Articles Posted in Premises Liability

Authorities are not quite sure what caused a water tank to fall from the top of the Brewster building near Belmont Harbor on Wednesday morning but they are sure that three people were injured in the incident, one of whom was critically injured by the tank.

The Brewster building is located on the corner of Pine Grove Avenue and Diversey Parkway and is a well-known building in the area. At over 120 years old, the building has been a constant view for all current neighborhood residents and many of those that came before. Like many of the older buildings in the city, the Brewster had a water tank perched on its roof. Originally installed for combating potential fires, the Brewster’s tank reportedly was also functional in that it provided the residents of the building with their household water supply.

Authorities indicate that the tank was made of wood and was approximately 10 or 12 feet tall and 8 feet in diameter. It sat upon the roof of the building for decades but on Wednesday, the entire tank fell to the street below, more than eight stories. Witnesses say that upon impact, water and debris was strewn across the ground and the crash sounded like a roar.

Wednesday was the last day of July and therefore a common day that many residential leases end. Several tenants of a surrounding building were reportedly moving out as the water tank crashed to the ground. The tank inflicted damage on at least on U-Haul truck and a passenger sedan that were parked on the street around 10:00 a.m. and in the path of the falling tank.

When the tank hit the ground, part of the wood splintered and flew through the air. Police say that three people on the street were injured, including one woman who sustained critical injuries from some pieces of wood that broke from the tank and traveled airborne, striking her. She was transported to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center as was a man who was injured in the incident with a third victim being taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital. The current conditions of the victims is not known but all were expected to survive.

Water tanks on city rooftops are known as historic landmarks in many cases and the City of Chicago has passed regulations governing their status, including making it somewhat difficult to remove them. The tanks are required to undergo inspections every five years to determine if they meet safety requirements and to address any lingering issues. It is not clear what made this tank fail but experts speculate that it could be related to the steel supporting the tank itself.
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Neighbors say that friends and family were gathered in a Tinley Park, Illinois home on Saturday to celebrate a child’s birthday. The celebration turned tragic just after 9:00 p.m. when an outdoor deck attached to the home collapsed with about 35 people on it, sending them falling to the ground below.

The home is located in the 16700 block of Beverly Avenue in a residential area. The Tinley Park Fire Department responded to the incident, which has been described by one neighbor as the deck pulling away from the home and then collapsing. Adults and children were on the deck at the time and officials have reported that 14 were taken to area hospitals for treatment. No one is believed to have been trapped underneath the remains of the deck in the accident and an investigation into the incident continues.

With the cause of the deck collapse not yet known, it is unclear who caused the dangerous condition that led to the deck’s failure. It could have been due to inferior products used in the construction or substandard workmanship, or possibly a failure to maintain the deck by the home owner. What is clear is that a properly constructed and maintained deck should not suddenly collapse, injuring unsuspecting victims and causing them to incur medical expenses.

The law in Illinois requires landowners to keep their property in safe condition and to warn of any potential hazards when others are around. When an owner or possessor, such as a tenant or store owner, does not keep some condition of the property safe, that owner can be liable for any injuries that result.

For an owner to be liable for an accident, generally the owner must have been aware of the dangerous condition or should have been aware of it. This does not mean that the owner is not liable if there is no detailed inspection of every inch of the property; rather, the owner just needs to have some type of information that suggests a danger exists. Whether it is a support beam that is cracked, a missing bolt on a joint, or an ominous squeaking noise, it is the owner’s responsibility to fix any problems and warn others until the problems are fixed.
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The Chicago Blackhawks did the city proud on Monday night by winning the NHL championship and bringing Lord Stanley’s Cup back home where it belongs. Attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. are big Hawks fans, and law partner Dave Abels was lucky enough to attend Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final and Game 2 of the Western Conference Final. Law Partner Gary Annes was able to attend a first round game.

The city has been celebrating since the moment the championship was clinched and it will keep celebrating if past years are any indication. Fans deserve this time to enjoy the Blackhawks’ success and to have fun with other fans but while celebrating, it is still a good idea to keep safety in mind.

This is primarily true in areas with heavy populations, like Chicago, though the celebrations will no doubt filter throughout the state. Most celebrations include groups of people getting together to have a good time which means that streets, bars, and restaurants may be more crowded than normal. This can lead to a dangerous situation if people are not careful.

As the city begins to fill, keep in mind that some may not be familiar with the area, the roads, or how to get from one place to another. Allow extra travel time if you plan to go anywhere within the city and be on alert for for others.

Pedestrians may be more likely to dart out into traffic or to cross streets mid-block. This is a danger for the pedestrian and for the drivers of cars on the roads so it is important that everyone pay attention. When a pedestrian and a car collide, severe injuries often result and sometimes the pedestrian is killed.

This will continue through Friday, the scheduled victory parade that will wind through the streets of downtown to thousands of supportive fans. Even with a marked parade route and pedestrian barricades, the chance of an accident involving a pedestrian is high. As a pedestrian, you should take steps to understand the appropriate places to cross a street and to watch the parade. Never step in front of a car or assume that a car will yield to you as you walk. As a driver, you should anticipate the unexpected. Do not be surprised if a pedestrian runs out into the street and into your path of travel. Be prepared to stop at any moment and pay attention to other vehicles and walkers.
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A young boy died Tuesday evening from injuries he suffered while submerged in a swimming pool on June 14, 2013. He was just two years old.

The incident happened on East Country Drive in Bartlett. Police and fire crews responded to a report of a drowning child around 1:40 p.m. on June 14 and when they arrived, they found a 2-year-old boy in the water. Officials removed the boy and transported him to a local hospital where doctors treated him for his injuries but the boy did not survive. He was pronounced dead this week at St. Alexius Medical Center in Hoffman Estates.

It is not clear who owned the home where this incident occurred but officials have stated that it was not where the child lived. Right now, the drowning is being called a tragic accident that claimed this young boy’s life.

While all of the facts may not yet be known, what is clear is that a 2-year-old tragically lost his life while at the home of another. Unfortunately drowning claims the lives of too many children every year and many of these accidents occur in Illinois. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that children aged one to four have the highest drowning rate of any age group in America. Drowning accounts for 30 percent of the accidental deaths that occur to these children in any given year with only car accidents being responsible for more accidental deaths than drowning. Swimming pools are the most common location for childhood drownings and thus responsible for a large number of fatalities.

To aggressively combat these unnecessary deaths, the State of Illinois has passed regulations regarding safety devices and pool designs. In addition, many cities, counties, or townships have additional requirements that must be followed. For example, swimming pools in Illinois must be completely surrounded by a fence or wall and gates in the fence or wall must be self-closing and self-latching as well to keep unintended users out of the water. Bartlett requires a fence or wall around a private pool to be at least four feet high and that the latches on any gate be at least four feet above the ground. The pool regulations issued by Bartlett specifically state that a pool enclosure must be used “sufficient to make such body of water inaccessible to small children.”
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Anyone who lives in Chicago knows that sports are taken seriously here. With five professional teams, legendary players, and a history of elite success, fans are fortunate to cheer for their Chicago teams. But this fanfare does not come without risk and when a fun evening turns tragic, it can be difficult to figure out who, if anyone is to blame.

The news has been filled with recent descriptions of fans injured at professional hockey games. With the Blackhawks pushing for a championship and the coveted Stanley Cup, fans have been turning out in droves to watch the games in person. Most of these fans have enjoyed the games without incident but two women have been injured by errant pucks that traveled into the stands.

The fist incident occurred in May when the Blackhawks were facing the Detroit Red Wings in the NHL playoffs. It was game five and the woman was watching the game in person with a friend. A slapshot caused the puck to fly through the air and strike the woman in the head with significant force. The woman was shaken and thought she was fine for a moment but then blood began to run down her head and face. Realizing she was injured, the fan sought medical treatment and learned that she needed five staples to close a gash on her head. She also sustained a concussion and is currently recovering from her injuries.

If this first incident wasn’t bad enough, a second fan was hit with a puck on Wednesday night at the United Center during the Blackhawks’ game against the Boston Bruins. Then, a woman and her daughter were watching the game as a puck flew at them. The daughter escaped injury but the mother was struck in the face and seriously injured. She was transported by ambulance to Rush University Medical Center where doctors stitched a long gash on her face. The mother sustained a bruised retina that left her unable to see immediately after the accident. She now has about 50 percent of her vision and doctors hope that she will regain it fully in time.

Injuries to fans at major league sports events are more common than some may realize. The issue in these cases becomes whether the injury was preventable and whether it occurred due to the fault of someone, including an employee or a company. This is a very difficult determination to make and can take a lot of investigative work and fact finding before the truth is learned.
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A Salvation Army Thrift Store collapsed in downtown Philadelphia on Wednesday, killing six and injuring 14 with its rubble, but authorities caution that those numbers could increase as the search for bodies continues.

The collapse occurred at 22nd and Market Streets in the Center City district of Philadelphia, a popular business and residential section of the city that possesses most of the skyscrapers in the area. As crews worked to demolish a building next door, an event occurred that caused the building to fall onto the Salvation Army, which collapsed into a pile of debris, trapping an unknown number of shoppers and pedestrians on the adjacent sidewalk in its rubble.

It is not yet clear what caused the scheduled demolition to go awry but one construction worker said he saw a crane remove a support beam just before collapse. Another witness said it appeared that a backhoe hit the back of the building at about the same time as the collapse. Witnesses have indicated that the wall of the building to be demolished that was closest to the thrift store began to fall to the side and that the wall was what actually hit the Salvation Army.

Since the collapse, rotating fire companies have been working constantly to sort through the debris to look for victims and survivors. So far, 14 injured have been found and taken to area hospitals for medical treatment. An additional six people, five women and one man, have been found dead.

Much of the wreckage remains to be sorted and cleared, meaning there is a potential for an increase in the number of casualties. Of those who survived, it is not yet apparent whether any have life-threatening injuries. Hope remains high for the survivors, though, especially as rescuers managed to pull a woman 12 hours after the incident. The woman was alive and able to squeeze the hands of her rescuers and could even speak to them as they were working to free her.
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In late January, an 18-year-old college freshman unexpectedly drowned in a swimming pool located at the Moody Bible Institute’s River North campus in Chicago. According to Chicago Police News Affairs Officer Hector Alfaro, the young man was discovered unresponsive in a pool at a facility located on North Wells Street. Emergency responders reportedly transported the teen to Northwestern Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead. The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office stated the young man drowned and ruled his death an accident.

Data from the nation’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that about 10 people die in the United States every day as a result of accidental drowning. Between 2005 and 2009, more than 3,500 people drowned in non-boating related accidents. The CDC claims that approximately 80 percent of drowning victims are male and children under 14 account for about one-fifth of all accidental drowning deaths nationwide. In addition, kids between the ages of one and four reportedly suffer the highest risk of drowning. Sadly, about 30 percent of deaths for children in that age group result from drowning.

Property owners in Illinois must keep their premises reasonably safe and secure. If a property owner fails to comply with local laws and pool safety standards or creates a dangerous condition around a pool, the owner may be held liable for any injury or death that results. In addition, if the owner constructs an attractive nuisance such as a slide near a pool and fails to ensure a fence or other safety equipment is installed, the property owner may be held financially responsible for any injury that occurs. Because Illinois is a comparative negligence accident state, someone who was injured as a result of another person’s actions may be able to recover financial damages for their harm even if he or she is somehow partially to blame.

Drowning accidents often result from a lack of a barrier or fence around a pool, failure to properly supervise children, not wearing a life jacket, alcohol use, and a number of other factors. Even a nonfatal drowning incident may cause permanent disability and brain damage. If your child or other loved one drowned in a private pool, you may be entitled to recover damages for your loss. Contact a skilled Chicago personal injury attorney to discuss your case in more detail.
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Lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. recently settled a claim for well known telenovela actress Katie Barberi. Ms. Barberi has played roles in several television series, including Grachi, Mi corazón insiste… en Lola Volcán, and Doña Bárbara. She also played a role in the NBC series The Bronx Zoo. Click here for her complete filmography.

In 2011, Ms. Barberi was injured when she was visiting a home in the Chicago area. As she descended a carpeted residential stairway, a step gave way causing Katie to fall. She struck her upper back on the stairs.

A subsequent inspection of the stairway revealed that the step was in fact broken and the nature of the step was unknown to Katie due to the obscuring carpet. The property owners had previous notice of the defective condition.

Katie suffered an upper back injury and underwent physical therapy to manage her pain and recover.

Abels & Annes, P.C. brought a claim on Katie’s behalf against the homeowner’s insurance policy covering the property and successfully settled the matter without having to file a lawsuit.

Fortunately Katie made a complete recovery and was able to continue her acting career soon after. The amount of the settlement is confidential.

Defective stairway injuries are not uncommon. Often builders and property owners cut corners when constructing and maintaining stairs. They often violate local building codes and ordinances. We have investigated and resolved several of these claims over recent years. In many cases we retain architects to inspect the property at issue to help us better determine if there is a viable case.

If you have been injured in a premises liability accident, whether it was a fall down stairs, or a slip and fall in a store, contact the injury lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. for a free consultation. Our experienced accident attorneys are here to answer your questions 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call 855-LAW-CHICAGO.

The above statement was made with the express written consent of our client, Katie Barberi.
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A woman recently filed a personal injury lawsuit against a Bedford Park go-kart racing facility in Cook County Circuit Court. In her complaint, the woman alleges that she was injured as a result of a defective safety belt at Chicago Race Factory on May 2nd. According to the woman, employees at the facility assigned her a go-kart that was capable of traveling at speeds of up to 45 miles per hour but that was not equipped with a functioning safety belt. When she inquired about it, workers allegedly told her that safety harnesses were not necessary for adults who used the machines.

The lawsuit claims the injured woman’s body slid on the driver’s seat of the go-kart while she navigated the first turn on the track. As a result, the woman allegedly sustained damage to her ankle, knee, hip, and leg. The complaint accuses the go-kart facility and its manager of negligence for allowing the woman to use a machine that was not equipped with a functioning safety belt and for failing to properly train facility employees. The injured woman is currently seeking more than $50,000 in damages.

In Illinois, property owners are required to provide all visitors with a reasonable level of safety. When the owner of a business or other property knows or should have known that an unsafe condition existed and someone who was legally on the property was hurt, a premises liability claim may arise. A premises liability case may be caused by a slip-and-fall on an unsafe sidewalk or stairs, negligent security, building code violations, and a number of other unsafe conditions.

Illinois is a comparative negligence accident state. This means an individual who was hurt by someone else’s actions may be able to recover financial damages for their harm even if he or she was partially to blame. If you were hurt due to the negligent act of an individual or business, a skilled personal injury lawyer can help.
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An Illinois trip and fall attorney at Abels & Annes are currently working on a claim for a woman who was injured from an incident that occurred on August 18, 2010. The plaintiff was a resident at a mobile home park in the northern suburbs of Cook County. At that time the park was managed by a woman who ran an office out of one of the trailers at the property.

On the date of the occurrence our client had gone to the manager’s office to inquire about a trailer issue. She ascended the steps up to the small deck outside the front door to the office and knocked on the door. When there was no response she began to descend the steps to leave.

Chicago injury lawyers at our office are alleging that as a result of the improper design, construction and maintenance of the steps, as the plaintiff began to walk down the steps she lost her footing on the uneven steps and began to stumble. As she began to stumble she attempted to grab for a handrail to steady herself. Again, due to the improper design, construction and maintenance of the handrail, it was not located where it should have been and she was unable to grab it. As a result she fell, severely injuring herself.

Shortly after the occurrence the steps were inspected by an architect. She found the steps and handrail to be in violation of several sections of the Village Building Code and the 2003 International Residential Code (IRC), which the Village follows.

1. The stair risers were not uniform. Section R311.5.3 of the IRC provides that the maximum riser height shall be 7¾ inches and that the greatest riser height within any flight of stairs shall not exceed the smallest by more than ⅜ inch. The four risers from the bottom to top are measured at 4½”, 7″, 6½” and 3″. The greatest riser height exceeds the smallest by 4″. This is far greater than the allowable maximum of ⅜”, creating a hazard to users.

2. The handrail on the outer side of the steps was far too steep for its intended purpose. Section R311.5.6.1 of the IRC provides that handrail height measured vertically from the sloped plane adjoining the tread nosing shall not be less than 34″ nor more than 38″. The handrail at issue from the bottom tread to the top landing measured at 16½”, 23″, 30″ and 39″. No portion of the rail measures within the 34″-38″ requirement, making it impossible to grasp the handrail for guidance or support.

3. The side of the stair adjacent to the trailer was completely open to the ground. Upon inspection it appeared as though a handrail had originally been built but had fallen off at some point in time and never replaced. The size of the opening is 7″, which is wide enough for a person’s foot to fall through. Section R311.5.6.2 provides that handrails for stairways must be continuous for the full length of the flight of stairs. An appropriate handrail should have been installed or reinstalled to allow a person to grasp it for support. Additionally, the existing handrail on the outside stops 4¼” short of the bottom tread’s nosing, leaving the end of the stair unprotected. This leaves a user descending the steps without support near the bottom in the event of a fall.

These violations created an extremely hazardous and unsafe environment for users of the steps.

Our client had an immediate onset of severe right leg and ankle pain. There was an obvious deformity in the area of her right ankle. She was transported by ambulance from the scene to Glenbrook Hospital’s Emergency Department.

Upon arrival at the Emergency Department a history was taken, she was examined and diagnostic tests were performed. She complained of severe right leg and ankle pain. Upon visualization there was an obvious deformity to the ankle area. She was administered morphine due to her extreme pain. X-rays revealed fractures of the right medial malleolus and of the right distal fibula, possible fracture of the posterior malleolus and the ankle mortise appeared to be disrupted.

Due to the severity of her ankle fracture it was determined that an open reduction internal fixation surgery needed to be performed immediately. The plaintiff was admitted as an inpatient to the hospital.
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