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IL accident lawyerThe Midwest is known for having four seasons, winter, spring, summer, and winter. The winters can be especially harsh, with blizzard-like weather conditions and temperatures plummeting to single digits and even below freezing. For outdoor sports enthusiasts, heavy snowfall means skiing and snowboarding. Although Illinois does not have mountains like other states such as Colorado or Utah, they do have big hills that are still ideal for winter activities. After all the restrictions put in place this past in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people may be clamoring to get outside, even in the cold. However, as with any sport, there is an element of risk involved in snow sports. If you or your family member was hurt in a skiing or snowboarding accident, it is important to understand your legal options for pursuing compensation through a personal injury claim. In some cases, a negligent party may be held accountable for any damages you incurred.

Common Injuries from Snow Skiing

Skiing can be a great form of exercise, whether downhill or cross-country. Snowboarding has gained popularity in recent years, especially among the younger generation. Still, skiers and snowboarders can range in age from 5 to 80 years old. In some cases, the participant’s age can play a role in the severity of his or her injury, as an older person’s bones might be more brittle than an adolescent. Regardless, injuries sustained in this kind of accident or mishap can range from minor to serious and even fatal, often due to the fast speeds at which an individual is traveling downhill with little protection if he or she loses control. Recreational downhill skiers may average a speed of 20-40 miles per hour. If a skier or snowboarder cannot stop, he or she could crash into a building, a tree, or even strike another person. The force of the impact can cause catastrophic and debilitating injuries.

Here are a few of the typical types of injuries that people can suffer while skiing or snowboarding in the winter:

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IL accident lawyerThis year has been like no other due to the global pandemic of COVID-19. With many restrictions issued to prevent the spread of the contagious virus, people may be struggling financially and emotionally. Certain non-essential businesses have been temporarily closed, while many employees have been allowed to work from home the past eight months. Although the holidays are upon us, health officials are urging folks to stay home or practice social distancing if they do venture out. For those who are feeling cooped up, going for a walk has become a popular pastime.

In the winter months, daylight hours are shorter, so it gets dark much earlier in the day compared to summertime. Combined with motorists who may get behind the wheel after a few too many drinks while celebrating the holidays, the likelihood of cars hitting individuals who are out walking is increased. If you or your loved one was struck as a pedestrian, you may be entitled to compensation if a negligent driver is at fault for your injuries.

Catastrophic Injuries

The sheer nature of a vehicle hitting a person while walking can be devastating. This is partly due to the force of the impact and the fact that a pedestrian does not have any protection compared to passengers in a car. In some cases, a person who is struck by an automobile can sustain life-altering injuries, including paralysis or brain damage, which can impact the rest of their life.

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IL accident lawyerToday’s vehicles feature the latest advancements in safety, including blind spot detection, emergency braking, seat belt restraints, and airbags. All of these devices are made in an effort to avoid a car accident or reduce the severity of injuries in the event that one does occur. Considered a supplemental restraint system, airbags are designed to work alongside seat belts and should be used together. Studies show that when airbags are used correctly, they can reduce head-on collision fatalities by nearly 24 percent.

In many cases, a negligent driver may be at fault for causing an automobile crash. Another motorist may be intoxicated or drowsy, causing him or her to collide with another vehicle or pedestrian. However, in some collisions, a seat belt or airbag may not function properly, resulting in minor to serious injuries. An experienced personal injury attorney can help car accident victims determine who is liable if an airbag does not deploy in a crash.

How Do Airbags Work?

Airbags work using several sensors and a mini explosion. The airbag includes an accelerometer that detects changes in speed. If deceleration occurs above a preset speed, more than normal braking speeds, the airbag circuit is triggered and the bags are deployed. The circuit passes an electrical current through a heating element, which then ignites a chemical explosive. A significant amount of innocuous gas rushes into a nylon bag that is usually placed behind the steering wheel or within the passenger side dash, and it causes the bag to inflate. When the driver or passenger’s head hits the bag, it starts to deflate while the gas escapes through holes at the edges of the bag. When the vehicle has come to a full stop, the bag should be completely deflated. If it did not inflate, your head would simply bounce off of it due to the sudden and forceful backward movement of the head and neck.

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IL disability attorneyEven with fewer citizens commuting to and from their jobs on a daily basis because they are working remotely, Illinois roadways have seen an increase in vehicle-related fatalities recently. After months of staying at home due to the coronavirus pandemic, many people are taking cross-country road trips instead of traveling by airplane. In some cases, reckless actions such as speeding or disregard for traffic laws have led to an increase in car accidents with injuries. Victims of automobile crashes may be confused and unsure of what to do in the aftermath of a crash. Seeking immediate medical attention for any injuries should be your first priority. Your next step should be talking to witnesses who saw the incident unfold. An eyewitness who provides a statement to the responding officer can offer a neutral third-party perspective of the collision and why it may have occurred.

Illinois Liability Laws

In any personal injury case, a victim must prove who was liable or at fault for the accident. The state of Illinois follows a fault-based system, sometimes referred to as a tort liability system. This means Illinois motorists who are responsible for causing a crash are responsible for paying for any damages related to the accident.

All Illinois drivers must carry auto insurance that meets the state’s minimum requirements for liability coverage. Anyone who is hurt in a vehicle collision typically files a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. However, insurance companies are known for minimizing the payouts for injury victims. In certain cases, a driver or passenger could suffer serious injuries that require a lengthy hospital stay, surgery, or rehabilitation. That is why it is important to speak to an experienced personal injury attorney about how to go about filing a claim for your pain and suffering.

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IL accident lawyerWalking is considered a great form of exercise for the cardiovascular system. Many people also commute by foot on a daily basis, whether going to school or their job if they live close enough. Pedestrians often walk in all kinds of weather: sunshine, snow, rain, fog, and sleet. The air temperature and outside conditions can affect the roadways and sidewalks, causing them to become icy and slippery, especially in an Illinois winter. This can impact both drivers and pedestrians alike. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2018, there were 6,283 pedestrian deaths caused by traffic collisions. Weather-related factors may be a contributing factor to pedestrian accidents, but there are also other reasons, such as distracted driving. Because pedestrians do not have the same type of protection as someone in a vehicle, their injuries are often catastrophic or fatal.

Factors That Can Lead to Pedestrian Injuries

The rules of the road are put in place for everyone’s safety. When these regulations are not followed, drivers and pedestrians can be at significant risk of injuries. Although Illinois is known for having more extreme weather compared to other states, some of the following apply to any state, directly leading to a pedestrian accident with serious injuries:

  • Distracted driving: Texting, talking to passengers, applying makeup, and eating are all examples of activities that take a driver’s attention away from the road ahead of him or her. Looking away even for a few seconds can cause a motorist to swerve onto a sidewalk, striking a pedestrian.
  • Speeding: Speed limits are enforced for a reason. Also referred to as reckless driving, traveling at a high rate of speed does not allow a driver enough time to come to a complete stop if a pedestrian suddenly appears in a crosswalk.
  • Intoxicated driving: Regardless if it is due to alcohol or drug use, studies show that impaired drivers’ reaction times are greatly reduced, as well as their reasoning skills and ability to make accurate judgment calls behind the wheel.
  • Failure to stop or yield: In many cases, pedestrians have the right of way and if a driver does not stop or yield before turning onto a street, he or she may hit a person in the designated crosswalk.
  • Inclement weather: Fog, blowing snow, freezing rain can all make it hard for a motorist to see, especially at night. Drivers must account for slick pavement so they do not lose control of their vehicles and collide with another car or pedestrian.
  • Left-hand turns: Drivers who are turning left at a busy intersection may only be focused straight ahead at the oncoming cars and not notice bystanders who are trying to cross the road.
  • Backing-up accidents: A common occurrence in parking lots, many drivers may not check their rearview mirror or back-up camera and accidentally hit a person walking by.

It is important to note that Illinois, along with several other states, follows the “modified comparative fault” rule regarding personal injury claims. Under this rule, a pedestrian who is considered to be more than 50 percent responsible for causing his or her own injuries is not allowed to recover any damages from a negligent or reckless driver.

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IL accident lawyerLearning to drive is a rite of passage for young adults. In Illinois, new drivers must complete a required driver’s education class and accumulate a certain number of hours behind the wheel before they are issued a valid driver’s license, regardless if they are 16 years old or not. During the learning or practice phase, the student motorists carry a learner’s permit and are subject to restrictions such as who can be in the vehicle with them, curfew hours, etc. As with learning how to do any activity that is new, student drivers often make mistakes that can lead to car accidents. Even seasoned drivers can be involved in car accidents due to inclement weather or other reckless motorists, but what are the consequences if someone is injured in an auto collision that involves another driver who is on a learner’s permit?

Steps to Take Immediately Following a Car Crash

It is normal to feel shocked or panic when you are in a car accident. You may also be in a significant amount of pain. Try to remain calm so you can think clearly. Taking a few simple steps can increase the chances of a favorable settlement from a potential personal injury lawsuit. These steps include:

  • Pull over to the side of the road.
  • Call 911 if your injuries are severe and require immediate medical attention.
  • Exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver.
  • Write down the other motorist’s license plate number.
  • Take pictures with your phone of the damage to your vehicle.
  • Obtain any eyewitness testimonies if applicable.
  • File an official accident report with the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT).

Illinois Driving and Insurance Laws

Under Illinois law, every driver is required to have auto insurance coverage up to a specific amount. This applies to those motorists driving with a learner’s permit as well as those who have been driving for many years. Generally, student drivers are covered through their parents’ auto insurance policy. A driver with a learner’s permit is not required to carry his or her own insurance policy as long as he or she is a minor. This is usually because the student driver is typically accompanied by his or her parent or another adult who is an insured driver.

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