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Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit In Illinois?Wrongful death is defined as a death that occurred due to the negligent or wrongful actions of another party. Wrongful death lawsuits may follow a death caused by a drunk driver accident, workplace accident, construction accident, assault, medical malpractice, and more. Through a wrongful death claim, a surviving loved one may receive compensation for the expenses and losses incurred by the death. This may include compensation for medical bills, funeral and burial expenses, mental anguish, and the loss of companionship. If you have recently lost a loved one, you may wonder who is entitled to bring a wrongful death claim in Illinois.

Determining Whether a Successful Wrongful Death Claim Is Possible

Not every unexpected death qualifies as wrongful death. The Illinois Wrongful Death Act states that a party may be liable to an action for damages if:

  • The death of a person was caused by the party’s neglect, wrongful act, or default; and
  • If the person had not died, he or she would have been entitled to recover damages for his or her injuries

Most wrongful death claims involve a party who was negligent. A successful wrongful death claim based on negligence is possible when the responsible party has a duty of care, the party breached that duty, an individual dies as a result of the breach of duty, and damages are incurred.

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Seeking Compensation for a Wrongful Death Caused by a Distracted Truck DriverBy now, most people have heard about the dangers of distracted driving. Unfortunately, despite dozens of public awareness campaigns and increased consequences for distracted drivers, cell phone use and other forms of distracted driving continue to be a major problem. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that accidents caused by distracted driving take the lives of nine people every day in the U.S. If you have lost a loved one in a car crash involving a distracted truck driver, you may be eligible for compensation.

Fatal Traffic Accidents Caused by Truck Driver Negligence

Motorists of all kinds should keep their eyes and attention on the road while driving, but for drivers of semi-trucks and tractor-trailers, careful attention to the road is even more crucial. A fully-loaded 18-wheeler can weigh up to 80,000 lbs and takes 40 percent longer to stop than a medium-sized car. Truck drivers taking their eyes off of the road for even just a few seconds can cause devastating accidents. In January of this year, two adults and a one-year-old child were killed on I-65 when a semi-truck collided with a line of slowing vehicles. The truck driver told police that at the time of the accident, he was looking down to put his coffee cup away. Another fatal truck accident that occurred last April involved a truck driver who was allegedly watching pornography on his cell phone at the time of the crash. The parents of an 18-year-old boy killed in the accident have filed a lawsuit against the company that owned the truck.

Wrongful Deaths Lawsuits

There is no amount of compensation that could ever fully make up for the tragic loss of a loved one. However, a wrongful death claim may help families receive financial compensation that lessens the financial burden caused by loss. A personal representative of the deceased person may bring a wrongful death claim against a party when that party’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional wrongdoing caused the person’s death. Compensation for the deceased person’s medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost income, and funeral and burial expenses may be available. In cases involving especially egregious conduct, the court may also award punitive damages, which is additional compensation intended to punish the wrongdoer.

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When is a Doctor or Hospital Legally Responsible for a Child Developing Cerebral Palsy?Cerebral palsy is a disorder caused by the atypical development of a child’s brain often stemming from brain injury or infection. Children with cerebral palsy typically experience loss of muscle control, reduced muscle tone, impaired movement, lack of balance and coordination, involuntary movements, eye problems, and other serious symptoms. Research into the many causes of cerebral palsy is still ongoing, but in some cases, cerebral palsy is a direct result of a doctor or other medical professional’s negligence during the child’s birth. If your child has cerebral palsy, you may question whether or not medical malpractice played a role in your child’s development of this disorder.

Understanding the Medical Standard of Care

There are typically four elements needed to establish medical malpractice. Firstly, the doctor must have owned the patient a duty of care. This means that a doctor-patient relationship existed so the doctor had a duty to provide medical care to the patient. Secondly, the doctor deviated from the “medical standard of care.” The standard of care refers to the level of care that a competent doctor of similar experience and training would have provided under similar circumstances. Thirdly, the doctor’s failure to meet the medical standard of care caused the patient’s injury. Lastly, the injury led to damages such as additional medical expenses or pain and suffering.

Examples of Medical Malpractice That Can Cause Cerebral Palsy

There are countless things that can go wrong during a pregnancy or birth. This is why doctors must receive such a great deal of education and training before becoming a certified physician. If a doctor or other medical professional did not appropriately treat a medical condition during pregnancy or birth, he or she may be liable for the harm done to a child. In some situations, the liable party is the hospital as a whole. Examples of medical malpractice that often lead to the development of cerebral palsy include but are not limited to:

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Common Mistakes Made After an Auto AccidentUnderstandably, many people are in a state of shock after being hurt in a serious traffic accident. They may not realize that the actions they take immediately after being in an auto accident can mean the difference between receiving full compensation for the expenses incurred by their injuries and being saddled with burdensome medical bills and other costs related to the accident. If you or a loved one are ever involved in an accident, make sure to avoid these common mistakes.

  1. Not Calling the Police: There are many reasons that a person involved in a car wreck may not call law enforcement to the scene of an accident. Perhaps the driver has had a negative interaction with a police officer in the past or does not realize how much a formal police report will benefit him or her if he or she ends up filing a personal injury claim. In some situations, a driver does not call the police because another driver involved in the accident suggests or outright demands that the police remain uninvolved. Do not let another driver convince you not to call law enforcement. Even if you do not plan on filing a claim, calling the police and getting a police report after an accident is essential.
  2. Underestimating Your Injuries: There are many injuries such as whiplash and traumatic brain injuries that are not immediately evident. You should always get checked out by a medical professional after a major auto accident – even if you think your injuries are only minor. If you do end up being more injured than you realized, receiving compensation for medical expenses or lost income caused by the injuries can be nearly impossible without an official record of these injuries.
  3. Not Gathering Evidence and Witnesses Information: After an accident, get the names and contact information of witnesses. These witnesses can be extremely helpful if you need other people to corroborate your version of the events in the future. Take pictures and videos of the accident scene, damage to your car, damage to the other car, and the position of the vehicles.
  4. Assuming You Cannot Receive Compensation if You Were Partially At Fault: Imagine this scenario: A man is driving down the highway when he is struck by another vehicle. He sustained major injuries in the accident, incurred massive hospital bills, and is left unable to work. However, he does not pursue compensation for these damages because he was speeding at the time of the accident and assumes that he cannot win a personal injury claim. This is a common misconception about personal injury claims. Under Illinois comparative negligence law, a plaintiff may still receive partial compensation for an injury as long as he or she was less than 51 percent at fault.

Contact a Joliet Car Accident Attorney

After an auto accident, you should always call the police, get evaluated by a medical professional, and gather evidence and witness information. If you or a loved one were hurt in a car accident and you want to learn more about your options for receiving compensation, contact an Illinois personal injury lawyer from Schwartz Injury Law. Call our office at 815-723-7300 to schedule your free, confidential consultation.

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Posted on in Personal Injury

What Qualifies as a Wrongful Death?The unexpected loss of a loved one can be an absolutely heartbreaking event to endure. In addition to the emotional anguish surviving loved ones feel, there are often significant financial consequences caused by an unexpected death. For example, a mother whose husband passes away does not only lose her spouse, but she also loses his income and possibly benefits such as healthcare coverage for their children. No amount of money could ever fully compensate a grieving family for the death of a loved one. However, through a wrongful death lawsuit, some surviving loved ones are able to receive the financial relief they desperately need. If you have recently lost a loved one, you may be unsure as to whether or not this death constitutes a “wrongful death.” Read on to learn about Illinois laws regarding wrongful death and how you may be able to pursue compensation through a wrongful death claim.

Illinois Law Regarding Wrongful Deaths

The Illinois Wrongful Death Act states that wrongful death occurs when:

  • The death was caused by a wrongful act, neglect, or default, and
  • If the deceased person had not died, he or she would have been entitled to maintain an action and collect damages

Consider an example in which a woman is killed in an accident caused by a driver under the influence of alcohol. In Illinois, most drunk drivers who cause serious accidents are considered “negligent per se.” This means that they are automatically presumed to have been negligent because they were breaking the law and harmed someone in the process. If the woman had survived the accident and suffered injuries instead of death, she would have had a legal right to pursue compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. However, because the woman passed away in the accident, a personal representative of her estate may bring a wrongful death claim.

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Falsified Log Books May Cause Truck Accidents by Sleepy DriversNo one would argue whether being a truck driver is a very tough job. Truck drivers are expected to drive for hours and hours each day and must meet strict delivery deadlines. This can often cause drivers to skip out on necessary sleep in order to meet these expectations. Sleep deprivation can significantly decrease a truck driver’s ability to safely maneuver through traffic. Many fatal truck accidents have been caused by truck drivers who fell asleep at the wheel or were too fatigued to react in time to prevent an accident. If you have been injured in a traffic accident caused by a fatigued truck driver, you may be eligible for compensation.

Laws Dictating Truck Drivers’ Sleep Schedules

In order to prevent accidents caused by sleepy truck drivers, a number of laws have been enacted that require drivers to take rest breaks. For example, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, truck drivers may drive for a maximum of 11 hours after being off duty for 10 consecutive hours. If they were off duty for only eight consecutive hours, then they are permitted to drive for a maximum of 10 hours. Truck drivers must keep a logbook that identifies the hours that they have been on the road and when they have stopped to rest. Unfortunately, some truck drivers falsify these records in order to get their driving assignments completed sooner. An experienced lawyer can analyze the truck driver’s logbook, receipts, delivery logs, and other information to find inconsistencies that show that the driver was lying.

Who Is At Fault for an Accident Caused by a Sleepy Truck Driver?

Determining fault in a truck accident is not always straightforward. Legal liability for a truck accident may fall to the truck driver himself or herself or the trucking company. If the accident was caused by a defective truck part or inadequate truck maintenance, the company responsible for maintaining the truck or the truck part manufacturer may be to blame. In many cases, there may be more than one problem that contributed to the accident. For example, the truck driver himself or herself may have been sleepy and did not react fast enough, but the accident was also worsened because the truck’s braking mechanism was flawed in some way.

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When is a Doctor or Medical Facility Liable for an Infant’s Death?The birth of a child should be one of the greatest days of a person’s life. However, when something goes wrong during the birth and the infant passes away, it can become the worst day of the parents’ lives. Losing a child under any circumstances is heartbreaking, but when that death could have been prevented, the heartbreak is even more excruciating. If medical negligence contributed to the death of an infant, the parents may bring a medical malpractice claim against the medical staff or the facility itself.

Who Is at Fault for the Death?

Sadly, sometimes a baby dies during or shortly after birth and there is nothing that could have been done to save him or her. Not every infant death is the result of medical negligence or wrongdoing. Medical negligence occurs when a doctor or other medical professional does not fulfill his or her “duty of care.” Medical staff members have a legal obligation to provide competent medical attention that meets the “medical standard of care.” This standard of care is defined as the level of care that a reasonably skilled medical professional of similar education and training would have provided in similar circumstances. For example, consider a scenario in which an infant passes away because the delivering doctor failed to address the fact that the umbilical cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck. If a reasonably competent doctor of similar training would have noticed the problem with the umbilical cord and taken different steps to save the infant’s life, this may mean medical negligence has occurred.

Collecting Damages in a Medical Malpractice Case Involving Wrongful Death

If medical negligence leads to the death of a baby, a wrongful death lawsuit may help the parents receive compensation. The parents may be able to receive compensation for:

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Drug and Alcohol Use Contribute to Many Serious Truck AccidentsThere is no doubt that the trucking industry is a vital part of our American way of life. Just under 70 percent of all goods in the U.S are delivered via semi-trucks. However, these trucks also present a grave danger when they are not operated properly. A fully-loaded semi-truck, tractor-trailer, or eighteen-wheeler can weigh up to a staggering 80,000 lbs. When a large truck is involved in a motor vehicle accident, the damage can be catastrophic. One contributor to major truck accidents is truck driver drug and alcohol use. If you or a loved one were involved in a major truck accident and the truck driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you may be eligible for compensation.

Study Shows Alcohol and Drug Use is High Among Truck Drivers

A study published in “Occupational and Environmental Medicine” analyzed the level of drug and alcohol use among truck drivers across the globe. Half of the truck drivers who participated in the study admitted to using alcohol while on the road, and 30 percent admitted to using amphetamines to stay awake on long hauls. The study also analyzed data gathered from drug and alcohol tests. The U.S. had the highest frequency of positive alcohol tests among all of the truck drivers tested. Approximately 12.5 percent of U.S. truck drivers who were tested for alcohol tested positive.

When Drug and Alcohol Use Causes an Accident

Drugs and alcohol have a significant impact on a truck driver’s ability to drive safely. Alcohol use decreases coordination, reaction time, and concentration – the very skills needed to maneuver through traffic. If you have been injured or a loved one was killed in an accident caused by an intoxicated driver, you may have a valid personal injury or wrongful death claim. Through a personal injury claim, you may be able to hold the negligent party accountable for the damage he or she has done. Furthermore, you may be able to receive compensation for both economic and noneconomic damages. You could be reimbursed for your medical bills, ongoing costs for physical therapy and rehabilitative medicine, lost wages due to time off of work, pain and suffering, and more.

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Common Birth Injuries That Can Be Caused by Medical NegligenceGiving birth to a child is one of the most miraculous experiences that a person can have. Sadly, some births do not go as planned. Research shows that about seven out of every 1000 births results in a birth injury. Some of these birth injuries are unavoidable. Others, however, are the result of negligence or wrongdoing by a doctor, nurse, or another medical professional. When medical malpractice causes an infant to be seriously injured, the results can be devastating.

Babies With Certain Risk Factors Are Most Likely to Be Injured During Birth

Infants are more likely to be injured during birth when medical devices such as a vacuum extractor or forceps are used. Some of these injuries are only superficial cuts and bruises but others, such as intracranial hemorrhages, can cause serious, long-term damage. Babies are also more likely to suffer injury if they:

  • Are born prematurely
  • Are very large
  • Have a breech presentation
  • Experience excessive traction or rotation during delivery

However, birth injuries can still occur even when no risk factors are present.

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What Signs Can Help Detect Elder Abuse?Elder abuse can be classified as the negligent or intentional actions performed by a caregiver or trusted individual that results in pain and suffering for an elderly person. Several forms of elder abuse exist, including but not limited to neglect, physical and sexual abuse, and exploitation. Although elder abuse may be difficult to detect, there are numerous signs that can help determine if a crime is taking place. If you believe that a friend or family member is being victimized by a caretaker, it is important to seek legal help.  

How Can Neglect Be Identified?

Simply put, the neglect of an elderly person happens when adequate care and attention is not given by the attendant. Lack of medical treatment, an improper diet, and unsafe living conditions all qualify as different forms of neglect. Additionally, there are various signs that point to this form of abuse taking place, such as:

  • Lack of basic hygiene
  • Weight loss or trouble sleeping
  • Not being dressed appropriately for the weather conditions       
  • Missing medical aids (walkers, hearing aids, glasses, etc.)
  • Extended periods of time in bed without supervision, resulting in bedsores
  • Lack of living necessities (refrigerator, plumbing, electricity, etc.)

Signs of Physical or Sexual Abuse

In many cases, elderly people that are being physically or sexually abused can show changes in their appearance, mood, or overall body language and condition. Depending on the form of abuse and what body parts are being affected, different markings could help detect physical or sexual misconduct. Coinciding with any unexplained injuries, the discovery of a sexually transmitted disease (STD), an inappropriate relationship with a caregiver, torn clothing, or any aggressive actions could also be a warning that these types of abuse are transpiring.  

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What Should A Victim Do After a Hit-and-Run Car Accident?Being involved in an automobile crash can be a life-altering event. Pain and suffering, serious injuries, extensive medical bills, and extreme property damage can leave a victim unsure of how to proceed. After an accident takes place, it is likely that everyone who was linked to the collision will remain at the scene, exchange information, and wait for the authorities to arrive. However, there is always the possibility that the driver at fault will flee the scene. Before reckless actions are taken, there are several “Do’s and Don’ts” that the victim of a hit-and-run accident should consider.  

Do: Gather as Much Information as Possible

Without risking injury or breaking the law, the victim of a hit-and-run car accident should look to collect any relevant information for the police. For instance, if the at-fault vehicle starts to drive away, the victim should try to remember:

  • A description of the vehicle, such as the year, make, model and color
  • The license plate number
  • A depiction of any exterior damage done to their car
  • The direction the motorist was heading
  • The time and location in which the accident occurred

In addition, any pictures or video footage taken could immensely help law enforcement catch the driver. New information can be found within the footage that might not have been originally noticed, such as the motorist’s race, age, and gender.  

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Can Cerebral Palsy Be Linked to Medical Malpractice?Cerebral Palsy (CP) is a congenital disorder that affects an individual’s muscle movement, tone, and posture. Because it hinders the body’s ability to move in a coordinated manner, people that are diagnosed with CP may need assistance with bodily functions such as breathing, eating, and motor skills. Since CP is often caused by brain damage that occurred either before or during a child’s birth, early detection can help parents establish a medical malpractice lawsuit. If you suspect that a doctor, nurse, physician, or medical staff member acted negligently during your pregnancy or at the time of birth, it is important to speak with an experienced birth injury attorney.

What Can Cause Cerebral Palsy?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), CP is the most common motor disability found in children. Although the explanation of CP is not always known, there are several causes that can be linked to the disorder, such as:

  • Genetic illness
  • Low birth weight
  • Untreated jaundice
  • Premature birth
  • A stroke in the womb or after birth
  • Lack of oxygen reaching the brain
  • Infections during pregnancy
  • Medical problems faced by the mother during pregnancy

The failure of medical professionals to act accordingly throughout pregnancy or the birthing process can also lead to CP. For instance, if infections or changes in heart rate go undetected, the doctor or nurse may be held liable. Furthermore, the careless actions of a medical staff member may lead to CP. Improper tool use, medication errors, or administrative mistakes can be linked to medical malpractice.

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Safety Tips to Consider When Driving Near TrucksWhether an individual is on the expressway or a city street, it is very probable that he or she will encounter a semi-truck. Although a motorist should always drive in a state of readiness, precaution levels should be further increased when a truck is nearby. Due to their size and weight, a semi-truck accident can lead to catastrophic injuries and fatalities. It is important for a motorist to understand the limitations that a larger vehicle is subjected to. Before getting behind the wheel, a motorist should consider these helpful suggestions:

  1. Avoid Blind Spots: The height and length of a semi-truck can create blind spots for the trucker from every angle. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), if an opposing motorist cannot see the truck driver in the vehicle side mirror, it should be assumed that the truck driver cannot see the vehicle. When driving near a truck, an individual should try their best to remain visible and never linger in a blind spot when trying to pass a truck.    
  2. Allow for Extra Room: Visibility is not the only concern an opposing motorist should think about when driving next to a truck. Considering that it takes much longer for a larger vehicle to stop, spacing should be planned. Drivers should also acknowledge the time and space needed for a truck to switch lanes. Furthermore, individuals should avoid tailgating a semi-truck. In the event of a rear-end collision, a car could slide or get pushed underneath a truck. 
  3. Expect Wide Turns: Often displayed on the back of a semi-truck is a warning that says, “this vehicle makes wide turns”. Opposing vehicles should never try to squeeze or get between a turning truck and the curb. In addition, intersection lines should never be crossed since they help trucks and other large vehicles safely navigate a turn. In many situations, a truck will have to conduct a turn from the middle lane in order to properly fit.
  4. Be Understanding: Semi-trucks are becoming more prevalent in our cites and on our expressways. It is important for fellow motorists to be patient with the setbacks that these vehicles have. Trucks take longer to accelerate and typically use speed limiters to prevent reckless behaviors. If a driver is looking at a long commute, he or she should plan to leave early. Driving aggressive and honking at trucks can lead to accidents occurring.   

Contact a Cook County Personal Injury Attorney

A traffic accident involving a semi-truck can be mentally and physically draining. If you or a loved one has been injured due to a truck driver’s negligence, financial compensation may be owed. With over $2.5 billion in verdicts and settlements in the last five years, the dedicated Orland Park, IL, truck accident lawyers at Schwartz Injury Law can help you seek restitution. To schedule a free consultation, contact our office at 708-226-9000.

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An Overview of the Wrongful Death Act in IllinoisA life cut short by carelessness can cause physical and emotional distress, potential financial disruption and depression for the surviving family members. Our attorneys understand that losing a loved one is never easy and will handle your case with care and compassion while providing representation. If you are unsure whether you can receive compensation for your loved one’s death, the following information on Illinois’ wrongful death laws should answer your most important questions.

Language of the Law

The Illinois Wrongful Death Act defines wrongful death as someone dying due to a wrongful act or neglect. Survivors of the deceased can file a wrongful death lawsuit if the deceased would have been allowed to file a personal injury lawsuit if they had survived the incident.

Causes of Wrongful Death

A wrongful death lawsuit can be filed in any situation when someone is killed because of recklessness, carelessness or negligence by another party. Situations include but are not limited to: 

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Most Common Traffic Laws Broken by Illinois DriversGetting behind the wheel means business. Abiding by Illinois driving laws, rules, and regulations is important to ensure the safety of yourself and others on the road. 

Unfortunately, rules get broken, accidents happen and injury occurs. The Illinois Vehicle Code lists hundreds of transportation offenses and their matching penalties, but there are the five outstanding rules of the road drivers constantly and continuously break:

  1. Failure to Stop at a Stop Sign or Running a Red Light: Red is the universal color of traffic signs and signals meaning “stop.” Even though you are supposed to come to a complete stop at stop signs, many drivers do what is known as a rolling stop. At a stop sign or stoplight, you are required to come to a complete stop before the white line, which marks the start of the intersection and allows other cars and pedestrians to travel safely when it is their turn to do so. Penalties for improper stopping at a stop sign, failure to stop at a stop sign, and/or running a red light range from a fine to points on your driving record.
  2. Speeding: Exceeding the posted speed limit decreases your ability to control your vehicle. If you are pulled over for speeding, there are different levels of consequences you could endure depending on how fast you were going.
  3. Operating a Vehicle Without a License or Proof of Insurance: A valid driver's license and auto insurance is required to operate a vehicle. Penalties for failure to have one or both range from license suspension to revocation.
  4. Driving without Wearing a Seatbelt: Illinois law requires all drivers and passengers age 8 and older to wear a seatbelt, regardless of whether they are in the front or back seat. Passengers under age 8 must be secured in an appropriate child restraint system that complies with the Child Passenger Protection Act.
  5. Distracted Driving: The odds of getting into a car accident increases drastically if you are distracted. It is important to minimize distractions before getting in the car and stay focused on the road while you are driving. Distractions while driving include but are not limited to:
  • Texting
  • Talking on the phone
  • Smoking
  • Eating and/or drinking
  • Singing or listening to music
  • Applying makeup or shaving
  • Trying to retrieve something that fell
  • Rubbernecking
  • Trying to read a map, newspaper or book

Providing Tinley Park, Oak Lawn, and Northern Illinois with Car Accident Representation

If you have been injured in a car accident from another driver breaking the law, contact Schwartz Injury Law. We will provide you with the best legal representation to get you the compensation you deserve for your case. To schedule a free consultation with a Cook County personal injury attorney, call our law firm at 708-226-9000 or fill out a form online today. 

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Four Tips for Reducing Roadway Collision Risk this Winter SeasonIn even the most ideal conditions, venturing out onto the highways as a motorist is scary and can be downright dangerous, posing many risks to our health and safety. Car accidents happen on all kinds of roadways, for a million different reasons, and no one is immune to the hazards responsible for these collisions. Whether the source of an accident is due to road construction, a negligent driver, or inclement weather, prevention efforts on behalf of motorists nationwide can go a long way in reducing our collision risks. This is especially the case for those who live in cold-weather regions throughout the winter season, as roadways are exceptionally hazardous during these icy, snow-filled months.

Preparation is Key

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) emphasizes the need to pay special attention to safe driving habits during the winter months, reminding us that preparation is key in not only the prevention of collisions but also in the event that you are involved in one. Being prepared better equips you to handle the challenges that come with the aftermath of a crash, like avoiding movement that might worsen any injuries you have incurred. As the winter months approach and you get ready to hit the roads, prepare in the following ways to lessen your chances of collision:

  1. Tune-up: Staying on top of your vehicle maintenance is crucial before and during the winter months. Be sure to inspect your tires and all of your lights, including headlights, brake lights, and emergency flashers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends having your mechanic check your battery as well to ensure you have enough amperage, voltage, and reserve capacity. Do not forget to keep your windshield wipers in proper working order, too, with enough fluid in the washer reservoir. Also, make sure your front and rear window defrosters are fully functional.
  2. Get Packing: Have a supply bag packed and stored away in your car for emergencies, should you end up stranded. This will come in handy in the event you are involved in a collision and need to wait for help. Pack blankets, food, water, medications, flashlights, jumper cables, and an abrasive material, like kitty litter. Flares, an ice scraper, and snow brush are also essentials for winter driving emergencies. 
  3. Rehearse: Carve out some time to practice driving your vehicle in winter weather conditions before you set out for longer trips. Rehearsing your movements beforehand will help you get comfortable operating your car in the ice and snow. OSHA recommends practicing in the daytime, in an empty lot. Try steering into a skid and getting familiar with your brakes by pumping non-antilock brakes or stomping on antilock brakes.
  4. Drive Defensively:  Brush up on defensive driving techniques and put them into practice the moment you hit the road. Continually scan your mirrors to keep an eye on what is happening around you, do not tailgate, and obey the rules of the road, especially speed limits. Cut out any distractions, from texting and talking on the cell phone to eating while driving. Keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the highway. In the wintertime, in particular, do not crowd snowplows. Give them space and pass with extreme caution.

Contact an Orland Park Car Accident Lawyer

If you find yourself in a car collision due to a negligent driver during the winter months, do not panic. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Reach out to a qualified Cook County personal injury lawyer, who can address your concerns and help protect your rights in a court of law. Call Schwartz Injury Law at 708-226-9000 today to schedule a free consultation.

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Three Common Medical Errors Every Patient Should be Aware OfWhile medical malpractice is nowhere near a new issue in the healthcare industry, many media reports and study findings within the last few years have surfaced among the general public, bringing attention to seemingly more medical errors in the community than ever before. In recent years, experts from John Hopkins University shared findings from data that spanned over an eight-year period, revealing that more than 250,000 deaths per year have been attributed to medical error in the U.S. Researchers emphasized that a majority of these errors point to systematic errors, such as poorly coordinated care, problems within insurance networks, and the lack of or underuse of proper protocols. Whatever the source responsible for any given medical error, however, thousands of patients have been and continue to be seriously affected by negligence in the medical community.

The Most Common Causes of Medical Malpractice

The medical community is vast, with a variety of different kinds of medical malpractice cases, but these top three forms of medical error are some of the most notorious in the news today: 

  1. Medication errors: An astounding number of reports – more than 100,000 – make their way to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) each year, suspecting pharmacy medication errors. Whether the pharmacy applies an incorrect label on your prescription bottle, fills the wrong medication, or dispenses the wrong dosage on behalf of the doctor’s instructions, medication errors frequently occur, causing all kinds of problems for unsuspecting patients. Many patients are unaware of the error and go on to take the incorrect dose or medication until long after the problem is discovered, or they experience serious side effects that alert them to the fact that something is wrong. One of the best ways to protect yourself from this risk is to research the medication you are prescribed thoroughly and to do before you even pick up your prescription at the pharmacy. Be proactive, discuss the details of your medicine with your doctor, as well as the pharmacist, and do not be afraid to ask questions.
  2. Misdiagnosis: Another error that occurs all too often is the misdiagnosis of a condition. At times, misdiagnosis may not necessarily be a matter of receiving an incorrect diagnosis directly from a doctor, but instead being attributed with an incorrect condition due to the wrong diagnosis code attributed to your record. Faulty communication, both written and verbal, can create serious discrepancies in the documentation of your health care. These kinds of errors can also trickle down into your insurance records, further complicating matters. Protect yourself from misdiagnosis by researching your symptoms, talking about them in-depth with your doctor, taking notes and asking questions, and most of all, not hesitating to seek out another opinion if something does not feel right.
  3. Missed diagnosis: A missed diagnosis all together can be just as dangerous as an incorrect diagnosis given. Whether your doctor diagnosed you with a condition too late or not at all, if you discover what was wrong later on, perhaps under the care of another provider, you may be the victim of faulty medical practice. Being an advocate for your own health is one of your best defenses against these kinds of errors. 

Contact an Orland Park Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you find you have become another medical malpractice statistic and are experiencing symptoms of injury, it is critical to speak with a skilled, knowledgeable DuPage County personal injury lawyer, who can evaluate your case, protect your rights, and advocate for your health and wellbeing. Schedule a free consultation today by calling Schwartz Injury Law at 708-226-9000. 

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Research Shows Distracted Driving Is More Than Taking Our Eyes Off the RoadFrom the implementation of state-to-state cell phone laws and public awareness campaigns to startling news reports in the media, it seems the warnings about the dangers of distracted driving and related car accidents are everywhere we turn. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported over 3,000 deaths in 2017, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that in recent years, nearly 400,000 people have been injured due to distracted driving incidents. Despite the fact that statistics such as these keep surfacing, the number of alarming accidents continues to leave trails of both fatal and non-fatal injuries across our roadways.

Distracted Driving Takes Different Forms

Cell phone use is typically the first thing most drivers think of when it comes to the subject of distracted driving, but research shows that the issue is more complex than simply using a cell phone behind the wheel. According to the CDC, distracted driving takes many different forms and can be anything that pulls our attention away from the road. The CDC tells us that our attention can be disrupted in three different ways: visually, manually, and cognitively. Here are some examples of how these distracted driving incidents can take place: 

  • Visual Distraction: Texting alone takes our eyes off the road for a minimum of five seconds, but our ability to safely operate a vehicle is instantly impaired anytime we are visually distracted, whether our eyes are peeled from the road due to sightseeing or we are engaging in a heated debate with a passenger next to us. Not only are we unable to see what is happening directly in front of us, but we are also losing sight of our speed and the proximity of other cars around us, rendering us incapable of driving defensively. 
  • Manual Distraction: Physically removing our hands from the wheel can be just as deadly as taking our eyes off the road, and usually, these two forms of distracted driving intertwine. Some common dangers that involve taking our hands off the wheel include adjusting the radio or air conditioning or eating while driving. Operating a navigation system while in motion is another common, risky activity.
  • Cognitive Distraction: One of the biggest reasons texting and talking on the phone garners so much attention and racks up the highest statistics is the cognitive factor behind the risk. A cognitive distraction is considered anything that takes our minds off the road, and replying to a message or engaging in a phone conversation is more than a simple glance out the window. Conversations redirect our thinking entirely, consuming our attention and eliminating our ability to focus. While science may prove we are able to multitask, we also know that it does not automatically mean we can divide our attention evenly. We can only devote so much focus on a particular task, especially when it comes to driving and the distractions competing for our attention.

Contact an Orland Park, Illinois, Personal Injury Attorney

Studies show that young adults and teen drivers are most at risk for crashing due to distracted driving, but victims of all ages are affected on a daily basis by the negligence of those causing these types of accidents. If you have had the unfortunate experience of becoming a victim statistic, it is important to inform yourself of your rights so you can fully advocate for your health. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. The moment you are involved in a collision, speak with a knowledgeable Cook County personal injury lawyer, who can examine your case and determine the nature of the crash. Call Schwartz Injury Law at 708-226-9000 and ask for a free consultation today.

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Motorcycle Accidents Considered a National Public Health IssueWhen it comes to any kind of car or motorcycle accident, we often tend to view the collision as an event that affects only the victim and other parties involved in the crash. While victims undoubtedly experience the greatest impact in a crash, research illuminates the fact that auto collisions have the power to affect the victim’s loved ones, passerby witnesses, and even the national public as a whole. This is especially true when it comes to motorcycle accidents, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says are actually a national public health issue. 

Everyone is Impacted by Motorcycle Accidents

Why does the CDC claim that motorcycle accident injury and death is everyone’s problem? Here are some startling facts:

  • The number of motorcycle deaths continues to increase each year. Studies show an astounding 82 percent increase in deaths between 2000 and 2016. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcycle fatalities occurred 28 times more frequently in traffic crashes than car passenger fatalities, and a recent report revealed that nearly 90,000 motorcyclists were injured on an annual basis.
  • Riding accidents are not only life-changing for victims. They are also expensive, and everyone technically pays the price. The CDC reports that the annual economic burden on the public due to motorcycle-related injuries and deaths totals a staggering $12 billion. How is this coming out of the public’s pockets? Studies show that a huge portion of these costs is paid by the U.S. public because these expenses actually reflect higher insurance premiums and taxes, not to mention lost tax revenue. Studies show that medical bills due to motorcyclists’ injuries are often paid for by public funds, as these injuries typically require hospitalization and rehabilitation services. Most of these charges come from Medicaid.
  • Motorcycle crashes are often linked to other public health issues, such as drunk driving. Reports from the NHTSA in 2016 showed that motorcycle riders in crashes held a higher percentage of alcohol impairment compared to all other types of motor vehicle drivers. This is merely one example of the many instances where substance abuse, intoxicated driving, and motorcycle collision intertwine and create devastating statistics. 

Contact an Orland Park, Illinois, Personal Injury Attorney

From injury, death, and emotional trauma to healthcare and prevention costs, research continues to show how motorcycle accidents really do affect everyone in the U.S. If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident right here in Illinois, it is imperative that you speak with an informed, dedicated Cook County personal injury lawyer about the rights you are entitled to in a court of law. Your case may show that you are eligible for some sort of compensation for your injuries. Let our skilled attorneys protect your best interests while you focus on recovering from the collision. Call Schwartz Injury Law today at 708-226-9000 and schedule a free consultation.

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Why Drowsy Driving is Considered Just as Dangerous as Drunk DrivingAccording to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), drowsy driving was the cause of nearly 91,000 police-reported car accidents in the year 2017, and since then, the NHTSA maintains that recent numbers grossly underestimate all of the incidents actually caused by driver fatigue. Researchers say the exact numbers can be difficult to nail down, as they are only able to identify specific evidence that confirms drowsy driving as the cause for a crash, but the estimates they are able to provide give us an alarming perspective on just how serious the issue is on our roadways today.

Drunk Driving Is Not the Only Kind of Impaired Driving

Drowsy driving as a public safety issue garners so much attention largely for the fact that it is considered just as dangerous as drunk driving. The National Safety Council has deemed it a valid form of impaired driving, backing this claim up with research that shows the signs and effects of drunk driving and drowsy driving are the same. Here is why drowsy driving is considered just as dangerous as drunk driving: 

  • Studies have found that driving without sleep for more than 20 hours is actually the equivalent of driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08%, the legal limit in the U.S. 
  • A driver’s ability to concentrate, pay attention, and be aware of the presence of hazards is hindered when sleep-deprived. Similarly to driving under the influence of alcohol, a drowsy driver experiences slower reflexes and reaction times, impairing their ability to react quickly enough to prevent a collision.
  • The National Safety Council reports that drivers are three times more likely to be involved in a car crash when they are fatigued. Fatigue affects both drunk drivers and sleep-deprived drivers and is a common symptom of impaired driving. Drunk and drowsy drivers alike experience the same signs of fatigue, such as frequent yawning and blinking, drifting out of their driving lane, and having trouble keeping their head up behind the wheel. 
  • Drowsy driving crashes have a tendency to happen between midnight and 6 a.m., which are the same hours that many drunk driving crashes take place.

Contact a Cook County Personal Injury Attorney

Experts recommend that drivers remain alert to possible impaired drivers around them by watching for the telltale signs of drowsiness. If you see someone drifting in and out of their lane, veering off to the side of the road, or frequently changing speed, maintain a safe driving distance from them and call the authorities the moment you believe they are at risk of hurting you, themselves, or other drivers. If you have been hit by a negligent driver, a knowledgeable DuPage County personal injury lawyer can help determine if drowsy driving played a role in the accident and inform you of your rights. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Let the lawyers of Schwartz Injury Law address your concerns by calling 708-226-9000 and schedule a free consultation today. 

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