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Illinois Plaintiff's Lawyer Personal Injury Blog- Legal News and Insights from Champaign Urbana Attorneys Koester & Bradley, LLP

Train and Automobile Collisions in Illinois: A Deadly Combination



Champaign Urbana, and Central Illinois in general is heavily populated by train tracks.  While almost every Central Illinois resident is aware of these tracks, it is hard to fully-conceptualize the danger.
--Ryan Bradley, Partner, Koester & Bradley LLP

How Common are Railroad Accidents in Illinois?

It may be surprising to learn that accidents involving railroad track and crossings and automobiles and pedestrians are very frequent in Central Illinois.  In fact Champaign Urbana has had a large number of injuries given the large amount of pedestrian traffic with the University of Illinois and large population base for downstate Illinois.  The most common type of passenger railroad or freight trains accidents tend to be ones involving railroad crossings and cars as such as the major wreck in in the Chicago area in the summer of 2019 that caused an Amtrak train to derail.  Often times these sorts of train and railroad accidents are referred to as Highway-Rail Collisions, and while the impact of these accidents is devastating, they can be easily avoided by undertaking certain simple steps. 

Highway-Rail Collisions

Illinois has the second highest number of highway-rail crossings in the United States.  Many of these are in rural areas with unmarked railroad crossings which is why there are a large number of accidents and fatalities in Central Illinois and Champaign Urbana.  Of the 7,696 highway-rail grade crossing in Illinois, 773 of those are located on state roads and 6,923 are on local roads.  There are also 2,673 highway-rail grade-separated (bridges).  3,791 grade crossings and 141 bridge structures in the state of Illinois are on private property, which are not under the jurisdiction of the state.  Illinois is also home to 98 pedestrian grade separated crossings (bridges) and 346 pedestrian grade crossings. 

By statute, the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) is responsible for the safety of public highway-rail crossings in Illinois.  Costs of safety improvement are paid by the state, the railroads, and local governments.  The Illinois Department of Transportation through the State Road Fund pays the majority of the costs for public highway-rail crossings located on state roads.  Costs for public highway-rail crossings on local roads are handled by the Grade Crossing Protection Fund. 

There were approximately 107 collisions at public railway crossing in Illinois in 2014.  The majority of incidents involve trains colliding with cars.  However, in 2014, 23 out of the 107 collisions involved a motor vehicle driving into the side of a train.  22 fatalities occurred in Illinois in 2014.  2 of those fatalities occurred in Champaign County which would be wrongful death cases should litigation ensue. 

Illinois Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Collisions

Type of Collision

Total Collisions

Fatal Collisions

Total Fatalities

Train Struck Vehicle




Vehicle Struck Train












              *statistics from ICC Crossing Safety Improvement Plan FY 2016-2020 Plan


According to the Federal Railroad Administration Office of Safety Analysis, 117 highway-rail incidents occurred in Illinois, resulting in 16 fatalities in 2015.  4 of those incidents including 1 fatality occurred in Champaign County.  A highway-rail incident is defined as any impact between a rail and a highway user at a crossing site, regardless of severity. Incidents include motor vehicles and other highway/road/sidewalk users at both public and private crossings.



How Can You Easily Avoid Railroad Crossing Accidents?

Drivers can adhere to these common sense steps to  avoid an accident with a train or train tracks--and hopefully avoid having to hire an accident attorney all together:

  1. In a race, the train always wins. Trains move faster than they appear, and even at lower speeds, any time a train, passenger or freight, collides with an automobile, the train wins.  It goes without saying that if the train is actually crossing, you should wait for it to pass before crossing.
  2. Don't "cheat" the lowered gates.  It can be tempting to simply drive around lowered railroad crossing gates. Despite the fact that you may not actually see the train, closing speed can be very fast.  This applies to situations when you find yourself waiting for an extended period of time at a crossing with no trains in sight.  If the wait is unbearable, call the railroad 800 number to report the situation and find the closest functional crossing.  The lost time is not worth losing your life.
  3. Come to a full stop at all crossings. Railroads are a constant fixture in the Central Illinois landscape.  It may be tempting to blow through a railroad crossing , particularly if there is not a train in sight.  Just remember, in a tie between a tran and a car, the train wins, and at over 60 miles per hour, the closing time is very fast.  To avoid a collision, always come to a full stop at every crossing--even if a train is not present.
  4. If you get stuck on the tracks at a railroad crossing, just leave the car. After exiting the tracks, and the zone of danger, look for the 800 number posted at the crossing.  After alerting the railroad, call 911 and tell the local first responders.  Then stay away from the stranded car to avoid injury.
  5. Remember that a train’s stopping distance is very long. A freight train moving at 55 miles per hour may need up to a mile to stop.  Couple this fact with the fact that visibility is not always miles, and you are left with a situation where you as the driver of the car are in the best positions to avoid the collision.  

As always out personal injury team at Koester & Bradley is here to help you recovery for a train collision or railroad crossing case, or just answer any of your questions along the way.

By: Ryan Bradley, Partner, Koester & Bradley, LLP

Illinois State Troopers: Protecting Drivers Across Central Illinois





Everyone who has had the pleasure of navigating the highways they pass through Central Illinois in Champaign County has no doubt been on the lookout for the Illinois State Troopers. Each day these law enforcement professionals put their lives on the line to make sure that travelers on Illinois highways are safe and secure. Illinois state troopers do far more than enforce traffic laws such as speeding and proper lane usage, they also assist individuals with automobile problems and difficulties ranging from flat tires to rescues and on-scene investigations.  In fact, Illinois state troopers are often tasked with performing complicated scientific accident reconstructions in order to prove what precisely happened to cause an automobile accident. This role is of particular importance in truck accident cases since semi trucks are so heavy in travel at such a high rate of speed.
Unfortunately, serving as an Illinois state trooper can be a very dangerous job. There has been much attention given to recent deaths of Illinois state troopers on the highway while in the line of duty.  These tragic accidents happen when drivers in the right-hand Lane fail to move over to the left when is Trooper is performing a traffic stop.  In March of 2019, when Illinois State Trooper Gerald Ellis was struck and killed, he was the second death of the year, with 16 other of Illinois' finest struck by passing vehicles.   In light of these accidents, the state of Illinois has passed legislation to attempt to deal with this dangerous problem. The illegal practice of failing to move over is incredibly dangerous not only two state troopers but also to civilian motorists tending to their vehicles on the side of the road. The next time you are passing the Champaign County and Central Illinois and you see a State Trooper or other motorists on the side of the road, pull over to the left hand lane and do your part to increase road safety and cut down on dangerous accidents.
Apart from patrolling on the highways Illinois state troopers provide a wide array a safety education programs ranging from the processor use of seatbelts, the simulations involving texting and drinking and driving. The Illinois State Police Focus much of their attention on ending distracted driving and operating Motor Vehicles while impaired since these two types A behaviorist lead to a high number of accidents across Illinois. Other Illinois State Police safety programs include Prom Night Safety, Motor Vehicle Safety, and rollover simulations which are intended to help inexperienced in teen drivers understand the deadly impact that improper vehicle control can have on themselves and other people sharing the road.
To combat distracted driving in Illinois, state troopers are now riding along in the cabs of semi trucks bringing their quote trooper and a Truck quote Ride Along program to the state of Illinois. The program was started in the Chicago area and and could spread to Champaign County and throughout Illinois. The intent of the program is to catch distracted drivers in the act without the trooper having to be in an easily identifiable Illinois State Police vehicle. After all, how many times have we all passed semi trucks without paying attention to who is behind the wheel? The program is part of the Illinois State initiative to crack down on distracted driving which is a major source of accidents and deaths in Illinois and in Champaign County. Koester and Bradley actively pursues and recovers for our clients and distracted driving cases.
At Koester & Bradley, we support our Illinois State Troopers in all of their work and remind all drivers in Illinois to stay alert and move over when a vehicle is pulled off the road.
By: Ryan Bradley, Partner, Koester & Bradley, LLP

When and How Most Illinois Car Accidents Happen



At Koester & Bradley, a large percentage of our personal injury arise form auto accidents.  We see many common themes such as distracted driving, speeding, and even projectiles from children in rear seats.  Learning abut the causes of Illinois car accidents is a great way to minimize the chances of accidents for cautious drivers. --Tom Koester, Partner, Koester & Bradley LLP


Koester & Bradley Discusses How and When Auto Accident Happen

Auto mishaps are the leading cause of death among individuals aged 1 to 34 years old nationally.  The same general pattern holds true for Illinois as a state and also Champaign County and Central Illinois where Koester & Bradley focuses its personal injury practice.  Over 40,000 individuals each year in the United States die as a result of auto accidents.  While these statistics might be frightening, a simple understanding of the threats of motor vehicle and truck accidents can aid you in planning trips to minimize threats of potential crashes.

According to information from the National Freeway Website Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), automobile accidents are most likely to happen:

According to statistics, the majority of deadly car accident occur between the hours of 6 p.m. and 12 a.m.  This should really be no surprise since this is when most people are the most tired.  28% of all fatal traffic crashes occur during this time frame.  As nighttime sets in, there are typically more intoxicated or impaired drivers on the roads.  The second most unsafe time of day is between the hours of 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.  16% of all fatal traffic crashes occur during this time frame.  These times of day tend to me more harmful due to the number of drivers hitting the road, e.g. “heavy traffic” for commuters coming home from work.

Weekends also yield higher amounts of motor vehicle accidents.  Reported auto accidents are higher on Saturdays and Sundays than on any other day of the week.  Tuesdays and Wednesdays tend to have fewer reported accidents.

While there are plenty of auto accidents that occur in Winter months as a result of road conditions, more accidents actually occur in the Summer months.  The NHTSA reported that August is the leading month for traffic accidents to occur.  Experts believe that when the temperatures rise, more drivers tend to hit the roads and thus, more accidents occur.

Anytime a driver chooses to operate his/her motor vehicle impaired whether under the influence of alcohol or medications, the danger of a car or truck accident increases.  The NHTSA has reported that an alcohol impairment at a Blood Alcohol Content of 0.08 can significantly boost the risk of motor vehicle and truck crushes by about 8 times.  The threats of these crashes are increased by 25% when a driver is impaired by marijuana. 

Accidents caused by impairment from marijuana are an issue that Illinois and Champaign County will have to deal with in particular with both medicinal and recreational pot use legalized in Illinois.  In fact, Illinois police are already trying to prepare for the problem.

While impaired driving is the reason for a significant amount of auto mishaps, the NHTSA reports that 95% of all automobile accidents are created at last partly by human error. 

What does this mean for drivers in Champaign-Urbana and Central Illinois who want to avoid car accidents and the accompanying injuries?  All drivers must understand:

  • Evening and nighttime hours are the most dangerous--so stay alert!
  • Impaired driving is not just due to alcohol--it can also be from marijuana and even fatigue.
  • The slower you travel (within speed limits) the safer you will be.  Speeding is a major cause of Illinois Accidents as well.

Have you or a loved one been harmed in an automobile accident? If so, contact the Illinois motor vehicle accident lawyers at Koester & Bradley, LLP.  Our skilled and compassionate attorneys have been offering assistance to our clients since 1895. 

To find out more about our services, please call 217-337-1400 to schedule a free initial consult with one of our partners at Koester & Bradley, LLP. 

By: Tom Koester, Koester & Bradley, LLP

The Vital Importance of Tires for Driving Safety



Tires are expensive for a reason.  Tires represent the most important connection that your car make--to the road.  Proper tire maintenance can save lives, while poor tires can cause serious injury. --Ryan Bradley, Partner, Koester & Bradley LLP


Koester & Bradley Tells You All You Need to Know About Burning Rubber

At Koester & Bradley our auto accident lawsuit team as well as our trucking accident litigators constantly see the carnage that can result from poor tire maintenance and worn out tires.  It is understandable that Illinois drivers are reluctant to think about tires.  A good set of tires can cost between $400 and $1,000.  However when you realize that the tires on your vehicle are the sole connection that your car makes with the road, the cost seems more reasonable.  

Are your Tires Worn Out?  

It is estimated that over 33,000 crashes occur each year as a result of tire degradation.  Tire degradation is caused by (1) time, (2) ambient and operating temperatures, (3) flex fatigue, (4) partial pressure of oxygen in a tire and (5) constructing and compounding characteristics.  Although recent tire degradation has received a great deal of recent press, it is not a new problem but one that is been studied vigorously since the 1980s.  In fact, M. Pottinger wrote an article, “The Effect of Tire Aging on Force and Moment Properties of Radial Tires, in 1981 where he notes that “the physical properties of rubber such as modulus elongation, loss factors, etc. undergo significant changes over extended periods of time due to ozone, temperature, oxidation, humidity and other environmental factors.”  Similarly, M.A. Jacobson addressed the aging effect tires in his 1982 article, “Accident Avoidance-How Age Deterioration Can Affect Car Safety”.  He notes that the tread and sidewall rubber crack and harden due to age and exposure to sunlight, ozone, high temperatures and oxygen.  A 1986 article, “The Aging of Tires – Influence on the Damage Frequency” by F. Nowakowski discussed a study of 146 tread separation failures and concluded that a correlation existed between tire age and tire failures.  Nowakowski’s study advised that tires older than 6 years should be removed regardless of tread depth.  A June 1988 press release from Goodyear Commercial Tire Management informed the pubic that stored tires age and can be rendered unusable just as tires left in the elements. 


As a response to the Firestone tire failures, Congress asked The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the Fall of 2000 to develop a “tire aging test” in order to evaluate the risk of failure during the life of a tire.  The current regulation in 2000 only evaluated the life span and risk of new tires; tires that were already in use or were in storage were not regulated.  On November 1, 2000, the Transportation Recall, Enhancement, Accountability, and Documentation (“TREAD”) Act was enacted which mandated that the NHTSA revise and update the safety standards for light-truck and passenger cars.  The NHTSA reviewed the effectiveness of the current 2000 tire standards and then developed the NHTSA Tire Aging Test Development Project in 2002. 

The NHTSA Tire Aging Test Development Project set out to prove two goals:  (1) to understand service-related tire degradation over time and (2) to develop an accelerated, laboratory-based tire test which simulates real world tire aging and then allows the remaining structural durability of these test tires to be evaluated.  The NHTSA expected that the highest level of tire degradation would take place in warmer climates and thus, Phoenix was the location chosen for the collection of on-vehicle tires.  The NHTSA determined that changes in tire properties were due to two mechanisms:  (1) thermo-oxidative aging and (2) cyclic fatigue during tire deformation.  Thermo-oxidative aging occurs when the heat and reaction to oxygen causes the rubber compound and material interfaces of the tire to degrade.  Cyclic fatigue leads to cracks and separations of the tire tread. 

The NHTSA developed three methods of accelerated, laboratory-based tire testing to determine structural durability of aged tires.  The first two methods (Michelin’s Long-Term Durability Endurance Test and Continental’s Passenger Endurance Test) were combined to determine tire aging and durability.  Michelin’s test required the tires to be inflated to a mixture of 50% oxygen and 50% nitrogen and then run on a 1.707m roadwheel for up to 500 hours.  Continental’s test required the test tires to be run on the 1.707m roadwheel under proprietary conditions for up to 240 hours.  A test based on research by Ford was used for the third method which required that the test tire be inflated to a mixture of 50% oxygen and 50% nitrogen and then heated in an oven for a period of time in order to speed up the chemical reactions and test the material property changes.  The heated tire was then later run on a road wheel in order to study structural durability changes. 

New tires were then compared to the tires that had been aged in the laboratory setting.  The NHTSA reported that over 95% of tire failures in its complaint database involved wire-coat skim compound, the tire tread and belt area, and the wire-coat wedge compound between the steel belts in the tire tread.  These areas were studied in the most detail and it was found that increases occurred in the hardness, modulus, cross-link density and oxygen content.  The ultimate elongation, peel adhesion and flex property also decreased over time. 

The NHTSA then analyzed what variables had the biggest effect on the change in these properties.  Data was then collected comparing the changes in properties to those tires taken from service in Phoenix to those tires used in the laboratory-based testing.  The changes in the properties of the tire were higher in those tires used in the laboratory-based testing.  The longest roadwheel test times showed the same level of change in property as the same tires used in Phoenix with a real world use of 1 to 3 years.  A tire of 3 to 6 years of service in Phoenix had the same change in properties that a tire oven-aged had at the highest level.  It was also found that hardness of type E, H and L tires increased during oven-aging and decreased during real world service in Phoenix or roadwheel testing in a lab setting. 

Structural integrity was also tested based upon a method involving the oven-aging of tires and a stepped-up load test.  Tires aged 3 weeks at 70°C had longer running times before failure than did tires aged at 60°C.  C and L tires aged at 60°C at 8 weeks had no decrease in roadwheel time, despite the fact that L tires had the greatest loss in physical properties during aging tests.  B and D tires had failure times below 100% load only at aging times of 8 weeks at 65°C.  These same model tires had a predicted failure rate below 100% after 5 or more years of service in Phoenix.  E tires used for 3 to 4 years of service in Phoenix or oven-aged for 8 weeks at 65°C produced failures below 100% of the maximum rated load for the tires.  H tires used for 2 to 3 years of service in Phoenix or oven-aged from 6 to 8 weeks between 60°C and 70°C resulted in failure below 100% of the maximum rated load for the tires. 


The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) studied several aged tire-related crashes in 2014.  They found that aged tires are often used well beyond safe service lives.  For example, in the February 15, 2014 Centerville, Louisiana crash between a school bus and a SUV, it was determined that the SUV’s driver lost control of the car after the right rear tire’s tread separated.  It was determined that the SUV’s tire was approximately 12.5 years old.  The crash resulted in the death of 4 people and injuries to 34 others.  The NTSB also determined that recalled tires tend to remain in service several months after a recall is issued.  For example, a 15-passenger church van rolled over on February 21, 2014 in Lake City, Florida resulting in two deaths and severe injuries to several minor children.  It was determined that the crash was likely caused by a left-rear tire failure.  The NTSB investigation determined that that the tire had been recalled for a known safety defect approximately one and half years before the crash but had continued to remain in service. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated that tire aging may have contributed to 23% of tire-related crashes.  Despite their years of research, the NHTSA has not defined what is an “appropriate” tire age but merely refers to vehicle and tiremaker recommendations.  “The British Rubber Manufacturers Association (BRMA) recommended in June 2001 that tires over six years of age should not be put into service and that all tires should be replaced ten years from the date of their manufacture.  However, the BRMA notes that even an inspection by a tire expert may not reveal the full extent of tire deterioration.”  Ford noted in its 2006 MY owner’s manuals that “tires degrade over time, even when they are not being used on the road.  It is recommended that tires generally be replaced when they are six years or older.”  Chrysler’s 2006 Owner’s manuals contained a similar warning noting that “tires and spare tires older than six years could result in sudden tire failure resulting in loss of control that could lead to serious injury or death.”  Tire Rack notes on its website that they believe street tires have a useful life in service of between six to ten years.  It is no wonder why the general public may be confused as to when tires should be replaced. 


The NTSB discovered that between 2009 and 2013, only 44% of recalled tires were actually removed from service and that only 20% of affected tires are returned to the manufacturer.  Under the current recall system, tire identification numbers (TINs) are compared against TINs listed on recall notices.  The problem here is that TINs are difficult to locate without the use of a professional vehicle lift because the number is listed on the inside of the tire’s mounted sidewall.  Cross-referencing a TIN with an individual recall bulletin is also extremely difficult as no recall database searchable by TIN is in currently in existence.  Unfortunately, this forces the consumer to rely on service shops and dealers to inform them of recalls.  The NTSB has recommended the following improvements:  (1) the printing of TINs on both sides of the tires, (2) requiring manufacturers to create TIN searchable recall databases on their websites, (3) requiring mandatory registration of all tires at the point of sale and (3) using radio frequency identification (RFID) chips and laser scan codes to transmit recall information.  Congress recently passed “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act” (FAST Act) which implemented NTSB’s proposed improvements #2 and #3.  However, the FAST Act does not require computerized registration or NTSB’s proposed improvement #4 which would help ensure effective communication to consumers. 


We know that tires will continue to degrade with (1) time, (2) ambient and operating temperatures, (3) flex fatigue, (4) partial pressure of oxygen in a tire and (5) constructing and compounding characteristics.  We know that tires will continue to be put into service if they appear serviceable.  Finally, we know that aged tire-related crashes will continue to occur until policies and practices are created and implemented by the government.

By: Ryan Bradley, Koester & Bradley, LLP

Semi Trucks Are Annoying--Don't Let Them Hurt You Too



The number of semi truck and tractor trailer accidents throughout Illinois are on the rise.  Drivers are constantly tired, and spurred on by trucking companies unconcerned with safety.  Still, there are ways to stay safe on the road. --Ryan Bradley


How to share the road with Trucks

With 10 gears, 500 horsepower, hauling 80,000 pounds and an average cruising speed of 65-70 miles per hour, today's commercial vehicles were built with the long-haul in mind. But if you've ever gotten stuck behind an 18-wheeler in the city, you are all too aware of how slow and clumsy these big rigs can be off the highway.  In Central Illinois in particular the prevalence of semi trucks is even higher with Illinois Interstate 57, 74, and 72 all intersecting along with smaller roads frequently used by semis.  The Champaign trucking accident team at Koester & Bradley has studied the causes of trucking accidents for decades and has come up with the following tips Illinois drivers can use to protect themselves from the destructive power of semi trucks and big rigs.

Getting Up To Speed

Never pass or maneuver around a commercial vehicle - truck or bus - illegally, even if it means taking a few more minutes on your commute. Although you may think you can zip around and in front of that trucker, keep in mind that most passenger car/tractor trailer accidents are much more than fender benders.

Safe in the Zone

Most professional truck and bus drivers try to leave a safe distance between themselves and the vehicle in front of them. This cushion of space is known as the "safety zone".  Yet, the safety zone is often invaded by risky drivers trying to better their position on the road.

Never zoom around a truck or bus only to pull directly in front of them. Stay out of the safety zone! As a rule when you pass a commercial truck or bus, allow 50 feet (five car lengths) between you and the big guy before merging back in front of him.  If you enter the zone in front of a big rig and need to apply your brakes, the 18-wheeler on your tail may not be able to stop in time.

Is He Making a Pass?  Remember, trucks are bigger than you are.

When you make the decision to pass, always be sure you can complete your pass quickly.  As you're approaching a big rig from the rear, anticipate what your passing speed needs to be and be sure you can get by without getting stuck behind another passing vehicle - you might be in one of the truck's blind spots.  Better to wait to start your pass after the one ahead of you has completed its maneuver and is clear of the safety zone.


If you can't see a truck's mirrors, you're in the truck's blind spot and the trucker can't see you.  Keep this in mind as you select your road position behind or alongside a truck or bus.  Always make sure you can be seen.  When passing, keep in mind that the truck driver has a big blind spot to his left just behind his cab. If you get caught in that blind spot the truck might start a passing maneuver of its own and squeeze you off the road or into oncoming traffic, or worse yet, collide with you.

Truck Accidents Will Still Happen

Koester & Bradley dedicates a significant amount of our practice to helping drivers injured in semi-truck accidents.  Remember, trucks have one goal in mind, deliver the load as quickly as possible and pick up another load.  That is how trucking companies make money--and they make lots of it.  Trucking companies almost always have large insurance policies as well.  This means that if you or a loved one are injured in a trucking accident, you should absolutely call a local Champaign and Illinois trucking accident lawyer so that you are paid the compensation that you deserve.

By: Ryan Bradley, Koester & Bradley, LLP

Accident Avoidance for Winter Driving in Illinois



Illinois receives a wide range of winter weather from snow to freezing rain, to sheets of ice.  How can you protect yourself in the event of an accident?  Follow these tips.
-Tom Koester, Partner, Koester & Bradley LLP

Illinois has some of the Most Severe Weather in the Midwest.  Here is How to Stay Safe on Winter Roads. 


Winter is here, and Illinois is seeing its share of snow, sleet, and ice. When driving in that type of weather, it’s crucial to be prepared. Here are some tips on safe driving and how to avoid auto accidents while driving in the snow.  You may have heard these before, but they bear repeating.  When we counsel clients about auto accidents that take place in the winter, and especially in inclement weather, we hear the same types of stories repeatedly.

  • Try not to use cruise control when driving on icy roads.  This may seem like common sense, but cruise control causes accidents across Illinois in the winter and insurance companies will try to use the fact to pay less on your injury claim.
  • Speed up and slow down slowly and with caution.  Keep your head up and give yourself plenty of time to react.
  • Double your normal following distance. Usually, it should be around four seconds. When the roads are slippery, increase it to around eight seconds.
  • When going up a hill, make sure to get the inertia going before you reach the hill. Don’t try to power up the hill right when you reach it. When you reach the top, slow down and go down the other side with caution.
  • Never drive when you’re fatigued.  You don't have to be tired to be fatigued and be a dangerous driver.  Unfortunately this is a major problem in the trucking industry where drivers routinely drive tired and are forced to do so by their companies.
  • Keep the temperature in your car comfortable, so that you’re able to concentrate.
  • Always keep your gas tank half full. In addition, keep a safety kit with warm clothing, food, and drink. You will have a place to stay if you get stranded.  ALso, make sure you have an ice scraper. 
  • Keep your local AAA or towing company's number in your contacts.
  • Never turn on the car until you make sure the exhaust pipe isn’t blocked by snow or mud. This can cause carbon monoxide to leak into the car.
  • Keep up with your local weather forecast. Avoid going on long trips if snowfall is predicted.

If you’ve been the victim of a car accident, you’re probably entitled to more compensation than you think. Make sure to contact a law firm that has your best interests in mind, so that you’ll get the highest compensation possible.

By: Tom Koester, Partner, Koester & Bradley, LLP

Proving Permanent Injuries in Your Illinois Accident Case



One of the keys to receiving fair compensation for your injuries in an Illinois auto accident or personal injury case is to prove that your injuries are permanent.
-Ryan Bradley, Partner, Koester & Bradley LLP

Many Injuries from Personal Injuries and Auto Accidents are Permanent--Learn How to Prove It

In Illinois like almost every other state, if you were hurt in an accident and if you can win your personal injury case, you will receive compensation for your injuries. However, if you had to endure very serious injuries, there may come a time where you reach what is referred to as the maximum medical improvement.  Typically, this determination is most often made in workers compensation situations, but it is relevant in automobile wrecks and trucking accidents as well. A determination of maximum medical improvement means that you will not heal anymore than you have already healed, and this determination usually comes from a doctor.

Does maximum medical improvement mean that I have no permanent injuries?

The answer is no.  For example, assume that you fractured your back in an automobile accident.  You undergo surgery and physical therapy.  Finally, after months of treatment your spine surgeon establishes that you have reached your maximum level of improvement.  This determination does not mean that you will not suffer the repercussions of you injury for the rest of your life, but only that you not get any better.

For some, this point of maximum medical improvement comes when they are fully healed. Their compensation stops and they return back to work and normal activities. Unfortunately, for serious accidents, this moment of maximum medical improvement doesn't mean they are fully healed. If you will no longer improve in condition, you will then be considered to have permanent impairment. In some cases, this means that person will never regain full range of motion in their shoulders, or it can be even more serious like a person no longer regaining the use of a limb. If this is the case, a doctor will examine your impairment to see if it will be considered partial disability or full disability. This percentage of disability will affect how much you can receive for the impairment.

If you have reached maximum medical improvement, but still are not fully healed, having your injury labeled as permanent will mean you can continue to collect a certain amount of compensation for that impairment. However, you can't ask for this during your personal injury case. It is something that must be accessed after the healing is done. If you suspect you may have permanent impairment, this means you need to communicate that with your lawyer so the settlement has provisions to provide for permanent compensation just in case permanent impairment does manifest.  Koester & Bradley is an Illinois leader in receiving compensation for permanent injuries and building a case for such injuries.

If you have been hurt in an accident, you hope you won't have long-term injuries, but if you do, you want a settlement that can cover it. If you have been hurt and need help with your personal injury case, contact us today.

By: Ryan Bradley, Partner, Koester & Bradley, LLP

What to Do After A Hit and Run Auto Accident in Illinois



Hit and Run Accidents in Champaign Urbana and across Illinois are frustrating and dangerous.  It is vital to stay cool and protect your right to compensation with a local Attorney.

​--Tom Koester, Koester & Bradley, LLP

Illinois Hit and Run Accident Lawyers Koester & Bradley

Car accidents can be a traumatizing experience.  The concentration of major State and National Interstate highways and travelers in the Champaign Urbana and Danville Areas make Central Illinois a hotbed for accidents.  Hit-and-run accidents can be even scarier. After all, the other person, who is often guilty of negligence behind the wheel and also Illinois Vehicle Code Violations, has left the scene, and you might be afraid that you won't get the help that you need. There are several things you should do after a hit-and-run accident both to preserve the safety of yourself and other passengers of the car, and to preserve your right to compensation from the other driver and most importantly, the other driver's insurance company.  Just because the other driver has broken the Illinois law and fled the scene of the accident, it does not mean that the other driver is not carrying an insurance policy which will be legally liable to compensate you or a loved ones for injuries from the accident. These things will allow you to get the help you need and will increase the chances of the culprit being caught.

Stay Put

Yes, it can be tempting to chase after the other driver. After all, you don't want the other person to get away with hitting your vehicle and causing damage and pain and suffering. Chasing after the other driver is not going to solve the problem, though. In your angry state, you may cause another crash.  Furthermore, Illinois law does not allow you to break other rules of the road in pursuing another individual.  Instead, do you best to gather all of the information and details about the other car as you possibly can and write them down as quickly as possible.  You can record these details in your phone, or even do a voice recording and take pictures.  This make the Police's job easier in apprehending the other driver and allowing you to recover.  Stay where you are, and check for injuries to yourself and others. Allow the police to find the hit-and-run driver.

Contact the Police and Your Insurance Company

Call the police as soon as possible after the accident.  Provide them with as much information as you can about the driver and the accident. Unfortunately, hit-and-run accidents often catch people by surprise. You may not be able to get the vehicle's full license plate number. You may not have a complete description of the driver. Remember as much as possible about the vehicle and the driver as you can, though. Information about the direction the person is traveling will also be helpful to police. Potential damage to the vehicle may also aid the police in finding the hit-and-run driver.  Finally, make sure you have a firm description of the make, model, and color of the other car.  The Police are very good at finding cars and criminals in Illinois and even the most minor detail is often enough for them to do their job.

Additionally, your insurance company may also be liable to assist you financially and to compensate you for your injuries after a hit and run accident in Champaign Urbana or across Illinois even if you do not know the other driver's identity.  Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage is purchased for this reason.

Find Witnesses

Even if you are not able to provide adequate information to the police, witnesses may be able to fill in the blanks. If possible, ask anyone nearby who witnessed the accident to stay around and provide a report to the police. Nearby security cameras may also be able to help the police identify the person.  Also, don't forget than any passengers in your car are also witnesses as well as victims.

If you were injured in an accident where the other driver fled the scene,  contact us. We will work to help you get the compensation you deserve.  If you have specific questions, feel free to visit Koester & Bradley's ever-expanding database of Champaign Auto Accident Frequently Asked questions for guidance.  

Important Informantion You Need Before Filing Personal Injury Lawsuits




Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit is Not Simple--Here's What You Need to Know

If you’ve been injured in an accident and you’re looking to retain a personal injury attorney, you probably have a lot of questions when it comes to retaining a lawyer and filing  personal injury lawsuits. This is an overwhelming time and we understand that, so we’d like to provide you with some basic information to gather from the personal injury attorney you’re looking to retain.

Fees and Disbursements
The first and probably most important question you have is how much the attorney fees will be. Most will work on a contingency basis, meaning if you don’t win your case, you don’t get paid. Also, you’ll want to ask about disbursement fees and whether or not they’re required up front. It helps to know the financial aspect of things before you commit.

Strong Case
You want to make sure you have a strong case in order to understand if you have a good chance to recover damages. If your case is not strong enough, it’s really just a waste of everyone’s time.
Potential Damages
You’ll want to find out exactly what you can sue for, such as repair bills, medical bills, and even emotional distress. And while your attorney can give you an approximate amount, he can help estimate how much you stand to collect if successful.

Time Frame
Knowing the time frame you're under is helpful when preparing to file a lawsuit is necessary. Ask what the statute of limitations is so you know how long you have before making a decision to file your suit. You don't want to rush into your decision, but you don't want to procrastinate and miss the deadline. It's also helpful to know how long the case may last in order to plan accordingly.

For more information on filing a lawsuit,  contact us to review your case.

Stay Safe When It Gets Dark




Night driving is often the most dangerous time to drive, Koester & Bradley share tips to make it safer. 

Darkness triggers melatonin production, which tells the body that it's time to sleep. This causes drowsiness. Furthermore, people aren't nocturnal creatures by nature and therefore their vision is poorly suited for the dark. These facts mean that the hours after sunset is a dangerous time to drive. While headlights and tail lights make driving possible, they're a poor substitute for sunlight. Here are five tips for making your night driving a safer experience:
Check Your Lights
Make sure your headlights are properly aimed. Shine your car's headlights on your garage door and note the beams' reflections. If they point up, down, or off to the side, have your mechanic adjust them. Replace headlights, tail lights, and brake lights that are burnt out or appear dim. Keep them clean.
Keep Your Windshield and Glasses Clean
Dirt and grime covered glass scatters light. This produces glare when light passes through dirty windshields and glasses. Keep the inside and outside surfaces of both clean. Consider getting an anti-reflective coating on your glasses, which dramatically reduces glare.
Avoid Looking at the Headlights of Oncoming Traffic
The glare of oncoming headlights can cause temporary night blindness. To avoid this, look at the right side of your lane to guide your steering and use your peripheral vision to track oncoming traffic.
Get Plenty of Rest
Get seven or eight hours of sleep the night before a long road trip. Avoid driving at night when you feel physically or mentally exhausted. Therefore, hard manual labor or running a marathon should be avoided before your trip. This is also true for lengthy exams, interviews, and similar experiences that tap out your mental energy.
Drink Coffee When Needed
If you start feeling fatigued during your night drive, get off at an exit and drink a cup of coffee. If you're at a rest stop, a coffee works especially well after a 20 minute nap. While occasional coffee consumption is effective, don't rely on it too heavily. Your body will develop a caffeine tolerance that renders it less effective. At some point, even coffee won't prevent falling asleep at the wheel when your fatigue is sufficiently extreme.
If another's reckless or negligent driving injured you in an accident, our experienced lawyers can help.  Contact us today at Koester & Bradley, LLP.

Illinois Plaintiffs Lawyer Personal Injury Blog by Koester & Bradley, LLP 

Legal News and safety tips with Illinois Impact from the Accident and Personal Injury Firm Koester & Bradley, LLP


Ryan R Bradley is a personal injury and litigation lawyer based in Champaign County Illinois focused on representing injured clients and businesses navigate the maze of litigation to financial recovery.  

Tom Koester is a personal injury attorney based in Champaign County in Central Illinois focused on representing the injured and victims of Medical Malpractice and Personal Injuries.