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designate a sober driverDue to the upcoming holiday season, travel and traffic increase this time of year. Unpredictable Illinois weather causes riskier driving situations with higher levels of precipitation leading to dangerous conditions on the road. When mixed with celebratory occasions and holiday gatherings where alcohol is involved, this can become a deadly combination.

The most recent statistics from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows that in a single year, 886 motor vehicle accidents resulted in fatalities in the United States. Of those accidents, 436 people were killed in accidents where the driver’s blood alcohol concentration was over the legal .08 limit.

There are legal consequences for Illinois drivers convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Even a first time conviction can carry a penalty of:

  • up to a maximum fine of $2,500;
  • possible jail time for up to one year; and
  • loss of driving privileges for one year.

Police typically prepare for extra DUI enforcement around the holidays to prevent drunk drivers on the road. Additionally, WBEZ 91.5 FM Chicago reported that one holiday season, a program directed by the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists would reward people who reported Illinois drunk drivers $100.

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Posted on in Car Accidents

multi vehicle accidentIn early November, six people were injured on Lake Shore Drive in a grisly multi-vehicle accident caused when an SUV struck a Jeep. When the SUV hit, both vehicles went spinning. The SUV, a Tahoe, continued to drive down the highway after the Jeep spun out, hitting the concrete barrier and flipping onto its cab, according to the Chicago Tribune. While five people were taken to area hospitals because of injuries they suffered in the crash, officials later reported that none of the injuries were life threatening, reports the Tribune.

What to do in the immediate minutes following a multi-vehicle crash can be daunting and, at times, overwhelming. Determining who is at fault—especially if there are more than two vehicles involved—can be tricky. Illinois is a modified comparative negligence state, according to the Illinois Department of Insurance. This means that responsibility for an accident can be shared between multiple parties directly involved. Compensation is made depending on percentage of fault. Yet in Illinois, reports the Department of Insurance, “an injured party may recover damages only if he / she is less than 50 percent at fault for the injury.”

An example of this scenario would be if one driver was speeding and another driver made a left turn in front of the other car. The driver who made the left turn without adequate time to do so would be partially at fault, yet so would the person who was speeding. If the court determines that the person who was speeding was less at fault than the person who made the left turn, the person who was speeding may not be able to recover any damages for the incident at all.

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takata airbagIn late October, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) urged any consumers who purchased a car in the early 2000s to see their car dealer immediately, according to the Chicago Tribune. According to the Tribune, any car outfitted with Takata Corp. airbags that was manufactured during the years in question may have a fatal airbag flaw that could lead to serious injury or even death. Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mazda, BMW, and General Motors vehicles all have models outfitted with Takata Corp. airbags. The warning affects more than 4.7 million vehicles, with some estimates, according to The Guardian, closer to 20 million vehicles currently on the road in the U.S.

This is not the first time that Takata airbags have resulted in recalls—most prominently, those issued by Toyota Motor Sales. Perhaps because of this, Toyota Motor Sales issued its own Takata-related warning this fall, according to the Tribune, saying that 247,000 of its Lexus SC, Tundra, Corolla, Matrix, and Sequoia models manufactured between 2001 and 2004 were equipped with the Takata airbags in question. According to The Guardian, thus far there have been four recorded deaths because of the issue and multiple injuries. “This message comes with urgency,” the NHTSA said in a statement reported by The Guardian.

Airbags are usually thought of as life-saving mechanisms that help to reduce the number of fatalities in serious motor vehicle accidents. The NHTSA estimates that as of 2007, a total of 24,334 lives had been saved by correct airbag deployment. When the airbag is deemed to be correct, it is estimated to only fail in 1 to 2 percent of crashes in which the front occupant of the vehicle died, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety - a figure much lower than what is expected with the Takata problem.

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Posted on in Car Accidents

car recall paymentsGeneral Motors (GM) recalled several motor vehicle models this year due to faulty ignition switches that cause the car to fail and airbags not to deploy according to ConsumerReports.org. The Center for Auto Safety commissioned a report to review federal crash data and found that a whopping 303 deaths could be attributed to GM cars with un-deployed airbags. According to ConsumerReports.org, “this recall has cast a spotlight on serious, chronic failures in identifying safety defects in the vehicles we drive.” Some research alleges that GM has known about the faulty ignition switch problem in several of its vehicle models for years and failed to take the appropriate action to fix it.

This year, according to a recent report from ABC News, GM recalled 2.6 small cars across the world in an attempt to fix the faulty ignition switch. An estimated 23 motor vehicle deaths in the United States have been linked to the malfunction. GM CEO Mary Barra told ABC that the company has stocked suppliers with enough parts to fix all the faulty switches currently installed, but only an estimated 1.1 million cars have had the repair made.

If you are injured in an accident in which the car manufacturer was at fault—such as this GM case—you may be eligible for a personal injury claim. Barra told ABC that she was estimating GM would pay out a total of $400–$600 million in victim claims. The first car recall was made in February, and GM stocks plummeted 18 percent in 2014 alone as a result. In early October, when Barra addressed a Global Business Conference in Michigan, she announced that the first payouts had been made to victims and victims’ families. That same day, GM stock rose 2.6 percent.

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Posted on in Car Accidents

spinal cord injuryInjury to the spinal cord in a car accident can be one of the most devastating injuries that a person experiences. When the spinal cord is injured, it can have a direct effect either on the nerves themselves or on the bones, soft tissues, and vessels that make up the vertebrae. In many cases, a person who experiences a severe spinal cord injury may be paralyzed or have brain damage after the accident because of the of the spinal cord’s function as the main information superhighway of the body.

Motor vehicle accidents are one of the most common causes of spinal cord injury. According to EverydayHealth.com, seat belts were developed as a major preventative measure against spinal cord injury in a car accident. Harry N. Herkowitz, chairman of orthopedic surgery at a Michigan hospital, told EverydayHealth.com that when a passenger or driver is not wearing a seatbelt, “there is the definite possibility of a person becoming a projectile or sustaining forced trauma to the spine.”

Both seatbelts and airbags help prevent serious injury to the spine by bracing your body against the seat. Airbags cushion any serious impact with the steering wheel or side of the car, meaning that a person&s spinal cord does not snap back suddenly. According to Herkowitz and EverydayHealth.com, the single easiest way to avoid spinal cord injury in the event of an accident is to wear your seatbelt and ensure that airbag maintenance is current and instructions for use are being followed.

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