Sport-related head injuries amongst school athletes is an issue that has gained increasing attention in the media in recent years, and justifiably so. Over the past decade, ER visits for concussions have doubled for youths between 8 and 13, and nearly tripled for teens between 14 and 19. This alarming data has led to much discussion over how the problem can be remedied and the trend reversed. More specifically, what can be done to ensure the safety of school athletes without threatening our nation’s youth sport programs?

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With the fall season upon us, and winter just around the corner, concern is growing over the City’s ability to adequately address snow removal and bike lane clearance issues, given the increase in bikeways, and past-year failures. Although improvements have been made since Chicago’s first winter with protected bike lanes in 2012, many have serious doubts as to whether the city is truly prepared to handle its growing network of bike lanes. Moreover, imagine the problems that could occur if, against early predictions, we experience a particularly inclement season this year. As injury lawyers, that represent Chicago accident victims, we share the same trepidations.

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For well over a century, state and federal workers’ compensation laws, have provided employees and employers with a mutually beneficial means of resolving disputes following injury or death caused due to workplace-related accidents. It ensures that medical expenses and lost wages for workplace injuries are covered, and provides compensation for permanent injuries, while allowing employers to avoid admitting fault, eliminating the need for the claimant to prove fault, and limiting the recovery of awards for pain and suffering and punitive damages. In short, each side gives up some rights, but gains others. While reformative measures have led to both limitations and expansions on workers’ comp laws, a new plan seeks to completely reinvent the system by allowing employers to ‘opt-out,’ the result of which would essentially permit employers to create their own contractually-based rules and regulations for handling claims.

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Earlier this year, an investigation by the Tribune, which examined demographical factors in sobriety checkpoint, first revealed the harsh reality of what many say is a blatant example of racial profiling. Specifically, that Chicago officials are unfairly targeting Black and Latino communities by employing a racially-based approach in selecting DUI checkpoints locations, as opposed to an objective approach that selects checkpoint locations based upon alcohol-related crash data.

Despite identification of the issue several months ago, ongoing investigation shows that DUI checkpoints still target minority neighborhoods.

As injury attorneys, our concern is accident prevention—-and if sobriety checkpoints can prevent accidents by catching drunk drivers, then shouldn’t their location be determined according to where alcohol-related crashes occur most frequently?

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The increase in bicycling throughout the Chicago area over the past decade has been tremendous. With hundreds of miles of pathways and trails, as well as shared, protected and buffered on-street bike lanes currently in place, and hundreds more expected by 2020, it would be logical to assume that infrastructure will continue to increase as ridership grows. As this occurs, many have concern over the City’s preparedness to keep up with bikeway maintenance issues, both at a financial and planning level. Chicagoland’s current roadway issues are atrocious in comparison to other major metropolitan cities. This holds true when considering only vehicular use. Add bicyclists into the mix and an equation for disaster seems foreseeable in the years to come. In short, how will Chicago be able to handle the additional burden of maintaining its bikeways for bicyclists, when it is already falling behind in maintaining roadways for motorists?

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The Chicago Products Liability attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. take note of a lawsuit filed in Cook County extending from the use a medical device alleged to have caused the wrongful death of a patient. As reported by the Tribune, the lawsuit claims that 82-year-old Renate Winkler died after a contaminated duodenoscope used in a procedure performed at Park Ridge’s Advocate Lutheran General Hospital caused her to contract an antibiotic-resistant bacteria called carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae (CRE). The lawsuit alleges negligence on behalf of both the device manufacturer (Pentax) as well as the hospital (Advocate). This incident was not isolated, though. In fact, the spread of deadly superbugs linked to duodenoscope contamination has been the subject of several claims, not only against this particular hospital and/or this particular manufacturer, but in hospitals nationwide and against other duodenoscope manufacturers. What’s more, the FDA is now examining the role of duodenoscope infections, including potential reporting, tracking, and regulatory enforcement issues.

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If you live in Chicagoland, chances are you’ve seen a bicyclist that either violated a law or engaged in some type unreasonable or risky behavior. You may have even witnessed a crash, close-call, or other incident caused by an irresponsible cyclist. The rising trend of reckless bicycling is an issue that we have become increasingly concerned with in recent years. Some specific examples include speeding bicyclists, and cyclists that cross streets diagonally or against a signal. Bicycling while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is another. Then, of course, there are the countless number of cyclists that attempt to navigate busy roadways while using a mobile device. Finally, we have the bicyclists that travel along pathways and trails with little or no regard for the safety of others.

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Drunk driving has been an issue since the invention of the first automobile. Despite efforts of lawmakers, advocacy groups, and local authorities to address this issue, motorists continue to drive while intoxicated. Encouraging new technology, though, seems to offer a sound solution to this age-old problem—breath and touch sensors that can measure alcohol levels, and disable a vehicle when the driver is above the legal limit. In fact, these breakthroughs appear to be so promising that many have compared them to the advents of seatbelts and airbags, in regard to both life-saving potentials as well as affordability.

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In Illinois, the law has long recognized limitations in premise liability claims that fall under what has come to be known as the ‘open and obvious doctrine.’ The basic idea behind this doctrine is that landowners should not be required to foresee or protect against injury when the openness and obviousness of a dangerous condition is so clear that an entrant should be to prevent their own harm through the exercise of ordinary care.

Essentially the rule allows landowners to defend claims by asserting that the duty of reasonable care does not extend to open and obvious hazards. As a result, property owners have often escaped liability, while premise liability claimants have been presented with obstacles to obtaining financial compensation. A bill introduced this year, though, seeks to amend Illinois’ Premises Liability Act by altering the manners in which duty of care issues are evaluated in open and obvious hazard cases. By increasing landowners’ exposure to liability, and decreasing preclusions and limitations on recovery for victims, we find that HB 1441 provides a more equal balance between the rights of each parties.

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Gone are the days of simple dashboards. What once was quite basic—climate controls, audio features, and a small handful of other options—has progressed into oversized sophisticated dashboards equipped with a multitude of features, including smart technology that allows the vehicle to interact not only with occupants but other devices as well. Although designed to improve safety, many question whether incorporating what is essentially a mini-computer mounted to the vehicle’s dash has actually done just the opposite—increase accident risk factors, rather than reduce them. As personal injury lawyers, we can’t help but ignore the dangers associated with the increase of vehicles equipped with these so-called ‘smart dashboards.’

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