Cell phones have been around for a long time now, and the truth is that most Americans have driven a car with a cell phone in their hands at some point in their lives. The truth is that using a cell phone was always dangerous, but it is especially irresponsible these days. Too many cars have crashed, too many pedestrians have been struck, and too many motorists have lost their lives for this trend to continue. One study out of the University of Utah indicates that talking on the phone while driving is even more dangerous than driving drunk. In response to the increasing number of traffic accidents caused by the use of electronic devices, the Illinois legislature has enacted distracted driving laws to prohibit certain behavior. These laws can strongly affect a personal injury lawsuit. As Chicago auto accident attorneys, we want to take a moment to urge Windy City drivers to reconsider their actions. And at the same time, we want to let the victims of cell phone injury know that you have rights under Chicago personal injury law — including the right to financial compensation, which we will fight to maximize.
Cell phone use is a documented factor in thousands of accidents and hundreds of fatalities in the United States every single year. The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society estimates that texting while driving has been responsible for nearly half a million injuries. The National Safety Council (NSC) says those numbers don’t even begin to tell the whole story. Because cell phone use is difficult to prove, and because drivers rarely admit to having used a phone at the time of the crash, the actual cell phone usage rate is likely drastically underreported in official crash documentation. Here’s what we know for sure:
Talking on the phone while driving is illegal in Illinois, at least if you are using a hand-held device. Saying that something is illegal, however, is not exactly the same as saying it was negligent. Violating a traffic law is ordinarily thought of as negligent. However, a defendant can try to avoid liability by proving that his behavior was reasonable under the circumstances, even though it was illegal.
Using a hands-free device such as BlueTooth is not specifically prohibited under Illinois distracted driving law unless you are under 19 years of age. Nevertheless, using a hands-free device while driving can be distracting under certain circumstances. So it is a judgment call as to whether a driver who had an accident while using a hands-free device was acting negligently.
As detailed above, there is a difference between breaking a traffic law that results in a fine, and causing an accident through negligent behavior. Although violation of a traffic law can help prove negligence, a personal injury case is not necessarily over once the injury victim proves the defendant violated the law. Proving negligence requires a strong command of case facts and legal nuance. That is where Malman Law can help. Once we take your case, we will unload our entire legal arsenal to make sure that you receive all of the compensation you deserve. It is typically preferable to win at the settlement table rather than in court, but be assured that we will be ready to go to court if necessary.
Numbers like these:
Steve and Kelly were great! The entire process moved much faster than we thought it would. We received a nice size settlement. I would highly recommend Malman Law! – Susan “The Malman Law team is exceptional. Knows personal injury law, very responsive to my personal workers comp case, recovered money I thought I would never see. And it happened twice as fast as I thought it would. Thank you, Malman Law.” – Malman Law Client
Car Accidents: Two or three people die in Chicago accidents during the average week, and many more than that are seriously injured. A significant percentage of these deaths and injuries were caused by the wrongful conduct of someone other than the victim, thereby generating a car accident claim.
Personal Injury: “Personal injury” is an umbrella term used to refer to any injury claim that causes injury but not death to the victim. Anything from medical malpractice to a plane crash can give rise to a personal injury claim, as long as someone was injured due to the wrongful conduct of another.
Wrongful Death: A wrongful death claim arises when someone is killed through the wrongful act of another. It is not a criminal proceeding, and the defendant can be held liable even if he did not violate any criminal law. For example, certain driving mistakes can be characterized as civil negligence, but do not rise to the level of criminal negligence. Of course, criminal behavior can also trigger a wrongful death claim.
Cell Phone Accidents: Using a cell phone while driving, even a hands-free model, is more dangerous than driving while intoxicated. Unfortunately, traffic accidents caused by cell phones have exploded in recent years, prompting a wave of lawsuits and settlements in favor of the victims of these accidents.
Motorcycle Accidents: The catastrophic and fatal accident rate is higher for motorcycles than for any other vehicle on the road, including bicycles. Sadly, many of these accidents could have been avoided if an automobile driver had been more aware of the possibility of a motorcycle in his blind spot.
Truck Accidents: Commercial trucks are the most dangerous vehicles on the road, and they are also the most heavily regulated.The bad news is that catastrophic accidents are distressingly frequent when a truck is involved. The good news is that commercial truckers are typically fully insured.
Underinsured Driver Accidents: A shockingly high percentage of Illinois drivers have failed to maintain the minimum auto insurance required by law. Even if they have, however, minimum insurance might not be enough to cover a claim for a serious accident. Fortunately, in some cases there are other effective approaches to obtaining compensation.
Train Accidents: Taking a commuter train is one of the safest and cheapest ways to get around Chicago. Nevertheless, considering the hundreds of route miles logged by commuter trains every day, accidents are inevitable. When they do happen, it is important that you secure effective legal counsel to maximize your chances of compensation.
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