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Nature or Negligence? Recovering Damages for Winter Injuries

Web Admin - Wednesday, January 09, 2019
Des Plaines personal injury lawyer snow iceThere are many ways you can be injured during the winter months in Illinois: skiing, ice skating, sledding, snowmobiling, being hit by ice falling off a roof, being in a car accident during a snowstorm, or simply slipping and falling on an icy walkway. In many cases, these are simply accidents. If you choose to participate in an activity like ice skating or skiing, you accept the risk that you could fall and get hurt. However, if your injury can be attributed to another party’s negligence, you could be entitled to compensation and should consult a personal injury attorney for advice.

Illinois Law on Hazardous Recreational Activities 


Under Illinois law, if you are injured while participating in or watching a “hazardous recreational activity” on public property, you cannot sue a “local public entity nor a public employee” for compensation (745 ILCS 10/3-109). For example, Cook County and DuPage County have numerous parks and forest preserves with hills and trails where you might go sledding, skiing, or even rock climbing in the wintertime. If you are injured while taking part in those types of activities, the park and park employees generally cannot be held liable. 

However, the law does make two exceptions, in which case you may be able to file a claim for damages. The first exception applies if your injury was caused by “an act of willful and wanton conduct” by a public entity or employee. For example, if you were cross-country skiing on a marked trail and were hit by a park employee driving a vehicle along that trail, you could have grounds for a lawsuit.  

The second exception applies if your injury was caused by the failure of a public entity or employee to provide warning about a known dangerous condition that a reasonable person would not anticipate. For example, suppose park employees dumped a pile of rocks on a sledding hill. The park knew that the snow-covered rocks were a hazard that created a substantial risk of injury and that a visitor could easily assume it was just a snow drift. If a sledder was injured by colliding with that rock pile, a court might rule that the park was negligent and should have posted signs or put up fences to warn people that the hill was not safe for sledding. However, if a sledder runs into the trees that line the edge of a sledding hill, the park would likely not be held liable for any resulting injuries, because the trees were readily visible to everyone as a hazard.

When You Can Claim Compensation for Snow/Ice Injuries


In addition to the law described above, there are several other Illinois laws that limit liability for injuries related to snow and ice removal, general maintenance of streets and sidewalks, and participation in hazardous recreational activities. Also, many recreational facilities require customers to sign liability waivers.

However, any injury that can be attributed to someone’s “willful and wanton conduct” can still be grounds for a lawsuit. Willful and wanton conduct is defined as “a course of action which shows an actual or deliberate intention to cause harm or which, if not intentional, shows an utter indifference to or conscious disregard for the safety of others or their property.” 

For example, numerous people have been injured or killed in Chicago by large chunks of ice falling off buildings. Many of these people have received compensation for their injuries from the building owners, who were deemed negligent for failing to warn pedestrians of a known danger. 

Similarly, if you are injured by faulty rental equipment or poorly maintained facilities while ice skating or skiing, you could have grounds for a lawsuit. 

Consult a Schaumburg Personal Injury Attorney 

 
If you have been injured in a winter accident that can be attributed to someone else’s negligence, see a doctor and then consult a knowledgeable Palatine personal injury lawyer. At Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC, you will receive the personal attention of a small firm with the comprehensive legal skill and sophistication of a large firm. Contact us at 847-934-6000 to schedule a free consultation.

Ken ApicellaAbout the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.



Sources:
http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/documents/074500100K3-109.htm
http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=2084&ChapterID=58
http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?DocName=074500100HArt%2E+III&ActID=2062&ChapterID=58&SeqStart=4700000&SeqEnd=5800000

How Much Is Pain and Suffering Worth in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Web Admin - Tuesday, November 20, 2018
Schaumburg personal injury attorney pain and sufferingWhen you or a family member has suffered a personal injury as the result of someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing, you have probably suffered serious financial losses as well. Even if you had good health insurance, or the person who caused the accident had insurance that paid some or all of your medical bills, there are almost always uncovered costs.

Your uncovered losses may include: 

- Medical costs for treatment of the injury when it occurred.

- Costs to buy special equipment or even to modify your home to accommodate a disability.

- Costs for rehabilitation services which could be needed for months or even years.

- The cost of round-the-clock, long-term care provided in your home or at an assisted living facility.

- Costs for mental health treatment.

- Loss of income the person would have earned had they not been injured.

- Costs for your family to travel and visit the injured person.

- Non-economic costs, which are often lumped under the broad umbrella of “pain and suffering.”

Measuring the Non-Economic Costs of an Injury


An attorney can tally up the financial costs listed above, make future projections, and come up with an appropriate figure as compensation for those losses. However, the calculation of the value of non-economic losses is much more difficult. Some of the specific factors that need to be weighed include: 

- Is the person permanently disfigured or physically impaired, such as by an amputation or paralysis?

- Will they have to suffer through numerous surgeries over the years to try to restore their appearance and/or function?

- Is the injury such that it results in long-term pain to the victim? This is often the case in spinal cord injuries or when a part of the body, such as a leg, suffers multiple fractures or fragmentation.

- Has the person suffered severe emotional distress, perhaps from seeing friends or family killed in the same incident?

- Has the victim suffered from severe insomnia, nightmares, anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder?

- Are there beloved hobbies or activities that the person can no longer participate in as a result of the injury?

- Have family members of the victim suffered loss of consortium or companionship due to the victim’s injuries?

The more of these factors that you can prove, the more non-economic damages you may be able to recover. Documentation will be important to prove that these factors are real, including physician reports, medications prescribed, and your own personal documentation, such as a diary noting how the victim was feeling from day to day.

An attorney who has handled many personal injury cases will likely have developed their own formula, or chosen useful formulas developed by others, to translate these non-economic costs into a dollar figure to cite in the lawsuit. One common method is to apply a multiplier to the total financial damages. For example, if the victim and family’s financial losses totaled $500,000, you might triple that figure and claim an additional $1.5 million for non-economic losses. The multiplier, of course, would depend on the severity of the injury suffered and the extent of the non-economic losses. 

Is There a Legal Cap on “Pain and Suffering” Damages in Illinois?


The Illinois legislature passed a law in 2005 to limit awards for non-economic losses in medical malpractice cases to $500,000 for physicians and $1,000,000 for hospitals. However, in 2010, the Illinois Supreme Court subsequently ruled that law unconstitutional. Thus, Illinois currently places no limit on the amount of compensation that can be awarded for non-economic losses.  

Consult a Rolling Meadows Personal Injury Attorney 


If you are wondering whether you should file a personal injury lawsuit, consult an experienced Palatine personal injury lawyer. The attorneys of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC will determine the best legal strategy for your case and fight aggressively to see that you are compensated for your losses. Contact us at 847-934-6000 to schedule a no-cost, no obligation consultation.

Ken ApicellaAbout the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.



Sources:
https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-2010-02-05-1002041182-story.html
https://centerjd.org/content/fact-sheet-caps-compensatory-damages-state-law-summary
https://centerjd.org/content/fact-sheet-understanding-non-economic-damages

Recovering Compensation for Dog Bite Injuries

Web Admin - Thursday, August 23, 2018
Schaumburg dog bite injury lawyerPets are an important part of many people’s lives, and dogs, cats, and other animals are often considered to be full-fledged members of their families. However, as much as we love and bond with our pets, it is important to remember that they are animals, and situations can arise when they harm someone. Dog bites are unfortunately common, and those who are injured in these and other types of animal attacks should understand how Illinois law applies to their situation as they determine how to recover compensation for the harm they have suffered.

Liability and Compensation for Dog Bites in Illinois

The Illinois Animal Control Act states that when a dog or other animal bites or attacks someone, the animal’s owner is liable for the damages that were caused. Unlike some states, Illinois uses a “strict liability” standard when it comes to dog bites, meaning that an owner is liable for the injuries caused by their dog, regardless of whether they were aware that the dog was dangerous or had aggressive tendencies.

There are two exceptions to this liability standard. A dog’s owner may be free from liability if:

A person was injured after provoking the dog.
A person was trespassing or was not legally allowed to be in the location where the attack occurred.

Types of Dog Bite Damages

Those injured by dog bites should understand the extent of the damages they may be able to recover. These include:

Medical bills - Dog bites can result in a wide variety of serious injuries, including lacerations, broken bones, puncture wounds, injuries to the eyes or face, or severe scarring and disfigurement. An injured party should be able to recover the full costs of medical care, including any ongoing rehabilitation.
Lost income - If a person was unable to work while recovering from their injuries, or if the injury resulted in disability that affected their ability to earn an income, they may be able to recover these losses.
Pain and suffering - An injured person and their family may experience a great deal of physical and emotional pain as they make their recovery, and financial compensation can help them overcome these difficulties.
Property damage - If an animal attack resulted in torn clothing or damage to jewelry or other belongings, the victim should be compensated for these losses.

Due to the strict liability standard, Illinois has one of the highest rates of animal attack claims in the United States, second only to California. State Farm reported that it paid more than $14 million in dog bite claims in 2016, with an average of $43,000 per claim.

Contact an Arlington Heights Dog Bite Injury Attorney

If you have been the victim of a dog bite or other animal attack, you should work with an attorney to determine your best options for pursuing the financial compensation that will help you recover from your injuries. At Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC, our Crystal Lake personal injury attorneys will help you recover the full and fair compensation that you deserve. Contact us at 847-934-6000 to schedule a consultation.

Ken ApicellaAbout the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.



Sources:
http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=051000050K16
https://www.isba.org/ibj/2017/06/lawpulse/illinoisleadsthepackindogbiteclaims

Bicycle Dooring Accidents in Illinois

Web Admin - Wednesday, July 09, 2014

bicycle dooring accidents in IllinoisWith the summer weather in full effect, more and more bikes have begun to appear on Illinois streets. o the colloquial term for a driver opening a door into the path of a bicyclist. This can result in either the door hitting the cyclist and injuring them, or the cyclist being forced into traffic to avoid the door, which can also result in serious injuries.

These types of accidents used to be a legal gray area, with both bicyclists and motorists sometimes being found at fault for the collision. However, a recent change to Illinois law now plants the fault squarely on motorists, giving them the responsibility to watch for passing bicyclists.

A Change to Illinois’ Vehicle Code

Illinois’ vehicle code contains a law forbidding any two-wheeled vehicle from passing another vehicle on the right without eight feet of unobstructed pavement. It was not clear that this portion of the code applied to bicycles since they do not technically fall under the vehicle code’s definition of a vehicle. However, they are required to obey all of the same rules as vehicles. Consequently, some bicyclists who were being doored were also being found at fault for the accident since they were passing too close to the car whose door they hit.

However, at the start of 2014 a new version of the law went into effect. This version clarifies that vehicles that operate under human power are not subject to that portion of the law. With that change, it is now clear that motorists are the party with the responsibility to watch out for bicyclists before opening the door.

The Law Against Dooring

This responsibility comes from another portion of the vehicle code. This section (625 ILCS 5/11-1407) forbids drivers from opening the door of their vehicle “on the side available to moving traffic,” when it is not reasonably safe to do so. Some municipalities will fine a motorist for carelessly opening their door into traffic, but that is not the only legal implication. An injured cyclist may also sue a driver for negligently opening their door into traffic. If the motorist failed to use due care when opening the car door, then the cyclist may be able to recover for their injuries. Such recovery may include medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering caused by the motorist’s carelessness.

If you have recently been involved in a bicycle dooring accident, contact an experienced Illinois personal injury attorney today. Our skilled team of lawyers represents clients across the northwest suburban area, including in towns like Arlington Heights, Deer Park, and Inverness.

About the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.

Swimming Pool Accident Injuries and Legal Concerns

Web Admin - Thursday, April 24, 2014

illinois swimming pool injury attorneyNow that the warm weather is finally on the way, people across Illinois are starting to look forward to a nice summer swim. However, this relaxing summertime activity can quickly turn dangerous if people are careless. Hundreds of people each year die as a result of water related injuries, according to information compiled by the Centers for Disease Control. Young children are at especially high risk for these injuries, accounting for approximately 20 percent of those deaths. Yet, people who suffer swimming injuries like this are not without recourse. There are a variety of legal claims available for the different injuries that may occur due to a swimming accident.

Types of Swimming Pool Injuries

Swimming pools can be responsible for a several different types of injuries. One of the most common is, of course, fatalities caused by drowning, but swimming pools can be dangerous in other ways as well. For instance, even if a person survives nearly drowning, the oxygen deprivation can cause permanent brain damage. Further, people diving into pools can often injure themselves by failing to check the depth of the water, which can cause them to strike their heads on the bottom of the pool. This can result in traumatic brain injuries like concussions, as well as damage to a person's spinal cord.

Types of Legal Claims for Swimming Pool Accidents

When a person sustains an injury in a swimming pool, they have two legal claims that they can pursue: premises liability and products liability. Premises liability, probably the more commonly used argument, takes effect when a person injures themselves on someone else's property. The law gives landowners a duty to use reasonable care to ensure that others do not injure themselves because of defects or hazards on their property. That means that pool owners may be liable for a person's injuries if they failed to properly maintain or secure their pool and someone was injured as a result. For example, if a pool owner failed to properly label the pool's shallow end, and a child dove in and injured their head or spine, the pool's owner may be liable for that injury.

Products liability claims do not attempt to hold the pool's owner liable, but are instead aimed against the poo's manufacturer. These claims occur when there is some inherent defect in the pool's manufacturing or design that made it unsafe for public use. Suppose the manufacturer improperly designed one of the pool's drains, and someone got their hand stuck in it, resulting in an injury. That injury might give rise to a products liability claim against the manufacturer since they should have made sure that their product was safe before bringing it to the market.

If you or your child has recently been injured in a swimming pool accident, seek help from a skilled Illinois personal injury attorney. Our firm lends its experience to clients across the northwestern suburbs, including Buffalo Grove, Barrington, and Crystal Lake.

About the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.

Jet Ski Accidents and Injury Lawsuits

Web Admin - Tuesday, April 15, 2014

illinois jet ski injury lawyer

With the warmer months approaching, people are once again going to start taking advantage of Lake Michigan, the Fox River, the Chain of Lakes and other inland waterways. Among the many popular waterfront activities available are the use of jet skis, also known as personal watercrafts (PWCs). While these PWCs are a fun way to spend a summer afternoon, they can also turn dangerous if riders do not take proper precautions. In fact, according to the U.S. Coast Guard, hundreds of people each year are killed or injured in PWC accidents. Many of these accidents are caused by careless PWC operators, but there are also other people who could be held responsible.

Responsibility for Jet Ski Accidents

The majority of lawsuits related to jet ski accidents proceed against the PWC’s driver based on the legal theory of negligence. Negligence is a legal doctrine that requires people to pay for harm that they caused through their own carelessness. Common negligent causes of PWC accidents include excessive speed, distracted boating, and operating a PWC while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

However, more people than just the operator of the jet ski could be responsible for the crash. For instance, many companies rent PWCs to tourists or beachgoers. These companies are responsible for properly maintaining their jet skis and making sure that the people to whom they rent are competent pilots. A failure to fulfill either of these requirements could make them liable for damage that their jet skis cause.

Courts may also hold the manufacturers of the jet ski in question responsible for harm that comes to users. This would happen under the products liability doctrine, which requires companies to pay for dangerous products that they make. There are several types of flaws that could give rise to a products liability lawsuit: design defects, manufacturing defects, and failures to warn:

  • Design defects occur when the producer of the jet ski fails to design it safely enough. For instance, a jet ski designed so that a hot wire next to the gas tank presents a fire risk might qualify as a design defect.

  • Manufacturing defects occur when the company designs the PWC properly, but fails to build it to the right specifications. A flawed manufacturing process that led to the jet ski having a leaking hull could be a manufacturing defect.

  • Failures to warn are slightly different. Rather than resulting from an inherent danger in the product, they arise when the manufacturer fails to warn the user about a possible danger in the product or fails to provide enough instructions about the safe way to use the device.

If you have been injured in an accident with a PWC, seek the counsel of a skilled Illinois personal injury attorney. They can examine your specific case and identify different parties who may be responsible for your injuries. Our firm helps clients in a variety of northwest suburban towns including Rolling Meadows, Buffalo Grove, and Inverness.

About the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.

Pedestrian Traffic Accidents in Illinois

Web Admin - Thursday, March 13, 2014

illinois pedestrian accident attorneyWhile many traffic accidents can cause the victims serious injuries, accidents involving a car and a pedestrian can be particularly devastating. The pedestrian’s complete lack of protection can leave them especially vulnerable to injury. In fact, of the hundreds of pedestrian-vehicle accidents that happen each year in suburban Cook County, almost 25 percent of them result in fatal or incapacitating injuries, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation’s crash summary report. Pedestrians should be aware of the common causes and consequences of traffic accidents, as well as the legal ramifications of one, in order to keep themselves safe.

Causes and Consequences of Pedestrian Traffic Accidents

Traffic accidents involving pedestrians have a wide variety of different causes. One of the most common causes is simple carelessness on the part of the driver. Failing to stay alert for pedestrians at crosswalks and in the street can lead to serious accidents. Evening and night driving can also exacerbate these problems because the low light makes people more difficult to see. 

This is especially true for elderly drivers whose increased risk for vision problems already makes them more likely to be involved in car accidents. Violations of traffic laws are also common causes of pedestrian injury, especially driving under the influence and speeding. Accidents resulting from speeding can be particularly problematic because the higher speeds can cause more severe injuries to the unprotected pedestrian.

When these accidents do happen, the injuries that arise can be quite serious. Pedestrians can experience a range of injuries, including:

  • - Broken bones;

  • - Head trauma;

  • - Brain injuries;

  • - Paraplegia;

  • - Quadriplegia;

  • - Amputations;

  • - Disfigurements; and

  • - Injuries to the neck, back, and spinal cord.

The Legal Side of Pedestrian Traffic Accidents

These sorts of accidents can give rise to personal injury claims on the part of the pedestrian if they suffer a serious enough injury. The personal injury case will hinge on the legal concept of “negligence.” This means that the driver, or their insurance, will likely have to compensate the pedestrian for their injuries if the court finds that the driver acted negligently, meaning that they acted without reasonable care for the other people around them. This concept is also important when judging the pedestrian’s actions, because the pedestrian may have been negligent as well.

For instances in which both the pedestrian and the driver were negligent, Illinois judges fault based on “comparative negligence.” The doctrine of comparative negligence means that a person’s ability to recover for their injuries is reduced if they were also acting carelessly. For example, if a pedestrian is 20 percent responsible for their injuries, they would only be able to recover 80 percent of their costs. Furthermore, if a pedestrian is more than 50 percent responsible for their own injuries, they cannot recover at all.

If you have recently been involved in a pedestrian-automobile accident, contact an Illinois personal injury attorney in your area. We represent clients in matters like this in many northwest suburban towns, such as Crystal Lake, Des Plaines, and Arlington Heights.

About the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.

New Study Reveals High Amounts of Drug Use among Truck Drivers

Web Admin - Tuesday, November 26, 2013

By Ken Apicella

Truck drivers often experience difficult working conditions, such as long hours or strenuous physical demands. These conditions can lead to a temptation to abuse alcohol and other drugs while driving, which increases the likelihood of traffic accidents, endangering both themselves and others on the road.

Drug Use among Truck Drivers

A new study examined the prevalence of substance abuse in the worldwide trucking industry. The study used both self-reported surveys and data from drug tests to try to get the clearest picture possible. The results showed a disconcerting amount truckers using mind-altering substances on the job.  One of the sets of tests that the study examined showed a high rate of alcohol use among American truck drivers, showing that approximately one in every eight tests came back positive for alcohol.

The study also examined illegal drug use, most particularly marijuana, amphetamines, and cocaine. The study brought together survey data across the world that showed that 3 percent of truck drivers admit to using cocaine, 20 percent admit to using marijuana, and as many as 30 percent worldwide to using amphetamines while driving.

These drugs all cause different effects, and consequently are dangerous for different reasons. Some substances, like alcohol and marijuana, sedate users, causing drowsiness and decreased alertness. Conversely, drugs like cocaine and amphetamines are stimulants. While truckers often use them to stay awake on long trips, they can also alter reaction times and cause hallucinations.

Protecting Yourself

Drivers can take several steps to protect themselves, including maintaining an increased awareness of trucks on the road, and making proper signals when changing lanes or performing other maneuvers.

No one can truly ensure that they stay completely safe on the road. In the event that a driver does get injured in a trucking accident, they can benefit from the counsel and experience of an attorney who can help them recover both the medical and emotional costs of the accident.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a trucking accident, contact an Arlington Heights personal injury attorney today. We serve many northwest suburban areas including Crystal Lake, Chicago, Barrington, and other nearby communities.


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