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Central Illinois Law Blog

Determining liability in a premises liability claim

Premises liability law in Illinois states that every property owner, as well as every non-owner resident, has a responsibility to maintain a safe environment. This means that they may be held liable for any accidents or injuries that happen on the property. There are five principal ways that liability is determined.

The first is determining the victim's legal status as an invitee, licensee or social guest. There is no implied promise that licensees can use a property. Invitees and social guests have a stronger case if they are injured. The second is determining the property's condition and the victim's actions. If the victim used the property unreasonably, no claim is possible. If the property had something wrong with it, the owner must be given a reasonable amount of time to fix it.

How insurance companies value injury cases

The way your insurance company puts a value on your personal injury may seem reasonable at first, and in some cases, it may provide a 100 percent accurate picture. In the long term, however, many injured people who accepted early settlement offers realize that the value was merely a starting point, and they deserved higher amounts of compensation.

So, what do insurance companies do to arrive at a valuation?

Hands-free driving devices don't increase safety

Most drivers across Illinois and the United States know that talking or texting while driving is a dangerous practice. To decrease the risk of an accident, many drivers opt to use hands-free or wearable devices in order to text instead. Unfortunately, using these devices doesn't necessarily make using a phone safe.

A recent study done by researchers at the University of Texas found that using wearable devices during driving didn't offer any safety advantages. During the study, participants used a driving simulator while using their smartphone or Google Glass to send texts. Because Google Glass has the ability to send texts with voice control, drivers were able to text without their hands. The study found that participants were more responsive to driving situations and were less distracted. Because the device made texting easier, however, participants used it on a more frequent basis, which resulted in drivers becoming more distracted.

Reinstating your license after an Illinois DUI

If you lost your license because of an Illinois drunk driving conviction, it may have a serious impact on many areas of your life. You may find yourself struggling to get to and from work or hold down a job, or you may find that your family is under increased pressure because of your inability to drive.

Regardless of how your loss of license is impacting your life, you may, depending on certain circumstances, be able to pursue an Illinois license reinstatement.

Smartphone use not the most dangerous form of distracted driving

An Erie Insurance study looked at 172,000 traffic deaths over the past five years. What they discovered was that 1 out of every 10 deaths in Illinois and elsewhere were caused by distracted driving. Of those deaths, only 14 percent were related to phone use while in a car. The leading cause of distracted driving deaths was an inattentive driver. This is someone who was thinking about work, winning the lotto or something other than the situation on the road.

The cause of inattentive driving may be related to how humans react when engaged in a mundane task. Since driving a car is something that most adults have done many times, it is easy to become bored while behind the wheel. That conclusion is backed by the fact that Erie Insurance has done surveys about traffic deaths for many years and has generally seen the same results each time.

Ride designer of the Verrukt waterslide facing criminal charges

Many Illinois residents were horrified when they learned that a 10-year-old boy was decapitated on the Verruckt waterslide at Schlitterbahn Water Park in 2016. Located in Kansas City, Kansas, the waterslide was billed as the tallest in the world and was new when the accident happened.

News sources report that the designer of the ride, a 72-year-old man, was taken into custody when he arrived at an airport in Texas and charged with second-degree murder, aggravated child endangerment and aggravated battery for the accident. The designer was returning from a business trip in China when he was arrested.

High risk groups for fatal drunk driving crashes

Although the legal consequences for driving under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicants in Illinois can be serious, drunk driving remains a problem. Nationwide, about one-third of traffic fatalities arise from drunk driving accidents. Young people under age 24, people with a record of DUIs and motorcyclists represent the groups facing the greatest risk of dying in a drunk driving crash.

Multiple factors converge to heighten the hazards for young adults. Their age means that they have yet to gain substantial driving experience. They travel in groups more often than other age groups, which means drivers have more sources of distraction inside their vehicles.

Illinois crash kills woman and injures her 6 children

Media outlets in Illinois have reported that an accident in Monroe County on the afternoon of Feb. 27 claimed the life of a 41-year-old woman and injured her six children. Reports indicate that the woman's SUV was struck by a dump truck as it crossed the intersection of Illinois State Road 3 and Veterans Parkway at approximately 12:30 p.m. While some accounts of the accident suggest that the 86-year-old driver of the dump truck may have run a red light, other reports state that his vehicle left skid marks on the roadway about 50 yards from the scene of the crash.

An Illinois State Police accident investigation team was dispatched to the scene and used a drone to provide aerial footage of the intersection. However, reports indicate that preliminary investigations failed to reveal the cause of the crash. First responders initially intended to transport the six injured children to St. Louis Children's Hospital by air, but ambulances were called in when it was learned that all available helicopters were some distance away.

Study connects increased accident rate with 4/20 holiday

As recreational and medical marijuana use has been legalized in several states, Illinois motorists should be aware that using marijuana can have an impact on their ability to drive safely. In fact, a study showed that increased use of marijuana on April 20, the drug's self-proclaimed holiday, has been linked to a slight increase in the number of fatal car accidents.

For the study, researchers used data from fatal car accidents during the period of 1992 through 2016. The year 1992 was chosen as this was shortly after 4/20 became a popular marijuana holiday. They found that there was an increased risk in most states across the nation, with an additional 142 driver fatalities linked to the 4/20 holiday.

Distractions may be to blame for rise in traffic deaths

Distracted driving, according to some experts, is behind the increase in traffic deaths that has been affecting Illinois and the rest of the U.S. Smartphone use is a major factor in distracted driving; a Consumer Reports survey of licensed drivers who own smartphones showed that 52 percent of them admitted to using their devices while behind the wheel. From texts and emails to music and internet, smartphones offer plenty to distract people.

Smartphone and tech companies have been incorporating safety features to keep people safe, though they are all entirely voluntary. For example, Apple's latest operating system comes with an optional mode blocking all incoming calls and texts, and Androids and iPhones can send automatic replies when users are busy.

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