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How Can I Protect Myself From Uninsured Drivers?Any driver knows that he or she assumes certain risks by getting behind the wheel. A driver with a history of safe driving often believes those risks to be fairly well minimized. After an accident, however, even the best drivers may find themselves financially impacted by the actions of others, especially if those others are underinsured or uninsured drivers.

Uninsured Drivers

There are an estimated 32 million vehicle owners in the U.S. currently without auto insurance. This means that nearly 13 percent of drivers on the road have no protection in the event of an accident, and in some states, the number is closer to 25 percent. Industry estimates suggest that more than $2 billion is paid annually on uninsured driver claims, not including fatalities or claims of permanent disability.

Insurance industry experts recognize that uninsured drivers usually struggle to afford the cost of insurance premiums. Many drivers who are able to maintain coverage often buy only the minimum coverage required in their states, which, in many cases, is insufficient for serious accidents. Consumer Reports found that the average cost of medical care for a “non-incapacitating injury” after an auto accident was $23,400, higher than the minimum bodily injury requirement in 14 states.

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Crystal Lake personal injury lawyerAlthough all motorists have a legal duty to drive in a safe manner, truck drivers have an even greater responsibility on the road. A fully-loaded tractor-trailer combination can weigh up to 80,000 lbs. At this size, a truck can cause devastating damage. If you or a loved one have been involved in a truck accident, you may have considerable medical bills and other costs caused by the accident. You may also be wondering who is at fault for the damages you suffered.

Determining Fault in a Car Accident Involving a Commercial Truck

Truck accident liability may lie with a number of different parties depending on the circumstances of the accident, including the following:

  • Truck Driver or Trucking Company: Sometimes, fault lies with the truck driver himself or herself. If a truck driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, violating traffic laws, or was otherwise driving in a negligent or reckless manner, the driver or the trucking company he or she works for may be liable for damages.

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Why Riding ATVs Is a Dangerous Activity for TeensEach year in the U.S., hundreds of people die and thousands more are injured in accidents involving all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). Riding an ATV can be dangerous for people of any age or skill level, but children and teens seem to be particularly at risk of being injured or killed. Riders younger than 16 make up a quarter of those who are injured in ATV accidents and a third of those who are killed. Before you allow your child to operate an ATV, you should understand why it is a risky activity and how you can best protect them.

Lack of Regulation

Unlike with most other motorized vehicles, Illinois does not have any restrictions on how old you must be to operate an ATV or requirements for safely using an ATV, such as helmets or passenger limits. Instead, it is up to the riders to learn how to safely operate the vehicle. Even in states that have stricter rules, it can be difficult to enforce those rules because people usually ride ATVs on private properties and not public roads.

Dangerous Vehicles

The design of most ATVs makes them prone to rollovers and leaves the rider exposed to injury. ATVs have a high center of gravity, and many lack safety features such as rollover bars, seatbelts, and safety cages. Having an additional passenger on an ATV meant for one person can throw off the balance during turns. If you add the uneven terrain and people riding at unsafe speeds, you have a recipe for disaster. A rider or passenger can be thrown from the vehicle or pinned underneath it after a rollover.

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Which State Has Jurisdiction in a Product Liability Lawsuit?If you decide to file a personal injury lawsuit, you would obviously prefer for the case to be heard in a court that is local to you. This should not be a concern if the defendant resides or does business in your home state. However, there may be a question of jurisdiction if you are dealing with a defendant who resides in a different state. State jurisdiction over product liability cases has become contentious because of a 2017 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that set stricter requirements for proving that a state has the authority to hear a case involving a non-resident defendant. The ruling has made it easier for corporate defendants to request a case dismissal due to lack of jurisdiction.

Personal Jurisdiction

Part of deciding whether a state has jurisdiction over a case is determining whether the state has authority over the defendant, known as personal jurisdiction. Many defendants in product liability cases are businesses that have headquarters in a different state from where the case is being heard. However, there are many ways to establish personal jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant. First of all, your jurisdiction claim is its strongest if you purchased the product and were injured in the same state where you are filing. You may also need to prove that the defendant had minimum contact with you in your state, such as:

  • Operating a branch office or warehouse in your state that is related to the product that caused your injury
  • Soliciting you to purchase the product by catalog, phone call, or other means of product marketing

Lack of Minimum Contact

The Supreme Court ruling emphasized that a state cannot claim personal jurisdiction over a defendant without minimum contact that is relevant to the case. For instance, a defendant may own property in your state where it conducts business or manufactures products that are unrelated to your case. Courts in many states had allowed jurisdiction over personal injury lawsuits based on this evidence, but some courts are now citing the Supreme Court ruling and saying that this evidence is not enough to prove minimum contact.

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Gathering Evidence for a Premises Liability ClaimProperty owners owe a duty of care to create a reasonably safe environment for people they invite onto their premises. If you are injured due to a safety hazard while visiting someone’s property, you may be entitled to personal injury compensation through the premises liability laws. Proving that a property owner owed a duty of care is usually straightforward. As long as you had permission to be on the property, the duty of care should exist. However, it is more difficult to prove that the property owner should be liable for the conditions that caused your injury. They may not be liable if:

  • The hazard was apparent and could have been avoided
  • They could not have reasonably been aware of the hazard
  • You acted in a reckless manner that created your injury risk

Gathering evidence is a key step in proving a premises liability claim. Here are four types of evidence that could help:

  1. Pictures from the Scene: If you can identify the hazard that caused your injury, you should immediately take photographic evidence of the hazard. Do not rely on coming back to take pictures later, when the property owner may have had time to put up warning signs or fix the hazard. The court needs to see the property conditions at the time of your accident to understand why the property owner is liable.
  2. Witnesses: If someone saw your accident as it happened, they can testify about how the accident occurred and whether they noticed the hazard themselves. Talk to potential witnesses at the scene and ask for their names and contact information. Your lawyer can decide whether they would be good witnesses and do the work of getting them to testify.
  3. Video Evidence: Depending on the location, there may have been security cameras that captured your accident. You can file a subpoena to obtain a copy of the recording, which may support your claim about the hazard that caused your injury.
  4. Documents: The property owner may say that they did not know about the hazard on their property, but there may be documents that contradict them. For instance, they may have received a notice from a safety inspector about the hazard and the danger it could pose to visitors.

Contact a McHenry County Personal Injury Attorney

By gathering enough evidence on your premises liability claim, you improve your chances of winning your lawsuit or receiving a settlement offer from the property owner. A Crystal Lake, Illinois, personal injury lawyer at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can find the evidence that will be most relevant to your case. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838.

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