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Injuries After a Hit and Run Accident

“Hit by car”by Pictures by Ann is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Hit and run accidents are situations where someone leaves the scene after an accident. The car accident may involve another vehicle, object or a pedestrian. But when the driver leaves the scene without stopping to identify themselves or render any aid if it’s needed, then it becomes a hit and run. Sometimes a hit and run accident may only scratch your car. However, your situation may involve injuries and significant damages to yourself or your property. But generally, it simply focuses on the act of leaving the scene of accident. The only exception for leaving the scene of the accident is for an emergency to get help.

Penalties

In many states, a hit and run is a felony or a misdemeanor. The class depends on the type of accident. For example, a felony hit and run may include when the driver injures a person as a motorist or pedestrian. Penalties for a felony can range from $5,000 and $20,000 and can result in up to 15 years in prison. In Illinois, the punishments for a misdemeanor hit and run can vary from a fine of $5,000 to up to year of jail time depending on the state. Additionally, a hit and run accident results in an automatic suspension of the suspect’s driver’s license. Depending on the state, suspension of the license can lead to a lifetime revocation of the driver’s license.

Lastly, at-fault drivers may also face civil liability when injured party files a claim for damages. The damages could pertain to losses to their property or compensation for medical treatment and lost wages. If you have be injured due to a hit and run accident, contact a lawyer, like the attorneys at the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, who have decades of experience helping people like you.

Insurance

After a hit and run, you can make a claim to your insurance company. Some of the insurance coverage for a hit and run accident may apply:

However, remember to contact a personal injury lawyer during this process for medical expenses. A personal injury attorney understands how to handle your specific set of facts. You may have trouble locating the driver, understanding your bills, or dealing with the long term consequences of the accident. For example, you may continue to need medical care and treatment for an indefinite period of time. No matter the exact scenario following a hit-and-run accident, you best protect yourself with an experienced car accident lawyer. The lawyers at the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. can schedule a free initial consultation with you to discuss your injuries.

 

Car Accidents Caused By Mechanical Failure

mechanical failure

“Under the hood”by cbowns is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Mechanical failure can lead to serious car accidents. Additionally, they can act as a contributing factor that may lead minor accidents into major disastrous events. Examples of mechanical malfunctions include

  • brake failure,
  • broken airbags,
  • airbags that injure,
  • defective tires,
  • defective accelerators or
  • seat belts that don’t work.

For example, seat belts that doesn’t work can be dangerous to everyone. It can affect the driver and the passengers in the car. Defective seat belt may fail to tighten appropriately or could unlatch unexpectedly.

If you are hurt in a car accident due to a mechanical malfunction, you have the option to sue the manufacture or the seller of your vehicle to recover for damages. Generally, if it is a design defect, then it may affect the entire line of products. However, if a manufacturing defect occurred during the construction or production, then that usually effects just one your car.

Determining the Cause of a Mechanical Failure Accident

Each state has specific rules for how to determine the cause of an accident. However, generally, an experienced personal injury lawyer, like the attorneys at the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. will look at how the owner has treated the car and if the manufacturer knows of any issues.

First, the vehicle owner may know about underlying problems that involved repairs by a mechanic. Drivers may know of issues beforehand but either cannot afford to fix them, cannot restore them or refuse to repair the issue. Due to knowledge and action that directly result in traffic incidences, the driver or owner can be held at fault. If an owner or mechanic fails to fully repair a car, liability may lie with the owner and the mechanic. However, if the defect affects the vehicle, the manufacturer could be at fault. An attorney will look into the recall history for the vehicle and also investigate unknown defects. In these instances, the driver or mechanic may not know about the problems.

Depending on the state, strict liability may apply for mechanical failure accidents. Under the strict liability theory, a plaintiff must prove that a defective part left by the manufacturer or seller was created an unreasonably dangerous condition. Unreasonably dangerous means that the product presents more danger that expected by the ordinary consumer. The plaintiff must also prove that the defendant caused the accident.

In other cases, an accident victim may need to show negligence. Under the negligence theory, the injured victim must show that

  • the defendant owed a duty of care,
  • the defendant breached its duty of care,
  • actual and proximate causation, and
  • that the victim suffered from actual damages due to the breach.

Generally, negligence theory may be harder to prove then strict liability.

What Are Mechanical Failures You Should Watch For?

Examples of mechanical failures that you can solve for your own vehicle can include:

1. Brakes
When brake pads begin making noises or no longer function at full value, replace  them.

2. Tires
Experts recommend getting new tires every six years. If you hit curbs or potholes or have bumpier roads, have professional inspect them on a regular basis.

3. Windshield Wipers
Replace your windshield wipers every six months to a year. If they begin to streak or leave areas full of water, you may need to replace them!

4. Head Lights
Foggy head lights can lead to dangerous driving . Many cars have sensors to detect out lights. But also check them once a week for your own safety.

5. Steering
If you steering wheel appears to vibrate or lock, report this during your maintenance checkup. A professional can diagnose the problems.

By carefully maintaining your vehicle, you can help your car remain safe.

Why Should I Hire An Attorney?

If you have been injured by a car accident caused by mechanical failures, you may need to hire an attorney. The attorney will most probably retain an expert to investigate. The expert could testify about the design defect or manufacturing defect that may have caused the accident. Also, they would present to the court the alternatives to that design that could make the vehicle safer. This could involve forensic evidence of the vehicle and the accident.

Experienced personal injury lawyers like the attorneys at the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. have knowledge in motor vehicle accidents and product liability. When you meet with an attorney, an injured victim should share information about the case. This would include the suspected cause of the accident, any acts leading up to the accident and the injuries you sustained in the accident. For a free consultation, call the attorneys today at (847) 357-0403

Teenage Driver Car Accidents

When you hand over your keys to your teenager, you may feel excited and scared. And you have every reason to wait up based on the statistics. Teen drivers are at a high risk of vehicle crashes. According to the  AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 16 and 17 year older teenage drivers are more likely to get into a car accident then adults. Additionally, motor vehicle crashes have become the leading cause of death and disability for teenagers in the United States. And unfortunately, most of these crashes occur based on critical errors on the new drivers.

These errors include

  • lack of scanning needed to detect and respond on time to hazards,
  • speeding fast on dangerous road conditions,
  • texting and
  • other distractions, such as friends in the car.

These critical errors can be prevented with quality supervision by parents of driving practices by parents who can aid in helping the teenager in gaining the experience and developing driving skills as needed.

Common Types of Teenage Driver Accidents

Most common types of crashes are left turns, rear-end and running off the road. This could be due to the fact that majority of the newly licensed teen drivers receive their permits while lacking skills to drive on the road which leads to higher risk of crashing compared to the more experienced drivers. Driver inexperience is a dangerous cause of accidents because the teenagers who newly receive their driver’s license are not properly equipped to face the dangers of the roads and crash risks are particularly high on the first month of earning license.

Distracted Driving and Your Teenager

Distracted driving is also a major factor of teen vehicle crashes. Examples of distracted driving include

  • taking your eyes and mind off the road, eating,
  • talking on the phone,
  • switching between radio stations or changing songs your a Bluetooth enabled device,
  • engaging in conversations with the passenger and
  • most dangerous of all, texting while driving.

Additionally, distracted driving become even more dangerous during the nighttime when visibility is lowered.

How to Reduce Injuries for a Teenage Driver

Research has proven that wearing seat belts significantly reduces the risk of fatal and serious injuries in car accidents. This includes accidents involving teenage drivers. Reports say that teenager are more likely to not wear a seat belt while driving. Parents and adults must share the importance of the rules of driving and regulations placed to keep the drivers safe on the road.

If you know someone who has been injured in a teen driving accident or you have been the victim of teen driving accident, contact an attorney for legal assistance. The Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. has over thirty years of experience handling car accident cases. For a free consultation, call us today at (847) 357-0403. Our attorneys can review the accident and discuss your injuries.

Side Impacts Car Accidents

side impact accident

Author Brady Holt

Side impact car accidents occur when a car is hit by another vehicle or object from the side. These accidents are also known as T-bone accidents or broadside collisions. T-bone accidents can lead to death or serious injuries for both the driver and passenger. Side impact car accidents kill 8,000 and injure 10,000 people each year. Even worse, the most likely victim of a side-impact accident is a child. Even at low speeds, side impacts result in serious injuries to passengers.

Although modern cars are developing fantastic safety features, very little protection exists for a side impact accident. Even vehicles that have side-impact air bags do not provide occupants with the protection needed from such accidents. These protections become even less important when the accident occurs with cars driving at high speeds. Regardless, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates these protections, if installed in all cars and trucks, would save hundreds of lives each year.

Causes of Side-impact injuries

Among many reasons for side impact accidents are:

Common Injuries

Unfortunately, victims of side impact crashes are likely to have serious injuries if not death. People riding on the side of the car where the impact occurs suffer the worst injuries. Many of these injuries will affect a person’s neck, head, chest, or legs. For passengers on the other side of the car, the most common injuries include head and chest injuries.

Neck and spine damages often lead to chronic pain, shock and paralysis. These injuries usually occur due to the crash impact which causes whiplash. Whiplash most commonly occurs with accelerated movement after an accident. These injuries will affect the nerves and discs in the spine and may cause a concussion.Some life threatening injuries include:

Due to the severity of the types of injuries, it becomes incredibly important for people to visit medical personnel after an accident.

What to do after a side impact accident?

One of the most frequent questions we hear is what should I do after an accident. On the scene, if possible, remember to exchange insurance information with the other drivers. You should also document the damagers to the vehicle with pictures and write down all of your injuries. When you visit a medical professional, make sure to talk about any pain or worry you have. If you are unable to communicate or document due to the severity of your injuries, do so as quickly as possible and get any police records you can get.

If you believe your injuries require more attention, contact an attorney as soon as possible. They can help you walk through any discussions with insurance companies and preserve any information you may need. The attorneys at the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. have years of experience with side-impact collusion injuries. If you or someone you loved has suffered from such an injury, contact us today for a free consultation at (847) 357-0403. Remember that many states have strict statutes of limitation of one to two year to bring a personal injury lawsuit.

After consulting with an attorney, they will discuss the possible damages that you have suffered. These damages may include medical bills, lost wages, damage to vehicle, out of pocket expenses and vocational rehabilitation. In some circumstances, other noneconomic damages include pain and suffering, disfigurement, inconvenience and loss of consortium. Insurance companies act as private, for-profit companies and they may was to settle. In many instances, a personal injury lawyer will help you negotiate with these companies to recoup your damages.

How Dull Headlights Affect Safe Driving

headlights

When you’re driving down the road and see another car coming from the opposite directions, sometimes you wish you could wear your sunglasses at night to stop the blinding light. However, those lights can save your life. With half of all fatal accidents occurring after dark, headlight safety is an important factor in accident avoidance. One of the issues leading to these car accidents is the quality of the headlights. New research from AAA reveals that clouded or yellowed headlights generate only 20% of the amount of light that new headlights do. This leads to dangerous nighttime driving conditions.

The decrease caused by sunlight damage leads to discoloration. The fogginess then diminishes the headlight’s ability to provide adequate lights. When you drive down the the dark roadways, you want the best light possible. In fact, the AAA urges drivers to check their headlights for signs of deterioration. Finally, if you check them, invest in new headlights or a service to boost the safety of driving after dark.

[Read more…]

Car Seat Installation Tips and Common Mistakes

Car seats and boosters provide protection for infants and children in a crash. However, the leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 13 remains car crashes. As you buckle up your child this fall, remember to use the right car seat every time. Car seat installation seems relatively simple, but with a simple mistake, your child may be at risk. Follow these simple tips and remember to watch for common mistakes to stay safe this fall.

How to Find the Right Car Seat

Depending on the size of your child and your vehicle, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration details four car seat types. First, the best seat for your young child is the rear facing seat. With a harness, it cradles and moves with your child in a crash. This reduces the stress to the child’s fragile neck and spinal cord. Second, the forward facing car seat has a harness and tether that limits your child’s forward movement during a crash. Third, the booster seat positions the seat belt so that it fits properly over the stronger parts of your child’s body. Lastly, the seat belt should lie across the upper thighs. Make sure the belt is snug across the shoulder and chest to restrain your child safely in a crash. The belt should not on a child’s belly or cover a child’s face. The NHTSA has a Car Seat Finder tool that lets you compare seats and ease-of-use ratings to find the right car seat for your child.

[Read more…]

Drive Safe Around Road Construction Crews

road construction

As you end to family functions or work, remember that you should not rush. Always leave a bit early. But we all have been in a situation where an unexpected construction zone appears. Frustration sets in and some of us experience some road rage. However, many car accidents occur in these work zones as drivers become distracted.

Recently, a 59-year-old certified flagger died after a driver hit him and his work van in the northbound lanes of I-294 just south of Touhy. This unfortunately accident cost a family a beloved member and the driver should have been driving at a reduced speed. These mistakes need to stay at the forefront of your mind as you head out the door.

Although Chicago summers traditionally have more construction, many projects continue into early fall. Stay safe while driving on our highways and remember that the men and women fixing the roads deserve your attention.

[Read more…]

New Distracted Driving Law in Illinois

distracted driving

Using electronic devices while driving is as dangerous as drunk driving. Recently, texting has become the most common cause of distracted driving accidents. A U.S Department of Transportation 2015 report shows the danger. Distracted driving crashes caused 3,5000 fatalities and about 400,000 injuries.

According to the CDC, 1/3 of drivers from the age of 18 and 64 read emails and text while in traffic. From 2011 to 2015 the electronic device related accident spiked from 50,000 to 70,000.

Unlike increased DUI penalties, the number of car accidents has not dropped. Official believe that distracted driving accidents have filled the gap.

Distracted Drivers in Illinois

The Illinois Department of transportation observed 33,666 drivers in a recent study. The study showed 3.9% of female drivers used a hand-held electronic device. Additionally, men used their devices more often (10.2%).

The study also showed, that the city of Chicago at 17.6% had the highest diver electronic device use compared to upstate counties such as DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, Will and Winnebago at 12.6%. The downstate counties had the lowest amount of usage.

Comparing Distracted Driving to DUIs

In an experiment conducted by Car and Driver magazine, sober drivers who text or read emails while driving take longer to react to an alert than drivers with a blood alcohol content of .08. In some instances, device-distracted driving is more dangerous than DUI.

Increased Penalties in Illinois

Illinois has imposed stricter penalties starting in July 2019. Drivers caught texting and driving will face stricter penalties for violating the law. The penalty could lead up to judge’s suspension of the violators license. This puts Illinois in line with other states taking this danger seriously. For example, in California, they ban all talking, texting and the use of any handheld phones while driving.

The new law goes in effect on July 1, 2019. The law states that anyone who illegally uses a handheld electronic device while driving will get a ticket for a moving violation.  Cristina Castro, Elgin Democrat, says the penalties under the old law has not done enough to deter the drivers from using electronic devices while driving. According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, in 2017, 9% of Illinois drivers were observed to be using electronic devices while driving. In the same year, police issued 35,036 tickets for texting or talking while driving.

The new law plans on only changing the penalty under the old law. The old law implemented in 2014 is still intact. The ban under the old law is:

  • Using the speakerphone while holding a cellphone is a violation of the law
  • Use of hands-free devices or Bluetooth technology is allowed only for people older than 18.
  • Drivers may use handheld cell phones only to report an emergency, while parked on the shoulder of a road or if the vehicle is in park or neutral while normal traffic is obstructed — such as at a stoplight or train crossing.
  • Headsets — other than a single-sided headset or earpiece — are prohibited.

It is legal to press a single button to start or end a phone call.

Bike Walk Education in Schools Act

Bike Walk Education

When previously discussing pedestrian accidents, we noted that children have a high risk of injury. Illinois crash data shows nearly five children are hit by people driving every day in Illinois while walking or biking within one block of a school. However, previously, Illinois had no requirement to educate children on how to bike and walk safely.

In 2018, the legislature introduced the Bike Walk Education in Schools Act (HB4799). It required school boards statewide to adopt policies for educating K-8 students about biking and walking safety. Then they would review/update these policies every two years. Schools boards determine how best to implement the requirement in their schools. Walking and biking safely helps kids get more physical activity, reducing the risk of obesity and promoting good overall health.

Governor Rauner signed the bill at the end of August. The law takes effect July 1, 2018. [Read more…]

Fatal Wheeling Car Accident

Our community suffered a tragic loss this past month.

Most people follow the traffic laws to keep the roads safe. However, tragically, some accidents occur when others don’t follow laws. In some cases, these cases lead to severe injuries and fatal accidents. Unfortunately, one such accident occurred in Wheeling involving a Mount Prospect family.

Milwaukee Avenue Accident

While fleeing from an earlier car accident, Adam Grunin hit the family car of the Lendino family. Around 2 PM on Saturday July 22, 2018, his Hyundai hit their Chevrolet Equinox at a speed of 107 MPH. Tragically, 16-year-old Alyssa Lendino lost her life. The accident also injured seven others.

The accident occurred on southbound Milwaukee Avenue at Hintz Road in Wheeling. Adam Grunin, 30, was charged after officials said he was involved in a “minor property damage traffic crash” around 499 S. Milwaukee Ave. After the accident, he fled the scene. Police said he then rear ended a Chevrolet Equinox at the intersection of Milwaukee Avenue and Hintz Road Wheeling. The impact of the crash forced the Equinox into the intersection where it hit a Toyota Tundra making a left turn.

“It’s apparent the motor vehicle Mr. Grunin was driving was used as a dangerous weapon,” the judge said.

Please follow the laws after an accident. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of the Lendino family.p

Recently, the community has rallied around the Lendino family with fundraisers. Two fundraising lemonade stands opened in Mount Prospect over the past weekend to benefit the Lendino family.

What Do You If a Loved One Dies in a Car Accident?

First, in Illinois, a personal representative of a deceased person’s estate may file a wrongful death claim. Examples of personal representatives include:

  • a spouse of the deceased
  • a parent of a minor child who died, or
  • an adult child of the deceased

However, if a person dies without appointing a personal representative in his or her estate plan, the court may appoint a personal representative.

Next, in Illinois, you must file a wrongful death lawsuit within the time limit set by the “statute of limitations” for the underlying type of case, or within one year of the date of the deceased person’s death, “whichever date is the later.” For personal injury cases, which must file within 2 years of the date of the accident, the personal representative has at least one year, and as much as two years, to get the initial lawsuit filed in the Illinois court system. If you do not file within the applicable time limit, the court may refuse to hear it at all.

Lastly, if you’ve got questions about how the Illinois filing deadline applies to your specific wrongful death case, speak to an experienced wrongful death attorney.

Do You Need a Personal Injury Lawyer?

If you or a loved one has been injured and need help with an insurance claim, Arlington Heights personal injury attorney Ronald F. Wittmeyer can help. With more than 30 years experience practicing plaintiffs’ personal injury law, we can fight aggressively on your behalf.

Serving the Northwest suburbs including Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Palatine, and surrounding areas, the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd.helps level the playing field against major insurance companies and corporations. If you’ve been injured or involved in an accident, call our office at (847) 357-0403 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation with one of our highly qualified Arlington Heights personal injury attorneys. The sooner we can learn about your case and your needs, the more effective we can be at recovering fair and adequate compensation for your losses.

 

About the Firm


Ronald F. Wittmeyer, Jr. practices plaintiffs' personal injury law at his office in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

About Ron

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