Recovering Compensation for Construction Accidents Involving Falls

Web Admin - Wednesday, May 09, 2018
Palatine construction accident injury lawyerConstruction sites are dangerous environments, and it is important for employers, contractors, and construction workers to follow proper procedures to protect everyone’s safety. However, construction accidents occur for a variety of reasons, and they can often result in serious injuries. 

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), falls are the leading cause of death in construction accidents, accounting for 370 fatalities in 2016. Workers injured in construction accidents involving falls should be sure to understand their options for receiving compensation for their damages. 

Workers’ Compensation for Construction Site Falls

When an employee is injured in the course of their job, they are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, regardless of who was at fault for the injury. These benefits will cover the costs of medical treatment for a worker’s injuries, and a worker may also receive disability benefits that compensate them for lost income due to temporary or permanent impairment to their ability to continue working. In fatal construction accidents, a worker’s surviving family members can receive workers’ compensation death benefits, including ongoing payments to make up for the family’s lost income, along with compensation for expenses related to the deceased person’s funeral and burial.

Third-Party Liability for Personal Injuries

Construction site fall injuries can occur for a variety of reasons, including defective equipment (such as ladders or scaffolding), inadequate employee training, or failure to use the proper safety measures or follow the correct procedures. When a worker is injured because of this type of negligence, they may be able to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the liable parties and receive compensation for their injuries. 

A personal injury claim may be brought against all parties responsible for an injury, such as the manufacturer of defective equipment or subcontractors who did not follow the correct safety procedures. A third party-liability claim not only allows an injured person to pursue financial damages, but they may also be able to recover compensation for the pain and suffering they and their family have experienced. 

Contact a Schaumburg Personal Injury Lawyer

Injuries that occur as the result of falls at a construction site can be devastating, affecting a worker’s health and well-being and their ability to earn an income for years to come. If you have suffered a construction site injury, the attorneys of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC can work with you to ensure that you receive the proper workers’ compensation benefits, and we can help you understand your options for pursuing a third-party liability claim. Contact an Arlington Heights construction accident attorney at 847-934-6000 to schedule a personalized 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.


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.

Automated Cars, Legal Liability, and Trolley Problems

Web Admin - Tuesday, March 17, 2015

driverless car liability, Rolling Meadows car acciddent lawyerAlthough driverless cars were squarely in the realm of science fiction until recently, Google and other companies are moving towards making them a reality at a surprisingly rapid pace. As beneficial as these cars may prove to be, there are also concerns about them from a legal standpoint. One of the major issues is the question of who the law should hold responsible in the event of a traffic accident. There are also separate concerns about legal liability and ethics when driverless cars face difficult decisions, such as in the famous Trolley Problem.

General Liability Issues

One of the biggest legal issues related to driverless cars is the question of liability for accidents. With ordinary cars, liability is usually limited to one of the drivers, but that system would not work with driverless cars for obvious reasons. Many people's first instinct is to place liability on the company that makes the car. However, there are a variety of issues with that. First, it is possible that the accident with a driverless car was not the result of error by the manufacturer, but a problem with upkeep on the part of the owner. If the car's owner did not keep it properly maintained and that resulted in an accident, it would be unusual to put liability on the car's manufacturer. Beyond that, placing that much possible liability on the company could potentially cripple the development of the driverless cars.

The other competing theory is to treat driverless cars much like we treat cars now, and require people to insure them. This would remove liability from the possibly innocent owners, but it would come at the cost of increasing how expensive driverless cars are.

The Trolley Problem

A related issue is the question of how driverless cars would deal with the Trolley Problem. The Trolley Problem is an ethical dilemma in which a person is standing at a railroad switch, and they see a train coming. They know the train is going to hit five people on its current track, but the person at the switch has the option to throw the switch, sending it down a different track and only killing one person. Although it is an ethical dilemma, it may have important legal ramifications.

For instance, suppose a child darts out in front of a driverless car, and the car’s only option to avoid the child is to crash into something else, likely injuring the passengers. The car would need to make that decision, and definitely injure either the child or the passengers. The law would then need to determine whether the victim of the car's decision would have a claim against the manufacturer.

Although driverless car accidents are still a few years off, ordinary car accidents can still cause serious injuries. If you have recently been hurt in a car crash, contact an experienced Illinois personal injury attorney today. Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC serves clients in many northwest suburban towns, such as Rolling Meadows, Palatine, and Des Plaines. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

Shopping Hazard: Icy Parking Lots in Illinois

Web Admin - Thursday, January 16, 2014

By Ken Apicella

With winter back in full force in Chicago, shoppers should take care when walking to from their cars through the parking lots full of ice and snow. In fact, tens of thousands of people every year suffer serious injuries sustained from severe falls, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control. The law surrounding such falls is somewhat complex, and who bears the responsibility of paying for the injuries depends on the precise circumstances of the case.

A lawsuit relating to slipping and falling in an icy parking lot would be brought under an area of law known as “premises liability.” Premises liability means that people who own land and allow people onto it have a duty to use reasonable care to ensure that people on their land do not come to harm. However, ice and snow pose something of a special case since Illinois has something known as the “natural accumulation” rule.

The natural accumulation rule states that property owners are not liable for those who slip and fall on the snow, provided they did not alter it in some way. For instance, suppose that it snows 11 inches and a person decides to go shopping. If the store chooses to do nothing about the snowfall and the patron slips, then the store would probably not owe them money, barring some sort of special circumstances. However, if the store plowed their parking lot, and the patron hurt themselves climbing over a mound of snow left by the snow plow, then the store would owe them for the injury. Incidentally, under Illinois law, laying down salt in an effort to prevent ice does not count as altering the snow enough to make a store liable for it.

Stores may also be liable for falls sustained in icy parking lots with “underlying defects.” An underlying defect is a problem with the premises that may exacerbate the issues of ice or snow. Improper lighting is a common type of underlying defect. If a store fails to light its parking lot well enough and a person suffers a fall in the treacherous, icy conditions because they could not see well, then they could have a case against the store.

Furthermore, parties who have agreed to remove snow may also potentially be liable for a shopper’s injuries in a fall. If the company that owns a mall promises the stores in the mall that it will clear the snow, and then fails to do so, the mall could be liable to a shopper who slips. This could even be true if the shopper falls in a natural accumulation of snow

Were you recently injured by slipping and falling in an icy parking lot? If so, contact a Rolling Meadows personal injury attorney today. We serve many areas in the northwest suburbs including Barrington, Buffalo Grove, and Schaumburg.

Common Work Accidents in Industrial Plants

James Speers - Friday, December 20, 2013

By Ken Apicella

847 934 6000



Workers in industrial plants often receive safety training, and most plants take precautions to prevent accidents from happening. Still, industrial accidents do occur, and workers would do well to stay aware of common hazards in their environment. Some of the most common accidents that occur in industrial plants involve explosions or asphyxiation. In fact, the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board attributes hundreds of deaths and injuries to these types of accidents since 1980.

Explosions in Industrial Plants

Industrial plants are often full of reactive chemicals and hazardous machinery. Unfortunately, those two things often place workers at risk of harm from explosions. Though explosions come in many different forms and have many different causes, some of the most common are pressure vessel explosions, chemical explosions, and combustible dust explosions.

Pressure vessel explosions happen when a gas starts to build up in a sealed tank. This can happen through heating or through an ongoing chemical reaction. Eventually, either due to overpressurization or a flaw in the tank, the vessel bursts, releasing a powerful shock wave and possibly hot vapor as well.

Chemical explosions differ in that they involve reactive chemicals rather than simple overpressurization. These explosions happen when a chemical reaction runs unchecked or a leak releases a flammable chemical, such as hydrogen, into the environment. Then a stray spark or other heat source ignites the chemical, causing an explosion.

The final type of explosion, combustible dust explosions, often happen in factories that produce fine powders, such as flour or sugar. If the company does not take care to properly ventilate the area and ensure a clean work environment, dust can build up in the air. Because fine dusts are often flammable, contact with a heat source can cause the entire cloud to explode.

Asphyxiation in Industrial Plants

Workers in chemical plants are also vulnerable to the hazard of asphyxiation. Though less common than explosions, the threat can be equally dangerous. Workers often asphyxiate in one of two ways. Either a gas leak releases a dangerous chemical into the room that causes suffocation, or the worker ends up in a cramped space for long periods, depriving them of oxygen.

Gas leaks can cause asphyxiation by affecting the concentration of oxygen in the air. Even the release of an ordinarily harmless gas like nitrogen can cause workers to suffocate if it saturates the air and deprives workers from taking in enough oxygen. 

If you or a loved one has been injured in a plant accident. Contact a Chicago personal injury lawyer today. We serve many northwest suburban areas including Barrington, Crystal Lake, Deer Park, and Rolling Meadows.

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