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Des Plaines River Boating Safety

des plaines river

To stay cool in the summer, many take to the lakes and rivers. Near our offices in Arlington Heights, the Des Plaines River and the Cook County Forest Preserve offers boats many launch points. However, if you boat on the Des Plaines River, stay safe.

Recently, Baldur Kirsch Jr. lost his life after jumping into the water near Channahon. Family and friends say that Kirsch was an experienced and avid boater who knew the Des Plaines River inside and out. But this knowledge did not save him as he unfortunately lost his life. [Read more…]

Liability After an Amusement Park Accident

amusement park accident

Roller coasters, funnel cakes, and lots of laughter bring many families to amusement parks every summer. And you assume you don’t need to worry about anything. Families can have fun and stay safe. Every year families gather to go to water parks and amusement parks during the summer months all over the country. More thrilling rides attracts visitors to enter the parks with excitement and brings them back every year. Unfortunately, amusement parks can bring danger. If the rides at the parks are not maintained, they are no longer safe to ride for any age group. In fact, going on those rides could become a life-threatening event.

According to International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, approximately 375 million people visit a theme park each year in North America.  In a study done by Nationwide Children’s Hospital, 92,885 children under age 18 were treated to emergency rooms due to injuries caused by rides at amusement parks. This averages to 4,423 injured per year on rides. The study also concluded that most of the injuries were head injuries due to hitting a hard floor.

Common injuries from a ride include head, neck and back injuries. Roller coasters that go in loops, backwards and sharp turns can create stress on a body which may result in the neck and back injury.

Injuries range from broken bones and concussion due to

  • Amputation
  • Electrocution
  • Paraplegia
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Wrongful death

[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…]

Cooling Down By Boating This Summer? Be Safe!

With Memorial Day as the official kick-off weekend for boating season, many boaters have been taking advantage of the nice weekend weather and launching their boats a few weeks early. Before you jump onto your dock, review these rules of the waterway safety. Make sure your boat, yacht, or even ship is water ready.

According to the Discover Boating, just as we learn the “Rules of the Road,” learn the “Rules of Water.”

Discover Boating divides its boating safety tips into four sections:

  1. life jackets,
  2. pre-departure checklist,
  3. semi-annual boating maintenance checklist, and
  4. boating with pets.

Life Jackets

Illinois recommends the use of a life jacket by all boat passengers. According to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, 77 boating-related accidents on Illinois waters in 2014 resulted in 54 injuries and 20 fatalities. During the last five years, Illinois averaged 95 boating accidents resulting in 67 injuries and 19 fatalities.

There are numerous life jacket options that can be utilized:

  1. Offshore life jacket – best suited for boat rides occurring farther into the water due to its 22 pounds of buoyancy and its extended survival design in rough, open water.
  2. Near shore buoyant vest – the classic, most commonly thought of life jacket. You can purchase these life saving vests at a relatively low cost
  3. Buoyancy aid – the most comfortable and useful for different boating activities and water sports
  4. Throwable device – a device used to aid another person in the water. Common devices include boat cushions, ring buoys, and horseshoe buoys
  5. Special use devices – only use boardsailing vests, deck suits, pullover vests, work vests, and inflatable jackets when in the specific use of the device
  6. Inflatable life jackets – utilized while inflated or deflated

Lastly, if you are boating with children, have a life jacket for their proper size.

 Pre-Departure Checklist

Discover Boating created a pre-departure checklist for boaters to utilize before they hit the water. The list is an extensive one, but here’s a quick high light:

  • Your boat should have at least one Coast Guard-approved life jacket for each person on the boat. At minimum, there should be two life jackets on the boat at all times.
  • It is important to have a sound producing device such as a horn that can produce a four-second blasting sound for at least one-half of mile in the event of an emergency.
  • Before journeying out into the water on your boat, check to ensure that all instrument lights are functioning properly.
  • Make sure flare signals are stored in a dry area.
  • Be sure to have a standard and stocked first-aid kit on board.

Semi-Annual Boating Maintenance Checklist

Twice a year, boat owners should conduct the following check-ups:

  • Are all fire extinguishers functioning properly?
  • Are all safety equipment meeting required thresholds?
  • What is the condition of the fuel tank? Is it rusted?
  • What preventive measures have been or need to be taken to prevent or correct corrosion?

Pet Safety

 Pets tend to become a member of the family which means they may be participating in a family boating trip. If boating with a pet, there are few things to keep in mind.

  1. Be sure to have plenty of drinking water on board.
  2. Obtain a fixaxble umbrella to provide a shaded area to prevent over exposure to the sun.
  3. Protect your pet’s feet from the hot boat surface.
  4. If this is your pet’s first boat outing, keep it short so he or she can get used to the motion of the boat.
  5. Consider a pet life jacket.

This list of tips is by no means totally inclusive. Therefore, be sure to visit Discover Boating’s website for full checklists and tip lists.

Cubs Dismissed as Defendant in Foul Ball Case

foul ball

As baseball fans enjoy the beginning of the baseball season with more snow than usual, one Cubs fan prepares for a different match-up.

On August 29, 2017, John Loos of Schaumburg was sitting on the first base line at Wrigley Field. Howeer, Loos suffered an injury when a foul ball hit him in the face, leaving him blind in one eye. According to Adam Loos, John’s son, he raised his hand to block his 60-year-old father from the foul ball. “It was rough,” said Adam Loos. “Someone I looked up to my whole life, I see the ball hitting him, hearing the sound … him falling on me, bleeding all over my shoes.” John Loos sustained a broken nose and six bones in and near his left eye.

In the original Foul Ball Case lawsuit, Loos named both the Chicago Cubs and Major League Baseball as defendants. Loos sought at least $50,000 in damages. He alleged that the Chicago Cubs organization was negligent in not providing enough spectator netting. He claims that could have prevented Loos’s injuries. However, Cook County Judge John Callahan Jr. sided with the Chicago Cubs and dismissed them from the lawsuit. According to Judge Callahan Jr., Loos and his legal team did not adequately demonstrate that the Chicago Cubs acted recklessly.

But the lawsuit is not fully dismissed.

[Read more…]

Can a Fitness Tracker Help You Get Fit This Spring?

fitness tracker

The sun has finally begun to come out from its winter nap in the northwest suburbs. Runners, walkers, and bicyclists return to Lake Arlington or Busse Woods. But with headphones in their ears, many people are now wearing fitness trackers, like FitBits, smartwatches, and other GPS systems. Have you considered wearing one?

[Read more…]

Liability May Exist for Poor Conditions of Bike Trails

skokie valley bike trails path

With the weather being so frigidly cold and snowy, many people don’t use bike trails. But the Illinois Supreme Court recently agreed to hear a case of a bicyclist injured while cycling on the Skokie Valley Bike Path. Bike trails and paths are at the forefront of their mind.

The Injury

In the early morning of August 2013, Kathy Corbett, an avid cyclist, was thrown from her bicycle was riding along the Skokie Valley Bike Path. However, she did not hit a pothole, speed bump, or other road defect. Corbett hit another cyclist who had also fallen from their bike due to bumps and groves in the pavement. Corbett’s attorney further elaborated on the condition of the bike path. “[T]here were tree roots growing under the asphalt and causing the asphalt to buckle…If you were on a bicycle, you couldn’t see it until you were right on top of it.”

[Read more…]

How to Act and Prepare in the Event of a Flood


This summer’s hurricanes have taught us and reminded us again that we cannot prepare for Mother Nature. Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Jose, and the approaching Hurricane Maria have left the East Coast decimated with Texas, Florida, and the Caribbean Islands feeling most of the pain. Many have no power. And many places had flooded streets and homes.

Closer to home, the Des Plaines and Fox Rivers came over their banks. Floods affected many in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. Rains brought previous high marks crashing down. Many lost so much in the floods. And although those areas have experienced floods before, this seemed different.

However, remember while the excess amount of water can wreak its own damage on communities, other risks exist as well.

[Read more…]

After the Storm – How to Help with Hurricane Harvey and Irma Clean Up

Many want to help in the immediate aftermath of any natural disaster. For those of us fortunate enough to be unaffected, we look for any way to provide support and assistance. In the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, many want to help.

The southern part of the United States and the Caribbean are experiencing flooding and up-rooted trees. Additionally, millions had no power. However, many face must larger challenges as these scrape the surface.

How can people in Arlington Heights, Chicago, and Illinois help? We live far from from Texas and Florida. Nonetheless, trucks filled with clothes, toiletries, and other essentials depart every day. But what these helpful citizens do not recognize the potential hazards and obstacles these trucks may cause.

[Read more…]

Safe and Slow: Reducing the Risks of Back to School Season

Safe and Slow: Reducing the Risks of Back to School SeasonBack to school season means more children are walking to and from school, riding the bus, and playing sports outdoors. Because more children are out and about, driving safely and aware is more important than ever.

A Safe Start

To have a safe and successful start of the new school year, follow these tips:

Lower Your Speed

Most school zones have lower speed limits than surrounding areas—usually 20 mph—but when the school day is just starting or ending, you may want to drive even slower. Exercise caution when kids are crossing the street, loading the bus, or getting picked up. Heed the speed limits; they are there for a reason. Children are unpredictable and can easily find their way into the road before you have time to stop. Also, expect steeper fines for speeding in a school zone.

Stay Aware When Near Schools

You might see crossing guards and school safety personnel in school zones. They help keep traffic moving and the kids safe. Many schools have crosswalks that are closely monitored during school hours. Expect to drive slowly and carefully whenever in a school zone.

Give Buses Room

Be extra careful near school buses. Again, children can be unpredictable, and you can face steep fines for illegally circumventing buses while they load and unload kids.

Take Your Time

Back to school season comes with higher risks but also more distractions and priorities. When coupled together, these two factors pose a deadly risk. It is illegal to use a hand-held device or text while driving in Illinois. Even activities like eating or drinking can be distracting enough to harm someone. Don’t risk it. Get up a little earlier, so you don’t feel the need to multitask behind the wheel.

The start of school can be a fun time of the year. But in the midst of all the excitement, make sure you practice safe driving and stay on guard. And if you’re involved in an accident, consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. An Arlington Heights personal injury attorney can advise you of your rights and help you seek fair compensation step by step.


If you or a loved one were injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, Arlington Heights personal injury attorney Ronald F. Wittmeyer can help. 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) 357-0403 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.





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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