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Illinois handheld phone ban may not be reducing distracted driving

In January of this year, Illinois became one of about a dozen states to strengthen its distracted driving laws by banning the use of handheld cellphones. In order to make or receive phone calls behind the wheel, drivers will now have to use a headset or other hands-free device (including in-car systems that respond to voice commands).

The handheld ban was enacted with good intentions, but it may do little to actually decrease the number of distracted driving accidents. Contrary to popular belief, at least 30 studies have shown that hands-free devices are not really any safer while driving than handheld cellphones are.

GM's recall spurs wrongful death lawsuit

The recent recall announced by GM for some of its cars has roused the interests of drivers in Chicago, Illinois concerned about consumer safety. The recall, which had been announced only in February, stemmed from faulty ignition switches in certain cars. This was an issue that GM was purportedly aware of as far back as 2004. Recently, after more than seven years, the family of the victim who allegedly died because of that defect filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the automaker.

In 2006, an 18-year-old woman and two of her friends were in a 2005 Chevy Cobalt when the ignition switch turned suddenly from run mode to accessory mode, disabling the driver's ability to control the car. The vehicle swerved off the road, passed a ditch and grove of trees. The car finally stopped after hitting a telephone junction box and two trees. Unfortunately, the airbags did not deploy.

Many questions remain unanswered in wake of fatal bus crash

One of the scariest and most devastating aspects of bus accidents is the potential for mass injuries and casualties. Although buses tend to offer more protection to passengers than smaller vehicles do, bus accidents involving trucks and similarly large vehicles can be devastating.

That was the grim reminder in fatal bus accident occurring last week in northern California. The crash is still being investigated and many questions have yet to be answered. What investigators do know, however, is that 10 people lost their lives and dozens more were injured when a FedEx truck collided with a bus and both vehicles became engulfed in flames.

Massive (new) Toyota recall eerily mirrors G.M. recall

The media is currently focusing intense scrutiny on auto giant General Motors. Over the past several weeks, G.M. not only recalled 2.6 million vehicles due to an ignition switch defect; the company was also compelled to admit that some of its employees had been aware of the defect for years. The faulty ignition switch can cause affected models to have their engines suddenly shut down and to have their electrical systems shut down. When this occurs, airbags can fail to deploy, seat belts can fail to restrain passengers and power brakes can fail to engage.

However, G.M. is not the only auto giant currently trying to deal with a massive recall scandal involving defective airbags. Earlier this week, Toyota announced that it is recalling approximately 6.4 million vehicles worldwide. These vehicles are being recalled due to a defect that could cause airbags to fail to deploy or seats to move in the event of a collision.

Two of Healy Scanlons' newest associates win approximately a quarter of a million dollars in jury trial

Two of Healy Scanlons' newest associates win approximately a quarter of a million dollars in a jury trial where no offer was on the table for a CDOT Inspector who fell into a trench on an excavation site. Patrick C. Anderson and Matthew M. Gannon of Healy Scanlon Law Firm represented the plaintiff and tried the case to verdict.

Surgical errors can leave patients with objects in their bodies

Every day, many residents of Chicago, Illinois, undergo surgical procedures and many of these come with inherent risks. One of the new developing risks that have been concerning patients is when doctors or other health care providers leave objects inside a patient's body. Unfortunately, such events can have adverse negative implications on the patient's health, exposing the patient to injuries or even death.

Health care experts call avoidable medical errors "never events" -- mistakes that should never happen. Leaving sponges in patients who have been operated on is one medical mistake that should never occur in an operating room.

CTA seemingly tries to deflect blame for O'Hare train accident

The O’Hare Airport train accident remains a major story in the news, with new details and revelations emerging almost daily. The train’s operator did admit to dozing off just prior to the crash, but it seems clear that hers was not the only negligence responsible for the train accident.

And initial report by the National Transportation Safety Board revealed that an emergency stopping mechanism was placed too close to the end of the track to effectively stop the train. The Chicago Transit Authority has since moved the placements these mechanisms (called trips) on other tracks.

More ATVs spur more Illinois serious injuries, advocates say

While there are not many all-terrain vehicles traveling on Chicago, Illinois, roads, once the weather gets warmer, it becomes conducive again to ride recreational vehicles on many rural Illinois roads. Unfortunately, any increase in ATVs sharing the road with automobiles can mean additional recreational accidents, which can lead to Illinois serious injuries and fatalities.

Since 2012, many states, including Illinois, have considered or approved laws allowing ATVs to be used on more roads rather than designated trails. That is despite manufacturers' warnings that ATVs are for recreational and other specific purposes, not transporting people on public roads.

O'Hare train accident part II: Examining the CTA's safety record

Earlier this week, we began a discussion about the O’Hare Airport train crash that injured approximately 32 people. Although operator fatigue appears to be the primary cause of the train accident, the transit union alleges that fatigue is just one of many safety problems associated with working for the Chicago Transit Authority.

Late last week, the local NBC News affiliate reported on the CTA’s safety record over the past decade, and the report was not flattering. According to “NBC 5 Investigates,” The CTA had the highest number of train derailments, collisions and transit fatalities in the nation.

O'Hare train accident part I: Operator fatigue

One of the biggest news stories here in the Chicago area continues to be the crash of the Chicago Transit Authority train at O’Hare Airport one week ago today. An incoming train crashed into the terminal and actually climbed an escalator as it destroyed nearly everything in its path.

Transportation accidents of this magnitude nearly always prompt an investigation, and rightly so. Initial investigatory efforts have so far revealed that the train accident was likely the result of operator fatigue. The 25-year-old operator has admitted to falling asleep prior to the crash. The larger issue now being debated publicly is whether her fatigue was caused by personal issues and choices or whether it is indicative of larger CTA policy problems.

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