Posted On: August 31, 2010

Causing Chicago Car Accidents Can Lead to Cook County Injury Lawsuit and Criminal Convictions for Negligent Drivers

Chicago car crashes resulting in injuries and deaths are tragic for everyone involved. Not only are the lives of the ones that are seriously hurt or the family members of those killed irrevocably altered, but also the motorist that caused the Cook County auto collision will have to live with the consequences of his/her actions forever. The driver may also become the defendant of a Chicago injury or wrongful death lawsuit and/or land in jail.

This week, Michael Penachio was sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty to reckless homicide in the 2007 drunken driving death that claimed the life of 22-year-old Danielle Baker. The LaGrange man has already settled the Chicago wrongful death lawsuit filed by Baker’s family. $54,000 will go toward the tuition fund of Baker’s daughter, who is now 4.

The deadly Chicago auto accident occurred on March 6, 2007 on the Eisenhower Expressway when Penachio's Mercedes-Benz sedan, moving at a speed of about 100 mph, rear-ended Baker’s vehicle. Her gas tank ruptured and the car burst into flames. Baker died instantly, causing her body to burn beyond recognition. Meantime, Penachio had been driving with a blood-alcohol content of 0.191, which was over twice the legal limit.

In an unrelated auto collision, on August 27 an Illinois judge sentenced Sandra Vasquez to 15 years in prison for a fatal car crash that killed five teens in 2007. Vasquez was driving eight teens home from an underage drinking party when she crashed her car into a light pole. While she has admitted to drinking four alcoholic beverages that night, Vasquez maintains that was not driving drunk.

Chicago Car Accident Victims
If you or someone you love was injured in a Chicago, Illinois car accident, it is important that you explore your legal options immediately.

5 years for La Grange man in fatal DUI, Chicago Tribune, September 1, 2010

15 years for woman in DUI crash that killed 5 teens, Chicago Breaking News, August 27, 2010

Related Web Resources:

Illinois State Police

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Posted On: August 27, 2010

Drunk Drivers Can Cause Catastrophic Chicago Car Accident Injuries

According to a 2008 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration survey, at least 1 in 12 drivers surveyed say they drive drunk at least once year. 1 in 5 admitted that when they drove under the influence they did so within 2 hours of consuming an alcoholic beverage. This, despite the fact that 4 out of 5 of the 6,999 motorists surveyed consider driving drunk to be a serious threat to safety. NHTSA Administrator David Strickland says it is clear that more needs to be done so that people that know drunk driving is dangerous will stop doing it.

According to the US Department of Transportation, 1/3rd of all deadly US auto accidents involve a drunk driver. The auto death rate could be cut significantly if people stopped driving drunk.

The NHTSA survey found that about 17.2 million Americans have gotten behind the steering wheel of a vehicle even though they suspected that their BAC was over the legal limit. 8% of people have gotten in a car driven by someone that they suspected was drunk. 40% believe that they can drive after having 3 drinks. 11% think that they can still drive after 5 drinks.

It goes without saying that if you or someone you love was injured in a Chicago car accident involving a drunk driver that you believe caused the crash, there is a good chance you may have grounds for a Chicago injury case against him/her. Most drivers never intend to hurt anyone when driving under the influence, but unfortunately, injuries and deaths happen.

Just recently, one adult was injured and the allegedly drunken driver’s son, age 4, was killed in a Chicago car crash that occurred on August 15 at Fullerton and Kostner. Police say that Letecia Medel, 24, had a blood alcohol level of .151 when her vehicle did not stop at a red light and rear-ended a Honda Civic that was stopped. Her vehicle then drove into the next lane where it hit a Chevrolet Tahoe. The impact from the traffic collision also caused the Honda to strike another vehicle before it ended up against a building.

Medina, Jonathan, her 2-year-old son, and her husband fled the Cook County car accident site. At the hospital, Jonathan, who was suffering from a lacerated liver and numerous contusions, was pronounced dead.

Woman charged in DUI crash that killed 4-year-old, Pioneer Local, August 23, 2010

Government study: 1 in 12 drivers admit driving drunk, USA Today, August 26, 2010

Related Web Resources:
DUI Fact Book, Cyber Drive Illinois (PDF)

Mothers Against Drunk Driving

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Posted On: August 23, 2010

Doggie Distractions Can Cause Chicago Car Accidents

According to an AAA survey, two-thirds of dog owners say that it isn’t uncommon for them to pet, feed, or play with their dogs while driving. This behavior can end up falling under the category of distracted driving if it prevents a driver from paying attention to the road. After all, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says that a mere two seconds with a driver’s eyes off the road can double his/her car crash risk.

Among those polled:
• 55% say they have pet their dog while driving
• 21% have driven with their dog on the lap
• 7% have given a dog food and water while weaving through traffic
• 5% have played with the pet while driving
• Only 17% use a pet-restraint system

Our Chicago car accident lawyers want to remind you that now more than ever, distracted driving can be considered negligent driving—especially if someone gets hurt or dies as a result. A few other examples of distracted driving include, texting while driving, reading while driving, and surfing the Internet.

Even if you aren’t playing with or petting your dog while operating your vehicle, it is still important that your pet is properly restrained. An unrestrained dog can be a force to be reckoned with in a vehicle. If its body gets flung around during a Chicago car accident, vehicle occupants are at risk of injury from the force of impact. You definitely don’t want your dog sitting on your lap if the air bag in front of you deploys.

Study: Driving under influence of pets a danger, Vancouver Sun, August 18, 2010

Dogs rule but not in the car, survey says, Daily Herald, August 22, 2010

Related Web Resources:
AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

Distracted Driving, NHTSA

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Posted On: August 19, 2010

Dolton Car Accident Kills Teen and Now Parents are Suing Village and Cook County for Fatal Police Pursuit

Selean Turner Brack and Kenyatta Brack Sr. are seeking at least $50,000 in Illinois wrongful death recovery from Cook County and the Village of Dolton. Their son, 16-year-old Kenyatta Brack Jr. was killed on Sunday in a Dolton bicycle accident when he a speeding motorist that was fleeing from police hit him. The driver was going at speeds of about 70 mph at the time. He did not stop at the crash site.

According to the Brack’s Cook County wrongful death lawsuit, police violated police practices when they took part in a high-speed police chase even though no violent crime had been committed, the vehicle pursuit was taking place in a suburban residential area, and office superiors had not been notified.

The officers involved in the police pursuit claim that they never drove faster than 35 mph while following the suspect and were two blocks away when the Dolton car crash fatally injured the teenaged victim. A friend who was cycling with Kenyatta, however, claims that the police cars were driving fast and following closely behind the other vehicle.

The Brack family is calling for the hit-and-run driver to come forward.

Cook County Car Accidents
There may be more than one party who should be held liable for your Cook County car crash injuries. We know how devastating it is to lose someone you love because other people were reckless or careless or negligent. Taking care of legal issues is not something you likely want to be thinking about so soon after your loss. However, the sooner your explore your legal options, the better you will increase the chances of getting the maximum Chicago car accident compensation from the responsible parties.

Father of Dolton teen killed in hit-and-run questions police account, Chicago Tribune, August 16, 2010

Lawsuit: Cops triggered hit-run crash that killed teen in Dolton, Sun-Times, August 17, 2010

Related Web Resources:
The Village of Dolton

Chases by police yield high fatalities, USA Today, April 23, 2010

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Posted On: August 17, 2010

Chicago Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed Over Rogers Park, Illinois Car Crash that Left Woman Dead and Her Son with Serious Injuries

Nearly eight months after a driver in a car fleeing police allegedly struck his wife and son during a Rogers Park pedestrian accident, Felix Worthon is suing motorist Ralph Eubanks for Chicago wrongful death. Worthon, his 48-year-old wife Maria, and their 6-year-old son Jeremia were crossing a narrow street at the time. Maria, whose body was thrown some 100 feet after she was struck, died at the Rogers Park car crash site. Jeremia sustained critical injuries.

According to Cook County prosecutors, Ralph Eubanks, the driver of the 1998 Grand Prix that struck Maria and Jeremia, was fleeing police and allegedly driving at about 70 to 80 mph. He did not slow down or stop at the Rogers Park car accident site.

Eubanks was apprehended with traces of ecstasy, cocaine, and marijuana in his blood. He is charged with aggravated driving under the influence, first-degree murder, and leaving the scene of a deadly car accident site. At his bond hearing after the deadly Rogers Park traffic crash, prosecutors said that Eubanks has never had a driver’s license. He also has three prior convictions for driving without one and has spent time behind bars for drugs, weapons, and possession of a stolen vehicle-related convictions.

Worthon is also suing the owner of the vehicle, Dennis Jeter. Worthon contends that Jeter gave his “explicit permission" for Eubanks to use the vehicle.

Drunk driving and drugged driving are negligent acts that claim the lives of many people each year. Do NOT speak with the other party’s insurer about your Chicago car accident case without exploring your legal options first.

Suit filed against driver, car owner in fatal crash, Chicago Breaking News, August 9, 2010

No Bond For Driver Held On Hit-Run Murder Charge, CBS2, December 24, 2009

Related Web Resources:

Drugged Driving, NIDA

Impaired Driving, CDC

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Posted On: August 13, 2010

$1 Million South Elgin Car Accident Lawsuit Settlement Reached Between West Chicago Strip Club and Families of Pregnant Woman, Her Unborn Child, and Club Patron

The Diamonds Gentlemen's Club, a West Chicago strip club, has settled the Kane County, Illinois wrongful death lawsuit filed by the families of April Simmons, 27, and John Chiariello, 25, for $1 million. Simmons, who was pregnant at the time, and Chiariello died from injuries they sustained in January 2006 when they were involved in a South Elgin car crash with John Homatas. Chiariello was a passenger in Homatas’s vehicle. Also killed in the Illinois car accident was Simmon’s unborn baby.

According to the Illinois wrongful death lawsuit, Chiariello and Homatas were thrown out of the strip club after getting drunk. The club’s employees put Homatas in the car and he and Chiariello drove off. Some 15 minutes later, Homatas crashed his vehicle head-on into Simmons’ SUV.

Although the club had initially argued that it shouldn’t be held liable for Homatas’ actions since it doesn’t serve alcohol (it has a bring your own liquor policy), earlier this year the Illinois Supreme Court said that the strip club was at least somewhat accountable for the Kane County car crash.

From the $1 million settlement, which is the most that the club’s insurance allows, $800,000 will go to Simmons’s family. The remaining $200,000 will go to Chiariello’s family. Homatas, who is serving a 12-year prison term for his convictions for reckless homicide and aggravated DUI, settled the South Elgin wrongful death case against him for $200,000, which is also the maximum allowed under his insurance policy.

There may be more than one party who should be held liable for your Chicago car accident injuries.

West Chicago strip club settles DUI suit for $1 million, Chicago Tribune, August 12, 2010

Families Can Sue West Chicago Strip Club for Fatal Illinois Car Crash, ChicagoCarAccidentAttorneysBlog, March 19, 2010

Related Web Resources:

Illinois Supreme Court Ruling (PDF)


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Posted On: August 12, 2010

Lake County Car Accident in Antioch, Illinois Kills Woman And Leaves 3 in Critical Condition

A head-on Lake County, Illinois car crash in Antioch early Thursday has killed one person while seriously injuring three others. Police say that alcohol and speed were a factor.

The compact car and sport utility vehicle collided at about 1:45am. The two vehicles were coming from opposite directions when they struck each other on Grass Lake Road. The SUV rolled over multiple times.

The woman that died, 22-year-old Danielle Trevithick, was riding alone in the car. She had to be extricated from her vehicle and was pronounced dead at the Antioch, Illinois car accident site.

Two of the SUV’s passengers, a man and a woman, also had to be extricated from their vehicle. The SUV’s driver was ejected from the auto during the crash. All three of them were flown to the hospital with critical injuries from blunt force trauma.

Police are trying to confirm the cause of the catastrophic Lake County car accident. Evidence of alcohol was found at the crash site.

Speed and alcohol are each alone known to cause devastating Chicago car crashes. Combine them with one another and the chance of fatality goes up dramatically. Both make it hard for a driver to maintain control of a vehicle—especially when confronted with an emergency situation. Thousands of people are killed each year because someone was driving drunk and/or speeding. Often, drunk drivers don’t even realize that they were speeding because their sense of perception is so impaired that it is difficult from them to accurately assess their physical space.

1 Dead, 3 Critical in Antioch Crash; Alcohol, Speed Suspected, MyFoxChicago, August 12, 2010

Alcohol, high speed possible factors in Antioch Township crash, Chicago Breaking News, August 12, 2010

Related Web Resources:
Speeding, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety

Influenced Driving, Illinois State Police

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Posted On: August 5, 2010

Cook County Bus Accident Lawsuit Seeks Damages for Injuries to a Child After Vomiting Bus Driver Falls Out of Vehicle

The mother of a child who was injured in an Illinois school bus crash last December after the bus driver fell out of the bus has filed a Cook County injuries to a minor lawsuit. Akilah Giddings is seeking at least $50,000 in damages for Jacqual Calbert’s injuries.

According to the complaint, In “attempt to lean over” so he could throw up, the driver opened the bus door and ended up falling out of the vehicle and onto the road. Meantime, the now driverless bus kept on moving and eventually crashed in a ditch.

Giddings is suing Illinois Central School Bus for her son’s personal injuries. A spokesperson for the defendant maintains that safety is “a top priority” for the company.

School Bus Accidents:
Every day, millions of school children are transported to and from schools in school buses. Most school buses lack seat belts, which is why it is even more crucial that a bus driver refrain from doing anything careless or reckless that could result in a school bus accident.

Common causes of Chicago school bus accidents:
• Speeding
• Aggressive driving
• Distracted driving
• Texting or talking on the phone
• Reckless driving
• A bus driver who is inadequately trained or not experienced enough to operate a school bus
• Bus malfunction
• Poor bus maintenance
• Driver fatigue
• Poor road conditions

Unfortunately, thousands of children are injured in school bus accidents every year. Bus passenger injuries can include broken bones, back injuries, neck trauma, head injuries, spinal cord injuries, whiplash, burn injuries, traumatic brain injuries, internal bleeding, disfigurement, soft tissue trauma, and wrongful death. There are also those who are injured from being struck by a school bus.

Bus company sued over crash by vomiting driver, Chicago Tribune, August 4, 2010

School bus crashed after driver leaned out to vomit: lawsuit, Sun Times, August 4, 2010

Related Web Resources:
The National Coalition for School Bus Safety

New Study On School Bus Safety Shows Injuries Well Exceed Previous Reports, Science Daily, November 6, 2006

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Posted On: August 2, 2010

Nearly 90% of Teen Drivers Engage in Distracted Driving, Say AAA & Seventeen Magazine Survey

Despite government efforts to educate the public that distracted driving is dangerous, almost 9 out of 10 teen motorists continue to multi-task while operating a motor vehicle. Seventeen magazine and AAA recently issued findings from a new survey of 1,999 teens in the 16 to 19 age group:

• 84% of them know that distracted driving increase their car crash risk
• 86% continue to drive while distracted, engaging in behavior such as eating, fiddling with the radio, putting on making, talking on the cell phone, and text messaging.
• Over 1/3 of participants admitted that they’ve almost been involved in car accidents because of distracted driving.
• Texting teen drivers send about 23 text messages each month.
• The highest proportion of distracted drivers involved in deadly motor vehicle collisions belong to the under 20 age group.

Considering that traffic accidents are already the number one cause of teen driver deaths, the fact that many teen motorists continue to text and engage in other distracted driving habits while operating a motor vehicle is bad news. Our Chicago car accident lawyers has seen the kinds of catastrophic crashes that can occur because someone was distracted while driving. We understand how devastating it can be to know that your life has been irrevocably altered because another motorist was busy multitasking and failed to see you in your vehicle.

According to the NHTSA, distracted drivers have a four times grater risk of becoming involved in a traffic crash than drivers who aren’t distracted. Texting increases a motorist’s crash risk by over 20 times.

Meantime, the federal government continues its quest to make people comprehend the dangers of distracted driving. Last week, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the date for this year’s National Distracted Driving Summit. The event is scheduled to begin on September 21 and will involve transportation officials, law enforcement, safety advocates, researchers, industry representatives, and victims.

86 Percent of Teens have Driven While Distracted, According to AAA and Seventeen Magazine Survey, AAA, August 2, 2010

Teens, driving and texting are a bad mix, Los Angeles Times, August 2, 2010

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Announces Second National Distracted Driving Summit, NHTSA, July 27, 2010

Related Web Resources:
Distracted Driving, NHTSA

Teen Drivers, CDC

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