August 16, 2013

Governor Signs Legislation Banning Handheld Devices While Driving

/smart_phone_icon_1377498_m.jpgAccording to an article in the Chicago Tribune, beginning on January 1, 2014, drivers throughout the state of Illinois will be banned from using a handheld device behind the wheel. The main impetus behind the legislation is to reduce the number of accidents caused by distracted drivers. It is believed that too many of these kinds of accidents could have easily been prevented. Victims injured in a car accident involving a distracted driver can suffer serious, life-threatening injuries. In many cases, the innocent victim would be entitled to receive compensation for any resulting injuries and losses. If you or someone you know have been injured in a car accident involving a negligent driver, it is important to contact a local injury attorney as soon as possible to determine your potential rights to a recovery. Here's an article about bankruptcy - http://pview.findlaw.com/view/4387388_1

Distracted driving has become more prevalent with the increasing use of "smartphones" and other handheld devices. According to Pew Internet, as of May 2013, 91% of adults have a cell phone, while 56% have a smartphone. The statistics further indicate that 67% of cell owners check their phone for calls, messages, or alerts -- even when they don't notice their phone vibrating or ringing. This is alarming data. These numbers translate to an obvious fact: many people consult their phone while driving, be it to text, check a social media site, or simply to make a phone call. But the distraction can be deadly.

A website called Stoptextsstopwrecks.org, reports that a texting driver is 23 times more likely to get into a car accident than a non-texting driver. It should come as no surprise that Illinois will now join the dozen other states that have issued a ban on handheld cell phone use while driving. The state already has a no texting while driving ban in place. Violators of the new law will be issued a $75 fine for a first offense, and repeat offenders could pay $150 for additional violations, and possibly receive a moving violation on the license. Drivers who receive three moving violations in one year could have their license suspended. The new law allows drivers to use a hands-free device to make phone calls.

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August 6, 2013

Chicago Governor Signs Three Teen Driving Bills To Promote Safer Roads

172434_accident_1.jpgIn an effort to make Chicago roads safer, Governor Pat Quinn signed into law three bills aimed at teen driving. According to a news article, two of the bills seek to make it more difficult for certain teenagers to obtain a drivers license, while the third would prohibit a judge from granting supervision to anyone who has been charged in a fatal accident - if they have been convicted or were previously placed on court supervision for another serious traffic violation.

There are many causes of traffic accidents. Of growing concern is the number of people, especially younger drivers, who drive while texting or talking on a cell phone. Unfortunately, too, many drivers still choose to operate a vehicle while impaired, either under the influence of alcohol, drugs or some other substance. And still, for whatever the reason, some drivers either inadvertently or purposely fail to observe traffic safety laws, placing everyone on the road around them at risk. If you or someone you know has been involved in a traffic accident of any sort, you could be entitled to compensation. It is important to contact a local injury attorney who can evaluate your case and work to achieve the best possible recovery for your injuries and losses.

Each of the three bills described above serve a distinct safety purpose. The first bill, dubbed "Patricia's Law," is named after a victim who was killed in a car accident involving a distracted driver who later only received a fine and court supervision. The purpose of the law is to prevent a driver from maintaining a record free of convictions simply by receiving and successfully completing court supervision. Such supervision often involves safety classes and fines. The law will take effect January 1, 2014.

The next piece of legislation would permit the Illinois Secretary of State's office to deny the issuance of a permit or driver's license to anyone who is 18 years of age or younger - who also has unresolved traffic tickets. The impetus for this law was an accident involving a teenager who was hit and seriously injured by a teen driving with a learner's permit. The driver in this case was able to apply for and receive a driver's license just three days after the accident. It is hoped that the law will keep Chicago roads and children safer, and takes effect immediately.

The third and final law addresses the issue of the importance of driver's education courses. Under the measure, anyone between the ages of 18 and 21, who did not take a driver's education class in high school, will be required to complete an adult driver's education course in order to receive a driver's license. The law will go into effect on July 1, 2014.

These are all laudable measures to protect the safety of people on Chicago roads. Even with these efforts, traffic accidents will continue to occur, but hopefully in decreasing numbers. People injured in car accidents often suffer serious, if not life threatening injuries, and even death. It is essential to contact a local injury attorney with experience handling car accident cases, as soon as possible after an incident takes place.

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July 25, 2013

Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed in Chicago In Connection With Recent Quebec Train Derailment

1102892_traffic_warning_sign__7.jpgAccording to the Chicago Tribune, the estate of a man from Quebec, who was killed in the recent train derailment, has filed a negligence lawsuit in Cook County against 10 different defendants. The litigation stems from an accident that killed more than 40 people, as the train carrying oil exploded when it derailed and crashed in Lac-Megantic. When a person dies as a result of another's negligent actions or inactions, the decedent's family may bring a wrongful death action to attempt to recover damages for their suffering and losses. In such cases, people are encouraged to contact a local personal injury attorney with experience handling wrongful death claims.

Losing a loved one in an unexpected and tragic accident, one which could have been avoided or prevented, is difficult enough, without having to handle the legal side of matters without an attorney who you can trust. Experienced counsel will know the intricacies of Illinois law and will be able to guide the family through an emotional and trying experience.

A surviving spouse or other family member typically brings wrongful death suits. In order to bring the negligence action, one would need to first determine the preliminary cause of the accident. Without being able to establish that the defendant acted in a negligent manner, there would be no such viable action. In this case, the plaintiff (decedent's estate) is bringing an action against 10 defendants, one of whom is a local businessman and his company, which is allegedly affiliated with the railroad involved in the accident.

According to the complaint, the decedent lived in Lac-Megantic and was allegedly "consumed by the fire and explosion" when the derailment and crash occurred. The administrator of the estate is requesting a jury trial and greater than $50,000 in damages, alleging wrongful death-negligence. Specifically, the lawsuit claims that safety lapses amounted to negligence that allowed that crash to take place. As for other actions arising out of this accident, there is reported to be a class action lawsuit filed in Quebec by survivors of the crash against some of the defendants also named here.

Plaintiff may seek recovery under the Illinois Wrongful Death Act, which was amended in 2007 to give plaintiffs the right to seek recovery for grief, sorrow and mental suffering. Before the law was revised, plaintiffs were limited to bringing an action for economic damages, including the loss of wages and funeral costs. With the amendments in place, victims now have the opportunity to present evidence specifically addressing one's grief, sorrow and mental suffering of a parent, spouse or other family member.

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There seems to be an extensive number of potential lawsuits that will likely arise from the train derailment and explosion. There are a horrific number of deaths and other casualties as well as a number of possible defendants. One of the main goals will be to pinpoint the cause or causes of the tragedy in order to identify the negligent parties and their deadly actions (or inactions) that led to the accident. An experienced injury attorney will know how to approach the case and handle each part of the procedure to achieve the best possible recovery for the client.

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July 18, 2013

83 Victims of Asiana Crash Filed Legal Papers Against Boeing in Chicago

1414861_plane_silhouette.jpgAccording to an article in the Chicago Tribune, 83 of the passengers on Asiana Flight 214 that crash-landed at the San Francisco International Airport, took the necessary, initial legal steps to bring an action against Boeing, the manufacturer of the aircraft. The victims filed the petition in Chicago where Boeing maintains its headquarters. Aviation disasters, while not common occurrences, have the potential to cause serious injuries and deaths. The types of claims that may be brought include, but are not limited to, wrongful death, negligence and product liability. If you or someone you know has been involved in an aviation-related accident, it is important to contact an experienced, local aviation attorney as soon as possible after the incident.

Most aviation accidents occur because of pilot error, bad weather, poor maintenance, faulty parts, or air controller error. In the devastating Asiana crash, three people were killed and more than 180 passengers were injured. People injured as a result of an aviation accident could be entitled to compensation for their personal injury or emotional anguish resulting from the other party's negligence.

According to the plaintiff's petition, the investigation has revealed that a mechanical malfunction may have caused the crash. Among other allegations, it is reported that the lawsuit will address the possibility that the evacuation slides inflating inward and seat belts trapping passengers could have caused further injuries. As part of the investigation, members of the National Transportation Safety Board (the "NTSB") have been talking to the flight crew and witnesses, and have been combing the wreckage, studying the runway and gathering recorders from the aircraft.

The NTSB plans to conduct further interviews, examine the evacuation slides and other aircraft components, and engage in an in-depth analysis of the airplane's performance. The agency is making the Asiana crash a high priority and is hoping to complete the investigation within a 12-month period.

While the media typically reports on the tragic crashes involving commercial flights carrying a great number of passengers, there are many other aviation cases, such as private airplanes or helicopter crashes, which involve serious injury and wrongful death claims. In fact, many air crashes result from non-commercial flights, also known as personal or general aviation.

Aviation law encompasses most areas of air travel, as well as operation and regulation of business issues related to air travel, and intricate knowledge of FAA Regulations, specific laws regarding the flight and an in depth understanding of aviation. An aviation attorney is someone with a vast amount of experience handling such cases and who has a thorough understanding of the following related matters: 1) the negotiation of equipment purchases or leases; 2) airline re-constructing and bankruptcy; 3) aviation economic regulatory matters; 4) airplane and environmental issues; 5) general commercial matters; 6) aviation insurance coverage; and 7) FAA compliance and enforcements.

This area of the law is highly technical, specialized and complicated. It is extremely important to consult with an experienced aviation attorney in order to adequately protect your rights and to achieve the best possible outcome of any aviation-related injury action.

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July 11, 2013

Pedestrian Dies After Being Struck By Cyclist in Arlington Heights

Thumbnail image for Screen Shot 2013-07-15 at 12.40.52 PM.pngChicago is a busy, beautiful city. Many people who enjoy cycling and walking the streets, must be aware that they are often sharing the road with drivers and other cyclists, and vice versa. Accidents involving cyclists occur too often and have the potential to result in serious injuries and even death. A pedestrian or cyclist who is injured in an accident resulting in the negligence of another person, may be eligible for compensation for their injuries. If you or someone you know has been the victim of such an accident, it is important to contact a local injury attorney as soon as possible after the incident in order to protect your rights to a recovery.

According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, a female pedestrian died after sustaining injuries in a tragic and unexpected accident involving a cyclist on the Lake Arlington Path. Police reports indicate that the 74 year-old victim was walking along the cement path when an 11-year-old boy crashed into her from behind. He was part of a group of more than two-dozen cyclists on the path at the time. The accident occurred when the bike in front of the young rider had swerved around the victim, leaving him no time to stop before hitting her. The collision sent the woman "flying." The victim landed on her head, suffered a brain injury and was taken to a local hospital, where she lost consciousness.

Her husband of 55 years is devastated, telling reporters that the accident could have been prevented. He believes "group rides" are inherently dangerous and should not be permitted on paths in the park. The Arlington Heights Park District is now looking into ways to increase the safety of its most popular park, but there is little they can do to prevent cyclists from using a path that was created in part for their use.

It is unclear whether the husband will bring any sort of negligence action against the park, the individual cyclist who struck his wife, or the organization of riders. Accidents involving pedestrians or cyclists can take many forms and often involve a negligent driver of a car. For example, there are accidents where road and weather conditions are perfect, but a driver is either distracted and/or fails to exercise caution and injures an innocent pedestrian. Accidents also occur where road conditions are less than ideal (such as poorly paved roads or bad traffic signals). Such scenarios can contribute to the cause of a pedestrian accident.

Some of the most common negligent driver activities include the following items: 1) distracted driving, such as talking on the phone or texting (this is becoming rampant throughout Illinois and the entire country); 2) driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol; 3) speeding through an intersection; 4) making an illegal U-turn; and 5) missing stops signs or inadvertently passing through one without stopping.

Innocent pedestrians or cyclists are at a disadvantage on the road along side drivers of cars and other motor vehicles. A person injured by a negligent driver is encouraged to contact an injury attorney to protect their rights to fair and just compensation for their suffering and losses.

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July 3, 2013

Investigation Continues One Year After Fatal Bridge Collapse - Negligence Lawsuit Pending

591224_train_bridge.jpgLast July 4th a couple was killed when a Union Pacific Bridge collapsed in Glenview, a suburban community north of Chicago. As reported in the Daily Herald last year, the husband and wife lived only a mile from the accident site. Their son, who is a personal injury attorney and was in a law practice with his father at the time of the bridge collapse, brought a wrongful death action against Union Pacific Railroad Co., alleging negligence and carelessness. Plaintiff argued that the tracks were not appropriately inspected and maintained. The lawsuit seeks more than $50,000 in damages for each victim.

Families of loved ones, who have been killed in an accident caused by the negligence of another, may be entitled to compensation for their injuries and losses. In such wrongful death cases, where plaintiffs are alleging negligence on the part of another, there are many intricate details to investigate and prove. If you are considering the possibility of bringing a negligence-based wrongful death suit, it is important to contact a local injury attorney with experience handling such matters.

According to a recent Chicago Tribune article, a year after the tragic accident, the road is still blocked where the bridge collapsed. Preliminary reports indicated that extreme heat created kinks in the rails, leading to the derailment that caused the collapse. Apparently, the investigation into what caused the bridge to collapse is still ongoing. The couple's son expressed frustration that Union Pacific has failed to expedite the investigation into the cause of the collapse. A spokesman from Union Pacific confirmed that the investigation by the company, as well as the Federal Railroad Administration, is not over, and that they are not certain when it will be. They want to be sure that the preliminary cause is correct before closing the investigation.

Ascertaining the preliminary cause of any negligence case is of supreme significance. Without evidence that the defendant acted in a negligent manner, there would be no such viable action. When a wrongful death lawsuit alleges that the decedent was killed as a result of the negligence (or other liability) on the part of the defendant, the surviving dependents or beneficiaries are entitled to monetary damages as a result of the defendant's conduct. The most common beneficiaries or dependents are surviving spouses and children, and sometimes parents. In 2007, the Illinois Wrongful Death Act was amended to afford plaintiffs the right to seek recovery for grief, sorrow and mental suffering. Prior to this amendment, Illinois plaintiffs were able to bring an action only for economic damages, such as loss of wages and funeral costs. Now, victims have the opportunity to present evidence specifically addressing one's grief, sorrow and the mental suffering of a parent, spouse or other family member.

Wrongful death claims are complicated and emotionally trying. The laws concerning eligibility for recovery (including economic versus non-economic damages) vary from state to state. The importance of teaming with a local personal injury attorney, with a measured degree of experience, cannot be overstated.

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June 26, 2013

In Negligence Case, Illinois Supreme Court Grants Broad Immunity To Ambulance Company and Emergency Workers

Screen Shot 2013-06-26 at 3.12.29 PM.pngCar and other vehicle accidents occur fairly often in Chicago and throughout the State of Illinois. In most cases, the accident can be attributed to the negligence of at least one of the drivers. The negligence can be caused by a number of scenarios, including a driver's failure to pay close attention to the road, or one who pays too much attention to a cellular phone and gets distracted, or the driver who is found to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. No matter what the reason for the negligence, the innocent victim in such an accident is entitled to compensation for their injuries and losses. The best course of action is to contact a local injury attorney with a great deal of experience handling car accident claims.

In a recent Illinois Supreme Court case, the plaintiff brought a negligence claim against several defendants, including an ambulance service company, for injuries resulting from an automobile accident. Here, the plaintiff driver was heading eastbound on 95th Street in Oak Lawn on her way to a doctor's office. As she attempted to make a left turn across three lanes of oncoming traffic, she collided with a private ambulance that was driving westbound in the lane adjacent to the curb. The vehicles in the other two lanes stopped for her as she began to turn. The ambulance did not.

According to the facts of the case, the private ambulance was making a nonemergency transfer of a patient from a hospital to a nursing home. As a result of the collision, plaintiff suffered a brain injury and is undergoing treatment and therapy. She brought this negligence action in Cook County circuit court, seeking damages against the ambulance driver and the employer-company.

In response to the lawsuit, the defense claimed that under the Emergency Medical Services Systems Act (the "Act"), they were immune from any liability. Any person licensed under the Act, "who in good faith provides emergency or non emergency medical services ... in the normal course of their duties ... shall not be civilly liable as a result of their acts or omissions in providing such services unless such acts or omissions ... constitute willful and wanton misconduct." Plaintiff did not allege willful and wanton misconduct.

While the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of defendants, the appellate court reversed, refusing to find any immunity for defendants, noting that the Act should not be construed to immunize ambulance drivers from third party claims of negligence. The Supreme Court of Illinois further reversed and reinstated the judgment for the defense, holding that the Act does not limit immunity to patients in the ambulance. The court pointed out that the legislature was concerned that without this broad immunity, people would be deterred from becoming emergency workers or from performing their duties due to a fear of incurring liability.

There are many legal factors to consider when one is injured in a car accident. For instance, this decision impacts negligence actions that are brought under similar facts, under the Act. Thorough knowledge of Illinois law is a necessary component to bringing an action in this state.

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June 20, 2013

Man Charged With Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants in Deadly Illinois Crash

991548_prescription_bottle_-_blank_label.jpgWhen citizens of Chicago learn of a "DUI" accident, most people typically think that the driver was drunk. But many car accidents involving drivers who are found to be driving under the influence are actually on drugs, both legal and prescription medications. According to the Illinois State Police, hundreds of people die needlessly as the result of drinking or drugged driving each year. Further, many more people are seriously injured or suffer permanent disabilities. If you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident caused by an intoxicated driver, it is important to contact a local injury attorney who can maximize a recovery for your suffering and losses.

People using illegal drugs should not be getting behind the wheel. It can be as dangerous as drinking and driving. And legal drugs can also impair one's ability to drive. Prescription drugs are known to cause side effects such as dizziness, sleepiness, or blurred vision. Illinois law prohibits the use of drugs or any combination of drugs to a degree that renders the person incapable of safely driving. People may not realize the extent to which certain prescribed substances and illegal drugs can affect their ability to drive a motor vehicle safely. And sometimes the driver can be so impaired that they negligently cause an accident that injures and may even kill innocent people.

According to a Chicago Tribune article, a man from Barrington Hills has been charged with driving under the influence of intoxicants in connection with an accident that took place on March 3 of this year. The accident caused the death of a 61-year-old Elgin man, and seriously injured the man's fianceé. The Assistant State Attorney announced the specific charges as including aggravated DUI involving death and aggravated DUI involving great bodily harm.

The tragic accident took place on Illinois Highway 59. As the 18 year-old driver's SUV was heading northbound on the highway, he sideswiped a southbound car and then struck another car head-on, allegedly causing the death of the innocent driver and injuring his passenger. The teenaged driver who was subsequently arrested was taken to a local hospital for treatment of his minor injuries. The analysis of his blood revealed that it contained a strong prescription sedative called Lorazepam. During a search of the car, the police found a bottle of Lorazepam, but noted that he did not have a prescription for the medication. According to reports, the police also found other drug paraphernalia. Bond was set at $100,000.

Automobile accidents can occur for a variety of reasons. Unfortunately, the most preventable cause of car accidents is driver impairment, be it from alcohol or drug use. Raising awareness of the kinds of injuries that can result from such offenses is one of the ways to help deter driving under the influence. Victims of such unnecessary crimes are entitled to receive compensation for their injuries and losses. The extent of one's entitlement to recovery may vary depending on what state you live in. It is important to consult with a local injury attorney who thoroughly understands the applicable laws and procedures in Illinois.

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June 13, 2013

Wrongful Death Lawsuit Settled in Alleged Highland Park "Huffing" Death

561670_spray_8.jpgThe Chicago Tribune reports that a civil lawsuit brought against a teen driver in a "huffing" death car accident has been settled recently for an undisclosed amount. According to reports, the teenager had been driving in Highland Park when she lost control of her car and crossed over several lanes of traffic along Central Avenue ending up on the sidewalk, hitting a woman and her three children. One of the children, a five year-old girl, was killed. The family of the deceased girl brought a wrongful death action against the driver, alleging negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

In order to bring a wrongful death lawsuit in Illinois, plaintiffs must allege that the decedent was killed as a result of the negligence (or other liability) on the part of the defendant. In such cases, the surviving dependents or beneficiaries may be entitled to monetary damages due to the defendant's conduct. In this case, officers alleged that before the accident, the driver inhaled fumes from a computer-cleaning product, a practice that has become known as "huffing." According to the authorities, a canister of the product was found in the car.

According to the Inhalant Abuse Prevention website, huffing is a serious matter. When people inhale chemicals, they are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream through the lungs, and rapidly distributed to the brain and other organs. Shortly thereafter, the person who inhaled the chemicals will experience intoxication. This has been described as a similar condition one experiences when drinking alcohol. However, with inhalants, the sensation of intoxication typically lasts only a few minutes. It is suggested that some users extend the "high" by inhaling chemicals, or huffing, continuously.

One of the most troubling aspects of huffing is the general availability of these "household" products. Some of the huffing products include: air conditioning coolant, computer cleaner, felt tip markers, gasoline, spray paint, air freshener, cooking spray, butane, glue, and paint, although there are many others. Because of the ease with which children and teens can access these items, the statistics concerning inhalant abuse are alarming. The data suggests that over 2.6 million children, between the ages of 12 and 17, use an inhalant each year to get high. Further, in the United States, one out of every four students has intentionally abused a common household product to get high by the time they reach the eighth grade. This same website also concludes that inhalants are the fourth most abused substance following alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana.

As we can see in the case above, the use of inhalants can lead to the death of innocent victims. Families of loved ones who are killed as a result of the negligence of another are entitled to receive compensation for their injuries. Before the Illinois Wrongful Death Act was amended, claimants were only permitted to bring an action for their economic losses. With the revised law in place, plaintiffs may now be eligible to recover for their grief, sorrow and mental suffering. Since each state's laws may vary in any number of respects, it is important to consult with a local injury attorney who is fully familiar with the legal procedures of the Illinois court system.

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June 6, 2013

Private Facebook Data To Be Examined in a Slip-and-Fall Case

565523_caution_tape.jpgA recent court order by a judge in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, may have personal injury claimants thinking twice about the privacy of the data that they post to Facebook. While this case is currently being litigated in another jurisdiction, it is only a matter of time before courts in Chicago and elsewhere in the country begin to take notice. With the explosion of the use of social media, and the ease with which people can share private information via technology, it can hardly be a surprise that litigants would turn to such data to prove or defend their case. If you or someone you know has been injured in a slip and fall accident in Chicago, it is imperative that you contact a Chicago personal injury attorney to help you understand your rights to a recovery.

According to an article appearing in the American Bar Association Journal, the plaintiff is suing Lancaster Regional Medical Center ("LMRS") and Hospital Housekeeping Systems for injuries sustained in a slip and fall accident at the hospital. Plaintiff alleges that she slipped and fell in a puddle of liquid in an elevator at the LRMC, seriously injuring her back and knee. Further, plaintiff claims that she needs surgery for the injuries, but cannot afford the medical treatment.

Defendants argues that plaintiff has posted images to Facebook that show she was participating in activities, after the incident, that a person would be unable to do with the injuries she is claiming to have. Defendants further state that these images fail to visibly indicate that plaintiff was in any pain at all. In response to defendants' claims, the judge ordered the parties to hire a "neutral forensic computer expert" to examine plaintiff's Facebook account. The order limits discovery by granting the computer expert the authority to review plaintiff's Facebook account during the 17-day period after the alleged fall at the LRMC.

It has been suggested that information on a person's public page has become the primary standard among state judges in determining whether to grant or deny access to a party's private social media account, including Facebook. Aside from the intrusion into a person's private information, courts now also have to figure out the dates on which photos and videos were taken in order to be sure the images are relevant to the case at hand.

Each year, thousands of people slip and fall on another's premises or real estate due to the property owner's negligence. Under Illinois law, a party bringing a slip and fall lawsuit must allege and prove the following items: 1) that a dangerous condition exists on the property; 2) that the person or entity in control of the premises knew or should have known of the danger; 3) that he owner or occupier failed to use reasonable care to remedy and warn of the danger; 4) as a result of their failure to act within a reasonable manner, a person must show that they suffered injuries as a "proximate result" of the property owner's negligence.

There are many kinds of slip and fall cases for which injured parties are entitled to compensation. A Chicago injury attorney would be able to analyze your case and help to secure the maximum recovery for which you are entitled.

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May 28, 2013

Drunk Driver Hits Two Pedestrians in River North Neighborhood as NTSB Recommends Reducing Legal Blood Alcohol Limit

1231362_sign_no_alcohol.jpgAccording to a Chicago Tribune article, a Lisle man struck two pedestrians in River North Chicago, sending both women to the hospital. Fortunately, the women are reported to be in stable condition. The crash took place in the 100 block of Ontario Street, between LaSalle Avenue and Wells Street. After the accident, police cited the driver for negligent driving, failing to reduce speed, failure to yield to pedestrians, and for driving under the influence. A victim of a drunk driving crash has the right to bring a lawsuit to recover for any resulting suffering and losses. The best recourse is to contact a local injury attorney with experience in handling car accidents.

Innocent victims of drunk driving accidents can sustain many kinds of injuries, from mild scrapes and abrasions to more severe ailments such as head trauma and paralysis. Unfortunately, many people die each year in car accidents involving a drunk driver. According to national statistics, in 2010, more than 10,000 people died in alcohol-impaired driving accidents, translating to one every 51 minutes. In terms of dollars and cents, alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes cost more than an estimated $37 billion annually.

On a more local level, in 2011, Illinois reported a total of 279 fatalities involving alcohol-impaired driving. It is no wonder that the National Transportation Safety Board (the "NTSB") recently recommended that states reduce the permissible blood-alcohol concentration by more than a third, to .05% from the current standard of .08%.

The NTSB is suggesting the change due to the fact that many people are injured or killed each year by drivers who have not reached the legal threshold for being drunk, but who nonetheless have a reduced ability to see, make decisions or operate a vehicle. Of course, the main idea behind the recommended change is to make the roads safer for all drivers and pedestrians. According to the recent article, officials proposing the change are hoping that the reduced blood-alcohol level will deter drinking and driving among heavy drinkers as well as social drinkers. But not everyone sees it this way. In fact, critics of the proposed limit argue that changing the level to .05% will simply criminalize what would typically be considered responsible behavior. They say that such a change would do nothing to stop the heavy drinkers from driving drunk.

Proponents argue, however, that most of the industrialized world utilizes .05% as the acceptable blood-alcohol limit. While the NTSB's intentions are good, if states agree to implement the recommended change, studies will have to be done to see whether the .03% reduction will decrease the number of car crashes involving impaired drivers. In addition to drunk driving, there are many other reasons people get into car accidents, including distractions from cell phone use, either texting or talking, unexpected roadwork construction, ineffective signage, and pure driver carelessness, to name a few.

There are established factors that one must prove in order to recover damages from a car accident: 1) the person who caused the accident had a legal responsibility called a "duty of care"; 2) a breach of that duty must occur; 3) the breach of duty must have caused the accident; and 4) injuries resulting from the accident must be incurred. A local personal injury attorney with experience handling car accident cases can help you to maximize your recovery.

Continue reading "Drunk Driver Hits Two Pedestrians in River North Neighborhood as NTSB Recommends Reducing Legal Blood Alcohol Limit" »

May 20, 2013

Some Good News About Distracted Driving: Evanston Sees Decrease in Crashes Since Cellphone Ban Enacted

1377498_smart_phone_icon.jpgSince the City Council banned the use of cellphones while driving in Illinois, the people of Evanston have experienced a drop in the number of car crashes. According to an article in The Daily Northwestern, the Evanston Police Department reported that the amount of roadway crashes decreased by 17 percent from 2009 to 2012. During the same time period, the number of car accident injuries also dropped 14.5 percent. This is good news, considering the extent of injuries innocent victims can suffer as a result of an accident with a distracted driver. If you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident, it is important to consult with a local injury attorney to determine your rights to compensation for your suffering and losses.

The recent enactment bans web browsing, texting, listening to voice mail messages or talking on a handheld phone while driving, but allows talking with a hands-free device. The main impetus for the ordinance has been the safety of drivers and others on the road. Enactment of the ordinance alone may be somewhat of a deterrent for drivers to refrain from texting while behind the wheel, lest they face a minimum of $50 for a violation of the ban, or $200 should the use of the cellphone contribute to a car accident. It helps that the local Evanston Police Department has issued more than 7,000 tickets to motorists who violated the ban, making citizens aware that law enforcement is taking this very seriously.

While these numbers reveal an optimistic trend in the area of distracted driving, there is still a great deal to be concerned about as far as teenagers and texting goes. A report issued recently by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that four out of every nine high school students had sent or received texts while driving in the past month. This new study further indicates that teens who text while driving are also more likely to participate in other risky activities, such as getting into a car with a drunk driver or not wearing a seatbelt. For example, the research shows that only three percent of teens who said they don't text while driving had recently driven after drinking alcohol, compared to 19 percent of teens who reported texting and driving at least once in the past month, and 34 percent who said they text while driving on a daily basis.

One of the concerning aspects of this data is that 45 states in the country have laws banning texting while driving. And a vast number of teenagers, who are typically "new" drivers, are not heeding those laws. Of course, what it all boils down to is the safety of teenagers and other drivers on the roads. Hopefully, as in Evanston, other parts of Illinois will also see the same reduction in crashes due to distracted driving. People who have been injured in distracted driving accidents as the result of the negligence of another are entitled to receive compensation for their pain and suffering. It is important to contact a local attorney who is fully aware of the laws affecting your case.

Continue reading "Some Good News About Distracted Driving: Evanston Sees Decrease in Crashes Since Cellphone Ban Enacted" »

May 13, 2013

Chicago Mayor Seeks Increase in Fines to Bicyclists and Motorists Who Fail to Heed Traffic Safety Laws

331159_bikes_only.jpgCyclists and motorists in Chicago may have to take more care while they are riding around the city or else face steeper fines for safety violations. According to a recent news article, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is seeking to raise fines for cyclists who disobey traffic laws and for drivers and passengers who "door" a cyclist, that is, one who opens a vehicle door in the path of an oncoming rider. Injuries to cyclists and motorists alike can range from minor cuts and scrapes to more serious matters such as broken bones, head trauma and even death. If you or someone you know has been injured in a bicycle or car accident, it is important to contact an experienced, local attorney to help determine your right to compensation for injuries.

In what seems to be a companion effort to the Mayor's investment in creating protected bicycle lanes throughout the city, the proposed increase in fines are meant to encourage riders to obey traffic laws, to increase safety for all vehicles sharing the roads. Cyclists who violate traffic laws currently receive a fine of $25. That amount would increase to a range from $50 to $200, depending on the particular violation and the severity of the infraction. The Mayor has emphasized that in order to share the roads with motor vehicles, cyclists are expected to follow all traffic laws, including stopping at traffic signals, yielding to pedestrians and even indicating when they are making turns. Many cyclists fail to heed traffic laws, either because they don't realize that they are subject to them or they just choose not to.

According to the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration, in 2011, 677 "pedalcyclists" were killed, and an additional 48,000 were injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes nationwide. As for local statistics, reference to a website maintained by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for planning indicates that bicycle crashes rose approximately 11% in 2010, when compared to 2009. There is some speculation that the increase in accidents may be a result of an increasing number of cyclists on the roads. With these numbers in mind, it should come as no surprise that government officials are seeking to make the roads safer.

Motorists will also have to pay closer attention to obeying traffic laws, especially ones pertaining to cyclists. In the spring of 2011, Governor Pat Quinn announced that the state would begin tracking "dooring" crashes. Currently, a motorist or passenger who doors a cyclist receives a $500 fine. The proposed change would raise that amount to $1000 per incident. Fines will also increase for motorists who simply leave their vehicle door open in traffic from $150 to $300. It is hoped that these fine hikes will encourage the people of Chicago to take notice and make the roads safer for all citizens, and possibly even encourage more people to use bicycles for transportation.

When involved in an accident while riding a bicycle, the bicyclist has the same rights to receive compensation as motorists do in vehicle accidents. If you have been involved in a bicycle accident it is imperative that you contact an experienced injury attorney who understands the laws as they apply to bicycle accidents.

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May 3, 2013

Wheaton-Warrenville High School Student Killed In DUI Crash

176193_chicago_police.jpgChicago citizens are reminded of the dangers of drinking and driving far too often. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (the "NHTSA") estimates that 47 percent of Illinois motor vehicle fatalities involve alcohol. That statistic translates to 918 drunk driving fatalities in 2011. The problem extends throughout the country. Statistics indicate that every 30 minutes, a person dies in the United States because of an impaired driver. Those who survive drunk driving accidents often sustain serious, life-altering injuries. If a loved one was injured or killed as a result of a drunk driving accident, you may be entitled to recover damages. It is important to contact an experienced Chicago personal injury lawyer to help you understand your rights.

Drunk drivers often kill innocent people. According to a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, a 31 year-old man was driving an SUV that veered off the road, crashed into trees and rolled over. The crash killed his passenger, an 18 year-old senior at Wheaton Warrenville South High School. This single car accident took place while the driver was heading south on Shaffner Road near Mack Road. Both the passenger and driver were taken to Central DuPage Hospital where the young student was pronounced dead after suffering from massive head injuries. The driver was arrested for driving under the influence ("DUI") and later charged with two counts of DUI causing a death.

The State of Illinois is working diligently to prevent drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel. The Illinois Department of Transportation (the "IDOT"), Division of Traffic Safety, instituted a campaign aimed at reducing alcohol-related traffic fatalities, with the catchy slogan: "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over." According to the IDOT's website, research shows that the most effective way to deter an impaired person from driving a vehicle is the threat of being caught. With this in mind, the "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" efforts include a great deal more enforcement. The campaign utilizes a variety of media tactics to ensure that the public is well informed about the added enforcement. The simple logic is this: if there are fewer impaired drivers on the road, there will be fewer accidents, fewer injuries and fewer deaths.

Not only is driving under the influence a crime, which can send the driver to prison for any number of years, depending on the circumstances, but there are often innocent victims, who suffer multiple injuries and sometimes death. Victims of drunk driving accidents may be entitled to compensation for their pain and suffering. People who bring claims involving car accidents typically have to prove the following elements: 1) the person who caused the accident had a legal responsibility called a "duty of care;" 2) he or she failed to live up to that legal responsibility called the "breach of duty;" 3) the accident resulted from the breach of duty and is called "causation;" and 4) injuries and their consequences also known as "damages" resulted from the accident.

Families of victims killed in a drunk driving accident may also have an opportunity to bring a wrongful death claim. Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney is necessary to help you understand your rights to a recovery.

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April 29, 2013

Waivers Signed by Parents are Not Necessarily Enforceable for Child's Injuries in Illinois

Screen Shot 2013-04-29 at 1.46.38 PM.pngParents are constantly asked to sign a "waiver" in order to enroll their child on a sports team, to participate in some challenging activity (e.g., rock-climbing), or even to play on certain gym equipment at a friend's birthday party. In all likelihood, a great percentage of parents fail to read the fine print before signing the document. In many cases, people who sign waivers are obligated to adhere to the terms of the contract. But there are some instances where the waiver may not be enforced, especially in cases where a parent waives the child's right to sue. If you have questions about whether you are entitled to recover for injuries sustained as a result of another person's or business' negligence, it is important to contact a local Chicago personal injury attorney to help you understand your rights.

A waiver is the voluntary and intentional act of relinquishing something, typically a potential right to sue a person, organization, or educational institution for damages sustained from an injury. Sponsors of an event, schools, or owners of the particular premises usually demand that individuals (or their parents) sign a waiver before students, visitors or other competitors participate in the institution-sponsored activity. A waiver is usually embodied in a document that is signed before any damage actually occurs.

There has been some suggestion that waivers signed by parents are generally not enforceable in Illinois. In a recent Chicago Tribune article, more than one attorney stated that, at least in Illinois, adults cannot waive the claims of a minor, or of any other person. Another person interviewed for the article said that the policy in Illinois is "stark and absolute." The concept behind the policy seems to be that people don't have the authority to waive the rights of others. Interestingly, many businesses and other organizations still hand out and require parents to sign these documents, despite what appears to be a trend in Illinois.

A waiver typically sets forth enough information to put the potential participant on notice of the type of activity it is referring to as well as a statement that the person who signs the document is aware of the risks involved. A waiver should: 1) describe the activity; 2) state that the person signing has a full understanding of the nature of the document; 3) knows of the specified risks; 4) despite these risks, still voluntarily chooses to assume the risk; and 5) agrees not to hold the organization liable for the consequences of participation in the identified activity.

If you sign a waiver, it doesn't necessarily mean that you would be unable to bring a lawsuit against the business for injuries sustained on the premises. There are circumstances under which such a waiver will not hold up. Businesses may still be responsible if they acted in a reckless manner or harmed you intentionally. Also, a waiver may not be enforceable if the document fails to specifically state or explain the dangers of the activity. The law concerning the enforceability of waivers is complicated. The best course of action is to contact an experienced Chicago personal injury attorney to review your case to determine whether you are entitled to damages under the agreement.

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