When you pull your car out of your driveway, you put your life in the hands of other drivers you encounter on your trip. We all share the road together, and one bad decision or distracted moment can bring grave consequences for others nearby.
Consider your latest commute. You probably passed multiple cars, minivans, and SUVs. You also likely passed large semi trucks. The trucking industry is an important one, as it moves goods across the country with efficiency. However, sometimes that efficiency can transform into danger when poor decisions are made.
Concerns About the Trucking Industry
Just like most businesses, the trucking industry is driven by profit. Sometimes, companies and drivers are rewarded for fast delivery. This need for speedy transportation can leave most drivers choosing between a good night’s sleep and pushing through to meet their delivery deadline.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has regulations that are designed to keep drivers safe. There are required rest periods, electronic logs, pre-trip inspections, and other rules to assure trucks, and their drivers, are functioning at their best. Unfortunately, there are incidents of truck drivers ignoring these regulations.
Truck drivers have a higher incidence of driving while exhausted, driving while under the influence of stimulants, failing to maintain their truck, and even driving while texting or using the internet. This is especially frightening because a truck vs. car accident can be deadly.
What To Do
Professional truck drivers are held to a higher standard than drivers of cars because they are covering more miles and driving more hours each day. However, if a truck driver does not follow best practices and federal regulations, it can result in serious injury or even death.
If you, or your loved one, have been involved in an accident with a semi truck, finding an experienced lawyer immediately is crucial. Trucking companies are known for swooping into accident investigations quickly, and they may offer compensation that is significantly less than you are entitled to.
Call our team at MacCloskey, Kesler & Associates. We are not intimidated by large trucking companies and keep your best interests at the forefront. Contact us today to get started.
When you jump in your car to head home from a busy day at work, have you ever texted your family to know you are on your way home? Or, perhaps you have noticed the driver in the car next to you checking their phone while at a stoplight. For most of us, even the most cautious drivers, witnessing (or participating) in distracted driving can feel like a normal part of driving.
Unfortunately, distracted driving is a serious public health issue. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports more than 3,000 deaths were caused by distracted driving in the course of one year. Here’s what you need to know about distracted driving and how you can play a role in keeping the roadways safer.
What is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving is operating a vehicle while paying attention to something else. Texting while driving, talking on the phone, checking your email or scrolling through your social media newsfeed while driving (or while stopped at a stoplight) are all examples of distracted driving. While distracted driving has increased thanks to portable technology like smartphones, it has always been around. Distracted driving can also be putting on your makeup while on the way to work or turning around to scold your child in the backseat.
How Can I Stop? There are legal implications if you are caught talking on your phone or operating your phone while driving. However, this intervention does not always keep drivers from checking their phone while on the move. You can make a positive step in the right direction by committing to eliminating distracted driving from your regular routine.
You can remind yourself about your commitment by keeping your phone in your purse and in the backseat while driving or by disabling app notifications while driving to keep you from being tempted. Your example is especially important if you have kids in the car, as these future drivers will look to you as they learn what is (and is not) acceptable in the vehicle.
Distracted driving can have fatal consequences. Put your cell phone away and teach your kids to do the same.
If you have been involved in a vehicle accident, give the team at MacCloskey Kesler & Associates a call. We will hear your story and develop a plan to get you the compensation you deserve.
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.