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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Kane County Car Accident Lawyers: Using a Defendant's Guilty Plea to a Traffic Citation in a Civil Case

August 13, 2012,

Motor vehicle accidents raise many complicated issues of fault and proof. One way to prove a defendant's liability is by using an admission of guilt ("guilty plea") in the underlying traffic court proceeding, which is ordinarily conducted soon after an accident is reported. Often, a potential defendant will plead guilty to a traffic citation. The guilty plea may be used in the civil case to demonstrate the fault of the motorist. "[G]uilty pleas to traffic offenses have been admitted in subsequent civil proceedings as admissions." Young v. Forgas, 308 Ill.App.3d 553, 565 (4th Dist. 1999). A defendant's claim he did not appreciate the effect of a guilty plea in a traffic case is irrelevant. As stated in Young, a "person must realize that civil litigation is a very real possibility and that the guilty plea to the traffic charge could reflect adversely upon him in a subsequent proceeding." Id.

A guilty plea is an exception to the hearsay rule. "A guilty plea to a traffic violation is admissible as an admission against interest in a later civil action on the same facts." Mivatovich v. Chicago Transit Authority, 112 Ill.App.2d 437, 442 (1st Dist. 1969). Courts reason that "a judicial admission is a deliberate, clear, unequivocal statement of a party about a concrete fact within that party's peculiar knowledge." Sohaey v. Van Cura, 240 Ill.App.3d 266, 280 (2nd Dist. 1992). "[A] judicial admission is conclusive upon the party who made it, and the party may not controvert the admission at trial or on appeal, so the effect of a judicial admission is to withdraw a fact from contention. Id., at 280-81. Additionally, "a party cannot create a question of fact for purposes of a summary judgment motion by attempting to contradict a previous judicial admission." Id.

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DuPage County Truck Accident Lawyers: Naperville Truck Accidents May Be Reduced by City's Truck Route Plan

August 3, 2012,

Naperville truck accidents cause serious injuries each year, including: broken bones, back and neck injuries, and in some cases even fatalities (wrongful death). The City of Naperville, recognizing the dangers posed by truck traffic, has designated specific routes for trucks. Naperville's truck route plan has many advantages, including: reducing congestion; decreasing air pollution; and perhaps most important, providing safer neighborhood travel. By allowing trucks to "use" neighborhood streets, but forbidding travel "through" neighborhoods, Naperville's plan recognizes the need for goods and services to be delivered to homes, businesses and facilities. The program also recognizes that limiting large truck travel (semi trailers, 18 wheelers) to specific routes is an excellent way to prevent pedestrian and motorist accidents. Statistics show that limiting the opportunities for large commercial trucks to interact with other motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists lowers the likelihood that a truck accident will occur.

Specific Initiatives

Truck traffic patterns from the area's main highway--Route 88--place burdens on many local roads. Interstate 88 (Ronald Reagan Memorial Tollway) runs through the north part of Naperville carrying millions of tons of cargo every year. Much of that cargo must find its way to the residents and businesses that call Naperville home. In order to efficiently serve the City of Naperville, a truck permit plan has been implemented. Commercial trucks that travel upon Naperville streets pay permit fees. The City of Naperville's Truck Route Plan provides a Designated Truck Route System and implements a Road Damage Overweight/Over-dimension Truck Permit Program. Trucks carrying heavy loads that exceed 73,280 pounds pay a fee for the privilege of using Naperville roads. The funds from the program go into the Road and Bridge Fund, which is used to repair, maintain, and construct the roads and streets in Naperville. The program represents a compromise between the need for goods to be delivered with the need to safely maintain Naperville streets. The truck permit plan promotes the following best practices and methods:

- Integrate truck route planning with land use planning.
- Coordinate the location of truck routes with roadway design and land uses.
- Consider regional implications of truck route locations.
- Enforce truck route policies.
- Reevaluate existing truck routes periodically.

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Naperville Car Accident Lawyers: Vehicle Crash Locations are Focus of Naperville's Traffic Safety Plan

August 3, 2012,

The City of Naperville is situated in a diverse area of DuPage County. Naperville contains residential areas, commercial areas, schools, churches, parks, and rivers. In addition, unincorporated areas surround Naperville. Naperville's recent growth and development have presented challenges for city officials, who are charged with providing and maintaining safe transportation. In order to prevent car accidents, truck accidents, and motorcycle accidents, the City of Naperville has developed a comprehensive Traffic Safety Plan (the "Plan"). A goal of the Naperville Comprehensive Transportation Safety Plan is intended to save lives and reduce injuries by lowering the number and frequency of crashes. Like the Truck Route Plan, Pedestrian Plan, and Bicycle Plan, the Traffic Safety Plan sets forth policies and practices designed to achieve the plan's goal to reduce car accidents in Naperville.

Some of the policies include:

- Requiring developers to provide dedicated sidewalks for pedestrians and bicycles.
- Lobbying state and federal governments for additional traffic safety funds.
- Considering car crash rates or truck accident frequency when prioritizing capital
improvement projects that may impact vehicle crash rates.
- Promoting and enforcing seat belt usage to reduce injuries and save lives.

Some of the practices include:

- Considering traffic safety when reviewing new development plans.
- Developing and implementing driving education programs, especially for younger, less
experienced drivers.
- Identifying and examining locations with a high frequency of car accidents.
- Evaluating school access in terms of motor vehicle safety issues.
- Encouraging alternative forms of transportation, such as bicycles and walking paths.
- Minimizing conflicts between motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists in all future
development plans.

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DuPage County Personal Injury Lawyers: What to do When the Driver Who Injures You is Underinsured?

August 3, 2012,

A common risk faced by Illinois drivers is being struck by a driver that is underinsured. To save money on premiums, many drivers carry only the minimum amount of bodily injury liability coverage, which is $20,000. So what happens when you are involved in an accident with a driver who does not carry enough liability insurance to cover your personal injuries? If you elected to carry underinsured motorist insurance coverage, you may be protected from the risk posted by an underinsured driver.

History of UIM Coverage

Prior to underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage being offered by Illinois insurance carriers, motorists had the option of carrying only uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. UM coverage is insurance that offers protection from drivers who do not carry automobile liability insurance at all. If an insured motorist carrying $100,000 of UM coverage was involved in an accident with a motorist who had bodily injury liability limits of $20,000, the injured person could recover nothing from his or her UM policy; the only remedy was to collect the at-fault driver's limits of $20,000. In effect, the responsible, insured driver would have been in a better position if the other driver had been completely uninsured. E.g Hathaway v. Standard Mut. Ins. Co., 285 Ill. App. 3d 67 (1996). Legislators responded to this inequity in 1980 by enacting a statute requiring insurance companies to offer underinsured motorist coverage in amounts equal to uninsured coverage. See 215 ILCS 5/143a-2.

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Naperville Personal Injury Lawyers: Discovery of Facebook and Social Media Sites in Motor Vehicle Accident Cases

July 27, 2012,

In car accident cases, lawyers for each party are permitted to conduct written discovery by issuing subpoenas, propounding a list of written questions called "interrogatories," or serving document requests. The use of discovery to obtain personal information posted on social media sites has recently become a hot topic. To what extent should discovery in a lawsuit be allowed when it seeks information from personal social media accounts? More specifically, should someone's Facebook account be a subject of discovery when that person has been involved in a motor vehicle accident?

Recently, Federal Courts have addressed whether Facebook and social media sites are discoverable in civil litigation. In 2011, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, in Chauvin v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., denied the defendant's request to access the plaintiff's Facebook account and held that "...discovery requested is available through less intrusive, less annoying and less speculative means...there is no indication that granting access to Plaintiff's private Facebook account would be 'reasonably calculated' to lead to discovery of admissible information." Chauvin v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., Case No. 10-11735 (E.D. Mich 2011). The Court saw no reason for one party to have access to the other's Facebook page where there were much less intrusive ways to obtain the same information. In 2011, a Pennsylvania Court in Piccolo v. Paterson held that the plaintiff in a car accident did not have to accept a friend request on Facebook from the defendant, particularly since the defendant wished to access the plaintiff's posts and view pictures of the accident.

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Kane County Car Accidents: Distracted Drivers and Cell Phones

May 15, 2012,

Most Kane County residents are aware of the dangers of using cell phones while driving, but many still answer the phone while driving or even text while driving. Significantly, statistics show that a driver who is texting has the same impaired response time as an intoxicated driver. If you must use your cell phone while driving, some helpful safety tips are:

- utilize a hands free device
- avoid using your phone in bad weather, stressful situations, or heavy traffic
- make phone calls when you aren't moving
- avoid looking up numbers or trying to take notes while driving and
- keep your conversations short

The risks are more pronounced when drivers text. While texting, the driver's gaze constantly shifts between his phone and the road. Experienced drivers, including truck drivers, fare no better when texting. A study showed that truck drivers who text and drive are approximately 20 times more likely to get into an accident.

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