Insurance Institute For Highway Safety Says SUVs Are Safer Than Ever

USA Today published an interesting article last week about the safety developments of SUVs.  The improvement in SUV safety is largely due to the installation of electronic stability control, says the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Stability control, which uses brakes and engine power to keep vehicles on the road, was introduced more quickly on SUVs.  The death rate for SUV drivers dropped 66% from 82 per million vehicles for 1999-2002 models to 28 per million for 2005-2008 models.

Unfortunately compact vehicles are not nearly as safe when involved in a car crash. The death rate for drivers of small, four-door cars was 72 per million vehicles for 2005-2008 models, down 35% from 110 per million in 1999-2002 models.”The rollover risk in SUVs used to outweigh their size/weight advantage, but that’s no longer the case,” says Anne McCartt, the institute’s senior vice president for research.”It’s a dramatic change and a testament to the incredible effectiveness of electronic stability control,” she says.

The question that remains is what can car makers do to improve safety of smaller vehicles.  This data creates somewhat of a dilemma because federal regulators continue to require auto makers to develop smaller, more energy efficient vehicles that are more eco-friendly. Is there a way to develop and manufacture safer vehicles that are also energy efficient. This is the challenge that both lawmakers and auto makers will face in the coming months and years.

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 consultation at 312-588-3384 or go to the firm website at

Chicago Launches ‘Pedestrian Plan’ To Make City Streets Safer

The Chicago Tribune reported today about a new initiated launched by the city of Chicago to help promote safety for pedestrians.  The plan is to reduce car crash-related pedestrian injuries by 50 percent. Almost all vehicle crashes involving pedestrians result in injuries.  “We have to set a goal of zero pedestrian fatalities and then find meaningful steps to get there,” said deputy transportation commissioner Luann Hamilton.

The “Chicago Pedestrian Plan” begins this week with the first of eight public meetings this summer to collect input on improving safety for pedestrians across the city. Recommendations and an action plan outlining the top priorities will follow in a draft report scheduled for release by year’s end, said Kiersten Grove, pedestrian safety coordinator at the Chicago Department of Transportation.  Possibilities include pedestrian countdown timers at crosswalks that are becoming more prevalent citywide; curb bump-outs that improve safety by shortening the distance of crosswalks; and median islands that provide a safe place for pedestrians who find themselves in the middle of a crossing when traffic signals change.

City officials, meanwhile, said they are studying whether additional laws are needed to force better compliance with traffic laws affecting pedestrians. They said it is too early to determine the effectiveness of a new state law the General Assembly passed last year requiring drivers to stop — rather than yield — to pedestrians in crosswalks.

This is a necessary plan undertaken by city officials. A city like Chicago where there a so many walkers in just about every neighborhood in the city, needs leadership by its’ officials to help make streets and crosswalks safer for pedestrians. We will be watching closely to learn the results of the meetings taking place this summer.

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

Mayor Emanuel Announces Chicago’s First Protected Bike Lane

I have written in the past about former Mayor Daley’s steps to make Chicago a more bike-friendly city.  It appears that Mayor Emanuel is picking up where Daley left off as he announced that a stretch of Kinzie Avenue in River North will contain the first protected bike lane.  The Chicago Sun-Times reported that the lane designated lane is located closest to the curb, flanked by a roughly four foot-wide “buffer lane” and a row of parking. This results in 12 feet between bicyclists and the flow of vehicular traffic.

“I am proud that we are gonna have the first protected bike lane in Chicago with many more miles to come. I’m glad that Chicago will go from basically being in the middle of the pack as it relates to bike lanes to leading the pack. Planners [from around the country] will come to our city and see what the future holds: an integrated approach to transportation where biking is an essential ingredient.”

City leaders view this expansion as not only a promotion for bicyclists but also a way make city streets safer for everyone.  Newly appointed Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein said the “holistic approach” to transportation that he favors is about “much more” than just protected bike lanes. “It’s about balancing our right-of-way for the safety of all users,” he said. “When we add bike lanes like this, we make it safer for pedestrians. We actually make it safer for motorists, and we slow motorists down.”

I will be following closely to see when and where the city will designate additional ‘bike-only’ lanes. It will be interesting to see if this leads to less bicycle – motor vehicle accidents, including dooring accidents.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a Chicago bicycle accident or a Chicago vehicle accident, then contact Chicago car accident attorney, Aaron Bryant, for a free consultation at 312-588-3384 or go to the firm website at

A Recap Of Changes To The Illinois Workers Compensation Act

Illinois Workers Compensation reform was a major issue during this year’s Spring legislative session. As of the Sunday before the final day, the bill appeared to have failed, resulting in no changes. But alas, Illinois House legislators worked hard to pass the bill and move forward to Governor Quinn for his signature.  The Chicago Sun times provided an excellent description of how the bill was passed, which can be read here

As an Illinois Workers Compensation attorney that represents Petitioner employees, I first have to ask whether the changes stripped away any rights and protections for Illinois workers.  The short answer is yes. Below are the major changes and how they will affect Illinois workers. My thoughts are in italics.

Section 8(d)(1)
The changes to  this section of the Act involve wage differential claims.  The previous law stated that when an employee returns to work with a lower average weekly wage than the wage held prior to being injured,  the worker would be entitled to receive 2/3 of the difference between the two wages every week for the rest of his or her life. The new law states that wage differential claims that occur after September 1, 2011 shall be effective only until the employee reaches the age of 67 or five years from the date the award becomes final, whichever is later.

The new law definitely strips the award potential for Illinois workers, but, in my opinion, this is a not a major blow the rights of Illinois workers. The law still allows for the same award, but it is limited basically to a worker’s retirement age. I would have preferred not to see this change, but it is not a drastic change.

Section 8(e)(9) 

The new law makes specific changes to hand injuries involving carpal tunnel syndrome due to repetitive or cumulative trauma. The new law states that the value of the hand be returned to their pre-2005 scheduled amount of 190 weeks, and places a disability limit of 15% loss of use of the hand in such cases, unless clear and convincing evidence can show an award should exceed this amount. In such cases the award should not exceed 30% loss of use of the hand.

Apparently lawmaker and the insurance company lobbyists believed there was excessive fraud when it came to carpal tunnel syndrome cases. I could not disagree with this change more, but, it must be remembered, that the new law does not eliminate carpal tunnel or repetitive trauma claims, it merely limits them to 15% of the hand and decreases the number of weeks a hand is worth down to 190. The interesting question here is what will qualify as clear and convincing evidence when determining whether and injured hand is worth more than 15%. I would imagine that there is clear and convincing evidence when more than one surgery is performed on the hand and the medical testimony clearly connects all treatment to the work injury. If this is the case, I have to believe that the arbitrators will find that the injury is worth more than 15%. This is one area of the new law to keep a close eye on.

Section 8.2

The new law contains medical fee schedule modifications. The new law states  that if a fee schedule amount is in place, effective September 1, 2011, the charge shall be no more than 70% of the fee scheduled amount. If a fee schedule amount cannot be determined, the default reimbursement shall remain at 76% until September 1, 2011 at which time a 53.2% reimbursement rate shall apply.

Above is just a very brief synopsis, but this is probably the biggest amount of reform in the Act. It basically means that the treating doctors will receive less money pursuant to the new fee schedules.  On its’ face, this change does not directly affect Illinois workers or take away any of their rights. Although, one could argue that, due to the lower fee schedules, fewer doctors will be taking workers compensation patients because they do not want to take lower fees. This could possibly lead to a smaller pool of doctors to choose from an ultimately impact the type and/or quality of treatment  workers receive . It is too early to tell at this point whether this will affect quality of treatment but it is something to follow.

There were many other changes to the Act, but these are the main ones I wanted to point out and discuss. I am not pleased with any changes that strip away workers compensation rights for my clients, but, all in all, it could have been worse, and sometimes you have to compromise with the other side of the aisle.

If you or someone you love has been involved in an Illinois work accident or needs help on their Illinois workers compensation claim, then call Chicago workers comp attorney, Aaron Bryant, for a free consultation at 312-588-3384.