Anytime you sit behind the wheel of your vehicle, you are responsible for your safety and for the safety of others on the road and in your car. When you become a parent, your responsibility doubles as you become in charge of the safety of the children riding in your vehicle as well. Fortunately, we have the tools and resources to keep kiddos safe while in the car that were unheard of only a few decades ago. However, with all the changing recommendations and state laws, it can be hard to keep up with child restraints.
Here’s what you need to know, and to pass along to any caregiver who drives your children around.
New Illinois Law for Kids 2 and Under
A new law went into effect in Illinois at the beginning of this year regarding child car seats. Currently, all children two years old and younger must sit in a rear-facing car seat. While this practice has been recommended by pediatricians for years, it is only been Illinois law since January of 2019. If the child weighs more than 40 pounds, they can be turned around to face forward.
Preschoolers and Elementary Schoolers
When your child turns 4, if they have outgrown the height and weight limitations of the car seat, you can begin to use a booster seat. Remember, keeping your child in their five-point harness car seat is ideal as long as they meet the height and weight requirements. A booster is a safe option to keep your child safe by using the car’s seat belt. Your child can stop using the booster seat once they can sit on the car’s seat with their feet touching the floor and the seat belt lies flat along their shoulder to hip.
Information for Caregivers
You may be brushed up on your car seat safety, but others may not be. Talk to grandparents, babysitters, and other caregivers about car seat safety and your expectations. If caregivers are not sure if their car seat is installed correctly, encourage them to go to their local police station for assistance before putting your child in their car.
Driving your kids from place to place is a big responsibility. You can keep them safer when you choose to use car seats correctly.
If you have been in a vehicle accident, you may have experienced telltale signs of whiplash. This serious injury can vary in severity but is always uncomfortable and painful for the person who sustains it. Here are the basics of whiplash, because if you are able to identify it early, you can seek treatment early and hopefully get relief sooner.
What is whiplash? Whiplash is a neck injury. It is caused by sustaining a force that makes the head go forward and back quickly, making the neck have rapid back-and-forth movement, like a whip.
How can you get whiplash? Most people get whiplash from vehicle accidents. Being in a car that is rear-ended can make the force necessary to sustain whiplash. However, whiplash can happen in other situations too, like during a fall, playing sports, or other trauma.
What are the symptoms of whiplash? Like most injuries, symptoms of whiplash can vary from person to person. However, there are some symptoms that could indicate whiplash:
Feeling like you have a stiff neck
Pain in the neck
Shoulder or upper arm pain
Inability to move the neck easily or without pain
What should I do if I think I have whiplash? If you have sustained an injury and have neck pain or stiffness, seek medical attention. Your doctor can assess your injuries and develop a treatment plan that will help to keep any further complications at bay. Unfortunately, whiplash symptoms can last for months after the initial trauma, and treatment can be the key to keeping you feeling as well as you can.
If you have whiplash due to a vehicle collision or other event, you could be entitled to compensation for your medical bills. Contact the team at MacCloskey Kesler and Associates to tell us more about your situation. We have decades of experience advocating for our clients and can get you a fair outcome.
Summer is a favorite time for people to ride their motorcycles, but there are special risks involved that should be considered.
The most obvious risk is of being injured, usually because someone turns or pulls out in front of you. For whatever reason, despite bright lights and loud pipes, some people just don’t seem to see motorcycles.
When that happens, there is a much greater risk of being injured when you’re involved in an accident on your motorcycle. Unlike being in a car, there is nothing between you and the other vehicle when you are hit on a motorcycle. Helmets are good to protect your head, but there’s not much that can protect a body when hit by a car or truck or when bouncing on pavement.
So when you are involved in an accident riding your motorcycle, you are at a much greater risk of injury than in a car. Combine that with the fact that medical costs are rising faster than any other expenses you can encounter and you can see the problem. If you are injured on your motorcycle, you will likely be more seriously injured and incur a greater amount of medical bills than if you were in your car.
Illinois law provides that if you are injured by someone else’s negligence, you are entitled to compensation from them “for the nature and extent of your injuries”. As a practical matter, however, your recovery will likely be limited by the amount of insurance coverage available, both from the coverage provided the other driver and by your own underinsured motorist coverage.
Take Fred (not his real name) for instance. Fred was driving his motorcycle last summer on a rural road where the speed limit was 55 mph. As Fred approached a side road, an oncoming driver turned directly in front of him. He had no choice but to hit him. Fred sustained a fractured wrist, a fractured ankle and a fractured leg, among other more minor injuries. He required roughly 6 months of treatment and lost that amount of time from work. He incurred medical bills exceeding $300,000, and his medical insurance paid over $156,000 to pay those bills in full.
The trouble is the other driver, who caused the accident, only had $100,000 in car insurance coverage. Fred’s underinsured motorist coverage was also $100,000, but Illinois doesn’t allow us to stack his UIM coverage on top of the other driver’s, so there was only $100,000 in coverage available. An asset search showed the other driver had no assets that would not be protected by Bankruptcy laws, so all we would ever be able to obtain for Fred was that $100,000.
If Fred would have had UIM coverage of $1,000,000 or more, we would have been able to get it due to the seriousness of his injuries. But he didn’t. True, it would be difficult to find that kind of coverage for a motorcycle anyway since most companies only write small policies on them. But if he’d have had a policy on his car of $1,000,000, we may have been able to obtain coverage there. So the lesson of this story is to get as much insurance coverage on yourself as you can afford, just in case the worst happens.
Fred was disappointed that there was so little coverage, and asked me what I thought I could do for him. After all, with so little coverage, what would he be able to get out of it by way of compensation? Would I be making a one third fee while he ended up with nothing?
So I explained that there are laws I can use to limit the amount of recovery that health insurance companies and others can take when there is a lawyer involved. Without a lawyer, he could settle the case for the other driver’s $100,000, but he would have to pay that money to his health insurance company since they are subrogated to any recovery he’d get. If he received money compensation from a third source and was paid benefits by his health insurance company upon which that compensation was based, by law he must pay the insurance company back for their subrogation interest. If that would have happened in Fred’s case, he’d have settled his case for $100,000 and received nothing for himself.
What I was able to do for Fred was use the law to force his health insurance company to accept approximately $12,000 instead of the $156,000 they paid out, so when I settled the case for Fred he was able to obtain a net recover of over $53,000. That’s a whole lot better than nothing.
To recap: get as much motorcycle and car insurance coverage on yourself as you can afford, but if you get seriously injured due to someone else’s negligence, hire an experienced lawyer who will maximize the amount of compensation you receive for your injuries.
At MacCloskey Kesler & Associates, we have handled thousands of car and motorcycle injury cases. We know the laws, and know how to use them to maximize your recovery even if it looks like you’re going to end up with nothing. So if you’ve been injured by someone else’s negligence while riding your motorcycle or driving your car, call us today for a free consultation at 815-965-2000, or toll free at 877-965-2100. Time limits apply so don’t delay.
What if you had a previous neck injury that caused you permanent problems and it was re-injured in a second car accident? The law in Illinois is clear than an aggravation of a pre-existing condition shall be treated like a new injury.
We see this situation arise in various ways. In some instances, someone can have had an injury in the distant past, like a neck fusion for instance, and as a result of a new accident, the person needs a second neck fusion. There are ways we may be able to exclude any mention of the first neck fusion at trial, although it might be left up to the Judge’s discretion whether to allow such evidence. Even if the Judge let in evidence of the prior injury, we would still be able to prove the new injury and surgery through the testimony of the treating doctor, and the jury would be instructed to treat it as a new injury.
This scenario also comes up in accidents rear end accidents where the impact on the rear of the injured person’s vehicle is relatively minor. If we can prove that the new injury would not have occurred absent the previous injury, and was caused by the new accident, we can still prove that the new accident caused those severe injuries.
For instance, assume a woman is struck from behind by a vehicle at low speed. Assume she had neck surgery years before that left her with a permanently compromised neck. Even if the new impact is minor, if that impact caused an injury, we can properly claim that the injury and any treatment rendered for it was legally caused by the new accident. The net effect would be to hold the at fault driver responsible for the new injury and treatment.
This same analogy will apply with virtually any pre-existing condition. If a man through his genetic makeup is more susceptible to injury, it wouldn’t matter whether someone without that condition would have been injured in the accident. The saying in law is that the at fault person must take the plaintiff (the injured person) as they find him. If he has an eggshell for a skull, and you gently tap his skull but it breaks, you are responsible for any and all injuries caused, whether someone with a normal skull would have been hurt or not.
At MacCloskey Kesler & Associates, we have represented thousands of clients, many of whom have had pre-existing conditions that made a new injury happen or become more severe. We know how to deal with the arguments raised by the insurance defense lawyers in these cases, and have been very successful winning compensation for those kinds of injuries. So if you’ve been severely injured, call us for a free consultation at 815.965.2000.
We’ve all seen the commercials on Television; the hyper aggressive injury lawyer’s ad that shows the “insurance adjusters” sitting around a table talking to an injury victim. When they find out the victim has been hired by “that lawyer,” the “adjusters” get visibly scared and want to settle right away. You know the one I mean.
A variation of that commercial runs in most media markets throughout the United States, with one of several over the hill actors or TV Judges saying you need to let the insurance company know you mean business by hiring that particular law firm. Any lawyer can hire the marketing company that makes those commercials, and the actors sit around making bunches of the ads at a time. The actor will sit there, stare sternly into the camera, and say the name of the law firm that hires him, and spout off their phone number, as if that law firm is the only one that hired him to be their “spokesman”.
Does anyone seriously think a multi-billion dollar car insurance company is going to be afraid of or intimidated by any law firm? Insurance companies have armies of very high priced lawyers throughout the country who do nothing but defend insurance companies against car accidents and injury claims. They have unlimited reserves of money and can outspend an injured person’s law firm many times over if they want. They have years of experience and have tried dozens and dozens of cases just like yours. After all, how many ways can car accidents happen?
But they’re not stupid. Insurance companies have done the research, and they know which law firms actually file lawsuits, actually try cases and get good results, and which firms settle everything for whatever they can get. Trying cases and getting good results is how you earn the respect of insurance companies, and they pay attention to that.
At MacCloskey Kesler & Associates, we have done the hard work over many years to earn the respect of insurance companies. They know we won’t file lawsuits we don’t intend to try, and that we’re not afraid to bring a case to trial. They know we’ve gotten good results from juries in the area and will present a forceful case on behalf of our clients. They know we only bring meritorious cases that we intend to win, with strong facts that support our clients’ right to compensation.
Insurance companies do not get intimidated. But you can earn their respect. They know which law firms bring the best cases, and they know which firms get the best results. We have earned the respect of insurance companies throughout Illinois because we do the hard work and get good results. So if you’ve been hurt in a car or other vehicular accident, call us today at 815-965-2000, or toll free at 877-965-2100. Make the insurance company respect you and your case.
There are those who have a perception in a rear end collision that because the other driver is clearly at fault, her insurance company is going to have to pay out a large settlement. That is not necessarily true.
Certainly, if you are rear ended and your car is so severely damaged that they must cut you out of it, and then they put you in a neck brace, strap you to a backboard and rush you to the hospital for emergency surgery, the insurance company will have a hard time convincing a jury that you are not entitled to full and fair compensation for a severe injury. But in some rear end collisions, there isn’t much damage to the vehicle that was hit. These are cases that insurance companies fight very vigorously.
There are three things you need to prove in a rear end collision case. First, the other driver must be legally liable, meaning they must have been negligent in a manner that caused the collision. In a rear end collision, it is very difficult for them to show that their insured driver was not negligent. But, you must also prove you sustained an injury, and you must prove that it was the other driver’s conduct that caused that injury. In low impact, small property damage cases, that can be very difficult.
Insurance companies know that the easiest way to defend against a rear end collision case is not to contest fault, but to contest that you sustained any injury at all in the collision. Experience has shown them that juries will tend to automatically believe you couldn’t have been hurt if there is little or no damage to your car.
Some insurance companies will even argue that all people who claim an injury in a low impact, rear end collision are liars who act like they’ve “won the lottery” (I actually had an insurance defense lawyer argue that in trial). If the evidence in your medical records does not show a claim of injury at the scene of the collision, or if it is inconsistent or contains gaps in treatment, that can be interpreted as evidence of a lack of a genuine injury, and it can be nearly impossible to get fair compensation for a that injury. So insurance companies are playing the odds when presented with an injury claim resulting from a rear end collision with little damage to the cars; they figure they may be able to avoid paying any compensation regardless of the medical evidence.
There are also “experts” who are both Physical Engineers and Medical Doctors, who testify on behalf of insurance companies that with little or no damage to the vehicles, it is physically and medically impossible for a human being to sustain any injury in that instance. Unbelievably, they testify to this opinion based completely on pictures of the vehicles, damage estimates, and the medical records of the alleged injured party.
Do not get the impression that it is not possible to prove an injury in a low impact, rear end collision. It is. At MacCloskey Kesler & Associates we have had success proving these kinds of cases, but it all depends on the particular facts of each case. The best way to find out if we can help you with your case is to call us at 815-965-2000 (or 877-965-2100) for a free consultation.
So, if you are involved in a low impact rear end collision, and you are injured, or you are involved in any motor vehicle collision, tell the responding police officer you were hurt, get immediate and consistent medical care and follow your doctors’ advice. And call us right away so we can help you. Otherwise you play into the insurance company defense and can become your own worst witness.