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A tragic accident on Interstate 290 in Addison, Illinois occurred early Saturday morning February, 11, 2012, when a 32 year old intoxicated man, leaving a work-related event, drove his car into a stopped squad car that had been waiting for a tow truck as a result of a previous collision.. A 42 year old man in the squad car was killed in the crash and the state trooper was injured.

The families of the victims of these tragedies are all too often left with only the amount of money that can be recovered under the intoxicated motorist’s insurance policy. This can be as low as $20,000 per occurrence in Illinois and it rarely exceeds $300,000. Illinois wrongful death lawyers need to be aggressive in exploring all potential areas of recovery for the family in these tragic circumstances.

Illinois accident attorneys seeking to recover damages in addition to the insurance coverage on the intoxicated motorists vehicle can look to see (1) if Dram Shop Act (235 ILCS 5/6-21) liability is present-intoxicated motorist leaving tavern where he became intoxicated causes crash, or (2) whether “in-concert” liability will attach.

Illinois motorcycle accident attorneys should always be creative when analyzing the potential areas of recovery for their clients. According to the U.S. Dept. of Transportation (DOT) there were 7.1 million motorcycles on the road in the U.S. in 2007. Sales of all two wheelers in the U.S. was 1,087,000 in 2008.

Motorcycles are by their very nature far less crashworthy than closed vehicles and crashes frequently result in catastrophic injuries or death. They are also less visible to other vehicles and pedestrians and less stable than four wheel vehicles. Motorcyclists and their passengers are more vulnerable to the hazards of weather and road conditions than drivers in closed vehicles. According to the DOT 5,154 people died in motorcycle crashes in 2007 and motorcycles are 35 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in crashes per vehicle mile driven in 2006, and 8 times more likely to be injured according to the DOT’S National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

In a recent case I successfully represented the estate of an 18 year old male in a wrongful death lawsuit alleging negligent entrustment against the decedent’s friend who let him ride his “supersport” motorcycle also known as a “pocket rocket” despite the decedent’s lack of experience and licensure to operate a motorcycle. Determining whether there may be a potential claim for negligent entrustment require a careful reading of the Illinois Supreme Court’s opinion in Zedella v. Gibson, 165 Ill. 2d 181, 186, 650 N.E. 2d 1000, 1003 (1995).

In Zedella, the Illinois Supreme Court adopted Section 308 of the Restatement of Torts (Second) which provides:

It is negligence to permit a third person to use a thing or engage in an activity which is under the control of the actor, if the actor knows or should know that such person intends or is likely to use the thing or to conduct himself in the activity in such manner as to create an unreasonable risk of harm to others.

The testimony indicated that these recent high school graduates had never operated a motorcycle before, much less a motorcycle that was described in testimony as the fastest production motorcycle available.

Section 390 of the Restatement of Torts (Second) was adopted in Illinois by the court in Small v. St. Francis Hospital, 220 Ill. App. 3d 537, 542, 581 N.E. 2d 154, 158 (1991), and it states:

One who supplies directly or through a third person a chattel for the use of another whom the supplier knows or has reason to know to be likely because of his youth, inexperience, or otherwise, to use it in a manner involving unreasonable risk of harm to himself and others whom the supplier should expect to share in or be endangered by its use, is subject to liability for physical harm resulting to them.

These “pocket rockets” should only be used by or lent to motorcyclists with a high degree of training and who possess all necessary licenses.
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An Illinois wrongful death lawsuit was filed recently for the deaths of a husband and wife who died March 7, 2007, in Will County. Unfortunately the heirs did not contact me until last month. They had retained a previous attorney shortly after the accident. For reasons that are unclear no lawsuit was filed. One of the major concerns of the lawyer representing the victims of crashes involving interstate trucking companies are securing the records that the trucking company retains regarding the on duty hours of the truck driver involved in the occurrence.

Federal Motor Carrier Regulations require that trucking companies involved in interstate commerce and their drivers maintain logs regarding the on duty status of the truck drivers. These logs are critical pieces of evidence for the lawyer to secure, because interstate truck drivers are frequently driving in excess of the federal regulations. Ever since the trucking companies were deregulated over 25 years ago, the trucking companies have been paying their drivers based on the number of miles they drive, so there is an incentive for both the truck driver and the trucking company to keep the wheels roling. It is true that drivers frequently avoid rest stops and actually urinate in containers in the truck so they can keep the wheels rolling.
Federal Motor Carrier Regulations mandate that a truck driver involved in interstate commerce cannot drive or be on duty no more than 70 hours in an 8 days, 49 CFR 395.3(b)2. On duty is defined in the federal regulations as being more than just driving, so time spent loading or unloading must be logged as being on duty. Traditionally logs were manually filled out by the drivers and they understandably wanted the logs to reflect that they were in fact operating their truck within the federal hours of service regulations.

Unfortunately, the federal regulations also provide: “..each motor carrier shall mantain records of duty status (logs) for 6 months from the date of receipt..” 49 CFR 395.8(k)(1). Filing a complaint against the interstate trucking company and its driver should be done as soon as practicable so that the trucking company is still required by federal regulations to preserve the logs of its driver. Attorneys should always file a motion for a protective order to preserve the logs shortly after filing suit. Why are the drivers daily logs so critical?
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An Illinois wrongful death lawsuit that I filed on behalf of the family of a 17 year old boy who died in a crash while riding his motorcycle recently came to a successful conclusion. On July 26, 2004, the decedent’s best friend drove his 1995 Honda CBR 600 F3, which he had just purchased, to decedent’s home to let him take it for a ride. This motorcycle is commonly known as a “pocket rocket“, due to its rapid acceleration. This feature causes inexperienced drivers to be thrust back causing their hands to pull back on the accelerator which is located on the hand grip. Unfortunately, while riding the motorcycle decedent lost control of the motorcycle, left the roadway and struck a tree sustaining fatal head injuries.

In Illinois it is illegal to operate a motorcycle without a Class M license. Neither 17 year old boy had a Class M license nor did they ever have any training in the operation of motorcycles. Decedent’s family sued the the 17 year old owner of the motorcycle alleging negligent entrustment of the motorcycle to their inexperienced, unlicensed and underage son.
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Internet prescription drug overdoses are a threat to public health in the United States. Medical malpractice and product liability suits against the internet pharmacies, physicians who prescribe without a valid physician-patient relationship, and the pharmaceutical companies themselves currently are the only effective means to halt this public health threat.

The Centers for Disease Control last week released data that indicates that “poisoning was second only to motor-vehicle crashes as a cause of death from unintentional injury in the United States.” The report indicated that unintentional drug poisoning deaths increased 68% from 1999 thru 2004. This mortality rate increase was attributed primarily to deaths associated with prescription drugs. Fatal drug overdoses in teenagers and young adults soared 113 % during this same time frame.
What does this mean? Deaths from drugs manufactured by pharmaceutical companies, sold by pharmacies (internet and traditional), and frequently approved by physicians accounted for more accidental overdose deaths than from street drugs, such as heroin. Troubling, you bet!

According to a recent study by the Partnership for a Drug Free America, today’s teens are more likely to abuse prescription and over the counter medications, than illegal drugs. These drugs can be purchased over the internet or over the counter. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University reported in 2006 that 9 out of 10 internet sites selling controlled prescription drugs do NOT require a prescription.

The current president of CASA and former U.S. Secretary of H.E.W. recently stated: “Any child can get, without prescription, a highly addictive controlled substance like OxyContin, Valium and Ritalin from drug pushers.” Despite Congressional hearing, CASA reports and increased attention in the press, these drugs continue to be as easy to buy over the internet as candy. Other CASA findings indicate that Xanax and Valium are the most frequently offered controlled prescription drugs over the Internet.
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