Illinois and Indiana Personal Injury Lawyers and Attorneys Trial and Civil Litigation Law Firm.
Passion. Commitment. Excellence.
Those three words best describe the driving forces behind Kenneth J. Allen & Associates. Our firm is devoted exclusively to the practice of Accident and Injury Law, and exclusively to the people - not corporations - seriously hurt or killed in incidents as varied as on-the-job accidents, semi-truck crashes, injuries from a defective product, or loss of life because of a doctor's medical malpractice.
As the only multi-state law firm in Valparaiso Indiana, Merrillville Indiana, Indianapolis Indiana, Northwest Indiana, Chicagoland, Joliet Illinois, Tinley Park Illinois, Chicago Illinois accepting serious injury and wrongful death cases, exclusively, Kenneth J. Allen & Associates is experienced and knowledgeable in the details and procedures that can make or break a case.
However, lots of state agencies as well as national organizations are not so interested in whether or not Helio Castroneves will win the race this year as they are concerned that people may be seriously injured or killed in car crashes on state and local roads this Memorial Day Weekend.
From Itasca, Illinois, the National Safety Council issued a warning today about the cruel reality that some people are going to die this weekend, based upon past statistics. The NSC data predicts there will be 407 traffic deaths and 43,500 serious personal injuries to motor vehicle accidents in the short time from of the holiday, beginning this Friday at six o’clock in the afternoon to the following Monday at midnight.
“NSC issues fatality estimates for major holiday periods to draw attention to the need for drivers to exercise safe driving practices, especially when a significant number of drivers are expected to be traveling on our roadways and highways,” said Janet Froetscher, NSC president and CEO.
Their predictions also include 148 people who may be in a crash, but who will not die from their injuries because of wearing a seat belt. Dovetailing with that concern that people on the roads this weekend are extra-careful to wear their seat belts, both the State of Indiana and the State of Illinois are sponsoring “Click It or Ticket” campaigns this holiday.
Illinois Memorial Day Click It or Ticket Campaign Began May 13, 2013
The Illinois Click It or Ticket campaigns have been extremely successful in getting people to buckle up, according to IDOT, meaning less people have died in Illinois from traffic accidents since the campaign first started in July 2003.
“Even with 9 out of 10 motorists buckling up in Illinois, far too many people are still dying unbuckled, especially during certain times of the day,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider. “IDOT, the Illinois State Police and hundreds of great local police and sheriff’s departments are saying today that this needs to change.”
“IDOT is utilizing federal safety dollars to assist Illinois law enforcement to provide more seat belt enforcement. They’ll be out there during rush hour, during the morning commute and during those late night hours when the most unbuckled fatalities occur. If you’re caught unbuckled or driving drunk, you’ll be given a ticket or arrested. It is not about money; it’s not about tickets. It’s about saving lives,” Schneider added.
Indiana Memorial Day Click It or Ticket Campaign Began May 17, 2013
Stay Safe This Memorial Day 2013 – And Remember, Other People May Not Be As Vigilant as You Are: Watch Out for the Other Guy
There will be car crashes and motor vehicle accidents in Indiana and Illinois this weekend, sadly, because even though you can prepare yourself for a safe weekend by following laws like buckling up your seat belt, there are others in the “holiday” frame of mind who may not be so responsible. People will be drinking and partying this weekend. Distracted drivers will be eating food, talking on their phones, or texting their friends regardless of warnings or legislation.
The best you can do is protect yourself and in the event of an accident, protect you and your loved ones with medical care and legal representation, if need be. Be safe this weekend.
Actions taken to stop greed in the health care industry and the harm that it causes should be applauded; let us hope that the new statute works to protect future potential victims of these infamous Pill Mills. Particularly since these places have become more and more popular in our part of the country as other states have cracked down on their operations (like Florida, which has been known in past years as the country’s Pill Mill Capital.)
What is a Pill Mill?
A “pill mill” can be a variety of health care facilities: sometimes a pill mill is located in a doctor’s office, sometimes it’s in a pain clinic or a therapy center. These are places that often have the look and feel of providing legitimate medical care.
Whatever the location, the place becomes a profit center for its owners as it dispenses medications without respect for accepted medical practices or for state and federal law. Public demand is high for certain kinds of medications, including pain pills like oxycodone.
The new legislation essentially gives marching orders to various state organizations to do their part in cracking down on pill mill operations in the State of Indiana as well as working to help those who are victims of pill mills and suffering from issues related to prescription drug misuse or abuse.
1. It goes into effect on January 1, 2014 2. It gives the Indiana Attorney General’s Office the power to ask an Indiana Court for an injunction order to stop an owner of a “pill mill” which is violating controlled substance registration and control laws. 3. It puts a duty on the Indiana Medical Licensing Board to contribute to stopping pill mills by passing rules about: (1) standards and procedures for the attorney general to follow in accessing physicians’ records and inventory; and (2) standards and protocol for the prescribing of controlled substances. 4. Before it officially goes into effect, during the 2013 legislative interim, the Indiana Health Finance Commission is required to research and determine: (1) the issues concerning pharmacy programs designed to take back and dispose of old and expired prescription drugs; and (2) the use of methadone and opioids in treatment programs and clinic settings. 5. It puts a duty on the Indiana Division on Mental Health and Addiction to give the Health Finance Commission numbers and data on opioid treatment in the state and to immediately begin a study on the issues of treatment and recovery from prescription drug use addiction.
What Doesn’t It Do?
This statute does work to fight against pill mills in Indiana; however, it does not provide for damages and justice to the individual or their family who have been harmed by serious injury or wrongful death after becoming victim to a misused powerful prescription drug. For these people, the courtroom and state law personal injury claims exist.
“… a history of repetitive brain trauma. This trauma triggers progressive degeneration of the brain tissue, including the build-up of an abnormal protein called tau. These changes in the brain can begin months, years, or even decades after the last brain trauma or end of active athletic involvement. The brain degeneration is associated with memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, and, eventually, progressive dementia.”
Notice that symptoms are not readily apparent at the time of the brain injury. The horror of CTE is that it is slow to reveal itself — and it a very cruel disease when it does manifest in its victim.
“Unfortunately this finding does not contribute to our knowledge of the risks of normal hockey play for most participants, as very few hockey players engage in as many fights as Boogaard,” said BU CSTE Co-Director and SLI Co-Founder Chris Nowinski. “Athletes and parents should know that anyone who experiences repetitive brain trauma may be at risk to develop CTE, but we are hopeful that risk is small in hockey.” Nowinski added that two other young non-NHL professional hockey players studied did not show signs of CTE at postmortem examination.
The VA CSTE Brain Bank contains more brains diagnosed with CTE than have ever been reported in the world combined. There are 99 specimens. McKee has completed the analysis of the brains of over 70 former athletes, and more than 50 have shown evidence of CTE, including 14 of 15 former NFL players, as well as college and high school football players, other hockey players, professional wrestlers and boxers. Early evidence of CTE has been found in individuals as young as 17. More than 500 living athletes have committed to donate their brain to the BU CSTE after death, including over a dozen former hockey players.
Notice the statistics that accompanied the Boston University December 2011 release:
50 of the 70 former athletes had signs of CTE
14 of the 15 former hockey players had signs of CTE
there was evidence of CTE being present in athletes as young as 17 years old.
Perhaps there will be something more to honor the memory of Derek Boogaard than his stellar hockey career: with this news of a wrongful death lawsuit being filed by his family, there may be more public awareness of the real dangers of playing sports where there is serious contact and “repeated blows” to the head (and brain). Teenagers playing hockey, as well as football, or wrestling, are vulnerable to CTE.
We posted last week about a study which confirmed that teenagers playing sports will try and play through an injuryand this creates an even greater duty for coaches, teachers, and other adults to carefully monitor all young athletes that are involved in any contact sport where their head may be injured or hit. Hopefully, the reality of Derek Boogaard and other fine athletes can serve as an important warning to all of us.
Professional Football Lew Carpenter Lou Creekmur Dave Duerson Shane Dronett Cookie Gilchrist John Grimsley Chris Henry Terry Long John Mackey Ollie Matson Tom McHale Joe Perry Junior Seau Justin Strzelczyk Andre Waters Mike Webster
Professional Wrestling Chris Benoit Andrew “Test” Martin
Professional Hockey Reg Fleming Rick Martin Bob Probert Derek Boogaard
May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Monthand this year, both the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration as well as state agencies across the country and private safety advocacy groups are working together to build public awareness regarding keeping motorcycle drivers and motorcycle riders safe from harm on the road.
As we’ve reported in prior posts, riding motorcycles is one of the true feelings of freedom that can be experienced today but it comes with a higher risk of injury and death. This year, the issue of motorcycle helmets and state law requirements for wearing helmets will likely heat up, since Indiana and Illinois have less stringent helmet laws than other states in the country.
Obey traffic laws, wear DOT-compliant helmets and other protective gear.
Make yourself visible by wearing bright colors and using reflective tape.
Avoid riding in poor weather conditions.
Use turn signals for every turn or lane change, even if you think no one will see it.
Combine hand signals and turn signals to draw more attention to yourself.
Position yourself in the lane where you will be most visible to other drivers.
Never drive distracted. Doing so can result in tragic consequences for motorcyclists.
Allow a motorcyclist a full lane width. Although it may seem that there is enough room in the traffic lane for a motor vehicle and a motorcycle, the motorcycle needs the room to maneuver safely. Do not share the lane.
Always signal your intentions before changing lanes or merging with traffic. This allows motorcyclists to anticipate traffic flow and find a safe lane position.
Because of its smaller size, a motorcyclist can be hidden in a vehicle’s blind spot. Always check for motorcycles by checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or leaving a lane of traffic and at intersections.
Turn signals on motorcycles are not the same as those on motor vehicles – motorcycle signals are usually not self-canceling and riders sometimes forget to turn them off. Allow enough time to determine the motorcyclist’s intention before you proceed.
Remember that road conditions that are minor annoyances to motorists can pose major hazards to motorcyclists. Motorcycle riders may change speed or adjust position within a lane suddenly in reaction to road and traffic conditions such as potholes, gravel, wet or slippery surfaces, pavement seams, railroad crossings, and grooved pavement.
Allow more following distance, three or four seconds, when following a motorcycle so the motorcycle rider has enough time to maneuver or stop in an emergency. In dry conditions, motorcycles can stop more quickly than cars.
It’s an important piece of research because it reveals the dedication of high school football players to their team, their school, and their sport — and it shows the need for coaches, staff, and others supervising high school sports to understand that there is a great need to protect these young players from traumatic brain injuries sustained while playing or practicing high school football.
“Despite their knowledge, many athletes in our sample reported that they would not tell their coach about symptoms and would continue to play,” Dr. Anderson said. “A small percentage even responded that athletes have a responsibility to play in important games with a concussion.”
Schoolteachers, team coaches, school staff: all those connected with high school football, both private and public, have a duty to protect those students during practice and while playing games on the football field. This report underscores the legal duty that these adults have to protect these children from injury — with this new research, something that many parents know about teenagers comes clear: the teenager may be in need of protection – not just from externalities but from themselves, too.
Ground Turkey Sold in Stores Likely Filled With Bacteria and Disease-Causing Organisms
It’s causing a big national news alert today, where the Consumer Reports findings are being shared with the public as a warningagainst considering ground turkey safe to eat. Not only did the 257 samples tested by Consumer Reports have OVER 50% CONTAINING FECAL BACTERIA (and yes, that is what you think it is) but OVER 90% HAD DISEASE-CAUSING ORGANISMS in it.
Overall, 90 percent of the samples had one or more of the five bacteria for which they were tested.
Bacteria on ground turkey products labeled “no antibiotics,” “organic,” or “raised without antibiotics” were resistant to fewer antibiotics overall than bacteria found on conventional products.
Bacteria related to fecal contamination were found on the majority of samples.Sixty-nine percent of ground-turkey samples harbored enterococcus, and 60 percent E. coli.
Three samples were contaminated with methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
Salmonella, which is one of the top causes of foodborne illness, was found in 12 of the samples tested (5 percent) and two-thirds of them were multidrug resistant; government studies typically find higher rates of salmonella, at around 12 percent. Processing plants are permitted by the government to have product contamination rates as high as 49.9 percent.
Consumer Reports also found much more resistance to classes of antibiotics approved for use in healthy turkeys to promote growth and prevent disease than for those not approved for such uses.
Image: CDC photo of E Coli bacteria – found on 60% of the Ground Turkey tested by Consumer Reports
What is going on here? According to Consumer Reports’ scientists, this is just the tip of the iceberg in a food industry problem regarding feeding antibiotics to poultry and farm animals destined for human consumption:
“Our findings strongly suggest that there is a direct relationship between the routine use of antibiotics in animal production and increased antibiotic resistance in bacteria on ground turkey. It’s very concerning that antibiotics fed to turkeys are creating resistance to antibiotics used in human medicine,” said Dr. Urvashi Rangan, Director of the Food Safety and Sustainability Group at Consumer Reports. “Humans don’t consume antibiotics every day to prevent disease and neither should healthy animals. Prudent use of antibiotics should be required to stem the public health crisis generated from the reduced effectiveness of antibiotics.”
If you or a loved one may have suffered food poisoning from ground turkey, then get medical attention of course and remember to save invoices, wrappings, and other documents that may serve as evidence in any claims you may assert in the future for personal injury damages due to contaminated and dangerous ground turkey.
May 2013 is National Drowning Prevention Month and across the country many different campaigns are underway to make people more aware of the risks of drowning, particularly for children and kids out of school for the summer.
Drowning deaths are fast and often silent. All too often, young people and small children are victims.
Adults who are caretaking youngsters near bodies of water need to be vigilant, and aware of legal duties that may exist for them to protect against drowning dangers in their roles of teacher, coach, camp counselor, etc. Swimming and water sports are fun but safety must always come first.
Distracted driving remains a real concern for everyone dealing with car crashes and motor vehicle accidents in this country. According to the Centers for Disease Control, distracted driving is the cause of 9 deaths every day in the United States and the reason that another 1060 people suffer serious injuries daily in car crashes.
Cognitive: taking your mind off what you are doing.
Drivers can be distracted in many different ways. Eating fast food while driving on a road trip counts as distracted driving. Talking on a cell phone can distract a driver and cause a crash, as well as texting.
“Distracted driving is a deadly epidemic that has devastating consequences on our nation’s roadways,” said Secretary LaHood. “These guidelines recognize that today’s drivers appreciate technology, while providing automakers with a way to balance the innovation consumers want with the safety we all need. Combined with good laws, good enforcement and good education, these guidelines can save lives.”
Voluntary Guidelines: Car Makers Are Not Required to Make These Changes
Issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the voluntary federal guidelines define recommended criteria for electronic devices that need the driver to use his or her eyes or hands for operation by time:
limit visual time needed to use the gizmo to 2 seconds;
limit manual time needed to use the device to 12 seconds;
prevent the ability to operate several things unless the vehicle’s transmission is in Park for things like:
Manual text entry for the purposes of text messaging and internet browsing;
Video-based entertainment and communications like video phoning or video conferencing;
Display of certain types of text, including text messages, web pages, social media content.
Research for the study revealed that text messaging increased the risk of a crash 2 times over and things done to make a phone call (grabbing the phone itself, looking at the screen to find the number and then dial the person on the phone) increased the risk of a crash by 3 times.
“The new study strongly suggests that visual-manual tasks can degrade a driver’s focus and increase the risk of getting into a crash up to three times,” said David L. Strickland, NHTSA Administrator. “The new guidelines and our ongoing work with our state partners across the country will help us put an end to the dangerous practice of distracted driving by limiting the amount of time drivers take their eyes off the road, hands off the wheel and their attention away from the task of driving.”
And just because your employer is legally required to obey the OSHA rules and regulations may mean little in the face of profit pressures and the grim reality that no federal inspections are realistically going to be happening, if the AP Expose of the West Fertilizer Plant means anything. It’s not like workplace danger is a big news topic, so workers can depend upon news media watchdogs to help keep employers on the up and up.
Today, the reality is that workers in Indiana and Illinois, particularly those working in dangerous lines of work like construction, mining, or on the docks, need to be aware of the dangers inherent in these jobs and take precautions to keep themselves and their co-workers safe. State inspections may help even if federal inspectors never appear.
And if there is a serious injury or wrongful death, the law does provide the legal avenue of a personal injury lawsuit for victims to seek justice. Right now, those verdicts may be the only real weapon against dangerous working conditions – given the recent AP investigative expose.
This is National Work Zone Awareness Week, where efforts are made around the country to bring attention to the very real dangers that exist for workers who do their jobs by working on American roadways in work zones.
“As highway construction shifts into high gear, we’re asking all Americans to take roadway safety seriously and protect themselves and their passengers by paying attention and slowing down when driving through work zones,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “In April and year round, the men and women working to improve our nation’s highways and bridges deserve to do their work safely.”
Here’s a short video explaining the seriousness of this work danger from the Illinois Department of Transportation:
In 2011, the most recent year for which data are available, 587 people died in highway work-zone fatalities – an increase of 11 fatalities compared to 2010.
4 out of 5 victims in work zone crashes are actually drivers and their passengers, not the worker on the work zone.
Today, in a typical 5 day work week, an average of 7 motorists and 1 worker are killed.
Generally, crashes occur when drivers speed through a work zone or do not pay attention to the changing road conditions and run into other vehicles, highway equipment, or safety barriers or drive off the road completely.
It’s important to respect the dangers inherent in traveling through any work zone, but particularly those on our local roads especially in bad weather conditions. Personal injuries and wrongful deaths in work zone crashes involving both workers as well as drivers and passengers moving through the work zone are tragedies that campaigns like this one are trying to prevent. Be careful out there.
EDWARD J. NOVAK, 58, of Park Ridge, Sacred Heart’s owner and chief executive officer since the late 1990s; ROY M. PAYAWAL, 64, of Burr Ridge, executive vice president and chief financial officer since the early 2000s; and DR. VENKATESWARA R. “V.R.” KUCHIPUDI, 66, of Oak Brook, DR. PERCY CONRAD MAY, JR., 75, of Chicago, DR. SUBIR MAITRA, 73, of Chicago, and DR. SHANIN MOSHIRI, 57, of Chicago.
kickbacks being made in order to send patients to the hospital for treatment that ran into hundreds of thousands of dollars;
unnecessary medical treatments including one physician’s claim of “…almost daily [unnecessary] penile implant procedures on patients” until Medicare dropped what it would pay for these claims;
having staff perform the work of a physician in order to save money;
working with some unnamed ambulance companies so they would bring nursing home patients to the hospital “irrespective of any medical necessity” where the hospital profited by their admission and the ambulance company by billing for transport as emergency room patients.
an unnamed doctor (not one of the four arrested today) is suspected ofperforming unnecessary intubations on people in order to bill insurance for the procedures as well as boosting the amount of those claims by directing heavy sedation be used on these patients: here, the allegation is severe because his greed has resulted in many people being forced to have tracheotomies which may not have been medically necessary, which is the procedure alleged to be Sacred Heart’s “biggest money maker” with each of these procedures bringing in $160,000/tracheotomy if the tracheotomy patient stays at Sacred Heart for 27 or more days as an inpatient.
Chicago Has Been Victimized by Unacceptable, Shocking Actions by Health Care Providers
Physicians and hospitals are places of care, where loved ones are entrusted to professionals to mend their injuries and to heal their wounds, cure their diseases. The actions outlined in today’s federal complaint shows actions that betray that trust — that slash at the credibility of the name of this facility itself: Sacred Heart. Shame on those guilty of these bad acts.
However, there are others to consider here, as well. People have been hurt here by greed — assuming that these allegations are proven true, then patients have received unnecessary treatment and elder nursing home residents have experienced unneeded trauma of being moved from their homes to the hospital in unwarranted scares. These claims of injury will not be addressed in the Justice Department operation; once again, these victims of crime must look to the civil justice system of personal injury law for redress.
One More Example of The Distinction Between Criminal Justice Goals and Civil Justice Ability to Help the Victim
It is important to remember the need for that arm of justice in times like these, despite the criticisms of the personal injury lawsuit. It is needed for justice to be done because the criminal justice system exists to do what the FBI did today: make criminal arrests based upon allegations of crimes to stop criminals from taking further action. Its focus is on punishing wrongdoers; it is the civil system that focuses on helping the victim. Consider the statements made today:
“The payment of kickbacks or bribes in exchange for the referral of Medicare or Medicaid patients, regardless of the form in which they are paid, is a crime,” said Lamont Pugh III, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Region of HHS-OIG.“The Office of Inspector General will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners to aggressively investigate alleged illegal patient referral schemes and hold accountable those who seek to exploit vulnerable patients and the Medicare and Medicaid programs.”
Hyundai Motor Company has recalled over 1.06 million vehicles for electrical problems.
Kia Motor Company issued a separate recall for 623,000 vehicles.
Is Your Car Being Recalled?
According to the news releases issued by Hyundai or Kia, the following cars are subject to recall:
2011-2013 Elantra (air bag malfunctions)
2010-11 Genesis Coupe
2007-11 Santa Fe SUV
2011 Sonata sedan
2008-09 Veracruz SUV.
2007-11 Sorento SUV
The Dangers That Caused the Recalls: Electrical System and Air Bag Malfunctions
What is going on here? Most of the recalls involve electrical issues in these cars where, according to Hyandai in its public notice of the problem:
“… condition could potentially result in intermittent operation of the push-button start feature, intermittent ability to remove the vehicle’s shifter from the park position, illumination of the “ESC” [Electronic Stability Control] indicator lamp in the instrument cluster, intermittent interference with operation of the cruise control feature, or intermittent operation of the stop lamps….”
However, in the Hyundai Elantra (2011-2013 model years), there are problems with the air bags. According to Hyandai, the side curtain airbag may injure a passenger in a side impact crash because of a problem with a support bracket in the headliner.
Of note: in September 2012, NHTSA was not only investigating Hyandai’s air bags, it was upgrading its investigation – so the issue of air bags contained in these cars may be of continuing concern. That federal investigation is ongoing.
Along with the bus company people were other invitees of FMCSA: travel agency representatives, tourist industry folk, and government officials at both the state and local level. Law enforcement representatives were there too.
50 Federal Bus Safety Inspectors Roaming the U.S. Checking Motorcoaches and Buses for Dangers
“Safety is our highest priority and we are committed to keeping those who do not follow our safety rules off the road,” said Secretary LaHood. “Today’s announcement builds on the recent steps we have taken to create one standard of safety for all passenger travel.”
The federal crackdown on motorcoaches is already bringing results: within the past 60 days, 15 bus companies (passenger carriers) have had their vehicles pulled off the roads by the FMCSA.
Fifteen companies in eight weeks is a telling tale of how danger bus travel really is in the United States right now. Of these fifteen passenger carriers, 7 were labelled “imminent hazards” by the federal inspectors and 8 were labelled “unsatisfactory.” There’s more: during those same 8 weeks, working with state government safety officials, the FMCSA has found an additional 1500 violations of safety laws by bus drivers and bus maintenance.
“Through our stepped-up oversight of motorcoach companies and expanding outreach to consumers, the department will continue to raise the bar on motorcoach safety,” said Administrator Ferro. “Our work with the law enforcement community and our diverse stakeholders is to make passenger safety everyone’s number one priority and to prevent needless tragedies.”
Public Awareness of Safe Bus Travel: the “Look Before You Book” Campaign
In tandem with its safety inspectors combing the country for bus dangers, FMCSA has implemented a media campaign to make people who are deciding whether to take a bus for a trip, or who are choosing between bus companies, to have needed facts on how to choose a safe bus carrier.
Overall, crime is disproportionately committed by males (see “Homicide”).
Some crimes (e.g., stalking, intimate partner violence, sexual assault), are predominantly committed by males against females (see “Stalking,” “Intimate Partner Violence”).
Although crime tends to disproportionately affect racial and ethnic minorities (both as victims and offenders), most crimes are committed by whites against whites.
Certain populations are disproportionately affected by crime, not necessarily because of the sheer numbers of victims but as a result of crime’s greater impact on these groups (see “Elder Victimization,” “Crime against Persons with Disabilities,” “Children, Youth, and Teen Victimization”).
Young people (16-24) are the population group most victimized by crime. They also commit the most crimes (see “Children, Youth, and Teen Victimization”).
Criminal Justice System Not Able to Fully Provide Justice to Crime Victims
The essence of the criminal justice system – from arrest to conviction and sentencing – is to find the wrongdoer who violated state or federal crime laws and punish this person for doing so. Victims of crime do not take part in this process directly: they do not set at the prosecutor’s table, they don’t argue to the judge or jury, they don’t negotiate plea bargains.
All of this is good and necessary. However, the civil system offers many crime victims another avenue to seek justice: through personal injury lawsuits. For many crime victims, it will be through the civil laws and personal injury lawsuits that justice fully and finally prevails.
Crime Victims Can Find Justice in Injury Lawsuits Filed Against the Perpetrator of the Crime — and Other Parties, Too
These injury lawsuits may be filed against the perpetrator: the same person (or persons) who is facing criminal action for committing a crime. However, laws also exist on the books that provide remedies in the form of legal duties placed on other potential parties to the injury case.
During National Crime Victims Rights Week, let’s remember to educate crime victims that their rights extend not only to seeing the person who did them wrong face punishment in the criminal system, these victims may have rights under personal injury law that offer justice, as well.
Interstate 70 Rollover Reminds of Dangers of Rollover Crashes
However, this rollover today offers a great opportunity to shine some light on the real and continuing problem of rollover accidents in this country. And, unfortunately, many Americans are not as lucky as the Zionsville man who escaped his SUV rollover on Interstate 70 today with his life and non-life threatening injuries.
Over the years, the risks of Pick Up Trucks, SUVs, and Minivans overall have become known as vehicles whose higher centers of gravity make them at a higher risk of rolling over while being driven on the road.
Things like snow, ice, fog, and rain are weather hazards that can contribute to rollover accidents.
How fast the vehicle is being driven can be a factor in a rollover crash. According to the Department of Transportation reports, over 40% of fatal rollover crashes happened when the driver was speeding, and 75% of rollovers where someone dies happened where the speed limit was 55 MPH or higher.
Driving while under the influence of alcohol has been shown to be involved in almost half of rollover crashes in the United States.
Rural roads are more dangerous for vehicles that are at risk of rollovers.
NHTSA reports that almost all rollover deaths (90%+) in single vehicle rollover crashes happened not in complicated traffic situations but instead when the driver is handling routine driver tasks like driving along a curve in the road.
If you have a vehicle that is designed with a higher center of gravity — be it a minivan, a pickup truck, an Sport Utility Vehicle — then it’s important for you to remain wary and alert to the special dangers of driving these rollover prone vehicles. Wear your safety belt, don’t speed, and drive carefully in bad weather conditions.
Rollover Causes Outside the Driver’s Control
However, also be aware that driving these rollover- risky vehicles means that other factors outside of your control can put you at greater risk of rollover (and death). Hazards on the road, other drivers’ bad actions (like forcing you into soft soil on the shoulder of a rural road, for example), improper maintenance of rental vehicle (low tire pressure, etc.), can mean that the actions or negligence of other parties may result in a rollover crash.
Improper design of the vehicle or the tire itself can also cause rollover crashes.
In these instances, victims of rollovers and their families will have legal claims against those who have contributed to the accident and its tragic results. Serious personal injury and wrongful death damages will be available under state law for these rollover victims.
Right now, two pieces of legislation up in Indianapolis are gaining steam as they move through the legislative process, on the way to becoming new law for the State of Indiana.
In the State Senate, SB 2356 (introduced by Senators Oberweis and Sandoval) and in the House, HB 2573 (sponsored by Representatives Davidsmeyer and Wheeler) both work to do the same thing: up the speed that trucks, buses, and the rest of us can drive along rural highways with some exceptions. Those interstates in some counties would not get the new speed limit: Cook County, DuPage County, Kane County, Lake County, McHenry County, and Will County will remain under the present Indiana speed limits even if the new law is passed.
What would the new law do?
Under the proposed legislation, the speed limit will be 70 MPH on rural interstates (outside the exempted counties). There’s more. The proposal would drop the limit for excessive speeding violations to 26 MPH (right now it’s 30 MPH) over the legal limit.
Right now, HB 2573 is before the House Rules Committee and its counterpart, SB 2356, remains before the Senate Transportation Committee. You can track the bills online at Trakbill.com.
Amends the Illinois Vehicle Code. Provides the maximum speed limit outside an urban district for any vehicle is (1) 70 miles per hour on any interstate highway; (2) 70 miles per hour for all or part of highways that are designated by the Department of Transportation, have at least 4 lanes of traffic, and have a separation between the roadways moving in opposite directions; and (3) 65 miles per hour for all other highways, roads, and streets. Provides that the counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, and Will may adopt ordinances establishing speed limits lower than these speeds. Permits the Department of Transportation and Toll Highway Authority to alter speed limits up to the new maximum speed limit (rather than up to 65 miles per hour).
This bill “[a]mends the Illinois Vehicle Code. Provides that outside the counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, and Will, the maximum speed limit outside an urban district for any vehicle is (1) 70 miles per hour on any interstate highway; (2) 65 miles per hour for all or part of highways that are designated by the Department of Transportation, have at least 4 lanes of traffic, and have a separation between the roadways moving in opposite directions; and (3) 55 miles per hour for all other highways, roads, and streets. Permits the Department of Transportation and Toll Highway Authority to alter speed limits up to the new maximum speed limit (rather than up to 65 miles per hour).”
This is particularly important since there is no federal distracted driving cell phone ban and while some states have passed these laws, others have not: for employees that regularly cross state lines having a company policy can make a big difference.
As part of the month long campaign, the National Security Council has issued the following video to promote awareness of the dangers of distracted driving:
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FMSCA Implementing MAP-21 as Senate Continues Highway Transportating Funding Law
One of the big impacts of MAP-21 is on the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) regulations that have been enacted regarding big rig, semi, tractor-trailer trucks, buses, and other commercial vehicles (for details, see our earlier CSA posts).
Compliance, Safety, Accountability, or CSA is FMCSA’s compliance model to improve CMV safety and ultimately reduce large truck and bus crashes, injuries, and fatalities on our nation’s highways. CSA enables the Agency to identify high risk motor carriers and achieve improved levels of compliance with Federal commercial motor vehicle safety and hazardous materials regulations. Additionally, through increased operational efficiencies, CSA is enabling FMCSA and its State safety enforcement partners to identify and address compliance and safety deficiencies of a larger segment of the motor carrier industry than we did previously with less interruption to motor carriers’ business operations. Developed with an unprecedented level of stakeholder input, analysis, and planning, the Agency recently implemented enhancements to our Safety Measurement System (SMS) that reflect input collected from the comments of more than 19,000 carriers and 2,900 law enforcement personnel.
MAP-21 includes a number of statutory revisions and additional authorities needed to bring CSA to fruition. For example, MAP-21 provides the Agency with flexibility to allow an investigator’s credentials to be displayed in writing rather than in person. This will allow FMCSA and its investigators – with clear statutory authority to conduct enforcement interventions – to formally demand that a motor carrier provide records without having to travel to the motor carrier’s business location. This is vital to expanding FMCSA’s and our State partners’ enforcement repertoire to include off-site reviews and investigations and will increase the number of reviews that we conduct.
Trucking Industry Sees MAP-21 As New Tax on Trucking Industry in a Bad Economic Time
State and Local Governments Concerned that MAP-21 Brings Financial Burden On Local and State Budgets
By requiring new roads in state and local transportation systems, as well as requiring roadways conform with federal standards, MAP-21 brings a big worry to many local and state jurisdictions on how they are to pay for these new things. Oregon’s Department of Transportation, for example, was quoted as “scrambling” to meet the new MAP-21 requirements.
The Congressional Budget battles are far from over. Financial concerns over implementing MAP-21 have been raised for over two years now and in today’s troubling economic times these money issues will undoubtedly be raised in the future. However, as of this month, MAP-21 is still alive and well and moving forward to impact commercial trucking in this country and the duties imposed upon trucking companies to keep their operations safe for all of us.
INDIANA DOCTORS FACE LOSS OF MEDICAL LICENSES FROM ATTORNEY GENERAL ACTIONS: WAGONER CLINIC DOCTORS FACE SUSPENSION OVER PAIN MEDS
March 19th, 2013 by admin
Physicians are people that we assume are competent and trustworthy, and doctors are people that we assume know what they are doing — especially in times of crisis, when we are relying upon their expertise to help heal our serious injuries or to cure a loved one of a serious illness. However, all too often that trust is misplaced. Doctors make mistakes, and when they do it can mean people are permanently harmed or wrongfully die from the errors of a physician.
Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Based on State Law Can Be Filed by Patients and Their Families
State legislatures have passed laws to protect against doctor error: medical malpractice statutes have been passed in every state of the union. What is medical malpractice? It is a legal case of negligence where a doctor (or other health care professional) has either acted or failed to act (an omission) in treatment of a patient in such a way that they have fallen below the acceptable standard of care for their medical community, and the result is the serious injury or death of their patient.
Zoeller’s office filed the petitions today with the Medical Licensing Board of Indiana against Dr. Don Wagoner, his wife Dr. Marilyn Wagoner, Dr. Robert Brewer and Dr. William Terpstra. Wagoner Medical Center has an office at 821 N. Dixon Rd. in Kokomo and 605 E. 7th St. in Burlington.
According to the petitions, an investigation revealed unsafe pharmacological mixes, high prescribing rates for controlled pain medications and numerous patient deaths resulting from multiple drug toxicity.
“Evidence revealed that the practices of these doctors pose a clear danger to their patients and the public,” said Gabrielle Owens, Deputy Director of the Attorney General’s Licensing Enforcement and Homeowner Protection Unit. “These types of aggressive prescribing practices can lead to diversion, abuse and addiction. Our office has worked diligently to bring these actions quickly in order to ensure patients are protected while formal licensing complaints are being completed.”
The board will consider all four of the petitions for summary suspension at its next meeting on March 27. Owens said if the suspensions are granted, the physicians could not practice medicine for at least 90 days while the Attorney General’s office drafts formal complaints to submit to the board. In licensing cases, the board has the authority to determine what, if any, disciplinary action will be taken.
According to the NWI Times report, the northwest region of the State of Indiana receivesapproximately $3.2 billion in sales revenue from trucking (including freight hauling and logistics and its relationship between big semi / big rigs; railways; air and water freight) as well as the benefit of tens of thousands of jobs being built to generate that revenue each year.
As you drive along a local interstate and think about how powerful these big rigs are driving alongside sedans, SUVs, and minivans, you’re right. Those big trucks are often carrying very heavy cargo, not boxes of Styrofoam pellets or cartons of stuffed animals.
CSA 2010 is not news anymore. The Compliance, Safety, Accountability program – or “CSA” – was a federally mandated overhaul of safety regulations for motor carriers driving on American roadways that was implemented across the country awhile back, in stages (region by region).
Instituted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration(FMCSA), its goal is to increase the safety of both large commercial trucks (e.g., big rigs, semis, tractor-trailers) as well as commercial buses (think Greyhound or Trailways) so there will be less crashes and accidents and therefore, less serious injury and wrongful death involving commercial motor vehicles.
Which suggests that the drivers of those large commercial trucks and commercial buses should have been instructed on the details of this “new nationwide system for making the roads safer” and that more than any other person on the roads, these drivers should know the details of CSA 2010. Right? Wrong.
New Study Reveals that American Truck Drivers Do Not Understand CSA 2010 Regulations
The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) has just released a report that investigated how CSA 2010 has changed the lives of commercial drivers. Lots of truck drivers were questioned by ATRI: the data in the report has been provided by 4,555 American truck drivers. That’s a pretty big bunch.
Here’s what ATRI is reporting: even today, after all the CSA 2010 hoopla on whether or not it should be passed, and after that, all the hurdles of getting CSA 2010 implemented, state by state, truck drivers still DO NOT KNOW what CSA is all about. And around 2/3 of these drivers are scared that they will get fired if they admit it to their employers.
From the ATRI news release, this quote from Ed Crowell, President and Chief Executive Officer of Georgia Motor Trucking Association:
“ATRI’s study clearly points out that motor carriers, state trucking associations and FMCSA collectively need to do more to educate drivers about CSA and what it does and doesn’t mean for their jobs.”
Exactly. One has to wonder how effective this hard-won change in safety standards can be, if the men and women operating these big machines do not know what’s what regarding these safety standards. One also has to wonder who’s responsible for these drivers not being informed – whose duty is it to educate their employees (hint, hint) about these new standards?
Key here: they want the federal judge to halt the federal regulation requiring these new labels be on products by September 2012 until the lawsuit is concluded and its legal claims are resolved. Meaning, the tobacco company plaintiffs are seeking to delay the requirement that they put these scary warning labels on their products – even if they ultimately lose the lawsuit. Buying time, if nothing else.
An initial hearing has been set by the district court judge, Honorable Richard Leon, for September 21, 2011. It will be no surprise, least of all to Judge Leon, when his ruling is appealed.
For those interested in following the case, it can be found via PACER as R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co et al v. FDA, Cause No. 11-01482 in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.
Legal Responsibility for Personal Injury Under State and Federal Law
Both federal law as well as state law protects workers on the job and people who attend popular events, like a concert during a state fair. Workers’ compensation laws have been enacted in Indiana and Illinois to insure that workers hurt on the job are protected, and federal laws are also on the books to insure workplace safety. The gas plant in Illinois will have state workers’ compensation claims filed by the injured victims to face was well as federal agency investigations into why that explosion occurred. If tragedy hits and one of the blast victims dies, then wrongful death claimsunder Illinois law can be pursued.
However, traditionally workers have been better protected on the books that concertgoers, especially to a state event. Governments are usually protected by something called “governmental immunity” under state and federal law, which means that state agencies cannot be sued for personal injury claims unless the state legislature allows it. Additionally, there are defenses in the law for “Acts of God,” where mysterious winds or other natural events that cannot be predicted nor controlled will bar holding any party legally responsible.
In the Indiana State Fair matter, things are sticky right now. Were the high winds an Act of God? Will sovereign immunity claims bar any wrongful death claims by the decedents’ loved ones or estates? Will the manufacturers, the concert promoters, the contractors who assembled the stage itself be liable for damages? It’s not clear today, but questions are being asked – not just by personal injury lawyers but by reporters at Time Magazine and Rolling Stone.
This week, the following press release was issued by Public Citizen, a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy group. In it, the consumer advocates are crying out against proposed Congressional action that would cut back the amount of federal monies provided to OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the U.S. Department of Labor.
Currently, OSHA inspectors roam American workplaces, performing safety inspections and making sure that employers know and follow federal regulations designed to keep American workers safe. This is very, very important for those who work in dangerous job sites like mills, mines, or construction sites.It has been proven in courtrooms time and again that employers cannot be trusted to keep their people safe without the law requiring them to do so.
So, when Congress considers where to cut back, perhaps the safety of the American worker should not be dismissed easily. Here, argued eloquently by Private Citizen, are some things to be considered:
Sen. Coburn is Dead Wrong on Worker Safety
Senator’s Report Distorts Data in Call for Cuts to OSHA Budget
WASHINGTON, D.C. – A deficit reduction report that Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) published in late July relies on misrepresented data when it calls for a $72.6 million cut to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) budget.
One section of the report, entitled “Back in Black,” urges Congress to eliminate OSHA training grants and shift the agency away from worksite inspections. Coburn, a member of the U.S. Senate’s “Gang of Six,” proposes that OSHA instead focus its resources on unproven voluntary safety programs.
“Sen. Coburn’s proposal would weaken OSHA and put workers’ lives in danger,” said Justin Feldman, worker health and safety advocate for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “The report bends facts to conform to an anti-regulatory bent.”
The report misrepresents data several times, Feldman said. Attempting to show evidence of inefficiency at the agency, the report incorrectly asserts that the number of OSHA inspections declined between 2008 and 2010, a time when the agency’s budget was growing. OSHA’s official statistics, however, show that the number of inspections actually increased by 6 percent during this period.
In another case, Coburn’s report cites a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report as evidence that voluntary safety programs are effective. But the GAO report actually states that the programs have never been properly evaluated.
The Coburn report is particularly critical of OSHA’s training grant program, which pays for community organizations to provide health and safety trainings. Coburn calls for the outright elimination of this program, which trains more than 60,000 vulnerable, hard-to-reach workers each year.
“OSHA’s training grant program is one of the country’s only funding sources for worker health and safety education and accounts for just 2 percent of OSHA’s budget,” Feldman said. “Sen. Coburn, a physician, should see the importance of this program for public health.”
As a law firm representing plaintiffs who have suffered serious injury or wrongful death in all manner of roadside tragedies (car accidents, motorcycle accidents, big rig crashes, SUV wrecks, minivan accidents, etc.), all efforts to educate the public on safety measures and to warn American citizens on the dangers that can be particular to a holiday weekend like the Fourth of July holiday we are all about to enjoy is to be applauded.
America’s Road Team is made up of the top truckers in the country. These drivers know what it means to drive American highways – and here’s what they have to suggest:
Prepare your vehicle for long distance travel – Check your wipers and fluids. Have your radiator and cooling system serviced. Simple maintenance before you leave your home can prevent many of the problems that strand motorists on the side of the road.
Properly inflate your tires – Properly inflated tires can save up to 4 percent in fuel mileage, while over inflation can lead to tire failure. Keep your vehicle running smoothly and efficiently by routinely checking your tire pressure.
Drive the speed limit – Lower speeds not only save money at the pump, they make you safer on the road. By maintaining a constant moderate speed, drivers can save up to 30 percent on fuel and are better able to react to road conditions and other drivers – so slow down!
Large Trucks Have Blindspots – Be aware that tractor-trailers have large areas around their trucks where cars are not visible. If you can’t see the truck driver in his or her mirrors, then the truck driver can’t see you.
Keep extra water in your vehicle – Just as you keep a winter driving kit in your vehicle, it is important to be prepared when driving during the summer months. Keep plenty of extra water, sunscreen and non-perishable snacks in car in case you are stranded.
Wait until parked to use cell phones – Driver distraction is a major cause of traffic accidents. Even just two seconds of distraction time doubles the chances of an accident.
Do not cut in front of large trucks – Remember that trucks are heavier and take longer to make a complete stop, so avoid cutting quickly in front of them.
Honor the Right of Way – On entrance ramps, remember highway traffic has the right of way; maintain proper speed, use smooth merging techniques, and don’t slow down in front of a truck.
Road side emergency – Understand that big trucks cannot always stop to assist you, but most will use their radios to contact the police or highway patrol if they see you are in trouble.
Save fuel – To save fuel, take direct routes, minimize side trips, and keep a steady speed. Further, a well-tuned engine, properly inflated tires and reduced speed will result in noticeable fuel savings.
It’s been reported that before the wreck, the bus driver was talking on his cellphone loudly enough for some passengers to hear him complain that he was tired and hadn’t had a chance to rest between bus trips.
March 12, 2011: Fourteen Die in World Wide Tours crash after Bus Driver Allegedly Falls Asleep at the Wheel
If this story sounds familiar, it should. Less than 90 days ago, on March 12, 2011, another tourist bus crashed in Connecticut after the bus driver reportedly fell asleep at the wheel;in this instance, it was a World Wide Tours bus that crashed on a highway in New York City as passengers were returning to Chinatown from a trip to the Mohegan Sun casino. Fourteen (14) passengers died in the World Wide Bus crash. The March tour bus crash was more gruesome than the May wreck: not only were more people killed, but the event was horrific – one victim was decapitated, another had his two arms severed, and everyone was terrorized in a mass of jagged metal as the bus was torn apart in the darkness, glass flying, after the bus driver lost control of the vehicle and it flipped onto its side and slid for thousands of feet before colliding with an exit sign post, which literally cut the roof off the bus as it slid to a stop.
Chinatown Buses Offer Cheap Travel – New York City’s Mayor Voiced Safety Concerns Before May 31st Wreck
Alert and Well-Trained Bus Drivers Are Key to Passenger Safety – Disrespecting HOS is Inexcusable
Hours of service regulations are mandatory for all commercial drivers because a sleepy driver of a bus or big rig can kill people. Sure, the HOS limits mean less profits for the bus lineor trucking company – but they are there for a serious reason.HOS save lives.
Let’s hope that something is done about this cheap tour bus situation – and fast. The firm’s sincerest condolences to all those who were injured and died in these needed tragedies.
According to the NHTSA, tires were responsible for 116,000 injuries and over 3,300 deaths on American roads during a four year time period (2005-2009). Experts believe that most of these injuries and fatalities could have been prevented if only the drivers had stopped to check their tires. Heat can cause tires to become extremely dangerous, especially when they don’t have the proper air pressure.
This week, the Tire Industry Association and Michelin Americas Truck Tires participated in National Tire Safety Week by offering fleet operators, tire shop managers, and truck maintenance pros a truck tire training video that goes into the details of making sure that the big trucks’ big tires are safe with an explanation of safety procedure for semi truck tires. The video is free, 18 minutes long, and entitled “Tire Shop Hazard Assessment.”
Cargo theft does not get that much attention in the media, and many folk don’t know that it is a big problem – but it is. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, stealing commercial shipments (computers and pharmaceuticals are popular targets) has become increasingly popular over the past five years.
By 2011, joint task forces dedicated to cargo theft had been established between the FBI, state, and local law enforcement in five (5) national transportation hubs, includingChicago (the other four are Miami, El Paso, New York, and Memphis).
Until recent years, no one bothered to keep track of cargo theft. It was not a part of the Uniform Crime Report (UCR) and even now, we don’t really know how bad the problem is because the companies who have had their cargo stolen often keep quiet about it, because they don’t want the bad press and the higher insurance rates. So the estimate given by the FBI of $30 billion in cargostolen each year in the United States may be a lowball. Truckers and Cargo Theft
When a truck driver is the target of cargo theft, his rig may get stolen while he’s stopped for a meal or to catch a few hours sleep. However, truckers have been hurt in armed hijackings of their big rigs. In fact, during the 2011 FreightWatch supply chain survey, over 80% of those surveyed believe that cargo theft will be a continuing problem for the next five years, even more so than terrorism, and 74% reported that cargo theft was impacting their operations: some in a major way, others more moderately.
FreightWatch found that industry leaders opine that (1) shipments becoming more valuable; (2) the economy tanking; and (3) cargo theft being a “low risk, high reward” type of crime are the main reasons that truckers are seeing an increasing danger of cargo theft.
Bloomberg Businessweek Calls It The 21st Century Version of Highway Robbery
Last week, Daniel Grushkin covered this story in an article published by Bloomberg Businessweek entitled, “Cargo Theft: The New Highway Robbery,” and described how in June 2009 a trucker took an afternoon break at a Tennessee truck stop, on his way from Louisville, Kentucky to Memphis, Tennessee with a full load of $10 million worth of pharmaceuticals. While he was in the shower, the big rig was stolen.
The Businessweek story is worth the read, as it described how that one theft was enough to endanger the country’s drug supply. One single big rig.
Americans need to know that cargo theft is a major problem, because of the impact of the thefts – like this one news story provides. However, Americans also need to know that anytime they see a cargo truck on the road – big, moving fast – that there is a possibility that the semi-truck is being driven by thieves. Who may or may not know how to drive that truck very well, and who clearly do not care about abiding with federal and state trucking regulations.
We all need to be aware that cargo thefts are happening, and if you see something suspicious regarding a loaded tractor-trailer truck, trust your gut and call the cops, have law enforcement check it out.
If you’re at the IHOP and you think there is something hinky about the way some guys are checking out an 18-wheeler, then you might well be a witness to cargo theft.
Indianapolis saw another instance of a child almost drowning in a swimming pool when a young boy celebrating his 13th birthday was found floating near the bottom of a neighborhood pool and who now remains in critical condition (as of Tuesday, May 31st) at Riley Hospital. Our prayers go out to this boy and his family and we hope that he recovers fully from this tragic accident over the Memorial Day Weekend.
An annual average of 383 pool and spa-related drownings for children younger than 15 occurred from 2006 to 2008; about 76 percent of the reported fatalities involved children younger than five.
An estimated average of 5,100 pool or spa emergency department-treated submersions for children younger than 15 occurred each year from 2008 to 2010; children younger than five represented 79 percent of these-injuries.
Children between the ages of one and three (12 to 47 months) represented 66 percent of these fatalities and 64 percent of the injuries.
About 72 percent of the fatalities from 2006 through 2008, and 55 percent of the estimated injuries from 2008 through 2010 that involved children younger than 15 occurred in a residential pool or spa; children under five made up the majority of incidents at residential locations, with 84 percent of fatalities and 61 percent of injuries, respectively.
Tragically, based on reported statistics, 96% of victims involved in a submersion incident will die. Fatalities usually occur the day of the drowning event (72%). For the victims who survive the event, most will succumb to their injuries within a week (24%). Only 4% of near drowning victims will survive beyond a week, and many will have severe injuries and require intensive medical care.
There were no reported entrapment fatalities for 2010. CPSC received three reports of entrapment injury incidents during 2010.
On May 23, 2011, the American Trucking Association gave its opinion on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)’s proposal that all big rigs and semis (motor carriers) have electronic gizmos installed that will automatically record the truck driver’s hours of service (HOS). You can read the ATA documentation and its commentary to FMCSA here.
American Trucking Association Approves the Proposed Regulation – But Not Without Reservations
The ATA is going along with the new gizmos, but it’s going on the record about things the trucking industry isn’t happy about, which include:
their position that the FMCSA proposal fails to meet Congressional requirements;
the device needs more security in proper driver identification and authentication;
the device needs better standards to make sure they aren’t altered (tampering);
there should also be documents that can be deemed to meet compliance.
Will we see big rigs, semis, and tractor trailers with automatic devices that keep track of how long that truck driver has been operating his or her rig? Yes. Is the fight over on when that is going to happen? No.
However, warning: any man using Viagra, Cialis, or Levitra (the most popular erectile dysfunction treatments) or any other PDE-5 inhibitor — could be risking losing his hearing, according to a new research study that links these pills to a risk of hearing loss in men.
Permanent deafness, total or partial, all from taking one little blue pill.
The study confirms 47 cases of hearing loss and Viagra was found to be responsible for over 50% of them. Of all the cases, the men lost their hearing within 24 hours of taking the pill. It has been published by the American Laryngological, Rhinological and Otological Society, Inc. in their journal, The Laryngoscope.
July 2011: Indiana Texting While Driving Ban Goes Into Effect
In Indiana, starting July 1, 2011, you can be ticketed if you are caught texting behind the wheel – and this is going to make liability more serious in a personal injury civil matter if you’re in a car wreck while you’re doing it.
Indiana’s new law makes texting while driving illegal with a maximum fine of $500. It also makes it against the law for Indiana drivers under 18 to use cell phones at all. Period.
Everyone recognizes those Emergency Alerts on television – suddenly, your program is interrupted by a series of beeps that are followed by an announcement that you’re not to worry: it’s just a test of the emergency announcement system. This is a Test. This is only a Test.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Debuts Emergency Alert System for Your Phone.
Under PLAN, cellphone customers who opt for this service and have an enabled mobile device will be able to get text messages targeting their location (geographic region) and alerting them with details regarding any imminent threats in their area. Think tornado. Think flood.
FEMA is using cell towers in the various locations to target the cellphones in that location. There will be 3 kinds of alerts sent through the chosen cell towers:
alerts from the President;
alerts involving threats to life and safety; and
Right now, the agency is mandating that the technology be available nationwide by April 2012. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon have already announced that they will start offering PLAN to their customers shortly. (It’s a free app.) New York City will run the beta– Mayor Bloomberg has already announced that PLAN will be available to New Yorkers before Christmas 2011.
Legal Impact Still Unknown in Injury Cases
Yes, this is a good idea. However, will it have any impact on duty under the law? If your cellphone got a text message that a tornado was in the vicinity, then will insurance defense attorneys argue in the future that you’re the proximate cause of failing to get out of harm’s way in time?
Along with the decisions themselves, FMCSA provides background information and FAQs (frequently asked questions) to help its readers researching what FMCSA has been doing here, and the procedures and bases for its legal decisions.
It’s all about making the federal agency’s oversight of the American trucking company and the American truck driver more transparent – so everyone can better understand the hows and whys of FMCSA’s compliance and enforcement process.
This is a big deal. This week, at the NTSB Conference Center in Washington, D.C., professionals from all aspects of the trucking industry will convene to discuss a number of issues. On the agenda are key topics such as:
CARRIER OVERSIGHT - To examine the determination of carrier fitness, including the new entrant screening process and other Federal, state, and industry oversight initiatives
TRUCK OPERATIONS – To discuss electronic on-board recorders, hours of service, safety culture, and vehicle size and weight
DRIVER SAFETY – To discuss driver crash risk factors, barriers to making safe choices, and approaches for increasing driver safety
DRIVER HEALTH – To examine the state of driver health and wellness programs, and the progress toward comprehensive medical oversight for interstate commercial drivers
ENHANCED VEHICLE SAFETY TECHNOLOGY: CRASH AVOIDANCE – To discuss electronic stability control, collision avoidance systems, and emerging crash prevention technologies.
At this public forum, expect the fur to fly. As expected, safety advocates will be pointing fingers at trucking companies who they will argue have been slow to implement needed safety regulations.
One critical fight will be whether or not Congress should give individual states (Indiana, Illinois) the authority to raise weight limits within their state lines for trucks on interstate highways to nearly 100,000 pounds as well as the authority to extend acceptable truck lengths within their jurisdictions. Safety advocates are adamant that either change means more danger on the roads and therefore, more fatal crashes. The bigger and the heavier a vehicle is, the harder it is to stop and maneuver.
Of course, proponents of Congress making this change involve various members of the trucking industry. They are arguing that these changes will save money and help the economy. It will cost them less to move cargo if they can have heavier loads on bigger trucks.
The cat is out of the Food & Drug Administration’s bag: the media is reporting that only around 50% of drugs approved as safe for Americans to take were ever submitted to comparative effectiveness testing at the time of their approval by the FDA, and approximately 75% of these new drugs had this information available where alternative treatment options existed.
As theCitizens Commission on Human Rights International points out this week in an article from Natural News entitled, “FDA approved Big Pharma drugs without effective data,” the FDA approved a huge (HUGE) amount of drugs for all of us to trust and take when they didn’t have the proper data to support that decision, specificially “comparative effectiveness data.”
Comparative effective data, the article explains, compares the new drug against other treatments to determine which is best. Which is safer? Which works best? In other words, is the Big Pharma drug the best one for the particular problem that the person is experiencing?
If that hints that profit would be impacted by this, you’re right.
According to Honda’s May 2, 2011 press release (read it here), a wide variety of Honda vehicles apparently have airbags that can inflate without warning if they’ve got enough pressure.
No crash. Big surprise. Boom.
Of particular concern is the fact that these aren’t new cars. These are Hondas and Acuras that have been on Illinois and Indiana roadways for several years now. Once again, an example of the reality that just because you’ve had a product for awhile without a problem, it doesn’t mean that the product is safe.
You’re driving home from work, or maybe it’s the end of a long weekend and you’re part of a parade of cars filled with families returning home. Or maybe you’re at work. In a mine, in a mill, on a train, or in a factory. You could even be at school, or at the stadium for a game.
Suddenly, without warning: there’s an accident. A serious, scary accident where someone is seriously hurt. They’re in need – and if someone doesn’t help them, they may die.
This scenario becomes reality every day, in every state, in this country. Tragedies happen. Shockingly, however, not every state protects its citizens in the same way when they step up to render aid in an emergency. In fact, without Good Samaritan Laws in place, these do-gooders were sometimes later sued (yes, sued) for trying to help in a crisis.
For example, this winter in Fort Wayne, Indiana, there was a horrific car crash and an off-duty state trooper stopped to help the woman trapped inside her car. It was only when a stranger, an ordinary citizen and good guy, stopped to help the trooper that they were able to set the woman free.
Illinois Good Samaritan Law
In 2011, the Illinois Good Samaritan Act was amended to clarify that the Illinois General Assembly’s purpose in passing the law was to ” …establish numerous protections for the generous and compassionate acts of its citizens who volunteer their time and talents to help others. These protections …shall be liberally construed to encourage persons to volunteer their time and talents.”
The overall Good Samaritan Law for Illinois is found in 210 ILCS 50, where it provides:
Sec. 3.150. Immunity from civil liability.
(a) Any person, agency or governmental body certified, licensed or authorized pursuant to this Act or rules thereunder, who in good faith provides emergency or non?emergency medical services during a Department approved training course, in the normal course of conducting their duties, or in an emergency, shall not be civilly liable as a result of their acts or omissions in providing such services unless such acts or omissions, including the bypassing of nearby hospitals or medical facilities in accordance with the protocols developed pursuant to this Act, constitute willful and wanton misconduct. (b) No person, including any private or governmental organization or institution that administers, sponsors, authorizes, supports, finances, educates or supervises the functions of emergency medical services personnel certified, licensed or authorized pursuant to this Act, including persons participating in a Department approved training program, shall be liable for any civil damages for any act or omission in connection with administration, sponsorship, authorization, support, finance, education or supervision of such emergency medical services personnel, where the act or omission occurs in connection with activities within the scope of this Act, unless the act or omission was the result of willful and wanton misconduct. (c) Exemption from civil liability for emergency care is as provided in the Good Samaritan Act. (d) No local agency, entity of State or local government, or other public or private organization, nor any officer, director, trustee, employee, consultant or agent of any such entity, which sponsors, authorizes, supports, finances, or supervises the training of persons in the use of cardiopulmonary resuscitation, automated external defibrillators, or first aid in a course which complies with generally recognized standards shall be liable for damages in any civil action based on the training of such persons unless an act or omission during the course of instruction constitutes willful and wanton misconduct. (e) No person who is certified to teach the use of cardiopulmonary resuscitation, automated external defibrillators, or first aid and who teaches a course of instruction which complies with generally recognized standards for the use of cardiopulmonary resuscitation, automated external defibrillators, or first aid shall be liable for damages in any civil action based on the acts or omissions of a person who received such instruction, unless an act or omission during the course of such instruction constitutes willful and wanton misconduct. (f) No member or alternate of the State Emergency Medical Services Disciplinary Review Board or a local System review board who in good faith exercises his responsibilities under this Act shall be liable for damages in any civil action based on such activities unless an act or omission during the course of such activities constitutes willful and wanton misconduct. (g) No EMS Medical Director who in good faith exercises his responsibilities under this Act shall be liable for damages in any civil action based on such activities unless an act or omission during the course of such activities constitutes willful and wanton misconduct. (h) Nothing in this Act shall be construed to create a cause of action or any civil liabilities.
Indiana Good Samaritan Law
Indiana’s Good Samaritan Law is not the same as that of Illinois. Indiana focuses upon protecting emergency medical professionals, whether they are licensed in Indiana or elsewhere, as they do their work at the scene of an emergency.
Indiana’s Good Samaritan Law is found at IC 16-31-6-1, where it provides:
IC 16-31-6 Chapter 6. Immunity From Liability
IC 16-31-6-1 Emergency medical technician services Sec. 1. (a) A certified emergency medical technician or a certified emergency medical technician-basic advanced who provides emergency medical services to an emergency patient is not liable for an act or omission in providing those services unless the act or omission constitutes negligence or willful misconduct. If the emergency medical technician or emergency medical technician-basic advanced is not liable for an act or omission, no other person incurs liability by reason of an agency relationship with the emergency medical technician or emergency medical technician-basic advanced. (b) This section does not affect the liability of a driver of an ambulance for negligent operation of the ambulance. As added by P.L.2-1993, SEC.14. Amended by P.L.205-2003, SEC.33.
IC 16-31-6-2 Use of defibrillators Sec. 2. (a) Except for an act of negligence or willful misconduct, a certified first responder who uses an automatic or semiautomatic defibrillator on an emergency patient according to the training procedures established by the commission under IC 16-31-2-9 is immune from civil liability for acts or omissions when rendering those services. (b) If the first responder is immune from civil liability for the first responder’s act or omission, a person who has only an agency relationship with the first responder is also immune from civil liability for the act or omission. As added by P.L.2-1993, SEC.14.
IC 16-31-6-3 Advanced life support Sec. 3. An act or omission of a paramedic or an emergency medical technician-intermediate done or omitted in good faith while providing advanced life support to a patient or trauma victim does not impose liability upon the paramedic or emergency medical technician-intermediate, the authorizing physician, the hospital, or the officers, members of the staff, nurses, or other employees of the hospital or the local governmental unit if the advanced life support is provided: (1) in connection with an emergency; (2) in good faith; and (3) under the written or oral direction of a licensed physician; unless the act or omission was a result of negligence or willful misconduct. As added by P.L.2-1993, SEC.14. Amended by P.L.205-2003,
IC 16-31-6-4 Life support provided in connection with disaster emergency Sec. 4. (a) This section does not apply to an act or omission that was a result of gross negligence or willful or intentional misconduct. (b) An act or omission of a paramedic, an emergency medical technician-intermediate, an emergency medical technician-basic advanced, an emergency medical technician, or a person with equivalent certification from another state that is performed or made while providing advanced life support or basic life support to a patient or trauma victim does not impose liability upon the paramedic, the emergency medical technician-intermediate, the emergency medical technician-basic advanced, an emergency medical technician, the person with equivalent certification from another state, a hospital, a provider organization, a governmental entity, or an employee or other staff of a hospital, provider organization, or governmental entity if the advanced life support or basic life support is provided in good faith: (1) in connection with a disaster emergency declared by the governor under IC 10-14-3-12 in response to an act that the governor in good faith believes to be an act of terrorism (as defined in IC 35-41-1-26.5); and (2) in accordance with the rules adopted by the Indiana emergency medical services commission or the disaster emergency declaration of the governor.
The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) (which is part of the American Trucking Associations Federation, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit research organization headquartered in Arlington, Virginia) has released some important research findings regarding the commercial trucking industry in this country, including recommendations on how carriers can increase the safety of trucks driving on our roadways.
Ken Allen Law, of course, has requested and received the complete text of the 2011 report entitled “Predicting Truck Crash Involvement: A 2011 Update,” and we will be happy to forward a copy to anyone who requests it (free of charge, of course).
From the report:
In its finding of the likelihood of a crash involving a commercial truck, researchers took information from the new CSA, where a system is used (the “Safety Measurement System (SMS)”) of assigning numbers, or “normative scores” both to (1) carrier performance and (2) driver performance in 7 different areas related to safety (which they’ve called the “Behavioral Analysis Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs)”).
Decisions were made in advance of CSA scoring on what would be okay — the “threshold.” Then, after the scoring was done, if the numbers were over the top — or higher than the threshold — then the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) would take various actions. FMCSA might send a simple warning letter if the variance wasn’t that big. FMCSA might institute a full scale review, if the difference between the scoring and the threshold was huge.
What are the scores the government is looking at under CSA — what are the BASIC(s) that FMCSA is monitoring? The categories are:
controlled substances/alcohol concerns
vehicle maintenance issues
According to the study, “[c]lear conclusions cannot be drawn in instances where weights and crash likelihoods appear out of sync, primarily due to low sample sizes preventing several of the relationships from reaching statistical significance in this study. … [t]he paramount message is that the relationships between driver behaviors and crashes can and should be measured in order to identify the industry’s strongest truck crash predictors.
Once identified, these behaviors must be targeted for interventions, both to improve CSA scores and to reduce the frequency of preventable crashes. Ultimately, by addressing the behaviors in each safety category, not only will scores for a carrier’s respective BASIC decrease (improve), but all improvements will also indirectly feed into lower (better) Crash Indicator BASIC scores.”
In other words, truck drivers need to be protected, studied, and researched because truck driver behaviors have been shown to be a very strong contributing factor in big rig semi truck crashes.
The types of crashes where big, heavy, huge machines collide with smaller, more fragile vehicles – and where all too often, serious injury or death result.
On this Wednesday morning, those of us following the Indiana trucking industry are saddened by the news that on Monday evening and again on Tuesday evening, local men died in crushing incidents involving big rig semi trucks.
This morning, families and friends are grieving their loss. Truckers and their families are also mourning the week’s events.
On Monday, Indiana Man Killed by 3000 lb. log falling off trailer truck
Trucking Is Dangerous 24/7 – On the Road and Everywhere Else
Lesson learned: trucking is a dangerous job. Driving those long hauls is dangerous. There are bad road conditions. Sleep deprivation. Crazy drivers. Nasty weather.
However, just because a big rig truck has made it to its destination doesn’t mean that anyone can breathe a sigh of relief. It’s not just the roadway that is high risk.
These big rigs carry heavy cargo. They’re built to do this. However, all that weight in and of itself is a danger. As we’ve been reminded this week, that heavy load can shift and kill. The fully loaded truck can be an instrument of death as it parks to unload.
Trucking is a necessary component to American trade. Truckers and the trucking industry must be respected for their contributions to our daily lives.
However, trucking is also one of the most hazardous work environments in our culture today – and we must remain vigilant that maximum safety conditions are honored and maintained.
Our condolences to all who are suffering from these tragedies this week.
Early this morning, Mark Reeves of Portage, Indiana, was driving his pickup truck on westbound I-80/94 in Lake Station, near Central Avenue, when he failed to stop in time and crashed into the big rig in front of him. Tragically, Mr. Reeves died in the accident.
That semi truck on the roadway in front of Mr. Reeves might as well have been a wall: it was carrying a load of almost 47,000 pounds of steel. That pickup truck, a 1999 Chevy S-10, didn’t have a chance against that big rig steel-load: we can all understand the differential here.
In these accidents, the car slams into the tractor trailer truck, or semi, and without proper protection (the guard) the top of the car (passenger vehicle) gets slammed up against the truck’s rear. The guard is designed specifically to thwart rear-end fatalities with lighter-weight cars and trucks.
Whether or not an underride guard would have made a difference this morning is something that we will never know. We do know, however, that instituting this safety protection should be a priority for all trucking companies. We also predict that underride guards will never be commonplace on semis in this country without government regulation forcing the issue. Result: more tragedies like the one Indiana experienced today, until the legislation is a done deal.
It sounds like something from a Three Stooges movie, maybe a Saturday Night Live skit: you’re driving along and the steering wheel falls off in your hand. Or the air bag deploys as you’re cruising along the freeway. Except that it’s not a comedy on screen. It’s really happening, right now, in America today.
Ford F-150 Pickup Trucks: the Airbag Can Blow Up (Inflate) As You Are Driving
Americans Cannot Blindly Assume Their Vehicles Are Safe to Drive
Bottom line: you cannot trust your vehicle to be safe to drive. Even if you’ve been driving it for several years, like these Ford truck drivers. Check www.recalls.gov. Check with your dealership. And if you’ve been injured or had a loved one suffer a wrongful death due to a defective product, then call a lawyer. There are laws on the books not only to seek justice for you, but that work toward getting unsafe products out of the American marketplace.
Because, rest assured, part of the reason that Ford doesn’t want that “defect” label is because of concerns about a future lawsuit where it will be held financially accountable
The dangerous Fresh Express Salad Bags can be identified with:
product codes starting with H081 and H082
UPC Code of 7127913204 and
use-by dates of April 6 and 7.
If you have questions, then feel free to call Fresh Express’s consumer line at (800) 242-5472.
The Dangers of America’s Food Supply — FDA Has Instituted New Public Warning Food Recall Web Page This Month
Americans cannot assume that the food that they buy at the store or eat in restaurants is safe. The massive egg recalls within the past few months are just one example of how food supplies in this country are all too often putting dangerous products into the marketplace. In fact, in a landmark piece of legislation the federal government has begun to recognize this reality with the first major change in federal food safety laws inalmost 70 years.
The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is a broad piece of legislation that is supposed to turn the FDA from being involved in policing dangerous foods after they have already put Americans in danger, and instead making the FDA into a proactive agency that works to stop bad food from getting to American tables in the first place.
One website works to educate on how to buy and prepare food items safely. The other informs us when things like toxic spinach have made it to our store shelves and restaurant menus.
Food is a product in our marketplace, sold along side drugs and toys and appliances.
Defective products in whatever form can serious injure and sometimes kill innocent victims. Tainted food is especially dangerous for infants, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems. Be careful, see a doctor if you need to do so, and remember: sometimes justice is only found in a courtroom. Food can be the basis of aproducts liability lawsuit just the same as a tire, car seat, toy, or gas tank.
In another fire, a Chicago firefighter was injured in a home fire along with a resident this morning, the resident reported to be in serious condition at Loretto Hospital, when a fire broke out in a building that houses a storefront on the ground floor with apartments up above. The fire raged for most of this morning, and its cause has yet to be released to the public.
On the job fires are a common problem in our local area: mill workers, longshoremen, factory workers, those working on the railroads and in construction, are all vulnerable to fire injuries as part of their daily work. These men and women bravely do their jobs, day in and day out, all too aware of that risk of chemical fires, electrical fires, explosions, and the like.
Fire injuries on the job are real tragedies. However, even more horrific are fire injuries and deaths that arise in someone’s home.
We are supposed to be safe in our homes, particularly in the dead of night when we are sleeping. However, defective products and things like faulty electrical wiring are all too often the cause of serious injury and death in our country. The National Fire Prevention Association provides details on the most common causes of fires in the home (click on the link for a NFPA Fact Sheet):
When a loved one is seriously injured or killed in their home because of a fire, the horror that the family and friends feel can be overwhelming. There is something especially horrible when a human being dies in a fire. It is almost unbearable to deal with this reality when the origin of the fire is revealed to be the result of a flaw in wiring or a defect in a product.
There are few instances when a personal injury lawsuit can have more longreaching results than when a brave family member fights in the courtroom for justice in a products liability or personal injury lawsuit designed to stop fire injuries and wrongful deaths. No one should ever have to deal with this situation, and our condolences go out to all who have experienced a horrific loss and tragedy as a result of fire.
Triad products have been recalled by the manufacturer in a series of recalls over the past few months, and now there are literally millions ofdangerous Triad Group productsout there in the marketplace or already in homes, hospitals, doctors’ offices, day cares, nursing homes, etc., where people are vulnerable to being victims of these dangerous products.
Aswe posted earlier this week, this is a very serious situation where the products cause injuries such as rash, to purportedly sterile products infected with bacteria (among other conditions) where people have already have suffered serious injury or death.
March 2011 Recall - Povidone Iodine Prep Pads (on the market since March 2008)
[From the Triad Recall Press Release: "This recall has been initiated due to concerns expressed by the Food and Drug Administration regarding the potential contamination of these products with an objectionable organism, Elizabethkingia meningoseptica. H&P’s internal investigation also concluded a raw material component as the potential source of this contamination. This investigation was conducted as a result of the earlier ipa pad recall. Both the pvp and ipa pads use this common component. This recall extends to all Lots of Povidone Iodine Prep Pads remaining within their labeled expiration dating (three years), including all Lot numbers beginning with the digits 8, 9, 0 or 1."]
Anytime you or a loved one seek medical care, you assume that you will not only be treated by competent health care professionals, but you will also receive care with products that are safe, sterile, and trustworthy. It’s naive to think that this is always the case, however.
One more example of the dangers of health care in our country today (see our earlier post this week on The Nose Doctor for an example of provider negligence) is the growing tragedy resulting from the Triad Group sterile product line.
Triad medical products found not to be sterile but infected with bacteria
The FDA wants the company shut down. Why? Millions – that’s right, millions – of the purportedly sterile Triad products have been subjected to recall because they’ve haven’t been sterile. The Triad products have been contaminated with bacteria.
For example, earlier this year there was:
(1) a recall of Triad alcohol prep pads because millions and millions of these pads – as well as Triad swabs and swabsticks – were carrying bacteria (Bacillus cereus). These products were being used by hospitals and consumers alike.
(2) a recall of the company’siodine prep padsalong with its sterile lubricating jelly. Both were also found to not be sterile - as they were marketed to be – and in fact, contaminated with bacteria.
Tires on lots of Ford vehicles on the roads right now are not safe. Again.
If this rings a bell, it should: faulty tires on Ford vehicles also started making news in much the same way back in 2000 when the Firestone tires placed on Ford vehicles started causing serious injuries and wrongful deaths in lots of motor vehicle accidents all across the country. It’s something that Firestone itself calls“…the most deadly auto safety crisis in American history.”
CTA Recalls Over 390,000 Defective and Dangerous Tires Already On 2008 and 2009 Ford Trucks
Here are the product specifications for these dangerous tires – if they are on your vehicle, then don’t trust them to be safe. Call the tire manufacturer if you have questions toll free at 1-888-799-2168 if you need to do so, or check out the FAQs on its Tire Recall webpage.
Indiana medical malpractice lawyers as well as most of the state, the country, and possibly most of the world, are all too aware of the very bad acts performed by Indiana surgeon Dr. Mark Weinberger — he’s had hundreds of medical malpractice (professional negligence) claims filed against him. People have died as a result of his negligence according to any number of wrongful death suits that have been filed by loved ones throughout Indiana.
However, maybe the bigger noteriety of Indiana villian Dr. Mark Weinberger is how he didn’t stick around to face the music but instead ran away. Ran away from his family, his friends, his practice, his home.
“The Nose Doctor” of Merrillville, Indiana Goes to Trial – Ken Allen Represents the Plaintiffs: Victorious Verdict After Six Days
This week, the wrongful death medical misdiagnosis trial for the loved ones of Weinberger patient Phyllis Barnes began. Represented by noted trial lawyerKenneth J. Allen, the plaintiffs alleged that The Nose Doctor’s faulty diagnosis failed to catch her cancer in time and because of Dr. Weinberger’s failure to diagnose Phyllis Barnes’ cancer, she died.
Seems that Mrs. Barnes saw one of Weinberger’s billboards and made an appointment with him for help with some sinus and throat problems. No mention was made, or investigation had, regarding the cancer that killed her. Dr. Weinberger did, however, perform surgeries (yes, more than one) on Mrs. Barnes — all these operations being unnecessary to her and vital to his pocketbook.
The Need for Strong Law in Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
The details of evildoer Dr. Mark Weinberger aren’t necessary here. They’re there in theVanity Fair article as well as numerous other resources on the web. However, the example of this one bad man exemplifies the power that health care professionals have over their clientele. They are in positions of power and trust — we all rely upon them to be acting in our best interests, with knowledge and skill and integrity.
When physicians fail to live up to these standards, then justice must be available to those they have harmed. For many personal injury attorneys, the impact of tort reform across the country ties the hands of justice in many medical malpractice situations. Perhaps Dr. Mark Weinberger is an anomoly. The personal injury bar might disagree with that assessment: Dr. Weinberger may be notorious, and his running away worthy of a TV Movie of the Week — but he’s far from the only marketing-happy doctor who has sacrificed patient care for profits.
Specifically, the bill (HB1984, read full text and follow it here) inserts “digital photograph” and “video” into legislation that is being proposed that would fight against distracted driving involving texting, instant messaging (IMs), or emailing. There’s another proposed statute that’s just been amended within the same bill to ban the use of cell phones within 500 feet of an Illinois accident scene.
Evidence at Trial Begins at the Accident Scene
There’s a reason why those scenes in CSI and Law and Order have all the cops and detectives and crime scene investigators wrapping the incident areas with yellow tape and banning everyone from going near the site. Evidence must be protected — and most of the physical evidence is there at that scene of the crime.
Similarly, in accidents, the physical evidence is there at the scene. On the roadway, the truth about what happened to cause the injuries or wrongful death reveals itself. Photographs and videos taken as close in time as possible to the event itself is critical to discovering what really happened.
Insurance companies know this — that’s why they are notorious for having investigators on the scenes of accidents so fast that on occasion they beat law enforcement to the site. Trucking companies instruct their truck drivers to let the company know immediately if they’re in an accident — so they can start their defense to any claim through the gathering of evidence as soon as possible.
What Happens to Critical On the Scene Evidence if This Bill Becomes Law? Plaintiffs Are Hurt.
Rubbernecking can cause wrecks, that’s true. However, the proposed legislation goes farther than that. If it is passed, then critical evidence of all kinds of motor vehicle accidents will be outlawed. This will serve only to hurt injury victims and their loved ones as they later try to prove their claims and obtain justice. It’s harmful.
Trucking companies and independent truckers alike must have a steady supply of fuel in order to operate, it’s a given. So when fuel prices rise, they have to deal with them. However, today the reality is that fuel costs are doing more than rising a bit: diesel prices are skyrocketing and there’s no end in sight.
Added to this rising cost is the variety of prices in different states across the country. Since truckers by definition are transporting cargo from one place to another, they will necessarily encounter a number of spots in the country where prices may be higher than others.
One result of these rising operating costs for truckers is that consumer prices will rise. Another is that independent truckers may not be able to stay in business with these fuel costs and we will see less independent big rigs on the road.
However, another given is that trucking companies – already feeling the pinch of this bad economy – have just been given another reason to push the edge of the envelope on safety concerns as they try and keep profits as high as possible. The pressure to scoot pass regulations or to get right to their edge will be high, and that pressure is just going to rise as this economic teapot continues to boil.
Be careful out there. And now more than ever, respect that tractor trailer on the roadway with you. Give that trucker lots of room to move.
Consumer Reports has built its longstanding, well-respected reputation as a public watchdog against bad products by offering its readers expert reviews of all sorts of things: appliances, cars, toys, sunscreen. If there is something sold in the American marketplace today, odds are high that Consumer Reports can provide guidance on how well that product works as well as how safe it is to use.
63 percent of respondents under 30 years old reported using a handheld phone while driving in the past 30 days, and 30 percent of them texted while driving during the same period. That compares with 41 percent and 9 percent, respectively, of respondents who were 30 or older.
Among the under-30 respondents, only 36 percent were very concerned about the problem of distracted driving, and only 30 percent felt it was very dangerous to use a handheld phone.
64 percent of respondents overall said they had seen other drivers texting using a handheld device in the past 30 days. 94 percent had observed drivers talking on a mobile phone and 58 percent had seen a dangerous driving situation related to a distracted driver in the past month.
78 percent of respondents overall said they had reduced or stopped behaviors related to distracted driving. Of that group, 66 percent said they did so because of reading or hearing about the dangers.
Copies of the Consumer Reports/DOT report “Distracted Driving Shatters Lives” will be distributed to schools and volunteer groups by the National School Safety Coalition.
The Food & Drug Administration just issued a huge recall of medications designed to help those with suffering from cough, cold, or allergies. The FDA has yanked over 500 different prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) products as being unapproved by the agency and therefore not legally available to the American consumer.
According to the FDA, these “… unapproved prescription cough, cold, and allergy drug products have not been evaluated by the FDA for safety, effectiveness, and quality. People may be at greater risk when using these products than when using FDA-approved prescription drugs or drugs that are appropriately marketed over-the-counter (OTC). “
Some of these drugs are inappropriately labeled for use in infants and children.
Some products may be manufactured incorrectly, which could result in consumers receiving an inappropriately large or an ineffective dose.
Some of these products may have potentially risky combinations of ingredients.
The manufacturers have 90 days to stop making these products. They have six months to discontinue distribution.
What Cold, Cough, or Allergy Medications Are Being Recalled? Have You or Your Loved Ones Been Harmed?
If you believe that you or your loved ones (spouse, parents, kids) have been harmed by a medication you bought at the store or got from the doctor (or pharmacist) for a cough, cold, or allergy, then the first thing to do is seek medical treatment, of course. It’s also important to keep the container, to stop using the medication (after discussing discontinued use with your health care provider), and to write down your recollection as best you can of what has transpired. Symptoms before the medication, symptoms after, etc. If you have questions about pursuing a claim for damages sustained, you can contact the FDA or your local legal counsel.
List of Cold, Cough, and Allergy Drugs Recalled by FDA on March 2, 2011
What are these underride guards? They protect the vehicle that rear-ends a big rig. In these accidents, the car slams into the tractor trailer truck, or semi, and without proper protection (the guard) the top of the car (passenger vehicle) gets slammed up against the truck’s rear, crushing the roof and killing or seriously injuring those who were riding in the front seat of the car. From the release:
“Cars’ front-end structures are designed to manage a tremendous amount of crash energy in a way that minimizes injuries for their occupants,” says Adrian Lund, Institute president. “Hitting the back of a large truck is a game changer. You might be riding in a vehicle that earns top marks in frontal crash tests, but if the truck’s underride guard fails — or isn’t there at all — your chances of walking away from even a relatively low-speed crash aren’t good.”
Result: The IIHS is petitioning the federal government to create new laws that will mandate stronger underride guards to be placed on commercial trucks, ones that will remain in place during a crash. (Read the petition here.)
Seat belts exist only to keep people safe, but the reality is that there are many occasions where safety belts seriously injure and even cause the deaths of those who obediently use them.
This is why the Williamson lawsuit was filed. It originates in a 2002 car crash where Thanh Williamson, 32, died while wearing a lap seat belt in a Mazda 1993 MPV minivan. Mazda argued that Williamson was setting in the center position of the rear passenger seat and at the time, the car maker was only required to provide a lap band for this spot per National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regulation. Mazda’s defense isn’t that the seat belt wasn’t the cause of Mrs. Williamson’s death; instead, Mazda claimed it should not be liable because the nine (9) year old minivan was okay under federal regulations when it left the plant.
Now, the United States Supreme Court has ruled. Unanimously. And, it’s a big deal for many reasons — but for those who care about people being safe in their cars, here’s why this week’s opinion is so important to us all: the High Court has told the American automobile industry that federal regulations were created only to set the minimum standard, not to provide the car makers with some kind of shield, or immunity, from legal responsiblity if their product harmed or killed their customers.
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 208 (1989 version) requires, among other things, that auto manufacturers install seat belts on the rear seats of passenger vehicles. They must install lap-and-shoulder belts on seats next to a vehicle’s doors or frames. But they have a choice about what to install on rear inner seats (say, middle seats or those next to a minivan’s aisle). There they can install either (1) simple lap belts or (2) lap-and-shoulder belts. 54 Fed. Reg. 46257–46258 (1989); 49 CFR §571.208 (1993), promulgated pursuant to the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966 (Act), 80 Stat. 718, 15 U. S. C. §1381.
The question presented here is whether this federal regulation pre-empts a state tort suit that, if successful,would deny manufacturers a choice of belts for rear inner seats by imposing tort liability upon those who choose to install a simple lap belt. We conclude that providing manufacturers with this seat belt choice is not a significant objective of the federal regulation. Consequently, the regulation does not pre-empt the state tort suit.
[From Justice Sontemayor's Concurrence, the following:]
In other words, the mere fact that an agency regulation allows manufacturers a choice between options is insufficient to justify implied pre-emption; courts should only find pre-emption where evidence exists that an agency has a regulatory objective— e.g., obtaining a mix of passive restraint mechanisms, as in Geier—whose achievement depends on manufacturers having a choice between options. A link between a regulatory objective and the need for manufacturer choice to achieve that objective is the lynchpin of implied pre-emption when there is a saving clause.
More people die in Illinois from coal-related deaths than any other state in this country with the exception of New York and Pennsylvania, according to the 2010 Toll for Coal Report of the Clean Air Task Force (read the full report here). Coal is a big industry in our area.
Midwest Generation contributes things that create smog in the air and soot on surfaces: e.g., nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide, along with releasing mercury in local waterways where the fish live and we swim. Midwest Generation knows this; the federal and state governments know this; the information has been made available to the public and Midwest Generation is supposed to be cleaning things up.
However, in papers Midwest Generation filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission this week, who knows when this clean up of Illinois air, water, and earth is going to take place. Midwest Generation reports to the SEC that it will be taking “…the maximum time available…” to place pollution controls in its coal-fired power plants because … well, it can. The company isn’t reporting that its going to miss a deadline, just that it’s not going to hurry up to meet it.
Till then, those six coal plants are gonna keep churning out their toxins and people are going to get sick from them. How bad is this situation, really?
Well, consider the November 2010 Enviromental Protection Agency report on Midwest Generation’s Waukegan coal plant (read the full report here). According to the EPA press release regarding the report (emphasis added):
… has caused up to $690 million in health and related damages in the last 8 years, according to a report released today by the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC). The report uses data from the National Research Council finding that particulate matter (soot), from the Waukegan coal plant creates about $86 million in health and related damages annually. Overall, this coal plant has created between $520 million and $690 million in public health damages since 2002.
“The Waukegan coal plant is polluting our air, harming our health and draining our wallets,” said Howard Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “It’s time for Midwest Generation to be socially responsible and invest in modern pollution control equipment to clean up this old plant up, or shut it down. Enough is enough.”
The Waukegan coal plant is located on the Lake Michigan shoreline in Northeastern Illinois, about 40 miles north of Chicago and 50 miles south of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. More than 67,000 people live within three miles of the plant. The plant still operates using equipment built between 1958 and 1963, and Midwest Generation, the plant’s owner, has not installed modern pollution controls such as scrubbers….
Is politics at play here? Sure. Are profits a concern? Of course. These coal plants have until 2018 to get things right. Time for these victims to file a lawsuit for the harm they’ve experienced, the tragic deaths of loved ones and family providers they’ve suffered? No need to wait there — those courageous plaintiffs may be able to do what the federal government and the non-profits like Greenpeace have not: find justice.
truckers can get CSA Alerts although their CSA scores are good;
more truckers are getting CSA Alerts than those that got ’deficient’ ratings under the old SafeStat measuring system;
there is no national cohesion in the CSA results, the BASIC scores as well as the number of CSA Alerts different, state by state; and
Fatigued Driving, representing HOS violations,was the most common failure, with13% of freight carriers receiving an alert in that category.
Bringing the study’s results home, how did Illinois and Indiana fare? Not too well.
According to the new report, both Illinois and Indiana were among the eight Midwestern states receiving the most CSA Alerts for Unsafe Driving. Moreover, Indiana was one of only five states across the country to get at least 50% more CSA Alerts than SafeStat deficiencies. In other words, Indiana safety alerts jumped up over half again from the old school tracking system. That’s a big jump.
Be careful out there – especially when you are sharing the roadway with a commercial truck, 18-wheeler, big rig, tractor-trailer, or semi.
Toyota’s problems with sudden acceleration, and all those lawsuits that popped up in due course, seemed to evaporate in a puff of smoke this week, when a report issued by NASA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) allegedly vindicated the car manufacturer by claiming that almost every single incident was the result of driver error, and not a problem with the car. (Read the report in its entirety here.)
But before you think that Toyota officials should be doing the Happy Dance, consider this:
The NASA-NHSTA experts are claiming that all these injuries were the result of mechanical problems (things like the floor map getting stuck), and not electrical system malfunctions. However, go ask the Toyota drivers and see what they tell you: as Steve Berman, the co-lead counsel on the plaintiffs’ steering committee for the economic class actions in the multidistrict litigation (MDL) against Toyota, was quoted in the National Law Journal, things don’t jive: the actual events are in “stark contrast” to what these experts are reporting.
This is just one report, from a government agency. It is not to be considered more than that, and there are fact issues which not only suggest, but downright refute, its findings.
What’s next? Not a lay-down. Nope.
Despite what the defense team would like the American public to believe, these doomday expert reports aren’t that surprising in any personal injury case where high amounts of money are at issue. Savvy plaintiffs’ attorneys come to expect them.
What happens now is independent third-party experts must come in and listen to the facts as well as evaluate the cars, to give their opinion of what has happened here, and if Toyota was releasing dangerous products into the American marketplace.
Because there’s a big argument to be made that the federal government’s report might not be the most independent and unbiased expert report here. Political motivations? It’s an argument that can, and will, be made regarding this latest development.
Bottom line, one fatal plane crash in four years is an excellent and commendable safety record for the American airline industry – and they should be applauded much more than they are for this amazing accomplishment. Kudos.
For example, in December 2010 new hours of service (HOS) regulations were unveiled — read them here at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website — not to undermine the trucking industry, but to make sure that truckers are getting enough rest and sleep and time away from the wheel. Sleepy, tired truck drivers are dangerous to themselves and to those with whom they share the road. By regulating how much drive time they can have before taking a break is important. It can save lives.
The trucking industry is crying out in protest of these new HOS regulations – as well as all of CSA 2010 – because it decreases profitability, increases costs, etc. They need to have those trucks moving as much as possible to make their money. Cut back on trucker road time, you hit their essence – it’s understandable that these companies are not going quietly into that good night.
Still, we have hopes that the federal regulatory agencies will eventually corral the complaints, via the courtroom if need be, and things will settle down in the trucking industry so sometime in the future — hopefully the near future — we can see trucking industry statistics similar to those that the U.S. airline industry enjoys today. It’s doable, and it’s needed.
The weather reports are predicting an unprecedented winter storm will hit our area beginning today, and it’s tragic but true that some folk aren’t going to survive this onslaught. It’s the duty of us all to try and keep that loss as small as possible. Here are some tips for keeping safe during this massive onslaught of freezing temperatures, snow, and ice:
1. don’t drive if you don’t have to do so, drive during the day and on main roads if you must, and all motorists should use extreme caution. A toll-free phone number has been set up, so you can call and learn what the Illinois road conditions are like in advance: call 1 (800) 452-4368.
2. along the roadways, look for National Guard troops positioned at certain rest areas (for example, along I-70) if you need help; both the National Guard and local law enforcement will be driving the roadways, looking for stranded motorists 24/7 during this storm. They will have basic things like snacks, water, and first aid for those in need.
3. watch out for your neighbors, particularly the elderly. Seniors can be very vulnerable, very quickly in winter storms if they haven’t prepared in advance with filled prescriptions, adequate food, etc.
4. prepare in advance for power outages – have water and food stored for emergency use, as well as blankets, flashlights, and charged phones. Have kerosene and kerosene heaters at the ready (always refilling them outside).
5. close off rooms that don’t need to be heated, it saves on fuel.
Which makes this week’s news release by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention even more important – and disturbing. According to the CDC (read the report here), drugs are the cause of more deaths in the United States today than guns or alcohol. And by drugs, the CDC isn’t referencing solely illegal drugs like cocaine or crystal meth. No. Drugs like prescription drugs and over the counter medicines are responsible for a shocking number of human fatalities in this country.
The danger of drug induced deaths aren’t new to Indiana’s state government. In March 2008, the Indiana Center for Policy released its own report on the dangers of drug-related deaths (read the report here). This hits home, folks.
People in our community are at risk for serious injury or death from drugs that are purchased over the counter at WalMart or CVS or any other store as well as those that are prescription drugs given by a trusted health care professional. Of particular concern: pain medications like Oxycodone.
Meanwhile, the drug companies are looking to make bigger and bigger profits now and in the future. Remember, Big Pharma is a for-profit industry: its goal is monetary growth. These are not entities built to serve charitable purposes and many of us tend to forget this – to our detriment.
Remember: drugs aren’t safe. Drugs can kill you or a loved one. Be careful and be sure to get help if you believe that you or a loved one may be having a detrimental reaction to any drug or medication. Get medical care. And if a tragedy happens, consider the laws on the books of Indiana and the federal government that exist to protect against defective products and wrongful death.
Under current health care provisions, this will allow the State of Illinois to get another bunch of money, almost a dollar for dollar doubling of this new safety reform fund, through Medicaid federal funds. That’s a lot of cash.
And the horrors of nursing home abuse and neglect are very real.
Families face terrible situations where they file lawsuits either on their own behalf, or on behalf of their loved one who has been victimized, only after bad, bad things have happened. While law firms like Kenneth J. Allen & Associates are always ready to fight for justice in these situations, it’s clearly a better scenario to stop the elder abuse and neglect long before it ever happens.
But will these new nursing home safety reforms actually stop nursing home abuse and neglect?
Many say no, including the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).This new legislation will really throw lotsa cash into the pockets of nursing home facilities that are focused on their bottom-line, and are profit-driven as opposed to care-driven, critics suggest. Plus, where are these bed tax increases going to get shifted – who’s gonna end up paying them ultimately?
If you suspect any resident of a nursing home of being the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, trust your gut. Contact state authorities like the Illinois Department on Agingor theIndiana Division on Aging who will then pursue criminal investigations — and remember, private malpractice lawsuits based upon personal injury or wrongful death claims against these facilities can be powerful ways to help not only the individual victim, but to force overall changes that help others in the future.
In the past, it appeared that things were finally changing for the better, with a steady decrease in the number of tragic, horrific deaths happening due to a collision between a person – walking or in a car, truck, or minivan – and huge, heavy, moving locomotive. Things have changed.
Operation Lifesaver is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to the eradication of railroad accidents and train fatalities. From its website:
Operation Lifesaver’s mission is to end collisions, deaths and injuries at highway-rail grade crossings and on rail property through a nationwide network of volunteers who work to educate people about rail safety. Our national office in Alexandria, VA, supports state programs, developing videos, educational brochures, instructional information and other materials for audiences of all ages. Our state coordinators are located in all 50 states.
Already, the Illinois office of Operation Lifesaver has begun a media blitz aimed to educate everyone in Illinois about the dangers of any crash with a train – especially when you’re in a hurry, and thinking you are going to be able to scoot over the tracks and beat the train. We applaud them for their efforts, and hope this post in some small way assists them in getting the word out about this growing danger to us all. Here’s a video from their latest awareness campaign.
Today’s recall of Avastin by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is becoming a national scandal: many are calling this action an example of a government death panel in action.
Avastin, a drug designed for breast cancer treatment, has been deemed by the federal government as a “[d]rug not shown to be safe and effective in breast cancer patients.”Accordingly, the Roche-Genetech product is being recalled by the federal government. You can read the complete FDA announcement here.
Is Avastin Recall Really the Beginning of Government Death Panels? Some Say Yes.
Moreover, national news media from across the country are using today’s action as an example of government death panels becoming a reality, from San Francisco toChicago to Washington.
Maybe this wouldn’t be such a big deal if there weren’t so many breast cancer patients out there that insist that Avastin helps them. In fact, the online petition of one breast cancer survivor has been very persuasive: Senator Vitter has acknowledged its influence on his actions and the petition (with over 9000 signatures thus far) has been a repetitive news resource.
If you are a victim of breast cancer, then take heed. Avastin may no longer be available to you in this country. What can you do? Call your elected representatives and voice your opinion. Support the Louisiana Senator’s efforts.
While we await the federal appellate court’s decision on whether or not to stay the debut of CSA 2010 (see our earlier post), there’s a growing amount of news coverage on just how bad the weather is going to be around here. Low temperatures, snow, ice, wind.
It’s going to be very dangerous on the highways, and it may even become dangerous in your home. CBS-TV’s Chicago affiliate (WBBM) is reporting the first big snow is coming, and with it we will undoubtedly be reading in the next few days about people dying from injuries sustained during this onslaught of bad weather.
Remember to check your traffic conditions before you travel, and only travel the roads if you must.
Give due respect for every big rig on the road with you; these commercial trucks are always potentially dangerous for the vehicles they ride beside. Add snow, sleet, ice, wind and the tractor trailers can become extremely hazardous for fellow vehicles on the roadway.
sudden snow squalls will bring visibility on the roads to near zero within seconds
roads, not just overpasses, will become icy
safe speeds on freeways are as “conditions permit” so go slow
keep a wary distance between you and the cars around you because at any time, even a stable SUV can lose traction and cause a pile-up
And, it’s going to be a very, very cold holiday season. Weather reports are predicting that during the day, temperatures will be in the single digits, and we will see negative temperatures after the sun sets.
Remember too, that during the holiday season there are all sorts of emotions that drivers are experiencing – excitement, depression, stress, happy, sad – just because of this time of year. This is an added component to driving safe, whether it’s traveling on an interstate or just down the road to pick the kids up from school.
Be careful out there. We all know that statistically, there will be deaths during this weather – don’t you be one of them.
Federal Food Safety Modernization Act Passes Senate
Right now, bills are going through both the House and Senate that focus upon insuring that the food we buy to eat is indeed safe for all of us. The Senate just passed itsFood Safety Modernization Act, andyou can follow its progress here (S.510).
Introduced by Senator Durbin, and passing with bipartisan support, it’s destined to be the first major food safety legislation passed in Congress since 1938’s Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act.
President Obama has already voiced his approval of the proposed legislation. The House of Representatives must now vote its approval of the Senate’s proposed law after passage of its own Food Safety Enhancement Act (H.R.2749) back in July 2009.
What will the new federal food law do?
It expands FDA inspections of food facilities, itemizing a list of 50,000 facilities to be inspected between now and 2015. Additionally, it gives the FDA new powers to recall food; currently, the agency depends in large part upon food suppliers’ voluntarily recalls.
Not everyone is satisfied with the new proposition, of course. Read the letter sent to House and Senate leadership by produce growers concerned about its impact here. Check out the list of organizations that oppose its passage here, they include the American Mushroom Institute, the National Potato Council, and the National Watermelon Association.
Lastly, a warning to us all: if you buy a food or drink that you find suspicious in any way, don’t use it. Check with the FDA, return it to the store where you purchased the item. And, if someone becomes ill after eating or drinking, remember to get professional medical attention — and if necessary, legal help.
Because while it is good news that food safety laws are being addressed and modernized, these are tools of prevention. In Illinois, Indiana, and every other state in this country, laws are already on the books to bring justice for those who are harmed or killed by defective food and drink items. Product liability lawsuits based upon food poisoning and other food related injuries are available to you right now.
What’s this all about? We wrote about CSA 2010 almost a year ago, explaining its pros and cons regarding safety on American roads were heavy commercial trucks ride alongside vulnerable small cars and family vans. (For background on the CSA 2010 Initiative and how it’s been received in various states, read our summary here.)
1. Due process concerns. CSA 2010 will assign safety ratings based on citations and warnings that motor carriers have no effective way to challenge.
2. Peer grouping. Carriers required to maintain paper logs of drivers’ on-duty and driving time are peer grouped with carriers that do not need to do so, resulting in unfair comparisons that prejudice carriers using paper logs, the groups said. A large proportion of logging violations typically involve recordkeeping errors rather than excessive driving hours.
3. Data inequity. Enforcement officials in some states need “probable cause” for charging a moving violation in order to stop a truck for a safety inspection, escalating the number of warnings received by carriers in those states. Although this is the case under SafeStat as well, the inequity will be compounded when they can influence an actual safety rating under CSA, the associations said. In addition to geographical inequity, under-reporting of satisfactory inspections skews several of the BASIC scores, resulting in faulty statistical data.
4. Unexplained methodology changes. In August of 2010, after two years of test trials, the agency announced it made 800 technical changes in its methodology, none of which have been released or reviewed by the public, the groups said. Because neither the science nor the math behind the methodology appears to have been subject to Data Quality Act review by the agency, the data has no proven reliability and is not fit to be published given the substantial adverse consequences. Since the federal filing asks for emergency relief, the federal appeal court should be making at least a preliminary ruling very soon. We’ll keep you posted.
The Williamson lawsuit originates in a 2002 car crash where Thanh Williamson, 32, died while wearing a lap seat belt in a Mazda 1993 MPV minivan. Mazda’s defense is that Williamson was seating in the center position of the rear passenger seat and at the time, the car maker was only required to provide a lap band for this spot per National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regulation.
And, that’s true. The 2000 federal regulations did not require that spot to have a shoulder strap seat belt. However, if one had been provided, Williamson probably would be alive today. And, if the crash had occurred in a minivan manufactured in 2007 or later, that seat would have had more than a lap belt: NHTSA changed its regulations to require this safety feature five years after Ms. Williamson died.
Will the High Court find that federal law preempts state law and rule for Mazda? Will the Supreme Court Justices rule instead that American citizens shouldn’t have to face federal law shields by car manufacturers in wrongful death personal injury lawsuits?
Time will tell. Expect a decision sometime in Spring 2011.
VALPARAISO | With wind chills hovering near zero, a good winter coat is a precious commodity but something not everyone can afford.
To help those who are struggling with tough economic times, Valparaiso lawyer Kenneth Allen and his wife, Nina, donated 1,100 new winter coats for children whose parents have lost their jobs and now are receiving unemployment benefits.
"We've been doing something like this since the beginning of the firm," Kenneth Allen said. "At first we bought gifts for children in shelters, and then we gave the parents gift certificates to buy the presents so they could be a part of it and to increase the bond between parents and their children.
"The focus has always been on the children and trying to do something for them, but it's gotten more practical in recent years."
In 2009, the couple donated 300 Thanksgiving turkey dinners in Lake and Porter counties, and the previous year they provided Thanksgiving dinners at the Strongbow Inn for several hundred families affected by the flooding in Lake County. Kenneth Allen credited Nina with being the inspiration for the holiday tradition.
The coats will be distributed in Lake County by Catholic Charities at the Gary Diocese, and in Porter County it will be done through Housing Opportunities in Valparaiso. Families with young children in need of winter garments and whose primary wage earner is laid off and on employment must register by contacting these agencies.
Catholic Charities can be reached at (219) 886-3549, ext. 221, and Housing Opportunities is at (219) 548-2800, ext. 206. Parents will be required to show a current unemployment check stub and either a birth certificate or a food stamp printout to show the ages of the children in need of coats.
"Sometimes it's discouraging to see so much need out there," Kenneth Allen said. "It's like pushing sand up a hill, but, if everybody takes a handful of sand, we can accomplish a lot."
Kenneth J. Allen explained that he thinks it is a good idea to have a contact ban because lawyers should not be involved with victims and their loved ones, who are dealing with so many issues and emotions right after a serious accident has occurred.
“I don’t think the people who have just lost a loved one or been in a catastrophic crash need a lawyer contacting them,” Allen told the Post-Tribune. They are dealing with a traumatic event and the ban respects this.
Having that information available to injury victims and their families might mean the difference between choosing a lawyer with skill and experience, versus an attorney with a bad track record — and the results in award amounts to those wronged and seeking justice can be directly correlated to the plaintiff’s legal representative.
Why? Defendants (and their insurance companies) are known to be ready to settle for more money when they know that the alternative is a jury trial with an experienced advocate who’s comfortable in the courtroom.
Sophisticated defense attorneys are all too aware of lawyers that are afraid of the courtroom or those who have the courage to try a case, but don’t have a stellar success record. They are also aware of trial attorneys who go to trial, and win. Guess who can negotiate the bigger settlement with the defense team – or achieve the bigger verdict?
Choosing the attorney to represent an injury victim may have a direct impact on the justice that results for that victim and his loved ones. While the new rule does advance the ball in this regard, more can — and should — be done.
If you search for the term “ring avulsion” you’ll find lots of gory images of lost fingers and mangled hands, all due to the dangers of wearing a ring while on the job, working on the car or around the house, etc. There are also lots of medio-technical papers which aren’t inviting to the average reader since they’re filled with lots of medical jargon (and sometimes require a paid subscription).
This article is worth your time to read, whether you are a worker or a boss, and whether or not you work in the railroad industry, work construction, do mill work or mining, or any other type of thing that brings your hands into contact with heavy tools, electrical appliances, and the like.
Leave the Wedding Band at Home or in Your Pocket
Simply put, that wedding band or class ring may have sentimental value but you need to weigh that against permanent injury to your hand – including losing that ring finger.
And, if your wife or husband is disturbed about you leaving that ring off your finger (since the wedding band does mark you as mated in our society), then pull up those imagesthat pop up when the phrase “ring avulsion” is searched. Only, don’t do this right before dinne
ESPN looked to our own Kenneth J. Allen for his expertise this week in its coverage of the tragic death of Declan Sullivan, 20, who died while on the job as a Notre Dame football videographer. Sullivan perished after falling from a scaffold while he was taping football practice. Fifty-one mile per hour (51 mph) windshave been blamed for causing Declan’s death.
And it’s bad. Since Sullivan died young and without a wife or kids, his worker’s compensation coverage under Indiana worker’s compensation laws comes to $7500.00. That’s it.
What about a lawsuit? The Sullivans could file against the manufacturer of the scaffold – a scissor lift – that failed. This would be a products liability case under Indiana law, not federal law. They could also sue any other company that dealt with the lift: from the leasing company, to the repair company, etc. — but as Kenneth J. Allen explained to ESPN readers, the Sullivan family would have a small likelihood of victory here.
Why? There’s a safety law that states no one is supposed to be working from scaffolds when there are high winds, unless someone in the know has okayed it as being safe, and they’ve implemented safety precautions against the winds, like a wind screen. As Kenneth Allen explained to ESPN, the claims have to deal with this legislation as well.
This week, in a national news release, OSHA announced its concern that massive amounts of consumer shopping might endanger retail workers in the work place, and the agency is “encouraging” 14 major national retail companies to plan now, implementing precautionary measures to insure the safety of their retail workers during the holiday season. (Black Friday taking on a particular spotlight here.)
In fact, OSHA sent a letter with a fact sheet on “Crowd Management Safety Tips for Retailers” to the heads of these big store chains. Crowd control? Wow, that sounds like a good retail gift-buying frenzy of sorts. Just what our economy needs, right?
“Crowd-related injuries during special retail sales and promotional events have increased during recent years,” reports Assistant Secretary for OSHA Dr. David Michaels in the news release. “Many of these incidents can be prevented by adopting a crowd management plan, and this fact sheet provides retail employers with guidelines for avoiding injuries during the holiday shopping season.”
So, what does OSHA suggest as preparation? Its fact sheet suggests such things as: (1) trained security personnel or police officers on-site; (2) setting up barricades or rope lines for pedestrians and crowd control well in advance of customers arriving at the store; (3) having in place emergency procedures that address potential dangers; and (4) monitoring the number of customers in the store, and stopping folk from entering when maximum occupancy is reached.
The U.S. Department of Transportation monitors heavy commercial truck traffic on the nation’s highways for several reasons: planning for road repair, highway expansion, trade routing, as well as recognizing danger spots for families driving along in smaller vehicles alongside fully-loaded big rigs and semis on common roadways.
Just how much highway do we drivers share with commercial truck traffic, and what does the future hold?
From the federal estimates by 2035, long-haul commercial truck traffic traveling between two points at a minimum of 50 miles apart from each other will have “dramatically increased” on both the interstate highways as well as other major roadways across the country. These commercial trucks will be traveling 600,000,000 miles each day.
As the trucking industry grows, the agency predicts that traffic congestion problems will be worst on roadways routing near ports, airports, and border crossings. This is due to the skyrocketing growth of international trade using big rigs to transport goods — in the past 20 years, the amount of foreign product being transported by truck has doubled.
This isn’t just happening in the future. We’re already seeing more trucks on the roads, more foreign goods being hauled, and more profit expectations by the big trucking companies.
Which means that unless lots of folk are aware and careful, we will be seeing more serious injuries and wrongful deaths resulting from big rigs and semis crashing into vulnerable cars, minivans, and motorcycles driving along, sharing these increasingly congested roadways with these huge and heavy vehicles.
Congratulations to the brave Ms. Eckard — and if you are suspicious that the drugs you’ve received from a pharmacy or physician aren’t doing what they should, trust your gut and investigate. As this GSK admission reveals, just because those drugs come to you properly packaged and apparently reputable, doesn’t mean they’re safe.
The health of you and your loved ones depends upon it.
He found that rumor to be true – there is more business, but it’s what he’s calling “cheap freight” since payment for services isn’t keeping up.
In his interviews with owner operators, he found out some interesting information, too: they’re telling him that brokers are overcharging them for loads — bringing down their take-home income to a point that they can’t make their needed expenses for fuel, truck loan payments, and costs of upkeep.
Someone Needs to Wake Up Here – These Truckers Need to be Protected
It’s part of the American dream to be your own man (or woman), owning your own business, going your own way. For many folk, driving a semi along U.S. trade routes, picking up and delivering product for a profit, fits the bill. Independent owner-operators of big rig trucks are a vital component of our society today.
However, they aren’t as easy to control with things like driving past the legal hours of service (HOS) limits as drivers that work for The Man. It’s no surprise that the independents are being bullied yet again.
For powerhouse trucking companies, a perfect world wouldn’t have these pesky independent truckers anywhere but in the history books.
Something needs to be done. And thanks to people like Timothy Irby, hopefully someone with the power to stop this … well … WILL.
We’ve Been Watching the Chile Mine Rescue – Along with People like the Pope and the President
The Pope has been monitoring the Chile mine disaster, referencing the ongoing rescue effort in his address from the Vatican on Wednesday, as almost a dozen men had been brought to the surface. Graceland has just invited one of the rescued miners for a visit (assumedly, miner Edison Pena is a big Elvis fan).
President Obama along with the Chilean President issued emotional statements to the press as the miracle of every man recovered and reunited with family was viewed, as it happened, on screens all over the world.
It was a wonderful thing – all these men being safely returned to their families after being trapped so far below ground for so long a time. For those who understand the inherent dangers of mining, this was an impressive feat.
Appreciation and Relief
Representing plaintiffs who have been seriously injured or killed in mining disasters, Ken Allen Law has a special appreciation for what has happened in Chile. It’s simply a wonderful thing, thrilling and at the same time, such a relief. It could have so easily gone the other way.
Peabody explains the need to grab all the coal that’s lying underneath this Illinois soil (over 280 million tons) as part of a fight against oil dependency as well as providing jobs to the local community. Which sounds great.
It would be even better to hear about all the safety features that are being implemented as part of this expansion of the Gateway Mine in Southern Illinois. Moving fast doesn’t jive with moving carefully.
Mining is dangerous, dangerous business.
Let’s hope that in the current economic atmosphere, profits and jobs aren’t going to be deemed so important that protecting future miners working in that expanded mine takes a back seat. Let us all learn a lesson from the 33 miracle miners in Chile.
Specifically, the parents are claiming that the vaccine has caused permanent injuries suffered by their daughter, Hannah, now 18 years old, which include convulsions and permanent brain injury(brain damage). In their suit, they are seeking monetary justice for Hannah – who must have around-the-clock care, and who cannot speak, because of the vaccine’s damage.
If the parents win their case before the U.S. Supreme Court , then parents across the country will see a legal block that currently exists for vaccine manufacturers, an immunity or legal shield from being sued, erased by the High Court.
Result? All over the nation, parents and guardians of those who have been seriously injured or killed because of a vaccine will be able to seek justice through lawsuits filed on behalf of their loved ones.
More and more people are experiencing serious harm, as well as pain and suffering, from these hip implants. Why? The implants are metal-on-metal, and they are known to drop metal particles into surrounding body tissue. This results in damage to the tissue, as well as potential bone loss.
Inflammation occurs, as well. It’s painful. Plus, a defect in design may make the hip implant not work as well as it was promised to do.
Lawsuits Skyrocketing After Recall Spotlights DePuy ASR Dangers
There were some plaintiffs who filed suits based on the implant before the recall went public; however, now that the details on how this metal hip implant can cause harm many more DePuy implant recipients are checking with their doctors, to learn that the problems they are experienced are indeed due to the product itself.
In fact, doctors across the country are asking that hip implant recipients have their physician re-evaluate their condition, to see if the DePuy metal hip should be replaced.
If you have had a hip implant since 2005, then it may be a good idea to visit your doctor and have yourself checked out. The recalled DePuy ASR metal-on-metal hip implant (also known as “replacement system”) was available in 2005.
Thousands of lawsuits are expected to be filed across the country since there are a lot of people out there experiencing difficulties due to this product.
Visit a doctor, check with a lawyer — to protect your body, and to insure that you don’t miss the limitations deadline on filing your claim against these manufacturers, especially if you are facing the expense of surgery to correct implant problems.
What is distracted driving? Distracted driving is whenever someone operating a motor vehicle is also talking on the phone, texting, or otherwise taking action that competes with the focus needed to drive their car, truck, or van.
The federal agency is also implementing a Distracted Driving education program, helping employers to create effective driving policies for their companies and educating younger employees, who text more than their older co-workers, with the dangers of distracted driving.
“It is imperative that employers eliminate financial and other incentives that encourage workers to text while driving,” said Secretary Solis. “It is well recognized that texting while driving dramatically increases the risk of a motor vehicle injury or fatality.”
Usually, due to the severity of the injuries their clients have suffered and the circumstances surrounding the accident itself, the injury lawyers at Indiana / Illinois personal injury law firm Kenneth J. Allen & Associates are faced with dealing with insurance companies and their representatives, along with the defendants and their attorneys, due to the insurance policies that apply to the situation. Oftentimes, there will be several defendants and several insurance carriers involved in a case (first party, third party, excess, etc.).
To complicate things, the defendant’s attorney is usually being paid by the insurance company, not the defendant itself. In fact, that defense lawyer may have a significant part of his caseload – and therefore his livelihood – provided by that insurance carrier. This can only increase the influence of the carrier upon the case and needless to say, can pose problems in negotiation, settlement, and trial.
Insurance Companies, Adjusters, Attorneys and the Duty of Good Faith
Insurance companies that cover large corporations -- such as trucking companies, commercial airlines, or railways -- not only expect tragic accidents to occur periodically based upon their statistics, they prepare for that eventuality. For example, it is not unusual for an insurance adjuster to appear on the scene of a major Big Rig / 18-wheeler accident before the police arrive: the truck driver has been trained to call the company immediately and notify them of any accident, and typically carries a camera to take scene photos. At the scene, the adjuster will begin his investigation of the event for the purpose of defending against the claims that will be made - taking recorded statements, video, and more. Frequently, the insurance company will have its own accident reconstruction expert on the scene in mere hours.
None of this activity in and of itself is illegal. However, the law does require that all these different players on the defense team – the adjuster, the insurance company, the defense attorney – act in good faith when dealing with their own insureds. An adjuster can appear on the scene, but an adjuster is in bad faith if he attempts to get a distraught insured to sign a release of liability. On the other hand, that same adjuster can and often will seduce the accident victim into giving a recorded statement or otherwise harm her case if the victim is not an insured who has paid premiums to that insurance company.
Good faith theoretically extends into the negotiation of an injury or death claim but, again, only to claims made by insureds against their own insurance companies. From a business perspective, the insurance defense position is to settle the matter for as little as possible or delay the claim as long as possible if the accident victim refuses to settle short and demands fair compensation.
In truth, insurance companies have influenced and shaped the laws in most states so the concept of insurance company liability for bad faith is simply that – a concept rarely enforced in practice. Be forewarned: don’t attempt to deal directly with an insurance company in a serious injury or death case. Neither should you expect your own insurance company to act in good faith. Rest assured, without counsel the insurance company will likely win at your expense.
Aggressive, experienced injury lawyers are needed when dealing with sophisticated insurers
Faced with the sophistication of insurance carriers and their cohorts, injury victims and their families need aggressive, experience personal injury lawyers that are adept at dealing with the realities of how insurance coverage impacts lawsuits today.
For the personal injury lawyers at Kenneth J. Allen & Associates, their abilities and determination to fight for their clients is well-known to the major insurance companies. Over the years, it has been made clear: Kenneth J. Allen & Associates does not accept large numbers of cases in hopes of settling them en masse for a quick buck. Instead, Kenneth J. Allen & Associates is selective in its caseload, and the firm’s trial lawyers are more than willing to go to trial if a legitimate and acceptable settlement is not reached. With this attitude, Kenneth J. Allen & Associates ups the insurance company’s risk. Its injury trial lawyers know the law – including the requirements that every insurance company is by statute required to act “in good faith” – and they don’t hesitate to use it.
Defective products harm people. Sometimes, they kill people.
In many instances, there is media coverage notifying the public of extremely dangerous products. Sometimes, there are recalls by the manufacturers themselves. Plaintiffs usually have their cases consolidated into a single suit in federal court under multi-district litigation (“MDL”) rules or, sometimes, combined into a single “class action" lawsuit. The MDL and Class Action techniques are frequently used in products liability cases in which hundreds or thousands of persons are affected. This way the litigation is streamlined and the parties are able to simultaneously assert their claims against the manufacturer, distributor, and possibly others responsible for the unsafe product.
In other instances, the product may be defective but not on a mass scale. The injured victim here still has her legal rights, but she may stand alone against the same number of defendants as would be present in the larger, class action matter. Because these cases are very expensive to litigate, they can only be brought when the victim’s injuries are devastating or catastrophic.
What are defective products?
Examples of defective products involved in injury lawsuits include:
1. Defective motor vehicles: cars, automobiles, motorcycles, ATVs or airplanes / aircraft;
2. Defective component parts: tires (blowouts, exploding tires), seatbacks, wiring, seat belts, or brakes;
3. Defects in consumer products: children’s toys, toasters, cribs, car seats, irons, and electrical devices; and
4. Defects in industrial equipment, control devices or tools: cranes, heavy equipment, remote controls, hand tools, valves, and boilers.
If you or a loved one has been harmed or killed by a defective product, then you need legal counsel with knowledge and experience in dealing with the complexity these claims entail. Claims must be investigated and pursued against various manufacturers and distributors of the product, and expert testimony must be gathered.
How can Kenneth J. Allen & Associates help you?
The injury lawyers at Northwest Indiana and Chicagoland’s Kenneth J. Allen & Associates have represented many plaintiffs who have been seriously injured by defective products. In fact, one of the best compliments Kenneth J. Allen & Associates has received came at the end of a product’s liability / defective product trial, when the company being sued as a defendant asked to be put in contact with the firm’s experts -- so the defendant business could make changes to the defective machine – just as Kenneth J. Allen & Associates injury attorneys had argued were needed. With this, not only was the firm’s client satisfied with individual justice in their case, but the law firm met its dual goal of helping bring about long-term positive change.
Sports & Boating Accidents
Serious fun can quickly turn into a serious accident in the water.
According to United States Coast Guard, thousands of people die or are seriously injured each year in boating accidents on US waterways, with the amount of property damage totaling in the millions of dollars. Pilot error accounts for 70% of boating accidents; many times, accidents occur when those piloting the boats are under the influence of alcohol. BOAT-US (Boat Owners Association of United States) estimates that alcohol plays a role in half of all boating accidents (50%).
When serious injury or death happens due to a boating accident, victims and their families will need the help of a personal injury lawyer experienced with water sport, boating, and watercraft incidents. Plaintiffs may be able to claim monetary awards providing compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, rehabilitative therapy, and other costs related to the injury. If drunk driving was involved, i.e., boating under the influence (BUI), punitive damages may be available. These money damages may be able to be obtained from a number of defendants.
An experienced water sport and boat accident injury attorney can determine who is liable. Defendants can range from the boat operator and the boat owner, to the manufacturer and supplier of the boat, as well as of the manufacturer and suppliers of various parts and equipment. To assist in claims resolution, BOAT-US provides a national recall alert registry, and every state has a consumer affairs department that can help in determining possible defendants.
Kenneth J. Allen & Associates has the knowledge and experience to uncover what really happened, and go after those responsible. The sport injury lawyers at Kenneth J. Allen & Associations are familiar with federal preemption laws, and the proper legal channels will be navigated. Additionally, the accident team at Kenneth J. Allen & Associates will gather noted medical experts who can evaluate and testify to the physical, emotional and financial effects of the victim’s serious injury or wrongful death.
Medical Malpractice Injuries
Everyone at the injury law firm of Kenneth J. Allen & Associates believes that you should be able to trust your doctor – and any other health care provider treating you or your loved one. However, it’s not a perfect world and medical mistakes happen every day – and sometimes, their victims are seriously injured and even die as a result.
More People Die Each Year from Medical Errors than from AIDs, Breast Cancer, or Car Wrecks
It’s a frightening but true statistic that the number of people that die every year because of medical malpractice is higher than those who die from AIDS, breast cancer, or car crashes.
What is happening? Here are some of common examples of medical error, or malpractice: failure to diagnose; failure to properly treat; making an incorrect diagnosis; failure to order necessary tests or properly evaluate test results; failure to monitor the patient’s condition; failing to prescribe the right drugs or the right dosage; and surgery mistakes.
Do You Know if You or a Loved One is a Victim of Medical Malpractice?
Sad but true, your family cannot rely upon the health care professionals (nurses, aides, techs, doctors, hospital administration, etc.) to tell you that a mistake has been made. Your doctor will not tell you he’s made an error. The only way that your family will learn of medical malpractice is by your own investigation -- that’s where an experienced medical malpractice attorney can be of great help.
How a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Can Help You
Having a knowledgeable and experienced medical malpractice attorney to gather the facts and review your case and then help you pursue your medical malpractice claim is especially important in this complex area of the law.
Therefore, each medical malpractice case Kenneth J. Allen & Associates handles has been carefully screened before the client and the injury attorney make their joint commitment to make a claim or file suit. The medical malpractice lawyers at Kenneth J. Allen & Associates zealously pursue theses cases, ready to take each one to a jury if necessary.
If cases go to trial, juries are provided with a physician specializing in rehabilitative medicine who gives expert testimony, mapping out a “life care plan” that shows the victim’s needs in terms of dollars and cents, taking into account medical inflation and quality of life. It’s just one example of the aggressive representation in medical malpractice cases that Kenneth J. Allen & Associates is known for.
Medical Malpractice Laws Provide for Money Damages – and there’s a Deadline
Due to tort reform, state laws have been passed to deal with medical errors and to protect victims and their families when there has been a failure of a physician or doctor (or other health care professional) to do their job properly. Indiana and Illinois laws are not the same.
In Indiana, all claims for medical malpractice must first be submitted to a medical malpractice review by a panel of three practicing health-care providers. There are also limits on the recoverable money damages. The Indiana medical malpractice process essentially doubles the cost, and the time it takes, for resolving malpractice claims.
Additionally, damages are capped at $1.25 Million – no matter how grievous the harm.
In Illinois, there are no caps or limitations on damages and many of the other tort reform changes proposed to the medical malpractice laws have been ruled unconstitutional. However, like Indiana’s panel review procedure, Illinois malpractice claims must first be approved by a health care provider who must sign a certificate that the case has merit before it can be filed.
Pedestrian Accident Injuries
Nearly 5,000 pedestrians are killed in traffic accidents every year in the United States. Wrongful death while jogging or simply walking across the street sounds almost impossible in this day and age, but it happens.
People are injured every day in pedestrian accidents and these injuries are sometimes fatal. Even in low speed collisions, pedestrians are likely to suffer injuries to the lower extremity and spine requiring surgical treatment. When a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle traveling 30 MPH or greater, serious injury to the head and neck is almost inevitable and the most frequent consequences include nerve damage, traumatic brain injury (TBI), spinal cord injury, paralysis, physical disfigurement, and permanent disability.
Children are, of course, especially vulnerable to injury in these cases. And in the case of children under 14, even a simple fractured leg can have lifelong consequences. The growth plates in the lower extremities have not fully developed by that age. A kid’s simple fracture which involves a significant portion of the growth plate can result in a permanent reduction of height, leg length discrepancy, and permanent limp.
If you or a loved one has been injured as a pedestrian, in a hit and run or otherwise, then you may be entitled to recover legal damages. Your own uninsured motorists insurance typically provides coverage in cases involving hit and run, so long as there is some property damage involved. Successful resolution of your claim will involve not only establishing your injuries, but also the driver’s negligence and identifying all those, such as an employer for whom the negligent driver works, that may share responsibility for the accident.
Kenneth J. Allen & Associates Ready to Help Injured Pedestrians and Their Families Get Legal Relief
The injury lawyers at Kenneth J. Allen & Associates are experienced in dealing with pedestrian accidents and their resulting injuries, and understand the complexities of pursuing remedies for victims and their families in these cases.
Mesothelioma is a fatal form of cancer that is entirely preventable. Also known as “asbestos cancer,” it is a truly evil disease with a horrific ability to conceal itself literally for decades within the bodies of workers or their family members before it manifests. In fact, mesothelioma can hide from view for as long as 40 years before an exposure to asbestos fibers culminates in a cancer diagnosis.
How do you get asbestos cancer?
Mesothelioma victims fall prey to the disease either by inhaling (breathing in) asbestos fibers or by ingesting (swallowing) them. Usually, this occurs on the job; however, there have been cases of asbestos cancer where the wife or other family member was exposed to asbestos by coming into contact with a worker’s clothing, shoes, gloves, or the like. Many wives are diagnosed with mesothelioma after years of doing the laundry, cleaning a husband’s work clothes that have been inundated with the deadly fibers.
Steel workers who worked in the mills prior to the 1980s can be particularly susceptible to mesothelioma, as well as other serious diseases caused by exposure to asbestos. Often clothing worn by mill workers contained asbestos, as well as equipment used in the steel mills such as piping, blast furnaces, boilers, etc. And, it is not limited to just workers in the steel industry. Construction workers, carpenters, electricians, roofers, plumbers and other occupations are potentially at risk.
The Three Main Types of Mesothelioma
There is more than one type of mesothelioma, and most mesothelioma – like other cancers -- can spread to other parts of the body (“metastasize”). The most common forms of mesothelioma are:
1. Pleural Mesothelioma (Attacks Breathing System). Pleural asbestos cancer is the most widespread form of mesothelioma. It is the result of someone breathing in asbestos – usually in the form of tiny asbestos fibers, inhaled on the job. Once drawn into the body, these tiny particles of toxic asbestos material then slowly maneuver themselves toward the walls of the air passageways, lodging particularly in lung tissues, and eventually metastasize into lung cancer.
2. Peritoneal Mesothelioma (Attacks Digestive System). Peritoneal mesothelioma is a common form of cancer that results from swallowing asbestos, allowing the toxic asbestos fibers to travel through the digestive system. The tiny asbestos fibers bury themselves in the walls of both the small and large intestines, and over time their toxic presence results in cancer not only in the abdomen’s lining, but usually metastasizing into growing, spreading cancerous tumors.
3. Pericardial Mesothelioma (Attacks the Heart / Lymph System). Pericardial mesothelioma is not seen as often as the prior two forms of asbestos cancer, but it still occurs all too often in this country. In this type of cancer, fibers are swallowed but instead of entrenching themselves within the digestive system, they maneuver into the lymph glands, pushing into the mesothelium lining of the heart.
Who Gets Exposed to Asbestos Fibers?
Asbestos is a miracle mineral from many industrial perspectives, and for over 200 years it has been commonly used for a wide variety of economical commercial purposes, particularly in the manufacturing and building trades. Asbestos is flexible. It is extremely hard to catch on fire. It is also very hard to destroy; it’s almost an everlasting, indestructible bit of nature.
These three industry-favorable characteristics (flexible, fire-retardant, long-lasting) are weighed against the possibility of endangering workers, and all too often profit-oriented companies choose profits over people. Famous, internationally known corporations like Nabisco, Goodyear, Toyota, and IBM have all been found liable to their employees for millions of dollars in damages resulting from mesothelioma. Nevertheless, asbestos still can be found in the following everyday products:
Ceiling panels and tiles for ceilings and floors
Cement piping and cement board
Laboratory Hoods and Tabletops
Toasters and Toaster Ovens
Moreover, those choosing to earn their living in the following endeavors may or may not realize that with this line of work comes an increased risk of exposure to deadly asbestos – and ultimately, death from mesothelioma -- on the job, because employers are still inadequately protecting their workers from this hazard:
Construction Workers, generally
Oil and Gas Refinery Workers, generally
Shipyard Workers, generally
Asbestos Mine Workers
For more information:
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (Center for Disease Control)
Environmental Protection Agency - Asbestos
National Cancer Institute
Complicated Lawsuits Need Experienced Mesothelioma / Asbestos Cancer Lawyers
Lawsuits are usually filed after diagnoses are made that a worker or their loved one suffers from mesothelioma (“asbestos cancer”) in order to fight for proper and adequate compensation for the care and treatment of the cancer victim. Since each case involves the need to have complex medical knowledge as well as detailed legal expertise to adequately advocate for these victims and their families, there are certain trial attorneys and injury law firms dedicated to this focused area of severe injury practice, such as well-respected efforts in the area of mesothelioma / asbestos cancer law undertaken by the Chicagoland law firm of Kenneth J. Allen & Associates.
There are two very serious injuries to the human body that result from accidents, causing permanent damage and life-altering consequences: traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries.
Frequently, both types of damage occur in the same serious accidents, since both the head and neck may be simultaneously involved.
The National Spinal Cord Injury Association estimates that there are 30 new and serious spinal cord injuries occurring every single day in the United States, and 60% of those injured are men under the age of 30. Car accidents cause of most spinal cord injuries in our country, with acts of violence a close second.
What is a spinal injury?
Spinal injury entails severe harm to the central nervous system, i.e., the spinal cord, spinal nerves and brain. The spinal cord is made up of a bundle of nerves which facilitates communication between the brain and the body. The spinal cord itself is surrounded by fluid, protected by ligaments and bone (vertebrae) with an intervertebral disk, a shock absorber made mostly of cartilage, separating each vertebra.
This disk has a gelatinous material at its core, called the nucleus propulsis, which facilitates movement. When the movement is extreme, or untoward forces are exerted on the spine, the outer rings of the disk may rupture or “herniate” and the nucleus propulsis can be squeezed into the spinal cord or spinal nerves, causing excruciating pain and sometimes paralysis.
When there is a severe injury to the spine, permanent damage to the spinal cord and nerves which control body movement results. Apart from extreme pain, this kind of injury may result in faulty brain communication at best, and an absence of brain communication at the worst. Victims of spinal cord injury commonly face paraplegia or quadriplegia. It is a tragic and devastating event for both the victim and his loved ones.
Spinal Injuries are Expensive to Treat
Due to the severity of spinal cord injuries, the cost of a victim’s care is enormous. Victims face paralysis; chronic pain; infected bed sores; and loss of bladder or bowel control and sexual function. Many spinal cord injury victims need continuous care around the clock care for the rest of their lives.
When handling spinal cord injury cases, the injury attorneys at Kenneth J. Allen & Associates understand the importance of conveying to the jury the enormous medical expenses facing the victim. Our injury attorneys will retain rehabilitation specialists and doctors know as physiatrists to assess the minimum future health care needs of the client. All of the daily needs, such as catheters, mobility devices, home modifications, and home health care are factored into a life care plan. Then economists are hired to determine the total expected lifetime medical costs, which frequently total many millions of dollars.
Complicated Lawsuits Need Experience Spinal Cord Injury Lawyers
Lawsuits are usually filed after accidents resulting in spinal cord injury in order to obtain adequate compensation for the care and treatment of the spinal injury victim. When handling spinal cord cases, the injury lawyers at Kenneth J. Allen & Associates understand the importance of conveying to the jury the daily struggle the spinal cord injury victim must face.
Typically, a camera crew shadows the client to create a documentary film, called a “Day in the Life” video, which highlights the activities of daily living, like changing catheters or bowel programs, which only a rare few besides victims and their families ever witness. Routine use of this kind of evidence along with comprehensive life care plans is what sets the injury attorneys at Kenneth J. Allen & Associates at a much higher level of expertise in handling spinal cord and brain injury cases.
Since each case involves the need to have complex medical knowledge as well as detailed legal knowledge to properly advocate for these victims and their families, there are certain trial attorneys and injury law firms dedicated to this focused area of severe injury practice, such as well-respected efforts in this area by the Northwest Indiana and Chicagoland law firm of Kenneth J. Allen & Associates.
Unfortunately, in most serious semi-truck crashes, falls and work accidents there is a very high risk not only of death, but of tremendously tragic, permanent damage to the two most vulnerable areas of the human body: the brain and the spinal cord. Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and spinal cord injuries – severe injuries to the head and neck – are not only debilitating and life-altering for the injured person, but they are equally catastrophic to the injury victim’s loved ones and family.
No one is the same after an accident where there is a severe brain injury. Within the few minutes time that it takes for a serious car crash, trucking accident, or on the job injury to occur, the lives of many people – victims, their husbands or wives, parents, children, grandchildren, brothers and sisters – can be forever changed. In most instances, the injury victim is totally innocent of any responsibility or fault for this unfair and heartbreaking life event. And brain damage never goes away.
Traumatic Brain Injury is the “silent epidemic” in our country today
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, each year approximately 1,400,000 people will suffer a brain injury in the United States. Of these, 100,000 will die from their injuries and another 500,000 will face a life where they must cope with severe and horrific permanent disability. Studies done by the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Brain Injury and Repair also reveal the following terrifying facts:
brain injury is the leading cause of death/disability for people under 45 yrs old;
more people die from a brain injury in this country than from AIDS, breast cancer, MS, and spinal cord injury combined; and
every 15 seconds, someone in the United States suffers a brain injury.
Today in our country, there are over 5,500,000 TBI sufferers facing the daily struggles of life after a traumatic brain injury – two percent (2%) of the current U.S. population. This statistic does not include those indirectly hurting every day from their loved one’s serious accident – one can safely assume those numbers to be in the tens of millions.
Given that four people suffer brain injuries every single minute in our nation, it’s no wonder that experts refer to Traumatic Brain Injury as the "silent epidemic."
What is a traumatic brain injury?
Many assume that brain injuries happen because of a direct blow to the head or loss of consciousness, whether during a slip and fall, an accident at work, a semi-truck crash, auto collision with a heavy truck or bridge abutment. While many brain injuries are the result of trauma directly to the head, sometimes brain damage can occur without loss of consciousness or a direct blow to the head. This is so because the brain, a very soft organ suspended in cerebral spinal fluid, is encased in a very hard shell, the skull. The brain can often be injured by striking the bony skull, which occurs during sudden acceleration-deceleration – which occurs, for example, in a crash between a car and semi-truck at highway speeds or when a person falls at work from a scaffolding or ladder. In fact, most neurologists and neuropsychologists agree that mild traumatic brain injury does not require actual loss of consciousness or direct trauma to the head.
But TBI can and does occur in situations other than semi-truck crashes, falls or work-accidents For example, mild TBI may occur as the result of infection due to faulty medical care; poisoning (such as breathing toxic fumes while working on the job); or from insufficient oxygen or blood flow to the brain, as in the case of negligent vaginal delivery of an infant.
The truth is that any injury to the head can seriously and permanently harm someone. Any sudden blow to the head can render an individual physically incapacitated and reliant upon mechanical life support, or mentally disabled, depressed, unable to sleep and incapable of exercising self-control.
Not all brain injuries are easy to spot. TBIs may be wickedly subtle in how they have damaged someone. Brain injury victims sometimes have violent, sudden mood swings as well as a frustrating loss of memory – particularly short-term memory. TBI victims are vulnerable to being easily confused and often exhausted because brain injury often disrupts one’s ability to sleep. brain injury to children who will henceforth have learning disabilities they never experienced before their fall in the schoolyard or injury in a car or truck crash.
You should suspect a loved one may be suffering from a serious brain injury or TBI if they are show signs of being:
Clumsiness (especially immediately after the accident) – dropping things, unable to hold tightly onto an object
Confusion (especially immediately after the accident) – they may not know where they are, how to get home, what day it is, etc.
Dizziness (either immediately after the accident or later) – dizzy spells are a big hint of TBI
Fatigued – very weak or too exhausted to do activities that they would normally undertake which is frequently associated with sleep disruption caused by TBI
Headache – severe head pain may hint of brain injury
Photophobic – that is, bothered by bright light or extra-sensitive to loud sounds
Memory Loss – unable to recall new info or facts recently learned – like what they ate for breakfast
Nausea (especially immediately after the accident) – vomiting or feeling the urge to vomit is a common result of a brain injury
Numbness – the inability to feel any part of their body (finger, toe, limb) can mean TBI
Depression – this is a common effect of mild TBI because the person realizes she’s no longer able to think and remember as well as she could once
Asnomia – that is, the loss of sense of smell (the olfactory nerves which control the sense of smell are very delicate and can easily be damaged during trauma)
Personality change – this is the most troubling aspect of TBI since it affects loved ones as well as the injured person; the inability to control one’s temper and emotions is a frequent consequence of TBI
Seizures– seizure disorder and convulsion can occur immediately or begin years after a TBI
Other diseases– persons who have suffered TBI are more susceptible to early onset of Alzheimer’s or other dementia, Parkinson’s Disease and brain atrophy.
Brain Injuries (TBIs) Require Expensive Treatment and Care
The financial cost and expense of a brain injury victim’s care can be astronomical. Not only are the initial medical expenses high when a severe accident or injury is involved, but the long-term medical care costs for those suffering from traumatic brain injuries can reach into the millions of dollars.
TBI victims may have a long lifetime ahead of them, where they will need daily, around-the-clock nursing care and therapy needs, as well as extended surgeries and other forms of treatment. For example, monetary damage awards assessed for young children who have sadly suffered a traumatic brain injury can be extremely high.
Complicated Lawsuits Need Experienced Traumatic Brain Injury - TBI Lawyers
Lawsuits are usually filed after accidents resulting in traumatic brain injury (TBI) in order to obtain adequate compensation for the care and treatment of the traumatic brain injury (TBI) victim. Since each case involves the need to have complex medical knowledge as well as detailed legal expertise to adequately advocate for these victims and their families, there are certain trial attorneys and injury law firms dedicated to this focused area of severe injury practice, such as well-respected efforts in this area by the Northwest Indiana and Chicagoland law firm of Kenneth J. Allen & Associates.
Slip & Falls
“Slip and Fall” is a catch phrase used by doctors and lawyers alike to describe injuries that result from someone falling down as a result of a dangerous or hazardous condition on someone else's property. Sometimes, you can also hear someone call the same event a “trip and fall” or a “step and fall” -- it always involves a serious falling injury.
What are serious falling injuries?
Falling injuries can result from slippery substances (ice, snow, rain, grease, etc.) on the walking surface. They can also happen when there are unexpected changes in flooring, or bad visibility from bad lighting, or a partially hidden hazard, like a hole in the ground. According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), falling injuries account for most serious and fatal injuries in the workplace.
Both the property owner and the injured person may be held to varying degrees of responsibility for a fall injury. While the property owner has a legal duty to keep its property safe, all pedestrians have a legal duty to watch where they are going, and to observe what can normally be observed through reasonable care, such as an open and obvious patch of ice on walking surfaces. A person is expected to use reasonable care to prevent injury, and that legal axiom applies both to companies that own or operate premises as well as those using another’s premises.
Who is responsible under the law?
Both Indiana and Illinois recognize legal liability for damages and injury suffered in an accident which the property owner could through reasonable care can anticipate and prevent. The key is often whether the property owner knew or through reasonable care could have discovered the dangerous condition or activity, and could have taken reasonable steps to prevent the accident. So, for example, when someone falls because a long-missing manhole cover is not replaced, there is legal liability even if the party responsible for maintaining the cover claims he didn’t know the manhole was uncovered.
Some property owners are particularly accountable. Owners of hotels and apartment complexes, for example, have special legal responsibilities to those folk they’ve invited to enter and use their property. These owners must keep the common facilities in a safe condition.
How can a lawyer help?
In a simple accident or a fall case, insurance adjusters will often attempt to take recorded or written statements of the accident victim. NEVER GIVE A STATEMENT TO AN INSURANCE ADJUSTER OR REPRESENTATIVE WITHOUT YOUR LAWYER PRESENT!
Insurance adjusters are highly trained to gain the confidence of accident victims in order to undermine claims. A recorded or written statement taken by an experienced insurance adjuster can create huge problems in a fall or accident case. Insurance personnel are trained to phrase questions in a way which can pose problems if the case goes to court.
A seemingly simple accident can have complex repercussions – both medical and legal - and therefore requires a complex legal approach. At Kenneth J. Allen & Associates, injury attorneys have years of experience with a wide variety of slip and fall injuries.
These Northwest Indiana and Chicagoland slip and fall accident lawyers know the questions to ask – for example, what was the coefficient of friction for the floor covering or coating? Was there was a chronic problem evidenced by prior similar accidents at the facility where the slip and fall occurred?
Furthermore, firm engineers are versed in technical details – determining applicable ASME, ANSI, BOCA and other codes and regulations to establish legal liability. And firm medical experts can explain to a jury in simple terms the injury you suffered, and the day-to-day as well as life-long implications of a serious injury suffered in a slip, trip and fall.
School & Playground Injuries
It’s always a worry that your child will be injured while at school, no matter their age. Even very young children can be seriously hurt at recess by playing too roughly on unsafe equipment or because of a lack of supervision, and older kids can be permanently injured or even killed while playing games at school or during formal sporting events.
While minor scrapes and injuries are part of growing up, serious and severe injuries that happen because of negligent supervision, unsupervised play, actual bullying or harassment, or unsafe school playground equipment should be a part of childhood. Parents have a right to expect their children to be reasonably safe while at school and during school activities. If there is negligence on the part of school officials and it results in a serious injury to your child, then there may be a valid legal claim for money damages.
Of note, Indiana has special rules any time a lawsuit is filed against a government agency, including agency-held parks and schools. Illinois law is different, although filing a lawsuit against a public entity in many circumstances must be commenced within one year. Because Kenneth J. Allen & Associates practice exclusively in accident and injury law in both Indiana and Illinois, our personal injury attorneys are aware of the state laws, as well as their limits which injured persons must face in bringing claims for school and playground child injuries.
Big Rigs, 18-wheelers, tractor-trailer trucks, semis. Commercial trucks, no matter what you call them, cause some of the most deadly motor vehicle accidents in this country.
Considering that most commercial trucks on the road weigh 80,000 lbs. while their neighbors on the road, standard automobiles, weigh around 3000 lbs., it is easy to understand why truck crashes usually result in serious injury or death for at least one of the individuals involved.
Commercial Trucks Are Heavily Regulated
Lawmakers have studied this situation – big trucks driving alongside cars, minivans, SUVs, and the like, in dangerous proximity – and today, federal, state, and local regulations exist regarding commercial trucks. These laws dictate a wide variety of things, such as what loads a truck can carry or haul, what roads they can travel, and how long their drivers can be on the road. Hours of Service ("HOS") regulations prohibit a driver from being on the road for more than 11 straight hours.
Studies have shown that tired drivers wreck trucks. Driver fatigue is a major cause of truck accidents. (Weather, road hazards, inadequate training and supervision, lack of inspection and maintenance, and shifting loads are other major causes.)
Claims after a Trucking Accident
When a commercial truck crash occurs, evidence must be preserved quickly. Witnesses must be found and interviewed; and studies must be done of the roadway, the vehicles, and everyone involved in the accident. Claims must then be made against all those who may share responsibility for the victim's injuries: the trucker, the truck owner, the manufacturer of the truck, the owner of the cargo, the store expecting the delivery -- even some governmental agencies may be partly at fault.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in an accident with a large, commercial truck (Big Rig, 18-wheeler, tractor-tractor, or semi), then you may be entitled to recover damages for a variety of losses including physical disfigurement, pain and suffering, lost income, and lost earning capacity. If life was lost, then wrongful death damages may be available for grieving loved ones.
How Kenneth J. Allen & Associates Can Help
At Northwest Indiana and Chicagoland personal injury law firm of Kenneth J. Allen & Associates, two trial lawyers dedicate a significant percentage of every workday to helping victims of truck crashes. One of them, attorney Bryan Bradley, is the son of a truck driver and uniquely understands the circumstances surrounding the trucking industry, pressures placed upon truckers, and the big-picture causes that usually exist behind seemingly simple human error.
Auto Accident Injuries
The U.S. Department of Transportation reports a continuing rise in car accident deaths across the nation. Car accidents remain the main cause of death for teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19. Many accidents are caused by distracted drivers, for example drivers who are texting or talking on a cell phone, requiring the subpoenaing of cellular telephone billing and usage records.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a car accident involving a driver who made a mistake, or even a wreck caused by someone driving drunk, the law protects you. State laws exist that make certain types of damages legally available to you and your family, including reimbursement for medical expenses; lost wages; pain and suffering; mental anguish; physical impairment and/or disfigurement.
Negotiations with Professional Insurance Company Representatives
Recovering from a car accident is difficult. Car wrecks are major life events. Having an experienced accident lawyer to help you in obtaining your legal damages can be very important, particularly when you are involved in negotiations with professional insurance adjusters.
Insurance companies are for-profit corporations. Insurance carrier representatives negotiate each accident claim with profit as a consideration, and their goal will be to settle as fast and as cheap as possible. So, it is very helpful for an injury victim to have an aggressive and knowledgeable accident lawyer to help level the playing field.
How the accident firm of Kenneth J. Allen & Associates can help
The Northwest Indiana and Chicagoland accident firm of Kenneth J. Allen & Associates is very experienced in representing car accident victims and their families. Taking the same protocols used in representations of victims of plane, train and semi-truck crashes, the car accident lawyers at Kenneth J. Allen & Associates advocate for victims of auto accidents with a variety of sophisticated strategies, including scene reconstruction, video witness testimony, and contributions by medical experts, engineers and economists, working together to present a case that is both emotionally compelling and legally sound.
Bus Accident Injuries
Buses that carry passengers are considered “common carriers” under state and federal law and must adhere to the same safety and driving standards as trains and airplanes. Therefore, when a crash occurs involving a bus, the legal claims will be more complex than the ordinary car crash.
Investigation must be made into whether or not the bus itself meets federal safety standards, etc. The bus driver must be checked to insure that he had a valid license and if he suffered from any substance abuse issues. The site itself must be studied for any external contributing factors to the crash.
Bus crashes usually involve a number of injury victims as well as several defendants, since the driver, the owner of the bus (the bus company) as well as those responsible for maintaining the bus, the roadway, etc. may all be partially responsible.
Therefore, if you live in Indiana and Illinois and were seriously hurt in a car crash or motor vehicle accident involving a bus anywhere or if you have been seriously hurt in a motor vehicle accident involving a bus in Indiana and Illinois, either because you were a passenger on the bus (like Greyhound), or because you were a driver or a pedestrian who was injured by an oncoming bus, then it is important that you are represented by injury lawyers with experience in bus accident claims and bus accident litigation, like the injury attorneys at Kenneth J. Allen & Associates.
Airplane and Train Accident Injuries
1. Plane crashes
Personal injury law divides aviation accidents into three areas: plane crashes involving commercial airlines; international air disaster fatalities; and non-commercial aviation accidents (i.e., personal airplane crashes).
Commercial plane crashes, where large jets crash and large numbers of people are severely hurt or killed, are the most heavily regulated under the law. For example, the Aviation Disaster Family Assistance Act of 1996 requires a commercial airline to assist families in traveling to any crash site.
International aviation accidents may or may not be governed by the state or federal law of the United States. A crash of any plane flying into O’Hare from Canada or elsewhere outside the U.S. borders will be controlled by any number of laws. For example, in 1929, the Warsaw Convention was entered into by the United States and several other nations. This limits the liability of commercial airlines for plane crashes involving international flights between the subject countries when they are due to unintentional error, but sets no limit on intentional acts. Therefore, courtroom fights often ensue in these crash cases on the issue of whether or not the cause of the crash was intentional or neglectful mistake.
Private plane crashes are aviation accidents that don’t involve commercial airlines; these are governed by general aviation law of both state and federal origin, including agency regulations of the Federal Aviation Administration ("FAA") and the National Transportation Safety Administration (“NTSA”). Private planes that crash usually have claims filed in state court by plane crash victims and their families against any number of defendants, including the owner/ operator of aircraft; those maintaining the aircraft; those supplying components to the aircraft; and the plane’s manufacturer.
Regardless the type of aviation accident or plane crash, the injury lawyers at Chicago’s Kenneth J. Allen & Associates are very experienced in dealing with aviation injuries, and understand the complexities of pursuing aviation accident/plane crash remedies for victims and their families.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or killed due to the wrongful acts of another, then you may have a legal claim for legal damages as well as the right for justice against the wrongdoer and you are welcomed to contact the Northwest Indiana and Chicagoland personal injury lawyers at Kenneth J. Allen & Associates to schedule a free initial legal consultation.
2. Train wrecks
Today, trains are not used very often for public transportation; instead they are critical to our country’s economy as a carrier of cargo. Present-day train accidents usually involved mechanical failures or maintenance problems along the track, causing derailments that halt the train and endanger only the cargo delivery deadline.
Nevertheless, people still die in train accidents today. The Federal Road Administration estimates 1000 Americans die each year as a result of train accidents. Most of these fatalities involve accidents where a train collides with another train or with a motor vehicle.
As a “common carrier” under the law, railroads transports people or goods according to a specified schedule, and have a corresponding legal duty to make sure that both safely reach their destination. Once a train crosses a state line, federal law also applies: the railroad will be required to also meet the requirements of the Interstate Commerce Act for common carriers.
Under common carrier law, carriers have a duty to warn of danger. They must warn bystanders of oncoming trains, for example. In most train – car fatalities, there has been inadequate warnings at the roadway/rail crossing. Unfortunately, most of these accidents of trains colliding with cars results in death.
Train crash claims involve volumes of applicable law and regulation, as well as costly evidence needs in the terms of gathering facts and expert testimony. For victims of train accidents and their families, it is very important to have the assistance of experienced injury attorneys with knowledge of railroad claims as soon as possible.
At the Chicago accident law firm of Kenneth J. Allen & Associates, firm accident attorneys are experienced in representing train wreck victims and their families. For example, founder Ken Allen served as case counsel in two train wrecks that, together, left 10 dead and 165 injured.
Motorcycle Accident Injuries
Motorcycles are dangerous – not only because the rider is vulnerable to the road (there’s no metal box or air bag between him and the asphalt), but because in most motorcycle crashes where the rider is killed, passenger vehicle drivers report that they simply “didn't see” the motorcycle prior to the crash.
Helmets are controversial. Many riders hate them. However, another factor in the high rate of deaths in motorcycle accidents is the failure of the motorcyclist to wear a helmet. Still, riders see helmets as a danger in and of themselves: riders complain that helmets restrict range of view and may be a contributing factor to the fatal crash.
In any motorcycle crash, victims that are not killed often times face permanent disabilities, especially those involving traumatic brain injury (TBI) or spinal injury. Exorbitant medical expenses must be assessed, and the proper defendants made responsible. Accumulating the proper facts to successfully obtain all available insurance coverage, as well as expenses not covered by insurance, can be complicated, overwhelming, and voluminous.
It is very important for motorcycle accident victims and their families to enlist the aid of injury lawyers with experience in motorcycle crashes. The law firm of Kenneth J. Allen & Associates applies the same passion and attention to detail it uses representing victims of plane, train and truck accidents to the victims of motorcycle crash injuries. Scene reconstruction, witness testimony, medical experts, engineers and economists are all brought together to present a case that is as emotionally compelling and legally sound.
In the State of Indiana, state legislation specifically defines who is eligible to get monetary damages (cash awards) for the wrongful death of a loved one, and also the circumstances which constitute what a “wrongful death” is under Indiana law, as well as the amounts of compensation available to the wrongful death claimant.
The Northwest Indiana and Chicagoland law firm of Kenneth J. Allen & Associates is prohibited from provided legal advice or opinion regarding the application of the Indiana Wrongful Death Statutes to a specific situation or circumstance on a general website; however, the language of the wrongful death statutes are being provided herewith and the wrongful death attorneys at Ken Allen & Associates welcome your questions by phone or email.
IC 34-23-1-1, Death from wrongful act or omission:
Sec. 1. When the death of one is caused by the wrongful act or omission of another, the personal representative of the former may maintain an action therefore against the latter, if the former might have maintained an action had he or she, as the case may be, lived, against the latter for an injury for the same act or omission. When the death of one is caused by the wrongful act or omission of another, the action shall be commenced by the personal representative of the decedent within two (2) years, and the damages shall be in such an amount as may be determined by the court or jury, including, but not limited to, reasonable medical, hospital, funeral and burial expenses, and lost earnings of such deceased person resulting from said wrongful act or omission. That part of the damages which is recovered for reasonable medical, hospital, funeral and burial expense shall inure to the exclusive benefit of the decedent's estate for the payment thereof. The remainder of the damages, if any, shall, subject to the provisions of this article, inure to the exclusive benefit of the widow or widower, as the case may be, and to the dependent children, if any, or dependent next of kin, to be distributed in the same manner as the personal property of the deceased. If such decedent depart this life leaving no such widow or widower, or dependent children or dependent next of kin, surviving her or him, the damages inure to the exclusive benefit of the person or persons furnishing necessary and reasonable hospitalization or hospital services in connection with the last illness or injury of the decedent, performing necessary and reasonable medical or surgical services in connection with the last illness or injury of the decedent, to a funeral director or funeral home for the necessary and reasonable funeral and burial expenses, and to the personal representative, as such, for the necessary and reasonable costs and expenses of administering the estate and prosecuting or compromising the action, including a reasonable attorney's fee, aSd in case of a death under such circumstances, and when such decedent leaves no such widow, widower, or dependent children, or dependent next of kin, surviving him or her, the measure of damages to be recovered shall be the total of the necessary and reasonable value of such hospitalization or hospital service, medical and surgical services, such funeral expenses, and such costs and expenses of administration, including attorney fees.
As added by P.L.1-1998, SEC.18.
IC 34-23-1-2, Wrongful death actions; damages
Sec. 2. (a) As used in this section, "adult person" means an unmarried individual:
(1) who does not have any dependents; and
(2) who is not a child (as defined in IC 34-23-2-1).
(b) If the death of an adult person is caused by the wrongful act or omission of another person, only the personal representative of the adult person may maintain an action against the person whose wrongful act or omission caused the death of the adult person.
(c) In an action to recover damages for the death of an adult person, the damages:
(1) must be in an amount determined by a:
(A) court; or
(2) may not include:
(A) damages awarded for a person's grief; or
(B) punitive damages; and
(3) may include but are not limited to the following:
(A) Reasonable medical, hospital, funeral, and burial expenses necessitated by the wrongful act or omission that caused the adult person's death.
(B) Loss of the adult person's love and companionship.
(d) Damages awarded under subsection (c)(3)(A) for medical, hospital, funeral, and burial expenses inure to the exclusive benefit of the adult person's estate for the payment of the expenses. The remainder of the damages inure to the exclusive benefit of a nondependent parent or nondependent child of the adult person.
(e) Aggregate damages that may be recovered under subsection (c)(3)(B) may not exceed three hundred thousand dollars ($300,000). A jury may not be advised of the monetary limits placed on damages under this subsection. If the jury awards the plaintiff damages under subsection (c)(3)(B) in an amount that exceeds three hundred thousand dollars ($300,000), the court shall reduce that part of the damages awarded to the plaintiff to three hundred thousand dollars ($300,000).
(f) A parent or child who wishes to recover damages under this section has the burden of proving that the parent or child had a genuine, substantial, and ongoing relationship with the adult person before the parent or child may recover damages.
(g) In an action brought under this section, a court or a jury may not hear evidence concerning the lost earnings of the adult person that occur as a result of the wrongful act or omission.
(h) In awarding damages under this section to more than one (1) person, the court or the jury shall specify the amount of the damages that should be awarded to each person.
(i) In an action brought under this section, the trier of fact shall make a separate finding with respect to damages awarded under subsection (c)(3)(B).
As added by P.L.84-1999, SEC.2.
I.C. 34-23-2-1. Wrongful death or injury of child
(a) As used in this section, "child" means an unmarried individual without dependents who is:
(1) less than twenty (20) years of age; or
(2) less than twenty-three (23) years of age and is enrolled in an institution of higher education or in a career and technical education school or program.
(b) An action may be maintained under this section against the person whose wrongful act or omission caused the injury or death of a child. The action may be maintained by:
(1) the father and mother jointly, or either of them by naming the other parent as a codefendant to answer as to his or her interest;
(2) in case of divorce or dissolution of marriage, the person to whom custody of the child was awarded; and
(3) a guardian, for the injury or death of a protected person.
(c) In case of death of the person to whom custody of a child was awarded, a personal representative shall be appointed to maintain the action for the injury or death of the child.
(d) In an action brought by a guardian for an injury to a protected person, the damages inure to the benefit of the protected person.
(e) In an action to recover for the death of a child, the plaintiff may recover damages:
(1) for the loss of the child's services;
(2) for the loss of the child's love and companionship; and
(3) to pay the expenses of:
(A) health care and hospitalization necessitated by the wrongful act or omission that caused the child's death;
(B) the child's funeral and burial;
(C) the reasonable expense of psychiatric and psychological counseling incurred by a surviving parent or minor sibling of the child that is required because of the death of the child;
(D) uninsured debts of the child, including debts for which a parent is obligated on behalf of the child; and
(E) the administration of the child's estate, including reasonable attorney's fees.
(f) Damages may be awarded under this section only with respect to the period of time from the death of the child until:
(1) the date that the child would have reached:
(A) twenty (20) years of age; or
(B) twenty-three (23) years of age, if the child was enrolled in an institution of higher education or in a career and technical education school or program; or
(2) the date of the child's last surviving parent's death;
whichever first occurs.
(g) Damages may be awarded under subsection (e)(2) only with respect to the period of time from the death of the child until the date of the child's last surviving parent's death.
(h) Damages awarded under subsection (e)(1), (e)(2), (e)(3)(C), and (e)(3)(D) inure to the benefit of:
(1) the father and mother jointly if both parents had custody of the child;
(2) the custodial parent, or custodial grandparent, and the noncustodial parent of the deceased child as apportioned by the court according to their respective losses; or
(3) a custodial grandparent of the child if the child was not survived by a parent entitled to benefit under this section.
However, a parent or grandparent who abandoned a deceased child while the child was alive is not entitled to any recovery under this chapter.
HISTORY: P.L.1-1998, § 18; P.L.234-2007, § 169, emergency eff. July 1, 2007.
Illinois Wrongful Death
In the State of Illinois, state legislation entitled the “Wrongful Death Act,” specifically defines who is eligible to get monetary damages (cash awards) for the wrongful death of a loved one, and the circumstances which constitute what a “wrongful death” is under Illinois law, as well as the amounts of compensation available to the wrongful death claimant.
The Northwest Indiana and Chicagoland law firm of Kenneth J. Allen & Associates is prohibited from provided legal advice or opinion regarding the application of the Illlinois Wrongful Death Statute to a specific situation or circumstance on a general website; however the language of the statute itself is being provided herewith and the wrongful death attorneys at Ken Allen & Associates welcome your questions by phone or email.
The Illinois Wrongful Death Act
(740 ILCS 180/1) (from Ch. 70, par. 1) (Text of Section WITH the changes made by P.A. 89 7, which has been held unconstitutional)
Sec. 1. Whenever the death of a person shall be caused by wrongful act, neglect or default, and the act, neglect or default is such as would, if death had not ensued, have entitled the party injured to maintain an action and recover damages in respect thereof, then and in every such case the person who or company or corporation which would have been liable if death had not ensued, shall be liable to an action for damages, notwithstanding the death of the person injured, and although the death shall have been caused under such circumstances as amount in law to felony. No action may be brought under this Act if the decedent had brought a cause of action with respect to the same underlying incident or occurrence which was settled or on which judgment was rendered.
This amendatory Act of 1995 applies to causes of action accruing on or after its effective date.
(Source: P.A. 89 7, eff. 3 9 95.)
(Text of Section WITHOUT the changes made by P.A. 89 7, which has been held unconstitutional)
Sec. 1. Whenever the death of a person shall be caused by wrongful act, neglect or default, and the act, neglect or default is such as would, if death had not ensued, have entitled the party injured to maintain an action and recover damages in respect thereof, then and in every such case the person who or company or corporation which would have been liable if death had not ensued, shall be liable to an action for damages, notwithstanding the death of the person injured, and although the death shall have been caused under such circumstances as amount in law to felony.
(Source: Laws 1853, p. 97.)
(740 ILCS 180/2) (from Ch. 70, par. 2)
Sec. 2. Every such action shall be brought by and in the names of the personal representatives of such deceased person, and, except as otherwise hereinafter provided, the amount recovered in every such action shall be for the exclusive benefit of the surviving spouse and next of kin of such deceased person. In every such action the jury may give such damages as they shall deem a fair and just compensation with reference to the pecuniary injuries resulting from such death, including damages for grief, sorrow, and mental suffering, to the surviving spouse and next of kin of such deceased person.
The amount recovered in any such action shall be distributed by the court in which the cause is heard or, in the case of an agreed settlement, by the circuit court, to each of the surviving spouse and next of kin of such deceased person in the proportion, as determined by the court, that the percentage of dependency of each such person upon the deceased person bears to the sum of the percentages of dependency of all such persons upon the deceased person.
Where the deceased person left no surviving spouse or next of kin entitled to recovery, the damages shall, subject to the following limitations inure, to the exclusive benefit of the following persons, or any one or more of them:
(a) to the person or persons furnishing hospitalization or hospital services in connection with the last illness or injury of the deceased person, not exceeding $450;
(b) to the person or persons furnishing medical or surgical services in connection with such last illness or injury, not exceeding $450;
(c) to the personal representatives, as such, for the costs and expenses of administering the estate and prosecuting or compromising the action, including a reasonable attorney's fee. In any such case the measure of damages to be recovered shall be the total of the reasonable value of such hospitalization or hospital service, medical and surgical services, funeral expenses, and such costs and expenses of administration, including attorney fees, not exceeding the foregoing limitations for each class of such expenses and not exceeding $900 plus a reasonable attorney's fee.
Every such action shall be commenced within 2 years after the death of such person but an action against a defendant arising from a crime committed by the defendant in whose name an escrow account was established under the "Criminal Victims' Escrow Account Act" shall be commenced within 2 years after the establishment of such account. For the purposes of this Section 2, next of kin includes an adopting parent and an adopted child, and they shall be treated as a natural parent and a natural child, respectively. However, if a person entitled to recover benefits under this Act, is, at the time the cause of action accrued, within the age of 18 years, he or she may cause such action to be brought within 2 years after attainment of the age of 18.
In any such action to recover damages, it shall not be a defense that the death was caused in whole or in part by the contributory negligence of one or more of the beneficiaries on behalf of whom the action is brought, but the amount of damages given shall be reduced in the following manner.
The trier of fact shall first determine the decedent's contributory fault in accordance with Sections 2 1116 and 2 1107.1 of the Code of Civil Procedure. Recovery of damages shall be barred or diminished accordingly. The trier of fact shall then determine the contributory fault, if any, of each beneficiary on behalf of whom the action was brought:
(1) Where the trier of fact finds that the contributory fault of a beneficiary on whose behalf the action is brought is not more than 50% of the proximate cause of the wrongful death of the decedent, then the damages allowed to that beneficiary shall be diminished in proportion to the contributory fault attributed to that beneficiary. The amount of the reduction shall not be payable by any defendant.
(2) Where the trier of fact finds that the contributory fault of a beneficiary on whose behalf the action is brought is more than 50% of the proximate cause of the wrongful death of the decedent, then the beneficiary shall be barred from recovering damages and the amount of damages which would have been payable to that beneficiary, but for the beneficiary's contributory fault, shall not inure to the benefit of the remaining beneficiaries and shall not be payable by any defendant.
The trial judge shall conduct a hearing to determine the degree of dependency of each beneficiary upon the decedent. The trial judge shall calculate the amount of damages to be awarded each beneficiary, taking into account any reduction arising from either the decedent's or the beneficiary's contributory fault.
This amendatory Act of the 91st General Assembly applies to all actions pending on or filed after the effective date of this amendatory Act.
This amendatory Act of the 95th General Assembly applies to causes of actions accruing on or after its effective date.
(Source: P.A. 95 3, eff. 5 31 07.)
(740 ILCS 180/2.1) (from Ch. 70, par. 2.1)
Sec. 2.1. In the event that the only asset of the deceased estate is a cause of action arising under this Act, and no petition for letters of office for his or her estate has been filed, the court, upon motion of any person who would be entitled to a recovery under this Act, and after such notice to the party's heirs or legatees as the court directs, and without opening of an estate, may appoint a special administrator for the deceased party for the purpose of prosecuting or defending the action. If there is more than one special administrator appointed and one of the administrators is a corporation qualified to act as a representative of the estate of a decedent and if the compensation of the attorney or attorneys representing the special administrators is solely determined under a contingent fee arrangement, then upon petition and approval by the court, the special administrator which is a corporation shall not participate in or have any duty to review the prosecution of the action, to participate in or review the appropriateness of any settlement of the action, or to participate in or review any determination of the appropriateness of any fees awarded to the attorney or attorneys employed in the prosecution of the action.
If a judgment is entered or the action is settled in favor of the special administrator, he or she shall distribute the proceeds as provided by law, except that if proceeds in excess of $5,000 are distributable to a minor or person under legal disability, the court shall allow disbursements and fees to the special administrator and his or her attorney and the balance shall be administered and distributed under the supervision of the probate division of the court if the circuit court has a probate division.
(Source: P.A. 92 288, eff. 8 9 01.)
(740 ILCS 180/2.2) (from Ch. 70, par. 2.2)
Sec. 2.2. The state of gestation or development of a human being when an injury is caused, when an injury takes effect, or at death, shall not foreclose maintenance of any cause of action under the law of this State arising from the death of a human being caused by wrongful act, neglect or default.
There shall be no cause of action against a physician or a medical institution for the wrongful death of a fetus caused by an abortion where the abortion was permitted by law and the requisite consent was lawfully given. Provided, however, that a cause of action is not prohibited where the fetus is live born but subsequently dies.
There shall be no cause of action against a physician or a medical institution for the wrongful death of a fetus based on the alleged misconduct of the physician or medical institution where the defendant did not know and, under the applicable standard of good medical care, had no medical reason to know of the pregnancy of the mother of the fetus.
(Source: P.A. 81 946.)
Wrongful Death Other Jurisdictions
The determination of what wrongful death law applies in a case – or if a wrongful death statute applies at all -- can be extremely important and very complicated. One state’s statute may be more favorable to a claimant than another; a savvy defendant will urge the law more favorable to its bottom line must be applied – if any wrongful death statute is to be applied at all. Only certain individuals are allowed to pursue recoveries under wrongful death laws.
Wrongful death claims are civil lawsuits
Wrongful death claims are lawsuits that are filed against those who can be held legally liable for a death. Sometimes, they are included in a personal injury lawsuit; sometimes, they exist as separate lawsuits filed by loved ones who have suffered a tragic loss. On occasion, wrongful death cases proceed simultaneously with criminal cases, where the government is prosecuting an individual believed to be responsible for another’s death. (One of the most notorious examples of this type of overlapping case involves the trial of O.J. Simpson and the simultaneous wrongful death suits filed by the Brown and Goldman families.)
Wrongful death jurisdictions – the legal fight
The Northwest Indiana and Chicagoland law firm of Kenneth J. Allen & Associates has represented clients who were seeking justice under the wrongful death statutes of a wide variety of state laws. At times, the firm has had huge legal battles not only to determine which Wrongful Death Statute will apply in a case, but also regarding whether or not a loved one is legally entitled to receive a recovery under the law (determination of heirship, etc.)
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics studies the relative safety of various occupations in the country each year, more people die working in private construction than in any other industry, and the injury counts are much higher.
Anyone who has worked construction knows that construction sites provide extremely dangerous working conditions: the nature of the work itself carries a high risk of injury, and the workplace is filled with hazards: high scaffolds, toxic chemicals, live electrical wiring, and dangerous machinery are commonplace on any construction site.
Construction site accidents and workplace deaths have a number of causes: the mistakes of other workers, defective machinery, faulty equipment, and the inherently dangerous conditions of a project in the process of being built. Workers fall from scaffolding; they're injured on faulty forklifts, material loads (lumber or bricks) can crush limbs as they fall; electrocution can result from a variety of devices or open wiring; welding rods can cause severe burns and blindness.
The Indiana / Illinois injury firm of Kenneth J. Allen & Associates approaches every construction work injury cases with one fundamental understanding -- NO employee should ever be faced with the decision, “Should I do the job as asked, in a way that is not safe, or should I go home, risking my paycheck if not my job?” And yet, each day across the United States, this is exactly the false choice employees are given.
Firm founder Ken Allen was born in Gary, Indiana, a few miles from a steel mill. Almost everyone he knew worked there, and during summers, so did he. To this day, Mr. Allen remains a 25-year member of the Carpenter’s Union. He’s a former union teamster and railroad track laborer. Helping injured workers, especially construction workers, is one of the firm’s most passionate efforts.
Work Related Explosions & Fires
No employee should have to suffer because his or her employer failed to provide a safe work environment with necessary and reasonable safeguards. Yet in cases of explosions and fires, failure to do so can cause the most tragic of outcomes.
Fires and explosions are not uncommon in any number of industrial settings, such as offshore rigs or refinery sites. Even the standard construction site contains volatile chemicals that can ignite can cause serious harm; in other industries, working with electricity and hazardous materials is just a part of the everyday job.
State and federal laws, rules, and regulations exist to protect workers who are vulnerable to explosions or fires while on the job. Nevertheless, serious accidents occur with severe injuries and even death as the result.
At the injury law firm of Kenneth J. Allen & Associates, the accident lawyers’ exclusive handling of injury and accident cases means they understand the severe issues facing burn victims. Unlike any other injury, severe burns inflict physical and psychological damage that can change a person’s life forever – as well as their loved ones. The Northwest Indiana and Chicagoland accident firm of Kenneth J. Allen & Associates is experienced in helping workers and their families who have had their lives forever altered by injuries or wrongful death due to explosion or fire.
Work Related Equipment and Machine Malfunction
Working in factories can be very dangerous, particularly if you are employed in a large auto factory or a manufacturing hub. Computers can malfunction, assembly lines can fail to stop, rollers or belts can fault, and other factory equipment can fail, causing serious injury or death.
Likewise, construction workers are statistically more vulnerable to severe injuries due to equipment and machine malfunction. Construction workers fall from scaffolding; they can be injured on faulty forklifts, material loads (lumber or bricks) can crush limbs as they fall; electrocution can result from a variety of devices or open wiring; or welding rods can cause severe burns and blindness.
Whether an accident was caused by a faulty machine, working conditions regarding the machine, or both, the accident law firm of Kenneth J. Allen & Associates has the passion and experience to pursue the case to the fullest. With its past experience working with victims of on the job work injuries caused by equipment and machine malfunctions, in a variety of circumstances, the firm’s injury attorneys have not only a familiarity with the common problems ignored by industry, but the legal standards to which companies are expected to meet in order to address deficiencies.
Work Related Electrocution
An electrocution is most often thought of as a freak accident, an act of nature. Someone is struck by lightening on the basketball court or the wet football field.
In truth, most electrocutions are caused by unsafe, unmonitored conditions. Many victims die from electrocution. For those that survive, the victim can suffer both physical and psychological effects of burns for many years, such as painful scarring and physical deformity.
Additionally, many survivors of electrocution suffer the permanent effects of traumatic brain injury (TBI), which can be both catastrophic and subtle in its effects on a person. Headaches, short-term memory loss, and mood swings are some of the minor results of TBI that can literally destroy the victim’s life. More serious brain injuries can result in severe harm, such as partial paralysis and severe mental illness (e.g., chemical depression or schizophrenia).
At the Indiana / Illinois injury law firm of Kenneth J. Allen & Associates, firm experts testify to both cause and effect in all electrocution cases. Expert engineers are called upon to tell the why and how of what went wrong to cause the electrocution in the first place. For clients suffering from catastrophic injuries, a physician specializing in rehabilitative medicine will map out a “life care plan” that shows the victim’s needs in terms of dollars and cents, taking into account medical inflation and quality of life.
Work Related Railroad Workers (FELA)
It is dangerous to work for a railroad, and recognizing this, the law treats those who work on railroads differently than other employees. For example, railroad workers are covered by The Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA).
FELA is a federal law applicable in every state requiring railroad employers to compensate employees who are injured on the job. It is a workers’ compensation law set up by the federal government to protect railroad workers when they are injured on the job.
Railroad injuries can be caused by any number of things: hazardous working conditions, hazardous materials, inadequate safety measures, equipment failure or malfunction, improper supervision, or human error.
And while the laws do exist, they are only as good as they are enforced – and it’s well-known that the federal government does little to monitor railroads to make sure that FELA requirements are being met.
With this kind of paper tiger, it’s extremely important that railroad employees who are injured at work and on the job have experienced and qualified legal representation to protect their interests after a serious injury has occurred.
At the Indiana / Illinois injury law firm of Kenneth J. Allen & Associates, firm founder Ken Allen started his life as a working man by being a railroad track laborer and later, a steel mill carpenter. With this personal history and experience, Ken Allen and his team of trial lawyers are focused and dedicated to helping injured railroad employees and their families, seeking compensation and justice for clients whose lives have been altered by the devastating effects of on-the-job accidents and injuries.
Steel mill workers earn a living in a very dangerous environment. There are regular media reports of workers dying or being serious injured and paralyzed from injuries sustained at work, on the job.
Steel mill accidents can kill workers who fall from high ladders or who fall prey to molten steel that shifts during transport. They can be crushed, electrocuted, or burned to death – all while doing their jobs.
And all too often, the initial response by the employer is that the worker has unfortunately died or been seriously hurt, but the circumstances surrounding the event are not made known to the public or the family, and the initial cause of death is something amorphous such as “blunt force trauma.”
With its allegiance to the working man, nothing incenses the trial lawyer at the law firm of Kenneth J. Allen & Associates more than a perceived hiding of facts by employers, particular when there is a tragic and painful death involved as often happens to mill workers.
At Kenneth J. Allen & Associates, firm experts fully investigate and thereafter testify to both cause and effect in all mill accident cases. Expert engineers are called upon to tell the why and how of what went wrong to cause the incident. For survivors who are suffering from catastrophic injuries, a physician specializing in rehabilitative medicine will map out a “life care plan” that shows the victim’s needs in terms of dollars and cents, taking into account medical inflation and quality of life.
Work Related Falls
Falls on the job can be serious, and sometimes fatal. A construction worker tumbles to his death from a scaffold. A mill worker slips and falls from a ladder and dies or is permanently injured. A railroad worker loses his footing and falls underneath the path of a moving train.
These are not complicated scenarios. However, even a seemingly simple accident can have complex medical repercussions or fatalities, and therefore require an intricate legal approach.
At Chicago’s work injury law firm Kenneth J. Allen & Associates, questions are asked to find out if there was a chronic problem at the facility where the slip and fall occurred. Employers cannot be trusted to be forthcoming with the full facts --- an independent investigation is necessary by experienced professionals.
The law firm Kenneth J. Allen & Associates also uses engineering experts versed in technical details – determining coalitions of friction, drainage and facility design – to prove what type of conditions existed, the exact science behind what happened that eventful day and how it could have been easily prevented. Was the scaffold faulty? Was the flooring underneath the ladder unstable? Did the railroad worker’s safety harness fail as he fell from the train? Finally, the law firm sets loose a team of medical experts to investigate the cause of the injuries, and how best to deal with them in both the short term and over the long haul.
Employees who are hurt while working on the job are owed due compensation. Unfortunately, many employers do not react with a concern for their employee, but instead worry about their bottom line and coldly respond to valid on the job, work injury claims with red tape, roadblocks and retribution.
Workers in the Northwest Indiana and Chicagoland area should never assume that Workers’ Compensation will take care of them without checking with their own lawyer. This is true even if the boss says an attorney isn’t needed, or if the company lawyer says everything’s covered, or if fellow employees warn the injury victim that they should not rock the boat.
Having a workers’ compensation attorney on your side is always important, but especially so when you face situations like:
The insurance company denies benefits to you;
Your boss denies that you were hurt at work and injured while on the job;
You go for medical treatment and you are refused medical care; or
You’re not seeing what was promised to – wages, medical coverage, etc.
It is extremely important to have a worker’s compensation lawyer if you are facing extreme situations after being hurt at work, and you are suffering from an on the job injury:
You need money and have no income coming in;
Your employer does not carry compensation insurance; or
Someone other than your employer hurt you and caused your accident.
The Northwest Indiana and Chicagoland injury law firm of Kenneth J. Allen & Associates only handles accident and injury cases. The firm has extensive experience in representing employees who have been hurt at work and suffer from on the job injuries.
Working together, the legal team at Kenneth J. Allen & Associates works with consulting medical experts to establish the irrefutable fact of your loss, its future ramifications in terms of dollars and cents, as well as the responsibility of your employer. By righting your wrongs, we also seek to serve the greater good and prevent serious work injuries from repeating in the future through a safer workplace and a more compassionate, cooperative employer.
Longshoremen and Maritime Injuries
Whether you’re working as a member of the crew of a ship or vessel, as a merchant mariner, or earning a living as an inland river worker, you may well be a “seaman” under state and federal law – and considered as a special type of worker.
Qualifying as “seaman” under the law
Injured workers hurt on the job have to look to standard on-the-job injury workers’ compensation laws unless they can show themselves legally to be a “seaman,” which is defined as a worker who spends at least 30% of his workday onboard either a specific vessel or a fleet of vessels under common ownership or control. If the worker cannot pass this test, then his injuries will be covered by state and federal on the job injury workers’ compensation laws, such as the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act.
As a seaman, the law provides you with three possible sources of damage or money compensation when you are hurt on the job: (1) the principle of maintenance and cure; (2) the doctrine of unseaworthiness; and (3) the Jones Act. The Jones Act allows injured seamen to sue the employer/ship-owner for personal injury and wrongful death damages, and incorporates the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA), which governs injuries to railway workers.
Qualifying as a longshoreman
Injured workers hurt on the job while working on the docks may be covered by the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act instead of the usual state workers’ compensation laws.
Administered by the U.S. Department of Labor, injured workers qualify for coverage under this act if they have “maritime employment.” Maritime employment includes such work as: loading vessels, unloading vessels, and building or repairing vessels. A maritime worker injured on a pier, wharf, dry dock, terminal, can be compensated under the Act, as well as on the vessel itself.
The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act provides medical and disability benefit as well as rehabilitation services. As with other compensation systems, the law substitutes an internal set of procedures as substitutions for the standard judicial system (trial).
How an injury lawyer can help you
It is extremely important to have a worker’s compensation lawyer with experience and knowledge of the specifics of both standard workers’ compensation statutes as well as the nuances and requirements of special worker protection acts, such as FELA, the Jones Act, and LHWCA. This is especially true if you are facing extreme situations after being hurt at work, and you are suffering from an on the job injury and face no money coming in or medical assistance being denied to you.
The Northwest Indiana and Chicagoland injury law firm of Kenneth J. Allen & Associates only handles accident and injury cases. The firm has extensive experience in representing employees who have been hurt at work and suffer from on the job injuries.
Work Related Job Site Injury
Brain Injury – Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Brain injuries can be both catastrophic and subtle in its effects on a person. Headaches, short-term memory loss and mood swings are some of the minor injuries that can nevertheless destroy someone’s life or turn them into a different person. TBI is also responsible for severe and permanent injuries, including paraplegia, quadriplegia, and severe mental disorders such as schizophrenia.
Injuries to the head, neck, or back can result in either brain injuries or spinal cord injuries. Either of these events can cause temporary or permanent loss of the use of limbs – or full paralysis.
Broken bones are serious injuries that must be carefully monitored in order to insure a proper and full recovery. Multiple fractures, from a fall or crushing injury, can result in long term medical needs including rehabilitation services.
Electrocutions can occur in the home, in nature, or at the workplace. Many electrocutions are minor – a zap from the blow dryer, or a faulty light switch. Serious electrocutions kill. Fatal electrocutions involve high voltage exposure which is usually the result of an on the job accident. Other serious injuries resulting from electrocutions include traumatic brain injuries and severe burns.
Some injuries (such as on the job crushing injuries and falls) can destroy a human limb to such a degree that there is no choice but to amputate that arm or leg. This is a permanent loss which is compensable under the law in many situations.
Serious injuries may require any number of surgeries as well as long term postoperative care. Over the long term, brain injuries and spinal injuries will often require surgeries to deal with their long term effects.
Burns are severe and long-lasting injuries that result from many different types of accidents. Work accidents, car crashes, and electrocutions can also result in burns. Hazardous chemicals can cause chemical burns, as well. Burn injuries can be permanent, and are usually compensable under the law for those who have been burned through no fault of their own.