City of Chicago Agrees To $38 Million Settlement In Red Light Camera Lawsuit

The Chicago Tribune reported this week that the City of Chicago has come to a preliminary agreement with a class of plaintiffs who sued to city for unfair practices with the red light cameras. The proposed settlement is for $38.75 million, but still needs final approval from city counsel.

The class action lawsuit, which was filed in March 2015 and received class certification last year, alleged that the city violated its own rules by failing to send a second notice of a violation before guilt was determined, and by doubling the fine for late payment of tickets sooner than allowed. Following the filing of this lawsuit, city administration responded by changing the city ordinance to eliminate the requirement for a second notice. In September 2016, the city passed an ordinance to give those who hadn’t gotten second notices from 2010 to 2015 a do-over, sending notices giving people the right to request an administrative hearing to contest their tickets. Emanuel’s lawyers argued that brought them into compliance.

As part of this settlement, approximately 1.2 million people will be receiving 50% back on previously paid tickets.   Those who qualify will receive letters in the mail in upcoming months notifying them they were part of the suit and telling them how to collect their refunds.  Under the settlement, people who got tickets from 2010 to 2015 will be paid out of a $26.75 million pot. The city also will forgive another $12 million in motorists’ unpaid tickets.

I think this a positive development. I think it shows the city is being held accountable for their actions. I have long written on this site that the red light cameras were a money grab for the city. Looking at these lawsuits, settlements, indictments and convictions for the red light camera company Redflex, all I can do is sort of chuckle. It is sad for the city. What is even more sad is that the cameras didn’t make the city safer. Study after study showed that the net benefit of the cameras was a push at best. It makes me think I was right all along. These never should have been installed.

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

Bicycle Dooring Accidents In Chicago Up 50%

A report from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) stated that there were 300 dooring accidents (when a bicycle crashes into an open car door) in 2015. This was a 50% increase from 2014. There were 203 in 2014 and 270 in 2013 but down from the 334 reported in 2012 and 336 in 2011. IDOT first started collecting this data in 2011. The data also showed that there was a 3% total increase bicycle accidents from 2014 to 2015.

The question remains why there was such a sharp increase in dooring accidents in 2015. The safety advocate group, Active Transportation Alliance, told media outlets that it is unclear whether the increase is merely due to stepped up enforcement and more vigilant reporting by those involved. Regardless, the group also believes that 300 plus dooring accidents per year is unacceptably high.

It must be pointed out that drivers who negligently open their door in front of a bicyclist is punishable under local Chicago ordinance § 9-80-035, which carries a fine of $300.00.

So what can drivers and bicyclists do to avoid these accidents and what can the city do to lower this trend? First, I think the city should at least consider increasing the fine for the offense as a preventative measure. Second, drivers, when parked on busy city streets need take the extra precaution of looking at their side mirrors before opening their doors. Chicago drivers need to accept the fact that Chicago is one of the busiest and most prolific cities for bicyclists in the world and should learn to share the roads, even when parked. And finally, bicyclists must understand how dangerous it is to bike around a crowded city like Chicago and must constantly remain vigilant about their surroundings.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a Chicago bike accident or Chicago traffic accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. 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

Trucker Safety Laws Called Into Question Following Tracy Morgan Truck Accident

Over the weekend a fatal truck accident in New Jersey claimed the life of one person and critically injured
three others, including famous comedian, Tracy Morgan. Court papers filed in
charges made against the truck driver who allegedly caused the traffic accident,
claim that he had been awake for 24 hours prior to the accident.

Interestingly, a few days prior to
this accident, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed an amendment  that would suspend a requirement that truck drivers rest for at least 34 consecutive hours — including
two nights from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. — before beginning their next work
week. The so-called “restart” regulation was among a number of
changes that took effect last summer
 with the aim
of reducing driver fatigue. The new rules also limit the maximum average
work week for truck drivers to 70 hours, a decrease from the previous maximum
of 82 hours, and require drivers to take a 30-minute break during the first eight
hours of a shift.

The measure was pushed by Sen. Susan
Collins (R-Maine). The amendment it still needs to be adopted by the full
Senate and reconciled with appropriations legislation drawn up in the House.

This new bill is laughable and I see
very little chance of it passing the full Senate. Especially now that truck
driver fatigue is being pushed to the forefront after this tragic
accident. 

So what can be done to prevent
situations like this where the driver feels squeezed to meet his or her
deadline? The transportation companies – – and in this case Wal-Mart – – need
to heed the responsibility. Trucking companies are already responsible for the
negligent actions of their drivers. In this case, both the Wal-Mart and their
driver will be sued in civil court for the death of one passenger and the
injuries, bills and lost wages of the 3 others that were injured.  Is this
enough to prevent companies from putting their drivers in a time crunch where
they are missing breaks and/or sleep? Instead of rolling back the measures (as
discussed above) that were implemented last year, I think the Senate should
consider penalizing companies who ignore the federally regulated timelines.
Lives could be at stake.

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

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.  

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. 

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. 

Mayor Emanuel To ‘Attack’ Chicago’s Pothole Conundrum

Those of us who live in
Chicago (or any cold weather city) know that there are multiple problems that
come with snow, ice and sub zero temperatures. It’s not just driving through
treacherous roads or walking down icy sidewalks. It’s also the resulting
pothole epidemic that invades the streets of Chicago. Anyone that has driven
through the city the past few months knows that our streets are filled with
potholes – – everywhere. This can be dangerous. It can cause major damage to
vehicles and more importantly lead to a car crash or truck accident. The city’s
residents have responded: Chicago’s 311
call center had received 47,227 complaints about potholes, more than triple the
15,641 calls the city received for the same period in 2011-12 and far more than
the 17,468 complaints it got during the same time frame last winter.

The Chicago
Tribune 
reported this week about what Mayor Emanuel is doing to combat
this issue. The mayor’s office has sent out 10
pothole-related announcements since Jan. 10 to highlight everything from more
street crews working extended hours to fill potholes to a Web page featuring a
map showing where streets have been patched. Emanuel said at a recent press
conference that the city would deploy “strike teams” to strategically fan
out and fill potholes on the major thoroughfares. The city isn’t adding more
crews, but it will have them focus on the busiest roads on Mondays and Fridays
instead of just responding to keep up with complaints on the 311 line.
According to the city, of the 47,227 pothole complaints the city has received
since Dec. 1, more than 28,878 are listed as resolved while an additional
18,349 have not been addressed, according to city figures.

What is
the mayor to do? Is it realistic to think there is more money to pour into this
situation? Or should this unusually cold and snowy winter be considered an
aberration. Regardless, driving through Chicago this winter is like driving
through a war zone, which includes a lot of dodging and weaving. This is not
safe for anyone. Hopefully the city can move quicker to help resolve this
problem.

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

Will Smart Highways Help Prevent Auto Accidents In Illinois?

The Chicago
Tribune
 reported last month about an interesting investment being made
by the state of Illinois. Government officials are hoping a $45 million dollar
investment into highway technology will help decrease traffic congestion and
hopefully car accidents

Traffic
engineers are focusing initially on the Edens Expressway and the northern
stretch of U.S. Highway 41 and will begin incorporating a mix of existing and
new technology during the next two years, an undertaking that could spread to
the entire Chicago-area expressway system.

“We are trying to
fix a lot of problems with very cost-efficient solutions that can be introduced
relatively soon,” IDOT Secretary Ann Schneider said.

Those technologies include
travel-time estimates using motorists’ Bluetooth devices, bus-on-shoulder
service during rush hour, and traffic cameras along every interchange.

A major part of the
project will be a series of radar devices designed to detect wrong-way drivers
and warn other motorists about them. The problem causes more than 300
fatalities a year nationwide, according to the National Transportation Safety
Board.

The system, similar to
one already being tested in Peoria, will alert the wrong-way driver by
triggering flashing red lights, telling the driver not to enter the highway,
according to the Illinois Department of Transportation. It will also broadcast
warnings on electronic signs to warn oncoming drivers to stay in the far-right
lane to help prevent collisions, IDOT officials said.

Wrong-way drivers, the
vast majority of whom are intoxicated or older drivers, tend to steer to the
far right, which in the wrong direction of travel is the left lane for
right-way drivers, officials said.

In addition to alerting
drivers, the system could feed information to IDOT and the Illinois State
Police, said Steve Travia, IDOT’s bureau chief of Chicago-area traffic
operations.

The various projects are
in the preliminary engineering stage and construction will be done in phases, likely
starting in two years, Travia said. Schneider said she is hoping to accelerate
the schedule. Projects would be extended over time to other expressways in the
area.

I love investments like
these made by our government.  I will be interested to see what the results of these studies are and
whether more money will be invested. I would also like to see investments in studies that would provide information on how to deal with traffic congestion throughout Chicago. As we know traffic jams often arise due to car crashes and vice versa. 

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 legalconsultation at 312-588-3384. 

Bicycle Lane Proposed For Portion Of Route 31 In Geneva, IL

If a Geneva alderman has
his way, a portion of Route 31 in his town will be reconfigured within the next
few years and will include bicycle lanes in both directions. 
Route 31 in Geneva could be reduced from four
lanes to two, with bicycle lanes added to the sides, under a proposal that
aldermen recently voted to advance.

As the Chicago
Tribune 
reconfiguration of the road, if approved, would happen with
the next five years. Any costs associated with the reconfiguration would likely
come from the city.  The width of the road in question —
Route 31 from Fabyan Parkway to the Kane County Government Center — ranges
from 38 feet to 40 feet, officials said. The road diet would create two lanes
with bike lanes on each side, a middle turn lane, landscaped medians and a
pedestrian/bike trail crossing at a specific spot. Trying to cross from the
west side of the road to the east side on a bicycle or as a pedestrian is a
“risky venture” currently, said Phil Bus, Phil Bus, the former
development director for Kane County.

Though the terrain and
traffic levels are different, this is a similar approach taken in Chicago as
there have been multiple designated bicycle lanes created throughout the city
including Dearborn Street right through the heart of the downtown loop. The
main difference here is the roads did not have to be widened. Hopefully, if
approved, this will create a safer path for bicyclists and pedestrians in
Geneva.

If you or someone you
know has been injured in a Chicago bicycle accident or Chicago pedestrian accident, then call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-588-3384.