Construction Workers Injured on the Job

Web Admin - Thursday, December 10, 2015

construction workers injured on the job, Illinois Personal Injury AttorneyConstruction sites are dangerous and the involved dangers—falling objects, electrocutions, and heavy machinery—can lead to substantial injuries. Workers who are injured while on a construction site may have several ways of recovering for the injuries they sustain, including personal injury lawsuits. If successful, these claims can be vital in helping victims recover from their injuries. 

Personal Injury Claim 

It is important to note that an injured worker cannot file a lawsuit against his or her employer. Instead, compensation for those injuries is pursued through a workers’ compensation claim. However, third-party claims are possible in certain circumstances. For example, if a subcontractor’s employee is injured while on site, he or she may file a lawsuit against the owner of the site or the general contractor. Third-party claims can lead to recovery for pain and suffering, medical expenses, and lost wages. 

Numerous individuals may be held responsible for injuries suffered on a construction worksite and include the following: 

1. The site owner may be held liable even if he or she is not present at the time of the accident;

2. The general contractor is responsible for hiring workers and ensuring that the worksite is safe;

3. A subcontractor holds similar duties as the general contractor; however, his or her liability is usually limited to a particular area of the site;

4. Architects may be held liable for design flaws; and

5. Equipment manufacturers may be held liable if their products are faulty or defective. 

Personal injury lawsuits arising out of construction-related accidents are pursued under a negligence theory. For a plaintiff to be successful, he or she must establish the following elements: 

1. The defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff;

2. The defendant breached that duty;

3. The plaintiff was injured as a result of the breach; and

4. The plaintiff suffered damages as a result of the injury suffered. 

An important issue to be aware of is the statute of limitations—the amount of time a person has to file a lawsuit against those individuals claimed to be responsible. For a personal injury or products liability lawsuit, the plaintiff has two years from the date of the accident. A products liability lawsuit arises when a manufacturer makes a defective product. In a wrongful death claim, the lawsuit must be filed within two years of the decedent’s death. Critically, if a lawsuit is not filed within these time periods, the right to recover is (usually) lost forever. 

Helping Victims 

Construction workers often operate in environments that have an increased risk of injury. When an injury occurs, it may have been caused by the actions of another person. If you have been injured in a construction-related accident, please contact a skilled Illinois personal injury attorney today. Our firm represents individuals throughout the northwest suburbs in the communities of Schaumburg, Crystal Lake, Palatine, Des Plaines, Rolling Meadows, Buffalo Grove, Barrington, Arlington Heights, Inverness and Deer Park. 

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.




Recovering for the Death of a Relative

Web Admin - Friday, August 14, 2015

Illinois wrongful death lawyerIn some cases, the negligence or wrongdoing of another person may result in the death of a victim before the victim has a chance to pursue legal action against those individuals responsible for the death. For surviving spouses or children, recovery is still possible through a wrongful death action. These actions can be very important in helping secure the financial stability of survivors.

What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Wrongful death lawsuits allow surviving spouses and children of individuals who die as a result of the negligence or wrongdoing of another person to recover monetary damages from the person responsible for the death. A wrongful death claim is usually brought by the representative of the decedent’s estate on behalf of the survivors. The survivors are called the “real parties in interest.” For the claim to be successful, the plaintiffs must demonstrate the death would not have occurred but for the actions of the defendant.

The two possible damage awards for wrongful death actions include economic and non-economic. Economic damages are tangible or the actual financial costs of the decedent’s death. They may include costs like lost expected future earnings or medical and funeral expenses. Non-economic damages are for items like mental anguish or pain and suffering. While these damages are often more difficult to determine than economic damages, they may result in much greater awards.  

One other form of damages that you may hear about are punitive damages. This type of damage is intended to punish the defendant for exceptionally bad conduct. However, punitive damages are not available to survivors in wrongful death actions in Illinois.

Illinois Law

Under Illinois law, a jury may award damages that they deem as being fair and just “compensation with reference to the pecuniary injuries resulting from death, including damages for grief, sorrow, and mental suffering.” Pecuniary damages are economic, like a decedent’s wages or the costs of the funeral. “Grief, sorrow, and mental suffering” refer to non-economic damages.

Another important issue to be aware of is the statute of limitations. In most cases, the wrongful death action must be filed within two years after the death of the decedent. However, an action against a defendant arising from a crime committed by a defendant in whose name an escrow account was established under the Criminal Victims’ Escrow Account Act must be filed within two years after the establishment of the account.

If negligence is the cause of action for the decedent’s death, contributory negligence must be considered. While contributory negligence is not a defense for the defendant, if the decedent’s death was caused in whole or in part by the decedent’s actions, the damage award is reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to the decedent. Therefore, the recovery amount may be reduced in some cases.

If you would like more information about the possible methods of recovery for injuries you or a loved one have suffered, speak with an experienced Illinois personal injury law attorney today. Our firm proudly serves the communities of the northwest suburbs, including areas such as Crystal Lake, Buffalo Grove, Arlington Heights, Des Plaines, and Deer Park.

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.

Steps to Take After a Car Accident

Web Admin - Thursday, June 04, 2015

illinois car accidents, Arlington Heights car accident lawyerIn the unfortunate event that you are involved in a car accident, there are several things you should do to help protect any future claims for personal injury you may have against the person at fault (or their insurance company). While it is not pleasant to think about being involved in a car accident, it can be beneficial to have an idea of what steps you should take in case an accident occurs.

Protecting Future Personal Injury Claims

After you have been in an accident, it is important to check to make sure everyone involved is uninjured. If someone is injured, you should contact emergency personnel to obtain proper medical treatment. It is important to remember that there are several requirements under Illinois law in regards to stopping at the accident, rendering aid, and reporting the accident. There are significant penalties for failing to perform any of these duties.

Quite often after an accident, it is part of natural reflex to want to apologize. However, this should be avoided, as it may indicate potential fault. Along similar lines, it is critical to not admit fault to anyone at the scene, such as the other driver or any passengers. Instead, when the police arrive and begin forming the report of the accident, you should provide the officer with an honest description of what happened.

Additionally, it may prove beneficial to take notes of the scene. Pay attention to things like the weather conditions, any stop lights or signs, and traffic conditions. All of this can end up being important while negotiating with the insurance company or during litigation. Utilize the camera on your phone and take photographs. These often provide much better evidence than people’s statements.

If you have even slight pain, as soon as possible after the accident you should be evaluated by a physician or other health care professional. While immediately after the accident you may have only minimal pain, it is possible that increased adrenaline is contributing to masking your pain. Additionally, minor pain may still be the result of a more serious condition.

Aside from obtaining needed treatment, seeking immediate medical attention will strengthen any personal injury claim you may end up making. If medical treatment is not immediately sought, it can be argued that the injury is not serious or nonexistent completely. Alternatively, assuming an injury is not contested, a gap between the accident and medical treatment can make it more difficult to prove the injury was caused by the accident.

During the period in which you are receiving treatment, it is critical that you keep track of the diagnosed injuries and the specific treatment administered. This includes keeping receipts for prescriptions and any medical bills you receive. Additionally, take note of any correspondence you have with doctors or other health care professionals. If any injuries are physically visible, you should take photographs of them, which will help demonstrate the extent and seriousness of those injuries.

Personal Injury Attorneys

If you have been involved in a car accident and believe you have suffered injuries as a result, you should reach out to a passionate Illinois personal injury lawyer in your area. Our skilled professionals proudly represent individuals from Crystal Lake, Buffalo Grove, and Arlington Heights, among many other areas. Contact us today to discuss your legal options. 

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.

Pain and Suffering in Personal Injury Cases

Web Admin - Tuesday, April 14, 2015

pain and suffering, Rolling Meadows personal injury attorneyWhile advances in technology have greatly improved vehicle safety, severe injuries still occur in automobile accidents. When an individual’s injuries are the result of the fault of another person, it is possible for that individual to file a personal injury lawsuit. A difficult, but important, part of a personal injury damage award to determine is an individual’s pain and suffering.

What is Pain and Suffering?

Pain and suffering is a form of non-economic damage, which means, unlike a person’s medical bills, for example, it is not readily quantifiable. Pain and suffering may be requested as part of a personal injury claim, in addition to other claims, such as medical expenses. Critically, an individual has two years from the time of the accident to file a lawsuit, which is known as the statute of limitations. There are two forms of pain and suffering: physical and mental. Physical pain and suffering involves a person’s actual physical injuries, like pain or discomfort.

Mental pain and suffering involves the negative emotions that are connected with physical pain or the trauma associated with the accident and the injuries that result. These emotions may include, but are not limited to, mental anguish, emotional distress, fear, anger, humiliation, or anxiety. If the mental pain and suffering is severe enough, it may result in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Calculating Pain and Suffering

Because pain and suffering is subjective, it can be difficult to value. Different individuals will respond differently to injuries and trauma they experience. As a result of the subjective nature of valuing pain and suffering, it is common that the judge will not have specific guidelines to give to the jury. In Snover v. McGraw, the Supreme Court of Illinois held that, “an award for pain and suffering is not as readily calculable…and jurors must draw on their real-life experiences in making an award.” As a result, it is critical to present as much evidence as possible to best convey to the jury the pain and suffering endured.

One way to determine the value of pain and suffering is to multiply the total medical bills and lost earnings (known as actual or special damages) by some factor, usually between 1.5 and four. For example, if an individual’s actual damages are $50,000 and the multiplier is two, the pain and suffering award would be $100,000. The multiplier is usually determined after considering various factors, such as the severity and long-term health consequences of injuries sustained.

There are some other factors that can affect a plaintiff’s pain and suffering award, including:

  • - Whether the plaintiff is credible and likeable;
  • - Whether the plaintiff’s testimony relating to his or her injuries remains consistent; and
  • - Whether the opinion of the plaintiff’s physician supports the plaintiff’s claims of pain and suffering.

An accident can be a frightening ordeal, even if no injuries result. If you have been involved in an accident caused by another person that resulted in harm to you, contact an experienced Illinois personal injury attorney today. Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC provides representation to individuals located in the northwest suburbs, including Rolling Meadows, Palatine, and Barrington.

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.

Fire Safety and Landlord Responsibility

Web Admin - Thursday, December 18, 2014

Illinois smoke detector, landlord responsibility, Schaumburg personal injury attorneyWith the nights getting longer and the days getting colder, fire safety is especially important during the holiday season. In fact, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency's statistics, over $2 billion in property damage occurs every year as a result of winter fires. The culprits can vary from holiday cooking and decorating, to an increased use of space heaters to keep out the chill. Fortunately, there are numerous steps that people can take to keep themselves safe from fire damage during the winter. Additionally, landlords should pay special attention during this season, so that they can be sure that they understand their fire responsibilities.

Fire Prevention Tips

Some fire prevention tips like making sure to maintain working smoke detectors are repeated year round, but there are some special things that people can do during this time of year to reduce their risk of fire. One of the major culprits of holiday fires are holiday decorations. People can find it tempting to string together strand after strand of lights, but these sorts of decorations are only built to connect so many times. Plugging too many into each other can risk creating a spark.

Holidays also tend to be a time of year where there are a lot of open flames around the house. Whether it is a fire in the fireplace or a set of candles in a menorah, these can pose a serious risk if people do not properly supervise them, or they keep them too close to flammable items like curtains or dried out Christmas trees. Similarly, excessive use of space heaters, especially overnight or when no one is home, can also set fire to household objects.

Landlord's Responsibilities

Landlords also have a variety of special responsibilities during this season. One of the most important is set out in the Illinois Smoke Detector Act. This Act makes it the responsibility of a building's owner to install smoke detectors, and to maintain the detectors in common areas like hallways. Similarly, it makes it the tenant's responsibility to maintain the detectors that the owner has put in their living areas, and it makes it the tenant's responsibility to notify the landlord if there is a problem with the detector that they cannot fix.

Landlords also have a duty to ensure that their building is up to local building codes. This includes having safe electrical wiring, which can be especially important around the holiday season. Failure to maintain adequate wiring can be a fire risk, and even if it does not cause a fire it violates the tenant's right to a habitable structure.

Fires can be some of the most devastating disasters on a personal level. If your home was damaged or destroyed in a fire and you think someone else was to blame, contact an Illinois personal injury attorney today. Our team represents people across the northwest suburbs, including in Schaumburg, Mount Prospect, and Arlington Heights. Call Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC to schedule a consultation with an experienced lawyer.

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.

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.

Pedestrian-Bicycle Collisions in Illinois

Web Admin - Thursday, March 06, 2014

illinois pedestrian bicycle accident attorneyPedestrians walking down the sidewalk or crossing the street know to watch out for cars, but many are unaware of just how dangerous a passing bicycle can be and what to do in the event that they end up in an accident with a bike. Collisions between bikes and pedestrians are surprisingly dangerous and more common than many people expect. While exact numbers are difficult to find, since many bike accidents go unreported, a study from Hunter College estimates that over 1,000 pedestrians are hospitalized each year for injuries resulting from bike collisions in New York State alone.

Part of the reason for this is a lack of understanding on by both cyclists and pedestrians about what rules of the road bikes must obey. This leads to confusion on the part of the pedestrian about what the cyclists will to do in any given situation. The Illinois Secretary of State maintains a good guide regarding how traffic laws apply to bikes, but the rule of thumb is that a bicycle in the street must obey all laws that any other vehicle would, and a bicyclist on the sidewalk must obey the laws and signals used by pedestrians.

Harm from Bicycle Accidents

While bicycles lack the mass and speed of a car, they can still do serious harm to unprotected pedestrians in an accident. Some of the most common severe injuries that result from these sorts of accidents are traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Pedestrians can develop these types of injuries if they suffer a hard blow to the head after a bike knocks them down. The most common symptom of a TBI is a concussion, but they can also result in nausea, vomiting, headaches, seizures, and even coma in more serious cases. Bike accidents can also frequently cause broken bones, depending on the speed at which they happen and the way the pedestrian falls.

What to Do after a Bicycle Accident

The steps to take after a bicycle accident are similar to those that follow a car crash: make sure everyone is ok, call for medical attention if necessary, alert the police, and exchange information with the other party. The major difference is that bike accidents are more prone to turning into hit-and-runs. While bicyclists are obliged to stay at the scene of an accident just like drivers, many do not realize that they have that duty, and some who do know choose to flee the scene anyway. The best course of action here is to get as much identifying information about the fleeing cyclist as possible, and then make a report to the police.

If you have been the victim of a pedestrian versus bicycle accident, reach out to an Illinois personal injury attorney today. They can help you seek the full and fair compensation that you deserve. Our firm lends its experience and knowledge to clients across the northwest suburbs, in places such as Inverness, Deer Park, 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.

Dealing with Insurance Companies: Examinations under Oath

Web Admin - Saturday, January 04, 2014

If you recently filed an insurance claim, then you may have just received a request to participate in an examination under oath (“EUO”). An EUO is an interview that an insurance company’s lawyer conducts to investigate a recently filed claim. While receiving an EUO does not mean that the company will deny the insurance claim for sure, it tends to signal that the company found some issue that they would like to investigate further.

What Happens at an EUO?

An EUO is a formal process involving the insurance company’s lawyer as well as a court reporter who will transcribe everything said at the examination. The examination begins with a swearing in, making it a felony to lie under Illinois law. After that, the company’s attorney will start asking you questions. These questions will probably start out with basic questions of your or your family’s background including things like employment or criminal histories. It may then move into an examination of your finances, such as credit history or past bankruptcy filings.

Once the other side’s attorney establishes a baseline, the questions can move on to the specific event at issue in the claim. These questions can include a recounting of your story of the events and questions about your policy choices. In some instances, like fires insurance, the questions may even relate to whether you have an alibi. In this part of the process, the insurance company will look for inconsistencies with your prior recorded statement, so a consistent retelling of the facts is important.

Before the EUO, the company will do some investigation of its own surrounding the circumstances of the claim, as well as any irregularities from past claims. Consequently, you should be prepared for unexpected questions or inquiries into facts you did not know they had access to. Additionally, at the EUO the company can make you produce certain other documents to aid them in their investigation of the claim. These documents include tax returns, credit card statements, and cell phone records among other things.

Do I Need an Attorney?

While the law makes no formal rule saying that you need an attorney to participate in an EUO, having one present to represent you is advisable. The insurance company will have an attorney there, so having one of your own can help even the odds. Additionally, these examinations take place without a judge present, so an attorney on your side can help keep the company’s lawyer in check.

If you have recently received a request for an EUO, contact an experienced Des Plaines insurance dispute attorney. We serve many northwest suburban areas including Rolling Meadows, Deer Park, and Schaumburg.

The Hazards of Electricity in Workplace Accidents

Web Admin - Wednesday, December 18, 2013

By Ken Apicella

847 934-6000



Electricity is a common part of people’s everyday lives. Because it is so accessible, people often forget how dangerous it can be. In fact, hundreds of people die each year in accidents related to electricity, many of them while at work. Even though Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations mandate safe insulation or grounding around all electrical circuits, workers can still benefit from knowing the types of injury that electricity can cause and how electrical injuries happen.

Types of Electrical Injury

Electricity can cause three very different types of injury: burns, muscle contractions, and internal injuries.

Electricity causes burns in two ways. First, if a person suffers an electric shock, the electricity can heat up their body to the point that it burns the body along the path of the current. Second, faulty electrical equipment can overheat, or give off electrical arcs. These can cause burns to those nearby, even if the person does not actually come in direct contact with the source of electricity.

It also interferes with muscle function. Because our bodies trigger muscle contractions through electrical signals, electrocution can cause severe, involuntary muscle spasms. These can lead to muscular damage or even broken bones.

Electrocution also affects the function of a person's internal organs. Depending on the strength of the electrical shock, it can lead to internal bleeding and nerve damage. More serious shocks may even lead to cardiac arrest, which can be fatal in some circumstances.

How Electrical Injuries Happen

Electrical injuries may occur in a variety of different ways. For instance, extension cords can lead to electrocution if used improperly. Careless use of extension cords can cause them to fray or loose insulation, which exposes dangerous live wires. Additionally, some extension cords do not come with built-in ground wires, which can add to the danger.

Improper use of other equipment can also lead to electrical injuries. Modified tools or wires, jury-rigged extension cords, and improperly rated circuit breakers can all cause electrocution. One common yet dangerous modification is the removal of ground pins from wires. This allows a three-pronged plug to fit into a two-pronged outlet, but it puts the tool at a higher risk of malfunction. Of course, these examples represent just some of the many ways that improper safety precautions can cause electrocution.

If you or a loved one recently suffered an electrical injury that you believe may qualify for compensation, contact a Des Plaines personal injury attorney today. Our experience can help you get the payment that you deserve. We serve many areas in the northwest suburbs including Palatine, Inverness, Buffalo Grove, and Arlington Heights.

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