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The state of Illinois is upping it’s reinforcement of Scott’s Law, nearly 19 years since the death of the law’s namesake, 37 year old fireman Scott Gillen, from a tragic accident. Governor JB Pritzker incorporated harsher penalties into the legislation, which is a variation of the “Move Over” law, increasing the fines for a first violation to at least $250, and at least $750 for any further violations.  The maximum fine could be up to $10,000. This comes as no surprise considering violators of the law cost the lives of three state troopers this year alone, with 22 drivers on record crashing into State Troopers along the side of the road this year.

Scott’s Law makes it a requirement for other drivers to cede their right of way, yield and slow down for any vehicle with its hazard lights on, to give emergency workers safe clearance while doing their jobs.  The morning of December 23, 2000, Lt. Scott Gillen was attending to a crash scene, doing everything he was trained to do and followed standard protocol, when an intoxicated Carlando J. Hurt failed to respect the flares and the warning signs surrounding the scene, pinning Lt. Scott Gillen to his firetruck and killing him. Earlier this year, State Trooper Christopher Lambert also died when he was struck by another vehicle that failed to slow down or move over.

Though Scott’s Law was enacted and designed with emergency workers in mind, in reality, it traces back to a more common issue which is distracted driving. Personal injury attorney, Peter Zneimer of Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. believes that as a general rule of thumb, all individuals sharing the road must proceed with caution, no matter their role in any given situation.

 

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An 18-year-old from Gurnee, Illinois has filed a lawsuit against JUUL Labs in the wake of his hospitalization caused by use of the e-cigarettes.

Chicago personal injury lawyer, Peter Zneimer notes that this suit comes after weeks of media reports of hospitalizations of hundreds across the United States due to “mysterious” respiratory conditions, some of which turned fatal. As of today, there have been at least 6 deaths attributed to the deadly conditions.

The first victim of this epidemic died in Illinois, the CDC reported on Aug. 23. In the last month alone, the number of hospitalizations skyrocketed across the United States, with 380 cases now confirmed across 36 states. 52 of those cases have been confirmed in Illinois. (CDC)

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With 2,500 new dockless electric scooters, and countless first-time riders on the road, Chicago’s new e-scooter pilot program has gotten off to a rocky start. In the first six days alone since the launch, at least ten people went to emergency rooms for scooter-related injuries, with two of these injuries requiring surgery.

These accidents, ranging from hit-and-runs to cyclist injuries, are a rising threat for people simply getting around in the 50-square-mile testing area outside of the Loop. However, A study by the CDC and the city of Austin, TX (another city in the e-scooter boom) found that 33% of scooter accidents happen during a rider’s first time on a scooter. Another 30% of accidents occurred within the riders’ first ten rides. The data out of Austin combined with the rainy weather during Chicago’s pilot week is a recipe for deadlier accidents than ever. A 2011 study by the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society found that the risk of fatal car crashes rises by 34%, the wetter the roads are.  The injury lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. urge everyone to exercise extra caution given that many first-time and new riders are getting their bearings in the direct line of traffic.

E-scooter riders are relegated to bike lanes, but lack of enforcement by the program vendors finds pedestrians dodging riders and side-stepping e-scooters left in the sidewalks and streets. The CDOT and partner vendors have distributed guidelines, via fliers, to communicate expectations of scooter use, with rules such as “We walk scooters on the sidewalk. We keep our eyes on the road. Be alert and pay attention. We wear helmets. We park scooters with care outside of sidewalk paths and by bike racks where possible. We ride in the bicycle lane. We obey all local traffic laws. They apply to us.” However, once off the bicycle lane, the app-based leaves it up to riders to decide where to park the scooters after use.

The Chicago dog bite lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer, receive many calls from personal injury victims of a dog bite. According to the CDC, over 36% of households in the United States own at least one dog.  While dogs can be close friends, sometimes this best friend will bite.  Dog bites often cause painful deep wounds, nerve damages or infection. Children become victims of dog bite more often than adults, and the injuries are more severe. The majority of the injuries occur at home with familiar dogs. As the number of dogs in a household increases, so does the likelihood of being bitten.  According to the CDC, adults “with two or more dogs in the household are five times more likely to be bitten than those living without dogs at home. Among adults, men are more likely than women to be bitten by a dog.”

The American Veterinary Medical Association reports that in 2017 approximately 350,000 people treated at hospital emergency rooms for non-fatal dog-related injuries. Of them approximately 10,600 were children two years old or younger.
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This springtime in Chicago has been the 8th rainiest year on record, according to WGN’s Tom Skilling. Although that may be good news for the flowers, it can be dangerous for everyone else. A new study by the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society found that the risk of fatal car crashes rises by 34%, the wetter the roads are.

Even a light drizzle raised the risk of crashes by 27%, the study found.  Scott Stevens and his team at the North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies reported that less than 1/10 of an inch accumulation of rain is enough to turn road conditions. Moderate rain boosts the chance of motor injury and fatality up to 75%, and heavy rain nearly doubles that to nearly 150%.

Stevens and his team looked at information from the 48 states in the continental U.S. and found that the risks especially increase during the morning rush hour, and in the winter months. Morning rush hour provides more congestion on the roads, and thus more opportunity for a crash.

Dog bites are unexpected, devastating, and sometimes deadly. As increasing numbers of Americans welcome canines into their homes, it is crucial to be educated about breeds and aware of the risks that may come with ownership. Pit bulls in particular have a longstanding reputation as an aggressive breed, dominating headlines about dog bite injuries that happen across the U.S.

The latest statistical information compiled by DogsBite.org reveal the grim reality behind the most fatal attacks. Between 2005 and 2018, pit bulls killed 311 people. In 2018 alone, pit bulls accounted for 72% of deaths caused by dogs in the United States. Put another way, pit bulls were the cause of 26 out of 36 total dog bite deaths.  Both adults and children are at risk for injury, with 42% of victims being children and 58% adults. Of the 26 attacks, 22 happened on the dog owner’s property. This illustrates the risks of not only owning pit bulls, but even visiting those who own them.   The lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. note that the vast majority of their dog bite cases involve pit bulls.

The costs of a dog bite does not end with medical treatment, either. Complications like infection can arise from the injuries. Facial and reconstructive surgery, not to mention therapy, can quickly add up as additional expenses. The American Society for Plastic Surgeons reported over 28,000 reconstructive procedures done for dog bites in 2015. The Animal Control Act in Illinois places full liability on the owner of the dog; However, reaching a settlement can take months or years, depending on the severity of the injuries.

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While biking along Chicago’s lake front bicycle path near Diversey Harbor, personal injury attorney, Peter Zneimer of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. observed much confusion regarding which lanes were to be used by bikers and which lanes were to used by pedestrians.  Some bikers were riding on the pedestrian path while some joggers and walkers were in the bike lanes.  A number of near miss collisions ensued even during the short observation period.  There were no markings on the pavement that would give some instruction to bikers, joggers and walkers as to which lane they were supposed to be in.

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However, farther north near Montrose Harbor, the confusion was alleviated by clear pavement markings that designate that bikers use the two lanes to the west while pedestrians use the two lanes to the east, closer to the lake.  Lawyer, Peter Zneimer strongly urges that these simple and seemingly inexpensive lane markers be painted on the lanes south of Montrose Harbor, near Belmont Harbor and Diversey Harbor and farther south to avoid serious collisions which most certainly will occur without these lane markers.  It is hard to understand why the lanes are not marked with painted designations given the amount of traffic on the path and how cheap it would be to paint them.

 

The Chicago attorneys at Zneimer & Zneimer handle numerous dog bite cases, and have seen many cases where the bite was  not solely the dog’s fault.   Dogs are living beings who can feel startled, stressed, or in a threatening situation and can try to defend themselves by barking or biting.  Dogs have loved ones and may try to protect their puppies.  Illinois law recognizes that dogs are feeling, living creatures, and puts the burden on the dog bite victim to show that he or she was conducting himself or herself peacefully and did not provoke the dog.  The Illinois Animal Control Act provides that the dog owner is “liable in civil damages” to the victim if the dog “without provocation, attacks, attempts to attack, or injures any person who is peaceably conducting himself or herself in any place where he or she may lawfully be…”  (510 ILCS 5/16).

The Animal Control Act does define what is “provocation”.  Because the statute does not define the term, the courts give the term its ordinary and popularly understood meaning within the purpose and objective of the statute. The purpose and objectives of the Animal Control Act are to “encourage tight control of animals in order to protect the public from harm. . ..” Wilcoxen v. Paige, 174 Ill. App. 3d 541, 543 (3d Dist. 1988).  Because the law applies to all dogs, it measures the provocation from the perspective of a fictional normal dog, and not from the vantage point of any one specific dog. Provocation is a question of whether the victim’s conduct would upset a normal dog to react the way the specific dog reacted.  Such fictional dog is average and “neither unusually aggressive nor unusually docile.” Kirkham v. Will, 311 Ill. App. 3d 787, 794 (5th Dist. 2000). A normal dog may react to violent conduct, and in reacting a normal dog would act proportionally. Continue reading

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The Governors Highway Safety Association has recently reported that pedestrians killed in the United States have hit the highest level in 28 years.  Data compiled from the states show that there were 6,227 pedestrian deaths in the United States in 2018 which represents a rise of 4% over 2017 and a rise of 35% since 2008.  The Association pointed to the fact there are more distracted drivers on the road and more people walking to work as possible culprits.  Another likely reason that there are more pedestrian deaths is the fact that there are more SUV’s on the road and studies have shown that SUV/pedestrian crashes are more likely to result in the pedestrian being killed than a smaller size automobile hitting a pedestrian.

The personal injury lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. note that pedestrian deaths in Chicago have also been steadily rising over the last five years.  Chicago Department of Transportation reported 46 pedestrian fatalities in 2017 compared to 27 fatalities in 2013.   Attorney, Peter Zneimer believes that pedestrian safety is an issue that deserves more attention that it is currently receiving in the city of Chicago.  Police need to enforce the traffic laws that are designed help keep pedestrians safer such as traffic laws requiring drivers to stop when pedestrians are in a cross walk and traffic laws prohibiting drivers from texting while driving.

 

The Chicago firm of Zneimer & Zneimer PC is prosecuting cases involving exposure to ethylene oxide, the poisonous gas released by Willowbrook-based company Sterigenics.  The Illinois EPA recently sealed Sterigenics-operated facilities because it detected high level of ethylene oxide, a carcinogen that is connected with breast cancer, leukemia, lymphoma and a score of other cancers, that the facilities be sealed.

The two buildings operated by Sterigenics are located at 7775 South Quincy Street and the other at 830 Midway Street.  Sterigenics conducted sterilization operations, using ethylene oxide, which Sterigenics released into the atmosphere.  Since 1990 the US EPA has listed ethylene oxide as a hazardous air pollutant as defined in Section 112(b)(l) of the Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. 7412(b)(1), and considers ethylene oxide as carcinogenic to humans, causing increased incidence o f mortality of breast and lymphohematopoietic system cancers observed in workers who were exposed ethylene oxide.

According to the CDC, exposer to 2.1 micrograms of ethylene oxide can cause cancer in six out of every one thousand people exposed to the chemical.  The detected concentration in Willobrook was 14.2 micrograms, which is toxic concentration.  The Illinois EPA ordered the Willowbrook facility to shut down due to the unacceptably high toxic concentrations.  According to the government agencies, EPA and CDC, there is enough evidence to establish a causal relationship between ethylene oxide exposure and breast cancer in women.  Ethylene oxide causes cancer by damaging DNA in cell, and the damaged DNA then duplicates when the cells divide.  Exposure to the chemical increases the cancer risk because DNA damage may take place with each exposure which is then passed as cells divide, increasing the number of damaged mutating cells.  Continue reading