What is Product Liability Law in Illinois?

December 17, 2014,

Each year, many people are seriously injured by unsafe and dangerous products. But some are unaware that they may be entitled to compensation for their injuries. What is a product liability claim? Product liability cases arise when a defective product suddenly causes an injury.

According to public policy, consumers should not have to worry about whether a product they buy or use is dangerous due to a defect of design, improper manufacturing, or an inadequate warning label about the possible dangers of using the product. When people are injured by defectively designed or poorly manufactured products, companies that make or sell the dangerous product can be held responsible. Product liability claims or lawsuits not only help compensate the injured victim, but also protect other consumers by alerting the public about the product's dangers, which may not be well known. Product liability laws help prevent others from suffering similar injuries.

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Most Popular Dog Breeds in DuPage County are Also Among the Most Dangerous

December 3, 2014,

Each day, approximately 1000 Americans visit the emergency room for dog bite injuries. While dogs are still considered to be "man's best friend," the fact is that dogs can cause serious harm to humans. Research has shown that certain dog breeds may be more dangerous than others. Some of the most popular dog breeds in Illinois are also among some of the most dangerous. CBS News recently ranked some of the most popular household dog breeds: German Shepherds, Bulldogs, Boxers, Dobermans, Poodles, Rottweilers, Dachshunds, Chihuahuas, Siberian Huskies, Schnauzers, and Great Danes are among the top twenty most popular breeds. In Chicago particularly, German Shepherds and Bulldogs are among the top five most popular household breeds.

These breeds are also among the most dangerous dog breeds, including Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Dobermans, Huskies, Great Danes, Schnauzers, Dachshunds, Chihuahuas, and Bulldogs. A research study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ("CDC") also lists these same breeds and cross-breed mixes among the most commonly involved in dog bite-related human fatalities. The study points out that children, usually between the ages of 5 and 9 years old, are most often the victims of dog bites, with the majority of dog attacks occurring in the dog owner's home.

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Distracted Drivers on Cell Phones in Illinois Could Become Liable for Punitive Damages

September 19, 2014,

Illinois motorists may not fully know the dangers of distracted driving. 71% of teenagers and young adults admit to writing or sending text messages while driving, and 78% of teenagers and young adults admit to reading a text message while driving. With the advances of cell phone technology and its growing popularity, the use of cell phones while driving has increased exponentially in the last few years, and so has the risk posed by distracted drivers.

In fact, increased cell phone usage in Illinois has made the problem of distracted driving much worse, leading to more motor vehicle accidents. The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that approximately 24 percent of all traffic crashes (about 1.2 million) each year are linked to drivers texting or talking on their cell phones while driving. The NSC also reports that the number of car accidents caused by distracted drivers using cell phones is grossly underreported, so there are actually more car accidents caused by distracted driving than current data shows. Illinois is no exception.

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Illinois Sports Injury Law: Understanding, Treating, and Preventing Concussion Injuries in Young Athletes

September 18, 2014,

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that at least 170,000 sports and recreation-related traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are suffered by children and adolescents each year. This is believed to be a conservative estimate since many brain injuries go unnoticed or unreported, in part because people do not recognize the symptoms. Concussions can occur in any sport or recreational activity, and concussions currently represent 8.9% of all high school sports injuries (rates being highest in football and soccer). It is important for parents, coaches, and athletes to understand the symptoms of a concussion, and take steps to prevent concussion injuries.

What is a concussion? A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head that can change the way the brain normally works. Concussions can occur from a sudden blow to any part of the body that causes the head to move rapidly back and forth, much in the way that drivers can sustain whiplash in a car accident. In fact, it is common for a driver to suffer whiplash and a concurrent concussion in a motor vehicle accident.

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Illinois Motorist Law: Pursuing claims against drivers with SR-22 Insurance

September 18, 2014,

What is SR-22 Insurance? SR-22 insurance is a vehicle liability insurance document used by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) to provide proof that a high-risk driver has minimum liability insurance coverage. SR-22 is a high-risk insurance that carries specific conditions not found in other auto insurance policies. People often mistakenly believe that SR-22 is an insurance policy because the form is purchased through insurance companies. However, SR-22 is merely a form that shows a driver carries a liability insurance policy that satisfies the minimum amount mandated by the law. Under the conditions of the insurance, the insurance company must certify coverage to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) of the state and must notify the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) if the policy is cancelled, terminated, or lapses. Except for Delaware, Kentucky, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, New York, and North Carolina, all other states have SR-22 insurance requirements.

Why does Illinois require some drivers to have SR-22 insurance? Illinois requires a SR-22 document from a driver prior to reinstating driving privileges, oftentimes after the driver has been involved in an uninsured car accident. From the date of reinstatement, SR-22 must be carried for 3 years. During that time, the law requires the insurance company to notify IDOT of late payments, lapses, and the switching of providers. If the insurance company provides IDOT with any such notification, an individual's license will be suspended immediately due to failure to comply with SR-22 requirements. Upon suspension, the SR-22 will have to be renewed again to reinstate driving privileges, and the three-year period will begin again.

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New Statutory Limits Will Allow More Uninsured Motorist Arbitration Awards to Become Binding.

September 10, 2014,

Every day, Illinois drivers are injured in motor vehicle accidents with hit-and-run drivers or drivers who are uninsured or underinsured. In 2012, over 13% of Illinois drivers were uninsured, and the increasing number of uninsured and underinsured drivers nationwide only underscores the importance of having uninsured motorist coverage for the rest of us. In Illinois, it is the right of every policyholder who carries Uninsured Motorist coverage, or "UM" coverage, to have his or her injury claim seeking UM coverage heard at arbitration, to decide how much compensation or "damages" will be paid.

An UM arbitration is a legal proceeding held before a panel of arbitrators. The arbitration hearing is set up much like a trial, where parties represented by lawyers call witnesses and present evidence to the arbitration panel. After the hearing, the arbitrators render a decision, referred to as an arbitration "award." The decision of the arbitrators determines whether the injured person has a right to receive any damages under the insurance policy and how much.

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DuPage County Nursing Home Attorneys: How Can Bedsores in Long-Term Nursing Care Facilities be Prevented?

May 6, 2013,

Bedsores, also known as pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers, are a serious concern for the aging population. The elderly are more at risk for bedsores because they are less mobile, often confined to beds and wheelchairs. Bedsores, which affect nearly 2.5 million people nationwide each year, are localized injuries to the skin and underlying tissue as a result of pressure and/or friction. The injury often occurs near a bony prominence, such as the sacrum, coccyx, heel, or hip, and less often, near the elbow, knee, or ankle. If left untreated, bedsores can lead to infection and, in severe cases, necessitate amputation or lead to death.

Patients and nursing home care providers in Naperville and throughout Illinois can and should take certain measures to either prevent bedsores, or to aid in healing once they have already developed. It is thought that bedsores are far easier to prevent than to treat. If the patient and nursing care providers are pro-active, bedsores are almost always preventable. What steps can be taken to prevent bedsores? First and foremost, bed-ridden patients should be turned or repositioned at least every two to four hours to redistribute pressure. If the entire body cannot be turned, limbs can be repositioned to the extent their joints will allow. Pressure-redistribution mattresses, which elevate certain parts of the body to relieve pressure on other parts, may be used. For the wheelchair bound patient, redistribution should occur every 15 minutes, if the patient is able to reposition without assistance, and at least once each hour for those that require assistance. Cushions, similar to pressure-redistribution mattresses, can also be used to relieve pressure and to ensure proper positioning.

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Kane County Nursing Home Lawyers: What is Nursing Home Neglect?

March 29, 2013,

Nursing home neglect is a frequently overlooked form of abuse occurring in long term care facilities. If left unnoticed and unaddressed, neglect can lead to a general decline in a nursing home resident's health, and can even lead to death in certain cases. Neglect is difficult to detect, in part, because the consequences of neglect may be hidden by the patients' general condition or ailments. Nursing home neglect often happens over a long period of time, making subtle changes in a patient's condition difficult to detect. In order to understand the scope of this problem, it is important to recognize the different types and symptoms of nursing home neglect.

The most obvious form of neglect is physical neglect, which can take many shapes and forms. The worst cases of elder neglect may involve deprivation of a resident's basic needs, such as food and water, resulting in dehydration and malnutrition. A safe and clean environment, with proper nutrition, is vital to anyone; but it is especially important for the elderly, who may already have compromised health. You might assume that any resident would have access to and would be provided with all necessary medical care; but this is not always the case.

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Kane County Personal Injury Lawyers: The Importance of Experts in Dental Malpractice Claims

November 20, 2012,

While the public may be more familiar with medical malpractice claims involving a hospital or physician, these types of claims are also available against other medical professionals who do not offer treatment with the requisite standard of care, including dentists. Dental injuries can be very painful, and often the damage may only be repaired by placing a crown on the tooth, a root canal, or even removing the tooth.

Dental malpractice claims require the same legal elements be proven as with other medical malpractice claims. The plaintiff will be required to show "(1) the proper standard of care for the defendant [dentist]; (2) an unskilled or negligent failure to comply with the appropriate standard; and (3) a resulting injury proximately caused by the physicians' failure of skill or care." Jinkins v. Evangelical Hospitals Corp., 336 Ill. App. 3d 377, 382 (1st Dist. 2002). Generally, expert testimony will be required to establish the applicable standard of care and a breach of that standard of care. The Illinois Supreme Court explained that because laypersons do not generally understand medical procedures or treatment, expert testimony is required to aid members of the jury, as well as the judge. Addison v. Wittenberg, 124 Ill.2d 287, 297 (1988). The only exceptions to this requirement occur when the treatment is very common or the act which causes the injury is "so grossly negligent" that members of the jury would be able to evaluate the conduct with their own knowledge and experiences. Id.

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DuPage County Traffic Crashes: Rohlwing Road Construction Zone

October 5, 2012,

Route 53 has notoriously been a dangerous highway for motor vehicle drivers, but the construction being completed there may soon alleviate the number of serious accidents. Last week marked the expected half-way point for the Illinois Department of Transportations (IDOT) Route 53 construction project, which began on August 29, 2011, and has an anticipated end date of October 17, 2013. Originally slated to end sooner, the project has been plagued with various setbacks, including several heat waves (effecting the ability to pour concrete) and a brief hiatus for the Labor Day holiday. Of course, drivers' safety, however invaluable, does not come cheaply: this project will cost roughly $45 million.

The portion of Route 53, also known as Rohlwing Road, subject to construction consists of 4.1 miles running from Army Trail Road to the Elgin O'Hare Expressway. IDOT hopes that the project will reduce the congestion, which has plagued this stretch of road in recent years, leading to multiple car accidents and fatalities. Similarly aimed construction commenced on Butterfield Road (Route 56) in DuPage on June 1, 2011. The Rohlwing Road construction will include a second lane added in both directions and the intersections at Army Trail Road, Lake Street, and Irving Park Road will be improved to include additional through lanes, left turn lanes, barrier medians, and modernized traffic signals. As part of the project, part of Army Trail Road will also be reconstructed. A report released by the Addison Police Department showed that car accidents at the intersection of Route 53 and Army Trail Road had increased by 28% from the year 2009 to 2010; the intersection of Route 53 and Lake Street had increased by a remarkable 58%. These troubling statistics no doubt reinforced IDOT's decision to commence construction.

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DuPage County Car Accident Attorneys: Reckless Drivers on Naperville Roads

August 20, 2012,

Reckless driving in Illinois carries stiff criminal and civil penalties. Reckless driving poses a danger to drivers, pedestrians, and innocent passengers on Naperville Roads. Too often, reckless driving causes significant injuries. Recently, a Macon County Sheriff's Deputy was arrested by Decatur, Illinois police for reckless driving that resulted in serious and permanent injuries to an innocent driver. To deter reckless driving, a criminal court may impose a variety of severe penalties. In 2007, a then Illinois State Trooper had his license revoked after killing two young women when he was traveling over 120 miles per hour while sending email and talking on his cell phone.

A study conducted by the AAA Foundation, which examined the cause of fatal accidents from 2003-2007, found that reckless and erratic driving was a factor in 7.4% of fatal accidents. According to Illinois law, reckless driving occurs when a person drives a vehicle with willful or wanton disregard for the safety of others or property, or who knowingly drives a vehicle and uses an incline in the road, like a bridge, railroad crossing, or hill, to cause the vehicle to become airborne. 625 ILCS 5/11-503.

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DuPage County Car Accident Cases: Service of Process Upon the At-Fault Driver Following a Motor Vehicle Accident

August 17, 2012,

When a plaintiff pursues a personal injury lawsuit as a result of a motor vehicle accident in Illinois, it is imperative to properly serve the defendant with a complaint and summons. Failure to properly serve a defendant may be fatal to a plaintiff's case. Under Supreme Court Rule 103(b), a plaintiff is required to exercise due diligence in their attempts to serve the defendant, and failure to do so may result in the dismissal of the case. To determine the proper method of service, or the act of physically giving the complaint and summons to the defendant, a plaintiff must evaluate the amount of their damages and ascertain the location of the defendant.

To determine the proper method of service upon an individual, the plaintiff must first evaluate and determine the approximate amount of their damages.

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DuPage County Personal Injury Lawyers: Rental Cars: When is a "Substitute Vehicle" Covered by YOUR Illinois Insurance policy?

August 14, 2012,

Rental car insurance is confusing. Before you rent, it is important to know if your insurance provides coverage for the rented vehicle, and under what circumstances that coverage may be limited. The answers to these questions may depend on the language of your own automobile insurance policy concerning "substitute vehicles." To trigger a "substitute vehicle" clause, an important fact to consider is whether your car is "disabled" and "withdrawn from use," rather than when you simply are concerned that it may be on the brink of becoming disabled or possibly in need of repair. If your rented car is involved in a car accident, questions may arise as to whether your own insurance policy will still cover you for a bodily injury liability claim (if you cause an accident, injuring someone), an uninsured motorist claim (if you become injured due to the fault of an uninsured driver) or an underinsured motorist claim (if the at-fault driver carries an insufficient amount of liability coverage to adequately cover your injury claim).

Your automobile insurance policy likely has a "Substitute Vehicle" clause, which provides coverage for a "temporary substitute vehicle" when the insured vehicle is not in "normal use" or has been "withdrawn from normal use." When your rented vehicle meets the requirements of a "Substitute Vehicle," the rented vehicle is covered to the same extent as your own vehicle. The public policy behind enforcement of substitute vehicle clauses is to prevent an insurance company from being liable for two vehicles while the insured has paid only one premium.

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DuPage County Dog Bite Lawyers: Pleading a Negligence Cause of Action

August 13, 2012,

When filing a dog bite complaint, the plaintiff may pursue multiple theories of liability against the dog owner. The Animal Control Act holds dog owners strictly liable for bites and attacks by their dog. E.g. 510 ILCS 5. Prior to the passage of the Animal Control Act, a plaintiff was forced to bring a negligence cause of action. In such cases, a dog owner could plead an affirmative defense that he or she lacked knowledge that the dog would attack or bite--commonly referred to as the "one-bite" or "scienter" rule. Klatz v. Pfeffer, 333 Ill. 90, 94-95 (1928).

The Illinois legislatures adopted the "dog bite" statute, which eliminated the scienter rule. The modern "dog bite" statute states, in part: "If a dog or other animal without provocation attacks or injures any person who is peaceably conducting himself . . . the owner of such dog or other animal is liable in damages to such person for the full amount of the injury sustained." 510 ILCS 5/16. The Illinois Supreme Court in Beckert v. Risberg held that the elements necessary to sustain an action under this section are: (1) proof of injury by the dog; (2) lack of provocation; (3) peaceable conduct; and (4) presence of the plaintiff in a place where he or she had a right to be. 33 Ill. 2d 44, 46 (1965); See http://www.chicago-injury-lawyer.org/dog-bite/. Accordingly, a dog owner may only defend an action under the statute by proving that the victim was creating a disturbance, trespassing, or tormenting the dog in a way that provoked the attack.

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Aurora Dog Bite Lawyers: Defeating Rare Defenses to Dog Owner Liability

August 13, 2012,

The Illinois Animal Control Act provides a basis for dog bite victims to recover if they have been the victim of a dog bite. However, an animal attack, on its own, is not necessarily an automatic basis for liability. There are rare situations that may prevent the plaintiff from proving her claim because the plaintiff was actually in control of the animal at the time of the attack, or when a defendant has given proper warnings to the victim about the presence of a dangerous dog. Although rare, these two exceptions to liability are worthy of consideration.

Exception 1: There May Be No Liability When the Victim Assumes Complete Control of the Animal.

In rare situations, a plaintiff may be barred. Van Plew v. Riccio, 317 Ill.App.3d 179 (2nd Dist. 2000). In Van Plew, a pet sitter who the dog owner hired to feed and provide water for the dog was bitten during the course of her care for the dog. The court denied recovery and stated that "where a person voluntarily accepts responsibility for controlling or caring for a dog ... that person is an 'owner' within the meaning of the Act and is precluded from recovery under the Act." Id. at 182. The Fourth District of the Illinois Appellate Court reached a similar decision in Docherty v. Sadler, 293 Ill.App.3d 892 (4th Dist. 1997), where it denied relief to a ten-year-old-child who had agreed to take care of a neighbor's dog. However, these situations are rare and what constitutes "control" is a high bar for the defendant to meet. More often, the defendant will have retained at least partial control of the animal, thereby exposing them to potential liability. A proper investigation can often defeat this defense.

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