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Chicago, IL Personal Injury Law Firm Blog

Megabus crash: a good driver never blames his tools

"The accident wasn't my fault. I couldn't see out of the windows," is not a viable excuse to avoid liability in an automobile accident. The truth is that the saying "a good craftsman never blames his tools" is fairly accurate in motor vehicle collisions as well. A driver does have a duty to properly maintain their vehicle, an issue that has come up in a recent lawsuit against a Megabus company.

The accident occurred on Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014. The Chicago Bears had taken on the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. With the unyielding loyalty that many Bears fans have, it was no surprise that many traveled down to watch the game in person. On the return trip, several passengers were delayed -- and seriously injured -- when the Megabus they are chartered slammed into the back of a vehicle that had stalled due to an unrelated accident

Do not 'voice activate' and drive

Over the past several years, much of the American public has become familiar with Siri. If you are not familiar with Siri, you may be interested to learn that “she” is not a person but is rather a voice designed to respond to Apple smart phone users’ vocalized prompts. When a smart phone user wants to obtain directions, to learn the answer to a trivia question or wants to know where the nearest coffee shop is, he or she simply asks Siri and Siri responds.

One might initially think that this kind of voice activated response program is the answer to distracted driving. After all, if a motorist is speaking questions into a phone and receiving a vocalized response, that motorist has no need to take his or her eyes off the road. However, a recent study suggests that voice activation programs are basically just as distracting as texting while driving.

How can children's clothing items possibly be dangerous?

Take a moment to think about all the items in your house that could possibly harm your children. You are likely envisioning sharp kitchen utensils, hazardous tools and sharp-edged furniture, just to name a few items. Chances are that you are not thinking about your children’s clothes. However, it turns out that children’s clothing items can be truly dangerous products if they are not manufactured according to the latest set of federal product safety standards.

Any number of factors can turn seemingly harmless clothing into a hazardous product. Take, for example, children’s pajamas. You may have noticed that infant, toddler and child pajamas often come with notices that these items conform to federal safety standards concerning potential fire hazards. In the past, many kinds of pajamas were manufactured in such ways that they increased the risk that children would be harmed should they be exposed to open flames. Now children’s pajamas are strictly regulated to ensure that these items do not make fire-related injuries more common than they might otherwise be.

Thinking about pedestrian safety hazards

Midwestern autumns tend to be bright, cool and lovely. In these months before winter grips The Windy City and the rest of the Midwest, adults and children alike are taking advantage of the outdoors before they become largely inaccessible due to bitter cold, ice and snow. As a result, you and your family may be walking outdoors more frequently than you usually do. It is important that you understand the risks that you are taking if you choose to walk anywhere near where motor vehicles venture as well.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 70,000 pedestrians were injured and an additional 4,280 were killed in accidents during 2010 alone. As healthy and enjoyable as walking outdoors may be, it is also dangerous in the U.S. simply because so many roadways have been built primarily for the use of motorists as opposed to pedestrians and cyclists.

Senate questions NHTSA's response to GM defect scandal

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is the federal agency most directly tasked with ensuring that American roads remain safe for travelers. This agency concerns itself with preventing motor vehicle accidents and with ensuring that those which do occur are neither fatal nor devastatingly injurious. One of the ways in which the NHTSA acts in furtherance of this mission is by investigating consumer-related safety complaints. If these complaints meet certain criteria and it seems that a given model or part could potentially cause harm to the public, the NHTSA may insist that the model or part’s manufacturer initiate a safety recall.

We have previously written about the recent defect scandal involving General Motors. Essentially, individuals employed by the auto giant were aware that a defective ignition switch was being installed in models for a full decade. At no point during these ten years did GM notify the public, notify federal regulators or replace the potentially deadly switches. Instead, it continued to install the switches in newer models.

Understanding the basics of premises liability

When you visit a store, walk down the street or attend a gathering at a friend’s house, you likely take for granted that you will remain relatively safe while doing so. However, broken tree branches, slick floors and other common hazards related to how property is maintained may injure you before you have a chance to return home.

When an individual is harmed on either public or private property due to negligent maintenance or a host of other preventable factors, this individual may benefit from filing a premises liability claim against the owner of the property or another entity responsible for the harm that was caused.

When products fail, you could be at risk

If you stop to count the number of products you make use of in your daily life, you might be surprised at just how many manufactured objects you depend on each day. What happens when one of those products malfunctions? If you are fortunate, the malfunction might simply be a minor inconvenience. However, in other cases it could put you and your loved ones at risk.

Defective and dangerous products are alarmingly common and the companies responsible for their manufacture must be held accountable for the harm these products cause. Manufacturers have an obligation to ensure the safety and suitability of their products. If products do not conform to certain standards, the manufacturers may generally be held liable in the event of an accident.

Consumers may search the NHTSA online tool for recalled vehicles

Over the past few years, the public has been increasingly disenchanted with the auto industry as a result of several high-profile recall scandals. Specifically, in the cases of both the Toyota sudden acceleration scandal and the General Motors ignition switch scandal, once trusted auto manufacturing giants failed to promptly and properly inform the public and federal regulators about potentially deadly defects. In each case, injurious and fatal accidents could have potentially been prevented if these auto manufacturers had upheld their reporting duties.

One of the only positive consequences of these scandals has been the creation of a new online tool which allows consumers to search for potentially dangerous motor vehicles and components by entering vehicle identification numbers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration hosts this tool on its website, in an effort to empower motorists to remain educated about any recalls which may affect their vehicles.

Spotting and responding to dangerous dogs

Few life events are scarier or more traumatic than suffering through a serious animal attack. Whether experienced as an adult or as a child, dog bites and other animal attacks can leave both physical and mental scars. As a result, it is important that all Americans know how to spot dangerous dogs and how to respond to dangerous dogs when they are encountered. This knowledge can help to ensure that you and your loved ones prevent dog attacks whenever possible.

Millions of dog bites occur on an annual basis. Some are superficial, while a significant fraction requires urgent medical attention. Not all of these bites can be prevented. However, understanding how to identify and respond to dangerous dogs can help to prevent attacks under numerous circumstances. Dogs can respond violently when they feel afraid or instinctively territorial. Learning to identify a dog’s body language when he or she feels these instincts is therefore important.

CPSC is urged to place more restrictions on kids products

Sometimes it takes government agencies an extraordinarily long time to act on legal mandates. There are a number of reasons why this situation is simply reality, but these reasons do not always make agency-related delays less frustrating. After all, many Congressional mandates are constructed because a public health and safety risk exists which needs to be addressed. Whether this safety risk is quiet cars which pose an accident risk for pedestrians or a lack of patient safety reporting among hospitals, such mandates often serve urgent purposes. Delays in addressing these purposes can cause devastating consequences.

Consider the products liability issue that Congress addressed in section 108 of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008. More than five years ago, Congress insisted that the Consumer Product Safety Commission convene a Chronic Hazard Advisory Panel in order to study the impacts that phthalates and phthalate alternatives have on children when they are used in children’s products. A panel was convened, but the process took so long that the CPSC is only now beginning to review the panel’s report and recommendations.