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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.


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.


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.


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.


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


What To Do If You Are Injured at Work?

Injured at Work

No one wants to get injured at work. However, on occasion, injuries happen. If you have suffered an injury at work, you need to understand your state’s worker’s compensation laws. If you suffer a job-related injury, protect your legal rights. Nearly every employer is required by state law to provide some sort of workers compensation to their employees.

Accident Report

The first thing you should so after being injured is report immediately to your supervisor. Many states only allow a short period of time to report your accident under workers compensation. Some states require a notice to the employer in writing, while others accept a verbal notice. Employees should report all on-the-job injuries. Even if the employee did not sustain actual injuries, employers may need to implement new safety measures at work.

See a Doctor

You should see a doctor as soon as possible and if your injury warrants it, then go to the emergency room.

  • If you did not suffer a serious injury, ask your employer if they require you to see a certain doctor or if you may choose the doctor of your choice.
  • Specifically, if you are a federal employee, you are covered under Workers Compensation for Federal Employees (FECA), which means you may select any qualified doctor to be your treated doctor.
  • If FECA does not cover you, state laws will apply.

In some states, you have the right to see your own doctor if you make the request in writing. However, in most states you must see the company doctor for a maximum of 30 days. After 30 days, you are free to choose your own doctor.

Doctors report will have a big impact on the benefits you will receiving. You may be entitled to second opinion from a doctor under workers compensation. If the second doctor’s report agrees with the first doctor, then there is no problem and the compensation payment continues uninterrupted. But, if the second doctors’ opinion is different then, the office can weigh to see which doctor’s opinion is more credible or see a third doctor.

Filing Workers Compensation

Filing workers compensation is like filing an insurance claim, requesting for benefit. After notifying your employer, the employer must offer you a claim form immediately. The claim form must be completed in order for the employer to be obligated to provide benefits. If the form is not provided to you by the state, it can be located through this site:  state government agencies page. When completed, return the claim form to your employer. Remember to keep a copy of the completed claim form for yourself. Your employer would then have to complete “employer” section. The insurance company has 14 days to mail you a status letter about your claim. If the insurance company does not contact you within 14 days, you should call the insurance company.

Hire a Lawyer

Needing a lawyer depends no the complexity of the case. If there is confusion, or you do not understand any part of you case, be sure to contact a lawyer to represent you. For any reason the case involves you to stand before an administrative or court judge, you should hire a lawyer. If you or someone you love suffered an injury at work, contact the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. today for a free consultation.

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.

Uber Self-Driving Cars


“IMG_4428”by Inmediahk is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

On February 2015, Uber announced its release of automatic cars in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The self-driving cars had 2 cameras, seven lasers, GPS, and a radar. When they first introduced theself-driving technology, a safety driver could take control of the vehicle if anything went wrong.

Pittsburg mayor Bill Peduto welcomed Uber and stated that Pittsburgh would become “ a 21st-century laboratory for technology.” Uber took this opportunity to test in Pittsburgh. They built a fake city called Almono to test the cars in before releasingthem in the real city. The experiments didn’t last very long. The mayor thought the Uber rides would not cost rider, but Uber charged its riders the usual amount. Therefore, he feared Uber self-driving cars also took away jobs.

Then in March 2017, a Uber self-driving car crashed in Tempe, Arizona. They suspended testing the automated cars.

Recently in March 2018, Uber re-released their self-driving cars back onto the streets. But then it struck a pedestrian walking outside of a crosswalk at night. Unfortunately, the pedestrian died due to her injuries. At the time of the accident, the car was in automatic mode.The human operator in the driver’s seat did not take control of the vehicle at the time of the accident.

Once again, Uber self-driving cars suspended testing in Tempe, San Francisco, Pittsburgh and Toronto.

[Read more…]

Summer Pedestrian Accidents

At some point in one’s life, everyone is a pedestrian. However, on average, a pedestrian is killed every two hours and injured every seven minutes in traffic crashes. (Traffic Safety Facts: Pedestrians, April 2014). Injuries suffered in accidents include car accidents, road construction accidents and pedestrian vehicle collisions.

Pedestrian and bicycle safety has become a priority issue for the Department of Transportation. It has lead the Department to introduce initiatives to make roads safe for everyone.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) continuously work to raise awareness about the dangers to by moving vehicles. NHTSA provides some preventative measures to reduce pedestrian crashes.

Prepared Before Walking

A pedestrian should always wear clothes or materials that are visible to others whether its day or night. Bright color cloths help drivers slowdown from a distance. During the night, pedestrians should wear lights (white in front – red in the rear, just like a car). Before walking, plan a safe route. Walk near light traffics and  where vehicles move at low speeds. If possible, the pedestrians should separate themselves from traffic and use the sidewalks, paths or barriers.

Know the Rules

A driver should know all the rules and regulations of the road. Following the rules and laws not only keeps the pedestrian safe but also the driver. Laws and regulations are made to create a system so pedestrians or drivers can safely share the road without the fear of an accident.

Rules for pedestrians are:

  • To walk on the sidewalks, if there are no sidewalks, then walk as far to the left of the road and always face the traffic.
  • Look in all direction for traffic before crossing a driveway or road.
  • Cross in marked crosswalks, corners or at intersections. It can be inherently dangerous to disobey the law and walk past cars on a road.
  •  Obey pedestrian crossing signals.
  • Always look left and right for traffic while crossing and be prepared to get out of the way if a driver doesn’t see you.

Look for Traffic

When walking on the same road as cars or crossing the road with traffic, expect others not to see you. It is possible that some drivers may be distracted while driving. Do not step on the road until the driver has come to a complete stop or when the driver has acknowledged your intent to cross the road with a nod, waive or eye contact.

Walk Defensively

Pedestrians should always stay focused and alert. There is a greater chance of injury for a pedestrian then a driver in an accident. While walking and especially while crossing the road, pedestrians should avoid texting, listening to music, or anything that that may cause the pedestrians attention to divert somewhere other than the road. Drivers should be given extra time to slow down and come to a complete stop before pedestrians begin walking. During poor weather (ice, snow, rain) and during low visibility (dusk, dawn, for or night) pedestrians should be extra alert. Just because you see others doesn’t mean they see you.


Know the causes of pedestrian-vehicle crashes. Being aware of the problem and the common types of crashes between pedestrians and vehicles can help pedestrians take causation to protect themselves.

If you or a loved one has been injured and need help with an insurance claim, 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.

Wrongful Death Suits after a Fatal Motorcycle Accident

fatal motorcycle accident

After you have lost a loved one who was killed in a motorcycle accident, you may feel lost. You may not know what to do next. Every day, many motorcyclists and motorists share the same roads around the greater Chicago area with thousands of drivers. Many responsible people abide by local and state laws to ensure public safety on the road.  However, fatal accidents do occur. For example, on July 1, 2018, Lonie Krzywda, 57, of Des Plaines, was involved in the crash near Route 53 and Thorndale Avenue. She was taken to Lutheran General Hospital where she died from complications from injuries sustained in the crash.

During the summer months, many young and older adults residing in the greater Chicago area proudly ride their motorcycles in the roads around the city. However, many motorists driving cars and trucks apparently do not respect motorcyclists on the roads. Although motorcyclists have many safety tips and their own licensing, fatal accidents do occur often.

In many cases, a fatal motorcycle accident results from the negligence of another motorist. Although a fact based determination, if negligence played a role in the fatal motorcycle accident, you may have a civil action against the driver. These accidents can involve a car or a truck. Unfortunately, some motorcyclists, like Ms. Krzywda, have lost their lives in accidents due to an accident with a car.

Types of Compensation for Wrongful Death

The plaintiffs in motorcycle accident wrongful death claims can obtain compensation for:

  • Medical expenses that accumulated prior to death
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Loss of future income
  • Loss of support
  • Benefit Loss
  • Other monetary losses suffered as a result of the victim’s wrongful death
  • Non-monetary damages, including loss of companionship and affection

How to Find an Attorney After a Fatal Motorcycle Accident

Filing a lawsuit requires the assistance of a competent wrongful death suit attorney who specializes in:

  • Handling many complex cases in the Chicago area.
  • Helping you make sense of the untimely death of your loved one.
  • Explaining all of your options in order to receive compensation.
  • Mounting the strongest case possible on your behalf.
  • Bringing justice to the person who caused the tragic loss due to his or her misconduct or negligence.
  • Assisting you in receiving monetary damages to which you are entitled.

Consult with an experienced attorney who understands the laws pertaining to your case: the fatal motorcycle accident involving your loved one or friend.

If you or a loved one has been injured and need help with an insurance claim, 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.

Dementia Treatments in Nursing Facilities

Many families delay moving a loved one into nursing care until their loved one requires more care. Dementia is a progressive brain disease and with time, the patients become able to remember and do less and less. Symptoms include:
  • memory loss,
  • becoming bedridden and/or wheelchair ridden and
  • loss of motor abilities.

As a result, not all families are able to care for their loved ones when they get to this state. When they can’t, they often decide to move their loved one into a maximum care nursing home.

[Read more…]

Safety First! … Wear a Backseat Seat Belt

seat belt

Did you know: nine out of ten American front seat car passengers report wearing a seat belt in the front seat? However, according to a new study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the same cannot be said for backseat passengers.

The IIHS surveyed a group of adults regarding their seat belt habits. Most adults said they understood the importance of always wearing a seat belt in the front seat. However, the study showed that adults believe the back seat is safer. Therefore, adults buckled up less often in the backseat. According to the IIHS, “4 out of 5 surveyed…say short trips or traveling by taxi or ride-hailing service are times they don’t bother to use the belt.” In total, only 72% of the adults surveyed reported wearing a seat belt in the backseat. 91% wore a seat belt in the front seat.

The Common Misconception: The Back Seat Is Safer

The backseat being safer than the front seat of a vehicle is a common misconception. Seat belts matter regardless of where a person sits in a vehicle. Over half of the people who die in vehicle crashes in the United States every year do not wear their seat belts. If you have been involved in an accident with another car with individuals who did not wear their seat belts, contact the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. today. While many believe they should wear seat belts to protect themselves from injury, all riders should wear seat belts.

According to the IIHS study, when a backseat passenger does not wear a seatbelt during a collision, that unbelted passenger “can slam into the driver’s seat, pushing the driver into the airbag and steering wheel with a 35 mile per hour impact.”  Jessica Jermakian, an IIHS senior research engineer and a co-author of the study, states “in the rear seat a lap/shoulder belt is the primary means of protection in a frontal crash. Without it, bodies can hit hard surfaces or other people at full speed, leading to serious injuries.”

As part of the study, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducted a simulated car crash. The findings? Vehicle drivers are twice as likely to be fatally injured in collision when the passenger behind the driver is not wearing their seat belt.

Collision Injuries

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that unbelted backseat collision injuries and deaths became of high interest after such incidents as the death of Princess Diana in 1997 and newsman Bob Simon in 2015. Jermakian states “That crash brought a lot of attention to the issue, but people still think they are safer in the backseat and they don’t need to buckle up.” However, Jermakian says that it is quite the opposite. “…The laws of physics aren’t suspended just because you’ve moved to the backseat. You still need to buckle up to get the best protection in a crash.”

In line with the old saying, seat belts do save lives. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it is estimated that seatbelts saved 13,941 lives in 2015. When seatbelts are worn, the risk of death of front seat passengers is reduced by 45 percent for cars and increases to 60 percent for passengers of SUVs, pickup trucks, or vans. The Administration additionally estimated that 2,800 deaths could be prevented if everyone buckled up when they got into a vehicle.

Buckle Up for Safety

So, buckling up is clearly important. But what are car companies and legislation makers doing make sure people buckle up?

A few things such as:

  • alert tones
  • warning lights
  • strong, well-communicated laws

And surprisingly, these things are encouraging passengers to buckle up. According to the IIHS study, 75 percent of the surveyed said they would buckle up if they were reminded to do so. Another 73 percent said they would buckle up if the driver was concerned about being pulled over for an infraction. 62 percent of those surveyed said they would buckle up if they had an audible reminder.

While car makers are listening to survey results and installing seat belt reminding technology, legislators are working to pass laws requiring drivers and passengers alike to wear seat belts. Currently, 29 states and Washington, D.C. require rear passengers to buckle up. Of those 30, 20 states have primary enforcement rules, or rather rules stating that police can pull over a car specifically because someone isn’t wearing a seat belt. Illinois is one of these states.

There is no new advice when it comes to wearing a seat belt.

It’s simple.

Buckle up!

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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