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What Is Needed for a Successful Slip and Fall Injury Claim?A slip and fall accident or trip and fall accident can cause painful injuries that require considerable medical treatment. Head injuries including traumatic brain injuries, back and spine injuries, broken bones, and other injuries caused in a fall may result in thousands of dollars of medical expenses and lost income. If you or a loved one were hurt in a fall accident caused by the negligent actions of a property owner or occupier, you may be interested in pursuing compensation through a premises liability claim. To successfully obtain compensation, you and your attorney will need to prove several facts.  

Establishing The Defendant’s Negligence

The party who brings an injury claim is the plaintiff or claimant, and the party who the claim is brought against is the defendant. The defendant in a slip and fall case may be the property owner or the party who managed or occupied the property on which the injury occurred. Most slip and fall injury claims are based on the assertion that the defendant did not keep the property reasonably safe for individuals who were lawfully on the property. Spilled liquids, fractured concrete, broken stairs, and faulty handrails are all examples of hazards that may lead to a slip and fall accident.

The presence of a potential injury-causing hazard on the property is typically not enough to prove that the defendant was negligent. You will also need to show that the defendant knew or should have known about the unsafe condition. The question of foreseeability often plays a major role in premises liability claims.

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How Are Expert Witnesses Used in an Illinois Car Accident Injury Claim?Car accidents are often caused by a complex combination of numerous factors. Drunk driving, distracted driving, poor road conditions, weather, and countless other issues may all contribute to serious auto accidents. If you or your loved one were injured in a car accident, you may be interested in bringing a personal injury claim against the liable party or parties and seeking compensation. However, in order to be successful, you will need to prove that the responsible party’s negligent or wrongful actions caused the accident and that you suffered damages as a result. In complex or multifaceted car accident cases, testimony from expert witnesses can be especially useful.

Establishing the Elements of a Negligence Claim

To win your car accident claim, you and your attorneys will need to establish four main points. First, you must show that the defendant, meaning the person against whom you are bringing the lawsuit, owed you a “duty of care.” All drivers owe a duty of care to drive in a safe, lawful manner. Secondly, you must show that the defendant breached this duty. The defendant may have neglected their duty of care by driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, making erratic lane changes, failing to adequately secure truck cargo, or otherwise acting negligently. Next, you must demonstrate “causation” and show that the defendant’s breach of duty caused your injuries. Lastly, you must show that you suffered damages, or financial losses, as a result of your injuries.

Expert Witnesses Provide Testimony That May Bolster Your Case

There are many different ways that testimony from expert witnesses may be used to establish the elements needed to obtain compensation. Accident reconstructionists are professionals skilled in accident scene investigation and analysis. They use information from a variety of sources – including traffic signal phasing diagrams, event data recorders, and GPS tracking systems – to determine how an accident unfolded. They then use this information to recreate the accident and explain, in their own professional opinion, what they believe happened. Science and engineering experts may also weigh in how different factors contributed to the accident.

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Pursuing Compensation for Disabling Injuries Caused by a Truck AccidentAuto accidents happen throughout Illinois and across the United States on a daily basis. Many of the individuals involved in those accidents are able to escape with relatively minor injuries such as small cuts and bruising. They do not require significant medical treatment and are able to continue on with their lives as usual soon after the accident. However, other car accident victims are left with severe, life-altering injuries. They must endure months or years of medical treatment and are never again able to live their lives the way they could before the accident. Because commercial trucks are so massive, collisions involving semi-trucks, flatbed trucks, and other large trucks often lead to these types of catastrophic injuries.

Truck Accident Injuries Can Leave a Person Permanently Disabled

Nearly 5,000 people died in large truck accidents in the U.S. in 2017. Because the risk of death is so great, many people who wake up in the hospital after being involved in a horrific truck accident are simply grateful to be alive. However, many of these victims soon realize that the road to recovery will be long and painful. Some victims must learn to cope after losing a hand, foot, arm, or leg in an amputation. Others are left with spinal injuries that cause partial or full paralysis. They may need multiple surgeries, months of inpatient hospitalization, and expensive physical therapy. They may also need to learn how to use a wheelchair or other assistive devices and modify their home to accommodate the device.

The physical effects of a catastrophic truck accident can be devastating, but the emotional and mental consequences are often even worse. Traumatic brain injuries can cause cognitive impairment, loss of motor function, and even personality changes. Being involved in a life-threatening accident can also lead to severe anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

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How Do Building Code Violations Influence Illinois Premises Liability Claims?premises liability claim is one involving an injury on another party’s property. Property owners and managers cannot be expected to prevent every injury on their property, but they do have a legal obligation to keep their premises free of dangers that they could reasonably prevent. If the negligent actions or inaction of a property owner or property manager lead to someone’s injury or death, the property owner or manager may be liable for damages. In many cases, unsafe conditions on a property are the result of building code violations. Read on to learn about how violating building codes can influence your premises liability claim.

What Are Building Codes?

Local, state and federal laws referred to as building codes regulate the design and construction of buildings. These codes typically describe the minimum standards that must be met regarding the building’s materials and how those materials are assembled.  Building codes regulate structural components of the building as well as electrical wiring, plumbing, and more. Safety features such as smoke detectors, fire sprinklers, emergency escapes, proper lighting, and exit signs are also typically required. Buildings must also meet standards established by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Equipment like handrails, railings, and grab bars are just some of the accessibility features that buildings may be required to have.

Building Code Noncompliance Can Lead to Injury or Death

A local building inspector is typically the party responsible for ensuring that a building meets applicable building codes. Failure to comply with building codes can result in fines and other penalties. Even worse, a building that is not up to code creates a risk of harm to customers or other people invited onto the property. For example, if a building’s electrical systems are not properly installed, this can cause a fire. Broken stairways or missing handrails can result in an individual falling down the stairs and becoming severely injured. Leaky plumbing can cause wet floors that present a slip and fall risk.

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Understanding Illinois Law Regarding Shared Fault in Personal Injury CasesIn the majority of injury-causing accidents, determining why an accident occurred is not simple and straightforward. There may be many variables that combined to cause a “perfect storm” of circumstances. For example, in a drunk driving accident, the driver’s intoxication may not be the only reason the accident occurred. It may also have been raining, the road may have been in poor condition, or the other driver involved in the collision may have glanced down at his or her phone moments before the crash. In situations involving shared fault, who is deemed legally responsible for the harm caused in the accident? Illinois follows a legal doctrine called modified comparative negligence when a person’s injury was partially his or her fault and partially the fault of another party.

Understanding Modified Comparative Negligence

There are two main ways that states handle personal injury cases involving shared liability: comparative negligence or contributory negligence. In states that follow the doctrine of contributory negligence, if an injured person contributed to his or her own injury, he or she cannot collect compensation. This is considered an unreasonable rule in many people’s eyes because a person who is only one percent at fault for an injury is barred from collecting compensation from a party who was 99 percent responsible. Fortunately, Illinois is a comparative negligence state. This means that an injured person can still collect damages even if he or she is partially at fault for the injury-causing accident.

Illinois followed a slightly modified version of comparative negligence which is sometimes referred to as the “51-Percent Bar.” According to the rules of modified comparative negligence, an injured party may be eligible for compensation as long as he or she was not 51 percent or more responsible for his or her injuries. However, the amount of compensation he or she can receive will be reduced according to his or her percentage of fault. For example, if an injured party requested $50,000 in a lawsuit for a slip and fall accident but the court found him to be 20 percent responsible for the accident, he would receive $40,000.   

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Could Your Truck Accident Have Been Caused by Inadequate Truck Maintenance?In previous blogs, we have discussed the numerous problems within the trucking industry that lead to accidents. Many truck drivers are expected to work extremely long hours away from their families and tolerate erratic sleep schedules. Drivers may even turn to drugs and alcohol to help them cope with difficult working conditions. Truck accidents can be caused by driver inattention, alcohol and drug use, traffic violations, and more. However, it is important to note that a truck driver is not always the at-fault party in a trucking accident. A number of catastrophic truck accidents are the result of the truck being improperly maintained. Truck companies who do not keep up with truck maintenance may be liable for accidents caused by a malfunctioning truck.

Maintenance Failures Put Lives at Risk

Auto accidents involving commercial trucks such as tractor-trailers and semi-trucks often cause significantly more damage than auto accidents involving only cars. Truck accidents can cause devastating injuries that result in permanent disability or death. For these reasons, it is essential for truck companies to ensure that their vehicles are regularly inspected and properly maintained. Some of the most common maintenance failures that lead to truck accidents include:

  1. Brake Problems: A fully loaded 18-wheeler can weigh up to 80,000 lbs. Even in good weather, a loaded truck can take 200 yards to come to a complete stop. Large trucks typically rely on airbrakes to stop the massive vehicles. When there are issues with brake shoes, air valves, or another part of the braking system, the truck may take even longer to stop. According to the Large Truck Crash Causation Study conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), problems with the truck’s braking system were a factor in just under 30 percent of truck crashes.
  2. Steering System Failure: Large trucks may have hydraulic steering systems or electric steering systems. When the power steering fails on a truck, the driver will have an extremely difficult time maneuvering the vehicle. This means that the driver will have a much harder time reacting to dangerous situations and avoiding a collision.
  3. Tire Blowouts: Truck tires must be regularly inspected for signs of wear and should be rotated and/or replaced when necessary. Tires that are overinflated, underinflated, or worn down can be a major hazard. Tire blowouts can cause a truck driver to lose control of the vehicle and collide into traffic. In some cases, a truck accident is caused by a defective tire. This means that the company that manufactured or designed the tire may be the at-fault party.
  4. Broken Suspension: The collection of parts that cushion the driver and truck cargo from bumps is called the suspension system. The suspension includes shocks, springs, wheels, linkages and joints, and the steering system. Damaged suspension components can lead to catastrophic truck crashes.

Contact an Illinois Truck Accident Lawyer

A truck accident can be caused by almost countless factors. For help determining fault for your truck accident and pursuing compensation for your damages, contact Schwartz Injury Law. Call us at 815-723-7300 today and schedule a free consultation with a knowledgeable Joliet personal injury attorney from our firm.

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