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Archive for the category: Damages
  • War On Potholes

    Winter is causing a lot of potholes and problems for drivers in the Chicago metro area. Many auto repair shops and insurance adjusters are experiencing a backlog of work as autos experience flat tires or more expensive repairs such as transmission damage. As a driver you should be aware of the fact that the City does compensate motorists for damage. Claims are handled by the Chicago City Clerk’s office. Car owners are directed to the website . Once there, go to the section labeled Auto Damage (caused by pothole, accident with a city vehicle, etc.). Download, compete and sign the Damage to Vehicle claim form. The form includes basic information including the date, time and location of the incident. Submit this form along with a copy of the paid receipt for the repairs performed to the car OR a copy of two written estimates for the cost of repairing the damage as well as a copy of a police report for the incident that caused the damage. While you do not have to report damage from a pothole to the police, anything you can do to substantiate your claim, such as including photographs, is helpful in moving your claim through the approval process. The documents must be submitted by mail or in person at any of the three City Clerk’s offices. Once received, the City Council’s Finance Committee reviews the claims. Their staff is available to update car owners on the status of their claim(s). The City sets aside some of the money generated from annual city sticker sales to pay for the repair of cars damaged by city streets. Drivers who properly file a claim and are approved can expect to wait up to a year, though often they are paid only a portion of the repair cost. While waiting for your check, you can follow the Pot Hole Tracker . The site, along with the new Plow Tracker, offers viewers the ability to see the potholes that the Department of Transportation has patched within the last seven days. Pothole repairs are based on calls to Chicago’s City 311 service request number. Pothole season ends in March or April, depending upon the weather. If you are in serious car accident, do not hesitate to contact Ankin Law Offices.

  • Minnesota Bridge Collapse

    The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled last November 2011 that the State of Minnesota could proceed with its claim against Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc., the California firm that designed the Minnesota bridge that collapsed in 2007, killing 13 and injuring 145 others.  The State’s claim against Jacobs Engineering Group (Jacobs) is based on the fact that the bridge was designed by a firm that Jacobs acquired in 1999.  The bridge collapse was found to have been caused by a design error that led to inadequate load capacity. More than 100 lawsuits were filed in 2009 and, pursuant to the Minnesota Tort Claims Act, the State of Minnesota has paid more than $37 million to victims of the bridge collapse.  The State has also sued URS Corporation, the firm hired to inspect the bridge in 2003, and Progressive Contractors Inc., the company who had performed repairs on the bridge.  Both of these companies have also filed claims against Jacobs, the design firm, seeking contribution, indemnity and reimbursement for their liability under a Minnesota law that allows injured victims to make a statutory claim for reimbursement in the event of an accident.  The court dismissed these claims, however, due to a ten-year Statute of Repose, which provides that a company is immune from liability ten years after construction of the bridge.  Since the bridge was built in 1967, liability of Jacobs with respect to the claims of URS Corporation and Progressive Contractors expired in 1977. Despite the fact that the indemnity claims of URS and Progressive Contractors against Jacobs were dismissed, the State of Minnesota’s claims against Jacobs were not dismissed.  The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that the State’s claims for reimbursement could continue due to a Minnesota statute that retroactively revived the State’s claims despite the expiration of the State of Repose deadline.  Specifically, Minnesota statute 3.7394 allows the state to recover from any responsible third parties any payments made from the emergency relief fund despite any statute to the contrary.  Accordingly, the State is permitted to seek reimbursement for the payments made to victims of the bridge collapse despite the time limitations in the Statute of Repose. Impact of Court’s Decision The Minnesota Supreme Court’s ruling allowing the case to proceed against Jacobs Engineering could have far reaching effects.  Despite a Homeland Security Report issued in April of 2011 revealing that nearly 12 percent of U.S. bridges are structurally deficient and[READ MORE…]

  • Renter’s Have Rights

    Have you ever rented an apartment for yourself or one of your kids and wondered if all your rights are being protected and respected when moving into a new apartment? The relationship between a landlord and renter is based on trust and respect. Yet many people feel that their landlord took too long to fix something in their unit or that they have been scammed out of their security deposit at the end of the lease.

  • Do Damage Cap Laws Pass Constitutional Muster?

    Nearly 30 states currently limit the amount of damages that can be received in a medical malpractice lawsuit, according to the American Medical Association.  States with damage caps vary wildly in their limitations and the types of damages that are limited.  For instance, California limits non-compensatory damages at $250,000, while Nebraska limits total damages at $1.75 million. In 2005, an Illinois law invoked limitations on non-economic damages at $500,000 in lawsuits alleging medical malpractice, including wrongful death, against a physician, and $1 million in lawsuits against a hospital.  In 2010, however, the Illinois Supreme Court deemed the damage cap to be unconstitutional because it interfered with the authority of judges and juries to reduce verdicts. Similarly, a wrongful death lawsuit filed in Indiana as a result of a catastrophic stage collapse that killed seven people challenges the constitutionality of the Indiana damage cap.  The plaintiffs’ lawsuit argues that Indiana’s damage cap of $5 million violates the Constitution’s due process and equal protection clauses, as well as the Indiana Constitution. Some state legislatures have recently proposed tort reform initiatives that would invoke damage caps.  For instance, earlier this year, the Tennessee legislature approved comprehensive medical malpractice tort reform that limits non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, to $750,000 in most cases; caps punitive damages at two times compensatory damage or $500,000, whichever is greater; and prohibits punitive damages in most products liability lawsuits.  Similarly, the North Carolina Senate approved a tort reform bill that would cap non-economic damages at $500,000. On the other hand, Virginia proposed legislation to raise the cap on damages in medical malpractice cases from $2 million to $3 million and would increase the amount by $50,000 every year until 2031, but the bill was ultimately vetoed by the governor on March 31, 2011.   Given the overwhelming support for the Virginia bill, however, it remains uncertain whether the veto will stand or whether the bill will pass. Medical malpractice damage caps undoubtedly hurt patients and the general public by failing to hold doctors, hospitals and other medical professionals financially responsible for their injuries or deaths that they have caused.  The Chicago medical malpractice attorneys at Ankin Law Offices, LLC are committed to protecting the rights of victims of medical malpractice and their families. 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[READ MORE…]

  • 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.

  • Ford’s Recall of Trucks with Defective Fuel Tank

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced on July 29, 2011 that Ford is recalling 1.1 million pickup trucks due to defective fuel tanks.  Reports have indicated that prolonged exposure to road deicing chemicals may cause severe corrosion of the fuel tank straps that secure the tank to the vehicle, allowing the fuel lines to separate from the tank and, in some cases, causing the tank to contact the ground, which poses a fire hazard. Ford will soon begin notifying the owners of vehicles affected by the recall, instructing them to take their vehicles to a Ford or Lincoln dealer where the fuel tank straps will be replaced with straps that have increased corrosion protection.  If replacement straps are not available, the dealer may install a cable support under the strap as an interim repair until a replacement strap is available or install a steel reinforcement over the existing strap as a permanent repair.  The fuel tank strap repair will be performed free of charge. Which Ford Trucks Are Affected By the Recall? The recall involves the following Ford vehicles: Certain Ford F-150s for model years 1997 to 2003 2004 Ford F-150 Heritage Ford F-250 for model years 1997-1999 2003 Lincoln Blackwood vehicles manufactured between June 29, 1995 and August 4, 2004 What Is the Status of Other Ford Vehicle Defects? A circuit court judge in Florida recently set aside the decision of a jury finding that Ford was not liable for damages and injuries caused by the sudden acceleration of its Aerostar van.  Judge Swigert found that Ford’s misconduct had amounted to “a “fundamental error” that had deprived plaintiffs of a fair trial and ordered a new trial on the issues of compensatory and punitive damages.  Judge Swigert’s opinion found “clear and convincing evidence” that Ford had engaged in fraud, misrepresentation and other misconduct that justified setting aside the jury’s verdict in favor of Ford and issuing a new verdict in favor of the Plaintiffs.  For more information on the decision in Stimpson v. Ford, see our recent blog post. Ford also recently recalled more than 26,000 vehicles, as well as service parts shipped to dealers for the affected vehicles, due to a risk that the multi-function switch can become deformed and prevent the turn signal, tail lights, hazard warning flashers and brake lights from activating, which could in turn increase the risk of a collision.  The recall[READ MORE…]

  • Stimpson v. Ford: Judge Orders New Trial Based on Ford’s Misconduct at Trial

      A circuit court judge in Florida recently set aside a jury verdict in favor of Ford Motor Co., finding that Ford’s misconduct had amounted to “a “fundamental error” that deprived plaintiffs of a fair trial and justified a new trial.  The lawsuit alleged that plaintiffs’ Aerostar van suddenly accelerated during gear engagement and traveled more than 100 feet before hitting a utility pole, causing disabling injuries to plaintiff Peggy Stimpson.  Plaintiffs asserted liability by Ford based on strict liability, negligence and punitive damages for fraudulent concealment of a defect.  Ford denied the allegations and, following a four-week trial, the jury returned a verdict in Ford’s favor. Plaintiffs appealed the decision, arguing requesting that the court vacate the judgment and order a new trial.  At the heart of the plaintiffs’ appeal was whether or not Ford had repeatedly used fraudulent tactics to conceal the truth about risks associated with electromagnetic interference with the cruise control function of vehicle, which has caused numerous injuries and deaths. Judge Swigert’s opinion harshly criticized Ford Motor Co. and found that that there was “clear and convincing evidence” that Ford had engaged in fraud, misrepresentation and other misconduct that justified setting aside the jury’s verdict in favor of Ford and issuing a new verdict in favor of the Plaintiffs.  Specifically, Judge Swigert found that Ford Motor Co. had engaged in the following misconduct: (1)   Ford had destroyed Service Investigation Reports within one year even though they were required by federal law to retain the reports for 5 years and had concealed years of research and evidence dating back to the 1970s that indicated a possible electromagnetic interference problem that could cause sudden acceleration – information which, if disclosed, would have allowed the federal government to become aware of the electronic defects with the cruise control function that can cause sudden acceleration problem sooner. (2)   Ford made false claims regarding its knowledge of the electronic defect and knew that the 1989 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report was based on false information. (3)   Despite its request to exclude testimony from an expert witness of the plaintiffs, Ford introduced the testimony on cross-examination and insinuated that plaintiffs’ counsel had concealed certain information. (4)   Ford had generally presented false and misleading testimony to the jury. Judge Swigert also reprimanded Ford’s attorney for insinuating that plaintiffs’ lawyer had concealed information by excluding the testimony of one of plaintiffs’[READ MORE…]

  • Is a Plaintiff’s Immigration Status Relevant In a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

    The United States District Court recently issued an interesting decision in an Illinois personal injury case.  In Zuniga v. Morris Material Handling, Inc., 2011 WL 663136 (N.D.N.Y 2011), the plaintiff was injured while working at a construction site when  the hoist assembly of an overhead crane fell and struck him. Zuniga sought recovery of expenses for medical expenses, damages for pain and suffering and compensation for loss of earnings and loss of future earning capacity as a result of the injuries he sustained from the incident. During the deposition, Zuniga was asked about his immigration status in relation to his wage claim. Zuniga asserted his Fifth Amendment privileges and refused to answer that line of questioning. This motion followed, in which the defendant sought to compel Zuniga to answer the immigration-related questions. At issue was whether Zuniga’s immigration status was an issue that was relevant during the deposition stage of discovery. The Court concluded that is was: In summary, Morris’s motion is granted to allow discovery of Zuniga’s immigration status during the period for which he seeks the subtopics Morris has identified are relevant. Zuniga’s immigration status the subtopics Morris has identified are relevant. Zuniga’s immigration status prior to the time period for which he claims damages for lost earnings or earnings capacity is not relevant. As for the Fifth Amendment invocation, the Court noted that generally speaking, the privilege may be asserted in a civil proceeding, but an adverse inference may be drawn from the refusal to respond. As for the specific facts of this case, the Court held that: Zuniga has a right to invoke his Fifth Amendment privilege, but this record has not yet been developed sufficiently to evaluate whether his invocation is proper as to any particular questions. Accordingly, the Court remanded the matter for further discovery proceedings. 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.

  • Falling in the Food Store

    Did you know that a business is not automatically responsible for water causing harm to a patron at the entrance of a store? One of the most commonplace inquiries to our office involves a client falling on tracked-in water when entering a food store or other business. We hear from clients that there was not a slip mat or that it was soiled, and that is why they fell. Slip mats are provided as a courtesy in order to help prevent a fall.

  • Johnson & Johnson Ordered to Pay $1.8 Million for Injuries Caused by Levaquin

    A federal court recently ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $1.8 million – $700,000 in actual damages and $1.1 million in punitive damages – to an 82-year-old man from Minnesota who claimed that he was injured by the antibiotic Levaquin.  The drug is an antibiotic used to treat infections such as pneumonia and chronic bronchitis, as well as sinus, urinary tract, kidney, prostate and skin infections. The drug has been known to cause complications including tendon damage, Achilles tendon rupture, inflammation, Achilles tendonitis, and injury to the rotator cuff, biceps, hand and thumb that may require extensive surgery and could leave the patient incapacitated and facing large medical bills.  In this case, the plaintiff was prescribed Levaquin in 2005 to treat bronchitis but after just three days of use, the plaintiff’s Achilles’ tendons ruptured. In 2008, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration required Johnson & Johnson and manufacturers of generic forms of the drug to print warnings about the drug’s risk of tendon injuries. There are currently about 2,600 lawsuits pending that generally allege that Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries failed to provide adequate warnings about the drug’s potential risk of tendon damage and claim that if patients had been warned about the potential side effects, they could have contacted their doctors at the first sign of any problem and possibly avoided a tendon rupture or permanent damage. Many of the lawsuits have been consolidated by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation before Judge Tunheim in Minnesota. This federal court process, commonly referred to as an MDL, merges complex cases with similar underlying questions of fact solely for pre-trial discovery and fact-finding purposes but then allows the cases to proceed to trial in the court in which they were originally filed if the cases do not settle. If you or a loved one have been injured by Levaquin, you should consult with an experienced Chicago personal injury attorney immediately to discuss your legal rights.  Contact us for a free consultation.

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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.