Abels & Annes

Articles Posted in Legal Advice

Turkey.jpgThanksgiving is just around the corner, meaning that millions of people in Illinois are busy preparing for the festivities. If you are like many, you may be planning to spend Thanksgiving with your friends and family members over a meal. Some Chicago residents will stay close to home but a large number of them will take to the roads and travel. In fact, AAA estimates that more than 46.3 million Americans will travel more than 50 miles in their efforts to get to their final destination. This is the most traffic anticipated for a Thanksgiving weekend since 2007 and an approximate increase of 4.2 percent since 2013.

Increased travel means there will be more cars on the road, greater congestion, and an increased possibility for a car accident to occur. In fact, Thanksgiving weekend hosts a greater number of crashes than a typical weekend in Chicago, and many of those accidents leave victims injured. The best way to prevent a crash is to think before you drive and to follow safety tips, including the following:

Gear up: Before you hit the roads, make sure you have everything you need. Fill up your gas tank and consider taking salt and a pair of boots with you in case they are needed if inclement weather strikes.

Check your vehicle first: It is a good idea to identify potential issues as soon as possible, and ideally, before you leave your home. To do this, consider a visual inspection of your car. Make sure your tires are properly inflated and that your brake lights and turn signals work. Review your vehicle’s maintenance history and get a tune up or an oil change if needed.

Plan a route: If you are driving somewhere unfamiliar, plan out your route ahead of time. In addition to saving you frustration from getting lost, having a designated course means that you are less likely to miss a turn and less likely to cause a collision by being confused by your surroundings.

Eliminate distractions if you are driving: Nearly anything can be a distraction to a motorist behind the wheel, including a radio, a conversation with a passenger, or a sudden increase in traffic. One of the most common forms of distraction is a cell phone, whether being used for a telephone conversation or to text someone. To be safe, put away the distractions to the extent possible and focus on the road.

Drive defensively: Even if you take all possible precautions, other drivers on the road will still pose a threat. Watch out for hazardous actions on the part of other motorists and take evasive action when necessary and possible.
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Bridge collapse at fireworks show sends at least 16 to the hospital
At least 16 people were hospitalized after a wooden footbridge collapsed at the conclusion of a fireworks celebration at Hidden Lake Park in Merrillville, about 45 minutes south of Chicago.

Media reports were unclear about whether it was a public park. But injured participants could have a premise liability claim against the park owner or the company that provided the fireworks display.

Witnesses described a chaotic scene, estimating that the roughly 90-foot-long bridge was full of people before it fell, according to the Associated Press as reported by Fox News.

While authorities have released few other details, it is possible that event organizers allowed far too many people onto the 90-foot wooden bridge, which collapsed about 10 p.m., just as the grand finale concluded, sending people plummeting into the water below.

A dive team was called in to pull people and items from the water and the investigation continued through the weekend. There were estimates that thousands had attended the annual fireworks display at the park in years past.

“They had to rescue quite a few people,” Ross Township firefighter Perry Herzog said in a newspaper account.

Herzog said 16 people were transported to local hospitals for treatment. He said others might have been taken to hospitals by family members.

He did not know the nature of their injuries, and said there were no fatalities in the accident. About 50 emergency vehicles responded to the scene, along with helicopter and dive teams.

Robert Walker, of Merrillville, blamed the collapse on the number of people crossing the bridge.

“It was a mass of confusion,” he said. “People were walking across the bridge when it collapsed. People were grasping and hanging onto the bridge itself.”
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573799_river_life_in_chicago_.jpgAbout 5,000 boaters are expected to request some type of on-the-water assistance this holiday weekend as the country braces for the busiest day of the year for recreational boaters, according to the Boat Owners Association of the United States.

The Chicago personal injury and wrongful death attorneys at Abels & Annes urge boaters to follow the proper safety precautions so everyone on the water can have a safe holiday weekend.

Now through Labor Day is the height of boating season in the Chicago area and with it comes the chance for serious accidents. Two people died and a third went missing in separate boating accidents last weekend, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

A 15-foot fishing boat capsized on the Little Calumet River near East 127th Street and South Michigan Avenue. The Coast Guard found one boater dead and later suspended the search for a second boater believed to be missing.

Several hours later, two people fell off a sailboat in Dusable Harbor at 401 N. Lake Shore Drive, authorities said. Both were rescued but one of the boaters was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

In both cases, high winds were reported in the area.

This holiday weekend, Jack Manley of TowBoatU.S. Chicago advises boaters to keep an eye on fuel-hungry generators as well as battery charge levels, but alcohol and excessive speed after dark are safety issues.

Here are Five Lessons Learned about July 4th boating from the BoatU.S. Foundation for Boating Safety: 762063_fireworks.jpg

1. Plan Ahead: Ensure you have enough fuel; make sure all navigation lights and hand held spotlights are in working order. It’s a good idea to check the engine and mechanicals, such as fan belts, battery connections, fuel filters and engine fluids ahead of time. Don’t invite more guests aboard than your vessel can safely handle. Keep an ear to the weather forecast on VHF radio.

2. Avoid Alcohol: Combined with the effects of a hot sunny day, alcohol will leave an operator impaired when they can least afford it – navigating at night in heavy boating traffic. It’s okay to party – just save it until after you’ve put the boat to bed and you’re back at the dock, homeport or beach (dry land). The captain is also ultimately responsible for everyone’s safety aboard.

3. Life Jackets: Ensure kids have the right sized life jacket, and it would be wise to have the crew wear life jackets on the way home after the show. For adults, inflatable life jackets will keep you safe without compromising comfort.

4. Navigation: Know where any security zones exist. Go slow, post extra lookouts, and don’t make sudden course changes unless necessary. When departing an anchorage pay attention to other vessel’s anchor lines and understand where they lie just below the water’s surface. Never take a shortcut home after dark.

5. Chill: Don’t let crowded harbors or long boat ramp lines get you down. Simply prepare for a wonderful evening of fireworks, knowing it will take you a while to get safely home. Having lots of patience and giving lots of courtesy will make it memorable.
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The Chicago personal injury lawyers at the Abels & Annes wish you a safe and happy holiday weekend and we urge you to stay safe around fireworks displays this Fourth of July.

While some types of small fireworks are permitted in Illinois, it depends on the regulations in your village or municipality.

Fireworks are divided into two categories:

• consumer fireworks, which include such items as fountains, repeaters and parachutes.

• pyrotechnic displays, which use professional grade fireworks such as mortars, cake bundles, and ground displays that depict a picture.

It’s important to note that several well-known types of fireworks, such as firecrackers, bottle rockets and Roman candles, are not allowed in Illinois under the new regulations, according to the Office of the State Fire Marshal.

Novelty fireworks, such as snakes, sparklers, and party-poppers, are not regulated by the state, although municipalities have the authority to enact an ordinance prohibiting the sale and use of sparklers on public property.

While legal, sparklers present a serious danger because of the high temperature of the wire during and after its use. Sparklers burn at temperatures of up to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit and remain extremely hot long after the sparks have stopped.

Many children are injured each year by sparklers. Children playing with novelty fireworks must be closely supervised by adults to prevent injury.

Visit the OSFM website for information about Illinois fireworks’ regulations.

In 2006, 11 people died and more than 9,000 were injured by fireworks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which offers more information about fireworks and fireworks safety. Fireworks can cause blindness, third-degree burns and permanent scarring and are a source of life-threatening residential and motor vehicle fires.

1194538_fireworks_1.jpgMore than 100 people were injured by fireworks in Illinois last year, according to the Associated Press. The Chicago Fire Department reported 18 fireworks-related fires and four injuries.

Your best bet and safest route to seeing great fireworks this weekend is to go to a fireworks show put on by professionals. Even at a professional show, organizers have an obligation to keep burning debris are other material from falling into the crowd and causing injuries.

In Mount Vernon, the fire department is offering fireworks safety courses leading up to the Fourth of July.

“On fireworks safety, one of the biggest things we try to teach is that there is no safe firework out there,” MVFD Assistant Chief Kevin Sargent told the Register-News.

“Fireworks in the U.S. are regulated and the state of Illinois has decided to allow some fireworks. … We try to teach people what fireworks are legal and illegal and the safety in handling and distance.”

Sargent, who also teaches the classes, said one of the biggest surprises he has noticed many people express during the training is the safety distances.
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“Some fireworks project over 400 feet, and we need to keep spectators away that far so they aren’t injured or hit by debris from falling fireworks,” Sargent said. “… They need to be aware of the weather. Is it windy? The wind will change the direction of fireworks after it has left the shell or tube. Also, everybody thinks since it has rained and rained that a fire can’t start. But it is dry underneath the grass on top, and that can get hit and cause it to burn.”

The National Council on Fireworks Safety offers the following safety tips:

Use fireworks outdoors only.

Obey local laws. If fireworks are not legal where you live, do not use them.

Always have water handy. (A hose or bucket).

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Only use fireworks as intended. Don’t try to alter them or combine them.

Never relight a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.

Use common sense. Spectators should keep a safe distance from the shooter and the shooter should wear safety glasses.

Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Have a “designated shooter.”

Only persons over the age of 12 should be allowed to handle sparklers of any type.

Do not ever use homemade fireworks of illegal explosives: They can kill you! Report illegal explosives to the fire or police department in your community.
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Here is some solid free legal advice from a Chicago Injury Lawyer: If you are going to drink and drive (bad idea) and crash into another car (even worse idea), I would strongly suggest that you do not hit a police car. And yet that is exactly what happened this past Friday night on the South Side of Chicago.

An alleged DUI driver was involved in a head on car accident with a marked Chicago police car at Pershing Road and Morgan Street at about 10 p.m., according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Ramiro Salgado of Chicago, Illinois has been charged with aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol, driving with a suspended license, no prooof of insurance and driving with open alcohol in his vehicle. Bond has been set at $25,000 by Cook County Judge Laura Sullivan.

Salgado was allegedly driving in an SUV eastbound on Pershing Road while intoxicated when he collided with the squad car at Morgan Street. The Chicago police officer was reportedly injured and taken to Rush University Medical Center. The SUV driver was not injured.

Chicago, Illinois accident attorneys could be busy this week after our area was hit with ice and snow over the weekend. Usually the first few nasty snows of the season result in a lot of car crashes. It seems like every year people forget how to handle their vehicles in winter conditions and many cars are sliding all over the roads.

Here are a few suggestions if involved in a motor vehicle accident:

AT THE COLLISION SITE:

Often I am asked by people calling from the Chicago, Illinois area if they really need a personal injury lawyer when involved in an auto accident, slip & fall, work injury or any other type of personal injury case. The short answer is YES, you definitely want an accident attorney on your side!

I actually tell people that if they want my injury law firm’s help, that’s great. But if they are not comfortable with me, get different injury attorney. Don’t try to go it alone.

I tell potential clients to do this for many reasons. First, you don’t want to damage your own personal injury claim. From day one there can be obstacles to overcome in an injury case. Within hours after an accident you may find yourself speaking to the other person’s insurance carrier. Injured people often don’t realize that the goal of the other side’s insurance company is to mitigate damages, meaning they want to pay you as little money as possible. One of the first things they might ask you for is a recorded statement that can eventually be used against you in settlement negotiations.

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The earlier in the case you have a personal injury attorney protecting your rights, the better off you will be. An injury lawyer has the same goal that you do. They want to put as much money in your pocket as possible. Personal injury lawyers take a percentage of whatever money they collect for you. That means the more money they collect for you, the more money they make for themselves. They have a built in incentive to collect as much money as possible for you.
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