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National Traffic Awareness Month Spotlights Traffic-Related Accidents – Michael Kosner Has Tips

As more of us return to commuting to the office, what do we need to know about traffic safety?

August 21, 2021

August is National Traffic Awareness Month. Beyond being just an annoying menace that many of us know all-too-well – the stress, the honking horns, the sudden lane changes, the stop-and-go pattern of acceleration that gives you nausea – traffic is actually uniquely dangerous for motor vehicle accidents. Deratany & Kosner’s Michael Kosner has more information about why that’s the case, and what people need to know about seeking justice for traffic-related accidents.

Traffic Awareness Month Infographic August 2021: 38,680 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes, up 7.2% from 2019. 10% of all drivers involved in fatal crashes were under the influence of medication or drugs.Stop-and-go highway traffic is the most common setting for traffic accidents that lead to catastrophic injuries. This is largely because highways have higher speed limits than other roads do, so when traffic suddenly comes to a stop, a distracted driver traveling at a high rate of speed may not realize traffic has halted in front of them. The results can be devastating because the stopped car typically will have no means of avoiding the accident – there are few places that you can maneuver your vehicle to if you’re stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic and about to get rear-ended.

Here are some tips on how to stay safe on the highway – and what to do if you’re in a motor-vehicle accident in traffic.
Reminder to Drive Safely

  • Safe highway driving means that you have to glance in the rearview mirror any time the brakes are applied on the highway. This quick glance can, at the very least, allow a driver to brace for a large impact or in the alternative, move their car out of harm’s way. Having a few seconds to move your car to the shoulder instead of taking a direct impact from a distracted driver can spare you and your vehicle more severe damage.
  • If you do have to stop suddenly, put your emergency flashers on briefly – this will help get the attention of motorists behind you.
  • If you do get in a motor vehicle collision during traffic, see if you can safely move your car to the shoulder. Do not get out of your vehicle if there is any kind of oncoming, moving traffic behind you. Gather numbers of witnesses at the scene – a police report after the fact will be helpful, but the more information you have, the better.
  • Call a personal injury attorney who specializes in motor vehicle accidents sooner rather than later. At Deratany & Kosner, we have decades of experience winning verdicts for people who are injured in motor vehicle accidents. Schedule a free consultation today.

What if the driver who hits me in traffic is intoxicated?

From a legal perspective, drunk driver cases are viewed differently from auto accidents where the offending driver is sober. A drunk driver can be sued for punitive damages, with the court’s permission – Illinois requires that a plea for punitive damages is approved by the court first. That said, Illinois courts are unanimous in allowing a plaintiff to bring a claim for punitive damages if the defendant was intoxicated at the time of the crash.

  • Seeking punitive damages a plaintiff to ask a jury to award damages that are designed to punish rather than compensate. Of course a plaintiff under these circumstances would have the ability to ask for money for pain and suffering and medical bills as well.
  • Typically punitive damages are not covered by a defendant’s insurance coverage. Therefore, a lawyer seeking punitive damages needs to be careful not to let the verdict be tipped too heavily towards a punitive award, which may never be collected. It’s important that your attorney has experience navigating the careful balance of seeking punitive damages to ensure you actually receive your payout.

More cars are getting back on the road than ever as more of us return to a lifestyle of working from the office or traveling frequently. It’s critical that you keep an eye out for distracted drivers in order to stay safe on the road – especially in traffic.

– Michael Kosner, Deratany & Kosner Partner

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