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.

Thanksgiving Day Massacre: If Turkeys Had Legal Rights

Web Admin - Friday, November 21, 2014
turkey Thanksgiving criminal charges, Schaumburg personal injury lawyer

Thanksgiving is just around the corner now, so it seems like a good time to engage in an educational hypothetical: “what if turkeys had legal rights?” Suppose Chris Carver is just about to start preparing Tom Turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, when Governor Rauner, taking his cue from the annual presidential turkey pardon, decrees that all turkeys are protected and have the same rights as people. The police break down Chris's door, taking him away in handcuffs and saving Tom. This leads to two questions: “what, undoubtedly delicious, crimes could Chris be charged with?” and “what civil claims could Tom bring against him?"

Criminal Charges

There are a variety of crimes that Chris may be guilty of. The two major ones are kidnapping and attempted murder. Kidnapping is defined under Illinois law as “secretly confining someone against their will.” Chris was clearly confining Tom. Assuming it was done secretly, Chris may actually be guilty of aggravated kidnapping, a more serious version of the crime, because he had a carving knife, which would be a deadly weapon for purposes of the law. Aggravated kidnapping is a Class X felony in Illinois, which carries a sentence of between six and 30 years in prison.

However, Chris was doing more than just confining the turkey; he was preparing to cook him, which would be first-degree murder in Illinois. The different degrees of murder in Illinois are based on what the offender was attempting to do. Chris's qualifies for first-degree, the most serious, because he was intentionally trying to kill Tom. The fact that Chris did not succeed in killing Tom Turkey does not matter because he took a “substantial step” towards the murder when he kidnapped Tom. This means that the state could still charge him with attempted first-degree murder, also a Class X felony.

Civil Claims

While the criminal charges would take care of punishing Chris for his crimes, they do not provide Tom with any restitution for his ordeal. Fortunately, Tom can also sue Chris in civil court for several different claims. For instance, Tom can sue Chris for false imprisonment, the civil version of kidnapping, because he held Tom against his will. Tom could also sue Chris for assaulting him, since Chris intentionally acted in a way that put Tom in fear of an immediate harmful contact. Assuming Tom succeeds on these claims he can recover a variety of damages including payment of any medical bills, any wages he lost from his job during his confinement and recover, and compensation for the emotional pain and suffering of almost becoming Thanksgiving dinner.

If you believe you have been a victim of harms like Tom's, or you want to learn more about your criminal rights if you have been charged, contact the Schaumburg personal injury and criminal attorneys at Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC today. We assist clients in Rolling Meadows, Buffalo Grove, Barrington, and throughout the Chicago suburbs. Call 847-934-6000 for a free consultation.

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.

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.

Trench Collapse Injuries in Illinois

Web Admin - Tuesday, June 17, 2014

illinois construction injury lawyerOne of the most dangerous jobs on any construction site is working underground in a trench during a variety of different projects. In fact, hundreds of workers are injured each year in trench collapse accidents, and, according to a report issued by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, over two-thirds of those injuries happen to workers with small construction firms (those with fewer than 50 employees).

Fortunately, workers who suffer those sorts of injuries do have options. If the injury was caused by a third party, the worker or their family may be able to pursue a personal injury or wrongful death suit against the party responsible. Alternatively, the worker may also have a worker’s compensation claim open to them for the wide array of potential injuries that may result from trench work.

Types of Injuries

Working in underground trenches can bring workers into contact with many different hazards. One of the most obvious is the possibility of the trench collapsing, which can cause broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, and even death. However, there are other dangers as well. Workers digging trenches must be careful to avoid utility lines like gas pipes or electricity. If the company or the city did not properly inform the workers of the line’s placement, the workers could be at risk for electrocution or injuries from explosions. Additionally, trenches and similar underground work areas often suffer from poor ventilation. Without proper care to ensure fresh air for workers, they run the risk of suffocation.

OSHA Standards

Because of these many dangers from trench work, OSHA has produced a set of regulations that govern what steps companies should take to ensure the safety of their workers. In addition to preventing accidents before they happen, the regulations can also be useful in lawsuits for demonstrating that a third party, like a subcontractor, acted unsafely when building the trench. Some common safety steps that OSHA requires include:

  • - The use of trench boxes to prevent wall collapses;
  • - Utility mapping and soil quality testing prior to excavation;
  • - Air quality tests to determine the levels of oxygen as well as certain poisonous gasses;
  • - Inspections of the stability of the trench following a rainstorm;
  • - Proper safety barricades surrounding trenches to prevent worker falls; and
  • - A prohibition on overhead work in the areas above trenches.

However, those steps are just some examples of the precautions set out in the OSHA regulations.

If you or a loved one has recently suffered an injury from a trench collapse or other construction work, contact a skilled Illinois personal injury attorney today. Our experienced team of lawyers works with clients in towns across the northwest suburbs, like Schaumburg, Mount Prospect, and Crystal Lake, to help them get the compensation that they deserve.

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.

Holiday Toy Safety: What Parents Should Know

Web Admin - Wednesday, December 04, 2013

With the holiday season getting into full swing, many parents will soon comb the aisles of toy stores looking for the perfect children’s toys. However, parents should keep in mind that not all toys are safe for all children, and some purchases can result in serious harm to their child. Fortunately, the government and public interest groups make many toy safety resources available, so that parents can get some peace of mind by educating themselves about the dangers of unsafe toys.

Potential Toy Dangers

Children’s toys can present a wide variety of dangers, some obvious, others less so. For instance, sharp edges or points and choking hazards, such as small parts or strings, are common concerns for parents. The government even banned the use of small parts in toys for children under three years old. But, despite this attempt towards prevention, many toys with small parts still make it onto store shelves every year. Doctors recommend that parents take care around any toy with parts that can fit through a toilet paper roll. Additionally, parents should take extra care around small magnets, which often present choking hazards, but may not be regulated as strictly if they come in unusual shapes.

Unfortunately, parents cannot detect all toy dangers so easily. Some toys may contain unacceptably high levels of toxic chemicals that can harm children. Lead is a common hazardous chemical that still finds its way into children’s toys. Though the government attempts to limit the amount of lead in any toy to 100 parts per million (ppm), a report by the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) found one toy containing 29 times that amount of lead. Other toys could present noise hazards, which the government does not regulate as heavily. These toys, which produce sounds in excess of 85 decibels, can harm children’s ears and lead to hearing loss in some cases.

Safety Resources

Fortunately, many groups publish toy safety guides or lists of harmful toys, like the PIRG report above, that concerned parents can use to learn more about the dangers. The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), puts out many of these guides, including some focusing on specific types of hazard or specific age groups. Additionally, the Illinois Attorney General’s office also publishes a safe shopping guide.

Legal Assistance

If your child sustained an injury playing with an unsafe toy, contact an experienced Arlington Heights personal injury attorney today. Our knowledge can you receive compensation for the injury of your child. We serve many northwest suburban areas including Crystal Lake, Palatine, Chicago, Inverness, and other nearby communities.

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