars on their own, while others may be trapped inside or may be too injured to move. Someone should always call 911 as soon as possible to ensure that the proper emergency personnel arrive on the scene. Emergency medical technicians can assess your condition and determine whether they should take you straight to the hospital in an ambulance or whether you can remain at the scene and then visit the emergency room on your own.

You should talk to the police and get the necessary information from the other driver. However, you should never apologize or admit fault to anyone. Sometimes, police officers may issue a traffic citation or even arrest another driver for drunk driving or other illegal behaviors. Convictions for most offenses don’t help in civil cases, unless convictions are based on hard facts, like DUIs. Pleas of guilty by defendants are deemed judicial admissions and can strengthen a civil personal injury case.

What Are Your Rights?

If another driver caused your crash, that driver should be liable for your medical expenses and all other losses. You should always contact an attorney who can evaluate the circumstances of your accident and advise you whether you may have the right to receive compensation.

The next step our lawyers take is generally to file an insurance claim with the negligent driver’s insurance company. If the other driver does not have the required insurance or it was a hit and run, we can file a claim with your own uninsured motorist coverage. In either case, having a lawyer handle your insurance claim can make the process go smoother and can increase your chances of a full financial recovery.

Insurance adjusters often try to limit payouts in many ways, including:

  • Eliciting statements from you that may indicate fault
  • Claiming you were partially to blame for the crash
  • Questioning the severity of your injuries or the necessity of treatments received
  • Causing delays that make you want to accept any offer, even if it is too low
  • Telling you that you do not need to hire an attorney

With the right legal representation, you do not have to deal with an insurance adjuster at all, as we handle all communications. You can focus on your physical recovery while trusting that we are protecting your interests.

Some cases may need to go to civil court and we regularly file personal injury lawsuits for our clients. We then handle every aspect of the litigation and constantly strive to reach a fair settlement with the other party. Again, we allow you to seek recovery for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering without any added stress whenever possible.

Learn How Our Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Can Help You

There is no doubt that the streets of Chicago can be a dangerous place. Many people are simply traveling where they need to go or following their daily routine when, suddenly, a traffic accident occurs and alters the course of their lives. We are here to make the legal process following an accident as stress-free as possible for our clients. A successful claim can cover your losses and help you move forward in the best position possible. Please call (312) 924-7575 or contact us online for more information. We are ready to help you.

You’ve Been in a Traffic Accident – How Do You Recover Compensation?

If you have been involved in a traffic accident and suffered injuries, a number of questions immediately come to mind. Are you entitled to compensation? While your own insurance should cover the cost of your injuries, if you were not at fault in the accident it is possible that you might be entitled to compensation beyond what your own insurance might cover. What are the steps that you need to take to recover for those losses?

You may need legal assistance to pursue a claim for compensation. The complexity of the legal system makes it difficult, if not impossible, to pursue an injury claim without legal help. Pursuing compensation likely means that you will be going up against an insurance company for the other driver. You will be facing an insurance adjuster who is not on your side and has considerable experience in dealing with accident claims. You should have an experienced accident attorney on your side to guide you through the process. However, even before you retain an attorney, steps you can takeinclude:

  • Get any necessary medical treatment: If you have been injured in a car accident, get any medical treatment you need, even if you don’t feel seriously hurt. If you delay treatment your injuries could get worse, and delay also makes it more difficult to prove that your injuries were a result of the traffic accident. If you receive treatment for your injuries but still have pain, follow up with another doctor to make sure you don’t have more long-lasting injuries.
  • Notify all relevant insurance companies: Your insurance company obviously needs to be notified of your accident, but you also should notify the other driver’s insurance company, as it is possible that the other driver’s insurance company will be responsible for compensating you for your injuries. Contacting the other driver’s insurer puts them on notice of your claim.
  • Collect any evidence you can regarding the accident: The more evidence you have, the better your claim is. Get the police report, any pictures that are available of the accident scene or damage to your vehicle, as well as pictures of your injuries, if applicable.
  • Complete your medical treatment: If you have medical treatment ongoing, you should either wait until the treatment is complete before settling your claim or make sure that your settlement covers any anticipated future costs of unfinished treatment.

What Are the Steps Leading to a Settlement of My Claim?

If you have been injured and another party is at fault, whether in a traffic accident, workplace accident, or other circumstances where another party was at fault, you must complete certain steps to recover compensation for your injury. You may need to begin legal proceedings to prompt the other party to negotiate a settlement. If you have taken the proper steps to protect your claim, your attorney will be able to present your claim in the best light and maximize your recovery. Sometimes, that will include going through the courts. If so, the steps involved will include:

  • Filing a complaint: Your complaint might be filed in small claims court or district court, depending upon the amount involved. Once your attorney has determined the correct court for filing, your attorney will file a complaint claiming damages from the party responsible for your injuries. Settlement negotiations are likely to begin at this point, and many cases settle well before trial. Where insurance companies are involved, settlement negotiations are more likely to succeed, as a settlement is typically less costly than trial, and insurance companies generally seek to reduce costs.
  • Discovery: If there is no settlement early on, the court can order discovery to proceed once you have filed a complaint and the defendant (the person you are suing) has filed an answer. This means both parties are allowed to request evidence from the other party that can be used at trial.
  • Pre-trial motions: Both sides can file what is known as pre-trial motions, which can seek to exclude evidence, to dismiss the case for failing to state an actionable claim, or for summary judgment, which means the party granted summary judgment wins without going to trial.
  • Trial: If pre-trial motions do not resolve the case, the judge can order mediation or provide time for settlement talks. If those efforts fail, your case will go to trial. Each side will present its evidence, and a judge or the jury will decide the result.

Realistically, because of the costs involved, few personal injury cases actually go to trial. Most settle beforehand. In most cases, negotiations begin as soon as you hire an attorney. If fault is clear, the party at fault – or that party’s insurance company – will negotiate to minimize how much it has to pay. Where fault is less clear, it is possible that your attorney will have to file a formal legal complaint. Ultimately, the negotiations will follow the steps outlined above. If another party is clearly at fault, and damages relatively clear, that will drive negotiations. If negotiations fail to resolve the matter, litigation will follow.

If You Have Been Injured in an Accident in the Chicago area, Contact the Attorneys of Abels & Annes

If you have suffered injuries in an accident in the Chicago area, you should obtain professional advice to ensure you recover just compensation for your injuries. The aftermath of an accident can extremely stressful. The attorneys of Abels & Annes are here to help. Contact us to assist you in protecting your rights, while you focus on your physical recovery. You can reach us at (312) 924-7575 .

Memorial Day Is a Favorite Time to Hit the Road

If you travel by car over Memorial Day weekend, as many people do, you need to exercise caution. While the days are longer with the onset of summer, and driving conditions are far better than during the winter months, there are good reasons to exercise caution during your Memorial Day weekend road trip. Better driving conditions, a three-day weekend, and hopefully good weather present an almost-irresistible combination to take to the road to seek out a sunny waterfront destination, such as a lake, river or beach.

While conditions for driving are generally good over Memorial Day weekend, the holiday tends to bring out a greater number of drivers under the influence of alcohol. In fact, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, drunk drivers are responsible for almost twice as many traffic fatalities during the summer months as during the entire rest of the year. Young drivers without much experience, especially teen drivers, are at even greater risk.

Memorial Day Weekend Is Especially Deadly

While summer holiday weekends all feature greater risks of traffic accidents than do regular weekends, Memorial Day weekend poses a risk of fatal accidents four times greater than non-holiday weekends. In fact, Memorial Day was the deadliest weekend for fatal traffic accidents from 2011 through 2015, according to the NHTSA, averaging 312 fatal accidents during that time period. Labor Day weekend ranked second, with an average of 308 fatalities; and the July Fourth weekend third, with an average of 307 fatalities.

Moreover, the National Safety Council routinely projects that Memorial Day Weekend will be the deadliest weekend of the year, and it usually is. In 2017, the NSC projected that there would be more than 400 traffic fatalities over the Memorial Day weekend, a sharp jump from the average of 364 traffic fatalities over Memorial Day weekend from 2010 through 2015. That would represent an estimated 12% increase over the average traffic deaths from 2010-2015.

The NSC also estimated that there would be about 47,000 serious injuries – meaning that some medical attention is required – during the Memorial Day weekend. Although final data for last year’s Memorial Day weekend is not available, the estimates by the NSC are in line with traffic fatality data indicating that deaths were up 6% in 2016 and 14% over 2014, the sharpest two-year jump since 1964. Past statistics and estimates by reputable organizations such as the National Safety Council deem Memorial Day weekend one of the deadliest times to be on the road.

Drunk Drivers Are More Prevalent on Holiday Weekends, Including Memorial Day

While traffic deaths are down over the last 20 years or so, holiday weekends, including Memorial Day, remain very dangerous, with increasing risks of being involved in a traffic accident and higher numbers of fatalities. Put simply, there are more drunk drivers on the road on holiday weekends, and Memorial Day might be the worst. NHTSA statistics show that there are roughly 400 traffic fatalities every Memorial Day weekend, and about 44% of accidents over the Memorial Day weekend involve alcohol-impaired drivers. There are simply more accidents nationwide involving fatalities over Memorial Day weekend, with the higher number of alcohol-impaired drivers contributing substantially to the problem.

With more drunk drivers on the road – and more travelers in general, leading to traffic congestion – it is easy to see why Memorial Day weekend, like many other holiday weekends, would be more dangerous for motorists. If you must travel on Memorial Day weekend, take extra caution. Watch out for drunk or erratic drivers, and try to stay off the roads altogether late at night when drunk drivers are more prevalent. You can’t prevent the risk of all accidents, but you can reduce the risk of accidents or serious injuries through common-sense measures.

You Can Take Steps to Reduce the Risk of Accidents

Addition measures to reduce the risk of accidents and injuries over Memorial Day weekend include:

  • Always wear a seatbelt. Make sure that any children in the car also are properly restrained, either by seatbelts or in safety seats appropriate for their height, age, and weight.
  • If you are attending an event involving alcohol, have a designated alcohol and drug-free driver. Failing that, arrange alternate transportation, such as a taxi or ride service. Don’t be part of the problem.
  • Don’t drive tired – get enough sleep and take breaks or switch drivers.
  • Don’t use a cell phone while driving, even if the phone is hands-free.
  • Don’t let teens drive with their friends. Adding just one young passenger to a car driven by a teen can increase a teen driver’s fatal crash risk by 44%, according to Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health.
  • Educate yourself on your vehicle’s safety systems. Make sure you know how to use them to avoid confusion when you are on the road and need to use those systems.

If You Are Involved in a Traffic Accident in the Chicago area Over the Memorial Day Weekend, Contact the Attorneys of Abels & Annes

If you have been involved in an accident over Memorial Day weekend, make sure to consult a knowledgeable attorney to determine what your rights are under the circumstances of your accident. The attorneys of Abels & Annes can assist you in protecting your rights when you are involved in an accident in the Greater Chicago, Illinois area. You can reach us at (312) 924-7575 or through our website.

The Harm Caused by Road Raging Drivers

Every driver has become impatient with other traffic at some point—especially when in a hurry or running late. Most drivers manage to handle their impatience appropriately—but some become aggressive toward other drivers. Aggressive driving is a major problem on almost every roadway, and Chicago drivers are notorious for their often aggressive maneuvers, which can lead to accidents.

Aggressive driving, however, can reach another level—one that Illinois law defines as “road rage.” You have likely heard the term numerous times, but many people do not realize it is the name of a specific criminal offense in Illinois. Road rage is defined under the law as intentionally driving a car with malice in an unlawful way that puts other drivers, bicyclists, or pedestrians in danger.

Road rage not only distracts and intimidates others, it can result in actual harm. Road rage is possibly more common than you think, and you may risk injuries from a road rage accident any time you set out on the road.

Facts About Road Rage

Statistics indicate that during a seven-year period in the United States, road rage injured more than 12,600 persons and killed 218. Road rage can include many different illegal driving behaviors, including but not limited to:

  • Purposeful tailgating to intimidate drivers
  • Weaving through traffic and passing dangerously
  • Excessive speeding for traffic or road conditions
  • Unnecessarily honking or flashing lights at other drivers to intimidate them
  • Yelling threats at other drivers
  • Displaying weapons from a vehicle in a threatening manner
  • Following other vehicles off the highway or into parking lots to make threats

Road rage can lead the aggressive driver to crash into someone else, can run the road rage victim off the road, or can result in other types of crashes. In some cases, road rage can cause harm when a crash does not even occur.

A recent story out of Elmhurst shows just how far road rage can escalate. According to reports, a dispute occurred on the road between the occupants of two vehicles. Someone in one car shot a gun toward the other car, hitting the driver in the face. While the 65-year-old victim is expected to recover, he did have to receive medical treatments for the gunshot wound and will likely incur numerous losses from the incident. This is only one example of the many instances of road rage that turned violent and resulted in severe injuries.

Holding Road Ragers Accountable

Illinois law aims to hold road raging drivers liable by imposing criminal penalties. If road rage occurs without any injuries, the law considers it a Class A misdemeanor. However, if the road rage caused serious injuries to anyone else, the law classifies it as a felony offense with mandatory time in jail. Additional criminal charges can mount up if the road raging driver committed other offenses, such as the above-mentioned situation in which the road raging driver shot someone.

While the criminal justice system aims to punish road raging drivers by imposing jail sentences, fines, probation, and other penalties, a criminal case often does little for injured victims of road rage. Instead, a road rage victim will usually need to pursue financial compensation in a separate case.

The law allows injured accident victims to seek compensation from those who caused their injuries through negligence or intentional wrongdoing. Road rage accidents are no different, and victims may generally seek compensation for all of their injury-related losses, which may include:

  • All of their medical expenses, including for emergency treatments, surgeries, time spent in the hospital, doctor’s appointments, medications, physical therapy, and any necessary ongoing or future treatments.
  • Any wages lost because victims had to miss work during treatments or because injuries kept them from performing their jobs. This also can include future lost income if they are unable to return to their jobs for extended periods of time.
  • Intangible losses that are not directly tied to financial losses but instead compensate them for pain and suffering, mental distress caused by the accident and injuries, any permanent disabilities that resulted, and more.

In addition to the above losses, victims of such egregious and intentional behaviors such as road rage can often receive punitive damages. These damages are above and beyond any tangible losses and instead are meant to punish the road raging driver.

Road rage victims can go about receiving the money they deserve, and your path to compensation will depend on the circumstances of your accident and injuries. For example, if you sustained relatively minor injuries and only incurred a few medical bills, you may receive compensation by filing a claim with the dangerous driver’s insurance company. To ensure that you receive the full value of your claim, always hire an experienced auto accident attorney to handle every step of the insurance process.

If your injuries are serious, however, an insurance claim may not cover all of your past and future losses. In such a situation, you also may want to seek compensation for intangible losses and punitive damages as well, which are usually not possible through the insurance process. You probably need to file a personal injury claim in court seeking all of the damages you deserve from the road raging driver. You want an attorney with extensive experience handling this type of case on your side throughout this process so that you can hold the dangerous driver who hurt you fully accountable.

Our Chicago Car Accident Law Firm is Here is Help You

If you were injured by another driver—whether you were in a car, on a bicycle, or were a pedestrian—do not hesitate to schedule a free consultation with the Chicago personal injury lawyers at Abels & Annes. Contact us online or call (312) 924-7575 for more information today.

Illinois’s Cell Phone and Driving Laws Can Help Your Claim

Illinois law bans almost all use of hand-held cell phones while operating motor vehicles. All drivers are banned from texting while driving, and teens 18 years old and younger are not even allowed to use hands-free devices while operating motor vehicles.

Illinois is among the growing ranks of states that ban the use of hand-held cell phones while driving. While supporters of such bans contend it reduces driver distractions, opponents counter that talking on hand-held cell phones is no less dangerous than fiddling with a car’s audio system, eating burgers, or even talking on hands-free cell phones. These opponents say it is up to drivers to make sure they are driving safely, not up to police to pull over and cite otherwise safe drivers spotted using hand-held cell phones. Nevertheless, it has been illegal since 2013 to use a hand-held cell phone while driving in Illinois.

Despite the push to regulate cell phone use on the roads, research is murky as to whether requiring hands-free devices make roads safer. Researchers at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which is funded by the insurance industry, have found little difference between drivers who use hand-held cell phones and those who use hands-free devices.

Oddly enough, these laws actually can help your accident claim. While Illinois law requires that drivers use hands-free technology, such as speakerphones, Bluetooth, earpieces, headsets, or hands-free systems integrated into the vehicle, a significant amount of research indicates that such hands-free technologies don’t really reduce the distractions caused by talking on cell phones while driving.

How Can Hands-Free Requirements Help Your Negligence Claims?

The assumption behind requiring people to use hands-free technology for cell-phone use while driving is that it is less distracting than holding a phone in your hand while talking and driving. Alas, research indicates this is not true. Thus, complying with laws requiring hands-free technology really does nothing to prove that a driver was not negligent if he caused an accident while on a hands-free phone.

All but a handful of states have laws that limit cell-phone use while driving. Most allow hands-free use. While these laws apparently have resulted in far fewer people using hand-held phones while driving, there is no indication that the laws make the roads any safer.

A National Institutes of Health study cites research from the British Medical Journal and New England Journal of Medicine that found the risk of traffic accidents was four times greater when drivers are involved in telephone conversations—and the increased risk was essentially the same for hands-free and hand-held phone use.

For many of the same reasons, the American Automobile Association is not impressed with the safety “improvements” offered by these systems. Researchers for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety tested the hands-free systems of most major car makers to determine how much of a distraction the systems themselves created. They found that the systems all caused distractions that actually were worse than talking on a hand-held cell phones and that high levels of mental distraction persisted for as long as 27 seconds after completing distracting tasks with these systems. These tasks included voice-activated hands-free phone calls, text messages, use of navigation systems, control of music systems, and other similar functions. Even when using the least-distracting systems, drivers remained distracted for more than 15 seconds after completing tasks.

The AAA researchers ranked distractions on a five-point scale, with a one being mild and five the maximum. AAA defines a distraction rating of two or greater as a potentially dangerous level. Talking on a hand-held cell phone is rated as a level two distraction. All of the hands-free systems scored distraction scores greater than two.

The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety also found that banning texting or hand-held cell phone use while driving does little to reduce accidents. Citing a 2009 Highway Loss Data Institute study, the IIHS reported that such bans had no impact on insurance collision claim rates. The study looked at claims in three states and the District of Columbia before and after hand-held cell phone bans were enacted. There was no change in claims rates in two jurisdictions and statistically significant increases—albeit small—in the other two.

An Attorney Can Help You With Injury Claims

The results of these studies provide two avenues that could help if you have been injured in an accident in which the other driver was using a cell phone. If the cell phone was hand-held, the illegality of that conduct is strong evidence of the other driver’s negligence. If it was hands-free, ample studies show that, at best, hands-free use of cell phones is no less distracting than hand-held ones. Either way, an attorney can help you establish that the other driver was negligent.

Naturally, then, if you were injured in an accident with a driver who was using a cell phone at the time, consider hiring an attorney. You will need assistance to resolve the legal and factual questions in your favor. The complex circumstances surrounding personal injuries from accidents tend to require investigative and legal experience most people simply don’t have.

If You Were Injured in an Accident in the Chicago Area Involving Cell Phone Use, Contact the Personal Injury Attorneys of Abels & Annes

If you suffered an injury in an accident in the Chicago area where the responsible driver was using a cell phone, even hands-free, consult an attorney to determine your rights.

The attorneys of Abels & Annes can assist in protecting your rights when you are involved in such an accident. Reach us at (312) 924-7575 or through our website.

How Third Parties Can Cause Single-Car Crashes

In the classic car accident scene, one vehicle crashes into another and either one or both parties are at fault. However, many traffic-related accidents involve only one vehicle. A single-car accid>ent can occur after a road departure, rollover, collision with a median or object, or a variety of other dangerous circumstances. Single-car accidents can be just as devastating as accidents involving multiple vehicles, and occupants of the car can sustain serious injuries.

Many people may assume that a driver who crashed independently did so because of a mistake. While this may be the case in some collisions, not every single-car accident is caused by the driver. The following examples demonstrate how third parties can cause single-car accidents.

Dangerous Drivers

Many single-car crashes happen because a driver is reacting to another driver’s dangerous behavior. This can include times when:

Another car tries to switch into the lane in which you are driving, and in response, you swerve out of the lane to avoid a collision, departing the roadway and possibly losing control.

  • Another car cuts right in front of you, and to avoid a rear-end crash, you swerve out of the way and lose control.
  • Another driver is distracted and departs his own lane, crossing into yours, and you must react suddenly to get out of their way.
  • A drunk or otherwise negligent driver is driving the wrong way on a one-way road and you react to get out of their way.

The above are only some of the many examples of how another driver can cause you to crash. Often, this happens when you are swerving to avoid a collision with another car and end up crashing yourself.

In such a situation, the negligent driver that created the initial danger should be held liable for your injuries and accident-related losses, even if that driver did not experience a collision.\ The most difficult part about this type of case is that a third-party driver may not even realize that she caused a crash and, even if she is aware, she may continue driving away. There are unique legal issues in this type of “phantom vehicle” case, so you need a skilled lawyer on your side as soon as possible, especially one with experience in these types of cases.

Road Defects

Hazardous roadways can also be the culprit of single-car accidents. Some examples of road defects that could cause you to crash include:

  • Dangerous turns with inadequate warnings or speed restrictions
  • Potholes or large cracks that may cause you to lose control
  • Uneven lanes that throw your vehicle off balance
  • Objects in the roadway
  • Obstacles that can trip your car and cause a rollover crash

Defective road cases can also be complex, as the claims are often made against a government or corporation. Our attorneys have the knowledge and experience to help you in every way possible after this type of crash.

Discuss Your Possible Rights to Compensation with Our Chicago Car Accident Attorneys

If you have been in a single-car accident, please contact the law firm of Abels & Annes to determine whether you have a claim for compensation. For a free consultation with our Chicago car accident lawyers, do not hesitate to call us at 312-924-7575 today.