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Archive for the category: Wrongful death
  • Occupational Safety and Health

    Congress created the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 to prevent workers from being killed or seriously harmed at work by requiring employers to sustain proper and safe workplaces free of danger for their employees. The Act created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (known as OSHA) to set and enforce protective workplace safety and health standards. While it is easy to imagine that companies manufacturing hazardous chemicals might be randomly inspected for worker safety, employees have the right to a safe workplace no matter what industry they work in. In 2011, OSHA found violations in Illinois businesses ranging from grain elevators to pet food manufacturers. If you think your employer has violated to the law and created an unsafe workplace environment, what can you do? You can file a complaint to have OSHA inspect your workplace if you believe your employer is not following OSHA standards. OSHA provides most workers with the rights to: Ask OSHA to inspect your workplace. An employee initiated inspection at an Illinois trucking company resulted in violations for workers operating unsafe forklifts and failing to provide proper eyewash facilities for workers who had been exposed to corrosive chemicals. Exercise their rights under the law without fearing retaliation and discrimination by their employer. OSHA protects workers from retaliation such as being transferred, denial of a raise, having hours reduced, being fired, or punished in any other way. If your employer does one of these things to you, file a complaint at http://www.osha.gov/as/opa/worker/complain.html within 30 days of the alleged discrimination. Receive information and training about hazards. An Illinois grocery store was cited for not establishing and implementing written procedures to maintain the integrity of the refrigeration equipment. Get copies of test results done to find hazards in the workplace. Review records of work-related injuries and illnesses. The only workers not covered by the OSHA Federal Act or an OSHA- approved state program are people who are: Self- employed Immediate family members of farm employers who do not employ non-family members Employed in an industry where the workplace hazards are regulated by another Federal agency (for example the Federal Aviation Administration or the Coast Guard). After the investigation/compliant is complete, if the inspector finds violations of OSHA standards, OSHA may issue citations and fines. The citation may outline how to fix a particular issue as well as give a timetable for when the issue will be[READ MORE…]

  • 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…]

  • Lawsuit Filed in Connection with Yellowstone Bear Mauling

    A $5 million wrongful death lawsuit has been filed against the federal government by the widow of a man mauled by a grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park in June.  The lawsuit, which was filed in a federal court in Wyoming on October 25, 2011, alleges that researchers negligently trapped the bear along a trail close to cabins and prematurely removed signs warning the public of their work with bears in the area.  As a result of their negligence, the plaintiff alleges a 430-pound male grizzly bear mauled Erwin Erwin Evert of Park Ridge, Ill., who had been in the area. Evert’s family claims that the government failed to take appropriate precautions to warn Evert, who was had been staying in his cabin about 6 miles from the entrance of Yellowstone, of the researchers’ work and study of the bears in the area.  The lawsuit alleges that the researchers were negligent in providing proper warnings by removing warning signs three days too early and failing to warn Evert of their work in the area, despite the fact that they saw Erwin at his cabin at least twice during the course of their research.  Researchers are required to warn the public about traps and about any potential for grizzly bear confrontation, pursuant to study team guidelines. The bear attack occurred on the same day that two of scientists had trapped and tranquilized the bear.  The lawsuit alleges that the researchers left the bear before it was fully awake, which is a violation of study team policy. An investigation found that the researchers had removed the warning signs after they completed their research work and returned to the trailhead.  The investigation report also revealed that Evert, a botanist, was aware of the ongoing scientific research and was planning to “catch up with the guys” to learn more about their research. It is important for visitors to national parks to understand the dangers of their surrounds and to take the appropriate safety precautions.  The Chicago wrongful death law firm of Ankin Law Offices, LLC is committed to providing exceptional legal services to the victims of catastrophic accidents 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 howard@ankinlaw.com. ANKIN LAW OFFICE LLC Chicago Workers Compensation | Chicago Personal Injury | Chicago Motor Vehicle Accidents Chicago Wrongful[READ MORE…]

  • 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…]

  • Zachs’ Law Helps To Prevent A Child from Being Injured on The Soccer Field

    Zach’s Law, which was passed by the Illinois legislature this summer, protects children on soccer fields. In 2003, 6 year old Zach Tran became the 36th victim in the United States to die as the result of unsafe soccer goals; many more have been injured. The sad reality is that most of the goals that are in existence have been designed and manufactured using metal for the top and sidebars. This design makes these movable goals top-heavy and easy to tip over. Players of all ages, from grade school to adults, have been injured or killed when an unanchored goal fell on them.

  • WORKING ON A BOAT: AM I PROTECTED UNDER ILLINOIS LAW?

    The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, (33 U.S.C.S. § 901 et seq,. is a federal law that protects and provides benefits for those injured while working on “navigable waters” and those engaged in a “traditional maritime activity.”

  • HBO’s “Hot Coffee”: The Perils of Tort Reform

    Part of HBO’s summer lineup includes “Hot Coffee,” a documentary that investigates the principles behind tort reform and how it “threatens to restrict the rights of everyday citizens and undermine the civil justice system.”  The documentary, which aired on June 27, was directed and produced by Susan Saladoff, a former public interest lawyer and first time filmmaker. The documentary highlights the importance of our country’s civil justice system and focuses on the ways that tort reform threatens the system.  The series discussed four high profile lawsuits, beginning with the infamous McDonald’s “hot coffee” lawsuit in which a jury awarded Stella Liebeck $2.86 million when she sued McDonald’s after spilling hot coffee on herself in 1990 and suffering severe burns. The documentary includes “man-on-the-street” interviews in which each of the respondents expressed an initial opinion that the McDonald’s “hot coffee” case was egregious, at least to some degree, on the part of the plaintiff.  After being shown gruesome photos of the plaintiff’s burned pelvic area, however, the respondents’ opinions seem to vacillate. The series goes on to showcase three other exceptional lawsuits and political tactics: (1) the case of a 16-year-old whose severe brain injury was due to medical malpractice but whose damages were limited to only 1/5 of what the jury determined his family was owed due to the state’s cap on malpractice damages; (2) the smear campaign against Justice Oliver Diaz, an anti-tort reform state supreme court justice from Mississippi; and (3) the case of a young Halliburton employee who was drugged and raped while deployed in Iraq and sought civil damages against her employer but was denied a jury trial due to a mandatory arbitration clause in the employment agreement she had signed. The documentary’s overarching theme focuses on how the public, consumers and voters are being fooled by the arguments of tort reform advocates.  Our civil justice system and the Constitution afford us the right to a jury trial, but tort reformists are attempting to remove, or severely restrict, this right through measures such as damage caps and mandatory arbitration. The film exposes Corporate America’s manipulation of the public to think that “freeloaders” have flooded the civil justice system and that the majority of civil lawsuits are frivolous – until, that is, they have been wronged and their access to the civil court system is restricted.  The Chicago personal injury lawyers at Ankin Law Offices, LLC are[READ MORE…]

  • CPSC’s Pool Safely Campaign

    The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Pool Safely: Simple Steps Save Lives campaign recently released its 2011 summer snapshot of the number of drowning and near-drowning incidents across the country.  Since Memorial Day, there have been 48 drownings and 75 near-drowning incidents in 35 states.  Driven by the high number of drownings and near-drownings, the CPSC is calling for additional vigilance at pools and spas this summer and beyond. Common Pool Injuries Some common pool injuries include: Drowning Near-drowning and brain injuries Slip and falls Sunburn Broken bones Ways to Minimize Drowning Risks Drownings, near-drownings and other swimming pool accidents can be prevented by following certain safety measures.   When using a residential or community pool, swimmers should make sure to: Learn basic lifesaving techniques Learn how to perform CPR on both children and adults Never leave a child unattended Teach children water safety basics Keep children away from pool drains and other entrapment hazards Keep a telephone nearby Legal Responsibilities of Pool Owners Swimming pool owners are obligated to provide a safe swimming pool area by taking certain precautions and the failure to do so may subject the swimming pool owner to premises liability for any drownings or injuries that occur on the pool owner’s property.  Swimming pool owners should take the following safety measures in order to provide a safe swimming environment: Install a fence that is at least four feet high around the pool with self-closing and self-latching gates. Install pool and gate alarms. Ensure that pool drain covers comply with the latest safety standards. Maintain pool covers that are in good working order. Consider using a surface wave or underwater alarm.   If you or a loved one has been involved in a swimming pool accident, you may be able entitled to compensation from the swimming pool owner or operator through a premises liability or wrongful death lawsuit.  Contact the Chicago swimming pool accident attorneys at Ankin Law Offices at (800) 442-6546 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your premises liability or wrongful death claim. 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. ANKIN LAW OFFICE LLC Chicago Workers Compensation | Chicago Personal Injury | Chicago Motor Vehicle Accidents Chicago Wrongful Death | Chicago Social Securi ty Disability | Chicago Class Act ion Lawsuits

  • Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act

    Drain entrapment is a little-known swimming pool and hot tub hazard that many parents haven’t heard of that can cause even the strongest swimmer to drown. Drain entrapment can occur when a drain is either uncovered or the cover is brittle, broken, or improperly attached. Without the protection of the drain cover, suction can pull hair, clothing, jewelry, or even a body part into or against the pool drain. If a swimmer’s head is pulled and underwater, they can drown.

  • Graduation Parties And Supplying Alcohol To Minors

    With spring approaching so is graduation season and with it– graduation parties. Many people wonder about their responsibility and liability when they serve alcohol in their homes for a graduation party where minors and young adults are attending. The State of Illinois considers a host of the party to be a “Social Host” or those who supply alcohol gratuitously or “out of courtesy or politeness.”

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