Drunk Driving Accidents
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
Drunk driving accidents are always tragic and never really an accident but the result of the total disregard the intoxicated driver has for others who share the road. A recent verdict assessing punitive damages against the employer of a drunken employee is a landmark finding in the war against drunk driving.
Ten million in punitive damages was upheld by a the New Mexico Court of Appeals in favor of the family and estate of a man killed by a drunken driver in 2003.
The Court ruled that there was enough evidence to support the full amount of damages awarded against the parent company of a New Mexico convenience store. A store maintenance worker employed by convenience store, crashed into a motorcycle ridden by the decedent who was stopped at an intersection. Decedent died from the injuries sustained in the crash.
The Court found that the convenience store owner and employees knew the employee drank on the job and had bought alcohol at the store on the day of the accident and that these actions “demonstrated a reckless disregard for the health and safety of others.”
This verdict drives home the responsibility that we all need to exercise in the prevention of drunk driving. If someone you know or see is intoxicated and about to drive an auto, truck, motorcycle or bicycle, please do your best to prevent that person from doing so. The life you save could be your own or that of someone you love.
It is always better to avoid or prevent an accident but if you can’t stay safe, stay with Grazian and Volpe, Chicagoland’s Injury Lawyers for over 35 years.
In a recent survey, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimate that there were 112 million incidents of drunk driving in the United States in 2010. And, while this number is staggeringly high, it represents the CDC’s lowest estimated total of incidents of drunk driving in nearly 20 years, and a decline of nearly 30 percent of total drunk-driving incidents in the past five years.
Conducted by telephone in 2010, the CDC spoke with nearly 210,000 Americans and asked them about the number of times that they had driven drunk. Approximately 1 in 50 respondents reported that they had driven drunk at least once in the past 30 days, with a few stating that they had driven drunk nearly every day. And, approximately 60 percent of those surveyed said they had driven drunk just once last year. Based on the survey responses, the CDC estimates that approximately 4 million Americans
Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also indicate that incidents of drunk driving may be declining. According to the NHTSA, there were 11,711 alcohol-related fatalities in 2008, but decreased to 10,839 in 2009.
One potential reason for the decline is a bad economy. Tough times could be forcing many people to stay at home and thus driving drunk would not be problematic. While the numbers from the CDC and the NHTSA seem positive, unfortunately, it only takes one drunk driver to change the lives of innocent people. Those whose lives are dramatically altered by the actions of a drunk driver may be able to seek compensation for medical bills and pain and suffering as well as punitive damages from the driver.
Speaking with an auto accident attorney is recommended.
Drunk Driving Accidents: The family of a man killed in a 2008 car accident was awarded $1 million in July in a lawsuit against an Alabama country club. The club was accused of selling too much alcohol to a man who is now serving prison time for causing a Drunk Driving Accidents in which a father of three was killed. The defendant- whose blood-alcohol level was nearly two times the legal limit three hours after the crash- hit the decedent head-on after leaving the premises of the club.
The family alleged that the club continued to serve the defendant alcohol despite witness accounts that he was intoxicated upon arrival at the club and then bought “at least 12 cans of beer” and then 6 more after 9 holes of golf. After finishing another 9 holes, defendant repaired to the bar where he was served more alcohol.
Grazian and Volpe hopes the spirit of community responsibility illustrated by this verdict extends to findings in Illinois. As we have opined in previous articles posted on myaccidentlaw.com and our LinkedIn and Twitter sites- it is up to our judiciary to enforce drunk driving laws and our communities to help prevent drunk drivers from getting into their vehicles. This verdict is another step in holding errant servers of alcohol liable for enabling the endangerment of the innocent.
Drunk Driving Car Accidents can mean a big verdict for the plaintiff. A jury awarded more than $11.8 million last month to a driver whose car was rear-ended by a repeat drunk driver. The plaintiff developed a painful and debilitating nerve condition as a result of the crash that has confined him to a wheelchair. Plaintiff was stopped at an intersection when the drunk driver hit him from behind and then fled the scene. When finally apprehended she failed two field sobriety tests and was booked for a DUI. The drunk driver had a long history of DUIs and was convicted of another about a week after she rear-ended the plaintiff.
Certainly, it is better to avoid car accidents but it is especially difficult when a rear end collision is involved, more so when it is one of the thousand United States drunk driving accidents that occur each year. Juries now seem favorable to granting large verdicts where intoxication appears to be the cause of the accident, especially with repeat offenders. Hopefully, this is another method that these problem drivers can be deterred from mixing drinking and driving. Grazian and Volpe, Chicago Injury Attorneys pride themselves on protecting and advocating for their injured clients and assuring them the best settlements possible to help alleviate the pain and suffering associated with traumatic and debilitating auto accidents.
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Illinois lawmakers have expanded the alcohol related offenses for which the police may immediately seize your vehicle. Under the amended law, the police may seize your vehicle if it is operated by a driver who is under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or similar intoxicants and the driver’s license has been revoked or suspended for the same reasons.
If the driver was in a car accident that was the proximate cause of personal injury that resulted in death, great bodily harm or permanent disability or disfigurement the police may take steps to seize your vehicle. That’s not all-if it is your third violation for driving under the influence and you don’t have a driver’s license-say good-bye to your car. Lastly, if you knew or even “should have known” that the vehicle was not covered by a liability insurance policy.
What this means for the victims of these car accidents is unclear but could only operate to help assure that the intoxicated driver has liability for the victims injuries and will help prevent him or her from getting behind the wheel again. Alcohol and autos do not mix and the more laws to prevent and deter drivers from drinking and driving the safer the roads for all of us.
More than ever, it is important that you consult your Chicago Injury Attorney to understand and advocate on your behalf whenever a car accident results in personal injury or property damage. Follow Grazian and Volpe on TV, YouTube and Facebook to make sure that you know your rights and duties!
Beware: alcohol plays a deadly role on Illinois roads this weekend. Each year the State of Illinois publishes Illinois Crash Facts & Statistics. The most recent publication, from 2009, offers insights into car collisions involving fatalities, involving alcohol over Holiday Weekends, including Memorial Day Weekend. The statistics speak loudly as to the effect of alcohol on our roadways.
Memorial Day Weekend offers many opportunities: a springboard into summer, a long weekend away, and the near promise of warm summer days ahead. The traffic crash statistics paint a dark side to this fun weekend. Memorial Day weekend is the most deadly Holiday weekend of the year on our roads. In 2009, page 37 of the report lists 17 automobile collisions over Memorial Day Weekend caused fatalities. 9 of the 17, or 52.9% of these collisions involved alcohol. We represent individuals injured in automobile collisions with serious injuries where insurance coverage exists, the negligent driver is uninsured and where the negligent driver is underinsured.
In short, a dark side to Holiday weekends exists, where everyone involved loses. The fun and promise of the weekend turn to horror and grief, while the reoccuring annual holiday reminds families and loved ones every year of loss. As the injured and their families begin recovery, insurance companies present new obstacles. Insurance policies do not cover criminal acts and actively employ lawyers to find an escape from covering an insured who drove while intoxicated.
This Memorial day, please drive safely. If you plan to drink, designate a driver. If you plan to drive, give the road your undivided attention: make phone calls or text messages either before or after you drive. Finally, if you have an hour, review your automobile insurance policy for uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverages apply where a negligent driver either does not have insurance or does not have enough insurance or where the negligent drivers insurance company refuses to cover the loss. Often, insurance companies fail to describe the inexpensive difference between a higher limit on uninsured and underinsured portions of your policy.