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In Illinois, wrongful death of a viable unborn child is grounds for considerable civil and criminal legal proceedings.

In 1978, the Illinois Supreme Court case of Green v. Smith established that if an unborn child is viable at the time of the tortious act, the family may be entitled to recover compensation for damages, including the emotional hardship indicative of losing a child, as well as injuries to the mother or other persons as a result of said act.

In Nebraska, a new law protecting fetuses at any stage of development is being used for the first time in a wrongful death lawsuit after a car accident in a western region of the state resulted in the death of a couple, their two children, and unborn son. The case was filed by the parents of the man and woman, and is being noticed around the country. (San Francisco Chronicle)

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As of late, there has been increasing political pressure on car rental companies to ensure that all cars are repaired before renting or selling them. Senator Barbara Boxer has spearheaded the political effort, reports PoliticalFix.com. Senator Boxer is currently promoting her pledge and is bringing forth legislation that would commit rental companies to repairing all cars before utilizing them again. Senator Boxer is asking the public to boycott car rental companies that do not sign the pledge.

The political consequences were caused by a 2004 crash, in which two young women were killed in a car accident while driving an PT Cruiser they rented from Enterprise Rent-a-Car. The PT Cruiser was in need of repair when it was rented to the women. In the wrongful death suit, the family of the two women won $15 million in damages. The mother of the two women has been working with activist groups attempting to raise awareness and pressure car rental companies.

In response to the mounting pressure, the Chairmen and CEO of Enterprise recently sent a letter to Boxer, in which he cited current company policies that require disclosure of needed repairs in all retail sales. Another spokesman for the company issued a statement that the company currently does not rent out any recalled vehicles, or those in need of repair.
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MySuburbanLife.com reports that the Lemont Police Department is joining the Illinois Department of Transportation, as well as, more than 500 law enforcement agencies in supporting the “Click It or Ticket” safety belt campaign throughout the month of May.

In a statement released by the Lemont Police Sergeant, our Chicago car accident attorneys learned that as of January 1, everyone – no matter what age or seating position – is required to wear a safety belt during vehicle operation. The Lemont Police Department will be participating in the campaign from May 11 through May 28.

Harrowing statistics provided by the United States Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveal that 130,854 passenger vehicle occupants were killed from 2006 – 2010 and over half of these occupants were unrestrained.

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Earlier today, a Chicago accident lawyer at Levin & Perconti read a news report posted on Philly.com detailing a piece of legislation that has been signed by the state of New Jersey in an effort to help curb aggressive driving. Under the new law, aggressive drivers who cause motor vehicle accidents resulting in injury will be subject to the same criminal penalties as drivers who cause injury-resulting accidents while driving drunk. If an aggressive driver causes an accident resulting in minor injuries – they may be subject to 18 months in prison, all the while, if the aggressor causes an accident resulting in serious harm – the penalty may carry a five year prison sentence.

Our Chicago car accident attorneys learned that this piece of legislation stems from efforts made a 16-year-old victim of aggressive driving. The young woman was traveling with a group of friends in a passenger vehicle when another motor vehicle cut them off. The driver she was traveling with became angry and attempted to chase down the other vehicle. However, the vehicle ultimately crashed into a telephone pole – resulting in the immediate paralysis of the young woman from the chest down.

As a direct result of the accident, the young woman has had to undergo over two dozen surgeries, all the while; the aggressive driver of the vehicle she was traveling in only received a four month jail sentence. Shortly thereafter, the young woman began consulting state lawmakers on harsher sentences for aggressive drivers. Although it took roughly five years to enact the legislation, the bill was ultimately passed unanimously in both houses of Congress.

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A Chicago car accident lawyer at our firm read an interesting article earlier today posted on DailyHerald.com. According to the report, members of the House of Representatives voted today to officially ban talking on a cellular phone while driving without a hands-free device. With a majority vote of 62-53 – including favorable votes from Illinois House members, the proposed ban will enter the Senate for further debate.

The regulation would ultimately hold that drivers caught talking on a hand-held phone while driving would be fined $75 for the first offense and $150 each for four or more offenses. However, drivers would be legally permitted to talk on a cellular telephone with a hands-free device or speakerphone.

Supporters for this regulation believe that the cell phone ban would decrease the amount of distracted drivers and further prevention dangerous traffic accidents. However, those who criticize the regulation believe the concept as “nanny-state legislation” that outlaws common behavior. Furthermore, critics wonder why lawmakers won’t just outright ban all activities that causes driver distraction and may ultimately lead to accidents.

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The New York Times discussed a study that looked at the correlation between pedestrian injuries and bicycles. Usually our Chicago pedestrian accident attorneys focus on the damage that cars can do to people, however it is also important to realize that a pedestrian can acquire serious injuries from being struck by a bicycle. The study reported that, from 2007 to 2010, approximately 1,000 pedestrians were hospitalized after being struck by bicyclists. An alarming 55% of accidents occurred in an urban city.

This study is just the beginning, because it only surveyed pedestrians who were already hospitalized; there surely are other pedestrian-cyclist accidents that were not included in the study because they did not go to the hospital. Some states are even passing new laws to make reporting bicycle-pedestrian accidents mandatory. This will allow authorities to develop new rules to reduce the occurrence of this type of accident.

It is also important to look at where the accident occurred, so better signage and infrastructure can be implemented to better protect both the bicyclists and pedestrians. It would be beneficial to ordain bike lanes separate from motorists and pedestrians to make streets and roads safer. Our Chicago bicycle accident lawyers have seen a number of new bike lanes such as this, including one on Kinzie Ave. close to our office. We would be curious to see if this change has reduced the number of pedestrian-bicycle accidents in the area, because these clearly marked lanes draw attention to the presence of bike traffic. Comparably, car accidents account for a much higher number of pedestrian injuries. But, this does not mean that bike accidents and safety should be ignored.

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The American Association of Justice issued a new report today that highlights a clear example of hypocrisy by a major interest group involved in the U.S. Justice System.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has spent millions of dollars and focused immense resources on lobbying campaigns aimed at limiting regular consumers’ access to the courthouse. The group’s affiliate, the Institute for Legal Reform, works every day to add barriers and restrictions to the right of individuals harmed by corporations to file lawsuits against those corporations.

Groups like the U.S. Chamber have worked hard to bar the courtroom door to regular individuals, like car accident victims, who may have been hurt by the negligent actions of large corporations. However, a new AAJ report explains that the U.S. Chamber itself files hundreds of lawsuits each year to advance its own interests. Apparently the justice system is only fair to the Chamber when they are doing the suing.

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Recent legislation is currently underway on a federal level to address the issue of the safety standards with automakers. These actions are in response to the recent issues that the Toyota Corporation has faced due to their cars’ acceleration problems. The new laws that are being proposed are attempting to force the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to create, as well as enforce, stricter safety standards for all automakers in an effort to hopefully reduce the number of car accidents that occur due to unsafe vehicles. This new act is called the Motor Safety Vehicle Act of 2010 and would require set standards for electronic components in cars, as well as increased penalties for car companies that fail to maintain the safety standards that are in place.

The bill, as it stands now, has been amended and changed some from the original proposal and may go to the U.S. House as soon as later this week. According to The Washington Post, some people who are strong advocates of the original bill contend that the bill as it stands now does not impose the level of safety standards that are needed to keep drivers safe and argue that the original bill is what is really necessary. Regardless of what the bill says, there is no doubt that new safety measures and requirements need to be implemented in light of the recent safety issues with Toyota vehicles that have led to several fatal car accidents. To read more about the proposed federal legislation known as the Motor Safety Vehicle Act of 2010, aimed at creating safer cars and reducing auto injuries and fatalities, please click on this link.

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A car accident lawsuit has been filed against a police officer who is believed to have been texting while driving, which then caused a fatal accident. The car accident occurred several weeks ago and happened when the police sergeant allegedly unsafely and illegally changed lanes to enter the highway and crashed into a passenger car killing one of the people in the vehicle. According to WOAI‘s website, the family of the victim, as well as a surviving passenger from the crash, have filed the wrongful death lawsuit against he police officer, even though the police reports show that both drivers were to blame. The attorneys representing the victim are trying to ensure that phone records are not destroyed or tampered with so they can see if the officer was in fact texting at the time of the accident. If the officer is found to have been texting when the accident occurred this could be very serious because of how recent studies have shown the danger of texting while behind the wheel. Texting while driving is becoming outlawed in many states, including Illinois. To read more about this tragic accident, please click on the link.

According to the Health Finder website, over half a million people were injured and close to 6,000 killed last year in accidents that were caused by distracted drivers using their cell phone (either talking on or texting). Given the incredibly high number of accidents caused by driver distraction with cell phone usage, many states are cracking down on this problem by banning certain phone actions while driving. It is virtually impossible to pay complete attention to the road while checking your cell phone for a text or responding to one and this is a problem that is entirely avoidable. This distracted while driving danger also applies to police officers, and not just other drivers, and if the police officer in this case was found to be texting at the time of the accident he could face serious consequences. Even if the practice is not outlawed where he was driving, the court is very likely to find that he was at fault and that the other driver was not at fault if the officer was distracted by his cell phone at the time of the accident. Please remember how dangerous cell phones can be in terms of distracting a driver and that even one second of not paying attention to the road can lead to tragic accidents.

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The family of a bicyclist that was killed in a car accident in 2008 has had filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver of the car. The car crash occurred while the driver was text messaging and got distracted, causing the driver to crash into the bicyclist. The driver, in his distracted state, failed to stop at a stop sign and was ticketed for causing the accident in which the young man was killed. According to About Lawsuits, the lawsuit alleged that the driver was grossly negligent when he intentionally took his eyes off the road while driving. To read more about this accident and car accident lawsuit, please click on this link.

Many states have chosen to deal with the dangers of texting while driving by enacting laws that make it against the law to text message while driving. Illinois is one of the states that have enacted anti-texting laws. In Illinois a law was enacted on January 1, 2010 that makes it against the law to compose or read text messages while driving or at any type the car is in drive, and carries a fine of $75 per offense. Unfortunately, while this law is a great attempt to try to curb the presence of texting while driving, Illinois officers have said that this law is actually very difficult to enforce. The law does not ban drivers from scrolling through their contact lists on their cell phones or for dialing numbers, and both of these acts look very similar to text messaging. At this point the Illinois law is proving hard to enforce however hopefully drivers knowing they may be ticketed for texting will make them reconsider doing it and realize the danger that it creates.

Whenever you are behind the wheel remember how distracting text messaging is to a driver and how much focus it takes off the road. Always refrain from texting while driving and if it is a matter that must be taken care of immediately, please pull off the road while you are texting. This simple act of refusing to text while driving will make you safer on the road and may prevent car crashes.