Articles Posted in Legal News

Baby powder has been a staple in millions of American households for decades. Some use it as its name suggests – to powder a baby during a diaper change – but others find it helpful as a deodorant, shampoo, or a freshener. Often, baby powder is comprised of talc, which is why is can be called talcum powder in some instances, though some baby powder may be made of corn starch.

Though its use remains high, recent concerns over the safety of baby powder have many questioning whether it is smart to use the product liberally. Health concerns about inhaling the talc component of baby powder have been known for some time with possible long term harm including aspiration pneumonia or granuloma but recent legal action has focused on a link between the use of baby powder and an increased incident of ovarian cancer.

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Everyone knows that smoking cigarettes can be dangerous to your health. This fact has spurned the creation of the e-cigarette industry as an alternative to traditional smoking and now is more prominent among young Americans than smoking itself.

E-cigarettes, or electronic cigarettes, are battery-powered devices that allow a user to feel like they are smoking without the traditional presence of tobacco. They work by putting off an aerosol that is inhaled by a user just like traditional cigarette smoke is inhaled by a smoker and can present with a wide range of flavors. Prominently known as vaping, the health benefits and risks of e-cigarettes when compared to traditional smoking are not well understood at this time but it has not stopped millions from taking up the habit.

A recent incident in the news is highlighting the fact that potential dangers associated with e-cigarettes might extend beyond the vapor inhaled and exhaled by users and might include the devices themselves. Last week, a woman in Florida claims she was sitting in her car, intending to use an e-cigarette outside of a friend’s house when something went wrong. The user claims that she pushed a button on the e-cigarette and that the device exploded in her face, knocking her teeth loose and causing her to sustain burns to her torso and hand. Her car caught fire as a result of the explosion.

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Yesterday, personal injury lawyers in the greater Chicago area gathered to learn advanced trial techniques from some highly-respected attorneys in the field. Among the decorated faculty was Gary Annes, founding partner at the injury firm, Abels & Annes, P.C.

Annes took to the podium to educate fellow lawyers on several strategies to maximize trial successes including the effective presentation of opening statements, effectively conducting direct examination, presenting witnesses successfully and eliciting beneficial testimony, and approaching and managing direct examination of opposing witnesses. While lecturing, Annes also addressed and discussed advantageous approaches when facing expert witnesses.

Annes had one goal in mind when he lectured yesterday – to effectively convey his knowledge and skill to other lawyers in his field so that all injury victims in Illinois can obtain the high caliber legal representation they deserve. In the audience, a range of attorneys took note as Annes spoke about his experiences practicing law and how they helped shape him into the respected and successful trial attorney he is today.

This is not the first time Annes has been asked to share his knowledge with other lawyers to educate and to improve the profession. In addition to lectures to licensed lawyers seeking to further their legal skills, Annes has also co-authored several publications including the chapter “Initial Client Contact” in the book Medical Malpractice, published by Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education and the chapter “Physical Injuries: Plaintiff’s Perspective” in the book Proving and Disproving Damages in Personal Injury Cases, also published by Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education. He regularly updates these chapters to stay current with the changing legal landscape in Illinois, allowing countless others to approach litigation with the techniques that benefits all injury victims across the state.

Annes seeks out opportunities to lecture and assist in his field because he believes strongly in protecting the rights of victims who have been injured by the actions of others. Whether hurt in a car accident, a slip-and-fall, a medical malpractice case, or in a workplace injury, Annes fights for his clients so that they can obtain the relief they deserve and so they can recover from their accidents, regardless of their injuries or what damages they sustained.
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Several new Illinois traffic laws that are reportedly aimed at increasing safety are slated to take effect in 2013. Although some of the new laws simply amend those previously passed, others are completely new.

Staring January 1st, law enforcement officers will be required to request a chemical test for any driver suspected of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of an injury accident or a crash during which a person was killed. For the law to apply, an officer must have probable cause to believe a motorist used drugs or consumed alcohol prior to the collision. In addition, the Illinois Secretary of State will begin revoking the driving privileges of motorists who are convicted of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs specified in the Illinois Controlled Substances Act, Cannabis Control Act, or the Methamphetamine Control and Community Protection Act on more than one occasion. Operator’s license suspensions will last for a period of five years.

In 2013, Illinois motorcyclists will be required to wait at least 120 seconds prior to legally driving through a red traffic signal that fails to change. Additionally, motorists may move their vehicle following a crash in order to avoid obstructing traffic without being charged with leaving the scene of an accident so long as they fulfill the information and aid requirements set forth in the Illinois Vehicle Code.

Beginning in the New Year, all motorists in Illinois will be prohibited from operating a mobile phone in a roadway construction zone or a maintenance speed zone. In addition, cellular telephone use will be prohibited within 500 feet of an accident or other emergency after an ambulance or emergency vehicle has responded to the scene.

In 2013, tractor-trailer and other commercial drivers will no longer be allowed to use a hand-held wireless telephone to talk, send text messages, or read emails while on an Illinois roadway. A violation of the new law will be considered a serious violation against a commercial operator’s license. The law is similar to a federal regulation that previously banned the use of hand-held cellular phones by interstate commercial vehicle drivers. The federal ban also applies to text messages and other electronic communications.

Beginning July 1, 2013, motorists charged with speeding more than 31 miles per hour above the posted limit will no longer be eligible for the option of court supervision. Court supervision requires someone who was accused of certain crimes in Illinois to avoid conviction by completing specific requirements during a specified time frame. The change was reportedly made in order to combat the dangers associated with traveling at excessive speeds and racing on Illinois streets.

In 2011, more than 280,000 motor vehicle crashes occurred on Illinois roads. Sadly, almost 85,000 people were hurt and more than 900 were killed as a result. The victim in a Chicago car accident may be entitled to receive damages for any harm that was caused by someone else’s negligent or illegal act. If you were injured or tragically lost a loved one in a Chicago auto accident, you are advised to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as you are able.
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Sexual abuse lawyers at Abels & Annes, working with co-counsel Hilfman & Martin, are preparing to file a third lawsuit against the Chicago Archdiocese in regards to former priest Daniel McCormack. The abuse case will be filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County within the next week. The Archdiocese of Chicago, the Catholic Bishop of Chicago and Cardinal Francis George will be named as defendants.

The lawsuit will be filed on behalf of John M. Doe to protect the victim’s identity. The plaintiff will allege that while he was in and around St. Agatha’s parish and St. Agatha’s rectory in Chicago from approximately eighth-grade (2002-2003) through his junior or senior year in high school (2005-2007), he was inappropriately and sexually touched, rubbed and abused by McCormack on multiple occasions.

It will allege that church officials failed to remove McCormack of his duties as priest after gaining information that he had a history of complaints against him for sexual abuse all the way back to his time in seminary.

The New Year will bring with it a new ban on text messaging for Illinois motorists after Gov Pat Quinn signed a ban this week in an effort to reduce car accidents caused by distracted drivers.

The Chicago car accident attorneys at Abels & Annes have been following this issue for months. Earlier this month we blogged about the fact that the Illinois law was one of only about 10 laws passed to combat distracted driving this year. Nationwide, about 170 laws were introduced, according to a study by The New York Times.

Federal statistics suggest more than 4,000 people a day are involved in a car accident because of distracted driving.

“It’s really bad that we have to legislate logic,” said Secretary of State Jesse White, who pushed the measure. “Common sense would tell you that when your eyes are off the road, who’s driving?”

A companion law also makes it illegal to use a cell phone in a school or construction zone unless it is equipped with a hands-free device.

The laws take effect Jan. 1. The Chicago Tribune published the following tips for complying with texting ban come New Year’s Day.

You cannot do the following:

Cannot send a text message, read a text message, send e-mail, use the internet, download ringtones, and/or send an instant message.

You can do the following:

Can continue to use your GPS device, continue to use your cell phone’s GPS device, text if traffic is stopped and your car is in park or neutral, can text if you pull over onto shoulder, and can text if you’re reporting an accident or emergency.

Violators face a fine of $75 and three or more violations in a year could lead to a license suspension.
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Chicago personal injury lawyer Dave Abels was interviewed on WUIS 91.9 Wednesday about pending legislation that would criminalize driving without insurance and the need to increase Illinois’ minimum mandatory coverage levels.

“The way the law stands right now it just doesn’t provide real protection for people who are seriously injured in auto accidents,” said Abels, of Abels & Annes, a Chicago law firm that handles car accidents, motorcycle accident and other personal injury claims. “It covers you for small accidents but not the big accidents that you really care about where your life is changed forever.”

The station contacted Abels after he blogged about the law last month here at

Under current law, uninsured motorists face a fine of $500 to $1,000 and a license suspension for 3-6 months. The new law, which is awaiting signature by Gov. Pat Quinn, makes driving without insurance a misdemeanor criminal offense carry the threat of up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

The law is named after Michael Dean, who was killed in 2006 by an uninsured driver who faced only a fine.

Abels said the new law is a step in the right direction but the state still needs to address its low mandatory insurance limits of $20,000 per accident and $40,000 per occurrence.

During the interview, Abels acknowledged that increased mandatory protection would be an added cost for motorists, but said the costs would be minimal and worth the added protection.
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Pedestrian vs. car accidents in Chicago are a big issue as warm weather arrives. Due to a large increase in Chicago pedestrian fatalities in 2008, the Police Department is stepping up their efforts to protect people on foot from cars. They are running a sting operation to catch people who fail to yield to pedestrians, where undercover officers pose as civilians in crosswalks. Further, the Illinois legislature is considering a new law that would require drivers to stop for pedestrians rightfully crossing the street (not just yield).

On Sunday, Chicago accident attorneys from Abels & Annes appeared on CBS News in Chicago to discuss a pedestrian injury case that they are currently working on. The client was hit and severely injured while crossing in a crosswalk at Irving Park and Austin on the Northwest Side. The 38 year old driver of a 2006 Audi A4 failed to notice her crossing.

The Chicago resident was transported by ambulance to Lutheran General Hospital with severe head trauma. Emergency surgery was performed and the client remained in a coma for over two weeks.

In Cook County, Illinois, injury lawyers from Abels & Annes have filed a lawsuit on behalf of a Chicago physician who was seriously injured in a car accident. The crash occurred on June 23, 2008 in the afternoon when the defendant rear-ended the plaintiff.

Our client had been driving northbound on Broadway in Chicago. When she arrived at Broadway’s intersection with Irving Park Road she stopped in the left turn lane with her left turn signal on to await her opportunity to make a left turn onto westbound Irving Park Rd. While she was stopped her vehicle was rear-ended. The lawsuit alleges the defendant failed to keep a proper lookout, failed to stop for stopped traffic, was driving at an excessive rate of speed, and failed to exercise due care for the safety of those in the area.

The doctor had an almost immediate onset of back and neck pain following the collision. She was transported by ambulance from the local police station to Thorek Memorial Hospital’s Emergency Department.

Upon arrival at the Emergency Department a history was taken, she was examined and diagnostic tests were performed. The doctor complained of head, neck and low back pain. She was initially diagnosed with a back strain, prescribed pain medication, muscle relaxants and instructed to seek follow up treatment after discharge.
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In Chicago, Illinois, just days after an off-duty detective rear-ended and killed two people in a car accident on the Dan Ryan Expressway, Police Superintendent Jody Weis is saying that he is going to change how the department handles cops that drive while intoxicated, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. A new policy is now in place that notifies a watch commander whenever there is a possible cop DUI. The watch commander must then go out to the scene of the occurrence. The policy is to apply to both on duty and off duty officers.

Fifteen officers were arrested last year for DUI, compared with eight in 2007. Some of those arrests were well publicized. As for last week’s accident, the detective’s blood alcohol level was allegedly three times the legal limit. He has been charged with reckless homicide, DUI and leaving the scene of an accident.

Last week’s accident received more unwanted attention this week when the Judge set bond in the amount of $500,000. There were protests at the Courthouse when this occurred, as family and friends of the victims felt the officer received preferential because of his employment. The detective has posted bail and will appear in Court again on May 1, 2009.

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