Posted On: May 30, 2009

Chicago Car Accidents: Northbrook College Student Dies in Illinois Motor Vehicle Crash

A college student has died in an Illinois car accident close to Chicago. Andrew Galo, 22, was from Northbrook. He was riding as a passenger in a pickup truck when the vehicle drove off the road, hitting a semi-trailer that was parked close to an intersection. Galo sustained numerous injuries from the deadly Waukegan car accident and was pronounced dead at the crash site.

The driver of the pickup truck, 22-year-old Adam Burkhart, was treated at a Park Ridge hospital for non-life-threatening injuries. He has been charged with reckless homicide. Police also charged him with speeding and driving under the influence of alcohol. Waukegan police say the Gurney resident was remanded to the Lake County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bond.

Speeding and Drunk Driving
Speeding and drunk driving are two of the most common causes of fatal US motor vehicle crashes. When done together, they make an even more deadly combination.

According to a 2007 Talk of the Nation discussion with University of Hawaii psychology professor Leon James, people speed because it’s part of our culture to “do something fast.” He says that many people don’t think that driving above the speed limit is necessarily dangerous.

However, speeding is the cause of 30% of motor vehicle fatalities that occur each year—about 1,000 deaths a month. Speeding makes it harder for a driver to stop their vehicle in time during an emergency situation. It also narrows the distance between a motor vehicle and the vehicle or obstacle in front of the car. The faster the speed that a motor vehicle is traveling the greater the impact of collision in the event of a car crash.

Compound the issue of speeding with driving drunk and the outcome can be catastrophic for the drunk driver or others. Drunk driving impairs ones judgment and ability to gauge distances between the driver’s vehicle and the vehicles and other objects around, while slowing down a motorist's reflexes.

Student dies in car accident near Chicago,, May 28, 2009

Gurnee man charged with reckless homicide, Lake County News-Sun, May 27, 2009

Northbrook passenger killed in car crash, Gurnee driver charged, Northbrook Star, May 26, 2009

Psychology behind the wheel: Why do we speed?, NPR, June 7, 2007

Related Web Resources:
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Cyber Drive Illinois

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Posted On: May 29, 2009

Chicago Motor Vehicle Accidents: NHTSA Warns 15-Passenger Van Riders of Rollover Dangers

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is reminding 15-passenger van users to drive carefully and exercise the proper safety precautions to prevent a tragic rollover accident from happening. Studies show that these large vehicles are at higher risk than passenger vehicles of rolling over—especially when fully loaded with luggage and passengers.

The NHTSA has reported that more deadly 15-passenger van accidents occur between the months of June through August than any other time of the year because the US summer months are usually when many families and other groups tend to travel together.

Latest NHTSA 15-Passenger Van Statistics:

• 15-passenger van occupant fatalities increased by almost 20% between 2006 and 2007.
• 15-passenger van drivers made up approximately 25% of these fatalities between 2003 and 2007.
• 45 peopled died in 15-passenger van rollovers—a 73% increase from 2006.
• Approximately 80% of people killed in 15-passenger van accidents over the past 5 years were not wearing seatbelts.

It doesn’t help that 15-passenger vans are designed in a way that loading the vehicle can result in its center of gravity shifting toward the rear, which increases the likelihood that the driver will lose control of the van during an emergency situation or that a rollover accident will happen. It is important to note that vehicle manufacturers are responsible for making sure that their motor vehicles are designed in such a way that the chances of a rollover or another deadly accident happening are decreased rather than increased. Failure to exercise this duty of care can be grounds for a products liability lawsuit in the event of a Chicago car accident.

That said, 15-passenger van drivers, like all motor vehicle operators responsible for transporting large groups of people on the road, must have the experience to safely operate such a large vehicle.

Consumer Advisory: Federal Government Restates Rollover Warning for 15-Passenger Vans Users, NHTSA, May 20, 2009

Fatalities to Occupants of 15-Passenger Vans, 2003 - 2007, NHTSA (PDF)

Related Web Resources:

15-Passenger Van Safety Hazard Information, Public Citizen

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Posted On: May 26, 2009

Chicago Hit and Run Car Accident: Mayor Daley Orders Police to Investigate Whether Cop Arrested for Boy’s Bicycle Death Was Given Preferential Treatment

Is the Chicago police officer arrested for the Illinois hit-and-run death of 13-year-old Trenton Booker getting preferential treatment? That’s what Chicago Mayor Richard Daley wants to know. He is ordering the police department to conduct a probe into the matter immediately.

Bail was set at $2 million for Richard Bolling—although as of this afternoon, the Chicago police department still won’t identify him as the off-duty cop who was driving the speeding car that hit Booker, who was riding a bicycle, early Saturday morning. They are also refusing to release Bolling's arrest photo.

According to witnesses, Bolling was at a bar right before he got into his vehicle and hit the boy at the intersection of Ashland and 81st at around 1:30am. Police arrested the off-duty cop a few blocks away from the Chicago bicycle accident site after they saw his vehicle driving the wrong way down a one-way street. The state attorney’s office says there was an open bottle of beer in the car and Bolling’s Dodge Charger had sustained windshield and front-end damage.

The 17-year veteran of the Chicago police force was charged with leaving the crash site where an injury or death occurred, aggravated driving under the influence, transporting alcohol, driving in the wrong direction on a one-way street, and reckless homicide.

There are concerns as to why the Chicago police department did not administer a Breathalyzer test to Bolling until four hours after the deadly Chicago motor vehicle accident. Another eight hours reportedly passed before a blood test was administered to Bolling to determine his blood alcohol level. His BAC at that time was .079. The legal limit is .08%.

Booker’s family members have also complained that a court hearing on Saturday to set bail for the Chicago cop took place an hour ahead of schedule and that they weren’t notified of the change. Typically, bond hearings occur at noon.

A police arrest report says that Bolling did not appear impaired after he was given field sobriety tests. However, Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney John Dillon said at the Saturday hearing that a witness that saw the Chicago cop at the bar said Bolling always had a drink in hand.

Favoritism shown in cop's DUI arrest?, Chicago Breaking News, May 26, 2009

$2M bail set for Chicago cop charged in hit-run death of boy, Chicago Sun-Times, May 24, 2009

Related Web Resources:
Chicago Police Department

Car Accidents Overview, Justia

Richard M Daley, City of Chicago

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Posted On: May 20, 2009

Chicago Car Accident Lawyers: Illinois Senate Approves Ban on Text-Messaging and Internet Surfing While Driving

Yesterday, the Illinois Senate approved a ban on text messaging and surfing the Internet while operating a motor vehicle. The measure would still let drivers pull over onto the shoulder of a road to search the Web or send and receive text messages without fear of reprisals from an Illinois law enforcement officer. A motorist would also still be able to use a cell phone for GPS purposes.

While some Illinois lawmakers, such as Sen. Kwame Raoul, are concerned the legislation would give locals cops an excuse to engage in racial profiling when pulling people over, others, including Sen. Martin Sandoval, who sponsored the legislation, says the ban would create safer roads. Text messaging has recently been cited as one of the reasons why car accidents happen.

The legislation now goes to the House for approval. Also on Tuesday, the Illinois Senate approved legislation that banned cell phone use in school zones and construction areas unless the motorist is using an earpieces with the phone.

Illinois Cell Phone Driving Laws
Currently, Illinois lets localities determine their own cell phone driving laws. Chicago has a ban on handheld cell phone use while driving. Statewide, teen drivers younger than age 19 cannot use a cell phone or any other hand-held communication device and drive a vehicle at the same time. School bus drivers cannot use a cell phone while there are children riding the bus.

A new study by Vlingo, the maker of mobile phone speech-recognition technology, found that 26% of people surveyed say they still text while driving even though they know that the habit can lead to fatal motor vehicle accidents. This is just a slight decline from the 28% of drivers that took the survey last year that admitted to text messaging while operating a vehicle. Also, among those surveyed:

• Almost 60% of teen drivers say the text while they drive.
• 49% of 20- to 29-year-olds confessed to texting while in the driver’s seat.
• 13% of drivers in the over 50 age group say the send, receive, and read texts while driving.

Illinois Senate OKs ban on texting or surfing while driving, Chicago Tribune, May 20, 2009

Related Web Resources:
Cell Phone Driving Laws, Governors Highway Safety Association

Driving While Texting Still Popular Despite Bans: Survey, VOXEO, May 20, 2009

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Posted On: May 19, 2009

Preventing Chicago Car Accident Injuries and Deaths: Illinois State Police Tell Drivers and Vehicle Occupants to Either Buckle Up and “Click It or Ticket”

Throughout Illinois, police officers are telling motor vehicle riders to “Click It or Ticket.” Their efforts are part of a nationwide campaign, running from May 18 to 31, to remind people that they need to wear seat belts—or else face getting slapped with a ticket for the violation.

According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, seat belt use throughout the state was at 90.5% in 2008—up from 88% in 2006—with Illinois motor vehicle deaths dropping by 211 for this same time period. These figures are positive progress, considering that the US Department of Transportation has released new information revealing that 22,372 serious traffic injuries and 1,652 traffic deaths could be avoided annually if each US state logged in a seat belt use rate of 90%. Currently, the national seat belt use rate is 83%. This means that 1 out of every 5 vehicle occupants in the US is still not buckling up 100% of the time.

2007 data reveals that 15,147 lives were saved that year because people were using seat belts. Safety belts, however, can only be effective if they are working properly and free from defects. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case, and car makers and seat belt manufacturers have had to recall motor vehicles because a seat belt defect was discovered—in many cases, after someone got hurt or died in an auto accident. Car accident victims and families have filed products liability lawsuits against seat belt makers and auto manufacturers for personal injury and wrongful death because a seat belt became unlatched or malfunctioned in another way during a catastrophic auto crash.

Also, as essential as it is that a person wear a properly working safety belt to decrease the chances of injury or death, there are still many motor vehicle crashes that occur in Chicago, the rest of Illinois, and throughout the US that claim the lives of seat belt users because a motorist or another party was negligent.

Research Kicks Off 'Click It or Ticket' Nationwide Enforcement Campaign Set To Run May 18-31, NHTSA, May 14, 2009

Illinois State Police launch 'Click it or Ticket' initiative, WREX, May 14, 2009

Related Web Resources:
The Increase in Lives Saved, Injuries Prevented, and Cost Savings if Seat Belt Use Rose to at Least 90 Percent in All States, NHTSA (PDF)

Safety Restraints, Illinois State Police

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Posted On: May 15, 2009

Chicago DUI Accident Lawyers: Recent Drunk Driving Crashes Cause Fatalities and Injuries

In DuPage County, Illinois, a woman accused of causing a Naperville drunk driving accident on Wednesday afternoon faces charges of aggravated battery in a public place, driving under the influence of alcohol, driving too fast for conditions, leaving an accident scene that involved damage, and failing to slow down the speed of her vehicle.

Margaret T. Puleo was trying to exit an apartment complex on Naper Boulevard in her 1997 Infinity when she struck landscaping rocks close to the driveway before hitting a 2006 Chrysler convertible at the intersection of Columbia Street and Chicago Avenue.

While Puleo and the other driver initially got out of their cars to investigate the DuPage County car crash site, she quickly got into her vehicle when she heard that police were on the way and that is when she hit the other driver, who sustained a serious, non-life threatening injury. Police apprehended Puleo less than two hours later. She is currently free on bail.

In another Illinois drunk driving accident, this one in Cook County, a Brighton Park driver was ordered held in lieu of bail for his alleged role in the fatal drunk driving accident that claimed the life of a Chicago Heights man on Mother’s Day. Juan Cayetano, 38, was charged with aggravated drunk driving resulting in death and reckless homicide.

Prosecutors say Juan Cayetano had a BAC of .206% when he ran a red light on Chicago’s South Side and hit a Lexus driven by a 48-year-old Chicago Heights resident. Calvin Hatten died from his injuries.

Police had been trying to apprehend Cayetano prior to the deadly Chicago car crash. His wife and two daughters were in the car with him when he hit the other car. His wife broke her ribs during the traffic crash. Another passenger fractured a leg. Cayetano was hospitalized following the Chicago traffic accident.

Drunk Driving Accidents
A driver who gets behind the wheel of the car while under the influence of alcohol or drugs seriously increases the chances that he or she will be involved in an Illinois DUI accident that could hurt or kill other people. Although a drunk driver may have impaired his or her senses enough to not know what he or she is doing, this doesn’t excuse the behavior or exempt the motorist from being held accountable for another party’s personal injuries or wrongful death.

Inebriated driver cuts swath of mayhem through Naperville,, May 15, 2009

Suspect in DUI death ordered held in lieu of bond, Sun Times, May 13, 2009

Related Web Resources:
Mothers Against Drunk Driving

Drunk Driving, Insurance Information Institute

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Posted On: May 11, 2009

Chicago Car Accident: Judge Denies Bail to Man Charged in Humboldt Park Auto Crash that Killed 2 Women and Injured 2 Others

In Illinois, the man charged with two counts of first degree murder and two counts of attempted first degree murder in last week’s Humboldt Park car accident that left two people seriously injured and two women dead has been denied bail. Joshua Enriquez is accused of purposely rear-ending the vehicle that the victims were riding in.

The May 3 Chicago car accident took place close to Kedzie Street and Augusta Boulevard when Enriquez, in a Jeep, allegedly rammed his vehicle into the back of a Grand Am. The impact of the crash pushed the other vehicle into a tree, before it then hit several parked cars and rolled over. Enriquez than reportedly fled the crash site. He was arrested on Friday.

According to certain news sources, Enriquez allegedly got into a verbal altercation with the four women while at a gas station prior to the Chicago motor vehicle accident. One of the women is reportedly Enriquez’s ex-girlfriend, Karina Paredes.

The two people that died in the Cook County traffic accident are 19-year-old Nicole Mijares and 22-year-old Gabriella Almanza. Their respective causes of death were multiple injuries from a Jeep. Two other women were taken to local hospitals in reportedly serious-to-critical condition. They are Paredes and driver Maria Ortega, who is the sister of Almanza. Ortega sustained a fractured foot during the crash and had to have 57 stitches sewn into her face.

Enriquez claims he is innocent.

If you were injured in a Chicago car accident because another driver behaved recklessly or negligently—whether with malice or by accident—you may be entitled to Illinois personal injury compensation. If you were the victim of a violent crime that left you with injuries, you also may have grounds for filing a civil lawsuit seeking damages from the negligent party.

No Bail for Man Charged in Humboldt Park Crash, Chicago Breaking News Center, May 11, 2009

Car Crash Survivor: Suspect Could Have Stopped, ABC Local, May 11, 2009

Suspect held in deaths of two women in West Side car wreck, WBBM, May 10, 2009

Two women killed in Humboldt Park crash, Chicago Sun-Times, May 3, 2009

Related Web Resource:
Illinois Criminal Code

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Posted On: May 6, 2009

Illinois Car Accident Lawsuit Says Driver Pulled Away Before Daughter Was Completely Out of Vehicle

An Illinois mother says her daughter got injured because the driver of the car the girl was riding in pulled away before she could get out of the vehicle. The Illinois car accident allegedly occurred on the evening of December 30, 2008.

According to Tracy Jenkins’s complaint, driver Nicholas R. McGraw had stopped the vehicle on Route 15 in Freeburg to let Megan Jenkins out but then tried to drive off before the girl was completely out of the auto. Tracy says that as a result of McGraw’s negligence in failing to tell Megan that he was about to drive off and neglecting to keep a proper lookout, the girl sustained extensive ankle and leg injuries and became sore, sick, disabled, and disordered, experienced suffering and pain, and accrued medical expenses. She is seeking over $100,000 plus costs on her daughter’s behalf.

Illinois Personal Injury
Depending on the circumstances surrounding an Illinois car accident case, you or your child may be entitled to recovery for medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional damages, and disfigurement. Hedonic damages, for the loss of the ability to enjoy certain activities, and punitive damages to punish the defendant may also apply. Injuries to minors cases must be filed by the child’s parent, guardian, or another adult.

Just because you or your loved one was seriously injured in an Illinois car accident doesn’t mean you will instantly receive personal injury compensation. As the plaintiff, you will have to prove that the defendant is legally liable in terms of legal causation and actual causation.

A good Chicago car crash lawyer can do this for you, including determine whether there is more than one party that can be held liable for Illinois personal injury, such as a car maker, a tire manufacturer, local police, an Illinois city, or another entity.

Driver sued for taking off before passenger all the way out, The Record, May 5, 2009

Related Web Resources:
Car Accident Overview, Justia

Car Accidents: Proving Fault, Nolo

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Posted On: May 5, 2009

Chicago Hit and Run Accident Claims Lives of Two Pedestrians

In Chicago, police are looking for the driver of the car that killed two Illinois pedestrians while they were crossing the street in West Rogers Park on Monday night. The two people that died in the Chicago hit and run accident are 34-year-old Christy Cawthon and 50-year-old Yakho Oshana.

The two friends were walking against the crossing signal on Devon Avenue when they were hit by a red Honda Civic that then fled the crash scene. The impact of the motor vehicle crash threw Oshana into the air, knocking his shoes off his feet. He was pronounced dead at the crash site.

According to police, the car's driver crossed the intersection on a green light but failed to yield to the two pedestrians. One witness says that the driver hit the brakes after striking the victims before speeding off again. Police found the vehicle but are still trying to determine who was behind the wheel of the car at the time of the deadly crash.

Chicago Hit and Run Accident Claims
Even if you were injured in a Chicago car accident involving a hit and run driver, there are still steps you can take to make sure that you recover the maximum amount possible for your claim. An experienced Chicago personal injury attorney can work with your insurance company to makes sure that you receive the proper settlement for your uninsured motorist claim. If necessary, your Illinois car accident lawyer can represent you during any dispute that might arise with your insurer.

If the hit and run driver comes forward or Chicago police manage to apprehend him or her, then your Chicago injury attorney can push for financial recovery from the negligent motorist and any other liable parties. Serious injuries from a Chicago car accident can change your life, while losing your loved one died in an Illinois auto accident can be devastating. In either scenario, there will be costs and damages to consider.

Two friends killed by hit-and-run driver in Rogers Park, Chicago Sun-Times, May 5, 2009

2 killed in West Rogers Park hit-and-run, Chicago Breaking News, May 5, 2009

Related Web Resources:
The Tragedy of Fatal Hit and Run Accidents on America's Deadly Roads, Deadly Roads

Uninsured Motorist, Justia

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