Motor Vehicle Accidents

Women Face More Injury in Car Accidents

When litigating car accident lawsuits, we have always found that women seem to consistently sustain more serious injuries than males. Predominantly, back and brain injuries. We began to wonder if this was just the experience of Grazian and Volpe or if it was a statistical fact.

We began to do some research and came upon a study done by the University of Virginia in October of 2011. Interested readers can access the full report at
ajph.aphapublications.org/.

Researchers reviewed information on 45,445 crash victims gathered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over 11 years. Compared with male drivers studied, women were 5 1/2 inches shorter and 35 pounds lighter; fewer were overweight; and more were driving passengers cars at the time of the crash(carpools, ferrying children and elderly parents and family members). After controlling for these factors and others, the study found that women were 47 percent more likely to suffer severe injuries, most notably brain and spinal injuries.

The study concludes that females are more susceptible to brain injury and spinal injury because of differences in neck strength and musculature. In addition, the positioning of head restraints and seating positions are not configured for the shorter female stature. The study posited that car safety devices have been designed with a male template and car manufacturers may need to consider designing safety features which can accommodate gender differences.

Dipan Bose, lead author of the study cautions female drivers “ensure that their safety systems perform optimally, including maintaining a good belt fit and correct seating posture.”

We have not seen any accommodations made by car manufacturers so it seems incumbent upon female drivers to take it upon themselves to provide for a more secure interior driving environment by assuring their necks and backs are secure and well-supported and their seat belts fit firmly.

Remember, it is always better to stay safe and avoid an accident and a lawyer. But if you can’t stay safe, stay with Grazian and Volpe, Chicago’s experienced car accident attorneys for over 30 years.

2 school bus accidents take place in Chicago area

The school year has only just started in the Chicago area, but there have already been several reports of dangerous school bus incidents.

Last Friday, a school bus driver was arrested and charged with driving drunk while on duty in West Chicago. Also last week, on Tuesday, two school buses were involved in a crash in Antioch, and on Saturday, at least eight children were injured when a school bus got into an accident on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago.

It is very fortunate that none of these bus accidents resulted in serious injuries.

In the most recent incident in Chicago, a school bus that was southbound on Lake Shore Drive struck a vehicle that was stopped in traffic. That vehicle then struck the car that was in front of it, and a police car rear-ended the school bus. Eight children were hospitalized with minor injuries as a result of the crash.

In the West Chicago incident, a drunk school bus driver was taken off the roads thanks to a sharp school employee. The employee was talking with the bus driver at the school during a drop-off, and she thought she smelled alcohol on the driver. Police were notified and the bus driver was arrested.

In the Antioch crash, school officials did not perform so well. Two grade school buses collided with each other, but the school did not call police or immediately notify parents. Instead, another bus was dispatched to pick up the students, and parents were later sent an e-mail about the crash.

School officials said that they did not call police right away because the accident was minor and no children reported injuries to the driver. Antioch’s fire chief has said the district should have handled the bus accident better.

School bus drivers are not qualified to assess students for injuries, and this is one reason fire and rescue should be called. Some parents reportedly may have taken students to hospitals for medical care after they arrived home.

When children are injured in school bus accidents, and when adults are injured in bus accidents, negligent bus drivers or bus companies may be held responsible for medical expenses and other costs. Bus drivers and bus companies are expected to take certain measures to protect their passengers, and when they fail to do so they should be held accountable.

Sources: 5 NBC Chicago, “8 Kids Injured in School Bus Crash,” Sept. 14, 2013
Wheaton Patch, “West Chicago School Bus Driver Charged With Aggravated DUI While on Duty,” Charles Menchaca, Sept. 14, 2013
CBS Chicago, “Students On Board In 2-Bus Accident in Antioch,” Sept. 11, 2013

Strive to avoid motorcycle accidents this summer

Summer is finally here, but with it comes increased safety risks for many people here in the Chicago area. As the weather becomes nicer, there are more and more residents taking to the streets, or their bicycles or motorcycles. Motor vehicle drivers need to do their best to keep a proper lookout for pedestrians, cyclists and bikers in order to avoid tragic collisions. Of course, those on foot or bikes should also follow traffic laws to protect themselves and prevent serious accidents.

Pedestrians and bikers are, of course, at a great risk of suffering catastrophic injuries when collisions with cars do occur. Many residents have heard that late last week a man died after falling from his motorcycle and being struck by a taxi in the North Side Lakeview area.

CBS Chicago reported that the accident took place at about 3 p.m. Thursday, June 20, in the area of North Lake Shore Drive and West Grace Street.

The cab driver has stated that he did not have time to brake. He was not cited in relation to the fatal accident.

A number of dangerous motorcycle accidents occur in the spring and summer months when drivers neglect to see motorcycles because they are yet not used to sharing the roads. This often happens when drivers pull out onto a street or make a left-hand turn. Such accidents can lead to fatal injuries for motorcyclists, so it is important for drivers to always look both ways when turning or pulling onto a street. Additionally, it is crucial for drivers to avoid distractions – like cellphones – that can keep them from spotting a motorcycle or pedestrian.

When negligence does lead to a motorcycle accident or another type of motor vehicle accident, victims and their families may be wise to talk to a personal injury attorney about their rights and options.

Source: CBS Chicago, “Man Dies After Falling From Motorcycle, Getting Hit By Car In Lakeview,” June 20, 2013
Source: Albany Times Union, “It’s ‘left-turn’ accident season for motorcyclists,” Matthew Hamilton, June 6, 2013

‘Silver’ drivers need a vehicle safety rating, says NHTSA

Many Chicago area families with teenage drivers in the household are familiar with the New Car Assessment Program. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration runs the five-star safety ratings program to provide vehicle safety performance ratings to consumers. While most Chicago families are very concerned about the safety of vehicles driven by teenagers, NHTSA thinks we should also be concerned about the cars that older family members are driving.

Older drivers and vehicle occupants are generally less able than younger people to withstand the force of a car accident. In fact, federal statistics show that older drivers face the highest rate of death in serious car accidents. As a result of this information, and the fact that America’s largest generation is reaching retirement age, NHTSA has proposed a new safety rating that would specifically assess vehicle safety as it pertains to older drivers.

NHTSA is currently calling it the “silver rating” and it would be designed to help older drivers select cars that they may be safer in. Inflatable seat belts as well as technology that helps avoid pedal misapplications – such as accidentally hitting the gas instead of the brake while parking – are two safety features that the agency believes are particularly beneficial for older drivers.

According to the AARP, by 2025 one-fifth of U.S. drivers will be at least 65, and of course it is important that cars are designed to keep occupants as safe as possible. However, AAA has suggested that NHTSA may be missing the mark, because most Americans do not want to be reminded that they are getting older – even if it is by a program meant to benefit them.

In addition to the silver rating, NHTSA is considering a family rating that would assess how well vehicles protect backseat passengers. Both of the new ratings would take several years to be implemented.

It is important that drivers and passengers, of any age, are as safe as possible on the roads here in Illinois. In the event that accidents and injuries do occur, victims may benefit from seeking legal counsel to learn about their rights.

Source: Washington Post, “NHTSA Proposes Older Driver, Family Vehicle Safety Ratings,” Suzanne Kane, April 9, 2013

Our personal injury law firm helps car accident victims in Chicago and the surrounding areas seek compensation for their injuries.

Wrongful Death of Pedestrian Caused by Texting Driver

The family of a 15-year-od boy has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against a man who, while texting and driving, struck and killed the boy while the victim and a friend were walking on the shoulder of a street. The man’s vehicle left the road and struck the victim who died the next day in the hospital.

The man has a long history of traffic violation and has been charged in criminal offense, automobile homicide involving the use of a hand-held wireless communication device while driving which is a felony.

Utah, where the accident occurred had just passed an amendment to its’ texting-while-driving law making it illegal to be doing anything on a hand-held wireless communication device except making or receiving a call, or using GPS navigation. Before the amendment, the driver had to be sending a text at the instant the accident occurred. Merely looking at a text or screen of a cell phone was not illegal.

Grazian and Volpe applauds the broadening of Utah’s texting-while-driving laws. As we have pointed out in numerous article texting-while-driving causes more accidents that driving and drinking. We cannot be too tough on this practice.

It is always better to stay safe and avoid accidents – but if you can’t stay safe – stay with Grazian and Volpe – Chicagoland’s Injury Lawyers for over 30 years.

Bicycle and Large Truck Accidents and Deaths Rise Suddenly and Sharply

Deaths of bicyclists and occupants of large trucks rose sharply last year even as total traffic fatalities dropped to their lowest level since 1949 according to federal safety officials. Bicyclists deaths jumped 8.7 percent and deaths of occupants of large trucks increased 20 percent while overall traffic fatalities dropped 1.9 percent.

The increase in bicycle deaths may reflect more people riding bicycles to work and for pleasure according to Jonathan Adkins, deputy executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association which represents state highway safety agencies.

For example, in Washington D.C. there has been at 175 percent increase in bicyclists during morning and evening rush hours since 2004.

The increase in large truck accidents in death may be more difficult to ascertain. The NHTSA is working with the Federal Motor Carrier Administration to gather more information to better understand the reason for the increase. Industry officials suspect there may be a connection between states increasing their speed limits and the increase in deaths. Texas has increased the speed limit to 85 mph on Highway 130 between Austin and San Antonio with a correlating increase in accidents.

Grazian and Volpe cannot stress enough the need for bicyclists to obey safety laws. where protective gear and use equipment and clothing that is lighted and/or visible in all weather conditions.

Remember-it is always better to stay safe and avoid accidents but if you can’t stay safe stay with Grazian and Volpe – Chicagoland’s Injury Lawyers for over 30 years.

Why Young Children Run in Front of Cars

As warmer weather approaches, parents brace for the advent of outdoor play and the dangers associated with young children running in parks and neighborhoods located in areas surrounded by local streets. The increase in the number of car and pedestrian accidents involving children is an unwelcome and tragic feature of summers in Chicago.

The lawyers at Grazian and Volpe dread the inevitable and tragic calls we receive from parents when their child has darted out from between two cars or neglected to heed a street sign when engaged in a game or chasing a friend.

More than 13,000 children, ages 5 to 9 are struck and injured by cars while crossing the street in the U.S. every year according to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. A recent study sought to determine why children are so vulnerable. Researchers at the University of Idaho compared traffic-detection skills in 35 adults ages 19 to 50 and 50 children ages 6 to 9.  Participants listened on headphones to 24 recordings of a car approaching at 5, 12 and 25 miles per hour, from both directions, and pressed a computer key when they detected the vehicle, identified its direction and thought it had arrived at their location.

The results were stunning. Adults detected the car significantly earlier than children, though 8 and 9 years old heard the car before 6 and 7 years. Adults detected the vehicle traveling at 5 miles per hour at a distance of about 48 feet compared with 3 feet for younger children and 41 feet for older children.

The accident lawyers at Grazian and Volpe hope this new study is informative in helping to prevent car accidents involving children. Adult drivers should be aware that children simply lack the perceptual skills to interpret important pedestrian safety cues and never assume that a child is aware of a presence of a moving car.

It is always better to stay safe and prevent accidents but if you can’t stay safe, stay with Grazian and Volpe, Chicago’s Injury Lawyers for over 30 years.

Drowsy Drivers Responsible for Fatal Car Accidents

A new study of driving behavior finds drowsy drivers responsible for 730 deadly motor vehicle accidents and an additional 30,000 crashes that were nonfatal.

Even being tired and sleep deprived without actually nodding off can be a serious problem on the road. Fatigue slows reaction times and can lead to poor judgment. Studies show that going without sleep for 20 to 21 hours and then getting behind the wheel is comparable to having a blood alcohol level of about .08%, which the legal limit in most states. In fact, going without sleep for 24 hours is equal to a blood alcohol level of 0.1 percent which is higher than the legal limit in all states!

Studies show that people who fall asleep at the wheel may do it so quickly-and briefly-without registering the lapse. Warning signs included having trouble remembering the last few miles that you’ve driven, or missing an exit.

Many people who find themselves groggy while driving resort to blasting the radio or rolling down the window but those measures are largely shown to be ineffective. Drinking a caffeinated beverage may help, but effectiveness depends largely on an individual’s physiology or tolerance to caffeine.

Experts advise finding a safe place to pull over and drift off for a few minutes. Alertness can be restored by a short nap and a cup of coffee keeping you and other drivers safe from your drowsy driving. Remember is is always better to stay safe but if you can’t stay safe stay with Grazian and Volpe, Chicagoland’s Injury Lawyers for over 30 years!

AT&T Chief Speaks Out on Texting at the Wheel

Chicagoland’s Injury Lawyers at Grazian and Volpe have been adamant in informing the public against the dangers of serious injury due to car accidents that occur when a driver is texting.  We are pleased to see that a prominent carrier is raising awareness on this issue and the message is personal and starting at the top.

Randall L. Stephenson, the chairman and chief executive of AT&T, spoke at a conference in New York to hundreds of major investors, including Fortune 500 executives. The topic was the state of the telecom businesses, but he began with a request on a different topic: Please don’t text and drive.

Mr. Stephenson said that a few years ago someone close to him caused an accident while texting. As he has become more vocal about texting and driving, he said people were coming up to him and writing him with their own stories of tragedy, including admissions that they caused accidents.

The smartphone “is a product we sell and it’s being used inappropriately.” For him, that means the company he runs has to get involved in a public awareness campaign. “we have got to drive behavior.”

While safety say that history shows that public service campaigns have had limited success on issues like drunken driving or seat belt use unless they are paired with strong laws and that is something Mr. Stephenson opposes.

David D. Teater, senior director of the National Safety Council, had a son killed by a driver talking on her phone. He states that he is pleased to see telecommunications companies no longer lobbying against laws aimed at curbing driver distraction caused by electronic devices.

“We’d love their support on the legislative side,” he said of AT&T’s position. “But the fact they’re are not opposing us is good.”

Currently 39 states ban testing while driving. Research shows that the activity sharply increases the risk of crash, even beyond the risk posed by someone with a .08 blood alcohol level, the legal limit in many states. Yet researchers say that there is no indication drivers are less incline to text and drive, and there is some indication that the behavior is increasing.

Drivers need be aware of the dangers of mobile devices while driving and not ignore the dangers because this activity is not prohibited by legislation.

Remember, it is always better to stay safe but if you can’t stay safe, stay with Grazian and Volpe, Chicagoland’s Injury Lawyers for over 30 years.

Texting While Parenting Equals the Dangers of Distracted Driving!

Chicagoland’s Injury Lawyers at Grazian and Volpe strive constantly to educate their clients as to the dangers of distracted driving. Child safety experts now cite the rising number of non-fatal injuries to children under age five between 2007 and 2010, after falling for much of the prior decade.

The question is whether high-tech gadgetry is effecting the ability of adults to provide proper supervision to young children. Emergency doctors see the growing use of hand-held electronic devices as a plausible explanation for the surprising reversal of a long slide in injury rates for young children.

Child safety experts attribute the previous slide in injury rates starting in the 1970s to the implementation of safer playgrounds to baby gates to fences around swimming pools. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that “The injuries were going down and down and down” noting that the recent uptick is “pretty striking.”

Statistics from the government’s Consumer Product Safety Commission, which tracks injuries by product type, show children are getting hurt more, including serious falls, during activities and at ages that would warrant close supervision.

While casualty has not been well documented, emergency room doctors cite the well-proven connection between driving while distracted and the rise in smartphone use. They state it is logical and born out by statistics to apply the same dynamic to parenting and smartphone use. Complicating the picture is that people tend to under-report the amount of time they spend on mobile devices. Barbara Morrongiello, a psychology professor at the the University of Guelph in Canada studies the relationship between child-supervision and injury and states that most people do not realize how much they are distracted by devices.

In fact a recent incident wherein a woman was watching a friend’s two-year-old son when another friend texted her illustrates the point perfectly. The child slipped into the pool, flailed for about a minute, drifted toward the deep end, then sank. The woman was looking at a photo on a smartphone. About three minutes after fiddling with the cellphone, she dropped it and then noticed the young boy underwater. She plunged in and pulled him out. The whole event was documented on a security camera. The woman told an emergency technician that she had taken her eyes off the boy for only 20 seconds. The security-camera footage shows she did not look at the boy for more than 3 minutes!

Ms. Morrongiello says that information she has collected from 62 families with two-year-old children revealed that 67% of injuries occurred when a parent wasn’t supervising and only 10% occurred when a parent was watching.

Grazian and Volpe blog about this subject in the hope that all parents and caregivers will pay heed to this recent spate of evidence and try to avoid mobile device use whenever caring for young children or any person entrusted to their care. It is always better to stay safe, but if you can’t stay safe-Stay with Grazian and Volpe, Chicagolands Injury Lawyers for over 30 years.