DePaul University Study Looks At Bicyclists Safety At Stop Lights

The Chicago Tribune published an interesting story today regarding a DePaul University study that looked at the safety benefits of bicyclists stopping at all traffic lights.  DePaul’s Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development found that just 1 cyclist in 25 comes to a complete stop at stop signs, and 2 out of 3 go through red lights when there’s no cross traffic.

It must be pointed out the bicyclists in Illinois are required to obey the same rules of the road the vehicles follow and can be ticketed for the same violation. The question is whether it is safe for bicyclists to follow these same rules 100% of the time.

The study proposes that Illinois cities consider changing their laws and allowing cyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs, and some red lights as stop signs, thus permitting cyclists to maintain their momentum. It’s known as the “Idaho stop” for a 1982 law in that state. The Idaho stop recognizes that sometimes it is safer for a cyclist to get out in front of traffic so he or she can be seen, rather than waiting obediently at the light and risk getting smacked by right-turning traffic when the light goes green. The DePaul study does not advocate the Idaho stop at all signaled intersections, and it suggests choosing those with lower traffic volumes or limiting it to late at night when traffic is light.

The Idaho Stop makes sense, especially in a heavily congested city like Chicago that has thousands of bicyclists commuting everyday. If every bicyclist came to a complete stop at every stop sign and every stop light, then I think we would see more traffic accidents. I think it would be more difficult for motorists to stop on time and we would see more vehicle and bicycle collisions.

If will be interesting to see whether the Illinois legislature takes a look at this study and decides to amend the current law.

If you or someone you love 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.

 

Illinois Senate Democrats Vote Down Rauner’s Worker’s Compensation Bill

Illinois Governor Rauner attempted to pass a new bill last week that would gut Illinois Workers Compensation Act. The Chicago Tribune reported that the Senate Democrats repeated the effort by their counterparts in the House as they blocked the bill at a Committee hearing.

At the Committee hearing opponents of the bill said the changes, which would toughen standards for an employee to prove an injury happened on the job and cut reimbursement rates for doctors who treat workers, could have “unintended consequences” in which doctors refuse to provide care. Instead, they said more time was needed to gauge savings from a 2011 rewrite of the workers’ compensation system. Democrats contended that Rauner is more concerned with the bottom line than ensuring workers are made whole.

“There seems to be a common corporate view of government here,” said Sen. Don Harmon, D-Oak Park. “You guys seem to always be worried about the next quarterly report … it’s a recurring theme.”

I applaud the Senate Democrats for standing strong against Rauner’s attempt to gut our Workers’ Compensation system in Illinois. What Rauner and his aids refuse to admit is that his changes would immediately affect hard working Illinoisans by limiting the availability to doctors (should they be hurt on the job) and also make it harder to recover benefits at all. He is clearly looking out for the bottom line for insurance companies and corporations.

If you or someone you love has suffered from an Illinois Workers’ Compensation accident or has a Chicago work comp case, then call Chicago Workers’ Compensation 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.

 

 

Illinois State Lawmaker Proposes Statewide Ban On Red Light Cameras

I wrote a few weeks back about Chicago mayoral candidate, Bob Fioretti’s proposed ban on red light cameras in Chicago. As an alderman, he planned on submitting an ordinance that would outlaw red light cameras in Chicago. This sentiment has gained traction state-wide, as the Chicago Tribune reports that Representative David McSweeney, a Barrington Hills Republican, filed legislation to outlaw traffic enforcement cameras statewide.

McSweeney submitted this bill based on last month’s study published by the Tribune. I wrote about that study, which in essence, concluded that red light cameras provide zero net impact or safety improvements to intersections that hold these cameras. The number of cross-traffic or T-bone collisions have decreased, while the number of rear-end crashes have actually increased. This left the Texas A&M professors, who prepared the study, to conclude that red light cameras were not making the intersections any safer and were merely a money-maker for the city.

The bill would repeal state law that allowed Chicago to grow its red light program into the largest in the nation and also targets the mayor’s new speed camera program that began rolling out last year.

McSweeney said he had not yet discussed the proposed legislation with Madigan or the Democratic leadership in the House.

“At the end of the day, it’s important that we have debate on this issue, that we get a vote on the floor and hopefully ban these cameras,” said McSweeney, who added that Sen. Dan Duffy, R-Lake Barrington, is ready to sponsor the legislation in the Senate. “I am sure I will have a discussion with Speaker Madigan about it very soon.”

It will be interesting to see who acts first, the state legislature or the city alderman. Based on the recent press and scandals these cameras have delivered, I would not be surprised to see either a local or statewide ban of red light cameras by the end of the year.

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

Illinois Governor Signs Amendment To Jury Law

On December 19, 2014, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed an amendment (Public Act 098-1132), that changes the scope of jury law in this state. First, the new law, which takes effect on June 1, 2015, increases juror pay to $25 for the first day and $50 per day for any after that a juror serves. Second, the amendment decreases the size of a jury from 12 to 6.

These new laws have been getting mixed reviews from the media, including an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune, completely denouncing the new law. The editorial basically states that the new law is a ploy by Plaintiff”s attorneys to curry favor with its jury. I take exception to the Tribune’s take on the new law. Serving as a juror is a tough burden the court system puts on its citizens. Jurors sacrifice their time away from their families, their jobs and money to serve. A minimal bump in payment for their time served is not asking too much to reimburse people for their sacrifice to the community.

I think it is unclear right now what all of the effects will be with a 6 person jury will have over a 12 person jury.  One thing is certain, a juries will be picked much more quickly, which will shorten the length of trials. And most likely juries will deliberate for less time because there are fewer voices in the room. All of these appear to be positives.

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.

Illinois Governor Quinn Vetoes Ride Share Bills

The Chicago Sun Times, Early & Often, political website reported yesterday that Governor Quinn had vetoed the controversial ride share bill that would have put restrictions on companies like Uber, Sidecar and Lyft.

The bill would have required rideshare companies to closely track how many hours each of their drivers averaged on their platforms. Those who offered rides more than 36 hours every two weeks would have to comply with safety regulations similar to taxi drivers — namely, obtaining a public chauffeur’s license, getting fingerprinted and submitting to a criminal background check. Additionally, the companies would have to provide commercial liability insurance identical to that which is required for taxis, for all its drivers — regardless of how many hours they spend on the platform. The governor’s veto ensures that Chicago’s less rigid ridesharing regulations championed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel will stand and take effect later this week.

This was a tough decision for Quinn as he was forced to balance both customer demand with thriving technology versus a protection of the old guard – – here being the taxi companies. The taxi companies are not happy at all as they are held to a much higher standard when it comes to background checks, training and fees for licensing. My issue was whether passengers, pedestrians and fellow drivers would be protected by enough insurance. I think the local ordinance passed in May in Chicago addressed this issue among others. As I wrote here, the local ordinance requires ride share companies and its’ drivers carry $1 million in commercial auto liability per incident while the driver has accepted a ride until the completion of the ride, $1million in commercial general liability per occurrence for bodily injury, personal injury and property damage, and auto liability insurance to cover drivers when logged into app until the driver accepts a ride. Basically, this covered the loophole where drivers didn’t have any passengers in their vehicle but are actively searching for fares. The local ordinance also required a basic driver training course and clean driving record (no misdemeanors convictions such as DUI or reckless driving). It is an endless debate and there’s a chance that the veto is overridden as the original bills passed the Illinois House, 80-26 in June, and would require only 71 votes for an override. The Senate passed the measure 46-8, and would require only 36 to override.

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.

New Illinois Bill Changes Uninsured & Underinsured Motorist Coverage Law

If you are not familiar with uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, then above title may not mean much to you. If you have auto insurance, you have the option to purchase uninsured or underinsured coverage, which provides you coverage for bodily injuries should the driver that hit you not have insurance or not have enough insurance coverage, depending on the severity of the injury. If you involved in a car accident with a driver without insurance and are injured, this type of insurance coverage is used to pay your medical bills, lost wages and for any pain and suffering and/or disfigurement. Often times, I have been able to settle these types of cases for my clients without going to an arbitration. If settlement with the insurance carrier is not possible, then we appoint an arbitrator and the insurance company appoints an arbitrator and the two then pick a third, neutral arbitrator. A hearing is then held where the arbitrator issues an award. The hearing (or arbitration) is similar to a trial except there is no jury and the amount of witnesses is limited as evidentiary requirements are waived for certain things like medical bills, medical records and photographs. This is a quicker and less expensive way to adjudicate a case.

This week, Governor Quinn signed House Bill 5575, which raises the limits for the right to reject arbitration awards under underinsured/uninsured motorist insurance policies by 50%. The old limits were $50,000/$100,000 and are now raised to $75,000/$150,000.  Previously, the insurance companies could reject an award for an individual that was over $50,000 if the policy limits were only $50,000. Now the insurance companies would only be able to reject an award if it was over $75,000. You can read the entire bill by clicking here.

This is a victory for those who are seriously injured in car accidents by drivers who do not have insurance or are underinsured. I cannot stress how important it is for drivers to purchase full coverage insurance. You never know if the other driver who causes the car accident has insurance or not. What if you are injured by an uninsured motorist and unable work and support your family?  Purchase full coverage, so you know you and your family will be protected.

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 Rideshare Companies Await Senate, City Votes

I have written quite a
bit the last month about proposed city ordinances and state bills looking to
regulate rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft. Last month the Illinois House
passed a bill that put stricter requirements on rideshare drivers, which are
similar to what cab drivers face. That bill is now going to the Senate.
Meanwhile, an ordinance with fewer restrictions is being discussed by the
Chicago city council. 

The main issue on the
state level is the amount and type of liability insurance rideshare drivers
must carry and the type of driver’s license must be obtained. The state bill
would require driver’s carry $500,000 of coverage from the time the app is
turned on in the driver’s car. 

The state bill would
also require drivers obtain a chauffer’s license, just like all cab drivers.
 The state bill would require this type of license if the driver works
over 18 hours per week looking for fares. The city ordinance would increase the
amount of hours before requiring a chauffer’s license. 

I will be watching this
very closely and will update if and when the bill reaches the Senate for a
vote. I think it’s almost a certain that all sides (taxi companies, rideshare
companies and legislators) are working behind the scenes looking for a
compromise. I believe the rideshare companies should be required to have at
least the type of insurance coverage (minimum $350,000) that taxi companies
use. The question remains whether their drivers should be required to obtain a chauffer’s
license. I would say yes because they are essentially chauffeuring people around
the city for money and customers are putting their life and health into their
hands.

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

Illinois Legislature Look To Update Motorist Laws

The Illinois legislature and Governor Quinn are closely scrutinizing current driving statutes, including, the red light  camera tickets and excessive speeder violations.

The proposed speeding measure would prevent a driver from getting court supervision if found guilty of going 40 mph or more faster than the speed limit. Supervision is a form of probation that allows a person to wipe a violation off of his driving record if he doesn’t get another ticket for a specified number of months.”There is nobody that needs to go 105 miles an hour to go anywhere,” said John D’Amico, D-Chicago. “When you’re driving that fast, you are truly putting other people’s lives at risk, as well as your own.”

The proposed red-light legislation, would ban the city and suburbs from tacking on a fee to the standard $100 fine if a ticket is appealed, a common practice that deters many motorists from fighting the charges.

It also would give drivers more wiggle room to creep up to the edge of an intersection before stopping. A complete stop still would be required before making a right turn on red, but drivers could come to a halt after the painted stop line without getting a ticket as long as pedestrians were not nearby. Drivers awaiting a green light to head straight into an intersection also could stop past the line without being nabbed by a camera.

Both of these measures are awaiting Governor Quinn’s signature, but I have no doubt these will be signed as they were approved on overwhelming fashion.

It is good to see the state legislature take some action on the often scrutinized red light camera tickets. We will see if these measures actually make our roads and highways safer.

If you or someone you know has been involved in a Chicago car accident  or Chicago truck accident , then call Chicago accident attorney  Aaron Bryant for a free consultation  at 312-588-3384 or go to the firm website at www.BLGCHICAGO.com