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Five Tips for Teen Drivers During the WinterPart of learning to be a driver is having your first winter driving experience and understanding how it affects your road safety. Teens who have recently obtained their driver’s license may not fully appreciate the dangers of driving through snow and ice. In the worst scenario, their inexperience may result in a vehicle accident that leaves them injured or worse. As parents, you can prepare your teen for winter driving with a few safety tips:

  1. Staying Warm: It is important to dress appropriately for the weather, including warm gloves and boots. Hands and feet that are numb from the cold may not respond quickly enough when the driver needs to take decisive action. Being cold in general can also be distracting. Remind them that the interior heating system may take a couple of minutes to warm up the vehicle if it has been sitting cold for a while.
  2. Decreased Traction: Wintery conditions on the road can make starting and stopping take longer than a teen driver is used to. Losing control of a vehicle due to ice on the road is frightening and may cause teens to panic. Tell them to give themselves additional time to brake and to not slam on the brakes or the accelerator if they lose traction on the road.
  3. Driving Distractions: Reiterate the importance of paying attention to their driving and not being distracted by electronic devices. In addition, teens must clear the vehicle of snow and frost before they start driving. Trying to clean a windshield or mirror while driving will take their attention away from the road.
  4. Extra Time: Winter conditions cause all traffic to slow down in order to stay safe. Teens should give themselves additional time to get to their destination. Running late may cause them to hurry, which can lead to accidents.
  5. Knowing to Stop: There are times when the weather conditions are bad enough that driving is unwise. Teens may not want to be told that they should not drive because of the weather, but their inexperience would put them in even more danger than other drivers. They should also understand that it is acceptable to pull over or stop somewhere if the weather suddenly turns worse.

Contact a McHenry County Personal Injury Attorney

Though your teen may be the more inexperienced driver, it is possible that another driver was at fault for their accident. A Crystal Lake, Illinois, personal injury attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can help you prove that another party should be liable for your teen’s injuries. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838.

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Proving Proximate Cause in a Personal Injury LawsuitTwo factors determine whether a defendant can be held liable in a personal injury lawsuit: actual cause and proximate cause. Actual cause, also known as cause-in-fact, is when the defendant’s actions directly lead to the injury. Proximate cause is determining whether the defendant could have reasonably foreseen that his or her actions would cause injury. Proving proximate cause can be straightforward with a defendant whose actions directly resulted in the plaintiff’s injuries. A reckless driver can reasonably foresee that his or her actions would put other drivers and pedestrians in danger. However, proximate cause can be more difficult to prove with a third party involved in the incident.

Recent Case

In Kramer v. Szczepaniak, the plaintiffs have filed a lawsuit against multiple defendants whom they claim are liable for a vehicle-pedestrian accident. The plaintiffs were leaving a Chicago movie theater at 1:30 a.m. and used Uber to call a ride. The driver could not figure out the directions to get the passengers to their destination and kicked them out of the vehicle when one of them offered to help give directions. While walking home, the plaintiffs were hit in a pedestrian crossing by a driver who was speeding. The plaintiffs filed a personal injury lawsuit against the driver of the vehicle that hit them, the Uber driver, Uber, and the person who let the Uber driver use his vehicle. Before hearing any arguments, a trial court dismissed the lawsuit against all defendants except for the driver who hit the plaintiffs, citing a lack of proximate cause.

Appeal

An Illinois appellate court reversed the trial court’s ruling, stating that there is a question of fact whether the Uber driver is liable for the injuries. The court said that the plaintiffs proved actual cause with the driver because they would not have been walking home if the driver had not forced them out of the vehicle before reaching their destination. As for proximate cause, the court said it is possible that the driver could have foreseen that he was putting the plaintiffs in danger because:

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Car Seat Safety Protects Children During AccidentsIllinois is enacting a child car seat law at the beginning of 2019 that will require children younger than 2 to be placed in rear-facing car seats. A front-end collision is dangerous to infants facing forwards because the forward momentum during a sudden stop can hurt their necks and heads. A rear-facing car seat absorbs the impact of a front-end collision and better secures a child’s head and neck. There are several other ways to protect your children in case of a vehicle accident, some of which are Illinois law requirements:

  1. Consider Child’s Size: Although the law creates an age cutoff, you should not assume that your child is ready for a front-facing car seat when he or she turns 2. Safety researchers recommend that children continue riding in rear-facing car seats until they weigh more than 40 pounds or are more than 40 inches tall.
  2. Dress in Thinner Layers: You should firmly strap your child into the car seat, but bulky clothing items can compress during a crash, causing the restraints to be looser. It is advised that you dress your child in a thinner layer of clothing and place a coat or blanket on top of the seat.
  3. Car Seats Required Until 8: Illinois law states that any child younger than 8 must be secured in a child safety seat, such as a front-facing car seat or a booster seat. For children in booster seats, the lap belt should go across the child’s thighs, and the shoulder belt should go across his or her chest and shoulder. Your child should not use a booster seat if there is not a shoulder belt.
  4. Keep Children in Back: Researchers recommend that children sit in the back seat of a car until they are 12. The front row of seats is a layer of protection for them in case of a front-end collision. The force of the airbag being deployed can also be dangerous for your children.

Contact a McHenry County Personal Injury Attorney

You may receive a fine if you fail to secure your child in a car seat as mandated by Illinois law. However, violating a car seat law does not affect your ability to receive personal injury compensation if someone else was at fault for the vehicle accident that injured your child. A Crystal Lake, Illinois, personal injury attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can help you file a lawsuit to collect damages for your child’s injury. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838.

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Manufacturers Have Strict Liability with Product DefectsWhen a defective or unexpectedly dangerous product injures you, you can file a product liability lawsuit to collect personal injury compensation. Most product liability cases in Illinois fall under the theory of strict liability, which means that you do not have to prove that the manufacturer was negligent in order to hold it liable. Before you file a product liability lawsuit, you should make sure that your case meets the qualifications under Illinois law.

Product Liability Types

There are three categories of product liability claims, each of which blames the injury on a different defect with the product:

  • A design defect means that the faulty design of a product makes it inherently dangerous to consumers;
  • A manufacturing defect means that the manufacturer did not build the product to design specifications or used faulty materials; and
  • A marketing defect means that the instructions that came with the product did not warn consumers about dangers in using the product that would not be obvious to a normal person.

You will file your lawsuit against the manufacturer in most cases because it is likely responsible for the defect. You can include the business that sold you the product or the product wholesaler if they knew about the defect or somehow caused it.

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Five Ways Motorcyclists Can Stay Safe This WinterMany motorcycle riders choose to lock up their bikes for the season when the weather turns cold and icy. For those die-hards who ride year-round, safety is paramount. Driving conditions have deteriorated for everyone on the road, and motorcycles may not get the same amount of traction that riders are used to. Here are five tips for motorcycle safety during winter weather:

  1. Check Your Tires Before Riding: It is important that your tires are in good condition before you head out onto the slick roads. Make sure that your treads have not worn down, and check your tire pressure, which may be low because of the cold. You need as much traction as you can get.
  2. Be Equipped for the Weather: The basic safety gear remains the same for winter motorcycle rides, such as a helmet and jacket. However, you must also dress to keep yourself warm. Numbness in your hands or feet may impair your ability to control your bike. You can protect yourself from the elements by using additional wind guards and heated grips.
  3. Help Your Bike Warm Up: Your motorcycle will get warmer as you continue to run it, but it will not take long for it to cool down. Stopping at an intersection may be enough time for your tires to cool, decreasing your traction once you starting moving again. Some riders sway to retain heat, while others quickly accelerate and decelerate a couple of times. You may need to simply be cautious as you wait for your bike to warm up again.
  4. Take It Slow: You will face more road hazards than normal, such as icy roads and cracks created by snow plows. Riding at a slow speed can help you maintain control of your bike when you encounter these hazards. Give more space to the vehicles in front of you because your decreased traction means you need more time to brake. Be smooth when accelerating, braking, or making turns.
  5. Avoid the Snow: Snowstorms can create the slickest road conditions and decrease your visibility. Your best safety precaution is to not ride your bike if there is a chance of snow. If it starts snowing while you are riding, you need to either slow down or stop somewhere to wait out the storm.

Contact a Crystal Lake Personal Injury Attorney

You are responsible for your own medical expenses if you are injured in a motorcycle accident caused by wintery conditions or your own negligence. However, another party may be liable if he or she caused your accident. A McHenry County personal injury attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can help you receive injury compensation for your motorcycle accident. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838.

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Illinois State Bar Association State Bar of Wisconsin Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce Illinois Trial Lawyers Association McHenry County Bar Association
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