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  • Commute Strategically and Reduce Car Accidents

    If you live in the suburbs, unless you’re fortunate enough to have a job located near your home, then commuting is a way of life for you. For many, commuting can be a hassle at best and dangerous at worst. When drivers are faced with traffic congestion during their daily commutes, they can become easily frustrated and take risks, leading to unnecessary car accidents. Fortunately, there are tools that have been developed to help make your commute safer and easier. First, there’s IBM’s 2011 Commuter Pain study, the results of which were released last month.The study’s goal was to assess the factors that attributed to commuter stress and to rank large cities based upon the findings.  An excerpt from the IBM press release describes the results of the 2011 study and the risks of commuting in a city that ranks high on the stress index: In many cities, the survey recorded significant increases, when compared with last year, in the number of respondents who said that roadway traffic has increased their levels of personal stress and anger and negatively affected their performance at work or school. “Commuting doesn’t occur in a vacuum,” said Naveen Lamba, IBM’s global intelligent transportation expert. “A person’s emotional response to the daily commute is colored by many factors – pertaining both to traffic congestion as well as to other, unrelated, issues. This year’s Global Commuter Pain survey indicates that drivers in cities around the world are much more unsettled and anxious compared with 2010.” Fortunately for Chicago, Illinois drivers, the city is one of the best large cities in which to commute, coming in ahead of only London and Montreal. Also useful for commuters is a new tool released by Audi, the Road Frustration Index, which measures, in real time, the frustration levels of commuters in cities across America. This post from Fast Company explains how the levels are calculated: (T)he Index takes four different factors into account: a weather index that weighs events based on driver visibility and weather severity, traffic (distance, time spent in delays), sentiment (searching for key words on Twitter like “traffic jam”), and road incidents. Hopefully commuters will be able to use this information to ascertain the mood of other drivers on the road before setting out on on their morning commute. Perhaps having this information available to them will encourage commuters to drive more carefully and will likewise assist[READ MORE…]

  • Illinois Court Addresses Expert Testimony in Auto Defect Case

    Is the plaintiff required to offer expert testimony in an Illinois automobile products liability design defect case? In a recent case from the United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit, the plaintiffs asserted that expert testimony was not required to prove their claim that a 1993 Ford Explorer  was defectively designed and overturned easily because the vehicle’s design was unstable. In that case, Show v. Ford Motor Company, Nos. 10–2428, 10–2637, the Illinois plaintiffs were injured when the Ford Explorer that they were traveling in overturned after being involved in a traffic collision that occurred at while the vehicle was traveling at low speeds. The Court noted that there were two methods of proof available to plaintiff’s in a design defect case: 1) the consumer-expectations test and 2) the risk-utility or risk-benefit test. After analyzing relevant Illinois case law, the Court concluded that, contrary to the plaintiffs’ claims, in order to prevail on their design defect claim under the consumer-expectations approach, the plaintiffs were required to present expert evidence that the Ford Explorer failed to perform up to the safety expectations of an ordinary consumer. The Court explained that regardless of the method of proof pursued by the plaintiff, expert testimony was required: If, as plaintiffs concede, it takes expert evidence to establish a complex product’s unreasonable dangerousness through a risk-utility approach, it also takes expert evidence to establish a complex product’s unreasonable dangerousness through a consumer-expectations approach…Because consumer expectations are just one factor in the inquiry whether a product is unreasonably dangerous, a jury unassisted by expert testimony would have to rely on speculation…Design-defect litigation under Illinois law requires many additional questions to be resolved; consumers’ expectations are just factors “included within the scope of the broader risk-utility test” (231 Ill.2d at 555, 327 Ill.Dec. 1, 901 N.E.2d 329); and the absence of expert evidence on these additional subjects, some of which we have mentioned, is fatal to plaintiffs’ suit. In other words, the bottom line for plaintiff’s attorneys in an Illinois product liability design defect case is that it’s always a good idea to produce an expert to prove your case.And, the failure to do so could result in the dismissal of your client’s case. 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.

  • Proper Child Car Seat Installation Isn’t Always Easy

    Car seats provide children, the most vulnerable of passengers, with much-needed extra protection in the event of a car accident. However, when they’re not installed correctly, car seats don’t protect children the way that they are designed to. And, unfortunately, according to a recent study, many parents continue to have difficulties installing car seats properly. The New York Times blog recently discussed the study, which was conducted to determine the effectiveness of car seats. The study was based on examinations of 79,000 inspections of car seats installed by parents of children. According to the study results, the top tethers of forward facing car sets were used only 2/3 of the time and even when the tethers were being used, only 59% of the tethers were being used properly. The failure to use the tethers is important because the top tether straps, when used correctly, greatly limit a child’s movement in the event of a car crash, thus reducing the child’s injuries. As explained in the New York Times blog post, there are a number of resources available for parents to assist them with proper car seat installation: Guidelines can be found on the Safe Kids USA Web site or on the Web site for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Car-seat checkups are being conducted throughout National Child Passenger Safety Week, Sept. 18 to 24. Click here to find one of the more than 400 scheduled checkup events. If you’re a parent, it would be a good idea to take advantage of these free resources. Car accidents are the leading cause of death for children aged 3-14, so any steps that you can take to protect your children would be more than worthwhile. 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.

  • Should truckers be banned from using cell phones?

    The National Transportation Safety Board recently recommended that commercial truck drivers be banned from using cell phones while driving. A horrific car accident that occurred in Kentuckyin 2010  was the impetus behind the recommendation. In that case, a trucker who was believed to have been talking on his cell phone at the time of the accident, crossed the left lane of Interstate 65, crossed a 65 foot wide median, drove through a cable barrier system, entered the opposite lane of traffic, and collided head on with a van carrying 12 people, killing 10 people. As explained in this article from Truckinginfo.com, the ban is recommended because of the extreme dangers presented when an 18-wheeler crashes, but not everyone agrees with the proposed ban: “Distracted driving is becoming increasingly prevalent, exacerbating the danger we encounter daily on our roadways,” said Deborah Hersman, NTSB chairman. “It can be especially lethal when the distracted driver is at the wheel of a vehicle that weighs 40 tons and travels at highway speeds”… Cell phone distraction and regulation has been a hot topic recently in the industry. Texting was successfully banned last year, and hand-held cell phone use is expected to be banned later this year. While texting rules were accepted largely universally, other proposed bans have received mixed reactions from the industry. The NTSB’s report on the incident and its recommendations can be found here. Unfortunately, the NTSB cannot enforce the recommendations since it has no power to enact rules. Rather, its function is simply to advise other agencies and provide them with the tools and data needed to enact appropriate regulations. That means it’s up to the individual states and other agencies to actually enact the recommended rules, thus reducing the number of car accidents and making our roadways safer for everyone who uses them. The Ankin Law Firm is committed to reducing the number of accidents caused by distracted driving. Please take a pledge not to drive while texting and get a chance to win a new Flip video camera. 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 NTSB Backs Transportation Dept.’s Trucker Phone Ban (phonescoop.com) Board Urges Cellphone Ban for All Commercial Drivers (nytimes.com)

  • Safety Innovations for Cars

    Will new found innovations make cars smarter and safer? Perhaps. And given how frequently car accidents occur and how serious the injuries can be, it’s never a bad idea to make automobiles safer. In the past, we discussed how the National Highway Transportation Safety Association was behind a push to have black boxes installed in all cars, much like the black boxes found on airplanes. These devices provide valuable feedback after an accident occurs. But what about safety innovations that will help protect passengers in a vehicle involved in a crash? The Chicago Tribune explored a number of new motor vehicle safety innovations in a recent article. As detailed in the article, these new features include: Active head restraints Adaptive cruise control Daytime running lights and Xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights Lane departure warning systems Occupant personalization Smarter seat belts Tire pressure monitoring systems Telematics Traction control As explained in the article: “Whether lights, cameras, sensors, seats or belts, even the most advanced of current technologies are designed and built, more or less, to save us from ourselves.” This is an astute observation, since one of the most dangerous things that most of us do on a daily basis is ride in a car. Car accidents are extremely common and can cause life threatening injuries, and yet, as a society, we’ve decided that the risks of traveling in a car are worth it. In other words, the convenience of being able to travel quickly and efficiently o our destination trump the very likely risks of being involved in a car accident. Of course, even though we’ve accepted the risks inherent in traveling in an automobile, it doesn’t mean that doing so should be a dangerous proposition. So it’s good to see that more innovative safety features are being added to cars to reduce the risks of injury to occupants. After all, as the old saying goes: better safe than sorry. 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.

  • Chicago Ranks Low in “Safest Driving City” Report

    If you’re a Chicago resident who drives a car, you can expect to get into a car accident every 7.7 years according to a report recently released by Allstate Insurance Company. And, your likelihood of being involved in an accident is 30% higher than the national average. In other words, buckle up, Chicagoans! The report, the “Allstate America’s Best Drivers Report,” was released in the beginning of September. You can view the full report here. The report ranks the top 200 largest U.S. cities by rates of car collisions in order to identify the cities with the safest driving records. Fort Collins, Colorado came in first, making it the safest city for drivers. Chicago came in in the bottom 50 at 157th. Not exactly the best news, but an improvement from last year’s ranking of 167. But, Chicago motorists–don’t despair! As explained in this Chicago CBSlocal.com article, with a bit of effort on the part of Chicago drivers, the city’s ranking can improve: “We don’t want drivers in Chicago to be discouraged by their ranking. Instead, we want the report to challenge drivers in Chicago to make positive changes to their driving habits that will in turn make the city a safer place to live, work and raise families,” Judith Dodd, Allstate Territory Sales Leader in Illinois, said in a news release. Allstate advised motorists to begin following safe driving tips – minimize distractions such as cell phone use or even changing the radio station, being aware of road conditions and inclement weather, leaving a safe distance between your car and others, steering clear of road range, and maintaining the condition of your car. Although Chicago’s ranking isn’t exactly impressive, according to the report, just by virtue of its large population, the city is bound to have a higher rate of accidents since drivers in U.S. cities with populations of more than one million people are more likely than the national average to experience a collision. So, it’s not all bad news. But, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to heed the safety advice discussed above: reduce distractions, drive safely and keep your eyes on the road. That way, maybe next year Chicago will not only fare better in the rankings, but there will be fewer Chicago car accidents and the city will be a safer city for Chicago drivers, passengers and pedestrians. Howard Ankin of Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles [READ MORE…]

  • Lawyer Sues Alleging Article About Brachial Plexus Injuries is False

    The Day on Torts blog reports of an interesting lawsuit filed by Massachusetts attorney Kenneth Levine. In the lawsuit,  Gorbey v. American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, No. 1:11-CV- 11259-NMG (pending in the U. S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts), Levine alleges that the authors of a medical article about brachial plexus injuries that was published in the OB-GYN Journal knowingly relied on a false case report as the basis for the article. Brachial plexus injuries are described at the National Institute of Health’s website as follows: The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that conducts signals from the spine to the shoulder, arm, and hand. Brachial plexus injuries are caused by damage to those nerves. Symptoms may include a limp or paralyzed arm; lack of muscle control in the arm, hand, or wrist; and a lack of feeling or sensation in the arm or hand…In infants, brachial plexus injuries may happen during birth if the baby’s shoulder is stretched during passage in the birth canal… This lawsuit is significant because the article in question is being used to support the claim that this type of injury can occur without any action on the part of a physician. In the article, the authors conclude that a brachial plexus injury can occur in the absence of physician interference, basing their conclusions on what they purport is the “first unambiguous  case of a baby born vaginally  without  physician traction, and even without the occurrence of shoulder dystocia, that resulted in a permanent brachial  plexus  injury.” However, as explained above, Levine alleges in the lawsuit that this claim is based on a case report regarding a birth that the authors of the article knew contained false information. Specifically, it is alleged that one author of the article, who was actually involved in the birth upon which the case report was based, later admitted during a deposition that she did in fact use downward traction during the delivery described in the case report and the labor and delivery notes of that birth also indicate that shoulder dystocia was present as well. Furthermore, it is claimed that the other co-author admitted while testifying during an Illinois medical malpractice lawsuit that he did not read the labor and delivery notes before authoring the case report. In the lawsuit, Levine claims that the corporate defendants, including the magazine’s publisher, were made aware of the inaccuracies in[READ MORE…]

  • Illinois–In the Minority On Helmet Laws

    It’s a contentious issue for many bikers–whether states should be able to require motorcyclists to wear helmets. For them, it’s an issue of personal choice and freedom. But there are many other interests at stake. For insurers, it’s an issue of money and for the states regulating helmet use, it’s an issue of public safety. More than half of the states have some form of mandatory helmet requirement, as explained in this FOX-business article, and motorcyclists required to wear helmets aren’t happy about it: Twenty states and the District of Columbia require all riders to wear helmets, with 27 states requiring them for some cyclists, usually those 17 or younger (here’s a state by state breakdown, courtesy of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)… Most have been around for decades and maintain one principle: No government or agency has the right to dictate safety gear. “The very nature of riding a motorcycle is a feeling of freedom,” Paul Williams of the Helena, Mont., ABATE chapter told USA Today. “People who ride motorcycles tend to be a lot more sensitive about losing their freedoms. Disgruntled bikers regularly hold protests in opposition to the helmet laws and during a recent protest this summer in Upstate New York, a rider participating lost control of his bike and was thrown over the handle bars. He later died and, according to doctors, would have survived had he been wearing a helmet, as explained in this Syracuse.com article: State police said he would have survived had he been wearing a helmet, a conclusion they said was reached by the doctor at SUNY Upstate who pronounced Contos dead. The cause of death was “blunt force injuries of the head and chest, “ according to the Onondaga County Medical Examiner’s Office, based on an external examination with X-rays. Only three states have not enacted any helmet law regulation: Illinois, New Hampshire and Iowa. So, for now, Illinois motorcyclists are free to ride without helmets. For them, it’s a matter of assessing the risks, which include the possibility of serious or fatal head injuries if involved in an accident, and then deciding for themselves whether the sense of freedom is worth the very real risk of serious personal injury. 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.  

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    Our firm handles workers' compensation and personal injury claims in Chicago, Berwyn, Joliet, Cicero, Waukegan, Chicago Heights, Elgin, Aurora, Oak Park, Oak Lawn, Schaumburg, Bolingbrook, Glendale Heights, Aurora, Niles, Schaumburg, Arlington Heights, Naperville, Plainfield and all of Cook, DuPage, Lake, Will, McHenry, LaSalle, Kankakee, McLean and Peoria Counties.