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  • Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation Round Up

    Here’s what other personal injury and workers’ compensation lawyers have been talking about over the past few weeks: Are Congress’s Med Mal Reform Efforts Unconstitutional? (TortsProfBlog) North Carolina Proposes to Reduce Worker Benefits and Abolish Privacy Rights (Workers’ Compensation Law Blog) The value of a human life and damage caps (Tort Deform) Corporate America Discovers Its Inner Plaintiffs’ Lawyer (Wall Street Journal Law Blog) New Study Reports Link Between Brain Injury and Depression(Brain Injury Lawyer blog) Howard Ankin of Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles  workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. Mr. Ankin can be reached at (312) 346-8780 and howard@ankinlaw.com.

  • NTSB focuses on deadly truck and bus accidents

    Last week, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) convened a 2-day panel focusing on ways to reduce truck and bus accidents. Participating in the discussion were federal regulators, safety experts and representatives from both the truck and bus industries. One of the goals of the panel was to examine the trends relating to truck and bus accidents and discuss ways to reduce the number of accidents. Another area of focus was safety recommendations for buses and trucks. Many recommendations have been made in the past to reduce the frequency of accidents and the injuries that occur in the unfortunate event of an accident. Unfortunately, many of the recommendations have not been acted upon and buses and trucks are still lacking safety features regularly found in automobiles, as explained in this article: The NTSB has been pushing for years for stronger bus roofs that won’t crush in rollover accidents, better emergency exits, better fire protection and windows that prevent passengers from being ejected. They also want trucks and buses to have some of the safety technology that’s available on many cars and on buses in other countries. That includes electronic stability control to prevent rollovers, adaptive cruise control that automatically adjusts speed to traffic, warning systems that alert drivers when they’re drifting into another lane, and warning systems that alert drivers to an impeding collision. Bus and truck accidents are a very serious problem and oftentimes result in serious injuries or death. Although some of the recommended changes may be costly to implement, the failure to do so will result in the unnecessary loss of life. For the safety of everyone on the road, let’s hope that some of the recommended safety regulations are enacted. Howard Ankin of Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles  workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. Mr. Ankin can be reached at (312) 346-8780 and howard@ankinlaw.com.   Related articles Panel to focus on deadly truck, bus accidents (seattletimes.nwsource.com) Fatal Bus Accidents Renew Interest in Safety Bill (abcnews.go.com) Congress to renew talk of bus safety regulations following fatal accidents, including one in N.J. (nj.com) ‘Technology does exist’ to make buses safer, NTSB chief says (washingtontimes.com)

  • Food advertising aimed at kids is on center stage

    Earlier this year we predicted that in 2011 there will be increasing backlash against fast food, particularly when marketing it toward children. By way of example, we cited the recently enacted San Francisco ban of McDonald’s Happy Meals. Shortly thereafter, we posted about a class action lawsuit that had been filed in California wherein it was claimed that McDonald’s encouraged childhood obesity by enticing children to eat unhealthy meals via its Happy Meals. Since then, the Wall Street Journal reports that the fast food industry is fighting back by lobbying for the enactment of regulations that would prevent local governments from passing laws anti-“Happy Meal” laws. As explained in the WSJ post, Arizona has already enacted legislation of this type and Florida may soon follow: A law similar to Arizona’s is now pending in the Florida legislature, Reuters reports, adding that the fast food industry justifies such legislation on the grounds that it would prevent restaurants from being subject to myriad, conflicting local marketing standards. However, as reported in this New York Times post, the Federal Trade Commission is moving in the opposite direction and recently passed “sweeping guidelines” intended to encourage the fast food industry to change the way that it advertises its products to children. The guidelines are not mandatory but are intended to take a stab at reducing childhood obesity by strongly encouraging the fast food industry to act more responsibly when it advertises to children: The guidelines were created at the request of Congress and written by the commission, the Food and Drug Administration, the Agriculture Department and the Centers for Disease Control. Regulators said they would take comments and consider changes before submitting a final report to Congress. The guidelines call for foods that are advertised to children to meet two basic requirements. They would have to include certain healthful ingredients, like whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, or low-fat milk. And they could not contain unhealthful amounts of sugar, saturated fat, trans fat and salt. If the guidelines are enacted, it will certainly be a step in the right direction. Obesity is a huge problem and the habits that form the building block of this societal issue start in childhood. Anything that can be done to encourage children to engage in more health eating habits is a good thing. For the future of our children, let’s hope these regulations are ultimately enacted. Howard Ankin[READ MORE…]

  • Court upholds jury award in Illinois personal injury case

    The Appellate Court of Illinois, First District, recently upheld a jury verdict in a personal injury action arising from a car accident that resulted in serious injuries to the plaintiff. In Estate of Ogelsby v. Berg, No. 1-09-0639, the plaintiff, who was 60 years old at the time of the accident, was injured when the vehicle that she was driving was struck by a van driven by an employee of the defendant. She was taken to the hospital with multiple injuries, including a head injury that was caused when her face hit the windshield. Mrs. Oglesby was suffering from cancer at the time of her accident and later, prior to trial, died because of the cancer. As a result, her husband testified on behalf of her Estate at trial, explaining that she experienced pain as a result of her injuries. As a result of the pain, she took medication and required his assistance to perform ordinary tasks in her home. Following trial, the jury awarded her $47,200.20 for pain and suffering and damages for loss of normal life. The defendants appealed, seeking, among other things, a 50% reduction in damages. The Court refused to grant the defendant’s request and upheld the jury’s verdict, explaining that the testimony at trial supported the verdict: In reviewing an award of compensatory damages for a nonfatal injury, we may consider, among other things, the permanency of the condition, the possibility of future deterioration, the extent of the medical expenses and restrictions imposed as a result of the injury. Richardson v. Chapman, 175 Ill.2d 98, 113–14, 221 Ill.Dec. 818, 676 N.E.2d 621 (1997)… As Mrs. Oglesby was deceased at the time of trial, the evidence of her pain and suffering and loss of a normal life was presented through the testimony of Dr. Silverman and Mr. Oglesby. Through Dr. Silverman’s testimony, the jury learned that, as a result of the accident, Mrs. Oglesby sustained neck and back injuries, which required treatment. She also had been prescribed medication for her pain. Although her treatments ceased in October 1998, she continued to see Dr. Silverman, periodically, until October 1999. Through Mr. Oglesby’s testimony, the jury learned that, prior to the accident, Mrs. Oglesby lived and maintained her residence on her own. After the accident, Mr. Oglesby moved in with her to care for her as she was no longer able to perform household tasks. According to Mr.[READ MORE…]

  • Social media as evidence in personal injury cases

    Social media is increasingly being used as evidence in many different types of legal proceedings, including criminal matters, divorce proceedings and even personal injury lawsuits. Social media can be a great resource in many types of cases and provides a wealth of information for personal injury lawyers. Of course, it’s a double edged sword, since it can also provide opposing counsel with useful evidence that can be used against personal injury plaintiffs. Because social media is a relatively new phenomenon, courts around the country are just beginning to address the issues encountered when lawyers attempt to use evidence obtained from social media in support of their case. For example, the Maryland Injury Lawyer blog recently discussed a decision from the Maryland Court of Appeals that addressed the issue of how to authenticate at trial evidence obtained from social media sites. At issue in Griffen v. State was whether the State properly authenticated a Facebook profile and comment by simply eliciting testimony from a police officer whereby he confirmed that the person’s date of birth and photo as they appeared on Facebook matched her actual date of birth and appearance. The court concluded that his testimony alone was insufficient: The potential for abuse and manipulation of a social networking site by someone other than its purported creator and/or user leads to our conclusion that a printout of an image from such a site requires a greater degree of authentication than merely identifying the date of birth of the creator and her visage in a photograph on the site in order to reflect that Ms. Barber was its creator and the author of the “snitches get stitches” language… The court likewise suggested a number of ways to go about properly authenticating social media evidence, such as eliciting testimony from the person alleged to have created the data at issue, searching the hard drive of the computer of the person alleged to have created the data at issue or obtain information from the social media platform where the comment was posted. All in all, it’s an interesting issue and is further evidence that social media sites are likely to be of ever increasing importance to personal injury attorneys in the months and years to come. Howard Ankin of Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles  workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. Mr. Ankin can be reached at (312) 346-8780 and howard@ankinlaw.com.

  • Illinois Court on Snow Removal Contractor’s Liability For Slip & Fall

    If an employee slips and falls on snow and ice that accumulated outside of a building at which she worked, who is liable for the injuries? Does the snow removal contractor bear some responsibility? In March, the Appellate Court of Illinois, First District, addressed that very question in Williams v. Sebert Landscape Company,  No. 1–10–1794. In Williams,the personal injury plaintiff was injured when she walked out of her place of employment, the post office. As she walked across the parking lot, towards her car, she slipped and fell on a patch of ice.  She alleged that the ice had accumulated from a melted runoff from a pile of snow left in the middle of the lot a few days earlier by the snow removal contractor. The Court explained that Sebert, the snow removal contractor, owed the plaintiff the duty of care owed in an ordinary negligence case, since it did not have the power to control over the property by excluding people from entering the property and thus did not stand in the shoes of the owner of the property: Nothing in the record indicates that Sebert intended to exert control over the parking lot in any way…(and therefore)  Williams had to establish ordinary negligence and not the heightened standard for an owner-occupier…(Accordingly)  (i)f Sebert had negligently plowed the parking lot at the Busse Highway property and that negligence was the proximate cause of Williams’ injury, then Sebert is liable. Accordingly, the Court concluded that the trial court improperly held the plaintiff to a higher standard of proof in respect to Sebert and remanded the matter back to the trial court for a new trial. This was a good decision for the plaintiff since she had already settled with the owner and this decision also gave her a second bite at the apple in regard to the proving Sebert’s liability. Howard Ankin of Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles  workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. Mr. Ankin can be reached at (312) 346-8780 and howard@ankinlaw.com.

  • After the Supreme Court’s AT&T Ruling, Are Consumer Class Actions Dead?

    According to many sources, the United State’s Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling in the Concepcion v. AT&T decision is anything but favorable for consumers. The decision allows corporations to ban class actions by using the mandatory arbitration clauses that are now found in most contracts for the delivery of goods and services. In essence, the Court concluded that  the Federal Arbitration Act barred states from protecting residents from the arbitration clauses. As explained in a recent Wall Street Journal Law Blog post, Vanderbilt Law Professor Brian Fitzpatrick has predicted that this outcome could result in the end of the consumer class action: (T)he consequences could be staggering. It could be the end of class action litigation. . . . [V]irtually all class actions today occur between parties who are in transactional relationships with one another: shareholders and corporations, consumers and merchants, employees and employers. Because they are in transactional relationships, they are able to enter arbitration agreements with class action waivers. Once given the green light, it is hard to imagine any company would not want its shareholders, consumers and employees to agree to such provisions. In other words, this is anything but a consumer-friendly decision. Fortunately, there is the small chance of a light at the end of the tunnel. As explained in this PopTort blog post, a number of Democrat senators are introducing legislation that would overrule the effects of the decision in Concepcion: “U.S. Sens. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) said today they plan to introduce legislation next week that would restore consumers’ rights to seek justice in the courts. Their bill, called the Arbitration Fairness Act, would eliminate forced arbitration clauses in employment, consumer, and civil rights cases, and would allow consumers and workers to choose arbitration after a dispute occurred.” Let’s hope that this bill become legislation. Otherwise, the consumer class action, one of the best tools available to consumers seeking to fight corporate wrongdoing, may be a thing of the past. Howard Ankin of Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles  workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. Mr. Ankin can be reached at (312) 346-8780 and howard@ankinlaw.com. Related articles Supremes Uphold Arbitral Class-Action Waivers (lawprofessors.typepad.com) Supreme Court rules in favor of AT&T in arbitration case (intomobile.com) Supreme Court: AT&T can force arbitration, block class-action suits (arstechnica.com)

  • New California Rental Car Recall Bill First of its Kind

    In past posts, we’ve reported that rental car agencies regularly lease recalled cars without fixing the underlying safety issue behind the recall. There have been a number of attempts to fix this problem. First, in August of 2010, two consumer groups filed a joint petition with the FTC, asking that the FTC investigate the situation and require that Enterprise Rent-a-Car, one of the largest car rental agencies in the U.S., refrain from renting cars  that are subject to safety recalls  and have not yet been repaired. And then, in March of this year, Senator Charles Schumer introduced federal legislation that would require rental agencies to immediately remove from circulation all recalled cars. Once fixed, the cars would then be able to be rented again. Now, the State of California is taking a stab at remedying this troubling situation. As reported in this CBS San Francisco article, last week the California Assembly passed a bill aimed at reducing the number of recalled rental cars on the road: One house of the California Legislature on Thursday narrowly approved the nation’s first law to force rental car companies to pull vehicles off the road after a safety recall… The Assembly passed the bill Thursday on a 42-26 vote, one more than the simple majority needed. It now goes to the Senate. As has been the case elsewhere, rental car agencies strongly opposed the legislation. However, despite their disagreement with this bill, it simply makes sense to require rental car agencies to keep recalled cars off the road. Safety should always trump the convenience and profit of rental car agencies. Hopefully, this legislation and the other measures that we’ve discussed in the past will be passed, automobile accidents involving recalled rental cars will be prevented and lives will be saved. Howard Ankin of Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles  workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. Mr. Ankin can be reached at (312) 346-8780 and howard@ankinlaw.com. Related articles NY bill would end leasing of rental cars in recall (seattletimes.nwsource.com) Calif. Assembly approves rental car recall bill (sfgate.com) Schumer Demands Fix to ‘Dangerous’ Rental Car Loophole (abcnews.go.com) Calif. bill targets rental cars subject to recalls (seattletimes.nwsource.com)

  • Seasonal Jobs and Workers’ Compensation

    With the warm weather and summer approaching, there will be many “seasonal jobs” springing up. The question that can arise is can you be compensated by Workers’ Compensation if you are injured on the job as a “seasonal worker” whose “average weekly wage” is different from full-time workers who are not considered “seasonal employees?”

  • Work Place Fights Are A Common Occurrence

    Work place fights are a common occurrence. The question that commonly comes up is whether or not you can receive workers’ compensation for injuries sustained in a fight at the workplace. There is no simple answer as each claim has its own particular facts such as was there neglect by the employer, or a hostile work environment. All of the answers to these questions are taken into account when assessing this type of claim.

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