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Fatal Injuries From Heavy Equipment Accidents

heavy machinery

“GregoryPrudenProject2Shot4”by Gregory Pruden is licensed under CC BY 2.0

In 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded a total of 5,190 fatal work injuries in the United States. This was a 7% increase since 2015 Over the past three years, the rate has continuously increased. Lastly, 2016 was the first time more than 5,000 fatalities have been recorded since 2008. Out of these fatal injuries, over 750 resulted from injuries with equipment, such as heavy machinery. One of OSHA’s Fatal Four constructions includes when a worker’s body is caught, crushed, squeezed or compressed between two objects, such as machinery.

Heavy equipment include:

  • Excavators,
  • Backhoes,
  • Bulldozers,
  • Graders,
  • Cranes,
  • Pavers,
  • Compactors,
  • Dump Trucks, and
  • Pile Boring and Driving Machines.

Recently, an accident in Algonquin involving an excavator injured a construction worker. The accident killed a construction worker pinned between an excavator and a concrete Jersey barrier while working on a bridge.  An excavators is also called a digger, JCB, mechanical shovel, or 360-degree excavator. Additionally, many call tracked excavators “trackhoes.”

What Are Common Heavy Equipment Accidents?

With work accidents on the rise, workers need to know what to watch out for and what types of accidents frequently occur.

Some of the most common heavy equipment accidents include injuries caused when:

  • A vehicle backs up due to a large blindspot,
  • An object falls or strikes someone,
  • Moving machinery strikes an individual,
  • Machinery breaks,
  • Structures collapse, or
  • Falling from machinery.

Severe injuries can occur including spinal cord injuries, head and neck injuries, other broken bones, concussions, electrical burns, amputations, and in many unfortunately circumstances, death. Workers who suffer injury face high medical costs and lost wages from time away from work. As always, recovery can become very difficult.

OSHA requires that the employer teach each employee how to avoid unsafe conditions. Additionally, the employer must instruct on any applicable regulations. They have a duty to control or eliminate any hazards or other exposure to illness or injury. Next, employers owe their employees a duty of care to provide safe working conditions and proper equipment. If they fail to abide by OSHA regulations, the safety of their employees is at stake. Lastly, negligence has occurred if they breach their duty of care result in an injurious accident.

If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in an accident on a job site, contact an experienced injury lawyer. The attorneys at the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. have decades of experience in helping injuries workers. Contact us today for a free consultation at (847) 357-0403.

 

Move Over and Follow Scott’s Law

move over

“Oops”by Otis Blank is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Summer is a busy season for the roadways with outdoor family activities and family vacations. Before the summer vacation season kicks off, you should review some summer road safety tips. More example, how should you handle passing a vehicle pulled over to the shoulder of the road with flashing lights? Illinois has a specific law known as Scott’s Law. The law can keep you and the professionals on the road safe as you travel this summer.

Overall, these laws keep emergency services personnel safe hile they work. Examples of  include:

  • firefighters,
  • police officers,
  • emergency medical technicians (EMTs), and
  • construction and maintenance crews safe.

Move Over

You may have heard that this year alone, motorists have struck 16 Illinois State Troopers along the sides of Illinois roads. Tragically, two of these troopers have tragically died. Scott’s Law requires that all drivers move over. The law states that you must move over at least one lane for emergency or commercial vehicles when they

  • displaying flashing lights or
  • while pulled over to the side of the road

If a driver cannot move over, drivers must slow down until they have safely passed the vehicle parked on the shoulder.

Scott’s Law received its name from Lieutenant Scott Gillen of the Chicago Fire Department. In 2000, an intoxicated driver hit and killed Lieutenant Gillen while he was assisting with a vehicle accident along the side of the road.

Additionally, Wisconsin shares nearly identical language for their Move-Over Law. They require motorists to either slow down or change lanes to provide emergency or commercial vehicles pulled to the shoulder of the road the width of one lane.

What about regular cars?

You may know that you have a legal obligation to move over or slow down for emergency and commercial vehicles. But what about a regular car with hazard lights flashing pulled to side of the road?

Regular vehicles pull over to the side of the road most often for common car maintenance issues. Have you ever had to change a flat tire or mistakenly ran out of gas? Changing a flat tire on the shoulder of a highway can be an incredibly stressful and dangerous task when oncoming traffic fails to slow down or move over for the stopped vehicle.

To be safe, motorists should treat all vehicles pulled to the shoulder with flashing hazard lights just the same as emergency or commercial vehicles with flashing red, blue, or yellow lights. If you see a vehicle pulled over on the shoulder of the road, be sure to move over. Otherwise, slow down until you can safely pass the stopped vehicle if it is unsafe to move over.

If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of a driver failing to follow move-over laws, contact the lawyers at the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. for a free initial consultation to discuss your options.

Injuries After a Hit and Run Accident

“Hit by car”by Pictures by Ann is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Hit and run accidents are situations where someone leaves the scene after an accident. The car accident may involve another vehicle, object or a pedestrian. But when the driver leaves the scene without stopping to identify themselves or render any aid if it’s needed, then it becomes a hit and run. Sometimes a hit and run accident may only scratch your car. However, your situation may involve injuries and significant damages to yourself or your property. But generally, it simply focuses on the act of leaving the scene of accident. The only exception for leaving the scene of the accident is for an emergency to get help.

Penalties

In many states, a hit and run is a felony or a misdemeanor. The class depends on the type of accident. For example, a felony hit and run may include when the driver injures a person as a motorist or pedestrian. Penalties for a felony can range from $5,000 and $20,000 and can result in up to 15 years in prison. In Illinois, the punishments for a misdemeanor hit and run can vary from a fine of $5,000 to up to year of jail time depending on the state. Additionally, a hit and run accident results in an automatic suspension of the suspect’s driver’s license. Depending on the state, suspension of the license can lead to a lifetime revocation of the driver’s license.

Lastly, at-fault drivers may also face civil liability when injured party files a claim for damages. The damages could pertain to losses to their property or compensation for medical treatment and lost wages. If you have be injured due to a hit and run accident, contact a lawyer, like the attorneys at the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, who have decades of experience helping people like you.

Insurance

After a hit and run, you can make a claim to your insurance company. Some of the insurance coverage for a hit and run accident may apply:

However, remember to contact a personal injury lawyer during this process for medical expenses. A personal injury attorney understands how to handle your specific set of facts. You may have trouble locating the driver, understanding your bills, or dealing with the long term consequences of the accident. For example, you may continue to need medical care and treatment for an indefinite period of time. No matter the exact scenario following a hit-and-run accident, you best protect yourself with an experienced car accident lawyer. The lawyers at the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. can schedule a free initial consultation with you to discuss your injuries.

 

Car Accidents Caused By Mechanical Failure

mechanical failure

“Under the hood”by cbowns is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Mechanical failure can lead to serious car accidents. Additionally, they can act as a contributing factor that may lead minor accidents into major disastrous events. Examples of mechanical malfunctions include

  • brake failure,
  • broken airbags,
  • airbags that injure,
  • defective tires,
  • defective accelerators or
  • seat belts that don’t work.

For example, seat belts that doesn’t work can be dangerous to everyone. It can affect the driver and the passengers in the car. Defective seat belt may fail to tighten appropriately or could unlatch unexpectedly.

If you are hurt in a car accident due to a mechanical malfunction, you have the option to sue the manufacture or the seller of your vehicle to recover for damages. Generally, if it is a design defect, then it may affect the entire line of products. However, if a manufacturing defect occurred during the construction or production, then that usually effects just one your car.

Determining the Cause of a Mechanical Failure Accident

Each state has specific rules for how to determine the cause of an accident. However, generally, an experienced personal injury lawyer, like the attorneys at the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. will look at how the owner has treated the car and if the manufacturer knows of any issues.

First, the vehicle owner may know about underlying problems that involved repairs by a mechanic. Drivers may know of issues beforehand but either cannot afford to fix them, cannot restore them or refuse to repair the issue. Due to knowledge and action that directly result in traffic incidences, the driver or owner can be held at fault. If an owner or mechanic fails to fully repair a car, liability may lie with the owner and the mechanic. However, if the defect affects the vehicle, the manufacturer could be at fault. An attorney will look into the recall history for the vehicle and also investigate unknown defects. In these instances, the driver or mechanic may not know about the problems.

Depending on the state, strict liability may apply for mechanical failure accidents. Under the strict liability theory, a plaintiff must prove that a defective part left by the manufacturer or seller was created an unreasonably dangerous condition. Unreasonably dangerous means that the product presents more danger that expected by the ordinary consumer. The plaintiff must also prove that the defendant caused the accident.

In other cases, an accident victim may need to show negligence. Under the negligence theory, the injured victim must show that

  • the defendant owed a duty of care,
  • the defendant breached its duty of care,
  • actual and proximate causation, and
  • that the victim suffered from actual damages due to the breach.

Generally, negligence theory may be harder to prove then strict liability.

What Are Mechanical Failures You Should Watch For?

Examples of mechanical failures that you can solve for your own vehicle can include:

1. Brakes
When brake pads begin making noises or no longer function at full value, replace  them.

2. Tires
Experts recommend getting new tires every six years. If you hit curbs or potholes or have bumpier roads, have professional inspect them on a regular basis.

3. Windshield Wipers
Replace your windshield wipers every six months to a year. If they begin to streak or leave areas full of water, you may need to replace them!

4. Head Lights
Foggy head lights can lead to dangerous driving . Many cars have sensors to detect out lights. But also check them once a week for your own safety.

5. Steering
If you steering wheel appears to vibrate or lock, report this during your maintenance checkup. A professional can diagnose the problems.

By carefully maintaining your vehicle, you can help your car remain safe.

Why Should I Hire An Attorney?

If you have been injured by a car accident caused by mechanical failures, you may need to hire an attorney. The attorney will most probably retain an expert to investigate. The expert could testify about the design defect or manufacturing defect that may have caused the accident. Also, they would present to the court the alternatives to that design that could make the vehicle safer. This could involve forensic evidence of the vehicle and the accident.

Experienced personal injury lawyers like the attorneys at the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. have knowledge in motor vehicle accidents and product liability. When you meet with an attorney, an injured victim should share information about the case. This would include the suspected cause of the accident, any acts leading up to the accident and the injuries you sustained in the accident. For a free consultation, call the attorneys today at (847) 357-0403

Simple Numbers, Straight Talk, Big Profits!

I believe any small business owner will find Simple Numbers, Straight Talk, Big Profits a worthwhile read. Everyone should keep this book as a useful business resource as well. Simple Numbers was written by Greg Crabtree, a CPA with primarily small, private held business owners as clients. Specifically, Crabtree’s accounting firm, Crabtree, Rowe & Berger, PC, focuses exclusively on providing accounting and business consulting services to entrepreneurs.

In his book, Crabtree teaches some key principles to making a business healthy and profitable. He illustrates these core principles throughout the book with straightforward examples that you can compare to your own financial statements. I’ve already begun putting several of them into place.

What I especially found informative and useful were the benchmarks he provides for certain categories of controllable expenses (like labor costs). He then demonstrates how controlling labor costs help lead to healthy profitability.  Mr. Crabtree also provides insight into growing a small business, while maintaining profitability along the way. Frankly, the book told me things I just didn’t know – like how much working capital is essential for a healthy business. My first take-away was  implementing some of these principles and developing spreadsheets to track the key performance indicators recommended in Simple Numbers. In addition to the book, Crabtree has a website where you can find his book and some free sample financial templates you might find helpful as well – www.simplenumbers.me.

So, I have to say that this is one of the most useful and informative business books I have read. After reading The One Thing and implementing the Pareto principle, I am challenging myself to follow through and implement the core principles taught by Crabtree in his book. I hope you like Simple Numbers! For more book recommendations, check out our past reviews.

Get Outside This Spring!

We had a terrible winter in Chicago with very cold temperatures and an unending string of snowstorms. As the days get longer and the sun gets warmer, we need to stay healthy and happy. Our day jobs add a lot of stress as we head into the courtrooms and depositions. The ABA recommends exercise, among other things, to reduce stress for attorneys. Luckily, we have lots of wonderful places to get outside and blow off some steam this spring.

Busse Woods

A jewel of the Northwest suburbs, Busse Woods provides 3,558-acres of land and water to bike, hike, fish, or picnic. Additionally, you can find an eight-mile paved loop trail, perfect for biking and rollerblading. On most days, many people will run the full loop. And if you want to stop, Busse Woods has an small elk herd near the corner of Arlington Heights Rd. and Higgins Rd. Our offices are only 1.5 miles away from the forest preserve and we highly recommend it!

Lake Arlington

With a lake centered in the park, a 2 mile walking path can provide the perfect spring or nighttime walk. The Arlington Heights Park District has made this a great springtime spot. Recently, they added exercise areas, gardens, and fountains for people who need to sweat or just relax. As with any trail, be careful as many people will speed around the path on their bike or rollerblades. And if you are very adventurous or like to boat, you can rent a paddle boat or kayak for a few hours.

Des Plaines River Trails

For a more rustic and less paved walk, visit the trails that stretch from Cook County through Lake County. Depending on where you live, a parking area and starting point should not be too far away. Although you may not walk the entire path, the serenity of the new leaves and wildflowers blooming bring down anyone’s stress levels. With dirt or gravel paths, however, make sure to wear good shoes as you may need to cross wet spots with those spring rains. If you want to see some wildlife in the suburbs, you can spot deer, rabbits, all kinds of birds, and even a coyote. Lastly, in Northbrook, you can also take the family to the Nature Center. After a nice walk, you can learn all about the prairie that surrounds us!

FDA Report Details Hidden Medical Device Injuries

According to a Kaiser Health News investigation, the FDA has built and expanded a vast and hidden repository of reports on device-related injuries and malfunctions.Since 2016, the FDA has entered 1.1 million incidents into an alternative summary reporting repository. This is different than their MAUDE system, which medical experts trust to identify potential problems for patients. Currently, they must report deaths in MAUDE. However, they placed incidents about approximately 100 devices in this hidden repository. The types of devices include surgical staplers and balloon pumps snaked into vessels to improve circulation and mechanical breathing machines. Agency records provided to Kaiser showed that more than 480,000 injuries or malfunctions were reported through the alternative summary reporting program in 2017 alone.

What Does the FDA Say?

Kaise reports that the FDA has also opened many pathways to report injuries. Many of these pathways appear private or obscured. A registry exemption was created without any public notice or regulations. All the device manufacturer needs to do is request such an exemption. Such exemptions have been given to pelvic mesh and devices implanted in the heart.

After the reported 480,000 injuries or malfunctions in 2017, Alison Hunt, another FDA spokeswoman, said the majority of device makers’ “exemptions” were revoked. She continued by saying that a program took shape that requires a summary report to be filed publicly.

The FDA stated the alternative summary reporting program two decades ago. They wanted to cut down on redundant paperwork. Due to the under-reporting of device problems, they had an influx of thousands of reports each month. Since many of the reports looked similar, they proposed a solution. A device maker would seek an exemption to avoid reporting certain complications and would instead send a spreadsheet on a specific timetable of all injuries. Additionally, the public could see the list of the exempted devices. However, at some point, that list became private.

The Surgical Stapler

An example of the risks associated to these hidden databases is how doctors turned to surgical staplers. Although some had concerns, only 84 injuries or malfunctions were openly submitted. However, nearly 10,000 lived in the hidden database. The public databases reported 250 deaths related to staplers since 2001. One of the market leaders stated they used the reporting exemptions to file stapler-related reports.

Based on this reporting, the FDA has announced a plan to investigate surgical staplers and their safety. Dr. William Maisel said, “Improving the safety of surgical staplers and implantable staples is a top priority for the FDA, and we believe our forthcoming draft guidance to industry and planned advisory committee meeting will advance those efforts.”

What Does This Mean for You?

“The public has a right to know about this,” said Dr. S. Lori Brown, a former FDA official who accessed the data for her research. Dr. Brown told Kaiser that if doctors only rely on the public reports, they can easily reach incorrect conclusions. Other experts say that the FDA has handed over the regulations to the device manufacturers.

Your doctors generally take great care of you. But they rely on these systems when they choose the tools to help you. Although a doctor does not have to always talk to you about the procedures, you can ask questions. Some questions can include:

  • Has this device ever been subjected to human clinical trials? What information do you have about those trials?  Who sponsored the research?
  • Is the way you want to use the device “off-label”? Are there any warnings or contraindications on the device label?
  • Do you have any written information about this device? What about materials that do not come from the manufacturer?
  • What has been your personal experience with the device?

Your doctors want to help and you want the reassurance of your safety as you go through these procedures.

If you or someone you love has been injured after a medical procedure, contact the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. today at (847) 357-0403 for a free consultation.

Teenage Driver Car Accidents

When you hand over your keys to your teenager, you may feel excited and scared. And you have every reason to wait up based on the statistics. Teen drivers are at a high risk of vehicle crashes. According to the  AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 16 and 17 year older teenage drivers are more likely to get into a car accident then adults. Additionally, motor vehicle crashes have become the leading cause of death and disability for teenagers in the United States. And unfortunately, most of these crashes occur based on critical errors on the new drivers.

These errors include

  • lack of scanning needed to detect and respond on time to hazards,
  • speeding fast on dangerous road conditions,
  • texting and
  • other distractions, such as friends in the car.

These critical errors can be prevented with quality supervision by parents of driving practices by parents who can aid in helping the teenager in gaining the experience and developing driving skills as needed.

Common Types of Teenage Driver Accidents

Most common types of crashes are left turns, rear-end and running off the road. This could be due to the fact that majority of the newly licensed teen drivers receive their permits while lacking skills to drive on the road which leads to higher risk of crashing compared to the more experienced drivers. Driver inexperience is a dangerous cause of accidents because the teenagers who newly receive their driver’s license are not properly equipped to face the dangers of the roads and crash risks are particularly high on the first month of earning license.

Distracted Driving and Your Teenager

Distracted driving is also a major factor of teen vehicle crashes. Examples of distracted driving include

  • taking your eyes and mind off the road, eating,
  • talking on the phone,
  • switching between radio stations or changing songs your a Bluetooth enabled device,
  • engaging in conversations with the passenger and
  • most dangerous of all, texting while driving.

Additionally, distracted driving become even more dangerous during the nighttime when visibility is lowered.

How to Reduce Injuries for a Teenage Driver

Research has proven that wearing seat belts significantly reduces the risk of fatal and serious injuries in car accidents. This includes accidents involving teenage drivers. Reports say that teenager are more likely to not wear a seat belt while driving. Parents and adults must share the importance of the rules of driving and regulations placed to keep the drivers safe on the road.

If you know someone who has been injured in a teen driving accident or you have been the victim of teen driving accident, contact an attorney for legal assistance. The Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. has over thirty years of experience handling car accident cases. For a free consultation, call us today at (847) 357-0403. Our attorneys can review the accident and discuss your injuries.

Are You Allowed to Put a Security Camera on Your House?

With the rise of companies like Nest and Ring, millions of Americans have added security measures to their homes. In addition to security systems, these small security camera devices can protect your home. And its convenience makes it similar to monitor from anywhere. All you need is your phone and the app. Recently, in Mount Prospect, an interior security camera – with the help of a scream – caught a home invader on tape. However, this technology has restrictions.

Where Can You Point a Security Camera?

Generally, cameras outside are almost always fair game. Many buildings in urban and suburban areas have a number of security cameras. In fact, you may request this footage in cases of slips and falls. However, if a camera points somewhere private, like a neighbor’s window, then you may risk someone else’s privacy. Generally, the outdoor cameras could not be placed in an area that would invade someone else’s property. But to be the best neighbor possible, make sure your camera’s range only protects your home.

Many cameras today have a wide range and high definition. The best practice is to ensure safety and protect everyone’s privacy. If you are a property owner, you can contact professionals to place cameras. And if you believe someone has invaded your privacy through the use of an improperly located camera, contact an attorney, like the attorneys at the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. today.

Placing an Indoor Security Camera

Some businesses place security cameras inside to prevent shoplifting. These cameras are generally placed where no one would have a reasonable expectation of privacy, like a storeroom floor. However, in some instances stores place securitycameras in places where one may expect some privacy. Examples include bathrooms and dressing rooms.

Generally, stores may place security cameras in some dressing rooms, but many national chains place them outside of the dressing room instead to provide customers with privacy. Bathrooms have been almost universally deemed off limits by courts for placement of security cameras. Other areas like rented rooms, hotel rooms, and locker rooms are generally off limits for security cameras.

Additionally, it’s legal in the United States to record surveillance video with a hidden camera in your home. Many people use nanny cams or other hidden cameras. But similarly to placing a camera outside, if you want to ensure your placement follows the laws of Illinois, contact an attorney. For instance, he only time surveillance laws in Illinois permit you to record someone secretly is if you have a reasonable expectation that a crime is about to be committed against you or someone in your household.

Construction Injuries Caused by Steel Beams

i beam

Accidents on construction sites can lead to some very serious injuries to the workers. Construction sites are dangerous work places and that involve hard physical labor and often includes powerful machinery. The nature of construction sites includes being in dangerous locations such as great heights and road side where the chances of accident are greater.

Due to its resemblance to an upper-case “I”, the most common steel member for building construction is the I-beam. Other names include a joist or girder. The beam has flanges that attach on either side of the central core component. The beam can weigh more than 400 pounds.

Accident in Evanston

On October 9, 2018 at 8:25 a.m, a steel beam fell 30 feet and tragically killed a construction worker in Evanston. Another worker was also critically injured. The two men, ages 55 and 27, worked near a nine-story apartment building on 811 Emerson Street in downtown Evanston. Suddenly, a beam fell as the crane tried to offload it. At the time of the accident, it remained unclear how the beam fell. However, news reports claimed it appeared that the crane may have lost balance as it unloaded the beam.

The beam hit the two men who were immediately rushed to the nearby hospital. Tragically, the 55 -year-old Davis Bialas was pronounced dead at the hospital. The autopsy states he died of enduring multiple injuries in the accident. The 27-year-old man was stuck under the beam and had to be extricated and then taken to the hospital in critical condition. He went through surgery.

What Kind of Injuries Can Result from an I-Beam?

Construction workers hurt on site have options available for recovery such as getting medical bills paid, being able to take time off work to recover from the injuries, to not being able to go to work at all due to the injuries or even switching to job that is less physically demanding.

If you are a construction worker who has been hurt at work or know someone who has sustained serious injuries and are trying to recover the serious medical problems, or going through the pain of injures and financial worries of paying your medical bills or other bills due to the lack of attendance at work, you need to contact an attorney right away. An attorney will provide you the option and help you understand your rights under the laws.

What Next?

Hiring an attorney will help in many ways. An attorney will examine your case and help determine how much cost you have incurred due to the accident. They will then determine is you are eligible to file a worker’s compensation claim or a third-party liability lawsuit. If you or someone you love has been injured by a falling I beam, call the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. today at (847) 357-0403

 

About the Firm


Ronald F. Wittmeyer, Jr. practices plaintiffs' personal injury law at his office in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

About Ron

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