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January 2015 Archives

Uber Drivers and Auto Accident Liability

 pSpeedingCarThruCrosswalk_Depositphotos_6699910_m-300x200.jpg Contract car services - such as Uber and Lyft - are taking Chicago and other metropolitan cities by storm. Unlike taxis, customers cannot hail an Uber or Lyft driver on the street. Rather, the customer must download an app to their smartphone and request a driver through the app. But given the unique role of the drivers, questions of liability can arise. Like all car accidents, the injured party will need to prove liability by showing the following:

Trucker Fatigue Continues to Be a Major Problem

10645091_s-300x199.jpgPhoto Credit: 123RF Stock Photo[/caption] Thousands of trucking accidents occur every year, which can be caused by any number of trucking accident risk factors. But despite stricter hours-of-operation restrictions, trucker fatigue continues to be the primary cause of most commercial trucking accidents. In 2013, the following hour-of-service regulations were enacted in an effort to provide truckers with enough sleep to safely operate their vehicles and reduce commercial trucking accidents:

Are the Medications You're Taking Safe?

9731238_s-300x200.jpgPhoto Credit: 123RF/Stock Photo[/caption] Patients and consumers often assume that, if their doctor prescribed a medication or an over-the-counter drug is on store shelves, it must be safe. Right? Not necessarily. In some cases, a prescription or over-the-counter medication may have obtained FDA approval, but risky side effects or potential dangers are discovered after it has gone to market. In other instances, drug companies urge doctors to prescribe a drug for an unapproved use - an illegal practice known as "off-label marketing." And sometimes the FDA's own procedures might be to blame. For instance, an article in Think Progress discusses the dangers of the FDA's drug approval process:

New Speed Limits in Illinois

 pSpeedometerFast_Depositphotos_10955989_m-300x300.jpg Last year, Illinois raised the speed limit to 70 mph on downstate interstates and, in 2015, the increased speed limit will apply for Chicago-area interstates under the Illinois Tollway Authority's control. The bill was sponsored by Senator Jim Oberweis (R-Sugar Grove), who contended the law will reduce crashes and improve safety by bringing the posted speed limit in line with the speed at which most motorists are already driving on the tollways. Oberweis and other advocates cited research and studies showing that a higher speed differential between those drivers obeying the speed limit and those driving at higher speeds leads to more serious crashes. According to this article, traffic studies done by the Illinois Tollway Authority and other groups have found speeds on most segments of Illinois interstates average approximately 70 mph. "The academic studies show us it's the variation in (vehicle) speeds is what causes accidents," explained Oberweis. "This will be a step in the right direction." Although the law takes effect in 2015, according to the Chicago Tribune, "drivers shouldn't expect to legally hit the gas right away, as there is a process the tollway must follow before speeds can be raised. The Tollway must conduct traffic engineering studies that could take up to a year, plus the Tollway board and state officials must approve. That means it could be well into 2016 before drivers notice road signs displaying the higher speed limits." "There are multiple steps in the process," Tollway spokeswoman Wendy Abrams said. A separate measure that takes effect this year will increase the speed limit for large trucks from 55 mph to 60 mph on interstates in Cook County and suburban counties outside heavily populated areas. Former Illinois Governor Pat Quinn had sought to block the law after a deadly crash on Interstate 55 in which an Indiana truck driver was accused of speeding through a construction zone, but lawmakers rejected his veto. Under the new truck speed limit law, the maximum speed is 60 mph for big rigs traveling in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties on highways outside urban areas, but the trucker speed limit stay 55 mph on all other Chicago-area highways. It is important for drivers to remember that just because you can drive 70 mph on Illinois interstates that doesn't necessarily mean that you should, especially when the road conditions are poor or traffic is heavy. When driving on snowy or icy roads, you should reduce your speed and allow plenty of room between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you. If you or a loved one were injured in a car accident, you should consult with a car accident lawyer as soon as possible. The Chicago auto accident lawyers at Steinberg, Goodman & Kalish are dedicated to helping the victims of car accidents obtain maximum financial recovery for their injuries, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and disability. We will advise you of your legal rights and guide you through the entire claim process. Contact Steinberg, Goodman & Kalish at (312) 782-1386 to schedule a free consultation with one of our Chicago car accident lawyers.   Additional Information:

Does Illinois Need Stricter Drunk Driving Laws?

6342526_s-300x200.jpg Each year, drunk driving takes thousands of lives. In Illinois alone, 335 were killed in alcohol-related car accidents in 2012. Moreover, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), drunk driving costs the United States $199 billion a year. With numbers this high, many people wonder whether drunk driving laws should be even stricter. In Illinois, the legal blood alcohol limit (BAC) is 0.08 for drivers over the age of 21, unless the driver has a commercial driver's license in which case the BAC is 0.04. Drivers under the age of 21 and school bus drivers have a BAC of 0.00. If a driver has a BAC over the applicable BAC, has used any illegal substance, or is impaired by medication, he or she is considered to be "under the influence" and may be subject to criminal or civil penalties. In 2013, Illinois was rated a "Five-Star State" by MADD - the highest possible rating from the group. Among the reasons for Illinois's top rating are its all-offender ignition interlock law and sobriety checkpoints. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the following have been found to be effective measures at curbing drunk driving:

What You Need to Know about Electronic Medical Records

 pVitalsScreenSurgery_Dollarphotoclub_57054657.jpg Patients often assume that, if their doctor has access to electronic medical records, he or she has additional information from which to draw medical conclusions and diagnoses. But it is important to remember that electronic medical records - like all data and information - is only as reliable as it is complete, accurate, and understood. If electronic medical information is not accurate or complete - whether due to misinformation provided by the patient or inaccurate documentation by doctors, nurses, or medical staff - the information can lead to medical errors such as misdiagnosis or mistreatment. Similarly, if a doctor does not adequately review the electronic medical information, or discuss the information with the patient, medical errors can also occur. An article in the New York Times cuts the heart of the problem with respect to electronic medical records - lack of dialogue:

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