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Our wrongful death lawyers recently learned that a runaway truck trailer crashed into a minivan last Wednesday and killed seven individuals in the vehicle. Whig.com reports that the out of state accident occurred when a 24-year old truck driver’s trailer was hauling crushed cars when it broke free of the rig that was pulling them. The trailer cut across a two-lane road and slammed into the minivan just seconds later. The minivan was hit in rural Cortland County south of Syracuse, according to the report.

The driver of the minivan was heading home with friends and children in the vehicle when he was killed. Also killed in the accident were his 21-year old fiancé, a 26-year old woman with her two 4 and 5-year old daughters, and two additional children at the ages of 4 and 7. An eighth individual was taken to a nearby hospital with moderate injuries. According to the driver’s mother, “there was zero time to make a maneuver.”

The sheriff’s office released that investigators determined the cause of the accident to be mechanical failure. Tractors and trailers are commonly connected by a “fifth wheel” in which a pin on the trailer fits into the center of a piece of metal on the trailer and is secured by an automatic locking device. Authorities say that this truck part that was specifically used to securely lock the connection between the tractor and the trailer had failed. It is still being determined exactly why this happened. The truck was owned and operated by Newton Salvage of Georgetown.

A Greene County couple is dead after their motorcycle was read-ended at a traffic light on Saturday night. According to Kmov.com, the motorcycle was stopped in traffic, attempting to turn left onto Kane Road, when a pick-up truck crashed into the back of it. The motorcycle’s 46-year old driver and 42-year old passenger were both ejected from the vehicle. Authorities pronounced them dead at the scene and reported neither the driver or the passenger was wearing a helmet. The 21-year old driver of the pick-up truck was uninjured and was later charged with failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident. An accident reconstruction team was called to southbound US 67 at Kane road just after 7pm, and investigations into the crash are currently ongoing.

From the perspective of our motorcycle accident attorneys, motorcycle riders who are stopped for a traffic light or are traveling at a slow speed are at a very high risk for being rear-ended. This particular type of collision is especially dangerous and often traumatic for motorcyclists, who are more vulnerable than drivers inside of a car or truck.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s “Fatality Analysis Reporting System” found that cars and trucks are almost equally likely to rear-end motorcycles. It also found that frontal impacts and impacts with fixed objects are two of the most harmful events in fatal motorcycle crashes; even so, rear-ended collisions continue to lead to injury and fatality to drivers and passengers involved in the accident.

Many Illinois police officers have learned of the tremendous efforts of an out-of-state patrol cop who arrested 95 people on suspicion of driving under the influence in 2012, the most of any officer in his county. Mercurynews.com reports that the 55-year old officer says he became inspired to go after DUI suspects after hearing stories of people whose loved ones were killed by drunken drivers. “I needed to go out and do what I could to stop it,” he told reporters. Thus, in his last year as a full-time patrol cop, he decided to work night shifts exclusively, a crucial time to go after drunk drivers.

When the cop was not responding to calls while on patrol, he was looking for drivers displaying signs of being under the influence. He looked for vehicles that drove too fast or too slow, or had trouble staying in between their lines. Drivers stopping too far or too close from stop signs were also common indicators.

The patrol cop’s dedication certainly paid off; he was ultimately responsible for nearly 43% of the 222 DUI arrests made in his county last year. He was recognized last week during a banquet sponsored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) for his efforts. This week, MADD will also recognize other officers who each made more than 100 DUI arrests last year. Although the patrol cop has recently retired, he plans on continuing to be a reserve officer and working DUI enforcement. Executive director of MADD states, “They have a sixth sense, some of these officers. It’s a gift, because they’re saving lives every time they get a drunk driver off the road.”

Last month, an Illinois State Police trooper was killed when a semi truck collided with his squad car. According to Chicago.cbslocal.com, the 28-year old trooper was pulled over on the left shoulder of Interstate 294 near Willow Road in northwest suburban Northfield Township just after 11pm when he was hit behind by the semi. It was not clear why the trooper was stopped or if his vehicle’s emergency lights were on. Witnesses told investigators that they saw the semi, a United Van Lines truck, in the left lane before the crash.

After the impact of the collision, both vehicles burst into flames. Witnesses say it was hard to even make out the squad car among the tangled and burnt metal. A later autopsy determined the primary causes of the trooper’s death were thermal injuries from the fire, as well as inhalation injuries and minor head injuries. The truck driver walked away from the accident with nothing but a burnt hand.

As of a few weeks ago, the medial examiner’s office ruled the trooper’s death an accident and the semi truck driver was not charged with any crime or wrongdoing related to the accident. But now, our wrongful death lawyers have learned that after further investigation, recent reports obtained by Sun-times state the semi driver fell asleep behind the wheel before his vehicle veered out of its lane and struck the trooper. The trucker was initially issued a ticket for improper lane usage but it was dismissed soon after, according to a state police spokeswoman. Authorities are continuing to reconstruct the site of the crash to find out additional details relating to why the crash happened, and higher charges may result. Among the things that will be looked at are the trucker’s driving history, how many hours he had been behind the wheel without a break, and the results of drug and alcohol tests administered as required by state law after a fatal accident.

Charges have been filed against a driver who caused a fatal accident early Tuesday on the Dan Ryan Expressway in which alcohol was a factor, killing the 25-year old driver of a pickup truck. Chicago.cbslocal.com reports that the two-vehicle accident happened at about 12:30am in the southbound lanes of the interstate when a 52-year old crew cab truck driver of Chicago suddenly crossed from the far right lane to the far left lane of the five lane highway near 95th Street and struck the pickup truck. Witnesses told police that both trucks then hit the median wall, crossed traffic again, and hit the right wall of the interstate before finally coming to a rest.

Our truck accident attorneys learned that the driver of the pickup truck was pronounced dead at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn at 1:05am Saturday, autopsies determining that he died of serious head injuries from the collision. Family reports that the man was heading home from his shift at work when the crash occurred. The driver of the crew cab truck, however, was uninjured in the accident and submitted to standard field sobriety tests administered by Illinois State Police troopers on the scene. His blood-alcohol content was measured at 0.109, more than the legal limit of 0.08, according to a police report. He was charged with aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol in the death of a man and was held in lieu of $350,000 bail in a midday hearing in Cook County Bond Court on Wednesday.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration lists that the number of drunk driving fatalities in Illinois in 2011 was 278, with the percentage of traffic deaths that were drunk driving related being 30%. This was a decrease from 2010 in which 292 fatalities took place and the percentage of drunk driving related deaths was 32%. Though this decrease is certainly positive, organizers such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and the Alliance Against Intoxicated Driving (AAID) say one accident is still too many. “It’s a problem that’s always going to be around because people drink and it’s socially acceptable. It’s totally unacceptable to get behind the wheel if you’ve been drinking,” stated a member of AAID. “One in three families will be impacted by drunk drivers,” stated a member of MADD. “So if you’re sitting in a row of three people, it’s not the two of them. It’s going to be you.” Reports from Abclocal.com state that both organizations have launched awareness campaigns with the goal of keeping roads safer this summer.

Starherald.com recently released that the trial of a truck driver charged with killing an entire family in a multiple-vehicle accident has been scheduled for September. Our accident lawyers learned that the 36-year old driver’s arraignment hearing took place in January, in which a not guilty plea was entered on his behalf on four counts of manslaughter, four counts of motor vehicle homicide by willful reckless driving, and one count of motor vehicle homicide of an unborn child by driving recklessly.

The report states that the family consisted of a 30-year old man from Maryland, his 28-year old wife, and the couple’s two and three-year old children. The family had been among other drivers stopped on Interstate 80 as emergency crews were responding to a previous accident. The couple was driving separate vehicles at the time. Allegedly, the truck driver drove onto the scene, failing to notice the emergency lights or slow down for the stopped vehicles, and struck the husband’s vehicle. The force of this collision pushed his vehicle into his wife’s car, which was forced underneath a semi-tractor trailer. All family members were killed upon impact. The woman was pregnant at the time of the crash and her unborn child also died.

State police say that when the accident occurred, the truck driver had been driving for more than fifteen hours, violating commercial motor vehicle federal regulations. He also failed to observe radio traffic and other warnings that would have alerted him about the accidents on the interstate. He remains in a local jail on a $1 million bond, and a pre-trial conference is scheduled for late-May.

According to an online news report by Suntimes.com, two vehicles were involved in a fatal accident at 95th Street and LaGrange Road near Hickory Hills, Illinois this past weekend. One of our Chicago wrongful death lawyers read that a 51-year-old Crystal Lake woman was driving east on 95th street and had the green light when she entered the intersection. Her SUV was then hit by a pickup truck traveling south on LaGrange road. The 25-year-old Orland Park man ran a red light at the intersection and T-boned the woman’s car. A Cook Country sheriff’s police spokeswoman stated that preliminary investigations indicate the man may have been driving up to 70 miles per hour. The spokeswoman also said the man had made statements that he had been out drinking in Chicago since the evening before.

The woman, a dedicated wife and mother of three, had been traveling to Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn where she worked as a part time registered nurse when the accident took place. She was taken to Palos Community Hospital shortly after the accident and was later pronounced dead. The Orland Park driver, who was treated at the same hospital for minor injuries, is now in police custody and is being charged for driving under the influence. There were no other passengers in either vehicle, and no other vehicles were involved in the accident.

As our attorneys reading the above report noted, accidents caused by failing to obey traffic signals can be fatal. However, as of recently, legislation has been passed and signed into law authorizing the use of traffic safety cameras throughout the state of Illinois to decrease the number of these accidents. Specifically, local police departments are using red light cameras to hold drivers accountable for driving through red lights. As recently as February 2012, legislation was also passed to authorize the use of speed cameras in Chicago school and park zones. Governor Pat Quinn outlined his support for these cameras, stating “Reducing speed around schools and parks where children are present is a good policy for Illinois, and I’ve signed the legislation because I think it does have an impact on safety.”

MyFoxChicago.com released that a woman was killed on Tuesday night when a semi truck crossed the median of Interstate 88 and struck her SUV. Our wrongful death attorneys learned that the collision took place at 7:14PM on the toll road between Butterfield Road and Route 56 near west suburban Aurora. Illinois State Police say the semi was traveling east when it went through the grassy median and into the westbound lanes of traffic. Upon entering the westbound lanes, it struck the woman’s SUV head on. The semi stopped in a ditch on the right side of the westbound lanes and caught fire just seconds later, according to the State Police Tollway District Master Sergeant.

The driver of the SUV, a 46-year old woman of southern Illinois, was pronounced dead at the scene. The Kane County Coroner’s office released that an autopsy Wednesday showed the preliminary cause of death was directly related to the accident. Toxicology samples were collected and sent to a forensics lab for evaluation. The cause of the crash remains under investigation; no citations have been issued yet.

Vehicles that cross the centerline are causing an increasing number of fatal accidents on Illinois highways and interstates. Often times, motorists deliberately attempt to cross the centerline with the intentions of changing directions on the interstate. Other times, motorists accidently cross the centerline due to factors like poor weather conditions, impaired driving, or being involved in a previous accident.

A 32-year old man is currently facing charges of aggravated DUI and reckless driving from a June 2012 accident that killed a 63-year old motorcyclist. A Chicago wrongful death attorney at our law firm learned that the pick-up truck driver was traveling during rush-hour traffic when he claimed a young teenager cut him off on Ogden Avenue at River Road in Naperville. The driver then became enraged and attempted to chase down the teen. In the process, he turned in front of the victim, who police say had the right of way. “He bulldozed through the intersection, no matter who or what was in his way,” a witness told a DuPage County Judge.

Dailyherald.com released that the victim, of Lombard, was killed upon impact. After the accident, the report states that the erratic driver fled the scene and flagged down a police officer, leading him to a nearby strip mall where he attempted to blame the teen driver for causing the accident. Instead, police found marijuana in his car, in addition to his blood later testing positive for traces of both cannabis and cocaine, according to a forensics expert.

“His driving and his driving alone caused [the victim’s] injuries,” said an Assistant States Attorney. But police are still investigating the accident, as several eyewitnesses were said to have provided conflicting details about who and what the case really was. In the mean time, the driver remains jailed on $500,000 bail. His trial resumed last week and will continue for several weeks afterwards.

A driver has recently been charged with aggravated driving and disregarding a stop sign that led to the death of his passenger, according to Peoria Journal Star. Illinois State Police records reveal that a local sheriff’s deputy discovered the 20-year old driver’s heavily damaged car just before 8am last Wednesday. The car was about 50-feet off of the road in a field in southwest Peoria. The driver was removed from the vehicle and transported to a nearby hospital where he was treated and released. His 19-year old passenger was declared dead at the scene.

Our Illinois wrongful death attorneys learned authorities stated that the driver failed to stop at a stop sign at a T-intersection and left the road, causing his car to go airborne and hit a cable wire. The driver reportedly told officers that he did not see the stop sign in front of him. He also told them that he failed to notice an amber warning light near the intersection and a flashing red light on top of the stop sign. Police say the driver reported looking at his passenger and talking to him while driving which might have caused him to miss the stop sign.

Additionally, the driver told police that he had smoked marijuana and synthetic marijuana within a week before the accident. Lab tests revealed that the driver had a primary intoxicant that is found in marijuana in his system at the time of the crash. Toxicology reports revealed that his passenger did not have illegal substances in his system.

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