Chicago Police Create New Task Force To Target Carjackings

If you live in Chicago and follow the news, you are certainly aware of the recent increase in carjackings. The numbers released by various media outlets reveal that there were 960 reported carjackings in 2017 up from 663 in 2016 (a 45% increase). Through early February of this year there were already 86 reported carjackings.

As a result, Chicago Police Superintendent, Eddie Johnson, reported last month there they were forming a joint task force with the ATF, FBI,  Illinois State Police and federal prosecutors to help combat this recent surge in violent carjackings. The purpose pool resources and come up with a better way to hold offenders accountable for these crimes.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel called this a “first step,” in cracking down on carjackings. Superintendent Johnson stated during his press conference of this matter, ““We’re not playing around. If they want to continue to go out there and take an easy path to taking someone’s vehicle, we’re going to take that path and punish them to the fullest extent of the law that we can.”

I think this a logical first step in combating these types of crimes. I’m certain that these carjackings have citizens on edge as every night on the news there is a new story on these types of crimes. Many times these violent types of thefts turn into other violent crimes. Ironically, two Chicago men who were arrested in November over a carjacking that led to a high speed chase, are being charged with federal crimes, and could see stiffer sentencing if found guilt. It’s unclear whether the charges had anything to do with the joint task force.

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

Illinois Traffic Fatalities Up Again In 2017

According to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), 1080 people died from traffic accidents in 2017. That is up two (2) from the year before and more than what was recorded in 2014 and 2015.

“Distracted driving continues to be a concern, but it is incredibly hard to detect and enforce, some things we’ve noticed are an increase in number of motorcycle fatalities. Last year in February, it was warm enough for motorcyclists to be out on the road already.” said Kelsea Gurski, with IDOT.

IDOT said 158 motorcyclists were killed in traffic accidents last year. That was four more than had been killed the year before and 40 more than in 2014.

I have not seen any numbers to date trough the first two (2) months of 2018, so it is unclear whether we are at a better pace that 2017.

I agree with the IDOT spokesperson who stated that disctracted driving his hard to detect and enforce. As I have written in the past, the best solution, in my eyes, is to increase the fines and penalties for someone who is caught using their phone while driving. That is the only deterrent. I think it is fair to say that the stricter penalties for DUIs is one of the reasons we have seen a drop in drunk driving fatalities over the last 20 years.

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

New Red Light Cameras Added To Michigan Avenue In Downtown Chicago

Chicago’s busiest shopping district is the home of four (4) new red light cameras. The cameras were installed at North Michigan Avenue and East Ontario Street and South Michigan Avenue and East Jackson Boulevard.

The cameras will start ticketing drivers who run red lights starting on February 4. As I have written numerous times in the past, the red light cameras have undergone intense scrutiny. Class action lawsuits have been filed due to the effectiveness of the cameras and also based on the fraudulent circumstances the initial company the city used to install the cameras. Academic studies have been performed, which have concluded that the light have an overall neutral safety effect. In other words, they don’t actually reduce the number of accidents. The general public and media outlets have argued that the cameras are merely a money maker.

Regardless, despite all the controversy, the city is standing by the safety aspects touted by these cameras.   “I think over time you’re going to see more cameras placed downtown because we have a lot of (car) accidents, a lot of pedestrians issues, we have a lot of bike issues that are growing,” said Ald. Anthony Beale (9th Ward). “And so, this is the first step towards revamping the entire system.”

If one of these t cameras catch you driving through a red light, you will receive a $100.00 ticket. These tickets are not considered moving violations and will not affect your driving record.

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

Toronto Blue Jays Latest MLB Team To Extend Protective Netting Behind Home Plate

I have written in the past about several major league baseball franchises extending the netting behind home plate in an attempt to protect fans from foul tips and broken bats. According to ESPN, the Toronto Blue Jays are extending the protective netting at Rogers Centre to the outfield end of each dugout this season and increasing the height of netting behind home plate by approximately 10 feet, to 28 feet. Ten other franchises have previously extended the netting in recent seasons and Toronto is one of eleven other teams to announce the extensions for the 2018 season.

It is interesting to see this move by major league baseball. As I have written in the past, when a fan buys a ticket to a major league game, the ticket includes a waiver that exempts the teams from liability due to injuries from errant balls and bats flying into the stands. This also includes a flying hot dog that injured a man’s eye at a Kansas City Royals game several years back. A Missouri appeals court concluded that this waiver of liability included an errant hot dog that flew from a launcher sent out to fans that injured a man.

At a 2016 game in Tampa, who had also recently extended their nets, a foul tip actually flew through the netting and injured a fan. It is unclear whether a lawsuit was filed in that case, but I believe it could have been argued that the Tampa organization could have been held liable because they actually created the dangerous condition by not providing a sufficient protection when the ball flew through the net. Or in the alternative could argue that the netting was defective.

Regardless, it is encouraging to see a majority of the major league baseball teams take necessary steps to protect their fans.

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

Niles, IL Police Department Initiate “No Texting Tuesdays”

There has been a statewide ban on texting and driving in Illinois for the past several years. Most towns and cities around the state, including Niles, have their own local ordinance banning the practice. The question remains is how vigilant police departments are in enforcing the laws. Niles, a suburb of Chicago, decided in late 2017 to make a concerted effort to crack down cell phone use by drivers, when the initiated “no texting Tuesday’s.”

Niles police department decided to dedicate one day a week towards cracking down on texting drivers. The tickets they issue include a $100.00 fine, but they are not considered a moving violation and do not affect a person’s driving record.

I applaud this move by the Niles police department as it is clear they are taking the issue seriously. The problem with distracted drivers, in my eyes, is that despite the state law and local ordinances, this problem is not going away. According to the National Safety Council of Distracted Driving causes about 1.6 million crashes per year and those crashes cause about 330,000 injuries. They say one in every four accidents is caused by texting.  As I have written multiple times in the past, without harsher penalties, drivers will not be motivated to put their phones down. I think we need higher fines, and at least, consideration of making it a moving violation where the driving record can be affected.

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 J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.


CTA Offering Free Bus And Train Rides For New Years Eve

It is New Years Eve and for the sixth year in a row, the Chicago Transit Authority (“CTA”) is offering free bus and train rides. This is an excellent service for those who are going to be out and about and do not want to pay for cabs or an Uber ride. The free rides begin at 10 p.m. Sunday, December 31 until 4 a.m. Monday, January 1. MillerCoors’ Miller Lite is sponsoring the free ride program for the sixth straight year. As part of the sponsorship, Miller Lite covers the cost of all rides taken, plus the operating costs to run CTA service during the hours in which the promotion is offered. Last New Year’s Eve, CTA provided nearly 97,000 rides between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m.

“We are proud to once again offer safe, convenient and free transportation this New Year’s Eve,” said CTA President Dorval Carter, Jr. “We wish everyone a very Happy New Year and allow CTA be your designated driver for New Year’s Eve.”

There is absolutely no reason to ever drink and drive, but this is especially true if you live in the city and are going out on New Years. Enjoy the night, stay safe and take advantage of the free rides.

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 J. Bryant for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

New Bicycle Traffic Law Takes Effect In Illinois In 2018

In a legislation session in Illinois we see a plethora of new traffic laws take effect after the new year. This year I am only seeing one major traffic law change. HB 1784 will allow allows motorists to pass cyclists in no-passing zones and permits bicycling on road shoulders.

“This new legislation legalizes some common motorist and bicyclist traffic practices,” said Ed Barsotti, Ride Illinois’ chief programs officer, in a statement. “The intent is to make the roads safer while improving car-bicycle interactions.”

The reason for the change in the law is the often times motorists do not want to change lanes in a no-passing zone, and their attempts to pass the bicyclists, while in the same lane, leads to dangerously close traffic. The new law will hopefully give motorists the confidence to safely pass a bicyclist (who is riding less than half the posted speed limit) in a no-passing lane.

I think we can all agree that common sense traffic laws like these should be passed when they solve problems and make the roads safer for motorists and bicyclists to share the road together.

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

Does Rosemont Hotel Face Civil Liability Following Death of Teenager in Kitchen Freezer?

Multiple news outlets reported last month that the unusual death of teenager Kenneka Jenkins at a Crown Plaza Hotel in Rosemont, Illinois was ruled an accident. The Rosemont Police Department issued a statement her death was accidental and said there was “no evidence that indicated any other conclusion.” There was no sign of date-rape drugs in her toxicology reports, the office said.  “Our detective reported no signs of foul play throughout the whole investigation… there is no evidence that Ms. Jenkins was forced to drink alcohol or consume any narcotics while at the hotel.”

Surveillance video from the hotel shows the teenager stumble into the kitchen area, before disappearing around a corner. The footage does not show her entering the freezer.

Right now it does not appear that that anyone from the party Ms. Jenkins attended nor will anyone from the hotel will face criminal charges. The question remains whether the hotel will face civil liability for Ms. Jenkins death. The short answer is absolutely. It is my understanding her family has retained legal counsel, and they are no doubt investigating this matter as we speak.

A civil suit against the hotel will most likely contain at least two (2) counts. One for negligence and one for premises liability. The premises liability count will allege that a defective condition on the property caused Ms. Jenkins death. The negligence count must show that the behavior of the hotel staff and/or security was not reasonable and thus caused her to end up in the freezer.

The difficulty for the plaintiff in this type of case comes with the difficulty of proving causation. The plaintiff will have to show, under both the premises and negligence counts, that the hotel’s actions (or inactions) proximately caused the death. Proximate cause is best described as whether it was foreseeable that this woman would end up in the freezer based on their negligent actions or defective condition on the property. Just because a plaintiff can show negligence or defective conditions, does not necessarily mean that these were the proximate cause. Plaintiffs must do their best at showing that whatever was done wrong, i.e. lack of proper locks, lack of security etc… could foreseeably lead to someone who has been drinking alcohol to wander into the kitchen and eventually the freezer. Without knowing more of the facts in this case it would be hard to predict the outcome. I will say that this will be the most contentious issue should this case lead to litigation.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a Chicago premises liability accident, or Chicago personal injury case, please call Chicago accident attorney, Aaron J. Bryant for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076,

IDOT And CMAP Propose New Initiatives To Relieve Traffic Gridlock In Chicago

Those who commute by car to work everyday in and around Chicago, know how stressful the traffic can be. It can be stressful just trying to drive to the one of the airports, or coming down to the city over the weekend. Chicago has been documented as one of the worst cities in the U.S. when it comes to traffic gridlock. According to the Chicago Tribune, the Illinois Department of Transportation (“IDOT”) and (“CMAP”) have recently teamed up to plan alternative solutions for freeing up some of the traffic gridlock in and around Chicago.

One of their first proposed ideas is congestion pricing. Congestion pricing would allow motorists to pay for the privilege of bypassing gridlock. According to CMAP, a congestion pricing added lane can shorten a motorist’s morning rush-hour commute by a third to two-thirds. Rush-hour traffic in un-tolled lanes would drop by a quarter to a third, according to CMAP research.

The second suggestion is  using expressway shoulders for buses, an idea already used on the Jane Addams tollway and on Interstate 55.

Another suggestion to their plan would be installing sensors along expressways that gather real-time data on bottlenecks, so motorists know ahead of time which stretches to avoid.

This all seem like legitimate ideas, but do we know if they will really work? Also, how would the state pay for all of this? Once possible solution is an additional gas tax.

I am a little dubious of all of the above ideas. I am not an engineer or a traffic expert, but none of the plans take the actual number of total commuters of the road. The additional bus lane is a start, but I really cannot think of many people that would take a bus out of or into the city due time on the commute. I would like to see further study into high speed trains and/or additional train lines. If Metra and the state can offer faster trains and/or more trains in and out of the city, I believe we would have more commuters deciding to stay out of their vehicles. Of course I don’t know the cost and whether this is even feasible, but if we want less vehicles on the road, it seems to me the most viable option would be a faster train system.

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 J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Chicago Bicyclist Fatalities Down So Far In 2017

There have been three (3) bicyclist fatalities through the first eight months of 2017. There were five (5) fatalities during the same time period in 2016. The accidents all occurred on the West side or near West side of the city. This data was provided by the mayor’s pedestrian advisory committee.

In a small way, I think this is good news. As I have written recently traffic fatalities in Illinois and Chicago specifically have increased over the last two years, including the first part of 2017. Hopefully this trend regarding bicycle deaths in Chicago, is something we will see statewide and regarding a traffic fatalities.

As I have written in the past, Chicago has implemented Vision Zero, which is a traffic safety initiative with a goal of zero traffic fatalities in the city by the year 2026. Much of Vision Zero’s safety initiative will focus on West side neighborhoods such as  Near West Side, West Garfield Park, East Garfield Park, Austin and North Lawndale. I hope this will include additional bicycle only dedicated lanes and other engineering improvements that will make that part of the city safer for bicyclists.

I will be very interested to see the plans for Vision Zero unfold and eventually introduced by the Mayor’s office and city hall. Let’s hope the first part of 2017 for bicyclists is a trend that will continue to improve.

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