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  • What Does it Mean to Have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

    While industrial jobs are hard to find in this economy, service-based roles have increased, causing more employees to suffer from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, a painful disorder that is discomforting and sometimes there can be numbness of the hands. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is at the forefront of the new workplace and a significant health problem today. Because Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a common workplace injury, it is considered to be a worker’s compensation claim and there are many workers compensation questions surrounding it.

  • New Laws for 2012

    As the clock strikes midnight on December 31st, more than 200 new laws will go into effect in Illinois including a database of first-degree murderers, stricter seat-belt enforcement and legislation that gives the public greater access to government information. To see all of the laws http://bit.ly/tMq23a

  • Myths About Child Abuse….

    Turn on the TV and it is not hard to hear about the child molestation accusations that were made against Jerry Sandusky in the last two months. If you are like me it is difficult to wrap your mind around the possibility of a coach molesting children, especially someone in a mentoring role. Here are a few myths that I think that are worth squashing about child abuse.

  • Hybrid cars: Saving the Environment..And Your Life?

    Most would agree that hybrid cars are better for the environment than traditional gas guzzling vehicles. And, hybrid cars are better for your wallet, too, since these vehicles use less gas. But, did you know that hybrid cars might offer safety benefits as well? As reported in the Washington Post, according to a recent insurance industry report issued by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, that may very well be the case (hat tip: Bob Kraft). The main reason that these types of cars are safer? Hybrids weigh more than traditional cars of the same size and thus tend to fare better in the event of a car accident. The increased weight is due to the heavy batteries found in hybrid vehicles, as explained in the article: People who invest in hybrid cars are significantly less likely to be injured in an accident because their heavy batteries make the vehicles safer than traditional cars, according to an insurance industry report released Thursday. The average hybrid is 10 percent heavier than a traditional car of the same size, and the extra heft reduces the odds of being hurt in a crash by 25 percent, the report says. However, according to that very same report, if you happen to be a pedestrian, hybrids may be more hazardous to your health than other types of cars. According to the report, this is because hybrids operate much more quietly than other vehicles: Hybrids may protect occupants in crashes better than their nonhybrid counterparts, but they also may be as much as 20 percent more likely to be involved in pedestrian crashes with injuries than their conventional twins, a new Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) analysis indicates… “When hybrids operate in electric-only mode pedestrians can’t hear them approaching,” says Matt Moore, HLDI vice president, “so they might step out into the roadway without checking first to see what’s coming.” So, when it comes to safety, hybrids offer some benefits over traditional cars and some drawbacks. They’re not the perfect solution for the environment or for safety, but the many benefits offered by hybrids arguably outweigh the negatives, and this trend will likely increase over time as pedestrians become more familiar with these vehicles and thus more likely to be aware of their quiet approach. The increased familiarity will no doubt result in fewer car accidents with pedestrians and fewer injuries in the long run. The Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles [READ MORE…]

  • Illinois Court Considers Liability of Truck Driver for Amtrak Accident

    In March of 1999, in Bourbonnais, Illinois, an Amtrak passenger train collided with a semi-tractor trailer driven by John Stokes, causing a serious accident that resulted in many deaths. A number of lawsuits followed and, recently, in Dowe v. Birmingham Steel Corporation, Nos. 1–09–1997, 1–09–2006, the Appellate Court of Illinois, First District, considered liability for the accident in a consolidated appeal. The facts in this case are simple. The driver of the tractor trailer, Stokes, ignored flashing warning lights at the railroad crossing and attempted to drive through the crossing ahead of an oncoming train. As he did so, the Amtrak passenger train collided with the rear of the tractor-trailer as Stokes. The accident caused pieces of rebar that were loaded onto the back of the truck to be thrown onto the tracks. This in turn derailed the locomotives and most of the passenger cars, killing 11 passengers and injuring many others. One issue on appeal was whether Birmingham Steel was negligent in using nylon straps instead of steel chains when anchoring the load of steel rebar to the flatbed trailer. The Court concluded that the method in which the rebar was anchored to the trailer had nothing to do with the cause of the accident. Instead, the accident occurred because of the tractor trailer driver’s negligence: “The manner in which the load of rebar was anchored and secured to the flatbed trailer had nothing to do with the cause of the accident. The accident arose from Stokes’ conduct in ignoring the flashing warning lights at the railroad crossing and attempting to drive through the crossing ahead of an oncoming train traveling at nearly 80 miles per hour, where the resulting collision caused pieces of rebar to be thrown onto the tracks derailing the train. In this case, the activity of transporting the oversized load of steel was not a peculiar risk within the meaning of sections 413 and 416 of the Restatement (Second) of Torts.” Because the Court concluded that Stoke’s negligent driving was the proximate cause of the truck accident, the Court denied that alternate arguments regarding causes of liability applied and thus upheld the judgment of the court below. The Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles  workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. You can reach the firm by calling (312) 346-8780.

  • More Proof That Safety Innovations in Cars Make a Difference

    The roads can be dangerous, especially during the holiday season where there are more travelers than normal. Anything that can be done to decrease the number of serious injuries from car accidents on our nation’s highways is a good thing. That’s why we occasionally highlight new safety features in cars–because they really can make a difference. For example, a few months ago we discussed a number of new safety features that help to protect vehicle occupants in the event of a crash. Similarly, in the past, we also 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. Another innovative safety measure that helps to protect car occupants and prevent accidents from occurring is Electronic Stability Control (ESC), a feature that is becoming increasingly common in new vehicles. As explained in this National Post blog post, cars equipped with ESC are much safer than those that are not: According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a vehicle equipped with ESC is 35% less likely to be involved in a crash. The U.S. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) goes further, suggesting that it cuts fatal crashes by 43% and the likelihood of a fatality due to a rollover by a whopping 77% to 80%! The next phase of active safety has to do with predicting an incident and then taking corrective action before it occurs. These statistics are convincing and offer further evidence that installing safety features in cars is one of the best ways to prevent serious car accidents from ever occurring. As these types of features become standard offerings in new vehicles, our roads will be safer and the number of accidents will hopefully show a dramatic decline. In the meantime, buckle up, keep your eyes on the road, drive safely and have an enjoyable time with your family and friends this holiday season. Howard Ankin of Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles  workers’ compensationandpersonal injury cases. Mr. Ankin can be reached at (312) 346-8780 and howard@ankinlaw.com.

  • NTSB Seeks to Ban Use of Hand Held and Hand-Free Devices in Cars

    Last week, the National Transportation Safety Board issued a press release detailing its plans to move forward with the implementation of a nationwide ban on the nonemergency use of portable electronic devices (PED) while driving a car. The driving force behind the proposed regulation is to prevent car accidents caused by distracted driving, thus making the roads safer for everyone. As explained in the press release, accidents caused by distracted driving have increased substantially in recent years and the NTSB believes that banning the use of PEDs is the best way to reduce these types of car accidents: The safety recommendation specifically calls for the 50 states and the District of Columbia to ban the nonemergency use of portable electronic devices (other than those designed to support the driving task) for all drivers. The safety recommendation also urges use of the NHTSA model of high-visibility enforcement to support these bans and implementation of targeted communication campaigns to inform motorists of the new law and heightened enforcement. “According to NHTSA, more than 3,000 people lost their lives last year in distraction-related accidents”, said Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman. “It is time for all of us to stand up for safety by turning off electronic devices when driving.” “No call, no text, no update, is worth a human life.” Distracted driving is, of course, a huge problem, as we’ve discussed many times in the past. However, some argue that a flat out ban of PEDs may be going too far. Some PEDs now have personal GPS navigation capabilities and are being used in lieu of the traditional GPS device. PEDs have also replaced traditional maps and are used by many these days for that purpose–and the use of maps in cars was never before banned. So, the argument is that banning these devices across the board is simply a knee jerk reaction to new technologies and that perhaps banning the use of these devices for specific functions makes more sense than a flat out ban. Of course, regardless of the distraction, whether electronic or otherwise, distracted driving is dangerous. It’s important to promulgate laws that regulate this behavior, but it is likewise important to pass carefully crafted, narrowly tailored laws designed to reduce traffic accidents and the serious injuries that can result. Howard Ankin of Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles  workers’ compensationandpersonal injury cases. Mr. Ankin can be reached at (312) 346-8780 and howard@ankinlaw.com.

  • Record Low Number of Traffic Accidents Nationwide Last Year. But Why?

    Despite sensationalistic news headlines to the contrary, it seems that in 2010, traffic fatalities were the lowest they’ve been in decades. In fact, as explained  in this thenewspaper.com blog post, the last time the numbers this low was in the 1940s: Fewer people died on America’s roads than at any time in the past sixty-one years, according to an analysis of 2010 accident data by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)…Crash fatalities dropped 2.9 percent last year to 32,885, a figure only bested by 1949’s death toll of 30,246. Sixty-one years ago, there were fewer cars and fewer roads, so the number of vehicle miles traveled that year were one-seventh of what they are today. Last year’s fatality rate dropped 4.3 percent to an all-time low of 1.1 deaths per 100 million miles traveled. Surprisingly, accidents involving blood alcohol levels in excess of .08 were down as well, by nearly 4.9 percent, with these types of crashes accounting for 1/3 of fatal accidents–and the majority of those accidents were single-car collisions in which only the driver was killed. When these figures were announced, many tried to take credit for the declining number of accidents, including manufacturers of red light cameras. However, statistics showed that, as we’ve discussed in the past, the red light cameras had little to do with it: The evidence shows no correlation between the presence of automated ticketing and reduced collisions. In Alaska, a referendum and appellate court decision struck down the use of photo radar, but fatalities dropped 13 percent there last year. Minnesota’s high court eliminated red light cameras and forced Redflex Traffic Systems to refund every illegally issued citation. Accidents dropped 2.4 percent in the state. Nebraska courts rejected cameras and deadly accidents were down 15 percent. Instead, experts suggest that declining numbers were more likely caused by a combination of economic factors, technological advances, and more cautious and intelligent driving my motor vehicle operators. Regardless of the reasons for the decline, one thing is certain: a reduction in the number of traffic fatalities is a positive trend and one that we hope will continue. In a perfect world, there would never be deaths from motor vehicle accidents; but since we don’t live in a utopia, a reduction in the number of accidents is the best we can hope for. And a reduction to 1940s levels is certainly a good start. Howard Ankin of Ankin[READ MORE…]

  • Reducing the number of teen car accidents

    Everyone knows that teen drivers are the most likely to get into car accidents. Their lack of driving experience combined with distracted driving and an inability to appreciate risks all contribute to the greater likelihood that teen drivers will be in more automobile accident than adult drivers. In fact, according to this Chicago Tribune article, teen drivers are four times more likely to be involved in an accident than adults. As explained in the article and as we discussed in a prior post, there are a number of factors that contribute to the higher accident rate: Being Distracted Behind the Wheel Taking Too Many Risks Speeding Overcrowding the Car Driving Under the Influence Following Too Closely Driving Unbuckled Driving Too Closely Driving Drowsy Choosing the Wrong Car and Not Maintaining It It’s not surprising then that teen drivers, as the newest drivers on the road, are the most likely to be involved in an accident. The statistics behind this phenomenon are examined more fully in this Times Record News article: Novice teenage drivers are the most likely drivers on the road to have car accidents. In fact, 16-year-old drivers have crash rates two times greater than 18-to-19-year-old drivers and four times that of older drivers, Allstate said…More than 81,000 people were killed in crashes involving drivers ages 15 to 20 in the decade from 2000 to 2009, making teen driving crashes the leading cause of teen deaths nationwide. One solution to this nationwide problem is for all jurisdictions to pass laws which implement a graduated drivers license (GDL) system similar to the laws already in effect in Illinois and those being considered in Texas. As explained in the Times Record News article, GDL laws impose restrictions on new teen drivers. Over time, the restrictions are gradually reduced as the teen gains driving experience: GDL helps new drivers gain experience under supervised and less risky conditions. The most comprehensive GDL laws include nighttime driving restrictions, passenger limits, cellphone and texting bans, mandatory behind-the-wheel driving time, minimum entry age for learner’s permit (16), and age 18 before full licensure. In some states that have enacted strong GDL laws, the incidence of teenage driving related deaths have dropped by as much as 40 percent. Not only do these laws reduce the number of teen deaths from motor vehicle accidents–they also save money by reducing funds paid by employers, state and local governments and[READ MORE…]

  • U.S. Car Accident Map and Chicago Bicycle Accident Map

    According to the Guardian UK Datablog, there were 369,269 deaths on U.S. roadways between 2001 and 2009. The accidents that caused these deaths involved cars, trucks, cyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists. It’s such a large figure that it’s difficult to wrap your mind around it. Although these tragic losses are nearly incomprehensible, the Datablog offers an interactive diagram which maps out each accident casualty and shows where the most accidents occur. The map was created by  transport data mapping experts ITO World using official data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and sorts the accidents by type. While the information is extremely depressing, the map is a useful tool that offers useful data, making the statistics more understandable. You can view and interact with the map here. Another useful tool for Chicagoans is the Chicago Bicycle Accident Map, which appears on the Chicagoan Blog and can be viewed below. The map was created by Steven Vance, who also happens to be a year-round bicyclist. He used IDOT data and Google Fusion tables to map every bicycle accident that occurred in Chicago from 2007-2009. Although the data included in these maps is no doubt depressing, it is nevertheless necessary to be aware of car accident and bicycle accident trends. It’s always better to be aware of the dangers and take conscious steps to protect you and your family rather than turning a blind eye to the risks of the road this holiday season. Howard Ankin of Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles  workers’ compensationandpersonal injury cases. Mr. Ankin can be reached at (312) 346-8780 and howard@ankinlaw.com.

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    ankin law office llc

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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.