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GM Class Action Lawsuit Have Added Air Bag Maker As Additional Defendant

The Chicago Tribune reported today that plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit against General Motors, based on the faulty ignition recall, has now added airbag manufacturer, Continental AG, as an additional defendant.

Continental made airbag systems for the recalled cars, including sensor  that determine if and when the airbags go off in an accident, according to the suit.

The case is among dozens of proposed class actions that have been filed by customers accusing GM of concealing its knowledge of the defect for more than a decades, putting plaintiffs at risk of injury and causing them to suffer economic losses on their cars, including lower resale value.

If jostled or bumped, the ignition switch can change from the “run” to “accessory” position, shutting off engines and disabling power steering, power brakes and airbags.

The lawsuit says that Continental’s system was defective because the airbag system would shut off when the key switched positions, and the combination of alleged defects was “particularly dangerous.”

I have to be honest, I am really not sure how this benefits the class action lawsuit plaintiffs, unless they are arguing that the airbags were faulty as well and the plaintiffs (consumers) need to be reimbursed for this defect in their vehicle as well. This is definitely news for the 12 wrongful death cases out there that were allegedly caused by the faulty ignitions. Plaintiffs in those cases now have multiple fingers to point out at when assessing liability. Attorneys will argue that not only did the ignition cause these cars to stall, but the airbags did not respond properly (even though they knew about the issue since 2005) and those airbags could have saved lives.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a Chicago car crash or by a Chicago auto defect, then call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-588-3384.  

IL Governor Quinn Announces Bike Transportation Plan

Illinois Governor Quinn, along with Illinois Transportation Secretary, Ann Schneider, announced today Illinois' first bike transportation plan via press release and from his twitter feed. The bike plan provides more than 200 recommendations and action items to enhance IDOT’s ability to provide safe and cost-effective accommodations for cyclists across Illinois. The comprehensive recommendations address a variety of topics including facility design and maintenance, network gaps, grant funding programs, safety education and enforcement, and internal governance and coordination. In addition, the plan includes performance measures designed to evaluate progress towards implementation.

Although the website isn't very specific about different recommendations and implementations, it did provide the following areas that the plan will address:

·         Bicycling related planning and policy recommendations,

·         Bikeway safety, design and maintenance recommendations,

·         Regional-scale bikeway network recommendations,

·         Bikeway network implementation and prioritization recommendations,

·         State bicycling performance measures,

·         Education, outreach and enforcement recommendations, and

·         Funding recommendations

 

  Once area I do like and look forward to seeing specific recommendations in education, outreach   and enforcement. I would hope this would include recommendations for safety education. Those     of us who live and work in Chicago, we know that the city is packed with vehicles and bicyclists. I think a plan that would educate drivers and bicyclists to coincide safely while honoring traffic    codes would be incredibly fruitful for everyone.

 

  If you or someone you love has been injured in a Chicago bike accident or Chicago car crash,       then contact Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-   614-1076.

"Smoking Gun" Memo Released In General Motors Recall Case

General Motors has been in the news quite a bit the past several weeks due to a recall on a defectiveignition part on many of its' vehicles. GM has recalled 2.6 million vehicles, including the: Chevrolet Cobalt; Saturn Ion; and other Saturn and Pontiac models. The cars’ ignitions could slip out of the “on” position, cutting power to the vehicle. There have been 13 deaths reported. GM has recalled those vehicles, and also disclosed that defective parts may have been used in earlier repairs on those vehicles. Last week, GM said it would replace ignition lock cylinders “and cut, and if necessary, reprogram new keys.”The cost of GM’s recall, originally set at $300 million, has now ballooned to $1.3 billion, including some other vehicles. 

Forbes magazine reported last week that key memo that was issued in 2006 points out when and how the mistake with the ignition part was made. Dated May 27, 2006, the memo includes a document that explains information that supported GM’s part change, and includes GM’s approval to make the change, according to the House Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, which released more than 200,000 pages of documents.

One page of the memo was released previously, but that page has been updated with additional information, and the fax cover sheet makes it clear who made the fateful GM decision. It cites GM Ray DeGiorgio, who has been placed on leave by GM, as knowing about the change to the ignition part, and allowing the switch to happen without the typical step of creating a new part number. Engineers told Automotive News that the step was a “cardinal sin’ in product design, and GM Chief Executive Mary Barra was roundly criticized for the action during Congressional testimony last week.

GM is going to see multiple lawsuits against. First, suits will be brought for the wrongful deaths of the drivers and/or passengers involved in car accidents caused by the ignition failures. They will also see consumer class action lawsuits brought by all those who owned the vehicles and will require replacements and repairs for the defective parts.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a Chicago car accident or as a result of a Chicago auto defect, then call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076. 

IL House Passes Legislation That Regulates Chicago Ride Share Companies

I wrote recently about certain steps taken by Chicago officials that regulate ride share companies like Uber, Sidecar and Lyft. Specifically, the city made it a requirement for all of these companies to carry excess or umbrella insurance for their drivers that would cover for accidents while driving around looking for fares or picking up customers. This was a positive step and all of the companies put out statements that they would comply. 

The taxi companies in Chicago were not happy and though more regulations were needed and they have helped push through Illinois HB 4075, which states that all drivers (for ride share companies) would be required to undergo background checks, vehicle safety checks and have commercial insurance. Those who drive more than 18 hours per week would need licenses and have to follow stricter city ordinances. I think it is fair to say that taxi companies are not happy to be losing their market share to companies like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar. The bill will now go to the Senate for a vote and if it passes, would be sent to Governor Quinn for his signature.

In response to the passage in the house, Andrew Macdonald, Uber Chicago general manager, released the following statement."The passage of HB4075 in its current form destroys thousands of jobs in Chicago, slashes income opportunities for Chicago’s rideshare drivers, and effectively shuts down uberX in Chicago.” 

I will be following this closely to see if there are any amendments or changes to the bill in the Senate and whether it even passes.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a Chicago car accident or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

NTSB Reports That Blue Line Train Traveled Too Fast For Emergency Brake

The Chicago Tribune reported today that the National Traffic Safety Board ("NTSB") concluded that the CTA Blue Line crash at O'Hare airport was driving too fast for the emergency brake to properly trigger and prevent the train accident. The NTSB's preliminary report into the cause of the early-morning accident on March 24 said the distance between a bumper post at the end of the line and a trip arm in the tracks designed to activate the train’s emergency braking system was “too short to stop the train” due to its speed of roughly 26 mph.

Asked why the CTA had not set a slower speed limit in the tunnel leading to the station, or positioned the emergency-stop device further out from the platforms where trains berth, safety board spokesman Terry Williams said “those questions are part of our investigation and some of the issues we are looking into.’’

The CTA two weeks ago lowered the speed limit of trains entering the O’Hare station from 25 mph to 15 mph and moved the fixed trip arm further away from the bumper post, to provide a total of 61 feet in stopping distance.

For those following this case it appears that the CTA will be on the hook for passenger injuries based on, at least, three main factors. First, the train operator admitted she nodded off immediately prior to the train crash and the CTA is responsible for the negligent acts of their employees. Second, the train operator was driving the blue line at too high of a speed, which did not allow the emergency brake to properly trigger. Again, the CTA is responsible for negligent acts of its employees. Third, they set the speed limit too high for the emergency brake to properly stop incoming trains. These are three allegations that can be made and seem the most obvious from the media reports, but as the investigation continues, there will likely be more allegations of negligence by the CTA. 

Although this train accident was terrible and people were injured, I think there are some positives that can come from this. First, no one died. This derailment and crash was brutal as the video shows and the fact that there were no deaths and few critical injuries is a minor miracle. Second, the CTA can now make the proper corrections to its emergency braking system, which will hopefully prevent this from happening again.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a CTA train accident, Chicago busaccident or Chicago car crash, then call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Chicago Paving Way For More Bike Lanes

It's been a year or two since I have written about bike lanes in Chicago. As I mentioned in the past, Chicago has been at the forefront in carving out bike only lanes. Specifically, a long stretch of Dearborn Street in Chicago's loop is specified for bicyclists. The Chicago Tribune reported last week that more "bike only" lanes are coming to the city this spring. 

 On the North Side, a lane is planned for North Broadway Avenue between Montrose and Foster avenues. In the Loop, Harrison Street will get a bike lane from Desplaines Street to Wabash Avenue. On the West Side, a lane is scheduled to go in on Lake Street from Austin Boulevard to Central Park Avenue.

In addition, the city plans 15 more miles of buffer-protected bike lanes this spring. The painted lanes are planned for California Avenue between Augusta Boulevard and North Avenue; Street from 26th to 31st streets and Stony Island Avenue from 56th to 63rd streets, according to transportation officials.

The city also is in the planning phase for 30 more miles of bike projects for the end of this year and early 2015, including Randolph Street from Michigan Avenue to the lakefront trail

This is a great move by the city as we know that vehicle traffic in Chicago is some of the worst in the city. The fewer cars on the road the better for everyone. But both drivers and bicyclists need to be wary of each other by following all the traffic laws and respecting each others' space. Bicycle accidents can be some of the most dangerous and deadly, so bikers and drivers are better off proceeding with caution when driving near each other in the busy downtown loop. 

If you or someone you know has been injured in a Chicago bicycle accident or Chicago car crash, then call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076 for a free legal consultation. 

Train Operator Involved In Blue Line Crash Fired By The CTA

The CTA Blue Line crash which occurred last Monday at O'Hare airport has been all over the news the last few weeks. One area of contention that I discussed earlier this week was the condition of the train operator at the time of the train accident. There were conflicting reports on how many hours she had worked in the days prior to the crash. The operator freely admitted to National Traffic Safety Board ("NTSB") that she had dozed off prior to the crash and that she had also nodded off to sleep back while working back in February. Well, the New York Daily News is reporting today that the train operator has been fired. It is unclear whether this will affect the lawsuits that have been filed against the CTA on behalf of some of the injured passengers. The NTSB is also awaiting investigation results on why the emergency braking systems did not stop the train immediately prior to the accident. I'm sure there will be more news to report in the weeks to come on this always changing case.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a Chicago train accident, Chicago bus accident or Chicago car crash, then call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 773-456-8858.

CTA And Union Having A War Of Words Following Train Accident

Following the Blue Line CTA crash at Chicago's O'Hare airport last week, there has been a war words between the Union chief and the CTA regarding the train operators condition at the time of the train accident. Both sides are using the media to argue their version of events. According to the Chicago Tribune, Union head, Robert Kelly, said the operator had worked 69 hours in the seven days prior to the train crash. She was a fill-in employee, known as an "extra board," meaning she called in around 4:30 p.m. each day to learn her shift, he said.

CTA spokesman Brian Steele disputed Kelly's claim about the operator's hours, saying she had worked 55 hours in the seven days preceding the incident and was off for 18 hours prior to her shift during which the incident occurred. In the previous week, the operator's longest shift was 9.2 hours, Steele said.

The CTA accused the outspoken union leader of making "untruthful and irresponsible" claims in an attempt to interfere with the investigation into the crash, which injured at least 30 people and caused more than $6 million in damage to the train and station.

"As has become his common response in issues involving his union, Bob Kelly is again providing false and misleading information in an effort to distort the truth and divert attention away from his union," the CTA said in a statement shortly after Kelly spoke at a press conference.

Regardless of how many hours the operator had worked in the days prior to train crash, it is undisputed that she had dozed off, which would probably be considered negligent behavior. The CTA is responsible for its' employees negligent behavior regardless if she is a member of a Union. Further, there is the issue of whether the emergency brake was working at the time, which should have prevented the train for derailing. As I wrote last week, the NTSB already stated that the emergency brake did not activate at the time of the train crash. I'm sure more will be learned as the investigation continues.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a CTA train crash, Chicago bus accident or Chicago caraccident, then call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron Bryant, for a freelegal consultation at 312-588-3384. 

Are New Regulations Coming For Illinois Ride Share Companies?

I wrote last week about ride share companies like Uber and Lyft, and their decision to retain insurance policies that would cover their drivers during periods they were driving and searching for fares or in between fares. According to ABC 7 News, state legislators and city officials are continuing their push for more regulations that will insure that both the drivers for these companies and the vehicles are to drive.  A lawsuit has been filed by cab companies in federal court to put a halt to ride share companies because they do not believe they undergo the same scrutiny as their companies and drivers go through. This may change with proposed local and statewide legislation that is on the table. 

In Chicago, before a cab driver can become licenses, he or she has to go through a thorough background check, which includes: fingerprinting each new applicant for background check with the CPD; applicants must submit a "court purposes" certified copy of their Illinois motor Vehicle record that is issued by the Secretary of State; applicants red-light/speed camera ticket history and any debt with the City of Chicago; and they also have to pass a drug test and a physical exam administered by a licensed IL physician.

Currently, drivers for ride share companies like Uber and Lyft do not have to undergo any of these background checks or testing by the city or state (though it was reported that the companies themselves do their own background checks). A new city ordinance called the Transportation Network Providers ordinance (TNP) would change this. Under the proposed ordinance, TNP companies will be required to conduct background checks to ensure that all drivers maintain no disqualifying criminal and driving records, undergo training, and operate vehicles that meet annual inspection requirements.

One area the ride share companies appear to better protect consumers than cab companies in through insurance. All of the ride share companies require their driver carry their own basic insurance ($50,000/$100,000), plus an umbrella policy of $1,000,000 that each company carries. Cab companies are only required to carry a minimum of $350,000 in insurance.

I agree with the above proposed legislation. Ride share drivers are performing the same task as cab drivers and they should be required to undergo the same background checks and safety training. The only way to insure this would be through the proposed city and/or state legislation. Hopefully this will insure the safest possible drivers for the consumer.

If you or someone you love has been involved in a Chicago car accident or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-588-3384. 

Questions Remain Following Blue Line Crash At O'Hare

Very early Monday morning, a Blue Line train carrying passengers pulled into the station at O'Hare airport, but instead of stopping, it derailed and crashed into a commuter escalator. As a result of the train crash, thirty (30) passengers were injured. The Associated Press reported today the train was not speeding as it drove into the station. National Transportation Safety Board ("NTSB") investigator Ted Turpin said a preliminary review of Monday's derailment at O'Hare International Airport showed that the train was traveling at 25 mph — the correct speed — as it entered the station. Turpin, who is in charge of the investigation, said an automatic emergency braking system was activated on the tracks, but that it failed it stop the train as it headed for the platform. "It activated," Turpin said. "That's all we know factually. Now, whether it did it in time or not, that's an analysis that we have to figure out."

Another issue that has raised eyebrows is the possibility that the conductor of the train was drowsy at the time of the train accident. Several news outlets have reported that the conductor may have dozed off at the train crash, which would mean he or she did not brake on time. That is why there is an emergency brake, but according to the above reports, did not work properly.

If the injuries sustained by any of the passengers were severe enough, then there will definitely be lawsuits filed against the Chicago Transit Authority ("CTA"). The basis of a Complaint at Law will be based on multiple allegations. First, the driver negligently operated the train by not braking on time. Second, the CTA was negligent for possibly allowing one of its' employees to work too many hours or days in a row, thus leading her to doze off. Third, the CTA did not have a properly working emergency brake, as it clearly did not prevent the train from stopping or derailing. It could be alleged that the emergency braking system was not properly installed. This could in turn lead to lawsuits against the manufacturer or the subcontractor who installed and/or maintained the emergency braking system. The answers to these questions will not be known until the NTSB and other experts complete their full reports on the accident. Regardless, there a liable parties out there that could have prevented this train accident

If you or someone you love has been injured in a Chicago train accident, Chicago CTA crash or Chicago bus accident, the call Chicago personal injury attorney Aaron Bryant for a free legal consultation at 312-588-3384.