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  • Illinois Court On Summary Judgment in Pedestrian Accident Case

      In Merca v. Rhodes, No. 1-10-2234, the Appellate Court of Illinois, First District, considered the issue of whether the trial court properly granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant. This case arose from a serious accident which caused the death of 14 year old Cassandra Merca,  a pedestrian who had been hit by a car driven by the defendant. At the trial level, the defendant argued that she was not liable for the accident since the plaintiff’s actions contributed to the accident and there was nothing she could have done to avoid the accident. The defendant successfully argued that there were no issues of fact regarding whether she breached a duty or caused the accident, since she was operating her vehicle at speeds below the posted speed limit and thus the accident was unavoidable. The appellate court disagreed, noting that a driver has a duty to drive more carefully in a school zone: “Where children are known to be or may reasonably be expected to be in the vicinity, a degree of vigilance commensurate with the greater hazard created by their presence or probable presence is required of a driver of a motor vehicle to measure up to * * * ordinary care * * *.” Stowers, 29 Ill.App.2d at 64… The court then explained that although the plaintiff’s negligence may have contributed to the accident, the percentage of contributory negligence was an issue of fact for the jury to decide. The Court then applied Illinois law regarding summary judgment to the facts of the case, concluding that the trial court should not have entered summary judgment in favor of the defendant: The evidence that was presented in this case raises a factual question as the decedent’s percentage of contributory negligence and as to whether the defendant was operating her motor vehicle with ordinary care based on the fact that she knew a high school was in the area, and the wide ranges of speed that the witness testimony reveals she was traveling. A reasonable jury may differ as to whether the defendant was exercising the degree of care commensurate with the greater hazard created by the potential presence of children in the area. A reasonable jury may also differ as to whether it finds that the decedent’s death was a direct and proximate result of defendant’s negligence or as to the percentage of the decedent’s contributory negligence.[READ MORE…]

  • Insurance Industry Study Concludes 50% of Child Booster Seats Unsafe

      Car accidents are dangerous no matter who’s involved. But for children, the risks are even greater due to their smaller size. That’s why infant and children’s car seats are so important. They’re supposed to protect children from injuries and keep them safe from harm. Unfortunately, as we discussed in the past, current car seat testing is insufficient and it’s unclear whether children’s car seats are doing their job. And, now it seems that not only are there problems with car seats, but children’s booster seats are also failing to protect children from harm. An insurance industry group recently conducted a study of booster seats to determine how safe they really were. The results did not bode well for the safety of our children. According to a Poughkeepsie Journal article: Half of children’s car booster seats can’t ensure a proper fit with all safety belts, an insurance industry-funded safety group says in a report out today.The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said six were so bad that it recommended parents avoid them… Although IIHS says booster seats have improved in the three years it has been testing them, it is concerned that those requiring parents to check the fit still outnumber the good ones. Of 83 seats tested, 41 got a “check fit” rating because they don’t consistently fit well with belts and 37 were rated “best bets” or “good bets” by IIHS The 6 booster seats that failed to meet the Institute for Highway Safety’s standards are: the Evenflo Chase, Express, Generations 65 and Sightseer models and Safety 1st’s All-in-One and Alpha Omega Elite. Parents should check the booster seats currently being used by their children to ensure that they’re not using those particular seats. Safe car seats for children are so important and it’s disturbing that so many car seats on the market simply don’t protect children from serious injuries the way that they’re supposed to. This is especially upsetting since children are so vulnerable to serious injuries if involved in a car accident. Our kids deserve the best protection possible, and in many cases, they’re simply not getting it. 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.

  • Exploring Alternatives to Chicago’s “Parking Tax”

    Chicago’s 2012 budget was recently released and includes a newly proposed “parking tax” which is proving to be unpopular with many Chicagoans. In a Chicago Tribune article, the tax is described as follows: In the 2012 Chicago budget released last week, Emanuel proposed a “congestion premium” of $2 on every driver who parks in a public parking garage or lot on weekdays in downtown and in River North. Weekly parkers downtown who pay at least $60 at public garages and lots would face a congestion tax of $15 to $25, and the tax for monthly parkers who now pay $240 or more would range from $60 to $100…It’s a simple concept designed to generate $28 million annually for the CTA, according to City Hall. So, according to this plan, those who park downtown during the week will face new fees and taxes. The goal of the “parking tax” is to reduce downtown vehicle congestion and encourage Chicagoans to use public transport. While the goal is admirable, many question the unintended side effects of the new plan, including discouraging people from venturing into downtown Chicago for both work and entertainment purposes. A number of alternate plans have been suggested, including the option to imitate a parking fee plan currently being tested in San Francisco. The San Francisco plan shares similar goals to the Chicago plan, but accomplishes the goals using a variable pricing scheme. Instead of flat fees, the parking rates are modified every six weeks, based upon supply and demand. Drivers are encouraged to use real-time reports using their smart phones to check rates and parking availability, as explained in the Chicago Tribune article: San Francisco recently received a federal grant to test a robust variable-pricing plan at city-owned garages and meter spots in eight areas of the city. By using new parking technology and a flexible approach to pricing, the program is aimed at maximizing convenience for drivers while reducing pollution and attracting more people on to public transit and speeding up those trips…Real-time monitoring takes the guesswork out of finding parking…Drivers can go online, use an app on their smartphones or use text messages to check rates and available parking at a location. Rates are driven by parking data with a goal of achieving the proper level of open parking… Given the public outcry over the new parking rates, considering alternatives would be a wise choice. Encouraging the[READ MORE…]

  • Illinois Appellate Court on Snow Removal and Parking Lot Slip and Fall

    One type of personal injury lawsuit that is litigated quite frequently is a slip and fall case. In areas like Chicago, where there are long winters, snow and ice often accumulate on walkways and injuries can occur when someone slips and falls on a sidewalk outside of a business. In Hornacek v. 5th Avenue Property Management, No. 1-10-3502, that’s the exact scenario that resulted in a personal injury lawsuit. The plaintiff  alleged that as she was walking to her car, she was injured when she slipped and fell on snow and ice that had accumulated in a parking lot. She claimed that the defendants were liable because they failed to properly maintain the parking lot and allowed an unnatural accumulation of snow and ice in the parking lot, causing her to fall and sustain injuries. The issue on appeal was whether the plaintiff had offered sufficient proof to establish that the defendants allowed an unnatural accumulation of snow or ice to occur, as opposed to naturally occurring snow, and that the defendant’s were aware that the condition existed. Before examining that issue, the Appellate Court of Illinois, First District, explained the law in Illinois regarding a landowner’s duty to remove accumulating snow: In Illinois, a landowner will not be held liable for the failure to remove natural accumulations of snow or ice…A landowner is not responsible for injuries resulting from a natural accumulation of snow or ice that has been left undisturbed…A defendant cannot be held liable for injuries sustained unless a plaintiff shows that the defendant aggravated a natural condition or that the origin of the accumulation of ice, snow, or water was unnatural…If the landowner or a hired contractor creates an unnatural accumulation, then liability may attach as a result of failing to use ordinary care…The fact that snow has been cleared and that there are piles of snow present suggests that the snow piles are an unnatural accumulation… It is also the duty of the landowner to provide “a reasonably safe means of ingress and egress”…A party under contract with a landowner to remove snow or ice also bears a duty of reasonable care for the customers on the property…This court has held that for a plaintiff to recover in a slip-and-fall case involving ice, snow, or water, the plaintiff must show “that the accumulation of ice, snow or water is due to unnatural causes and that[READ MORE…]

  • Gadgets in Cars-Trendy, but Dangerous

    As mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets become increasingly ubiquitous, our culture is becoming more reliant on these tools. While they offer easy and fast access to information on the fly, the use of these technologies while driving cars can create dangerous situations for everyone on the road. Distracted driving is a big problem and if the trend of connecting cars to the Internet increases, it seems things are only going to get worse. Today, over at the New York Times blog, it was predicted that the next big boom in mobile devices will be those installed in vehicles: Cars, one of the great mobile devices to begin with, are about to get connected to the Internet like never before. It will change not just how we drive, but the economics of the car business. “Five percent of cars are connected today,” said Glenn Lurie, president of AT&T’s Emerging Devices business. He was speaking of new vehicles, not all cars on the road. “Three to five years from now, 100 percent will be connected. You’ll see diagnostics, calls when the airbag goes off, real-time traffic reports, entertainment in the back seat.” While some of the technology additions will improve safety, such as the real-time diagnostics, it seems consumers are far less interested in the safety features and are instead lured in by distracting tech gadgets, as recently reported in this Milwaukee Sentinel article: (W)hen it comes to investing in technology that’s designed to make the driving experience safer, Americans admit favoring increased convenience over driver and passenger safety, according to a MetLife Auto & Home American Safety Pulse Poll. “The most recognized and sought-after technology features tend to be those which promote style over substance, when in reality, it’s the less glamorous features like electronic stability control which make for safer vehicles,” says Bill Moore, president of MetLife Auto & Home. “By increasing their understanding of the available safety features in today’s vehicles, consumers can make more informed choices about which cars provide the best safeguards to help protect themselves and their families on the road.” Installing these new gadgets in cars may increase convenience, but at what risk? Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of car accidents. Texting or otherwise using mobile devices while driving is dangerous and designing cars to facilitate this type of behavior is questionable at best. Here at the Ankin Law[READ MORE…]

  • No More Texting While Bicycling in Chicago

    The dangers presented by motorists texting while driving has been in the news a lot lately. That’s because it’s an extremely dangerous practice that is becoming increasingly common as smart phone use becomes ubiquitous. For that reason, many jurisdictions have banned the use of smart phones while driving, as we’ve discussed on this blog many times in the past. Here are examples of just a few of those posts:: 1) Maryland Can on Text Messaging While Driving to Prevent Car Accidents 2) the dangers of commercial truck drivers using cell phones; and 3) Illinois ban on texting while driving. The City of Chicago is going even further than the state of Illinois did when it comes to the distractions presented by texting and is extending texting prohibitions to bicyclists. As explained in this Chicago Tribune article, the Chicago City Council passed an ordinance last week which bans the use of smart phones while bicycling: The City Council today passed an ordinance prohibiting bicyclists from texting while moving. They also cannot make cell phone calls unless using a hands-free device under an ordinance that passed the council without dissent. The ban will go into effect next month. Fines will start at $20 for a first offense and go up to $100 for a third or subsequent violation. If an accident is involved, the fine could shoot up to $500. This new ordinance is an interesting addition to the anti-texting laws being passed across the country. At first blush, it might seem that a bicyclist texting isn’t nearly as dangerous as the distracted driver of a car, but bikers also pose a risk. If a distracted bicyclist rode into oncoming vehicular traffic, a serious car accident could occur, resulting in severe injuries to both the bicyclist and occupants of cars. For that reason, this new law makes sense and will hopefully prevent car accidents and save lives. The Ankin Law Firm is committed to reducing the number of automobile 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.

  • Who Is At Fault If I Am Bitten By A Dog?

    The question always comes up as to who is at fault when a dog bites someone. In Illinois, the Animal Control Act states that a dog owner is strictly liable for any injuries the dog causes. “Strict liability” means the victim only has to prove that they were injured by the dog,

  • Maryland Enacts Anti-Text Messaging Laws to Prevent Car Accidents

    Texting while driving is an extremely dangerous practice that is becoming increasingly common. The danger presented it that of a distracted driver whose eyes are on his or her smart phone rather than the road. And, any time a driver is distracted, the likelihood of a car accident increases exponentially. We’ve discussed the dangers of distracted driving on this blog on many occasions, including: 1) the dangers of commercial truck drivers using cell phones; 2) whether it’s wise to make it easier for drivers to use iPads while on the road; and 3) Illinois ban on texting while driving. Recently, Maryland passed a similar law. The new Maryland law is intended to reduce the number of car accidents by making it easier for police to ticket those who text and drive. Before the new law was enacted, officers could not pull over people for texting and driving and instead needed another reason to stop the car in the first instance. Now, officers can stop and ticket drivers for simply texting while driving. This Washington Post article explains the new law and offers  sobering statistics regarding the dangers of distracted driving: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 20 percent of crashes that resulted in injury in 2009 involved distracted driving. NHTSA said 995 fatal crashes that year involved cellphone distraction. Sixteen percent of all drivers younger than 20 who were involved in fatal crashes were reported to have been distracted. In other words, distracted driving is a big problem and the best way to prevent it is to discourage drivers from using their cell phones while on the road by penalizing those who do so. Anti-texting laws with teeth, like those just enacted in Maryland, are a step in the right direction. The Ankin Law Firm is committed to reducing the number of automobile 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.

  • What If I Am In A Car Accident Involving Someone Who Does Not Have Insurance?

    When it is the other driver’s fault we assume their insurance company will take full responsibility for the property damage and medical bills. This is not always true; the person who caused the accident may not have any auto insurance or may be insured through a company that is not highly rated.

  • Indiana Stage Collapse Lawsuit Filed

    Last month, a sudden thunderstorm with 60-70 mph winds rolled into Indianapolis, causing a stage at the Indiana State Fairgrounds to collapse onto concertgoers. It was a horrific accident, resulting in 7 deaths. Additionally, over 40 other people were injured, many of them seriously. Despite the large numbers of people seriously injured and killed as a result of the stage collapse, the state of Indiana is limiting damages to $5 million, to be split amongst the large number of people affected. This is because an Indiana law limits the state’s liability to $5 million per accident, regardless of the number of people injured or killed in the incident. Many people have begun to question the fairness of the liability limit given the magnitude of the incident. In fact, State Rep. Ed DeLaney, D-Indianapolis intends to introduce legislation to increase the state’s liability limits for this incident and allow victims of the stage collapse to be fairly compensated for their injuries, as explained in this Courier-Journal article: Delaney argued that the state has greater responsibility because it invited people to the Aug. 13 concert and didn’t inspect the safety of the outdoor stage that strong winds blew onto the crowd. “Our role is so deep that we need to take care of our people,” he said. Meanwhile, a lawsuit has been filed on behalf of a woman who was injured and whose same-sex partner was killed in the stage collapse. The couple were joined in a civil union in Illinois earlier that summer, but because it’s highly likely that the state of Indiana won’t recognize their union, she may not be entitled to collect damages on behalf of her deceased spouse. The basis for the personal injury lawsuit was explained in this CNN article: (Her attorney) Allen claims that the lawsuit aims to compel Indiana to change its policies. That includes what he called its “puzzling” and “wrong” cap on how much the state can pay out “no matter how many people are harmed, now matter how many are injured”… The lawyer alleged that the event’s organizers “cut every corner that they possibly could,” calling their actions before and during that night “reckless.” He claimed that the fact there was a limit on possible damages didn’t give enough incentive to take every safety precaution. Hopefully, the legislation increasing the damage limits will pass. If not, let’s hope that the victims receive[READ MORE…]

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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.