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Joliet semi-truck accident lawyerNational statistics on large truck and bus crashes are alarming. In 2016, 180,000 people were injured and over 4,500 people were killed in crashes involving large trucks and buses. Compared to 2011, these figures increased by over 20 percent, while the number of large trucks and buses on our roadways increased by 14 percent over the same time period. Because of the weight of these vehicles (30,000 to 80,000 pounds) relative to the weight of an average person (175 pounds) or passenger vehicle (3,000 to 6,000 pounds), a truck accident often leads to a catastrophic personal injury or wrongful death.

Negligence in Large Truck Accidents in Will County

There are many ways in which a person can be killed or injured as a result of negligence on the part of a truck owner or operator. In one 2018 incident on I-80 near Joliet, a wheel hub became detached from the rear axle of a semi-trailer and went flying through the windshield of a passenger car. The car’s driver and her unborn son were both killed in the ensuing crash. The truck driver was cited for an “unsafe equipment” violation by the Illinois State Police. If the driver and/or his employer are found to have been negligent in maintaining the vehicle properly, one or both could be held liable for significant damages for the woman’s wrongful death

A particularly dramatic crash on I-80 near Joliet in 2017 involved three tractor-trailer trucks. One FedEx truck was broken down on the shoulder, and a second FedEx truck had also parked on the shoulder to offer assistance. A third semi-truck, driving out of control, veered out of its traffic lane and onto the shoulder, striking both FedEx trucks and causing all three trucks to burst into flames. Both FedEx drivers were killed. The Illinois State Police charged the driver of the third truck with improper lane usage and failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident. 

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Cook County Injury Lawyers

If you or someone in your family has been injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing, you should seek the advice of an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. In the wake of a serious injury, your first priority is to take care of yourself and your family. Consulting with a lawyer may be the last thing on your mind, but obtaining legal advice quickly can prove critical, especially if you face medical bills, lost wages, rehabilitation, and/or pain and suffering as a result of your injuries.

Police and Insurance Company Investigations

When a severe injury occurs in an accident, an investigation will begin immediately to determine exactly what happened. The police may be involved along with insurance company investigators, but they have different objectives. The police want to determine if a crime was committed, while the insurance company is focused on who was liable. You want to speak with an attorney before giving a statement to an insurance claims agent. If you mistakenly say the wrong thing, it could affect your ability to obtain full and fair compensation for your losses. 

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Vincent CorneliusThe attorneys of Schwartz Injury Law would like to congratulate Vincent F. Cornelius on his recent election as Circuit Court Judge in the Twelfth Judicial Circuit Court of Will County. With his extensive legal experience and dedication to protecting people’s rights, Vince will ensure that all who enter his courtroom are treated fairly and justly.

For the past several decades, Vince Cornelius has been a pillar of the community and the legal profession in Illinois. He has represented clients in hundreds of criminal and civil cases in Will, Kane, DuPage, Cook, Grundy, DeKalb, Kendall, and Winnebago Counties. Whether defending against criminal charges or working to reach settlements in personal injury cases, he has always provided the personal touch and aggressive advocacy to help his clients achieve positive results.

Vince is not only respected for his work inside the courtroom, but he has also demonstrated dedication to the legal community. He has been highly involved in the Illinois State Bar Association, serving as President and on the Board of Governors and as a member of the Judicial Evaluations Committee and the Special Committee on Capital Punishment. He has also served as the President and on the Board of Directors of the Illinois Bar Foundation and as the Chancellor of the Illinois Academy of Lawyers. He is a founding board member of the Black Bar Association of Will County and a member of the Will County Bar Association, the DuPage County Bar Association, and the National College for DUI Defense. He was appointed to the Governor’s Commission on Criminal Law Reform and has served on the Northern Illinois University College of Law Board of Visitors.

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Orland Park personal injury attorneysWith just a few short days to go before Thanksgiving, and with the winter holidays fast approaching, now is the time to consider your strategy for preventing drunk driving-related arrests or, worse, injuries. The holidays are a time for families and friends to celebrate with festive gatherings that often include delicious meals, lavish desserts, and, in many cases, beer, wine, and cocktails. If your holiday plans involve alcoholic beverages, enjoy yourself, but make a plan to get home safely and encourage your loved ones to do the same.

Seasonal Spike in Injuries

While it is difficult to pinpoint the exact percentage of increased risk, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that more than 725 people are killed or injured in drunk-driving crashes every day during the holiday season, with more than 25,000 total accidents. On any given day during the year, drunk driving plays a role in about 30 percent of highway fatalities, Around Thanksgiving, and for the rest of the year, that number jumps to 40 percent, tragically culminating over the New Year’s holiday, during which alcohol contributes to nearly 60 percent of roadway deaths.

Make a Plan…

The most important thing you can do to avoid drunk driving this holiday season is to be prepared. “Prepared” can mean different things for different people. You may choose to drink only a very modest amount or not at all, remaining sober and unimpaired for the drive home. Similarly, you may designate a driver who is not drinking at all. In some families, one designated driver may even be willing to make several trips to ensure that everyone is safe. Finally, alternative transportation may be another solution. Call a cab, even if you will need to wait for a while, or use ride-sharing services like Uber or Lyft. Whatever the expense may be for a ride home, it pales in comparison to the potential costs of a DUI ticket or injury.

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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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