Investigation Continues Following Deadly Amtrak Crash

It has been almost three weeks since the fatal Amtrak train accident in Philadelphia and the National Transportation Safety Board (“NTSB”) is still trying to find answers. First, the NTSB is investigating whether the conductor was on his cell phone at the time of the derailment. The agency says investigators are comparing time stamps from engineer Brandon Bostian’s phone records with locomotive data, radio transmissions and surveillance video to see whether the phone was used while the train was in motion. Phone records show the phone was used to make calls, sent text messages and access data the day of the derailment, but it’s unclear when.

The NTSB is also reviewing what Bostian was doing the day before the train crash to determine if fatigue was an issue.  The first leg of Bostian’s shift on May 12 was particularly grueling, union officials say, with equipment-related delays on his train to Washington shortening his rest break. A system displaying track signals on the dashboard failed, forcing Bostian to pay close attention while reducing speeds far below normal, according to Railroad Workers United. The train reached Washington 26 minutes late, leaving Bostian about an hour to rest, eat and use the restroom before his trip back to New York on the train that eventually derailed.

The NTSB is focusing all of its’ attention on Bostian at this point because he was alone at the controls at the time of the train accident.  There’s no explanation for why the train went from 70 mph about a minute before the crash to 106 mph a few seconds before it left the tracks. Investigators say preliminary inspections found no problems with the track, the signals or the locomotive. They’ve also ruled out a bullet causing a grapefruit-size fracture on the locomotive’s windshield and say they’re uncertain whether anything struck the train.

This is an investigation I will be following closely as there appears, at this point, nothing faulty with either the train or the track. The focus is on the conductor. Was he on his phone or distracted some other way? Did he pass out or faint or have a seizure right before the derailment? Something needs to explain why the train increased in speed so rapidly. The families of the deceased and the injured will want answers.  As do those who continue to ride Amtrak trains.

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

Illinois Police Departments Implementing 2015 ‘Click It Or Ticket’ Campaign

Illinois State Police along with hundreds of local police agencies around the state implemented the “click it or ticket” campaign, which ran from May 11 through May 25. This time of year officially kicks off the busy traffic season. I did a little research about this program and it was interesting to me to see that the main purpose, according to the Illinois State Police, is not to merely hand out tickets and collect money. The mission of this program is to influence people to buckle up and prevent injuries and traffic fatalities.

According to the buckleupillinois.com website, stated that based on research, certainty of a ticket convinces more drivers to wear seat belts, which in turn decreases injuries and saves lives. Also according to the website, motor vehicle crashes are the number one leading cause of death and disability for Americans between the ages of 4 and 34. You can click here to answer frequently asked questions about “click it or ticket.”

The weather is much nicer but there a many more drivers on the road this time of year. To me, it has always been a no-brainer to wear your seat belt. It shouldn’t matter what time of year or if there’s an increased chance of receiving a ticket. It could actually save your life or at the very least prevent a serious injury.

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

NTSB: Amtrak Train Sped Up Before Curve; Trying To Determine Why

National Transportation Safety Board (“NTSB”) is trying to answer questions in the aftermath of the derailment in Philadelphia this week that killed 8 and injured hundreds others.  What we do know, according to NTSB board member Robert Sumwalt, In the minute or so before the train crash, the train sped up from 70 mph until it reached more than 100 mph at a sharp bend where the maximum speed is supposed to be 50 mph. It’s unclear, Sumwalt said, whether the speed was increased manually by engineer Brandon Bostian. Investigators have found no problems with the track, signals or locomotive. Sumwalt said the train, on a route from Washington to New York City, was on time as it left the station in Philadelphia a few minutes before the crash.

Mr. Bostian, who is recovering from multiple injures after the train crash, stated that he does not recall anything from the time of the accident. He has refused to speak to police at this point, but did agree to a meeting with the NTSB, which will take place in the next few days.

I think it’s clear, at least from the early investigation, that the conductor negligently drove the train up to 50 mph over the speed limit. This is what appears to be the cause of the train derailment. The question remains whether the conductor did this accidentally, was he distracted or was there a malfunction with the equipment? These are answers the NTSB, the victims and the family of the deceased all want. I will be following this case closely in the coming days and weeks.

If you or someone you love has been involved in a Chicago train derailment or Chicago bus accident or suffered from a wrongful death, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076

Illinois House Speaker Madigan Stands Strong Against Tort Reform

Many have heard the words “tort reform” on this blog and in media. New Illinois Governor, Bruce Rauner, has been touting tort reform around the state since he took office in January. Tort reform is the big business and insurance industry’s attempted lobby to limit what the injured can be awarded in civil lawsuits. 2005 legislation on capping medical malpractice awards was ruled unconstitutional in 2010 by the Illinois Supreme Court. The Court correctly concluded that this violated a plaintiff’s right to trial by jury.

The Chicago Tribune reported this week that Illinois Speaker of the House, Michael Madigan, held a daylong hearing for the entire House allowing victims of personal injury accidents and medical malpractice to have their stories heard. This included testimony from people like Molly Akers, who told of being incorrectly diagnosed with breast cancer and undergoing an unnecessary mastectomy. Testifying alongside Akers was Linda Reynolds, a Missouri resident who won a $4.5 million judgment but was not able to collect the full amount because of caps on damages in her state. Reynolds said she noticed a lump in her breast in 2003 but wasn’t taken seriously by her doctor. By the time she was diagnosed with cancer, it was too late, she said. Reynolds said the cancer has spread to other parts of her body over the years.

I applaud Speaker Madigan for standing strong against Rauner’s tort reform rhetoric. It’s funny when you hear the Governor and others beating the drum of tort reform and you have to think – – what if that was one of his family members that was misdiagnosed or involved in a catastrophic car accident? I do not believe he would just put his hands up in the air and say, “that’s life.” No, I believe he would react just like all other every day Illinoisans would. He would respond by holding those responsible for their negligent actions. Remember, anyone who has been injured due to the negligence of others has the right to have their day in court. They have the right to have their story told before a judge and a jury. They have a right to be compensated for their losses. Do not forget these fundamental rights when you go to the voting booth and who is trying to take these rights away.

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

 

 

Horrific Amtrak Train Derailment Leaves 6 Dead, Injures Hundreds

 

Horrible news came in last night as an Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia which killed 6 passengers and injured hundreds more. Multiple news outlets reported that the train, which was headed for New York, derailed at about 9:30 p.m. last night in the Port Richmond neighborhood of Philadelphia. Hospitals treated 200 passengers, with half of those being released overnight. Apparently one of those seriously injured in the train accident was the conductor.

The National Traffic Safety Board (“NTSB”) is currently investigating the cause of the train crash and spokesman said they would like to have some answers within the next 24 to 48 hours. CNN reported this morning that Investigators are seriously looking at speed as an issue in the crash. This is partly because of the angles of the train wreckage and the type of damage seen on its cars. To describe how violent the derailment was, an  U.S. Department of Transportation representative stated that the engine and two cars were left standing upright, three cars were tipped on their sides, and one was nearly flipped over on its roof. The seventh one was “leaning hard.”

Among other things, authorities will examine the condition of the track and the train, how the signals operated and “human performance,” NTSB board member Robert Sumwalt said. The speed limit in the crash area is around 50 mph.

There’s not much for me to add to this horrible event other than the NTSB and U.S. Department of transportation will and should perform a thorough investigation on the cause of this train derailment. News reports do not indicate there is anything glaring right now that would pinpoint the cause of this crash. Regardless, I think we can assume there will be multiple wrongful death lawsuits from the families and estates of the deceased and personal injury lawsuits from those who were injured. More importantly, the investigation will hopefully give us answers on how this happened and how this can be prevented in the future.

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

DNA Info Website Produces Fascinating Information On Chicago Speed Cameras

The fantastic website, DNA Info Chicago, published an interesting article about the statistics on Chicago’s speed cameras since 2013.

First a little background on Chicago’s red light cameras. The ordinance went into effect in 2013 and authorized the city to ticket drivers traveling 6-10 mph over the posted limit  with a $35 fine. Violators traveling 11 mph over are fined $100.  The speed cameras planted near parks are active when the parks are open, generally from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily and have a 30 mph speed limit. In school zones, the cameras are on from 7 a.m to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday when school is in session. The speed limit differs from 20 to 30 mph, depending on if children are present in the area.

The article revealed that of the 146 cameras around the city, only 21 (or 1/8) produced the majority of the $58 million the city has collected in fines since the program began in 2013.

The busiest 21 cameras are spread across the city, with 11 on the South Side, seven on the North Side and three on the West Side.The most productive camera can ring up more than $7,000 in fines a day, on average .

The busiest cameras tend to be on stretches where drivers feel comfortable letting loose. The top four revenue-producing cameras, for example, are found on long stretches of open road, sometimes near expressways or industrial areas, with little cross traffic.

I think this information is very interesting because the city has touted the speed cameras as a public safety ordinance, to help protect children and pedestrians in park and school areas. Yet, according to these statistics, the majority of tickets are issued in wide open thoroughfares with very little congestion. Areas that you would assume would have the most of the cameras would be focused on these dense areas. Yes, we all realize that speeding is a leading cause of car accidents and traffic fatalities. In fact, I posted a quote yesterday from the Illinois State Police that said 40% of all traffic fatalities in Illinois were caused by speeding. But, are these cameras actually effective and preventing speeding in areas that require them the most? This article leads us to answer no.

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

Illinois State Police Announce Special Traffic Patrols May 12 to May 24

Summer is upon us and travelling season typically picks up around Memorial Day week. There a lot of travelers on the road beginning that weekend and the Illinois State Police are responding. In a press release, the department announced that officers will conduct special traffic enforcement patrols –referred to as “sTEP” between Tuesday, May 12, and Sunday, May 24, in LaSalle County. The troopers will concentrate on speeding, failure to use occupant restraints and other driving offenses as part of their enforcement efforts. The sTEP program involves a combination of increased enforcement and public information designed to raise public awareness and compliance to all traffic laws.

According to the press release speeding is a contributing factor in 31 percent of all fatal crashes nationwide. In Illinois, speed-related car crashes account for over 40 percent of all traffic fatalities.

I would imagine we will see multiple traffic enforcement programs from state an local police over the Memorial Day weekend, which could include DUI stop zones and extra awareness on distracted drivers. As the weather gets nice there are a lot more of us out on the roads, so be safe.

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

Chicago City Council Approves New Law On Red Light Cameras

The Chicago Tribune reported today that the Chicago city council approved a new “watered down” red light camera ordinance. The ordinance, which passed today and apparently has the mayor’s backing, The latest version requires city officials to meet with the community to present traffic safety evidence before putting in or taking out new red light cameras, but does not give residents the ability to veto a city decision. The measure also calls for the city “to engage an outside academic team” to study Chicago’s red light camera system and give recommendations about how it’s administered.

A previous version that was presented would have have increased the minimum yellow light time at Chicago intersections from 3 seconds to 3.2 seconds and required a council vote before any new red light cameras could be installed.

The Tribune aptly pointed out in their article today that the new ordinance failed to address the issues found in their scientific study performed last year by scientists from Texas A&M. Specifically, failing to address the city’s dangerously short yellow light times, which do not meet national engineering guidelines. Transportation engineering experts say that the city’s 3-second yellow lights, in combination with red light cameras, prompt many drivers to stop short to avoid a ticket. The experts agree that combination is responsible for an increase in rear-end car crashes.

So, I would say this is progress but it seems to be at a glacial pace. Though many aldermen candidates and mayoral candidates ran on platforms that would rid the city of red light cameras, have appeared to have failed to back up their campaign promises. My problem as that we know rear-end car accidents have actually increased at intersections where the city has put some red light cameras yet the city has failed to fully deal with this issue.

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

Does Sneezing And Causing An Accident Fall Under The “Act of God” Defense

I have written over and over about the many things that can distract drivers. Of course, the most obvious is texting and phone use. Others have included everything for tooling with the radio to eating and driving. All of these activities can be very dangerous as all it takes is second or two of lost concentration for a car accident to occur.

The Chicago Sun Times reported some odd news last week when a semi-truck driver’s ill-timed sneeze sent his rig rolling onto its side Monday morning in northwest Indiana. The driver, a 48-year-old Hobart man, was not hurt in the crash, which happened on a ramp from State Route 249 to I-94 near Portage, according to Indiana State Police. As the driver entered the ramp, he started to sneeze, which caused the truck to run off the roadway and onto a grassy area where the rig rolled onto its side, State Police said.

Luckily there were no injuries to the driver and the roll over didn’t cause any other traffic accidents. I think it would be tough here to put any blame on the driver as this may fit into the “act of god” category rather than any negligence on his part. Similar “act of god” situations include suffering a heart attack, stroke or seizure while behind the wheel and causing a traffic accident. In these situations it is difficult to prove liability on the part of the driver who caused the accident, and often times defense attorneys are successful in dismissing claims or reducing liability when there is the “act of god” defense. Regardless, luckily no one was injured as this was a semi-truck accident.

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