Fiat Chrysler Issues Minivan Recall

Multiple news outlets reported this week that Fiat Chrysler has issued a recall of 208,000 Pacifica minivans due to a power-assisted steering and engine stall issues. The company stated that a wiring harness can become contaminated with sealer, causing an electrical short-circuit, which can increase the risk of a car crash. The company also stated that if the engines stall they can be restarted immediately, and the vehicles can still be steered without power steering, but it takes more effort.

Luckily, to date, no traffic accidents or traffic fatalities have been reported. If you own one of these vehicle, please take your vehicle in to your dealer to have it serviced and the parts replaced immediately.

In cases like this, where an auto accident occurs due to a malfunction from the from the vehicle’s equipment and it can proved that the malfunction caused the accident to occur, then the manufacturer can ultimately be liable for any damages. These are typically considered “auto defect” cases, where the injured party files suit against the automaker and at times the manufacturer and distributor of the actual piece of equipment that is deemed defective. If you have been injured by what appears to be an auto defect, then you should consult an attorney immediately.

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured due to a Chicago auto defect or a Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

New Study Shows Ride Share Companies Have Increased Traffic Congestion

A new study published this week by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority and the University of Kentucky, found that ride-share cars were responsible for more than half of the increase of traffic congestion in the city of San Francisco . The study, which was published in
journal “Science Advances,” concluded that commuters spent 62 percent more time in traffic in 2016 than they did in 2010, which was the year ride sharing companies like Uber and Lyft became available in San Francisco.

The researchers tracked ride-share pickups and drop-offs in San Francisco during a six-week period in 2016. They found that most occurred in parts of the city that already were highly congested and at times when traffic was at its worst, concluding that rather than taking cars off the road, ride-share apps were increasing traffic congestion in downtown San Francisco.

After finding that traffic levels in San Francisco had increased sharply from 2010 to 2016, researchers used a computer simulation to show how traffic would have changed over the same six-year period in the absence of ride-sharing and found that traffic rose only 22 percent in the “counterfactual” model.

These results lead us to conclude that transportation network companies are the biggest factor driving the rapid growth of congestion and deterioration of travel time reliability in San Francisco,” the researchers wrote. “These findings are of interest to transportation planners, to policy makers and to the general public in San Francisco and other large cities.”

The question remains, what do major cities like Chicago do with this data? Can Chicago transportation officials conclude that the continued traffic congestion in our city is being caused by the influx in ride share users? I think it is pretty clear cities like Chicago need to continue to invest in public transportation. They have done so in the past few years, but improvements are still needed. I think city officials need to consider additional train lines that could cover more parts of the West and Northwest sides of the city. Further, city officials along with CTA, need to focus on making public transportation as smooth, safe and enjoyable for rider as possible. They should attempt to make the rider want to use a bus or train (i.e. making the stations safe as possible along with shorter commute times).

Also, the city needs to continue, as it has done, to invest in bicycle lanes and bike sharing. This was a major focus of Rahm Emanuel’s administration. Let’s hope that incomiming mayor Lori Lightfoot continues to invest in these initiatives.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a Chicago traffic accident or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Chicago Officials Break Ground On New CTA Bus Only Lane

NBC News Chicago reported last week that Chicago’s Active Transportation Alliance, in a groundbreaking ceremony, unveiled five ((5) new bus only traffic lanes. These are in addition to the bus only lanes that currently run in the downtown loop on Madison and Washington Streets.

Construction on the new lanes took place on North May, Chicago, LaSalle and Western Avenues. According to the Transportation Alliance, the new lanes will increase ridership, shorten bus commutes and hopefully decrease traffic congestion. “For Chicago to be a more vibrant, sustainable, and equitable city, we need to move people more efficiently. Bus lanes are a good way to do that,” Ron Burke, the Executive Director of the Active Transportation Alliance, said.

The Active Transportation Alliance says that incoming Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot supports expanding the program, and their goal is to add 50 miles of designated bus lanes over the next four years.

These new loop link lanes downtown look nice, but I think it’s unclear as to whether they have actually shortened commute times or helped with traffic. Part of the problem is that normal vehicles and bicyclists can often be seen using those lanes as well, which in turn can back up traffic. City officials have said they are going to start issuing tickets to drivers who drive in these bus only lanes. There was no mention by city officials as to what they expect the effect these new lanes will have on traffic safety or decreasing traffic accidents.

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

Illinois Tollways Is Partnering With Waze App

The Chicago Tribune reported last month that the Illinois Tollway will be partnering with the popular maps and traffic app Waze to create faster traffic alerts. Since February of this year the Illinois Tollway and Waze have been sharing its’ traffic data with each other. Waze has been sending info regarding traffic incidents such as debris on the road, stalls and potholes. The Illinois Tollway, for its’ part, has been sharing with Waze any incidents related to lane blockages, including crashes, stalls and the locations of Tollway help trucks.

All of this information from the Waze partnership is made available directly to the phones of Waze users. The moment one of the Tollway’s help trucks turns on its lights, a signal is sent directly to Waze notifying users of a stopped vehicle at that location. According to this report the costs of the partnership have been small, and involved tweaks to the Tollway’s web servers and other equipment.

This is an excellent example of the progress that can made from a partnership between the public and private sectors. The goal for both entities is to provide a safe and hopefully quicker commute for drivers. I will be interested in seeing any data as time progressives as to whether this partnership has helped decrease traffic accidents and traffic congestion.

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

Chicago’s Lakefront Trail Renovations Finally Complete

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanual is leaving office at the end of the month after two (2) terms in office. He has his critics and others that praise the work he has done for the city. I think he has done incredible work over the last eight (8) years drawing businesses to downtown, renovation projects and beautifying the city. For example, he promised two (2) years ago that he would expand the lake front trail, which would include separate lanes for bicyclists and pedestrians. He fulfilled that promise, and as a result we have a safer and more beautiful lakefront park to enjoy. This not only includes better paths for bikers and runner, but also an expansion of green space for visitors to enjoy.

Below is a breakdown of what the lakefront trail renovations entails and how it improved safety for everyone:

  1. More space between cyclists and pedestrians: this is especially important for safety purposes as you have two types of travelers cruising and vastly different speeds.
  2. Limited encounters between pedestrians and vehicles
  3. Less Signage: most of the rules and regulations (including separate directions arrows for bicyclists and pedestrians) are now painted onto the sidewalk. This makes for a more aesthetically pleasing trail.
  4. Updated mile markers: those in it for the exercise can track how far they are running or biking.

This is an incredible accomplishment by the mayor and his office. I believe we will see fewer accidents on the trail, and more importantly more people will be able to enjoy the beautiful lakefront.

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

Chicago Department of Transportation Launched New Traffic App: ChiStreetWorks

Those who live in Chicago know how bad traffic is in this city. It can be incredibly stressful, especially during summer months as there seem to be an abnormally high number of people on the road. The cities’ Department of Transportation (“CDOT”) has launched a new web based application call ChiStreetWorks with the purpose of helping drivers plan their trips in order to avoid major traffic jams.

The new App allows you to see past, current and future projects, as well as view permits for water, sewer, gas or electrical projects impacting City streets. The website went live to the public on Tuesday.

The map also provides users with features such as bus routes and stops, parking impacts, bike lanes, viaduct heights, speed and red light camera locations, and current traffic conditions. It also allows you to view where special events are taking place. 

Users can browse specific areas of the city by searching by neighborhood, ward, ZIP code, street intersection, or address and then select which categories of data they want to see: construction projects, utility-related permits, resurfacing memorandums, events impacting traffic, street closures, and detours. There’s also a tool to filter results by time to show activity from the past month or up to one year in the future.

This is a great initiative by the city, which provides much more detail than a typical Google or Apple Maps. We will see if it helps free up traffic and hopefully decrease the number of traffic accidents in the area.

If you or a loved on have been seriously injured in a Chicago car accident or Chicago truck accident, then please call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Truck Drivers Hold “Slow Roll” Protest Trough Chicago Area

If you were driving on or near Chicago’s expressways earlier this month, you may have seen dozens of semi-trucks all driving slowly in one lane. According to media reports, this was an organized “slow roll” protest by truck drivers in an effort to improve their driving conditions.

The protest was to gain attention and push for more flexible working hours, relaxed rules on electronic logging devices, more training for new semitrailer drivers and more truck parking and amenities along expressways. Another sticking point is better training programs they say are lacking, creating dangerous conditions for everyone out on the road. 

The truck drivers left south suburban Monee at 10 a.m. and got on I-57 and drove north to downtown Chicago and then to O’Hare before heading back south on the Tri-State Tollway. The drivers were going single file in the right lane at the minimum posted speed.

Illinois State Police had warned the group called, ‘Black Smoke Matters” that slow-moving trucks could cause traffic back-ups or crashes. Police said truckers who participate could be held liable for any accidents. Illinois State Police monitored the traffic backups to keep traffic moving and drivers safe and said no car crashes or other issues occurred.  No traffic accidents were reported as a result of this protest.

I understand and support the ideas behind this protest to a point. I think trucking companies do need to provide better training for newer drivers and better continuing education and training for long time drivers. Their complaint regarding the electronic logging of their hours, on the other hand, is absolutely necessary. A major cause of truck accidents can be traced back to a drivers logging too many consecutive hours without sleep. The burden of logging hours and taking breaks and/or days off is a requirement that must be followed. I will be following this closely to see if the federal government becomes involved or if states like Illinois enact statutes that require companies provide better training for their new drivers.

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

Kane County, IL To Hold Distracted Driving Awareness Campaign

According to the Kane County Chronicle, on April 26 the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, AAA Chicago Motor Club, the Kane County Sheriff’s Office, the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office and many other agencies will participate in the Kane County High Visibility Enforcement (HiVE) Campaign to help reduce crashes caused by distracted driving.

This campaign will coincide with Illinois Distracted Driving Awareness Week. Part of the campaign will include the posting of police officers in high collision areas during peak travel times in an attempt to improve safety.

“The aim of the HiVE campaign is to deter drivers through increased visibility and proactive law enforcement from participating in unsafe roadway activities, including distracted driving, and to improve overall driving behavior,” North Aurora Police Chief David Fisher said.

Campaigns like this have become increasingly important to law enforcement as three (3) Illinois State Troopers have been struck by vehicles and killed in 2019.

I will be following up and writing more about Illinois’ Distracted Driving Awareness week later in the month. Remember, as always, put your phone down while driving.

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

Houston Astros Fan Sues Team For Injury Caused By T-Shirt Gun

During the summer of 2018 a woman was attending a Houston Astros baseball game. Between one of the innings, the Astros’ mascot was launching free t-shirts into the crowd. One of those t-shirts struck this women in the hand, and apparently caused a serious injury. Since that time the woman alleges she has had multiple surgeries, missed time from work and has suffered serious pain and suffering. As a result, a lawsuit has been filed on behalf of the woman against the Houston Astros alleging negligence by the team and their mascot.

There have been similar lawsuits filed against in Major League Baseball in the past. I wrote about the case in Kansas City where a fan was hit in the face by a hot dog launched by a similar style gun. That man suffered a detached retina in one of his eyes, and unfortunately he lost his case before a jury. Major League franchises, including teams in the baseball, have in the past been protected with immunity for injuries that come as a result of foul balls and broken bats. All teams put a disclaimer on their tickets stating fans are assuming the risk of these potential accidents and injuries while attending games. This is often called the “baseball rule.” That legal theory, in place for about a century, presumes an inherent risk among those attending a baseball game, and assigns fans responsibility for paying attention and being prepared for the occasional ball or bat coming their way. But should that apply to antics put on by the team in between innings like launching t-shirts into the crowd?

I have not seen the complaint filed in the Astros case, but I am curious if they have filed a product liability claim against the manufacturer of the t-shirt launcher. They could allege that the gun is inherently dangerous and/or defective due to the speed in which the t-shirts are launched. Also, I would imagine that the attorneys for the Astros will file multiple affirmative defenses including comparative negligence. These types of defenses attempt to shift the blame on the Plaintiff, and will depend on the facts of the accident that will come out during depositions. Specifically, that type of defense would hinge on how active this women was in attempting to catch the t-shirt. Did she stick her arms out and partake in attempting to catch the t-shirt? Or, was the just an innocent bystander? Also, the Astros defense team will more likely than not file a motion to dismiss based on the assumption of risk disclaimer discussed above.

I think this woman faces an uphill challenge of getting her case actually before a jury (due to expected motions to dismiss), and ultimately winning at trial. I wish her and her team luck as she appears to have suffered real permanent damage to her hand, and I believe the courts have gone way too far out of their way to protect teams when injuries like this occur. Especially, when the injuries are caused by acts by the mascots rather than foul balls or broken bats.

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

Chicago Transportation Committee Approves Exclusive Lyft-Divvy Partnership

The Chicago Sun Times reported yesterday that the Chicago city council’s, transportation committee approved an exclusive partnership between ride share company, Lyft, and bicycle share company Divvy. If approved by the city council, Lyft would be the exclusive owner and operator of all Divvy bikes throughout the city. Despite backlash from incoming mayor, Lori Lightfoot, and a number of aldermen, the deal is being touted by transportation head Rebekah Scheinfeld. Scheinfeld told the press that this agreement would be a huge boon for the city for the following reasons:

1.The city would get $77 million over nine years earmarked exclusively for transportation projects.

2. Lyft would keep all bike-sharing revenues up to $20 million annually, with the city sharing 5% of everything over that.

3. Chicago taxpayers would also receive $1.5 million a year in minimum guaranteed revenue from advertising and promotions.

4. Lyft would be free to raise bike-sharing rates, but only up to 10% per year. Anything above that must be approved by the Chicago Department of Transportation.

5. Assumption of any liability would be Lyft’s responsibility

This last point, “assumption of liability,” is something I am very interested in. If I am reading this correctly, if there any accidents caused by Divvy riders or if the the equipment on a Divvy bike fails, causing a personal injury or traffic accident, then Lyft would be liable. I assume there will be an insurance policy available on a all of these bikes in case of accident (caused by the bicyclist) or failed equipment. If this is true, and this is the agreement between Lyft and the city, then this would shift all of the potential liability costs away from the city and onto Lyft. This would be a big win for Chicago, and also to any potential injury victims.

Uber and Jump, two other ride share companies, have panned the deal as they were not included in any of the planned agreements. Though the introduction of electric scooters is still available.

We will be watching this closely once agreement plan is taken to a vote with the city council as a whole.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a Chicago bicycle accident, or a Chicago traffic accident, then call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation.