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Drowsy Driving Causes Accidents

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated drowsy driving caused the following in 2016:

  • 72,000 crashes
  • 44,000 injuries
  • 800 deaths

Drowsy Driving Prevention Week

Up to 6,000 fatal crashes each year may be caused by drowsy drivers.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, 60% of adult driver have driven vehicle while feeling drowsy and one-third of those adults have fallen asleep at the wheel!

When a driver is drowsy, the driver becomes stressed, impatient and drives faster. A drowsy driver also experiences lapses in attention, slow reaction times and inability to make good decisions. This leads to vehicle crashes.

Drowsy drivers have been sentenced to jail for driving incidents that occurred while they were driving drowsy.

Multi-million dollar settlements have been awarded to crash victims and families of crash victims injured or killed by a drowsy driver.

Drowsy Driving Prevention Week

The following people are more likely to drive drowsy:

  • Sleep deprived or suffering from sleep disorders
  • Commercial drivers
  • Shift workers
  • Those who take medications that cause drowsiness

Warning signs of drowsy driving:

  • Yawning
  • Blinking often
  • Spacing off – unable to remember the last few minutes/miles of your drive
  • Missing your exit or forgetting where you are going
  • Trouble keeping your eyes open
  • Decreased driving ability

How many times have you been driving and are startled by the sound of the rumble strip on the shoulder of the road? You are drowsy! Pull over and rest.

Drowsy Driving Prevention Week

Prevent drowsy driving by:

  • Taking a break for food or rest on your trip
  • Stop to walk around and stretch your legs
  • Avoid substances that can cause drowsiness
  • Get plenty of sleep before your drive
  • Stop driving if you feel tired

Accidents caused by drowsy drivers are preventable. When you choose to drive drowsy, you are putting your own life and the lives of others at risk. Make the commitment to not drive drowsy.

Drowsy driving is negligence.

If you or a loved one has been injured by a drowsy driver, take action now for a free consultation or second opinion by calling 312-375-6524! 


distracted driving in chicago

Texting = Distracted Driving!

Distracted driving is a killer. Please don’t text and drive!

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) in a study here found that:

-71% of teens and young people say they have composed/sent SMS messages while driving

-78% of teens and young adults say they have read an SMS message while driving.

According to the “Official U.S. Government Website for Distracted Driving”:

Distracted driving is a dangerous epidemic on America’s roadways. In 2016 alone, 3,328 were killed in distracted driving crashes.

Police officers give tickets for texting and driving for a reason. Punitive damages may be available for you if you or a loved one was injured and it can be proven that the person who hit you was texting at the time of impact/shortly before impact.

An experienced attorney can assist in attempting to prove this after a thorough investigation by subpoena of phone records and billing and other evidentiary / investigatory tools. It is not an easy fact to prove due to timing of police reports and witness statements, etc.

You can contact me 24/7/365 (and I really mean that as I will answer my phone) at 312-375-6524 if you have any questions about potential distracted driving after an accident and to learn how I may be able to help you or your loved one who may need, or simply want, a second opinion – in particular, you will find that I listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages–BUT NOT WHILE DRIVING!!).

I would be honored to help you with your matters – large or small.


Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury Matters – Car Accidents and Insurance

The other driver had no insurance? Not “enough” insurance? Happens ALL the time!

I get these questions daily. My clients are shocked to learn that (a) people actually drive cars with no insurance – as in 0 insurance; (b) they were hit and injured by someone with a basic policy of only $25,000.00 of coverage (the minimum in Illinois at this time); and/or (c) the other person’s insurance was just “rescinded” for fraud or misrepresentation in taking out the policy (aka – again – no insurance!).

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What can you do? Hopefully, you have your own coverage of at least $25,000 (again, the minimum) to start with and then we can make an “uninsured motorist claim” (“UM”) claim with your own insurance if there is no insurance. Hopefully, you have much more insurance and then we can make an “under-insured motorist claim” (“UIM”) claim with your own insurance company. In either event – now we will be fighting your own insurance company to recover for you.

NEVER talk to even your own insurance company or agent beyond the “duty to cooperate” and per your policy provisions and without a lawyer on the phone with you or in person!

How_to_Increase_Car_Accident_Claims

The Illinois Department of Insurance has noted well the numerous issues that could cause a company to cancel, rescind or refuse to renew a person’s insurance at any time such as for the following:

  • you fail to pay the premium by the due date;
  • you obtained the policy through misrepresentation or fraud;
  • anyone insured on the policy violated the terms or conditions of the policy;
  • you failed to disclose fully your motor vehicle accidents and moving traffic violations for the preceding 36 months if called for in the application;
  • anyone insured on the policy made a false or fraudulent claim or knowingly helped someone else make a false or fraudulent claim;
  • you or anyone who lives in your household or customarily uses your vehicle: 
    • has had their driver’s license suspended or revoked in the past 12 months;
    • is or becomes subject to epilepsy or heart attacks, and cannot produce a physician’s certificate attesting to their unqualified ability to operate a motor vehicle safely;
    • has an accident record, conviction record (criminal or traffic), or physical or mental condition that might endanger the public safety if they operate an automobile.

Or if at any time a vehicle:

  • is so mechanically defective that its operation might endanger public safety;
  • is used in carrying passengers for hire or compensation (the use of an auto for a car pool shall not be considered use of an auto for hire or compensation);
  • is used in the business of transportation of flammables or explosives, or is an authorized emergency vehicle;
  • has changed in shape or condition during the policy period so as to increase the risk substantially; or
  • is subject to an inspection law and has not been inspected, or if inspected, has failed to qualify.

Or, if, within the past 36 months:

  • you, or anyone who lives with you or customarily uses your auto, has been addicted to the use of narcotics or other drugs;
  • you, or anyone who lives with you or customarily uses your auto, has been convicted of or forfeited bail for: 
    •  any felony;
    •  criminal negligence resulting in death, homicide or assault arising out of the operation of a motor vehicle;
    •  operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs;
    •  intoxication while in, or about, an automobile or while having custody of an automobile;
    •  leaving the scene of an accident without stopping to report it or for theft or unlawful taking of a motor vehicle;
    •  making false statements in an application for an operator’s or chauffeur’s license.

Bottom line, make sure you hire a lawyer to “navigate these treacherous waters” immediately after an accident. You will be happy you did. It may seem easy to handle this on your own but your rights may be affected quickly and perhaps irreparably if you do not make the proper demands (arbitration), on time (statutes of limitations) or via the proper channels and per your policy provisions.

Everything-You-Ought-to-Know-About-Car-Insurance

An experienced automobile attorney is an absolute must. Hit and runs involve other problems. So do stolen cars being driven on the road.

You can contact me 24/7/365 at 312-375-6524 (and I really mean that as I will answer my phone) if you have any questions about what claims/rights you may have after an accident and to learn how I may be able to help you or your loved one who may need, or simply want, a second opinion perhaps – in particular, you will find that I listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages–BUT NOT WHILE DRIVING!!).

I would be honored to help you with your matters – large or small.


Winter in Chicago – Safe Driving Tips

Winter is in full swing in Chicago and it is time to once again remind ourselves that winter driving can be dangerous and scary. Below are some safety tips to help prevent auto accidents and injuries.

Do you know the three P’s of safe winter driving?

PREPARE. PROTECT. PREVENT.

Winter in Chicago – Safe Driving Tips

PREPARE FOR YOUR TRIP

Maintenance

  • Battery – Does the battery have enough power to start your vehicle engine during the cold weather? The only way to know is to test the battery. Most auto parts stores will test your battery for free. Take the time to have your battery tested for peace of mind.
  • Tire tread – Vehicle traction and mobility is reduced when tread depth is insufficient. It is recommended to replace tires when only 5/32” of tread remains.
  • Windshield wipers – Better Wipers = Better Visibility. Wiper blades made specifically for winter conditions are encased in a protective rubber shell that prevents ice and snow from building up on the wipers.
  • Windows – Keep the windows clear. Remove snow from ALL windows, side mirrors, headlights, taillights and turn signals. Use the smooth side of an ice scraper to remove frost (a credit card or CD can be used if no scraper is available). The ridged side of the scraper should be used to remove ice.
  • Washer reservoir – Washer fluid can freeze and burst hoses. Use only winter blends of washer solvent to keep the washer fluid from freezing. Do not add antifreeze to your washer fluid. Antifreeze can damage the paint on your vehicle.
  • Antifreeze – If your vehicle’s antifreeze is not at the proper level, water can freeze your engine and cause serious damage. A 50/50 mixture of antifreeze and distilled water will prevent freezing. Pressure testing will expose any minor leaks before the leak gets worse. Antifreeze testers are available are most auto parts stores to test the mixture and most repair shops charge a small fee to test the pressure (some shops may test the pressure for free).

Emergency Items

  • Flashlight
  • Jumper cables
  • Abrasive material (sand, kitty litter, floor mats – to help with traction)
  • Shovel
  • Snow brush
  • Ice scraper
  • Warning devices (flares)
  • Blankets
  • Food
  • Water
  • Medication
  • Cell phone
  • Cell phone charger

chicago winter driving tips

Plan Your Route

  • Allow plenty of time (leave early if necessary)
  • Check the weather
  • Communicate your route and arrival time to others (this will help others locate you if you have an emergency)

Practice Cold Weather Driving

  • Find an empty lot and practice handling your car on ice or snow
  • Remember to steer INTO a skid
  • STOMP on anti-lock brakes
  • PUMP on non-anti-lock brakes
  • Allow greater stopping distance in ice and snow
  • Don’t leave the windows up if you are idling for a long time
  • SLOW DOWN AND DRIVE SAFELY

Winter in Chicago – Safe Driving Tips

PROTECT YOURSELF AND YOUR LOVED ONES

  • Use seat-belts and child safety seats
  • Make sure child safety seats are properly installed
  • Never place a rear-facing infant in front of an air bag
  • Seat children under 12 in the back seat of the vehicle

PREVENT ACCIDENTS

  • Never drink and drive
  • Never use drugs or certain medications while driving
  • Slow down
  • Increase car distance
  • Watch for pedestrians
  • Never drive drowsy
  • Designate a sober driver if you plan to drink

Be safe this winter season and remember to enjoy time with family and friends.

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I am a Chicago Car Accident Attorney who truly cares about my clients and their well-being.

Call me anytime 24/7 for a free case evaluation on your case at 312-375-6524.


Staying Safe On Halloween Night In Chicago

With Halloween night finally here, please take proper safety precautions to avoid an injury.

Always Trick or Treat in Groups

If your child is young, go trick or treating with them. If your child is old enough that you feel comfortable allowing them to trick or treat without an adult, they should go out in a group with similar-aged peers. Make sure at least one of the children in the group has a cell phone so they can call an adult if there is an emergency.

Visibility Should Be a Priority

By the end of October, the days are fairly short. Prepare for evening trick or treating by equipping your child with reflective tape and a flashlight. There are two components to visibility: your child’s visibility to motorists and other pedestrians, and your child’s own visibility of their surroundings. Make sure all masks fit correctly and have eye holes that allow your child to see through clearly.

Discuss Safety Precautions When Out Walking

Talk to your children about crossing the street safely while they are out trick or treating so as to avoid any pedestrian accidents. This includes crossing at the crosswalk, making eye contact with drivers before crossing in front of them, and walking, not running, across the street.

Find a Costume that Fits

Help your child find a costume that fits them, rather than one that will drag on the ground and potentially be a tripping or fire hazard. If your child’s costume is too long or baggy, hem or cut the loose parts to make it easier for your child to wear.

Have a Happy and SAFE Halloween night!


Car Accidents are the Leading Cause of Death for U.S. Teens

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2013 the deaths of 2,163 teens ages 16-19 were caused by car accidents. Males age 15-24 accounted for 30% of the total costs of car accident injuries and females accounted for 28% of the total costs.

chicago car accident lawyer

Six U.S. teens die every day from car accidents.

Teens age 16-19 are three times more likely to be in a fatal car crash than drivers age 20 and older. Male teen drivers and passengers are most at risk, accounting for twice the death rate of females. The risk increases when a teen driver is unsupervised with teen passengers in the car.

Crash risk is particularly high during the first months of a teen obtaining a license.

Teen Driver Risk Factors:

  • Underestimating situations or unable to recognize dangerous situations
  • Speeding
  • Following too close
  • Male teenage passengers increase risky driving behavior
  • Drinking and driving
  • Not wearing a seat belt

Teen drivers need to be aware of EIGHT DANGER ZONES:

  1. Driver inexperience
  2. Driving with teen passengers
  3. Nighttime driving
  4. Not using seat belts
  5. Distracted driving
  6. Drowsy driving
  7. Reckless driving
  8. Impaired driving

chicago car accident lawyer

Prevent teen accidents by using the below proven methods with teens:

  • Wear seat belts at all times
  • Do not drink and drive – the legal drinking age is 21, enforce the law!
  • Use the Graduated Driver Licensing Programs (GDL)
  • Provides longer practice periods
  • Limits driving under high risk conditions
  • Requires more parent participation in their teen learning to drive

GDL programs reduce 38% of injuries and 40% of fatalities amount 16-year old drivers.

chicago car accident lawyer

If you are the parent of a teen driver, click this link for resources to keep your teen safe: http://www.cdc.gov/parentsarethekey/parents/index.html

Parents are KEY to safe teen drivers –

Take an interest and enforce the rules!

SPREAD THE WORD to other parents –

It only takes a minute to share information that can save a life.

Please keep your teen safe!

If your or someone you know has been injured in a car accident, call us today at 312-375-6524.


Vascular Surgery and Medical Malpractice

 

Arteries and veins form a network of blood vessels that create the vascular system in the body. The blood vessels carry blood throughout our bodies. Arteries pump blood out from the heart and veins return blood back to the heart. Vascular disease occurs when the blood vessels become abnormal.

Serious vascular disease can cause thick and stiff arteries, blocking of blood vessels by blood clots, or bursting of weakened vessels leading to internal bleeding.

Vascular disease takes the lives of more people in the USA than any other diseases combined. It is often a silent disease until a person suffers a heart attack, stroke, or ruptured aneurysm.

Vascular disease is treated effectively when detected early with the use of simple, noninvasive, and painless screening tests.

Screening for vascular disease is important if you are/have:

  • Elderly
  • Over the age of 55-60
  • Diabetic
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoker
  • High blood cholesterol
  • History of vascular disease in your family

Vascular disease is treated through vascular surgery, a specialized surgery. Vascular surgeons are specialized in the treatment of blood vessels, except the vessels of the heart and brain. Vascular surgeons who lack experience or use poor judgment can cause serious injury and even death to the patient.

According to the Journal of Vascular Surgery (JVS), a ten-year study of open abdominal vascular cases showed fifteen patients died and ten patients were severely disabled. Legal proceedings were brought against vascular surgeons within their first three years of practice.

All medical procedures involve a certain degree of risk. However, medical errors or mistakes that cause injury because of negligent treatment may result in a lawsuit or even a wrongful death lawsuit if the medical error causes death.

Many injuries associated with medical errors are very serious injuries and often require additional surgeries or extensive medical treatment, causing more pain and suffering for the patient.

Contact us today 312-375-6524 if you think you have been the victim of a medical error or mistake.


3,000 Chicago Pedestrian Crashes – 30 Deaths – EVERY YEAR!!!!

According to the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), approximately 3,000 pedestrians are struck by motor vehicles every year, about 30 of those pedestrians die every year.

As of today, February 12, 2016, there have already been 2 pedestrian crash fatalities that we know of. The first pedestrian fatality was a 69-year old woman who was crossing the street in an unmarked crosswalk on February 3 at Suf Street and Broadway in Lakeview. The second fatality happened just yesterday, February 11, when 32-year old Marques Gaines was ran over by a cab driver when Gaines fell into the street after another man punched Gaines in the head.

On average, 2 hit and run pedestrian crashes occur per day in Chicago. A pedestrian hit by a vehicle traveling 20 MPH has 95 percent chance of survival. If the vehicle is traveling at 40 MPH, that pedestrian only has a 15 percent chance of survival.

The below lists some key findings in the City of Chicago 2011 Pedestrian Crash Analysis. The full report can be found here: 

http://tinyurl.com/z6cu7fj

Chicago Pedestrian Crash Key Findings:

  • 15 to 18-year old pedestrians (high school age children) had the highest crash rate
  • More males than females were involved in pedestrian crashes
  • Taxi involvement accounted for 28% of pedestrian crashes
  • 80% of fatal and serious pedestrian crashes occurred within 125 feet of the midpoint of an intersection
  • High pedestrian crash time periods were 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m., followed by 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
  • Older pedestrians are more likely to be struck in a crosswalks
  • 40% of fatal pedestrian crashes were hit and run crashes
  • Most pedestrians were “crossing with the signal” at the time of the crash
  • Most pedestrian crashes happen on Thursdays

Chicago runners provided Fleet Feet Chicago a list of dangerous intersections. Some of the intersections on that list are:

Roosevelt & Union

Diversey & Lake Shore

Logan Square (Kedzie & Logan)

Alleyways

Elson & Irving Park

The complete list can be found here: http://www.fleetfeetchicago.com/news/dangerousintersections

Victims of pedestrian crashes must deal with their injuries and medical bills. Families of the victims are also affected. If the crash was fatal, people’s lives are forever changed.

Phil Berenz truly cares about his clients, their families and their well-being. If you or a loved one is the victim of a pedestrian accident, contact Phil today at 312-375-6524.


Bicycle Laws in Chicago

Bicycle Laws in Chicago

Over the past few years, Chicago has become one of the most bike-friendly cities in the United States.

Today in Chicago, there are nearly 300 miles of protected bike lanes stretching through city neighborhoods.

The implementation of DIVVY bicycles for rental use has resulted in a sizeable increase in riders, both for recreation and daily commuting to and from the workplace.

Bicycle Laws in Chicago

As bicyclists have become a more significant presence on Chicago’s streets, it is important to be aware of the municipal codes that have direct application to anyone riding a bike in the city.

First, it should be noted that bicyclists are given identical rights responsibilities as drivers, and there is particular emphasis in the Chicago municipal code placed on cyclist’s observance of and adherence to all traffic signage posted.

With respect to designated areas for bicyclists to ride, any individual more than 12 years old may not ride on city sidewalks, and bicyclists must use established paths and lanes when riding.

The municipal code specifies the sidewalks in the 6400 block of Sheridan Road as an area where bicyclists are strictly forbidden to ride. This area has a very high concentration of retirement homes, and there are many senior citizens who use the sidewalks daily, who could potentially be injured by bicyclists. Failure to observe this rule will result in an impounding of one’s bicycle and a $250.00 fine.

Bicyclists must always yield to pedestrians, travel at a speed which is not considered dangerous for the area in which they are riding, and must ride in single file when not on bike paths.

Additionally, bicyclists must be sure that when they park their bikes, pedestrian traffic is not impeded.

Chicago bike laws

Finally, the municipal code mandates the usage of front and rear lights when travelling on a bicycle at night, both of which must be visible from 200-500 ft.

Although bike riding in Chicago can be a very healthy and environmentally conscious way to get around, it is beneficial for every bicyclist to know and practice safe riding according to the municipal code.

If you or a loved one were injured while bicycling anywhere in Chicago, contact our office today at 312-375-6524. We can help.


The Ongoing and Ever Difficult Dilemma of Interventional Pain Treatment, Opioids and Health Insurance Companies

In the United States alone, there are millions of individuals experiencing chronic pain.

Those suffering from chronic pain endure more of a burden due to coverage determination policy-making on behalf of major insurance companies.

In recent years, there has been an industry-wide shift by health insurance companies to consider alternative treatments for chronic pain (also known as interventional pain treatments) as unconventional or even ineffectual, even though such alternative treatments previously established high rates of success.

As a result, health insurance companies are limiting the coverage or refusing coverage completely for alternative treatments leaving patients suffering from chronic pain no other option but to treat with opioid pain medications.

Below are some examples of alternative treatments and opioids:

Alternative Treatments                                            Opioids

Steroid injections                                                     Oxycodone

Joint injections                                                         Hydrocodone

Fluid injections                                                         Fentanyl

Physical therapy                                                      Morphine

Nerve blocks                                                

Radio-frequency ablation     

As many physicians have recently noted, opioid pain medications invariably lead to long-term addiction and other equally serious health issues.

According to a report focusing on the global and national increase in abuse of opioid medications given by Nora D. Volkow, M.D. before a May 14, 2014 meeting of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, “Several factors are likely to have contributed to the severity of the current prescription drug abuse problem.  They include drastic increases in the number of prescriptions written and dispensed….”

As this trend continues, healthcare providers are met with a “take it or leave it” decision when dealing with patients who require long-term pain treatment, one which increasingly involves relying on the prescription of opioids solely.

Another trend running parallel is that of patients resorting to payment for non-medication based treatments with their own money, which is an option that many people simply will not be able to afford for an extended period of time. This particular trend essentially renders health insurance useless to enrollees, which is frustrating for all parties involved.

The profit margin for insurance companies is what governs these decisions. It is comparatively less expensive to keep patients on opioids, despite the very real possibility of someone experiencing the aforementioned potential health crises.

Until insurers are willing to acknowledge the risks associated with opioids, and the documented efficacy of interventional pain treatments, both patients and physicians are faced with a difficult dilemma.


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WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT ATTORNEY PHIL BERENZ

"There are all kinds of reasons why you might need a lawyer at some point(s) in your life. Whatever the reason, what you want is someone that understands you, advises you properly (hey, our emotions can override our intellect), works hard on your behalf and is willing to go the distance. Phil Berenz is just this kind of lawyer. I had a situation where I needed the assistance of a lawyer and fortunately he was recommended to me. Phil can walk that delicate line of completely understanding --feeling your pain--to giving you the best advice based on his experience. Some lawyers may tell you what you want to hear to run up your fees. Not Phil.
He's a top-notch negotiator and has the patience to build relationships with the opposing side to gain the best benefit for the client. He is very skillful at understanding the psyche of the other parties.
I could go on and on, but basically what I want to say -- if you need a lawyer, call Phil. If he doesn't have the expertise that you require, he'll recommend you to someone that does and you can be sure they will be of a high calibre too."

S.W.