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Car Crashes into Crowd at SXSW, Leaves 2 Dead, 23 More Injured

Mar 17

Austin Sign

The Los Angeles Times reports that a suspected drunk driver killed two people and injured many others in the early hours of the morning on March 13th at the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, Texas.

Sometime around 12:30 in the morning on Thursday, police pulled over a man for driving erratically in his gray Toyota sedan. After being pulled over by police at a gas station off Interstate 35 for a sobriety check, driver Rashad Charjuan Owens of Killeen, Texas, fled from police and proceeded to drive the wrong way down a one-way street, and subsequently drove through a barricade meant to protect people who were enjoying the SXSW festivities at local bars located between 9th and 11th Streets. Owens drove the two blocks down Red River Street–from 9th to 11th Street–through crowds of pedestrians, and crashed into a bicyclist, a moped carrying two passengers, a taxi and a van, while also managing to drive up onto the sidewalk. Owens struck many club-goers outside of a club called The Mohawk before stopping his vehicle. Owens then exited his wrecked vehicle and fled on foot. Police pursued Owens and ultimately subdued him by using stun guns.

It has still not been confirmed whether Owens was driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, but blood samples were collected and are being analyzed. It is also reported that the bicyclist and one of the moped passengers were killed. Twenty-three other people are reported as having been injured during the crash. With so much harm done to so many victims, Owens will face two counts of capital murder and multiple counts of aggravated assault as a result of this incident. 

Motor Vehicle Accidents Involve Many Types of Victims 

Motor vehicle accidents happen all too frequently and can involve a wide variety of different victims, as is demonstrated in the report about the SXSW car crash. While the victims of motor vehicle accidents are frequently the driver and passengers of the vehicle that was crashed into, i.e., the driver/passengers of the other vehicle, victims can also be people walking on the street or sidewalk, or they can be bicyclists or motorcyclists. Regardless of whether you are a pedestrian, bicyclist, or driver of a car, track, moped or taxi, if you have been involved in an accident for which you are not at fault, you have rights against the at-fault driver.

Contacting a Vehicle Accident Attorney 

If you find yourself involved in an accident with a motor vehicle, you need to contact an experienced vehicle accident attorney. Whether you are a pedestrian, a bicyclist, a motorcyclist or a driver in another vehicle is immaterial; if you are a victim and the driver is at-fault, you need to preserve your legal rights. The attorneys at Willens Law Offices can fight for you, protect your rights and procure the justice you deserve. Contact one of our attorneys today for a free consultation. We can be reached online or by telephone at 877-958-6564.

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Sepsis Misdiagnosis Leads to Girl Receiving Amputation of All Four Limbs

Mar 10


The Chicago Tribune recently reported a story about a little girl named Ashanti Norals and the malpractice settlement her and her family received from the University of Chicago Medical Center. If you looked at Ashanti now, you would see a happy, spirited pre-teen girl from the South Side of Chicago. She likes to gossip about boy bands and how much she dislikes her school uniform. She goes swimming, loves technology and enjoys snapping pictures with her cellphone. But Ashanti is not your average little girl. She has undergone four amputation surgeries, one for each of her limbs. A few years ago, in May of 2011, Ashanti bumped her knee while on the playground at school; the injury didn’t even break the skin. However, a few days later the pain in her knee was immense and she developed a fever. Ashanti’s mother, Erica Norals, became concerned by her daughter’s pain, and took Ashanti to the University of Chicago Medical Center. 

Upon admittance to the medical center, Ashanti had a 100-degree fever, which later rose to 104. Her blood work showed that she had an elevated white blood cell count and the pain in her leg worsened as time wore on. The doctors scheduled an MRI and attempted to manage her pain, yet she was not administered any antibiotics. On her second day in the hospital, Ashanti went into septic shock, suffered from a cardiac arrest, and had multiple organ systems begin to fail. Over the next few days her limbs developed gangrene and required amputation.

In October 2012, Erica Norals filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the University of Chicago Medical Center and the five doctors who were involved in Ashanti’s care during the first 24 hours after admission. Within the year, the case settled for $32 million, placed in a trust for Ashanti until she reaches 18. In the meantime, her mother can use some of the funds for major medical expenditures with the courts approval, such as a fully accessible home in which Ashanti can have more independence. 

Ashanti now has four prosthetic devices, which she is learning to use in place of her amputated arms, legs, hands and feet. She has mastered swimming, and is fairly good at walking, although she sometimes becomes easily tired. She can bathe herself, and clean her prosthetics, but has difficulty dressing. Her family has been the support she needs while adapting and adjusting to her new limbs.    

Misdiagnosis and Delayed Diagnosis Usually Track Back to Medical Negligence 

When a doctor improperly diagnoses a medical condition, the condition can convert into a high-risk situation for the affected patient. Such a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis is usually an act of medical negligence on the part of the doctor. Doctors, other medical professionals and hospitals owe patients a duty of care, and when that duty is breached and it causes harm to the patient, medical negligence has occurred. A misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis can have severe complications, as is told by Ashanti’s story. 

Contacting a Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you are the victim of a misdiagnosis that led to the delay of a proper diagnosis, you need to contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney to help you get the justice you deserve. At Willens Law Offices, our team of seasoned professionals is ready to help you. Contact us today online or by telephone at 312-957-4166 for a free consultation concerning your case.  

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Pit Bull Shot By Police After Biting Victim

Mar 03

Pit Bull

Over the weekend, in a South Shore neighborhood, Chicago police had to shoot a pit bull dog after it attacked and injured someone, the Chicago Tribune reports. On Saturday morning, residents of the quiet neighborhood called police to report that a pit bull was running around loose in the neighborhood. The offending dog bit someone, but it is unclear whether the bite occurred before police were called to the scene or after police arrived. The dog allegedly charged at the officer, causing the officer to shoot the dog.

Dog Bite Statistics

Dog bites are fairly common occurrences. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year, and that one in five of those bites requires medical attention. The CDC cites that children sustain half of those dog bite injuries that require medical treatment. Children, particularly children between the ages of 5 and 9, present a higher risk of suffering from a dog bite injury that requires medical attention, because they are small and weak compared to a dog. Males are also more likely to suffer from dog bites than females, one of the reasons being that men will often “play wrestle” with their dogs.   

Illinois Applies Strict Liability for Dog Bites

An animal bite is a personal injury, for which a bite victim is entitled to damages. Illinois has a strict liability policy for dog bites, so long as the bite victim can demonstrate the elements for that liability. This means that the owner, custodian or keeper of the offending dog is liable to the bite victim, so long as the victim can show that 1) he or she was attacked by the dog, 2) he or she did not provoke the dog in any way to cause the attack, and 3) that the victim was somewhere he or she was lawfully allowed to be, i.e., he or she was not trespassing when the dog bite occurred. 

What To Do If You Are Bitten By A Dog

  • Remove Yourself from the Situation and Report to Police. You want to remove yourself from a dangerous situation, so get away from the dog that bit you as soon as you can. It is important to keep calm as you deal with the immediate aftermath of a dog bite. While you may be emotional, you need to report the dog bite to the police.  The police will prepare a police report for the incident, which you can later use in your dog bite case against the dog’s owner.

  • Seek Medical Attention. A dog bite, no matter how small, needs medical attention. Get the bite checked out as soon as possible after the bite occurs.

  • Contact an Attorney Who Has Experience Dealing with Dog Bite Cases. It is likely that you will need an attorney to represent you in your dog bite case. Many dog bites are covered by the dog owner’s homeowners insurance, so a claims adjuster may approach you about the dog bite incident. Do not talk to them. Instead seek out an experienced attorney to deal with them for you.

Contacting A Dog Bite Attorney

If you or a loved one has been the victim of a dog bite and are in need of legal counsel, you should contact an experienced dog bite attorney to help you establish and protect your rights. Contact Willens Law Offices today for a free consultation either online or by telephone at 877-958-6564.

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Pothole Season in Chicagoland and Across Illinois

Feb 24


The Chicago Tribune opinion section recently reported on how pothole season is affecting Chicagoans this year. Each winter season in Chicagoland is accompanied by the dreaded “pothole season,” a period of time that spans from the heart of winter until the spring, when potholes are rampant in the streets. From tiny potholes to potholes as large as a car, Chicagoans are feeling each bump in the road as they drive over it. Some drivers try to avoid the holes, swerving out of their own lane across double yellow lines. This is a dangerous practice that can cause accidents between vehicles. 

Anyone who has ever driven over a pothole understands the potential damage that it can cause to a vehicle. A pothole could cause damaged to an axle, jolt a vehicle out of alignment, bend tire rims or even damage the vehicle’s suspension. Not only is the property damage inconvenient and often expensive, but driving over potholes can also be bad for the driver, jarring the neck and spine. 

While work crews are feverishly working to fill as many potholes as possible, the task is nearly impossible to complete. As such, both the state of Illinois and the City of Chicago have developed procedures for submitting a property damage claim for damage to vehicles caused by potholes.

City of Chicago Claims

The City of Chicago has a property damage claim submission program in which claimants can submit damage claims and be reimbursed for their expenses. This is the same form that is used when a Chicagoan is involved in an accident with a city employee, such as a municipal worker, and thus many of the fields are inapplicable to pothole damage claims. The claimant must submit two written estimates of the damage and a copy of the paid bill. Reimbursement of the claim may take a long time to be processed.

Illinois Department of Transportation Claims

The procedure for submitting a claim to the Illinois Department of Transportation is slightly different. The form cannot be obtained online, but rather the claim form must be mailed from the district claim office (the claim office located in district in which the incident occurred) responsible for the investigation of the particular claim. More information on how to obtain the claim form can be found here.

IDOT may be liable for your vehicle damage if the investigation determines that IDOT was negligent in not repairing a known pothole in a reasonable amount of time. In other words, IDOT must have had notice of the specific pothole and must have had a reasonable amount of time in which to fix it, but failed to do so, thus causing damage to your vehicle. If the pothole that caused damage to your vehicle was not previously reported, IDOT would not have had notice that the hole existed, and thus would not be liable to you.   

Contacting a Vehicular Accident Attorney

Neither IDOT nor the City of Chicago assumes liability for circumstances that are outside of its control, such as weather-related vehicle accidents, property damage caused by other motorists or vehicles (save for city or IDOT employees), or accidents due to unreported debris in the road. If you have been involved in an accident with another driver, you need to contact an experienced car accident attorney. Contact Willens Law Offices today for a free consultation, either online or by telephone at 877-958-6564.

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Trooper Sues Semi Driver for Personal Injury

Feb 17


In a recent blog post, we discussed a Chicago Tribune report about an accident involving an over-tired semi truck driver who killed a tollway worker and badly injured an Illinois state trooper along Interstate 88 in late January. In a follow up story, the Chicago Tribune reported that the injured trooper, Douglas Balder, in conjunction with his wife, Kimberli Balder, have together as co-plaintiffs filed a personal injury lawsuit against the driver, Renato Velaquez. The suit is also being brought against the driver’s employer, DND International, Inc., under the negligence theory of respondeat superior. The suit was filed in Cook County Circuit Court, and alleges that the trooper sustained a fractured clavicle and fractured ribs, as well as suffered burns to his body and multiple lacerations to the head and face as a result of the accident.

Velasquez is accused of operating a commercial vehicle while fatigued for more than 14 continuous hours, failing to reduce his speed while driving, and failing to yield to stationary emergency vehicles. DND International is accused of failing to inspect Velasquez’s daily status reports and failing to properly supervise him to ensure he was in compliance with federal and local safety regulations while operating the vehicle on behalf of the company. 

Respondeat Superior

Respondeat superior is a liability theory where the employer is liable for the actions of the employee that occur within the scope of the employment relationship. It is most often times based on the concept of vicarious liability. An employer can be held vicariously liable for the actions of an employee when the employee makes a small detour from the assigned task. For instance, if an employee is tasked with driving along Interstate 88 from Davenport to Chicago to make a delivery, the driver is still within the scope of his employment if he makes a minor deviation from this route, for example, a brief stop in St. Charles, even if the detour is for his own purpose. However, a detour that is a substantial deviation from the task, for example, a side trip to Peoria, is a frolic by the employee’s own design, and the employer is no longer held responsible for the employee’s actions.

However, an employer can be liable for negligence by his or her own actions, in addition to or apart from being vicariously liable through the actions of its employees. For instance, if, as in the Trooper’s lawsuit discussed above, if the employer, DND International, fails to adequately supervise its employee drivers, or fails to implement systems and precautions to protect against employees driving for too many hours without sleep, the employer may be found negligent, separate and apart from the employee’s actions. 

Contact a Chicago Personal Injury Attorney

If you have been injured in an accident involving a commercial truck driver, you need a personal injury attorney with the experience and the resources necessary to help you determine who is liable for the negligence that caused you harm. If you have been injured in an accident with a commercial vehicle, contact Willens Law Offices at 877-958-6564 for a free consultation.

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Overmedication of the Elderly: Restraint without Straps

Feb 14


In nursing homes all over the country, the elderly are being restrained from moving freely. Often there are legitimate reasons to restrain someone, such as if they pose a risk to the safety of themselves or others. However, physical restraints on residents of a nursing home should be used only when necessary, and for good reason. For one thing, using physical restraint for discipline or convenience is a violation of federal and Illinois law. Another reason is the appearance physical restraint takes; physical restraint is often accomplished using straps, confining the nursing home resident to a bed or chair. The behavior of a resident restrained against their will can be unsightly and disturbing. 

Contrast this with chemical restraint. Chemical restraint is the use of drugs to restrict the movement of a nursing home resident. The desired result of chemical restraint is the same as that of physical restraint: prevention of the resident from moving. However, chemical restraint is dangerous for reasons beyond those of physical restraint.

Invisible Straps

When physically restraining a resident, the restraint is apparent to anyone nearby. One can see the resident straining against the straps, or hear the resident complaining of the restraint. However, when a resident is chemically restrained, there is no movement or vocalization. There is often just sleep. If there is no sleep, the resident lives in a drug-induced stupor that, while convenient for the nursing home employees, is harmful and in violation of the resident’s human rights.

Drugs: Use and Abuse

Another reason chemical restraint has become a problem is the insidious way it can become a part of a nursing home’s mode of operation. Under Illinois law, chemical restraints are not to be used at all unless authorized by a doctor, nor can medication be administered to a resident unless agreed to by the resident or the resident’s legal representative. However, it is simple for a nursing home employee to increase the dosage to a patient who already takes the drug. It is even simpler to fail to reduce the dosage when the symptoms the drug treats have become less apparent. In 2013, four different Illinois nursing homes were cited by the Department of Health and Human Services for failing to maintain the drug regimens of residents for their maximum well-being.

Why It Matters

Consumers need to be aware of the dangers inherent in improper administration of drugs to the elderly in nursing homes. Apart from the obvious human rights and legal violations, unauthorized chemical restraint can be hazardous to the health of the resident.

According to the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, drugs used for chemical restraint (specifically antipsychotics) can increase confusion, decrease cognitive function, and create a situation in which injury is more likely to occur. They also create a stupor in the resident, perhaps preventing communication of a serious problem to the employee of the nursing facility. 

Further, medications are expensive, and the cost of those medications is often passed on to the consumers and, through Medicare and Medicaid, to the taxpayers. By preventing the misuse of chemical restraint, billions of dollars can be saved.

What You Can Do

Our loved ones depend on us to provide them with the care and comfort they deserve. If they are injured at the hands of those we trusted to take care of them, they should be compensated. An experienced attorney can evaluate injury, establish fault, and pursue a just outcome. Contact Willens Law Offices at 877-958-6564 today.

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Ride-Sharing Service Lyft Offering UM/UIM Coverage to Its Drivers

Feb 13

DriverSan Francisco-based ride sharing service Lyft recently announced that it will begin offering its drivers uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist insurance (UM/UIM) with a limit of $1 million, KQED San Francisco reports. In a blog post provided by the company, Lyft claimed to be “the first company” to offer insurance for uninsured and underinsured drivers, as well as supplemental collision insurance. UberX, a rival company, claimed through a spokesperson that they have offered their drivers UM/UIM insurance since December and, while they do not offer collision insurance, they have paid for damages if their drivers’ claims were denied by their private insurance companies. 

The new wave of public transportation is peer-to-peer ride sharing. Powered by mobile apps, ride sharing companies like Lyft, UberX, and Sidecar provide a database for users to contact a driver willing to transport them. The user then gets into the driver’s car and pays upon arrival at their destination. The allure for the user is the ease of ordering through one’s smart phone. The allure for the driver is the flexibility in hours and, depending on the service, the ability to charge what they want.

Up until recently, however, there had been a question of insurance coverage. Because the drivers are driving their own cars, the only necessity used to be private insurance. Some insurance companies denied coverage based on the fact the drivers were using their vehicles commercially. While Sidecar still does not offer insurance, both Lyft and UberX are offering their own insurance.

What is UM/UIM insurance, and why is it so important?

As a driver, you are required to carry liability insurance on your car above a certain limit. This is to ensure that, should you be involved in a car accident, both you and the driver of the other car will have damages paid for. However, this only works if two things are true: 1) everyone in the state is a law-abiding citizen, and 2) every accident incurs damages that cost less than the liability limit of the at-fault driver’s policy. Neither of these things are true in the real world, and thus enters UM/UIM insurance.

Insurance companies will sell you a policy, wherein they will pay you for the damage to your car and your injuries after an accident if the driver of the other car is uninsured. Other policies will pledge the insurance company to pay you if the other driver is insured, but for an amount that does not cover the extent of your damages. Both of these are important to have, as no one can predict the severity of any given accident, nor can one vouch for the willingness of other drivers to obey the law.

Contact a Chicago Auto Accident Attorney

When you are involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, you will need to deal with your insurance company. But insurance companies are not in the business to pay out all the money you may deserve. If they can withhold money from you, they will. An experienced personal injury attorney can stand up to insurance companies and get the money your injuries demand. Contact Willens Law Offices today at 877-958-6564.

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Fictional Doctor Diagnoses Real-Life Ailment…Sort Of

Feb 12


Medical dramas are nothing new. From Emergency, to Marcus Welby, M.D., to modern day shows like ER and Grey’s Anatomy, these shows appear constantly on television. The inherent drama of a career in medicine has always fascinated the general population. Detective stories, like those of Sherlock Holmes or Sam Spade, also hold a special place in the hearts of the modern public. It was only a matter of time, then, that the two would merge into something new, and that something new was House. Combining the medical knowledge of the denizens of the Mayo Clinic with the deductive reasoning made famous by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s immortal Sherlock, Dr. House, played by Hugh Laurie, captured our imaginations and kept us watching for eight seasons. However, House may have a unique claim to fame, one his predecessors cannot boast: he may have saved a real-life patient.

As Medical News Today reports, a devoted fan of the titular doctor recalled an episode of the show when solving his own medical mystery. Professor Juergen R. Schaefer, director of the Center for Undiagnosed Diseases in Marburg, Germany, teaches a class on diagnosing rare diseases. As a teaching tool, Prof. Schaefer uses House. This intimate knowledge of the show, it seems, led the Professor to accurately diagnose a mysterious ailment in a patient. 

The patient came to the Center complaining of a laundry list of symptoms, including “hypothyroidism, esophagitis, fever, increasing deafness and loss of sight, as well was [sic] heart failure.” Coronary artery disease, the most likely diagnosis, had already been eliminated as a possible diagnosis when the patient was transferred to the Center. However, the symptoms sounded familiar to Prof. Schaefer. It turns out that those very same symptoms occurred in an episode of House, where the patient had received a hip replacement that consisted of plastic covering a metal frame. The metal used was cobalt. Prof. Schaefer’s patient had received such a hip replacement two years prior.

Cobalt poisoning is a common ailment amongst steel workers who had been exposed to the metal for years. However, the Medical Journal of Australia published an article, mere months after the air date of the relevant episode of House, warning of the life-threatening danger of cobalt poisoning amongst recipients of certain kinds of hip replacements. Prof. Schaefer published a similar article in the Lancet recently.

Wrong or Delayed Diagnosis

The mysteries faced by Dr. House during his eight year run were far from common, and they often involved multiple misdiagnoses from the very beginning. Unfortunately, normal, everyday diagnoses are often missed by doctors. Sometimes there is a malfunctioning instrument. Sometimes the doctor is distracted, overtired, or overworked. Sometimes a chart is misread. For whatever reason, common ailments that are easily diagnosed are diagnosed late, or incorrectly. This can result in permanent injury, or it can result in death. Should this happen, the doctor, nurse, or hospital may be liable for the injuries caused.

Contact a Chicago Medical Malpractice Attorney

In the real world, real problems exist. Real people make real mistakes, and these often cause real injuries. It is only right that the doctors we trust pay for the injuries they negligently cause. If you or a loved one has been injured through medical malpractice, an experienced medical malpractice attorney can identify the cause, and can fight to get you what you need. Contact Willens Law Offices at 877-958-6564.

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Four Injured in South Side Crash; Pursuit by Boyfriend May Have Contributed

Feb 11

Red Light

A crash between a four-door sedan and a van sent four individuals to various hospitals early on February 7, the Chicago Tribune reports. The sedan contained only the driver, a 52-year-old man. The van contained three people: the driver, who was reportedly being pursued by her boyfriend, and two passengers. There was an alleged domestic dispute between the driver and her boyfriend, immediately preceding the pursuit that ended with the accident. The van reportedly ran a red light before colliding with the sedan. The van continued to then collide with two parked cars before coming to a stop. According to the Chicago police, there are charges pending.

In any car accident, there is generally one driver who is “at fault,” which is a legal term used to describe someone who is more than 50 percent responsible for the crash. That driver must pay for the injuries suffered as a result of the accident. What if though, as what may have happened in the above incident, the driver was fleeing from someone that she reasonably believed was going to harm her? In cases like that, two doctrines must be considered when pursuing a personal injury claim: private necessity and intervening cause. 

Private Necessity

In tort law, there is a defense called necessity. If someone interferes with another’s property in an unlawful way, yet in order to avoid an even greater harm to the public, she will not be liable for the damage. This is called public necessity, and it is an absolute defense. The classic example is someone burning down a house to prevent the spread of a fire, that otherwise would have destroyed an entire city block.

There is another kind of necessity, called private necessity. If one interferes with another’s property in an unlawful way, in order to avoid greater harm to oneself, she will be held liable only for the damage to the property, and not for punitive or other kinds of damages.

In the case above, the defense of private necessity might be available, but it would not be terribly helpful. Depending on the facts, as determined by the judge and jury, the driver of the van may still be liable for all damage to the car, and for the injuries suffered by the other driver.

Intervening Cause

One of the elements of a negligence case is cause in fact. If one’s actions directly caused the injuries complained of by the plaintiff, that element of cause is established. However, this will not be the case if there has been an intervening cause. An intervening cause is an action by another party that more directly caused the injury to the plaintiff than the action by the defendant. 

If a case were to be brought from the above incident, the driver could argue that she was merely running away from her boyfriend, and that her boyfriend caused the accident. However, it is possible that, by running the red light, the driver caused the accident.

Contact a Chicago Personal Injury Attorney

In negligence cases, the facts are extremely important, and no two cases have the same facts. An experienced attorney can investigate the facts and argue them on your behalf. If you have been injured in an auto accident, contact Willens Law Offices at 877-958-6564 today.

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Nurse Dies After Being Struck by Snow Plow

Feb 10

Snow Plow

A young woman, employed as a nurse, was struck and killed by a pickup truck in the parking lot of her employer hospital on February 5th, CBS2 Chicago reports. Diane Shrogen, a nurse at Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, Illinois, was walking toward the hospital in the parking lot, when a truck, outfitted with a plow to remove snow, backed into her. The driver is employed by the Good Shepherd, and the Lake County Sheriff’s Office has indicated that there are no criminal charges pending against him.

With an atypically brutal winter hitting Chicago, the weather has required that special measures be taken by numerous groups to ensure the safety of pedestrians and motorists. Municipalities have been charged with clearing sidewalks and roadways of snow and ice. School districts all over Illinois have closed schools because of the extreme cold. Businesses have dispatched shovels, snow blowers, and snow plows to clear their parking lots and sidewalks. But, as in all things, these measures must be conducted in a reasonable way. Otherwise, the entity that ordered the measures can find itself liable for injuries, up to, and including, death.

Vicarious Liability

If someone driving a truck negligently strikes a pedestrian, that driver is likely liable for the injuries caused. But, the liability will not stop there, if the driver struck the pedestrian while he was executing a job for an employer. The doctrine, called vicarious liability, makes the employer (the legal term is “principal”) liable for the actions of his employee (legal term: “agent”), if the action was within the scope of the employee’s duties. This is very important from the viewpoint of the plaintiff in such a case. Often, the driver does not have the financial resources to be able to pay for a settlement or verdict against him. This would make the employer a more viable choice as defendant. Further, the employer typically has liability insurance for any possible lawsuit that would arise from the employee’s actions.

Contributory Negligence

A special concern for the plaintiff in such a case, however, is contributory negligence. Historically, someone injured by another, but who had acted negligently in placing themselves in a position to be injured, could not recover. The doctrine is called contributory negligence. The outcome for the plaintiff under contributory negligence theory can be rather harsh; if the plaintiff was only one percent responsible for the accident, he would not be able to collect anything. Because it is so harsh, only a couple of states in the US retain contributory negligence.

In Illinois, we follow a doctrine called comparative negligence. If the plaintiff is less than 50 percent responsible for the accident, he can still recover, with his damages reduced by the percentage of responsibility. If, however, the plaintiff is more than 50 percent responsible, he cannot recover at all. 

Contact an Illinois Personal Injury Attorney

When dealing with multiple defendants, and with the possibility of comparative negligence, retaining an experienced attorney is vital. You need a lawyer who can present your case most convincingly to a judge and jury. If you have been injured, contact Willens Law Offices at 877-958-6564 for a free consultation.

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