Most Common Types of Traffic Accidents

Web Admin - Thursday, July 21, 2016

According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, just under 300,000 automobile accidents happened in 2014. More than 800 automobile accidents happen per day in Illinois, and more than two people are killed each day by automobile accidents. There were nine people injured every hour in Illinois automobile accidents. These are some startling statistics about automobile accidents on Illinois highways and roadways. It is dangerous to be on the road, and anyone could be involved in an auto accident at any time. If you have been involved in an automobile accident, the experienced personal injury lawyers at our law firm are eager to assist you with your case today.

Most Common Types of Auto Accidents In Illinois

Some types of automobile accidents happen more frequently than others. In terms of collisions that cause injuries, the top five types of automobile collisions include:

1. Accidents where one vehicle rear-ends another vehicle. In Illinois, the leading type of automobile accident involves one vehicle rear-ending another vehicle. There were more than 18,000 rear-end accidents in Illinois in 2014 that produced injuries. This make sense since there are so many different ways that a rear-end accident could occur. A driver in the front could suddenly hit the brakes, or an inattentive driver could not be paying attention to the road and could run into the rear end of a vehicle that is stopped, waiting for a light to change, for example. 

2. Accidents that happen due to a vehicle turning. The second most frequent type of automobile accident that happens is an accident involving turning. There were more than 10,000 turning accidents that caused injuries in 2014. A driver may fail to use their turn indicator, or a driver might not be paying attention to a turning vehicle and could cause an accident. 

3. Accidents that occur at an angle. One of the most difficult things to determine when you are behind the wheel is when another driver is going to go at an angle rather than straight or a 90 degree turn. Multiple-way stops and circles are difficult to navigate, especially when other drivers are trying to navigate them as well. Nearly 8,000 accidents in Illinois in 2014 involved a vehicle being hit at an angle. 

4. Collision with a fixed object. One of the more common single-vehicle accident types involves collisions with a fixed object, such as a tree or lamp post. Nearly 8,000 accidents in 2014 were attributed to a vehicle striking a fixed object. 

5. Accidents involving hitting a pedestrian. Unfortunately, the fifth most common type of automobile accident in Illinois in 2014 involved striking or hitting a pedestrian. There were nearly 4,200 accidents involving injured pedestrians. 

If you or a loved one has been involved in a traffic accident, contact one of our experienced Illinois accident attorneys today. Our firm serves the communities of Crystal Lake, Schaumburg, Palatine, Des Plaines, Inverness, Deer Park, Rolling Meadows, Buffalo Grove, Barrington and Arlington Heights. Please do not hesitate to call us at 847-934-6000 to speak to a member of our team.

Ken Apicella
About the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.


The Dangers of Hands Free Cell Phone Use While Driving

Web Admin - Friday, November 28, 2014

hands free device danger, Illinois personal injury lawyerEveryone knows they should avoid texting and driving. Focusing on a smartphone screen rather than the road is a recipe for disaster, and may lead to serious accidents. This common sense principle has led Illinois to pass a law forcing drivers to only use hands free devices when they are driving. However, even though hands free cell phone use lets people keep their eyes on the road, it still does not entirely remove the distraction of speaking on the phone. Additionally, the use of hands free technology may also bring a curious piece of human psychology known as the Peltzman effect into play.

Hands Free Device Statistics

Hands free driving seems like it should make people safer, but some studies show it may actually pose even more risks. Either way, the statistics show that it can still be dangerous. For instance, even though only nine percent of drivers are using phones at any given time, these drivers are involved in 26 percent of all crashes. This is because 90 percent of crashes involve driver error rather than the environment or mechanical failures.

A lot of the problems caused by phones are a function of how the brain processes information. Although many people believe they are capable of multitasking, that is actually an illusion. The brain cannot actually perform multiple tasks at one time. Instead, the brain switches rapidly back and forth between the two tasks, but it does not do it perfectly. This means that the brain's visual processing can be reduced by up to 33 percent while on the phone. This can lead to people missing half of everything going on around them while they talk. However, that failure to multitask is not the only human mental quirk that affects this scenario.

The Peltzman Effect

People using hands free technology may also be falling victim to what economists refer to as the Peltzman effect. The Peltzman effect, which was originally identified by its namesake in the 70s, relates to the fact that people generally have a reasonably constant amount of risk they are willing to take. This can result in regulations that are designed to keep people safe actually having a diminished effect because people are then more willing to take other risks. For instance, people may feel safer when using hands free technology, so they may be more willing to drive faster or pay less attention to the road. Importantly, economists still debate how much extra risk the Peltzman effect actually encourages people to take. Although numerous studies have found evidence of its existence, the magnitude of its impact varies greatly between each study.

Distracted driving is dangerous, regardless of the distraction. If you have recently been injured by the carelessness of a distracted driver, contact a Crystal Lake personal injury attorney today. Our firm helps injured victims across the northwest suburbs in towns like Palatine, Schaumburg, Des Plaines, Rolling Meadows, Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, and Barrington.

Ken ApicellaAbout the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.

Using Rumble Strips to Prevent Crossover Accidents

Web Admin - Thursday, September 25, 2014

rumble strips safety, Deer Park traffic accident lawyerIt is a common experience for drivers heading home, especially late at night, only to veer slightly out of the lane and be jolted awake by the rumble strips guarding the center of the road. These concrete ridges, originally invented in Illinois in the 1950s, serve a valuable purpose in preventing crossover accidents. Crossover accidents are some of the most dangerous types of traffic accidents and they occur when drivers, either careless or distracted, swerve out of their lane and into oncoming traffic, resulting in a powerful, head-on collision with another car.

What Crossover Accidents Are

Crossover accidents occur when a car leaves its lane, crossing over the median and into traffic heading the other direction, resulting in a front-end collision. The physics behind these sorts of crashes makes them some of the deadliest types of accidents. The issue is one of speed. In a single car crash or even a crash into the side of another car, most of the accident's force comes from the one car's forward motion. This is not true in crossover accidents because the two cars are heading in opposite directions, so their forces both contribute to the accident. By way of example, two cars colliding in a crossover accident, each traveling 60 miles per hour, would have the same force as a single car crashing into a wall at 120 miles per hour. These sorts of violent collisions can lead to all sorts of severe injuries including whiplash, broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, and in many cases, even death.

How Rumble Strips Help

Rumble strips can be instrumental in preventing these sorts of accidents. They function as an early warning system, alerting drivers to the fact that they are leaving their lane and are about to veer dangerously into oncoming traffic. In fact, a study from the Kansas Department of Transportation and the University of Kansas reports that these sorts of safety device can reduce crossover accidents by as much as 21 percent.

There may be some circumstances in which the absence of these sorts of rumble strips can give rise to a claim against the municipality for failing to properly design or maintain the road. Although such claims are difficult to bring, there are scenarios in which a poorly designed road, such as one lacking in centerline rumble strips, could lead to a traffic accident for which the victims would have a right to recover.

If you or one of your loved ones has recently been injured in a crossover accident or some other type of crash, contact an experienced Illinois traffic accident attorney today. Our firm's team of dedicated professionals protects the rights of clients in towns across the northwest suburbs, including in Deer Park, Arlington Heights, and Crystal Lake.

About the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.

Uninsured Motorist Insurance Claims

Web Admin - Thursday, April 17, 2014

illinois uninsured motorist attorney

Driving is such a mundane part of many people's lives that they often take it for granted. However, because driving is so common, it is only a matter of time for most people before they end up in an auto accident. In fact, according to estimates done based on car insurance industry data, most people will experience three to four accidents over the course of their lives. That means that for the majority of drivers, car accidents are a matter of when, rather than a matter of if.

Consequently, carrying car insurance protection is not only a good idea, but it is actually legally required in Illinois. However, despite these laws, many motorists take to the roads without any insurance at all. Furthermore, even those who do carry state minimum coverage may not have enough to cover the injuries and property damage that often arises from more serious accidents. That means that drivers should take their security into their own hands by maximizing theiruninsured and underinsured motorist (UM or UIM) coverage.

What Is UM/UIM Coverage?

UM covers both your property damage and bodily injury in cases where the driver at fault for the accident either does not have insurance or has too little insurance to pay for the full cost of the crash. Many"full coverage" insurance policies in Illinois already have this sort of coverage built into them. It is important to read the policy carefully to understand whether they involve UM coverage, as well as the maximum amounts of property damage and personal injury that the plan will cover.  Ask you agent to maximize your UM/UIM coverage.

Using UM/UIM Coverage

UM coverage comes into play in two circumstances. The first circumstance occurs when there is no way to receive damages from the driver at fault for the accident. Often, that is because the driver at fault is illegally driving without insurance, but UM coverage may also protect against hit-and-run accidents where the driver at fault flees the scene.

The second circumstance occurs when a person ends up in an accident with a driver whose insurance will not cover the full cost of the accident. Suppose someone with $100,000 in personal injury UM coverage is hit by a driver with only $30,000 of personal injury insurance. If the accident is serious enough that the medical bills exceed $30,000, then the driver with UM insurance can pursue a claim against their own insurance company to make up the difference.

If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist, seek help from a skilled Illinois personal injury attorney today. Filing UM insurance claims can be a complicated process, and our team of attorneys helps people across the northwest suburbs in towns like Arlington Heights, Schaumburg, and Crystal Lake. Our attorneys will help ensure that you receive the full protection provided in your insurance contracts.

About the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.

Jet Ski Accidents and Injury Lawsuits

Web Admin - Tuesday, April 15, 2014

illinois jet ski injury lawyer

With the warmer months approaching, people are once again going to start taking advantage of Lake Michigan, the Fox River, the Chain of Lakes and other inland waterways. Among the many popular waterfront activities available are the use of jet skis, also known as personal watercrafts (PWCs). While these PWCs are a fun way to spend a summer afternoon, they can also turn dangerous if riders do not take proper precautions. In fact, according to the U.S. Coast Guard, hundreds of people each year are killed or injured in PWC accidents. Many of these accidents are caused by careless PWC operators, but there are also other people who could be held responsible.

Responsibility for Jet Ski Accidents

The majority of lawsuits related to jet ski accidents proceed against the PWC’s driver based on the legal theory of negligence. Negligence is a legal doctrine that requires people to pay for harm that they caused through their own carelessness. Common negligent causes of PWC accidents include excessive speed, distracted boating, and operating a PWC while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

However, more people than just the operator of the jet ski could be responsible for the crash. For instance, many companies rent PWCs to tourists or beachgoers. These companies are responsible for properly maintaining their jet skis and making sure that the people to whom they rent are competent pilots. A failure to fulfill either of these requirements could make them liable for damage that their jet skis cause.

Courts may also hold the manufacturers of the jet ski in question responsible for harm that comes to users. This would happen under the products liability doctrine, which requires companies to pay for dangerous products that they make. There are several types of flaws that could give rise to a products liability lawsuit: design defects, manufacturing defects, and failures to warn:

  • Design defects occur when the producer of the jet ski fails to design it safely enough. For instance, a jet ski designed so that a hot wire next to the gas tank presents a fire risk might qualify as a design defect.

  • Manufacturing defects occur when the company designs the PWC properly, but fails to build it to the right specifications. A flawed manufacturing process that led to the jet ski having a leaking hull could be a manufacturing defect.

  • Failures to warn are slightly different. Rather than resulting from an inherent danger in the product, they arise when the manufacturer fails to warn the user about a possible danger in the product or fails to provide enough instructions about the safe way to use the device.

If you have been injured in an accident with a PWC, seek the counsel of a skilled Illinois personal injury attorney. They can examine your specific case and identify different parties who may be responsible for your injuries. Our firm helps clients in a variety of northwest suburban towns including Rolling Meadows, Buffalo Grove, and Inverness.

About the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.

Pedestrian-Bicycle Collisions in Illinois

Web Admin - Thursday, March 06, 2014

illinois pedestrian bicycle accident attorneyPedestrians walking down the sidewalk or crossing the street know to watch out for cars, but many are unaware of just how dangerous a passing bicycle can be and what to do in the event that they end up in an accident with a bike. Collisions between bikes and pedestrians are surprisingly dangerous and more common than many people expect. While exact numbers are difficult to find, since many bike accidents go unreported, a study from Hunter College estimates that over 1,000 pedestrians are hospitalized each year for injuries resulting from bike collisions in New York State alone.

Part of the reason for this is a lack of understanding on by both cyclists and pedestrians about what rules of the road bikes must obey. This leads to confusion on the part of the pedestrian about what the cyclists will to do in any given situation. The Illinois Secretary of State maintains a good guide regarding how traffic laws apply to bikes, but the rule of thumb is that a bicycle in the street must obey all laws that any other vehicle would, and a bicyclist on the sidewalk must obey the laws and signals used by pedestrians.

Harm from Bicycle Accidents

While bicycles lack the mass and speed of a car, they can still do serious harm to unprotected pedestrians in an accident. Some of the most common severe injuries that result from these sorts of accidents are traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Pedestrians can develop these types of injuries if they suffer a hard blow to the head after a bike knocks them down. The most common symptom of a TBI is a concussion, but they can also result in nausea, vomiting, headaches, seizures, and even coma in more serious cases. Bike accidents can also frequently cause broken bones, depending on the speed at which they happen and the way the pedestrian falls.

What to Do after a Bicycle Accident

The steps to take after a bicycle accident are similar to those that follow a car crash: make sure everyone is ok, call for medical attention if necessary, alert the police, and exchange information with the other party. The major difference is that bike accidents are more prone to turning into hit-and-runs. While bicyclists are obliged to stay at the scene of an accident just like drivers, many do not realize that they have that duty, and some who do know choose to flee the scene anyway. The best course of action here is to get as much identifying information about the fleeing cyclist as possible, and then make a report to the police.

If you have been the victim of a pedestrian versus bicycle accident, reach out to an Illinois personal injury attorney today. They can help you seek the full and fair compensation that you deserve. Our firm lends its experience and knowledge to clients across the northwest suburbs, in places such as Inverness, Deer Park, and Crystal Lake.

About the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.

Motorcycle Crashes in Illinois: How to Stay Safe and What to If You Can’t

Web Admin - Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Motorcycle crashes represent a particularly dangerous brand of traffic accident, often with far more serious injuries than a typical car wreck. A report issued by the Illinois Department of Transportation stated that, even though motorcycle accidents made up only 1.6 percent of total crashes in Illinois, the proportion of the total crashes that involved a fatality shoots up to 16.7 percent. With accidents that are so often so dangerous, riders should know what steps they can take to keep safe, as well what they should do in the unfortunate event that they end up involved in a serious accident.

How to Drive Safe

As with all motor vehicles, following the rules of the road, and practicing defensive driving are key to a safe, enjoyable ride. However, Illinois law places restrictions on riders beyond those of a normal car. Illinois law requires:

  • • The use of the bike’s headlights at all times, regardless of weather conditions or light levels;
  • • Motorcyclists to refrain from lane splitting, or driving between two lanes of traffic;
  • • Proper seats and footrests if the motorcycle is carrying a passenger;
  • • Insurance coverage similar to that required of automobiles.

  • Riders can also take further steps to ensure that they stay safe. Helmets, while not required by law in Illinois, can decrease the likelihood or severity of head trauma, a common cause of death in motorcycle accidents. Additionally, regular bike maintenance can decrease incidence of equipment failure mid-ride, which makes getting into an accident less likely.

    What to do After an Accident

    The steps to take after a motorcycle accident very much resemble those taken after a car crash:

    1. 1. Check on everyone involved in the crash to see if anyone needs immediate medical attention.
    2. 2. Call 9-1-1, to inform them of the accident; do this even if no one has been seriously hurt, since you should still report the accident to the police.
    3. 3. Collect as much contact information as you can from the other people involved in the crash, especially a phone number, license plate number, driver’s license number, and insurance information
    4. 4. Document the scene of the accident. If you have a camera or a camera-phone handy, get pictures of the scene, as well as the individual vehicles involved. If you don’t have a camera available, try to take some pictures of the damage to your bike once you get home.
    5. 5. After you have spoken with the police and made your report, contact your insurance company to report the accident. They may ask you for an interview to provide them with the details of the accident. Make sure not to provide this information without first consulting with an attorney.

    If you have recently been injured in a motorcycle accident, contact an experienced Schaumburg personal injury attorney today. Call 847-934-6000 to speak to a member our team today. We serve the northwest suburbs of Chicago including Rolling Meadows, Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, and other nearby communities.

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