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Best Grilling Tips for the Summer


“Summer is for grilling”by a.w.miller is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

July is the perfect month to invite guests over for a backyard barbecue on the grill! Coincidentally, July also has the most grill-related fires. No matter what you are grilling – brats, burgers, vegetables, fruit, or pizza –remember to grill safely to prevent a fire that could quickly get out of hand! If you live in a rental unit, a multi-family building, or if the fire spreads to your nearby neighbors’ homes, you could be liable for significant damages. Fires involving grills result in $123 million in property damages and around 100 injuries each year. Follow these steps to make sure food is the only think you are cooking this summer.

Lighting Your Grill

First, although it seems simple, to ensure safety, light your grill using these tricks:

  1. If you have a gas grill, always make sure the lid is open before lighting the flame.
  2. When using charcoal, think about using a charcoal chimney which allows you to simply use newspaper as an easy fire starter.
  3. If you choose to use starter fluid, make sure it is charcoal-specific starter fluid.

Grilling on Your Deck/Patio

Where you grill can cause property damage. If you live in a single family home, a townhouse, or an apartment complex, follow these simple rules”

  1. If you live in a rental or townhouse, check that the rules allow you to have a grill on the deck or patio at all.
  2. Keep the grill away from the exterior of your home and away from any railings.
  3. Make sure the grill is out from underneath an overhanging roof or awning, and absolutely avoid placing the grill near low-hanging tree branches.
  4. Allow the charcoal or gas grill to cool completely before covering it up or putting it away after each use.
  5. Make sure the charcoal ashes are cool before disposing of the ashes in a trashcan.

Grilling with Family, Friends, and Pets

Next, many of the injuries that occur do not happen to the person in control of the grill. In many cases, party-goers or children pass by and burn themselves. Keep these safety tricks in mind to keep everyone safe.

  1. Children under 5 years old account for roughly 38% of grill-related contact burns each year. Always keep children and pets at least three feet away from the grilling area.
  2. Again, if you are using starter fluid, make sure to keep the starter fluid out of reach of children and pets.
  3. Never, ever leave the grill unattended.

Servicing Your Grill

Lastly, a clean grill is a safer grill. With a lot of grease, fat, and other debris near the hot coals, you can create an out-of-control fire. Below are three tricks to reduce the possibility for uncontrollable accidents.

  1. Clean the grill grates after each use.
  2. Clean the grease and fat buildup on the trays and grates below to prevent out-of-control fires.
  3. If you have a gas grill, check the propone tank and lines for any leaks before turning the gas on. The National Fire Protection Association has a great instructional video on how you can easily check for leaks here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bYLWnNIwsQ

To really enjoy the summer season, you should first ensure that you are keeping yourself, your family, your friends, and your pets safe from a preventable grill-related fire. If you or someone you know has been injured or suffered property losses by a grill-related fire, contact the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer today for a free consultation. Let us fight to get you the compensation you deserve.

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.

Heart Month — New Hands-Only CPR

As a leading cause of death for both men and women, the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. proudly participates in American Heart Month to prevent heart disease and increase awareness of its effects.

You can make healthy changes to lower your risk of developing heart disease. Controlling and preventing risk factors is also important for people who already have heart disease. To lower your risk the Department of Health and Human Services recommends to:

  • Watch your weight.
  • Quit smoking and stay away from secondhand smoke,
  • Control your cholesterol and blood pressure,
  • Drink alcohol only in moderation, and
  • Get active and eat healthy.

In addition to traditional CPR, officials also recommend everyone learns how to perform hands-only CPR.

What is Hands-Only CPR?

Hands-Only CPR is CPR without mouth-to-mouth breaths. They recommend this tactic for use by people who see a teen or adult suddenly collapse in an “out-of-hospital” setting. For example, if you see someone suddenly collapse while playing basketball, officials recommend attempting hands-only CPR. It consists of two easy steps:

  1. Call 9-1-1 (or send someone to do that).
  2. Push hard and fast in the center of the chest.

Next, when you call 911, you need to stay on the phone until the 911 dispatcher tells you to hang up. The operator will ask you about the emergency. Then they will also ask for details of the location, the individual’s status, and other relevant information. If you find yourself in this situation, remember to be specific about all of the details. It will make it easier for emergency personnel to find you and help the individual. Lastly, remember that answering the dispatcher’s questions will not delay the arrival of help.

According to the American Heart Association, about 90 percent of people who suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrests die. CPR, especially if performed immediately, can double or triple a cardiac arrest victim’s chance of survival. Chest compressions push oxygen-rich blood through the body to keep vital organs alive. Hands-Only CPR buys time until EMS arrives.

How To Keep the Beat

The American Heart Association recommends keeping a few songs in your head in an emergency. Depending on your taste in music, they have several examples so that you remember the correct rate to compress an individual’s chest.  Song examples include

  • “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees,
  • “Crazy in Love” by Beyoncé featuring Jay-Z,
  • “Hips Don’t Lie” by Shakira” or
  • “Walk the Line” by Johnny Cash.

If you like a more scientific method, when performing CPR, you should push on the chest at a rate of 100 to 120 compressions per minute. Of course, that corresponds to the beat of the song examples above.

Drive Safe Around Road Construction Crews

road construction

As you end to family functions or work, remember that you should not rush. Always leave a bit early. But we all have been in a situation where an unexpected construction zone appears. Frustration sets in and some of us experience some road rage. However, many car accidents occur in these work zones as drivers become distracted.

Recently, a 59-year-old certified flagger died after a driver hit him and his work van in the northbound lanes of I-294 just south of Touhy. This unfortunately accident cost a family a beloved member and the driver should have been driving at a reduced speed. These mistakes need to stay at the forefront of your mind as you head out the door.

Although Chicago summers traditionally have more construction, many projects continue into early fall. Stay safe while driving on our highways and remember that the men and women fixing the roads deserve your attention.

[Read more…]

Scaffold Injuries and Safety Precautions


Reports attribute over 40% of all fatalities in construction zones each year to falling hazards. Additionally, OSHA estimates that about 65% of all construction workers perform some work on scaffolds every year. With so many workers on scaffolding, staying safe remains important to reduce the risk of falling.

Unsafe scaffolding is a significant source of lawsuits by construction workers and their families. Many seek compensation for the death or personal injury of the worker.

One of the the key issues is if the scaffold is safe. OSHA has many different standards. To begin with, OSHA requires a “competent person” to perform many duties including,  among others,

  • selecting and direct employees who erect, dismantle, move, or alter scaffolds.
  • determining if it is safe for employees to work on or from a scaffold during storms or high winds
  • ensuring that a personal fall arrest system or wind screens protect these employees.
  • training employees, and
  • inspecting scaffolds and scaffold components for visible defects before each work shift

[Read more…]

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 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…]

Hunting Accidents: Wrongful Death and Negligence Injuries

hunting accidents

During the last week of March of this year, an Illinois juvenile suffered non-fatal injuries after being shot in a hunting accident. The accident occurred on March 30, 2018 around 8:00 A.M. near southern Davison County in South Dakota. According to Conservation Officer Brian Humphrey of the South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks Departments, the Illinoisan was hunting snow goose when the gun that injured him appeared to not have its safe on and was bumped causing a round to fire at the juvenile.

While this incident occurred in South Dakota to an Illinois resident, many hunting accidents happen in the State of Illinois. According to the Department of Natural Resources, also known as the IDNR, “Hunting Incidents by Year Cumulative Report,” in 2015, a total of 308,878 hunting licenses were sold, and 41 fatal and non-fatal accidents were reported. This does not account for other accidents that were not reported to the IDNR.

[Read more…]

Should I Contact a Lawyer After a Nursing Home Fall?

nursing home fall

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), about 36% of hospital emergency room visits for long-term care residents are due to falls. The average assisted living facility accounts for 100 to 200 falls each year. Unfortunately, a nursing home fall can cause serious problems effecting the quality of life, disability, and reduced independence. Of course, as our population ages, the CDC estimates by 2030, nearly 3 million people will live in assisted living facilities.

About 20% of these falls can be prevented by improving controllable environmental factors. These factors include poor lighting, wet floors, and incorrect bed height. According to the CDC, only about 5% of seniors live in assisted living facilities, but they account for up to 20% of the deaths due to falls. But many times, the last nursing home fall was not the first fall. The CDC estimates that each elder citizen falls 2.6 times. In the end, about 1,800 senior citizen die each year from a fall.

[Read more…]

Safety at a Metra Station


Millions of trips every year take people from the suburbs into the city of Chicago and back home again. Metra trains pull into many town squares throughout the suburbs. The Union Pacific Northwest line runs through downtown Arlington Heights with an additional stop at Arlington Park. Families heading to Blues Fest, the theater, and sporting events every day. Metra serves more than 100 communities with 241 stations on 11 lines running from Chicago’s downtown. And although safety is Metra’s #1 concern, unfortunately, accidents happen.

Fatalities and Metra Related Deaths

The above Metra related deaths are only five of the many more that occurred in the last year. In November 2017, Metra acknowledged that many of the deaths that occur on their tracks are related to suicide. According to Chicago Magazine’s Metra Is Trying Something New to Curb Its Suicide Problem, “few rail services have felt the urgency to address the issue as intensely as Metra, which tallied 23 confirmed or suspected suicides along its routes from January to late October” of 2017.

According to Ian Savage, a professor at Northwestern University professor, the Federal Railroad Administration did not perform a baseline gauge of railroad transit deaths until 2011. He states that  “It’s like a sports game, and we’re walking in at the first quarter.”

Where Do These Accidents Occur?

Unfortunately, no Metra line is immune from these accidents. Below are several examples of such unfortunate deaths:

  • On Tuesday, February 6, 2018, Tracey Currie, a 29 year-old man, was struck by a Metra Union Pacific-North Line train at the North Chicago Station while walking towards a waiting car. Currie later died.
  • On Monday, March 5, 2018, a 15-year-old from Western Springs was killed when he was struck by a cargo train on the BNSF tracks just West of the Central Avenue pedestrian crossing. The police’s preliminary investigation suggested that the 15-year-old had ran into the path of the train that was traveling East.
  • On Wednesday, March 7, 2018, an express train struck and killed a pedestrian near the Riverside station heading towards Downers Grove. According to the initial investigation and a statement made by Riverside police Chief Tom Weitzel, it is suspected that “a male pedestrian stepped in front of the train.”
  • On Tuesday, March 27, 2018, a man was struck by a southbound Metra train when he stepped onto the tracks. The engineer operating the train was unable to stop the 70 mile-per-hour train in time.

If you or someone you know has been hurt or died after an accident involving a Metra train, contact the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. today for a free consultation.

Preventing Suicides on Metra Lines

In September 2017, Metra made a statement at the platforms of its 11 lines. They added posters stating “You Are Not Alone” along with a hotline number. Metra made their statement in accordance with Breaking the Silence. This program includes a daylong symposium bringing together mental health experts, rail officials, and safety advocates.

According to Lanny Wilson, chair of the DuPage Railroad Safety Council, the fact that Metra is having this conversation is admirable.  “Just a few years ago, people said, ‘There’s nothing we can do about suicides in rail deaths.’ Now it’s: ‘What are we going to do about suicides?’”

While suicides do account for a portion of the Metra related deaths that occur yearly, many also die due to a lack of safety.

How to Be Safe While Waiting for the Train


According to Metra’s website, safety is their number one priority. In support of this mission, Metra uses Operation Lifesaver and crossing enforcement blitzes. These programs allow Metra’s Safety Department to work daily to educate the public about the importance of safety. Specifically, Operation Lifesaver directs nearly 1,000 programs for schools, bus drivers, truck drivers, emergency personnel, and other organizations.

To further this mission of providing safe commutes for passengers, Metra is planning to add an additional safety system to the BNSF line in Summer 2018. Positive Train Control, or PTC, aims to stop a train when the train engineer blows a signal or if the train goes above the speed limit. Panels are still being heard regarding the implementation of the new program.

But in the meantime, according to Operation Lifesaver, here are five safety tips to follow when traveling by train:

  1. Always be alert. Trains are fast moving and come out of nowhere very quietly. Be aware of your surroundings, obey warning signs, and use caution and care when utilizing headphones or cellphones.
  2. Never sit on the edge of the train platform. 
  3. Mind the gap on the platform’s edge. Pay attention to painted or raised markings at the platform edge, and stay at least three feet from the train while it is coming in or out of the station. Be mindful of the gap between the train and the platform.
  4. Brace yourself! When on the train, be sure to hold onto a pole or seat. Be sure to mind the directions of the conductor. 
  5. Follow the rules. Be sure to abide by the instructional signs and markings that let you know where to go.
  6. Never, ever cross the tracks! Not only is this illegal, it is also incredibly dangerous.

About the Firm

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

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