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Protect Yourself with Proper Motorcycle Gear

motorcycle gear

“harley”by Hungarian Snow is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

With the warmer weather, you may want to dust off your motorcycle for a nice summer ride. But did you know that most motorcycle accidents happen on short trips of five miles or less? Additionally, most accidents happen with the motorcycle traveling slower than 30 miles per hour. In addition to riding safely, remember to dress safely. Wearing the proper motorcycle gear can protect you and your passengers from potential significant injury if an accident occurs. So, let us review what you should wear to stay safe on the roads.

Motorcycle Helmets

Motorcycle helmets are one of the most obvious ways to protect yourself while on a motorcycle. In Wisconsin, both passengers and riders 17 years or younger must wear a helmet on any motorcycle with an engine greater than 50ccs or on motorcycles capable of exceeding 30mph. And even though there is no mandated helmet law in Illinois, you should still always wear a helmet when riding on your motorcycle. Whether you wear a full-face helmet, or a three-quarter helmet is up to your own personal preferences. Whichever helmet you choose, you should check for a few things:

  1. Make sure the helmet meets U.S. Department of Transportation and state safety standards.
  2. Be sure that the helmet fits snuggly, all around your head.
  3. Check to make sure that the helmet is free from defects like cracks on the outer shell, loose padding on the inside, or frayed, weakened chin straps.

Eyewear

Regardless of the helmet laws, both Illinois and Wisconsin require eye protection while on your motorcycle. Illinois requires eye protection during day and night rides, unless the motorcycle has a windscreen. Wisconsin also requires eye protection during day and night rides, unless the motorcycle has a state-approved windscreen that rises 15 or more inches from the handlebars. Before you hit the road, quickly verify the condition of the eyewear by checking the following:

  • Eye protections should be free from scratches, and resistant to penetration.
  • Eye protection should give a clear view on either side of the eyes for increased visibility.
  • Eye protection fit snugly and comfortably to the face, leaving room for eyeglasses or sunglasses, if needed.

Other Motorcycle Gear and Clothing

The less exposed skin you have while riding, the safer you are from injury in an accident. Wear jackets and pants that cover your arms and legs completely. Wear boots with a hard, slip-resistant sole that rise above the ankle. Wear full-finger gloves to protect your hands and get a good grip on the handles.

By wearing the proper motorcycle safety gear, you can better protect yourself from severe injury in the event of an accident. If you or someone you know has been injured in a motorcycle accident, contact the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer today for a free consultation. With considerable experience representing people involved in motorcycle accidents, let R.F. Wittmeyer fight to get you the compensation you deserve.

Move Over and Follow Scott’s Law

move over

“Oops”by Otis Blank is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Summer is a busy season for the roadways with outdoor family activities and family vacations. Before the summer vacation season kicks off, you should review some summer road safety tips. More example, how should you handle passing a vehicle pulled over to the shoulder of the road with flashing lights? Illinois has a specific law known as Scott’s Law. The law can keep you and the professionals on the road safe as you travel this summer.

Overall, these laws keep emergency services personnel safe hile they work. Examples of  include:

  • firefighters,
  • police officers,
  • emergency medical technicians (EMTs), and
  • construction and maintenance crews safe.

Move Over

You may have heard that this year alone, motorists have struck 16 Illinois State Troopers along the sides of Illinois roads. Tragically, two of these troopers have tragically died. Scott’s Law requires that all drivers move over. The law states that you must move over at least one lane for emergency or commercial vehicles when they

  • displaying flashing lights or
  • while pulled over to the side of the road

If a driver cannot move over, drivers must slow down until they have safely passed the vehicle parked on the shoulder.

Scott’s Law received its name from Lieutenant Scott Gillen of the Chicago Fire Department. In 2000, an intoxicated driver hit and killed Lieutenant Gillen while he was assisting with a vehicle accident along the side of the road.

Additionally, Wisconsin shares nearly identical language for their Move-Over Law. They require motorists to either slow down or change lanes to provide emergency or commercial vehicles pulled to the shoulder of the road the width of one lane.

What about regular cars?

You may know that you have a legal obligation to move over or slow down for emergency and commercial vehicles. But what about a regular car with hazard lights flashing pulled to side of the road?

Regular vehicles pull over to the side of the road most often for common car maintenance issues. Have you ever had to change a flat tire or mistakenly ran out of gas? Changing a flat tire on the shoulder of a highway can be an incredibly stressful and dangerous task when oncoming traffic fails to slow down or move over for the stopped vehicle.

To be safe, motorists should treat all vehicles pulled to the shoulder with flashing hazard lights just the same as emergency or commercial vehicles with flashing red, blue, or yellow lights. If you see a vehicle pulled over on the shoulder of the road, be sure to move over. Otherwise, slow down until you can safely pass the stopped vehicle if it is unsafe to move over.

If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of a driver failing to follow move-over laws, contact the lawyers at the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. for a free initial consultation to discuss your options.

Could a Juror Facebook Post Change a Trial Result?

Many complain about jury duty. And in January 2016, a juror took this frustration about missing work to Facebook. At first, she wrote, “As if one day of jury duty wasn’t enough smh day 2 I’m soooo over it already!!!!” She followed up with “Lolol oh by the way this is goin n the fact that I gotta keep showin up theren missin work…just cz Ima vote guilty lol. #impetty #PettyLinda”

The defendant was found guilty of possessing a loaded weapon without a concealed carry license. The judge refused a motion for a new trial after finding the juror’s comments credible because it did not affect the verdict. A panel majority agreed with the lower court judge.

Justice Daniel J. Pierce wrote in an unpublished order that although the post was done in error, it was harmless. The post did not show any third party influence into her verdict.

However, Justice Carl Anthony Walker dissented. He argued that by allowing the jury verdict to stand it encourages distrust and skepticism into the judicial system. He urged the Illinois Supreme Court to adopt new standards and procedures regarding juror misconduct on the internet and social media.

The full text of the opinions can be found here: The People of the State of Illinois v Johnie Daily, 2018 IL App (1st) 160813-U

State Negligence Damage Cap Raised to $2 Million

Illinois

The Illinois legislature overrode the veto of SB 2481 in November. The bill provided additional compensation to families of veterans who died of Legionnaires’ disease at the Quincy veterans home by raising the damage cap for tort actions against the State of Illinois. Since July of 2015, thirteen resident veterans at the Quincy Veterans Home died while under the care of the State of Illinois.  Under the previous law, the law set the damage cap at $100,000.

Governor Rauner’s Veto

Illinois set the the $100,000 cap, which tied for the lowest in the country, in 1972. The Illinois legislature voted to raise the cap to $2,000,000. Lawmakers proposed the bill after reports that the families of the Legionnaires’ victims could only collect $100,000. At the time, the Rauner administration denied negligence handling the outbreaks at the Quincy nursing home.

When Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed the bill, he said that the bill ignored the impact of future litigation on the “fiscal position of the state and its taxpayers.” He argued that the damage cap should increase from $100,000 to $300,000.

[Read more…]

Additional Illinois Shoveling Tips

shoveling

As another snowstorm comes to Arlington Heights, remember that shoveling your sidewalk provides you immunity from liability. But at the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd., we want to provide you with the best safety advice on snowfall. The 1979 Snow and Ice Removal Act shields property owners from liability if someone gets hurt. But in a recent Illinois Supreme Court case, they clarified the requirements.

[Read more…]

Illinois Medical Record Rules for Personal Injury Cases

hospital

“Hospital”by Adam Mulligan is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

As previously discussed, insurance companies frequently request medical records. What do you need to specifically know about Illinois medical record rules?

How Do I Get My Medical Records?

Health care provides keep most adult medical records for at least six years. Children have varying lengths of time as well. This length can depend on state laws. Under Illinois law, hospitals must keep medical records at least 10 years. However, no specific rule exists for how long doctors in Illinois must keep medical records. Remember that you have the right to see, get a copy of, and amend your medical record for as long as your health care provider has it.

Under Illinois law, your health care provider owns the actual medical record. For example, if your provider maintains paper medical records, they own and have the right to keep the original record. You only have the right to see and get a copy of it.

Requesting Your Records

Request the record directly from your health care provider. Depending on the record you need, you may need to talk with a hospital or your primary care physician. However, if your doctor no longer practices, you may need to contact the state department of health to find out where your records are kept. You might be denied access to certain medical records, such as your mental health records, if your provider thinks it would harm your physical health for you to see your records.

Facilities may have forms on hand for you to request your medical records, but you can also fill out a Medical Records Request Letter and send it in. You may need to provide the following information:

  • Your name and maiden name
  • Social security number
  • Medical ID number under your policy, or the policy provider number
  • Contact information (address, email and phone number)
  • The records being requested
  • The date of the service(s) of record
  • How you would like your records delivered
  • Your signature

Why This Matters to Your Injury Case

Your lawyer will want to have all of your related medical records related to your injury. This information will:

  • allow an accurate assessment of your injuries,
  • assess the viability of your case,
  • provide proof of your injuries,
  • help determine damage,
  • allows medical experts to analyze the records, and
  • helps prove fault.

Getting the compensation you deserve shouldn’t be a battle. Arlington Heights personal injury attorney Ronald F. Wittmeyer understands how you feel. 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) 637-5818 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.

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…]

New Driving Safety Laws Signed into Illinois Laws

Governor Bruce Rauner signed two new driving safety measure laws this month. The first cracks down on distracted driving. The second encourages motorists to watch for bikes. The new law will go into effect July 1, 2019.

Distracted Driving

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, driving a vehicle while texting is six times more dangerous than driving while intoxicated.Under the current law, which took effect in 2014, first-time offenses were treated as non-moving violations while subsequent offenses were treated as moving violations. Therefore, starting next summer, people caught texting while driving become a moving violation that will go on their driving record – even if it’s their first offense.

In a statement, Secretary of State Jesse White said, “No driver should be texting while driving. With the increased use of technological devices, distracted driving has become a serious problem on the roads of our state and throughout the nation.”

Specifically, the new law makes the penalty $75 for a first offense. The subsequent fines include:

  • $100 for a second,
  • $125 for a third and
  • $150 for a fourth or subsequent offense.

Dutch Reach Method of Opening Doors

The Dutch Reach encourages drivers and passengers to use the hand farthest from the door to reach across the body to open the door after parallel parking. This forces people who open motor vehicle doors to look back for cyclists and other traffic. According to the Active Transportation Alliance, this can help prevent sometimes-fatal “dooring” crashes. To reduce pedestrian accidents, educating the public on new measures can reduce injuries.
The lllinois Department of Transportation data shows dooring crashes on the rise across the state. Got example, in 2015, there were more than 300 reported in Chicago, a 50 percent increase from the previous year.

According to the new law, the Secretary of State shall include this method in the Illinois Rules of the Road publication. The publication will  advising drivers to use the Dutch Reach method when opening a vehicle door after parallel parking on a street. The method may appear on the written driving test concerning questions about safety.

In 2019, remember these two new driving safety measures.

 

How the Chicago Suburbs Help Pedestrians


pedestrians

250 fatal accidents and 9,290 serious injuries have occurred between 2012 and 2015 in accidents involving a suburban vehicle and a pedestrian or bicyclist.  In 2015, fatal collisions among pedestrians or cyclist and vehicles rose  14% according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.

How Bensenville and Elk Grove Village Reacted

Bensenville experienced 11 crashes among vehicle and bicyclist or pedestrian. Among those accidents, an 86-year-old pedestrian, Modesta De La Rosa was involved in a collision with a pickup truck. The driver did not see her and therefore could not stop in time.

Bensenville decided to act and to create a series of paths along the roads. These paths could be used by pedestrians and bicyclists. The town will build these paths alongside the streets to give pedestrians and bikers space to walk or ride their bikes without the fear of getting too close to the vehicles. The bike path also helps vehicle drivers. It will comfort them by showing that  pedestrians and bikers have their own lane. The goal is to decrease the chances of sharing the same road.

After Roseleen Water’s unfortunate death in 2013, Elk Grove Village decided to erect a bridge over the high-speed road. She died after a fatal accident on Higgins Road. They designed the bridge to prevent other crashes and provide pedestrians and cyclist the freedom to cross to the other side safely.

Overall, in the past few years, many other suburbs have built and plan to build similar paths. Current plans across the region over 4,000 miles of trials and paths. Overall, safety for the pedestrians and bikers have become high priority for the suburbs.

[Read more…]

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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