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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

Most Common Types of Traffic Accidents

Web Admin - Thursday, July 21, 2016

According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, just under 300,000 automobile accidents happened in 2014. More than 800 automobile accidents happen per day in Illinois, and more than two people are killed each day by automobile accidents. There were nine people injured every hour in Illinois automobile accidents. These are some startling statistics about automobile accidents on Illinois highways and roadways. It is dangerous to be on the road, and anyone could be involved in an auto accident at any time. If you have been involved in an automobile accident, the experienced personal injury lawyers at our law firm are eager to assist you with your case today.

Most Common Types of Auto Accidents In Illinois

Some types of automobile accidents happen more frequently than others. In terms of collisions that cause injuries, the top five types of automobile collisions include:

1. Accidents where one vehicle rear-ends another vehicle. In Illinois, the leading type of automobile accident involves one vehicle rear-ending another vehicle. There were more than 18,000 rear-end accidents in Illinois in 2014 that produced injuries. This make sense since there are so many different ways that a rear-end accident could occur. A driver in the front could suddenly hit the brakes, or an inattentive driver could not be paying attention to the road and could run into the rear end of a vehicle that is stopped, waiting for a light to change, for example. 

2. Accidents that happen due to a vehicle turning. The second most frequent type of automobile accident that happens is an accident involving turning. There were more than 10,000 turning accidents that caused injuries in 2014. A driver may fail to use their turn indicator, or a driver might not be paying attention to a turning vehicle and could cause an accident. 

3. Accidents that occur at an angle. One of the most difficult things to determine when you are behind the wheel is when another driver is going to go at an angle rather than straight or a 90 degree turn. Multiple-way stops and circles are difficult to navigate, especially when other drivers are trying to navigate them as well. Nearly 8,000 accidents in Illinois in 2014 involved a vehicle being hit at an angle. 

4. Collision with a fixed object. One of the more common single-vehicle accident types involves collisions with a fixed object, such as a tree or lamp post. Nearly 8,000 accidents in 2014 were attributed to a vehicle striking a fixed object. 

5. Accidents involving hitting a pedestrian. Unfortunately, the fifth most common type of automobile accident in Illinois in 2014 involved striking or hitting a pedestrian. There were nearly 4,200 accidents involving injured pedestrians. 

If you or a loved one has been involved in a traffic accident, contact one of our experienced Illinois accident attorneys today. Our firm serves the communities of Crystal Lake, Schaumburg, Palatine, Des Plaines, Inverness, Deer Park, Rolling Meadows, Buffalo Grove, Barrington and Arlington Heights. Please do not hesitate to call us at 847-934-6000 to speak to a member of our team.

Ken Apicella
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.


Source:
http://www.idot.illinois.gov/Assets/uploads/files/Transportation-System/Resources/Safety/Crash-Reports/crash-facts/2014%20CF.pdf

Basic Overview of Medical Malpractice Claims

Web Admin - Tuesday, January 05, 2016

medical malpractice claims, Illinois personal injury attorneyWhen we are sick or injured, we turn to doctors and other health care professionals for help. Unfortunately, in some cases, mistakes are made that can lead to more harm. When those mistakes rise to the level of negligence, it may be possible for the victim to file a medical malpractice claim against those responsible. 

Making a Claim 

In general, the following must exist for an individual to make a medical malpractice claim: 

1. A doctor-patient relationship;

2. The doctor, hospital, or medical professional acted negligently in diagnosing or treating the patient, which is proven by showing that a competent doctor under the same circumstances would not have caused the harm the patient suffered;

3. The negligence caused the patient’s injury; and

4. The patient suffered specific damages, which may include physical pain, mental suffering, increased medical bills, or the inability to work. 

Under Illinois law, a victim must file a claim within two years of the date he or she became aware of, or should have become aware of, the medical malpractice (this period is known as the statute of limitations). However, a claim cannot be made more than four years after the date of the malpractice, regardless of when the malpractice was discovered. 

If the victim is under 18 years old, the statute of limitations is eight years or when the victim turns 22, whichever occurs first. The statute of limitations is important because after the period to file expires, claims are usually barred. 

Plaintiffs in medical malpractice claims must also file a certificate of merit along with their complaint. Many states require a certificate of merit (or similar document) in an attempt to reduce the number of medical malpractice claims, which are often expensive and time-consuming to complete. A certificate of merit demonstrates that there is some indication of malpractice, which can help ensure that the claim is not frivolous. 

Illinois law requires the plaintiff to declare that one of the following is true: 

- Consultation with a health professional was made and that individual determined in a written report that there is a reasonable and meritorious claim the plaintiff can make;

- Consultation with a health professional was not possible because the statute of limitations was close to expiring (the plaintiff has 90 days from filing the complaint to satisfy the written report requirement); or

- Request was made for the patient’s health care records and the person responsible for presenting them failed to do so within 60 days of receipt of the request (the plaintiff has 90 days from the date of receipt of the records to satisfy the written report requirement). 

It is important to note that if the requirements of the certificate of merit are not met, the statute of limitations continues to run, even if the complaint was properly filed. Help for Victims

If you have been injured and believe it was the result of negligence on the part of a doctor or other health care provider, it may be possible for you to recover a damage award. For more information, please contact an experienced Illinois personal injury attorney today. Our firm provides our services to the communities of Crystal Lake, Schaumburg, 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. 

Source:

http://ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/documents/073500050K13-212.htm


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.


Sources:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=2048&ChapterID=57

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=2430&ChapterID=68


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.

High Amounts of Preventable Mistakes During Surgery

Web Admin - Wednesday, August 06, 2014

mistakes during surgery medical malpracticePeople routinely place their lives in the hands of medical professionals like surgeons, trusting that they will be careful and responsible. At the same time, people understand that accidents do happen. Surgery can be a difficult process, and there are some complications, like infections, that may occur even if the doctors do everything right. Still, there are certain surgical mistakes that medical professionals universally agree should never occur.

Generally speaking, these “never events” include leaving surgical implements in a patient, performing operations on the wrong site, performing the wrong type of operation, and performing the surgery on the wrong patient. Despite this universal agreement that such completely preventable mistakes should never happen, a study from Johns Hopkins University reveals that surgeons make these sorts of errors with startling regularity.

The Johns Hopkins Study

The study analyzed data that researchers gleaned from the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB), a database of medical malpractice claims. The law requires hospitals to report preventable surgical errors that lead to legal settlements or judgments against the hospital to the NPDB. This makes the NPDB a repository of data on never events.

The researchers used data from the NPDB and extrapolated out total error rates based on the thousands of medical malpractice judgments and settlements over the last 20 years. They estimate that there are over 4,000 preventable surgical errors in the U.S. every year. These sorts of errors tend to result in a patient's death approximately 6.6 percent of the time, with another 32.9 percent of patients suffering a permanent injury from the never event.

Additionally, the researchers analyzed the patterns of surgeons who make these sorts of mistakes. For instance, they found that surgeons between the ages of 40 and 49 accounted for over one in every three mistakes and that over 10 percent of doctors had been implicated in more than one never event.

Possible Precautions

Fortunately, there are a variety of precautions that hospitals can take to ensure that these sorts of preventable errors do not occur. For instance, some hospitals have specific protocols in place to inventory surgical implements like towels and sponges before and after a surgery to ensure that the doctors leave nothing behind inside the patient.

Beyond that, many hospitals also use special review procedures at the start of a surgery, ensuring that the patient's records for the surgery match the patient on whom the doctor is about to operate. Additionally, practitioners can also use permanent marker to label the operation site. This can help prevent surgeons from operating in the wrong place or operating on the wrong patient.

If you or one of your loved ones has recently been the victim of a surgical error or other medical mistake, contact a skilled Illinois medical malpractice attorney. Our firm represents injured patients in many different northwest suburban towns, including Schaumburg, Arlington Heights, 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.

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.

Liability for Accidents on the Golf Course

Web Admin - Tuesday, June 03, 2014

illinois golf accident lawyerWith the warm weather finally here, many people have already begun making their way back to the golf courses. Yet, the sport is not without its legal liabilities. Errant golf ball strikes are a common hazard that can result in damage to nearby property, harm to other players, and even death in some more serious circumstances. Additionally, many golf games involve the players drinking during the game or at the clubhouse afterwards. While the players themselves should always monitor their own intake and drink responsibly, the golf course may also be responsible for damage caused by their drinking if it sells them the alcohol.

Errant Golf Balls

The question of liability for errant golf balls hinges on whether the person or property that was damaged was actually on the course or simply nearby.  One of the most common types of accidents on the course occurs when one player injures another. The occasional poorly aimed shot can go awry and hit another player on another hole or standing off the course. Ordinarily, landowners, like the golf course, do not have a duty to protect people on their land from obvious dangers, like errant shots on a golf course, but such a duty does arise when the owner can reasonably anticipate the danger. Consequently, if there is an area, such as a clubhouse deck, where missed shots land with some frequency, the course may be liable to the injured player.

Importantly, this protection does not necessarily extend to people who have purchased homes near the golf course. Errant shots do occasionally hit those homes or the people in them, and when that happens courts have found it to be the homeowner’s responsibility. One example of this happened in 2005 when a missed drive struck a woman sitting in her garden. The court refused to award damages based on the legal doctrine of “assumption of risk,” which means that homeowners who buy houses near a course are aware that shots may occasionally land on their property and they accept that risk when they buy the house.

Alcohol on the Course

That golf courses tend to sell alcohol also implicates something known as “dram shop laws.” These are laws that make alcohol distributors liable for the damage caused by drunken patrons in certain circumstances. These laws allow people who have suffered injury or property damage because of a drunken person to sue the business that furnished the liquor, provided that the business sold enough alcohol to be responsible for the person’s drunkenness and that the drunkenness was the cause of the damage.

If you were recently injured on a golf course, contact a skilled Illinois personal injury attorney today. Our firm counsels clients in towns around the northwest suburbs, including in Crystal Lake, Buffalo Grove, and Deer Park.

About the Author: Founding partner of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC, Colin Gilbert, received his J.D. from Chicago-Kent College of law in 2005. Colin argues cases across many practice areas including criminal defense, collections, civil litigation, real estate law, and corporate law. Colin is an active member of the Board of Governors of the Northwest Suburban Bar Association and the Illinois Creditors Bar Association. He is currently Vice President of the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce, and is a Commissioner for the Village of Arlington Heights. Colin has a 10.0 Attorney rating on Avvo, and was named one of the 2014 “Top 40 Under 40” Trial Lawyers in Illinois by the National Trial Lawyers Association.

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.

9 Tips on the Rights and Safety of Bicyclists in Illinois

Web Admin - Monday, October 14, 2013


Motorists may not respect bicyclists on the road, but there are steps bicycle riders can take in order to gain esteem. According to the “Bicycle Rules of the Road,” in Illinois, the best way to avoid harm on a bike is by being prepared for danger and obeying traffic laws.

It is important to note the specific laws directed toward bicyclists riding on the road with other motorists in cars, trucks, and semi-trucks. The following knowledge can help bicyclists avoid a personal injury accident:

  1. Bicyclists must ride in the same direction as traffic. Riding in the opposite direction is illegal.
  2. When riding on a sidewalk, bicyclists must obey all pedestrian signs and yield to the right-of-way rule for pedestrians.
  3. Bicyclists must stop for school buses dropping off children.

As a bicyclist, your on-the-road rights include:

  1. Motorists must provide at least three feet of space between them and a bicyclist when passing.
  2. Bicycles may be parked on the road at any angle to the curb where parking is allowed.
  3. At a traffic light, a bicyclist may proceed after yielding to oncoming traffic through a red light that fails to turn green after waiting at least 120 seconds.

Safety is a key factor a bicyclist has to remember. A few proactive protection measures to contemplate are:

  1. Make sure the bicycle is working properly, such as brakes, reflectors, seat and handlebars. A helmet may be considered an essential part of a bicycle, so also be aware of a helmet’s functionality.
  2. Ride as close to the edge of the road as safely possible to maintain distance from motorists, but be mindful of broken glass, grates and parked cars.
  3. Avoid riding at night. If you do ride at night, Illinois law requires that a bicycle must be have front light visible from at least 500 feet and a rear reflector visible for up to 600 feet. Wearing white or reflective clothing can also aid in safe riding.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a bicycle accident, the law offices of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC, are standing by to assist you. Contact our Illinois personal injury attorneys by calling 847-934-6000 or by visiting our Chicago office located at 233 S. Wacker, Suite 8400.


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