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  • Ex-Football Player Receives $4.4 Million Verdict for Head Injuries

    Head injuries sustained by football players are sometimes played down as simple concussions. However, repeated concussions over time can lead to serious head injuries. For that reason, as we reported last year, 75 ex-football players filed suit against the National Football League (NFL) alleging that the NFL knew of the harmful effects of multiple concussions as early as the 1920s but kept that information from players until 2010. While that lawsuit is still pending, another similar lawsuit in California was recently settled for $4.4 million dollars. In this tragic case, a young player sustained a serious brain injury while playing football for his high school team, as explained in a Yahoo article: The (settlement) comes as the problem of head injuries in football has gained prominence due to lawsuits brought against the National Football League by former players complaining of ongoing life struggles from concussions. Scott Eveland, now 22, was a senior and a linebacker with the Mission Hills High School Grizzlies in San Marcos, a town 30 miles north of San Diego. He collapsed on the sidelines after playing the first half of a game on September 14, 2007, and was rushed to the hospital where doctors were able to save his life by removing part of his skull. But the heavy bleeding inside his brain caused him extensive damage. This horrible accident resulted in Mr. Eveland’s confinement to a wheel chair and he remains unable to stand or speak as a result of his injuries. It’s a tragic case and is yet another example of the dangers of head injuries. As we’ve repeatedly said in the past, traumatic brain injuries are serious injuries that have been ignored for far too long. Hopefully, high profile personal injury lawsuits like this one will help to further raise public awareness regarding the dangers and long term effects of repeated concussions and other similar types of traumatic brain injury. 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.

  • Are School Buses Unsafe?

    Although automobile safety has changed by leaps and bounds over the last few decades, safety standards on school buses haven’t changed much since the 1960s. Unlike cars, seat belts aren’t mandatory and many school buses aren’t even equipped with them. A number of recent and very serious school bus crashes, one on Washington and one in Indiana, have resulted in the call for higher safety standards for school buses. Neither bus was equipped with seat  belts and one child and a bus driver are now dead, with many other children sustaining serious injuries. Despite these accidents, the National Highway Transportation Safety Association maintains that school bus standards are sufficient and seat belts aren’t necessary, since buses are larger and thus less vulnerable when an accident occurs. The NHTSA also asserts that the higher seat backs protect children as well. However, as explained in this ABC news article, the American Academy of Pediatrics takes a different view: But the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly disagrees that seat belts aren’t necessary on scho0l buses. It wants all new buses equipped with lap/shoulder belts to “ensure the safest possible ride”, according to Dr. Phyllis Agran, a pediatrician. Agran said that according to her research, approximately 17,000 children are treated in emergency rooms annually, having been injured in school buses, with 42 percent of those injuries involving crashes. The American Academy of Pediatrics isn’t alone in this viewpoint. As discussed in this CNN article, another organization devoted to advocating for the safety of children, the National Coalition for School Bus Safety, believes that new school bus regulations should be passed to protect children from injury: But seat belt advocates say current safety measures are not enough.  The National Coalition for School Bus Safety says the study that the government cites for its data is dated and inadequate. For one thing, seven out of 10 “real world” accidents are not frontal, according to the coalition.  And when it comes to side-impact and rollover accidents, the NCSBS says compartmentalization is less effective – and that seat belts are essential to saving lives. Right now there are no plans to revamp school bus safety regulations on a national level. Instead, it’s up to the states and local municipalities to make the decision to require seat belts and other safety measure that would protect our children from serious accidents caused by school bus crashes. Hopefully this will change at[READ MORE…]

  • Tips For If You Are Injured on the Job

    Make sure to notify your employer as soon as possible after your accident– Although the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act allows you forty-five days to notify your employer of your accident, the sooner the better. Keep a copy of the accident report form– If your employer requires you to complete an accident report form, keep a copy for your records. NEVER sign a blank accident report form. Obtain the name and contact information of the workers’ compensation insurance carrier from your employer– Your employer is required by law to post the contact information in a prominent area at your place of employment. Seek medical treatment from your own doctor- If necessary seek medical treatment as soon as possible after the accident.  Although your employer may direct you to a company clinic or doctor, you DO NOT have to be treated by the company doctor Give a complete and accurate history of your accident to all your treating doctors– It is very important to give complete, accurate and consistent histories to all your treating physicians.  Any inconsistencies in your histories could raise a red flag and result in your claim being denied by the insurance company. Make sure to get an “off work” note from your doctor if your doctor feels that you are unable to work because of your injuries– You must be off work pursuant to your doctor’s orders in ordered to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Make sure to give your employer and the insurance company a copy of the off work note– You should keep your employer and the insurance updated on your medical status.  Failure to notify the insurance company of your medical status could result in having your benefits interrupted. Make sure to keep all scheduled medical appointments, i.e. follow-up visits, physical therapy– It is important to keep all your scheduled medical appointments.  Regularly failing to keep these appointments will result in your benefits being stopped by the insurance company. Keep a copy of all correspondence, check stubs and any other documentation pertaining to your workers’ compensation claim– It is important to keep complete and accurate records of your claim in the event of a dispute or denial from the insurance company.

  • Green Spring in Chicago

    Two years ago, in the wake of the economic downturn, Chicago business owners were given a reprieve from the landscaping ordinances that required among other things replacement of chain link fences with decorative ironwork and planting trees and shrubs. The reprieve is up in June of this year. The council will have to weigh the green aspects of enforcing the code with the need to respect the slow growth of the small businesses it affects. At least one Alderman, Ariel Reboyras in the30th, is considering an additional 2 year reprieve for small business owner enforcement saying that business owners should not have to choose between paying employees and paving parking lots. Chicago did pass an ordinance stating that businesses such as Walmart that want to build big box facilities may exceed building size limitations if planners incorporate a green roof. If businesses go with a green roof, they can apply to expand beyond the floor to area ratio that zoning ordinances allow. Chicago has also continued to amend its landscaping ordinances as applied to new construction, for example requiring that one shade tree must be planted for every 25 feet of new building frontage in most commercial and residential neighborhoods. Homeowners should also be aware that most cities and villages have landscape ordinances. These range from the West Chicago law that allows no chain link fences in front yards to lawn watering restrictions in Wheaton. Check with your local town or city to find out what rights and restrictions you have as a property owner. The Chicago ordinance regarding weeds walks a fine line between promoting the use of native plant material to conserve water and reduce carbon dioxide emissions and making sure that homeowners maintain and mange their properties. As weeds can obscure dangerous debris, hide rodents, and serve as mosquito breeding grounds you may call 311 and report high weeds in vacant lots or the public way. The Department of Streets and Sanitation will cut or spray herbicides to remove the weeds. As a resident you can also request a no-spray option. Remember that property ownership offers benefits as well as community responsibilities.  Ankin Law Offices will be working with Alderman Ameya Pawar and the Southport Neighbors Association on ward clean-up day this spring.

  • Auto Insurance Protects You

    Auto insurance protects some of the most important people in your life, “you and your passengers”. For most people their automobile is one of their most valuable assets, next to their home. Appropriately, having good insurance coverage should be taken very seriously. Some people drive with substandard insurance or low insurance coverage or even illegally drive with no insurance coverage at all. You don’t want to be in a situation where you are involved in an accident with someone that is inappropriately insured and find out there is not enough insurance money to cover your expenses. Most people find out when it is too late if they have improper insurance coverage. It’s critical to keep in mind that not all policies are alike; so it is essential that you understand the details of what you are protecting, and how coverage options apply (or don’t) to you and your family. I would recommend that you carry, at the very least, “Full Coverage” However you should look at getting “Complete Coverage”, as the price difference is not that much more and will give you additional services and peace of mind should you be in an accident. If you are concerned about costs it is important to understand your deductible as your rate is based on the deductible. The lower your deductible, the higher your rate; the higher your deductible, the lower your rate will be. For example, if you are have a $250 deductible you will pay more for your premium than if you have a $500 dollar deductible. Determine your deductible by considering what you can afford to pay if you are in an accident.   “Full Coverage” Personal injury liability coverage Uninsured/Underinsured coverage Property damage liability coverage Collision Medical payment coverage or Med Pay Special coverage/Umbrella policies-if you own your home out right, have a lot of equity in your home or have a large net worth, then you want to make sure you carry enough coverage to assure that someone can’t sue you for everything that you worked hard to build. “Complete Coverage”All of the above plusEmergency Road Service Car Rental Death Benefits Loss of Earnings       Medical payment coverage or Med Pay covers all members of your household. This is especially beneficial if you don’t have health insurance, though this coverage only kicks in if you are in an automobile accident. Most people carry $5000 for[READ MORE…]

  • Safety Advocacy Group Seeks Enactment of Rear View Mirror Safety Regs

    Safety advocacy groups play an important role in forcing the enactment of safety regulations and thus protecting consumers from dangerous products. A particularly vulnerable sector of our society is children. If anyone requires advocacy on their behalf, it’s children–especially when it comes to automobile safety. Fortunately, KidsandCars.org is in their corner, constantly pushing for safety regulations to be passed which will make it safer for children in cars. Most recently, KidsandCars.org advocated for the requirement that all newly manufactured cars be equipped with rear view mirror cameras. This is because, as reported in this New York Times article: On average, two children die and about 50 are injured every week when someone accidentally backs over them in a vehicle…And more than two-thirds of the time, a parent or other close relative is behind the wheel. Unfortunately, although the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration was initially set to approve the regulations that would require the installation of rear view mirror cameras, as reported in this Money.cnn article, the NHTSA delayed their decision until 2014: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has decided to postpone the creation of a new rule that would have required rearview back-up cameras in all new cars, pickups and SUVs by 2014. The agency had been expected to announce the rule Wednesday. Instead, NHTSA issued a statement saying that “further study and data analysis” were needed before a final regulation could be issued. “The Department remains committed to improving rearview visibility for the nation’s fleet and we expect to complete our work and issue a final rule by December 31, 2012,” NHTSA said. This is truly an unfortunate turn of events and one that will undoubtedly result in the unnecessary deaths of our nation’s youngest and most vulnerable citizens. Our children deserve better and it’s advocacy groups like KidsandCars.org that work hard on a daily basis to prevent the tragic car accidents that could be prevented through the installation and use of appropriate safety devices in cars. 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.

  • Illinois Court on Admissibility of Photos at Slip and Fall Trial

    One issue that frequently crops up during personal injury trials is the admissibility of photographs of the scene where the accident occurred. Sometimes, the photos sought to be admitted were taken immediately after the accident occurred, while other times the photos were taken sometime after the accident but are offered to show the layout of the location where the plaintiff was injured. Sometimes, a party will object to the admission of the photos on the grounds that they are somehow prejudicial and offer little value to the jury. The Appellate Court of Illinois, Fourth District, recently addressed that issue in Lambert v. Coonrod, No. 4–11–0518. In this case, the plaintiff was injured while helping the defendant with a project. While doing so, he stood on a coil spool and tried to reach for a light above him. As he did so, he fell and injured his left side and back, sustaining a lumbar fracture and broken rib. He later filed a personal injury lawsuit alleging that the plaintiff “failed to provide a safe and stable platform from which he could work and failed to warn him that the spool he stood upon was or could be unstable and easily tipped.” The case went to trial and at trial, the defendant sought to introduce photographs of the scene of the accident–the inside of the shed where the plaintiff fell–which were taken over a year after the accident occurred and included items, such as a ladder, that weren’t in the shed when the plaintiff fell. The plaintiff objected to the admission of the photos because they failed to accurately portray the scene of the incident at the time that it occurred. The Court disagreed: Coonrod testified to pictures of his shed that were taken approximately one year after the incident occurred. The pictures showed the interior of the shed, including the shelving area. Coonrod testified the photos fairly and accurately depicted the layout of the shed, although not the items therein, at the time of the accident. He also testified the ladder in the picture was purchased after the accident had occurred. Plaintiffs argue the photos were highly prejudicial because they showed a “ladder as being available and conveniently located in the shed.” The photos of the shed were relevant in this case. The pictures showed the interior of the shed where the accident took place, as well as the white-painted spool that Richard[READ MORE…]

  • Investigation Shows New Chicago Transportation Authority Cars Defective

    Last year the Chicago Transportation Authority (CTA) introduced a shiny, brand new fleet of trains for the “L” track. This was the first time, in a number of decades, that the CTA had upgraded Chicago’s public transportation system and for many Chicagoans, the new cars were a welcome relief from the creaky, old trains they were used to. Unfortunately, the new trains apparently aren’t all they were cut out to be. It turns out that the new cars were constructed with defective parts manufactured in China. As explained by the Chicago Tribune in this article, the defective parts were found in the rail car truck assembly of the trains: Internally defective and potentially dangerous steel parts from China that could break and lead to a derailment were installed on the cars manufactured for the CTA by Bombardier Transportation, according to the transit agency’s internal investigation. The inferior craftsmanship found on the safety-sensitive parts in the rail car truck assembly, which supports much of a train’s weight, raises serious questions about Bombardier’s quality-control process on the new generation of CTA trains, the investigation found. The CTA is the first transit agency to purchase the cars, known as the 5000 Series. The contract for 706 of those cars totals more than $1 billion. The defective parts were discovered during an internal investigation conducted by the CTA. It was determined that if one or more of the defective parts were to break while a train was moving, the likelihood of derailment would be extremely high, which could in turn result in serious injuries to CTA passengers on the train. Because of the serious ramifications in the event that one of the defective parts failed, all defective cars have been recalled and the parts are in the process of being replaced. Once the repairs have been made, the cars will be returned to circulation. The expected date for this to occur is in May 2012. Hopefully, once the trains are fixed, Chicagoans will once again be able to enjoy the new trains safely and securely, without fear of derailment and the serious risk of injury that could follow.  In the meantime, Chicagoans will have to make do with the old rickety cars from the 1960s that have been reintroduced into the transit system in the interim. Better safe, albeit in a creaky old car, than sorry. The Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles workers’ compensation and personal injury cases.[READ MORE…]

  • Illinois Court Holds Lawsuit Against City of Chicago Can Move Forward

    Is the City of Chicago liable for every accident that occurs when a pedestrian trips and falls on a public sidewalk? Of course not. But under certain circumstances, the City can be held liable. The Appellate Court of Illinois, First District, considered just such a scenario in Waters v. City of Chicago, (No. 1–10–0759). In Waters, the plaintiff was injured when she tripped and fell over the metal base of a street barricade that jutted out into the sidewalk. She was stepping over the metal base when she was distracted by the sound of a jackhammer, at which point she tripped and fell, landing on her wrist. Her injury required surgery. She later filed a personal injury lawsuit against the City of Chicago, alleging, in part, that the City owed her a duty of care under the “distraction exception” to the open and obvious danger theory. In other words, she alleged that even though the existence of the barrier and the dangers presented by it were obvious, the City nevertheless owed her a duty of care because the City should have known that her attention might be distracted by the construction occurring nearby, thus resulting in her loss of concentration and subsequent injury. The Court concluded that although the issue was not clear cut, there were questions of fact for a jury to consider and thus granting summary judgment in favor of the defendant was improper: (D)espite the obviousness of the barricade and its base, plaintiff became distracted upon hearing the loud noise from the jackhammer. Defendant created the hazard but not the distraction. It is reasonable to expect that a defendant who places a barricade over a sidewalk and places a portion of their bases in an area of ingress and egress on a public sidewalk without signs warning people to avoid walking in the area could foresee that people could reasonably become injured and would likely become injured if they used the walkway. It can also be reasonably expected that people would walk on the sidewalk notwithstanding its partial barricade. For these reasons, we cannot say, as a matter of law, that defendant should not have reasonably anticipated the distraction and should not have foreseen the injury to plaintiff. It would have been easy for the defendant to have barricaded the entire walkway so that no one could use it until the construction was complete and the consequences of doing[READ MORE…]

  • Moving

    With spring not far away, thousands of residents’ thoughts turn to moving to another apartment or home. According to the Encyclopedia of Chicago, in the late 19th century, as many as one third of all families in Chicago moved annually. If you are considering a move this year, here are a few things to think about. If you are moving to a new apartment there is a recent amendment to the Illinois Landlord and Tenant Act that requires most landlords to re-key or change the locks of apartments and properties when a new tenant moves in. It also makes the landlord responsible for damages if a theft occurs from the apartment as a result of a failure to change the lock. The law does not apply to common areas of the building, or to owner occupied buildings with four or less apartments. If you decide to hire a moving company, they must be licensed by the state of Illinois. Licensed movers must comply with the Illinois Commerce Commission’s standards for providing reasonable rates, reasonable time periods for moving your processions as well as insurance coverage. They should be able to provide you with a license number, references, and any complaint history as well as a free written estimate of the cost of your move. Basic moving rates do not cover for the full value of your possessions. You can purchase additional coverage through the moving company or through your own insurance agent. When the movers take possession of your property they should give you a copy of the contract, known as a bill of lading, to sign. It should include the services they will perform, the charges for the move and the carrier’s liability. Do not sign this until you have read it and agreed to the terms. When your property reaches its destination you will be asked to sign a delivery receipt. Check all boxes as well as furniture. If there is any damage or something appears to be lost, write this on the inventory or bill of lading. You have nine months from the delivery date to file a written claim describing the loss or damage. Include a copy of the inventory or bill of lading with your letter. The moving company must acknowledge receipt of your letter within 30 days and pay, settle or deny the claim within 120 days. While the process can seem time-consuming and[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.