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Could a Juror Facebook Post Change a Trial Result?

Many complain about jury duty. And in January 2016, a juror took this frustration about missing work to Facebook. At first, she wrote, “As if one day of jury duty wasn’t enough smh day 2 I’m soooo over it already!!!!” She followed up with “Lolol oh by the way this is goin n the fact that I gotta keep showin up theren missin work…just cz Ima vote guilty lol. #impetty #PettyLinda”

The defendant was found guilty of possessing a loaded weapon without a concealed carry license. The judge refused a motion for a new trial after finding the juror’s comments credible because it did not affect the verdict. A panel majority agreed with the lower court judge.

Justice Daniel J. Pierce wrote in an unpublished order that although the post was done in error, it was harmless. The post did not show any third party influence into her verdict.

However, Justice Carl Anthony Walker dissented. He argued that by allowing the jury verdict to stand it encourages distrust and skepticism into the judicial system. He urged the Illinois Supreme Court to adopt new standards and procedures regarding juror misconduct on the internet and social media.

The full text of the opinions can be found here: The People of the State of Illinois v Johnie Daily, 2018 IL App (1st) 160813-U

State Negligence Damage Cap Raised to $2 Million

Illinois

The Illinois legislature overrode the veto of SB 2481 in November. The bill provided additional compensation to families of veterans who died of Legionnaires’ disease at the Quincy veterans home by raising the damage cap for tort actions against the State of Illinois. Since July of 2015, thirteen resident veterans at the Quincy Veterans Home died while under the care of the State of Illinois.  Under the previous law, the law set the damage cap at $100,000.

Governor Rauner’s Veto

Illinois set the the $100,000 cap, which tied for the lowest in the country, in 1972. The Illinois legislature voted to raise the cap to $2,000,000. Lawmakers proposed the bill after reports that the families of the Legionnaires’ victims could only collect $100,000. At the time, the Rauner administration denied negligence handling the outbreaks at the Quincy nursing home.

When Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed the bill, he said that the bill ignored the impact of future litigation on the “fiscal position of the state and its taxpayers.” He argued that the damage cap should increase from $100,000 to $300,000.

[Read more…]

Additional Illinois Shoveling Tips

shoveling

As another snowstorm comes to Arlington Heights, remember that shoveling your sidewalk provides you immunity from liability. But at the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd., we want to provide you with the best safety advice on snowfall. The 1979 Snow and Ice Removal Act shields property owners from liability if someone gets hurt. But in a recent Illinois Supreme Court case, they clarified the requirements.

[Read more…]

Illinois Medical Record Rules for Personal Injury Cases

illinois medical records Attribution: Alpha Stock Images - http://alphastockimages.com/

Hospital by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images

As previously discussed, insurance companies frequently request medical records. What do you need to specifically know about Illinois medical record rules?

How Do I Get My Medical Records?

Health care provides keep most adult medical records for at least six years. Children have varying lengths of time as well. This length can depend on state laws. Under Illinois law, hospitals must keep medical records at least 10 years. However, no specific rule exists for how long doctors in Illinois must keep medical records. Remember that you have the right to see, get a copy of, and amend your medical record for as long as your health care provider has it.

Under Illinois law, your health care provider owns the actual medical record. For example, if your provider maintains paper medical records, they own and have the right to keep the original record. You only have the right to see and get a copy of it.

Requesting Your Records

Request the record directly from your health care provider. Depending on the record you need, you may need to talk with a hospital or your primary care physician. However, if your doctor no longer practices, you may need to contact the state department of health to find out where your records are kept. You might be denied access to certain medical records, such as your mental health records, if your provider thinks it would harm your physical health for you to see your records.

Facilities may have forms on hand for you to request your medical records, but you can also fill out a Medical Records Request Letter and send it in. You may need to provide the following information:

  • Your name and maiden name
  • Social security number
  • Medical ID number under your policy, or the policy provider number
  • Contact information (address, email and phone number)
  • The records being requested
  • The date of the service(s) of record
  • How you would like your records delivered
  • Your signature

Why This Matters to Your Injury Case

Your lawyer will want to have all of your related medical records related to your injury. This information will:

  • allow an accurate assessment of your injuries,
  • assess the viability of your case,
  • provide proof of your injuries,
  • help determine damage,
  • allows medical experts to analyze the records, and
  • helps prove fault.

Getting the compensation you deserve shouldn’t be a battle. Arlington Heights personal injury attorney Ronald F. Wittmeyer understands how you feel. With more than 30 years experience practicing plaintiffs’ personal injury law, we can fight aggressively on your behalf. Serving the Northwest suburbs including Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Palatine, and surrounding areas, the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd.helps level the playing field against major insurance companies and corporations. If you’ve been injured or involved in an accident, call our office at (847) 637-5818 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation with one of our highly qualified Arlington Heights personal injury attorneys. The sooner we can learn about your case and your needs, the more effective we can be at recovering fair and adequate compensation for your losses.

New Distracted Driving Law in Illinois

distracted driving

Using electronic devices while driving is as dangerous as drunk driving. Recently, texting has become the most common cause of distracted driving accidents. A U.S Department of Transportation 2015 report shows the danger. Distracted driving crashes caused 3,5000 fatalities and about 400,000 injuries.

According to the CDC, 1/3 of drivers from the age of 18 and 64 read emails and text while in traffic. From 2011 to 2015 the electronic device related accident spiked from 50,000 to 70,000.

Unlike increased DUI penalties, the number of car accidents has not dropped. Official believe that distracted driving accidents have filled the gap.

Distracted Drivers in Illinois

The Illinois Department of transportation observed 33,666 drivers in a recent study. The study showed 3.9% of female drivers used a hand-held electronic device. Additionally, men used their devices more often (10.2%).

The study also showed, that the city of Chicago at 17.6% had the highest diver electronic device use compared to upstate counties such as DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, Will and Winnebago at 12.6%. The downstate counties had the lowest amount of usage.

Comparing Distracted Driving to DUIs

In an experiment conducted by Car and Driver magazine, sober drivers who text or read emails while driving take longer to react to an alert than drivers with a blood alcohol content of .08. In some instances, device-distracted driving is more dangerous than DUI.

Increased Penalties in Illinois

Illinois has imposed stricter penalties starting in July 2019. Drivers caught texting and driving will face stricter penalties for violating the law. The penalty could lead up to judge’s suspension of the violators license. This puts Illinois in line with other states taking this danger seriously. For example, in California, they ban all talking, texting and the use of any handheld phones while driving.

The new law goes in effect on July 1, 2019. The law states that anyone who illegally uses a handheld electronic device while driving will get a ticket for a moving violation.  Cristina Castro, Elgin Democrat, says the penalties under the old law has not done enough to deter the drivers from using electronic devices while driving. According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, in 2017, 9% of Illinois drivers were observed to be using electronic devices while driving. In the same year, police issued 35,036 tickets for texting or talking while driving.

The new law plans on only changing the penalty under the old law. The old law implemented in 2014 is still intact. The ban under the old law is:

  • Using the speakerphone while holding a cellphone is a violation of the law
  • Use of hands-free devices or Bluetooth technology is allowed only for people older than 18.
  • Drivers may use handheld cell phones only to report an emergency, while parked on the shoulder of a road or if the vehicle is in park or neutral while normal traffic is obstructed — such as at a stoplight or train crossing.
  • Headsets — other than a single-sided headset or earpiece — are prohibited.

It is legal to press a single button to start or end a phone call.

Bike Walk Education in Schools Act

Bike Walk Education

When previously discussing pedestrian accidents, we noted that children have a high risk of injury. Illinois crash data shows nearly five children are hit by people driving every day in Illinois while walking or biking within one block of a school. However, previously, Illinois had no requirement to educate children on how to bike and walk safely.

In 2018, the legislature introduced the Bike Walk Education in Schools Act (HB4799). It required school boards statewide to adopt policies for educating K-8 students about biking and walking safety. Then they would review/update these policies every two years. Schools boards determine how best to implement the requirement in their schools. Walking and biking safely helps kids get more physical activity, reducing the risk of obesity and promoting good overall health.

Governor Rauner signed the bill at the end of August. The law takes effect July 1, 2018. [Read more…]

New Driving Safety Laws Signed into Illinois Laws

Governor Bruce Rauner signed two new driving safety measure laws this month. The first cracks down on distracted driving. The second encourages motorists to watch for bikes. The new law will go into effect July 1, 2019.

Distracted Driving

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, driving a vehicle while texting is six times more dangerous than driving while intoxicated.Under the current law, which took effect in 2014, first-time offenses were treated as non-moving violations while subsequent offenses were treated as moving violations. Therefore, starting next summer, people caught texting while driving become a moving violation that will go on their driving record – even if it’s their first offense.

In a statement, Secretary of State Jesse White said, “No driver should be texting while driving. With the increased use of technological devices, distracted driving has become a serious problem on the roads of our state and throughout the nation.”

Specifically, the new law makes the penalty $75 for a first offense. The subsequent fines include:

  • $100 for a second,
  • $125 for a third and
  • $150 for a fourth or subsequent offense.

Dutch Reach Method of Opening Doors

The Dutch Reach encourages drivers and passengers to use the hand farthest from the door to reach across the body to open the door after parallel parking. This forces people who open motor vehicle doors to look back for cyclists and other traffic. According to the Active Transportation Alliance, this can help prevent sometimes-fatal “dooring” crashes. To reduce pedestrian accidents, educating the public on new measures can reduce injuries.
The lllinois Department of Transportation data shows dooring crashes on the rise across the state. Got example, in 2015, there were more than 300 reported in Chicago, a 50 percent increase from the previous year.

According to the new law, the Secretary of State shall include this method in the Illinois Rules of the Road publication. The publication will  advising drivers to use the Dutch Reach method when opening a vehicle door after parallel parking on a street. The method may appear on the written driving test concerning questions about safety.

In 2019, remember these two new driving safety measures.

 

How the Chicago Suburbs Help Pedestrians


pedestrians

250 fatal accidents and 9,290 serious injuries have occurred between 2012 and 2015 in accidents involving a suburban vehicle and a pedestrian or bicyclist.  In 2015, fatal collisions among pedestrians or cyclist and vehicles rose  14% according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.

How Bensenville and Elk Grove Village Reacted

Bensenville experienced 11 crashes among vehicle and bicyclist or pedestrian. Among those accidents, an 86-year-old pedestrian, Modesta De La Rosa was involved in a collision with a pickup truck. The driver did not see her and therefore could not stop in time.

Bensenville decided to act and to create a series of paths along the roads. These paths could be used by pedestrians and bicyclists. The town will build these paths alongside the streets to give pedestrians and bikers space to walk or ride their bikes without the fear of getting too close to the vehicles. The bike path also helps vehicle drivers. It will comfort them by showing that  pedestrians and bikers have their own lane. The goal is to decrease the chances of sharing the same road.

After Roseleen Water’s unfortunate death in 2013, Elk Grove Village decided to erect a bridge over the high-speed road. She died after a fatal accident on Higgins Road. They designed the bridge to prevent other crashes and provide pedestrians and cyclist the freedom to cross to the other side safely.

Overall, in the past few years, many other suburbs have built and plan to build similar paths. Current plans across the region over 4,000 miles of trials and paths. Overall, safety for the pedestrians and bikers have become high priority for the suburbs.

[Read more…]

Mount Prospect Pedestrians Crossing Study

Improvements at various crossings along Central Road in Mount Prospect could come to fruition. After several years of studies, the village wants to increase safety for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists. The village’s Strategic Plan has identified top priorities for pedestrian and bicyclist safety in high volume areas. The plans come two years after a Mount Prospect mother of five died after being hit in a Central Road crosswalk at Weller Lane. Since then, her husband launched a campaign focusing on crosswalk safety and design.

Last year, village staff participated in two safety engineering evaluations of the Central Road corridor from Arthur Avenue to Rand Road.

  1. One study was initiated by the village. It included an in-depth pedestrian safety analysis of the corridor by outside firm the Ciorba Group.
  2. The second study was a “Road Safety Review” of Central Road. The study was conducted by the Illinois Dept. of Transportation (IDOT) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). They analyzed roadway safety with an emphasis on pedestrian crossings.

[Read more…]

New Chicago Party Bus Safety Measures

Unlike the school buses that you may remember, many people have begun enjoying the benefits of a party bus. If you’re heading to Six Flags or a Cubs game, you and your family or friends can rent a vehicle that will bring you there with all of the accommodations you could dream of. Many of these vehicles have large televisions with stereo systems. Modern interiors that can include fun light systems and provide you will fully stocked bars. And of course, you get the benefit of a chauffeur.

However, Chicago has doubled down on plans to increase enforcement of these popular vehicles. Recent incidents have caused the city and potentially the State of Illinois to consider more strict regulations. For example, a man on a chartered coach bus shot and killed three fellow passengers with a rifle while the bus was traveling in Rockford.

[Read more…]

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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