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McHenry County car accident attorneyHave you or a loved one been hurt in a situation where another car or truck collided with your vehicle? If so, would you really call the situation an “accident?” It is highly unlikely that the driver hit your car on purpose, so it might be an accident in that sense, but when a wreck occurs, intent and fault are two vastly different ideas. In fact, many people believe that using the word “accident” actually benefits insurance companies and lawyers who defend at-fault drivers. With this in mind, there are national efforts in motion to reduce the use of the word “accident” and to raise awareness regarding how the term can be misleading.

Making Assumptions Subconsciously

In recent years, several advocacy groups have come together to create a national campaign that discourages the word “accident” in car crash cases. Starting in 2015, Transportation Alternatives and Families for Safe Streets launched an online educational program and pledge drive intended to eliminate assumptions caused by using “accident.” According to Amy Cohen, who founded Families for Safe Streets after her son was hit by a car and killed in 2013, her son and others like him did not die in accidents. “An ‘accident,’” she maintains, “implies that nothing could have been done to prevent their deaths.”

Proponents of the terminology shift believe that calling a crash an accident gives the subconscious impression that nobody bears specific responsibility for the situation. In reality, most crashes are caused by someone’s actions, inaction, or negligence, which means that someone can and generally should be held responsible.

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Left-Turning Drivers Pose Threat to PedestriansA majority of the accidents that occur at intersections are the result of a vehicle making a left turn. Drivers can easily misjudge the speed of an oncoming vehicle or may not see the vehicle because of their vision being obstructed. Oncoming drivers may suffer serious injuries if they have a head-on collision with a vehicle that turns in front of them. Pedestrians in a crosswalk can also be injured when a vehicle makes a risky or illegal left turn. There are four factors that make left-turning vehicles dangerous to pedestrians:

  1. Driver Impatience: It can be frustrating to wait at an intersection for a chance to turn left, especially when there is not a left turn signal. The driver may act hastily when there is finally a gap in the oncoming traffic or the light is about to turn red. He or she may not think to look for pedestrians, who have the right-of-way to cross the street at the intersection.
  2. Quick Acceleration: Drivers must increase their speed when making left turns because of the wide turn radius. They may also rush to fit into the small window they have to make a turn against oncoming traffic. A fast-moving vehicle will have more difficulty stopping for a pedestrian and can cause greater injuries if a collision does occur.
  3. Blind Spots: A left-turning driver will likely notice a crowd of people in a crosswalk but could miss a single pedestrian who happens to be in his or her blind spot. The A-pillars on a vehicle, which hold the windshield, can obstruct a driver’s vision during a left turn. Car companies are designing wider A-pillars to store airbags and increase vehicle safety during rollovers. Unfortunately, wider A-pillars create larger blind spots for drivers.
  4. Oncoming Vehicles: A vehicle making a dangerous left turn affects the behavior of other vehicles on the road. An oncoming driver could react to a vehicle turning in front of him or her by swerving to avoid a collision, putting pedestrians at risk. A second vehicle could rear-end the oncoming vehicle, pushing it further into the intersection.

Contact a McHenry County Personal Injury Attorney

The driver of a left-turning vehicle will likely be liable for hitting you while you are in a crosswalk. You may share contributory negligence if the crosswalk light told you to stop, but you can still receive injury compensation as long as the driver was more than half at fault. A Crystal Lake, Illinois, personal injury attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can help you file a lawsuit against a negligent driver. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838. 

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Differences Between Workers' Compensation and Personal InjuryThe similarities between workers’ compensation and personal injury cases can make them at times difficult to distinguish. Both involve people being injured and needing monetary compensation in order to pay for recovery. In the simplest terms, workers’ compensation is a personal injury that occurs as a result of someone’s work. Workers’ compensation laws were created to help injured workers without having to sue their employers or coworkers. By accepting workers’ compensation benefits, an employee waives his or her right to sue an employer. However, there are more differences between workers' compensation and personal injury cases than the circumstances of the injury. In some cases, an employee injured at work may have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit.

Need for Fault

In personal injury lawsuits, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant was at fault for his or her injury. Workers’ compensation claims require the claimant to prove that his or her injury arose from work. In most cases, it is easier to prove the latter than the former. The source of an injury is more based on facts than determining who was a fault for the injury. By allowing a workers’ compensation claim, the employer is not admitting negligence and is covered by its insurance.

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Finding Witnesses in Your Personal Injury CaseWitnesses can provide important supporting evidence during a personal injury case. Their statements hold weight in lawsuits and insurance claims because they are usually neutral parties. Witnesses are often available for car accidents because the incidents take place on public roads. However, car accident victims need to obtain witness statements soon after the incident. A witness becomes less credible over time because his or her memory of the incident will fade. Your attorney can help you in contacting potential witnesses but was most likely not at the scene of your accident. Assuming you are physically capable of doing so, you can help by talking to people at the scene.

Identifying Good Witnesses

A car accident will draw the attention of everyone around you, but the most helpful witness is someone who saw the circumstances leading to the accident. The witness may be able to explain which party’s actions were at fault for the accident. However, there are several ways a defense attorney may question the credibility of a witness, such as whether:

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Woman Awarded Record Damages in Premises Liability CaseA Cook County jury recently decided that the city of Chicago must pay $148 million to a woman who suffered partial paralysis after a bus shelter collapsed outside of O’Hare International Airport. The award is reportedly the largest ever given to a plaintiff who filed a personal injury lawsuit against the city. According to testimony during the trial, the plaintiff was waiting for a ride under the bus shelter when a storm passed through. The shelter came loose and fell on the woman, severing her spine and leaving her paralyzed from the waist down. An investigation determined that the shelter was missing bolts and other shelters at the airport were in similarly poor condition. The city of Chicago accepted liability for the incident but argued that the plaintiff was entitled to $34 million. The plaintiff countered in court by requesting $174 million. The case is an example of how both premises liability and catastrophic injuries factor into personal injury lawsuits.

Premises Liability

Illinois law holds the owner of a property responsible for making reasonable efforts to protect its guests. However, there are circumstances that can absolve a property owner from liability when a person is injured on its property, such as if:

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