Serious Injury & Wrongful Death Lawyers

Passion. Commitment. Excellence.

Blog

December Holiday Drunk Driving Campaign in Indiana and Illinois

December 18th, 2014 by admin

This week, the national “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign began and it will run through New Year’s Day 2015. The federal effort will be coordinated with state and local law enforcement efforts to keep car accidents involving drunk driving from happening during this festive holiday season.

 

.

Drunk Driving Kills People: Drive Sober Campaigns

These campaigns are working, hopefully: according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the number of drunk driving deaths fell 2.5% last year (in 2013). Still, deaths caused by people driving under the influence is still a very serious problem in this country: in 2013, a person died every 52 minutes from a drunk driving crash.

“We will continue to be relentless in our effort to curb drunk driving because each life is precious,” said Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Too many lives are still being cut far too short because of drunk driving. We can stop these tragedies by making the decision not to allow ourselves or our loved ones to get behind the wheel after drinking.”

 

Illinois

According to the Illinois statistics, approximately 47% of Illinois motor vehicle fatalities involve alcohol. This year, the State of Illinois is participating in the Drive Sober campaign during the last two weeks of December 2014.

Indiana

Indiana reports 5,152 alcohol-related traffic crashes in 2012, which resulted in 158 fatalities, 246 serious bodily injuries, and 1,866 other injuries (a total of 2,112 non-fatal injuries). This means that just about every other day in Indiana, someone dies in a drunk driving crash – or around 3 people a week. That’s a sad statistic for our state. The Drive Sober campaign is also in effect for the remainder of this month in Indiana.

Drunk Driving Safety Tips

  • Plan a safe way home before you start partying.
  • Choose a designated driver, who agrees to stay sober during the evening.
  • If you may be drunk or buzzed, then use the SaferRide app, or otherwise get a ride home (call a taxi, call your mom).
  • If you see a drunk driver on the road, call the police. You may save a life.
  • If someone is about to drive away drunk, then stop them. Take their keys. Get them a ride home.
  • Don’t get in a car with someone who may be intoxicated.

2014: SaferRide App

The NHTSA has a free app, SaferRide, that is available online (including Android / Google Play) which allows you to call for a cab or a pal for a ride home that gives them your location automatically. You can get the app here.

 

Wrongful Death and Serious Injuries in Car Crashes From Drunk Driving

Each year, victims die in car crashes that are the result of things like road hazards, driver errors, or product failure (like those ignition failures made the subject of the current GM car recalls). However, the most tragic traffic fatalities are those that could have been easily prevented – like those where drunk driving caused the crash.

Personal injury law does provide ways for those who are victims of drunk driving to seek justice after these tragedies. However, the best justice is to keep these tragedies from happening in the first place. Let’s all do our part to stop drunk driving in our communities.

Phones in The Car: Drivers Distracted Even If Not Using The Phone, Just Able to See It

December 16th, 2014 by admin

In 2012, drivers being distracted by cell phones in their vehicles caused 12% of the deaths in traffic accidents that year. That’s on record. However, it is believed that the reality is much more significant, since many drivers fail to admit they were on the phone at the time of the crash — or they perished in the wreck and are not able to explain what happened.

 

More and more research is being done on the impact of using a phone in the car by drivers.  There are laws being passed regarding talking on the phone while the phone is being held. There are laws being passed in some states regarding hands-free (speaker) phone communications by drivers.  Texting while driving is considered even more dangerous than talking while driving and many laws are in effect to ban this practice.

However, a new study from the University of Southern Maine takes things one step further and makes the dangers of accidents caused by phones even more scary. According to the research, many drivers are distracted and more likely to cause an accident if they have their phone with them in the car, even if they are not texting or talking on it.

According to the researchers, cell phones nearby, where you can see it, is enough to distract you from driving as well as all other sorts of tasks — like doing work or studying. The result? Apparently, people are so connected to their phones that part of their brains are continually aware of the gizmo even they are not actively using it at the time.

Bottom line: Drivers in Indiana and Illinois who are using their cell phones are more likely to be in a crash not just when they are talking or texting, but apparently they are also a bigger danger for all of us on the roads with them if they toss their phone on the seat next to them, or on the dashboard, and can simply SEE the phone there in the car with them.

It becomes even more important for police reports and accident scene investigations to notice and note where the location of cell phones are in accidents now. Distracted driving may or may not involve a crime, but it is an element of proving fault in a car accident where injury damages are being claimed.

Is Your Minivan Safe? Warning as New Crash Tests Study Released

December 11th, 2014 by admin

If you drive a minivan or know someone who does, then you need to read the results from the latest research study by the Institute for Highway Safety. There are some scary results here for some very popular minivans out on Illinois and Indiana roads — including three that are considered to be very unsafe.

How bad? According to the researchers, “some of the worst possible outcomes for this type of crash.”

Who did the research?

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is an independent non-profit organization that studies motor vehicle accidents in the United States and tries to find ways to make driving in America safer. True, the IIHS is funded by auto insurance companies — but their profit concerns are all about making cars safer so they don’t have to pay as much in claims. Even if we take the IIHS study with a grain, it’s important to consider their findings. So here goes:

You can read their full report here.

Chrysler Town and Country (2008-15), Dodge Caravan (2008-15), Volkswagen Routan (2009-12), and Nissan Quest (2001-2015)

Four minivans (Chrysler Town and Country, Dodge Caravan, Volkswagen Routan, and Nissan Quest ) were tested for what happens when they were in a crash with another vehicle (or a tree, or a utility pole) as the minivan is going 40 MPH. Each of these minivans “collapsed” in the crash.

Here’s a scary result: the crash test dummy’s head fell from the air bag and hit the dashboard in the Town and Country test.

The worst was the Nissan Quest. From the IIHS release:

The structure was pushed in nearly 2 feet at the lower hinge pillar, and the parking brake pedal moved 16 inches toward the driver. The dummy’s left leg was trapped between the seat and instrument panel, and its right foot was caught between the brake pedal and toe pan. Following the tests, technicians had to cut the entire seat out and then use a crowbar to free the right foot. ….The forces measured all along the dummy’s left leg, from the thigh to the foot, were very high, in some cases exceeding the limits of the sensors. ” ’A real person experiencing this would be lucky to ever walk normally again,” Zuby points out. A broken right femur also would be possible.…’”

Toyota Sienna (2015)

The Toyota minivan (Sienna) was “weak” but the crash test dummy survived the impact so the Toyota Sienna got a rating of “acceptable.” That is the 2nd highest rating. Sorta like a “B” on the report card.

Honda Odyssey – Only Minivan With Highest Safety Rating

Only one minivan — the Honda Odyssey — got the highest safety rating from IIHS in these safety tests. The minivan did suffer damage, but the crash test dummy was protected during the impact. Result: the rating of “good.”

Minivans Sold To Families: Shouldn’t They Be Safer?

In the United States, the minivan is synonymous with the American Family. It’s what mothers use to take the kids to soccer practice. It’s what dads drive when the family goes to the movies on Friday night. Sports gear gets thrown in the back of the minivan; most every minivan you’ll see on the roads will have at least one infant car seat in the back.

Parents buy minivans because they are convenient — but they also drive minivans because they believe these vehicles to be safer for their families than many sedans or SUVs. It’s shocking to learn that these vehicles aren’t passing basic safety testing at a 40 MPH rate. What happens when the minivan is in a collision on the freeway, where interstate speed limits are much higher?

When someone suffers an injury or tragic death in a minivan accident, they need to be aware that not only are there possible claims to be pursued against the driver who was negligent and at fault in the wreck but there are also potential “products liability” claims to consider regarding the design and manufacturer of the vehicle itself. Expect to see lawsuits advancing where victims of minivan accidents rely upon this study and others in their injury lawsuits and wrongful death claims.

Do College Athletes Have Higher Risk of Suicide Because of Sports Concussions? Yes.

December 9th, 2014 by admin

Earlier this month, tragedy struck Columbus, Ohio, as Ohio State University football player Kosta Karageorge apparently committed suicide. He was missing for four days, family and friends searching for him everywhere, when Karageorge’s body was discovered in trash bin by a homeless man who was searching for food. A handgun was found near his body.

Karageorge died of a gunshot wound. Before he disappeared, he sent a text message to his parents that stated “I am sorry if I am an embarrassment but these concussions have my head all f—– up.”

The family reports that Karageorge had a history of concussions. He had been a college level wrestler for three years as well as playing football for Ohio State as a defensive tackle.

Now, Ohio State’s football and wrestling programs are dismissing the seriousness of any brain injuries that Kosta Karageorge may have suffered while playing college sports because he wasn’t on their starting football line-up and there’s no documentation of concussions during any Ohio State wrestling events. Medical experts are still evaluating the case.

 

Depression Comes With Traumatic Brain Injuries

The reality is that people that suffer blows to their head and suffer a brain injury are prone to be victims of depression as a result of their injuries.

Teenagers, in particular, are at higher risk for suicide after suffering a concussion or brain injury according to a recent study from the University of Toronto. According to the Canadian study, young adults are around 300% more likely to try suicide than those who have not suffered a blow to the head.

Student Athletes Need Better Protection From Brain Injuries and Their Aftermath

Concussions happen to athletes that play football at any level — from high school to professional league competition. The long-term physiological impact of these brain injuries, long dismissed as minor injuries by school officials, are becoming very apparent as more and more victims are coming forward to admit they are suffering permanent damage from playing ball. Research is also confirming the connection between head injuries and suicidal tendencies.

The National Football League class action lawsuit brought by famous players have helped shed light on the reality that even a minor concussion can cause long-term, permanent harm to the athlete who has suffered a hit to the head, regardless of the protection of a helmet.

Now, let us hope that the passing of Ohio State’s Kosta Karageorge is not in vain and that his passing serves to educate parents of the reality that serious depression and the risk of suicide is a real threat to victims of brain injury and concussion. Psychological protections need to be in place for any athlete who has suffered a head injury as the result of playing sports, from children playing at their local school to college-level players and professional athletes.

The Dangers of Deadly Carbon Monoxide: Don’t Be a Victim of CO Poisoning From Negligence of Others

December 4th, 2014 by admin

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a gas that kills people. You can’t smell it — it has no odor. You can’t see it — it has no color and it doesn’t produce smoke or haze. And it’s produced by all sorts of things that people use at home, school, and work every day.

Carbon monoxide comes from the burning of things like wood and coal, as well as natural gas, propane, oil, and kerosene. Cars give off CO; so do lawn mowers, motorcycles, cars, and portable generators. Heating units in homes, offices, schools, dorms, and stores all give off CO as they burn fuel to heat the place.

In fact, most people die from inhaling fumes given off by fireplaces; furnaces; room heaters; and portable generators (commonly used in our part of the country during severe weather when the power goes out).

Sadly, there will be deaths this year in Indiana and Illinois caused by inhaling this toxic invisible gas. Carbon monoxide poisoning deaths are reported every year — and many more CO victims are harmed and in need of medical treatment at emergency rooms after breathing in CO fumes. They’re lucky to survive the exposure to the poisonous gas.

Landlords, hotel operators, schools, employers, daycare operators, and home owners are all responsible for checking things like fuel-burning appliances (ranges, for instance) as well as equipment that is powered by a fuel-burning engine (like generators) to make sure that they are in good working order and they are not releasing CO fumes into the atmosphere where the gas can be inhaled by clients, customers, workers, children, students, and other potential victims.

All too often, property owners and landlords are more concerned with the bottom line than with safety and things like building codes and municipal ordinances regarding CO safety requirements get ignored. They may or may not install CO alarms — and even if they do, they may not keep them operational.

Symptoms of CO Poisoning

It is possible to notice symptoms of CO poisoning in time to get away from the fumes and get help. Those that are inhaling carbon monoxide will exhibit signs of carbon monoxide poisoning long before they pass out. These include:

  • Headache
  • Dizzy
  • Nauseous
  • Fatigue, Very Tired, Sleepy
  • Hard to Breathe, Shortness of Breath
  • Confused, Fuzzy Thinking

If someone has trouble walking or standing; begins vomiting; or has trouble understanding or communicating, then their exposure to carbon monoxide is becoming more serious and they are reaching a more toxic level of the gas in their system. Someone who has lost consciousness needs immediate medical care.

Anyone thought to be exposed to CO poisoning needs to be moved away from the possible source of the gas immediately. Do not assume that flu-like symptoms are just a virus: they may be symptoms of a low-level leak of carbon monoxide gas in the space.

What To Do If You Suspect CO Poisoning

If you suspect that you or a loved one has been exposed to carbon monoxide, then it’s important to get away from the possible source of the gas fast. Go outside, breathe fresh air. Call 911 and report your suspicions.

If there are co-workers, fellow students, other tenants, etc., that may also be exposed, then make sure to warn them and get everyone outside and away from the poison. Don’t wait for the police or emergency techs to do this: CO is deadly and can work fast.

For those that are injured or killed by carbon monoxide exposure, there may be criminal consequences for those responsible in allowing the gas to leak into the environment. Law enforcement will investigate this, and the district attorney may proceed with charges. Federal agencies (like OSHA) may also be involved here.

For civil justice, however, the CO victims must look to state personal injury law and the legal redress available to them under Illinois and Indiana law for things like product liability, workers compensation, negligence, and other state laws that exist to protect against this kind of danger and protect recompense to those who have been victimized by the failure of another to do their duty and protect from harm.

OSHA TOP 10 SAFETY VIOLATIONS IN 2014: COMPANIES STILL PUT PROFITS OVER PEOPLE

December 2nd, 2014 by admin

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has compiled and released its review of worker safety in the United States in 2014 and sadly, not only are workers in certain industries (like construction and mining) still at high risk for injury on the job, but there are a shockingly high number of WILLFUL violations by employers and companies who continue to place profits over people.

OSHA’s 2014 TOP TEN Most Frequently Cited Violations

1. Fall protection (C)
2. Hazard communication
3. Scaffolding (C)
4. Respiratory protection
5. Powered industrial trucks
6.Lockout/tagout
7. Ladders (C)
8. Electrical: wiring
9. Machine guarding
10. Electrical: systems design

C = Construction standard

 

These relate to the following federal regulations designed to keep people safe while working on the job:

1926.501 – Fall Protection
1910.1200 – Hazard Communication
1926.451 – Scaffolding
1910.134 – Respiratory Protection
1910.178 – Powered Industrial Trucks
1910.147 – Lockout/Tagout
1926.1053 – Ladders
1910.305 – Electrical, Wiring Methods
1910.212 – Machine Guarding
1910.303 – Electrical, General Requirements

*As of 10/28/14

To read the full text of these regulations, see the OSHA online list of regulations.

What Is A “Willful Violation” According To OSHA?

A “willful” violation is “… committed with an intentional disregard of or plain indifference to the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and requirements.” It’s no mistake.

These are dangers created by the company who simply decides to ignore OSHA regulations, regardless of what might happen to their workers.  It’s INTENTIONAL.

This kind of “willful” violation happen all the time.

For instance, some may remember the willful violation of OSHA standards that made the national news when the production company for a movie being filmed in Georgia (”Midnight Run”) was cited by OSHA for willful violations of OSHA regulations that contributed to the death of a stuntwoman. (See the August 14, 2014 News Release by OSHA for details).

The stuntwoman died and eight other workers were injured when an oncoming train crashed into parts of the movie set which had been placed on the track and railroad trestle, as the workers tried to outrun the train and were hit by crash debris.

However, not making as much media news as the Hollywood story just two weeks later was public notice of willful violations of OSHA regulations in Bradley, Illinois, where an Illinois construction company, Champion Roofing, was cited by OSHA for two willful safety violations in 2014 that followed on the company’s history of five previous citations by OSHA in the past five years.

From Kathy Webb, OSHA’s area director in Calumet City, Illinois:

“Falls remain the leading cause of death in the construction industry. Allowing construction workers on roofs without fall protection is inexcusable negligence. Champion Roofing has a legal responsibility to protect workers from fall hazards, and the fact that we keep seeing the same violations over and over again means they are not taking that responsibility seriously. No worker should lose their life for a paycheck.”

Workers Deserve to Be Safe While Working On The Job

Workers in Indiana and Illinois will be facing the addtional hazards of our winter weather conditions now and for the next several months. They deserve to be kept as safe and protected as possible by their employers at all times, but particularly during this time of year. OSHA regulations protect by setting standards for safety and OSHA citations and fines work to police employers.

However, injured workers and their families also have civil personal injury law and workers’ compensation laws to protect them in the event of a serious injury or tragic death. There may be a time in our future where workers are not forced to file lawsuits against their employers for damages resulting from the company’s failure to do their duty to their workers, but as the 2014 OSHA statistics reveal, we’re not there yet.

Happy Thanksgiving Day From the Kenneth J. Allen Law Group!

November 27th, 2014 by admin

Drive Safely This Thanksgiving Holiday: Tips to Keep Your Family From Danger as You Travel

November 25th, 2014 by admin

This week, despite the cold, stormy weather expected all around the nation, lots of families in Indiana and Illinois will be bundling up the kids and packing up the vehicles to drive across town, or across the state or country, to spend Thanksgiving this Thursday with loved ones. Sadly, for some folk in the United States, there will be the unexpected tragedy of traffic accidents and serious injuries resulting from car accidents on the roads — it’s a statistical reality.

For instance, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that in 2012, there were 416 deaths in traffic accidents over the Thanksgiving holiday. Many of these fatalities were attributed to failure to use seat belts (60% of passenger car and light truck occupants) and surprising to no one, drunk driving caused many of this holiday statistics (42%).

 

 

 

Tips for Staying Safe While Traveling this Thanksgiving Holiday

Here are several things that we all can do for ourselves and our families to keep everyone safe from harm and free to enjoy this Thanksgiving weekend:

1. Wear Your Seat Belts

Everyone in the vehicle should be buckled up; this is especially true for the children.

2. Kids Under 13 Years Old Not in Front Seat

Keep smaller children in the back seat, where they are safer in the event of a crash.

3. Don’t Use Your Phone While Driving

Distracted driving (text, handheld, hands-free) can cause crashes even in the best weather conditions. Put your phone in the glove box if it helps keep you away from the temptation to text or talk.

4. Get Your Car Checked Before You Head Out

Make sure that your car is in good working order before you start your trip. Are your tires properly inflated? Are they still within the age limits of the car maker’s recommendations (old tires can kill). Do you have any car recall issues?

5. Prepare for Bad Weather

Know your route and the weather forecasts. If you are going to be driving through road hazards like snow or rain or sleet, then give yourself extra time to get there. Have emergency items ready if needed: things like flares and flashlights, snacks, water, and blankets are vital if you are stuck or stranded on the road.

Tracy Morgan Case: The TBI Victim’s Long, Hard Fight for Justice

November 20th, 2014 by admin

Justice has yet to reach comedian Tracy Morgan, who was seriously injured in a crash where his limo van was destroyed when a Walmart semi truck slammed into it several months ago.   Accidents between these big rigs and any other type of vehicle often result in serious injuries or wrongful death of the passengers in the smaller car, and in Mr. Morgan’s accident he was lucky to survive as one of his buddies in the car perished from injuries sustained in the crash.

Image: Alex Erde, Wikimedia Commons

One thing is clear in this case.  Tracy Morgan was seriously hurt in the accident; it doesn’t appear that anyone is challenging the extent of his injuries at this point.

Still, Walmart has not settled this case with Mr. Morgan.

Tracy Morgan Burdened With Legal Fight

Instead, the personal injury case is proceeding in a courtroom  and the “discovery” process is moving forward.  Recently, there were news stories covering a status conference held before the judge regarding the case. Both lawyers for Walmart as well as lawyers for Mr. Morgan were present.  Sadly, Tracy Morgan was not.

Attorneys for Mr. Morgan told the judge that Tracy Morgan has sustained serious, traumatic brain injuries and was unable to come before the court. They also told the judge that it is not known how long his recovery will take.

No one knows how much brain function will be recovered at this point, and how much of a permanent loss of function may result.   This is part of the tragic nightmare with which every traumatic brain injury victim (and their loved ones) must cope.

Walmart Continues to Fight Against Liability for Tracy Morgan’s Injuries

So, Walmart continues to fight against the injury claims advanced by Tracy Morgan — a stance that is not uncommon by big money defendants who face a huge financial hit after an accident like this one.

They are doing what most of these defendants and their insurance defense lawyers think is sound defense strategy: fighting against the plaintiff’s claims with every argument they can muster.

It was only a few weeks back that Walmart was trying to limit its liability by pointing the finger at Tracy Morgan, arguing that because he wasn’t wearing a seat belt in the limo van, his serious personal injuries were his fault (at least in part). See our earlier post, “Tracy Morgan v Walmart: Lesson in How Injury Victims get Victimized in Lawsuits,” for details.

Brain Injury Victims and Their Families: Fighting On Two Battlegrounds

Rest assured, everyone in that courtroom understands how serious and life-altering a traumatic brain injury can be, especially one suffered in a serious crash like this one. Already, we know that Tracy Morgan may never resume his comedy career because of the crash. How much his personal life and daily living will be permanently altered by the TBI is not known. Hopefully, over the next few months he will continue to recover and mend.

Brain injuries are serious and long-term results of serious truck accidents all too often. Damage claims need to cover not only the immediate medical care costs but the long-term expenses involved in care, therapy, and rehabilitation. Damages are also legally available for brain injury victims who have lost their future earning capacity and future ability to enjoy life as they did before the crash.

Given Tracy Morgan’s stellar career as a beloved comedic star of stage and screen, his legal damages may be significant and high. And Mr. Morgan is looking to Walmart to cover those claims — which is why he and his family are having to fight on two fronts, just like many other personal injury plaintiffs with TBI.

Sadly, these victims must face the battle to recover and deal with the brain injury and its aftermath, and at the same time, for months and even years, fight the legal battle for justice against those responsible for the accident that caused the brain injury in the first place.

Suing Nursing Homes: Tragic Rise in Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

November 18th, 2014 by admin

 

Corporations Running Nursing Homes for Profit: Big Problem

According to federal data, in 2012 there were 775 nursing homes in Illinois and 515 nursing homes in Indiana - and those numbers are expected to rise in large measure as the Baby Boomers continue to enter their elder years. Nursing homes are often a necessity for those who are in need of personalized care after suffering severe injuries to their brain or spine, as well. There’s more: this number doesn’t include the hundreds of thousands of other types of assisted-living facilities that operate in our area.

Loved ones and family members expect that the people responsible for taking care of nursing home residents are going to do so with expertise and compassion. However, all too often there have been corporate profit-making goals that have interfered or blocked with care resulting in patients becoming the victims of abuse or neglect.

This has become a national scandal in many ways.

In California, the Sacramento Bee has recently published an expose of nursing home ownership in that state. This took, some doing because the corporate owners of nursing homes and nursing home chains aren’t exactly advertising how many nursing home and care facilities are owned by how few companies.

From their expose, “Nursing homes cloak ownership for good reason,” the public is becoming aware of something called “multilayered ownership structure,” which the nursing home industry considers to be smart business because if they are faced by a victim’s personal injury lawsuit against a specific facility, their corporate web of ownership is structured to protect the big parent company (and its big pockets) from financial liability in that claim.

Meanwhile, the reality is that the profit motive is curbing the level of care in many facilities and more and more nursing care residents are being victimized as a result. Families and loved ones must work hard not only to make sure that their loved one is protected, but also to fight for what is right if they discover that there has been wrongdoing. Lawsuits against nursing homes are being filed all over the country.

What Suggests Abuse or Neglect of a Nursing Home Resident?  Look for These Signs

According to the CDC, signs of nursing home abuse and neglect include:

Physical Effects

  • welts, wounds, and injuries (e.g., bruises, lacerations, dental problems, head injuries, broken bones, pressure sores);
  • persistent physical pain and soreness;
  • nutrition and hydration issues;
  • sleep disturbances;
  • increased susceptibility to new illnesses (including sexually transmitted diseases);
  • exacerbation of preexisting health conditions; and
  • increased risks for premature death.

Psychological Effects

  • increased risks for developing fear/anxiety reactions,
  • learned helplessness, and
  • post traumatic stress syndrome.

It’s Important to Take Action Against Abuse and Neglect in Our Nursing Homes

If you or a loved one suspect that a nursing home has victimized a resident, then please take action. Call the state agencies that oversee these things and complain. Additionally, seek the guidance of an experienced injury law firm on rights and remedies and how best to take action to protect that resident and to seek justice on their behalf.