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Posted on in Personal Injury

Will County personal injury attorneysIf an individual dies as a result of another person’s negligence or misconduct, the deceased person’s family may have an opportunity to sue. These wrongful death lawsuits are designed to help compensate surviving members of the victim’s family for their tragic loss. Of course, money could never atone for the loss of a human life, but the financial award does help victims’ families pay for things like tuition or medical expenses which would otherwise be an additional burden. If you have lost a loved one due to negligence or other “wrongful act,” you may have questions about wrongful death lawsuits.

When Is a Wrongful Death Appropriate?

Wrongful death lawsuits allow those who have lost a loved one to recover compensation for damages. A successful wrongful death lawsuit is possible when the following conditions are met:

  • A person has died;
  • The death was caused by negligence or harmful intent;
  • The surviving family members are suffering financial injury as a result of the death; and
  • A personal representative for the decedent's estate has been assigned and is willing to bring a wrongful death lawsuit.

There are many wrongful death situations that may necessitate a wrongful death claim, including:

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Orland Park wrongful death lawyersApproximately 30,000 fatal auto accidents occur each year. In those crashes, there are victims—lloved ones who were taken from their families. Grief, anger, resentment, financial loss, and immeasurable emotional devastation are in the aftermath of that loss. Some immediately search for justice. For others, the thought of pursuing a claim seems like an insurmountable challenge—one best avoided until after the grief and pain have subsided. Unfortunately, by then, it may be too late. If you have lost someone you love in a car crash, understand why you should pursue a wrongful death claim, and how an attorney can help to ease your burden in the difficult journey ahead.

Compensation is Not Meant to Replace Your Loved One

Often, the families of victims are put off by the idea of a lawsuit because they feel it is pointless. Money will not bring back what was taken from them, and the grief of drudging it all up seems hardly worth it. They look at it as punishing someone else when, in reality, the compensation is about easing the burden they bear, and may continue to experience, as the months and years pass.

Death experienced during an auto accident creates unpaid medical bills. It takes away an income and makes paying for even the necessities of life more difficult. Sometimes, these accidents even leave behind dependents, including young children for whom the deceased parent may have been saving, in the event that they decided to go to college, or maybe to pay for that first car. True, some of these things may not be “necessities,” but they are losses, nonetheless. They were also the wishes, hopes, and dreams of the deceased. The love cannot be given back, and the hole left by their absence cannot be filled, but the monetary losses can be recovered. That is the purpose of wrongful death compensation.

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Orland Park personal injury attorneysWhen most people are involved in a negligence lawsuit, they expect at the end to receive sufficient compensation to address the harm they have suffered, and indeed, that is the aim of most proceedings. However, what many do not know is that their award will often be reduced, because it is rare that either the plaintiff or the defendant is totally blameless in an accident. This doctrine is referred to as comparative fault.

Contributory Negligence vs. Comparative Fault

In most accident cases, the first question that is asked is who is at fault. Historically, under common law, if it was determined that the plaintiff played any role in their own injuries, it acted as a complete bar to recovery. The rationale at the time was that everyone had a duty to take reasonable steps to prevent themselves from sustaining injury, and if they failed in that duty, they might be barred from recovery.

Gradually, however, the states have begun to shy away from this rule, primarily on public policy grounds. Public policy is a concept that states that a law or decision should not shock the conscience of the public, and to completely deprive an injured plaintiff of recovery based on perhaps 5 percent contributory negligence was often seen as unjust. There are very few jurisdictions nowadays that retain the pure contributory negligence standard; almost all have shifted to the comparative fault standard (including Illinois), which holds that if a plaintiff is more than 50 percent at fault for their own injuries, no recovery is possible.

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Will County personal injury attorneysMotor vehicle accidents do not just harm adults. In fact, statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that car crashes are the leading cause of death among children in the United States, with hundreds of children under age 12 killed each year. Many thousands more are severely or permanently injured. If you are a parent and facing such a situation, it is important to understand your options for pursuing compensation.

Injuries Commonly Sustained by Children in Car Crashes

Because of their smaller size and developing bodies, children are often more prone to severe injury than adults are. Even more concerning is that serious injuries may not always be immediately evident in young children. This is especially true for traumatic brain injury (TBI), which just so happens to be the injury most commonly sustained by children in a crash. Other common injuries include those to the thoracic area and spine. Children can also experience fractures, soft tissue injuries, and lacerations, much like adults can.

What to Do After a Crash

If you are involved in a crash and your child is with you, it is critical that you contact emergency personnel so that your child can be immediately checked for serious injury. You should also avoid moving your child if you have any suspicion that they may have experienced an injury to the head, neck, or spine (unless not moving them would likely cause more harm). If emergency personnel have cleared your child, you should still take them to their regular doctor or to a pediatric trauma center for further evaluation. Again, some injuries may not be immediately evident following a crash. The follow-up will help reduce the chances that an injury is missed.

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Orland Park personal injury attorneySociety tends to think of children as resilient, but they are just as susceptible to head injury during a car crash as adults are. Further, children may be at an increased risk for certain long-term complications. In fact, previous studies have found that children may be at an increased risk for mental health issues during adulthood if they have sustained a head injury during childhood. Now, a more recent study, has linked childhood traumatic brain injuries to an increased risk of adult anxiety and depression. Learn why this may be important to your auto accident injury case, and how an attorney can help.

A Closer Look at the Study

Published in the Journal of Head Trauma and Rehabilitation, the study examined over 120 adults who had experienced mild to severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) during childhood. It had been at least 10 years since the injury for most, and 15 years or longer for some. Regardless of the severity of their injuries, all the adults in the study were five times more likely to have an anxiety disorder than adults without a history of TBI. They were also four times more likely to suffer from depression, panic attacks, or phobias. It should also be noted that individuals who suffered moderate to severe TBIs had the highest risk for an anxiety disorder. They were also more likely to suffer from multiple disorders than those with less severe TBIs.

Why It Matters

Traumatic brain injury was once thought to be a condition that could heal completely over time, but studies like this one have slowly started to emerge. Because of this, we are now starting to realize that brain injury can have long-lasting, and potentially even lifelong implications for sufferers. The risk is especially concerning in children because, unlike adults, they still have their entire lives ahead of them. They should have every opportunity to live a happy, healthy life. TBI can take this opportunity away from them, possibly at various capacities, which may be dependent on several factors, such as the severity of the injury, the child’s age or health at the time of the crash, and the type of treatment received afterwards.

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Orland Park personal injury lawyersFor motorcyclists, riding a motorcycle on a winding road on a warm sunny day is one of the most enjoyable activities of summer. Unfortunately, motorcycles can be a more dangerous way to travel than other vehicles because of the limited protection the vehicles offer. For years, laws regarding helmets laws have been a source of controversy among the motorcycle community. In the United States, each state can decide whether or not to enact laws that address the use of helmets.

In Illinois, there is no law that requires anyone using a motorcycle, motorized bicycle, or motor-driven cycle to wear a helmet. While many safety advocates believe that the lack of a helmet law is reckless not in the interest of public safety, many riders maintain that helmets can actually present additional dangers. Critics of mandatory helmet laws have claimed that motorcycle helmets cause an increase in the risk of a neck break, but a recent study has dispelled this myth.

Does the Added Weight of a Helmet Increase the Risk of Injury?

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Orland Park personal injury attorneyThe aftermath of any motor vehicle accident can be overwhelming. Injured victims must determine how badly they are hurt and then deal with the legal, property, and insurance considerations related to the crash. When the accident involves a commercial truck, however, things can become even more complicated. Not only are injuries much more likely but there are often many additional factors that come into play when a commercial truck is involved. It is important to understand how truck accidents are different from “regular” car accidents so that you are fully prepared in the event of such a crash.

More Severe Injuries

According to federal estimates, the average passenger car, including minivans, and SUVs, weighs just over 4,000 pounds. The average tractor-trailer combination that you see on California roadways measures up to 70 feet long or more and weighs up to 80,000 pounds. The numbers are even more staggering for specially-marked “oversized vehicles.” This means that a commercial truck cruising at highway speeds can weigh up to 20 times or more than the cars around it weigh.

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Will County defective products lawyersHave you ever wondered who is accountable for making sure the products we use every day are safe to be used? The answer can vary depending on the specific product in question, but one independent federal regulatory agency is at the center of product safety in the United States. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is a government organization that examines products for safety and removes unsafe products through recalls. The agency controls over 15,000 products including children’s toys and furniture, household appliances, power tools, and even fireworks. Throughout the years, the CPSC has had to wield its power through recalls in order to keep consumers like you and me safe. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is similar to the CPSC and regulates motor vehicle safety.

General Motors Issues Huge Recall Due to Dangerous Defect

Product recalls are generally voluntary, meaning that the company in question is asked—but not required—to remove products from shelves to address dangerous problems. In February of 2014, General Motors made international headlines when it was exposed that some GM vehicles had faulty ignition switches. Terrifyingly, the malfunctioning switches could deactivate the engine, power steering, brakes, and airbag-inflation mechanisms while the vehicles were being driven. At least 31 car accidents have been directly linked to these faulty ignition switches, and 13 individuals lost their lives in incidents involving the defective vehicles. Families of those injured and killed have brought several lawsuits against General Motors. Data shows that the automotive industry accounts for over 70 percent of the value of all recall-related insurance losses in any given year.

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Will County personal injury attorneysOver the last decade or so, lawmakers and public safety advocates have been trying to create awareness about the dangers of driving while distracted. Many of these efforts have been centered around the use of a cell phone and texting behind the wheel. While many wireless service companies like Verizon and Sprint have joined the fight and introduced “driving modes” to eliminate texting while driving, thousands of people are still injured each year in accidents that could have been prevented if drivers simply put down their phones. A recent study found, however, that your phone can be distracting even if it is not in your hand or where you can see it.

The Call of the Unknown

A research team from Florida State University wanted to know how much driver distraction was caused the act of texting as opposed to the thought that is involved with sending and receiving messages. They found that simply hearing a notification from a cell phone was enough to significantly distract a driver from the task of driving the vehicle. The distraction was found to be so severe that it was comparable to the distraction of a cell phone call or sending a text message. One of the project’s contributors said it “was really shocking” to see the level of distraction caused by just a notification.

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Orland Park motorcycle crash attorneyAs the warmer weather has finally come to Illinois, more and more motorcyclists are enjoying the freedom of the open road. Unfortunately, every year thousands of individuals are killed and injured while riding a motorcycle. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in 2015, approximately 88,000 people were injured and nearly 5,000 people lost their lives in motorcycle crashes. If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in a motorcycle accident, read on to learn how you can recover damages through a personal injury lawsuit.

When Negligence Causes a Motorcycle Accident

There are many reasons that motorcycle accidents occur. If a motorcyclist is killed or injured because another motorist was not acting with reasonable care, that victim or their family may be able to recover compensation. A motorist who is not acting with reasonable care does not fulfill his or her duty to drive safely. More specifically, a negligent driver may:

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Orland Park personal injury lawyersInhabitants of Chicago and the surrounding areas know that construction work is a never-ending process. Although there are many legal protections and regulation in place to try to prevent accidents, construction sites can be quite dangerous. If you have been hurt while visiting or working on a construction site, you may be able to recover costs associated with your injury through a personal injury lawsuit.

Causes of Construction-Related Injuries

Construction workers represent just 6 percent of the total workforce in the United States, and yet they account for 20 percent of all work-related fatalities. Construction work can be full of hazards and dangerously powerful equipment. Injuries and deaths on construction sites can be caused by tripping and falling, electrocution, mishandled equipment, unsecured scaffolding, motor vehicle accidents and more. Of course, those who work in construction know that there are certain risks associated with the profession, and employers or supervisors cannot prevent every negative incident that occurs on a construction site. However, when a worker or passerby is injured or killed due to negligence, someone will usually be held liable.

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Orland Park personal injury attorneyMost of us can remember when we were first learning how to drive. Whether in a formal driver’s education class or just in a friend’s or family member’s car, when we were taught how to drive, we learned certain rules. One of these rules was to keep both hands on the steering wheel at “10 and 2.” However, as we became more comfortable driving, many of us started experimenting with driving one-handed while doing things like eating, texting, or attending to children’s needs. Today, we have named this type of behavior “distracted driving.” Sadly, distracted driving is one of the main causes of car accidents. Motor vehicle crashes in the United States involving distracted driving accounted for 3450 deaths in 2016.

An Escalating Problem

While distracted driving has been present since the invention of the car, in today’s technology-dependent society, there are more ways than ever to be distracted behind the wheel. One of the most notorious problems is using a phone while driving. When drivers take their eyes off the road, they are essentially driving blind. They will be unable to react appropriately if an expected hazard were to appear. At 55mph, a car travels the length of a football field in only five seconds. At high speeds such as these, a distracted driver becomes a threat to themselves and everyone around them. One study has shown that distracted driving may be even more dangerous than drunk driving.

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Orland Park premises liability attorneysPersonal injury lawsuits exist for several reasons. Firstly, when a person or entity’s behavior causes an innocent party harm, the responsible party should be held accountable. Secondly, the person harmed should be able to recover costs associated with their injury or illness such as lost wages, medical bills, and future curative costs such as physical therapy. In order to prove that a party is liable for an injured person’s damages, negligence must be proven.

If you own a piece of property and invite others onto it, you assume responsibility for their safety. On the other hand, when you are invited onto another person’s property, you trust that person to keep the property fee of injury-causing hazards. If you have been hurt or injured on someone else’s property, the property owner may vulnerable to a premises liability lawsuit.

Necessary Components of a Negligence Claim

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Orland Park personal injury attorneysEarlier this week, a Southwest Airlines plane was forced to make an emergency landing when one the of aircraft’s engines exploded and sent debris into the body of the plane. In the wake of the fatal accident, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that it will be issuing an “airworthiness directive” regarding the specific type of engine in question because this was not the first time one of them failed in spectacular fashion.

What Investigators Know

The exact cause of the explosion is not yet known, but the chain of events is fairly clear. The incident occurred as a Southwest Airlines flight from New York to Dallas was climbing toward its normal cruising altitude shortly after takeoff. A preliminary investigation suggests that a fan blade in the left-side engine broke, causing an explosion and sending pieces of the engine—including the large outer covering—flying.

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Orland Park personal injury attorneyWhen you are a visitor or guest on someone else’s property, the property own has a responsibility to ensure that you are safe. He or she is not necessarily responsible for stopping you from making poor decisions while on the property, but the owner must take steps to keep the premises free of potential hazards that could cause you to slip and fall or trip and fall. If the property owner does not keep the property safe and you suffer injuries as a result of his or negligence, you could be entitled to collect compensation through a premises liability claim.

Recovering compensation for slip-and-fall injuries requires the plaintiff—that is you—to show four primary things:

  1. The property owner owed you a duty of care. Proving a duty of care includes several elements. You will need to show that the defendant owns or occupies the premises where your injury occurred and that he or she is responsible for keeping the property safe. You must also show that you were permitted to be on the property, as trespassers are not owed the same duty of care as invited guests or visitors.
  2. A hazard existed on the property. The second thing you need to prove is that a dangerous condition existed on the premises. This could include a slippery floor with no warning signs, broken floor tiles, poorly lit areas, or merchandised that is unsafely stacked. Keep in mind that a hazardous condition must be capable of causing injuries.
  3. The owner knew or should have known about the problem and did not address it. A property owner can only be held liable for your injuries if he or she was aware (or should have been aware) that there was a hazardous condition on the property. Proving this element may depend on how long the condition existed. For example, an owner should know that a railing on a commonly-used staircase was broker, but he or she may not yet have known about a spill that happened just moments before your accident.
  4. You suffered harm as a result. Lastly, your right to collect damages will hinge on your ability to prove that the hazardous condition is what caused your injuries. Any action that the property owner took to mitigate the danger will be considered at this stage as well. For example, if the owner placed signs warning visitors of the broken railing and you used the staircase anyway, the owner’s liability could be reduced.

Speak With a Personal Injury Lawyer

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Orland Park medical malpractice attorneyWhen you are sick or injured, you trust doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers to care for you. The responsibility that medical professionals have to their patients is like no other profession. When a hospital or medical professional makes a mistake, the results can be catastrophic. Tragically, medical mistakes and negligence are increasingly prevalent problems that leave thousands injured or killed every year.

Medical Errors Now Account for a Staggering Number of Deaths

The Latin phrase “Primum non noceere” which means, “First, do no harm,” is often recited by physicians as a promise to uphold their responsibility to keep patients safe from injury. Unfortunately, this promise is not always kept. Most people are aware that there are instances when medical professionals fail to do the job they have a sworn duty to do but have no idea how prevalent the problem really is. The Journal of the American Medical Association reports that medical negligence—instances when health professionals cause injury to a patients—is the third leading cause of death in the United States. Only heart disease and cancer kill more Americans than medical malpractice. Many of the victims of medical negligence seek financial compensation for their injuries. The issue is so pervasive that over $3 billion was spent in medical malpractice payouts in 2012 alone. This works out to an astounding one payout every 43 minutes.

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Orland Park nursing home abuse lawyersAs the “baby boomer” generation ages, more and more elderly or disabled individuals will need care in a nursing home. A new study estimates that over half of all Americans will require some sort of nursing home stay in the future. This estimate is much higher than experts had previously thought. Unfortunately, this increased need for nursing home facilities and staff has left some nursing homes understaffed and grossly mismanaged.

Widespread Problems

Elderly individuals deserve to be treated with compassion and respect and to feel safe in their home, but unfortunately, many nursing homes are not as safe as they should be. A congressional report showed that almost a third of all nursing homes had committed violations which could cause harm to residents. In a survey of nursing home residents, 44 percent reported that they had been abused while staying in a nursing home. Even more shockingly, 95 percent of nursing home residents reported that they had seen nursing home staff neglect other residents. Nursing home neglect can include:

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Posted on in Car Accidents

Orland Park personal injury attorneysCar accidents can happen for a multitude of reasons. Sometimes, one or more drivers share fault in causing the accident. Other times, the entity who is at fault for the accident is not even on the scene of the accident because the party at fault is the manufacturer of the vehicle. Motor vehicles are extremely complex machines and because of this they frequently have malfunctions which can put the passengers in the car, other motorists on the road, and pedestrians at risk of death or serious injury.

Anti-Lock Brakes Can Malfunction

The anti-lock braking system (ABS) is a computer-assisted braking system which prevents the brakes from locking up. ABS have come into widespread use in production automobiles since their adoption in the 1970s. In addition to anti-lock brakes, modern motor vehicles also often have electronic control of the front-to-rear bias, traction control, electronic stability control, and emergency brake assist. These computer-assisted features are supposed to make the car safer and more easily controlled. Unfortunately, computer systems in cars can malfunction just like other computer systems.

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Orland Park personal injury attorneysBeing involved in a car crash is one of the most stressful things a person can experience. It can happen in the blink of an eye. In the moments after a car crash a driver may think, “Am I injured? Is anyone else injured? What should I do now?” After a car accident, it is important that everyone involved check themselves for injuries. Car accident injuries can result in broken bones, concussions, neck and back injuries, and damage to soft tissue. Many individuals who get into car accidents quickly determine that they have not been injured, however, it may be hard to know this for sure in the moments following an accident. Car crashes are extremely very dangerous and may lead to disability, reoccurring pain, and even death. Between 20 and 50 million Americans suffer injuries in car accidents annuallyr, resulting in over 1 million days under hospital care due to these accidents.

“Fight or Flight” Hormones Masks Pain

If you have ever been in a car accident, you know the gut-wrenching feelings that can overcome you immediately after the accident. After a traumatic event such as an accident, adrenaline floods a person’s system. Adrenaline is the “fight or flight” hormone and is responsible for readying our bodies to face danger. Also called epinephrine, adrenaline increases the production of sweat, dilates the pupils, and elevates the heart rate. One of the most important functions of adrenaline, however, is blocking the recognition of pain.

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Orland Park personal injury attorneysMost people have heard about the now-infamous McDonald’s hot coffee lawsuit. It is a story which has been widely misrepresented by the media and is often misunderstood by the general public. The 79-year-old plaintiff was in the passenger seat of a car when she went through the McDonald’s drive-thru and ordered a coffee. As she was unfastening the lid of the coffee, it tipped and spilled on her. When she and her family brought a lawsuit against McDonald’s, many considered the suit to be ridiculous. After all, we have all accidentally spilled coffee or other drinks before. The public, in general, did not understand how the situation was the restaurant’s fault and assumed the plaintiff was merely greedy or looking for an easy payout.

Appalling Injuries

The actual story is much more gruesome. What many do not realize about the cup of coffee from McDonald’s was that it was served at a temperature between 180 and 190 degrees Fahrenheit—per corporate specifications. Liquid at this temperature is so scalding that it can cause third-degree burns in two to seven seconds. Third-degree burns are the most severe type of burn a person can endure and result in skin being burned down to the muscle/fatty-tissue layer.

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