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  • Motorcycle season starts in Illinois

    Each year, thousands of motorcyclists in Illinois eagerly await the warm weather that will allow them to return to the roads. Sadly, though, the start of the riding season often comes with a significant number of motorcycle accidents. A lawyer who handles car accident injuries knows only too well that these events usually have devastating consequences. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 80 percent of motorcycle accidents result in injury or death.

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    Motorcycle season starts in Illinois

    In 2014, Illinois recorded about 30 percent fewer fatal motorcycle accidents than in 2013, as WAND News reports. In the hopes of continuing this trend, authorities are warning road users to stay alert to motorcyclists. Additionally, authorities remind motorcyclists to use caution and drive defensively. Still, if past statistics are any indicator, the arrival of motorcycle season may bring thousands of serious accidents.

    Risks riders face

    Motorcyclists are more likely to suffer accidents and injuries than people in other vehicles for various reasons. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, motorcycles lack the stability of larger vehicles, putting riders at a greater risk of crashes. Motorcycles can also be harder for other motorists to detect, which increases the likelihood of a two-car accident.

    If an accident occurs, riders are left exposed without any protection from restraint systems, air bags or the vehicle itself. A car injury lawyer often sees motorcyclists who have suffered severe injuries, including fractures, nerve damage and brain trauma.

    Riders who do not wear helmets are especially likely to sustain serious injuries. According to the IIHS, brain injuries and death are, respectively, 67 and 37 percent less likely when motorcyclists use helmets. Unfortunately, Illinois currently does not require riders to wear helmets.

    High injury rates

    According to national data, motorcyclists are 26 times more likely to suffer fatal crash injuries than people in passenger cars. Statistics from the Illinois Department of Transportation underscore the high injury and fatality risk riders face. A summary of 2013 state crash data reveals the following troubling figures:

    • Motorcyclists were involved in just 1.2 percent of all crashes reported that year.
    • These crashes represented a disproportionate 4.1 percent of all crashes involving injuries.
    • These crashes also accounted for an alarming 15.8 percent of all deadly crashes.

    A few measures may help riders reduce this high risk of experiencing accidents or severe injuries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises riders to always wear helmets. Motorcyclists should also leave safe following distances, use prudent speeds and avoid riding while impaired. Still, all of these tactics may not prevent accidents that occur because of other motorists.

    Accidents involving others

    Many motorcycle accidents and injuries occur when other drivers fail to see motorcycles or leave a safe following distance. A 2013 Florida Department of Transportation study concluded that other drivers were at fault in 60 percent of two-vehicle motorcycle accidents. According to The Sun Sentinel, this study was based on 10 years of crash data collected in Florida. However, it is reasonable to think a similar pattern may be apparent in other states.

    Accidents involving left-turning vehicles are one particular threat, according to data from the NHTSA. About one-third of two-vehicle motorcycle accidents happen when other drivers violate the right-of-way and turn left in front of motorcycles. Authorities encourage motorcyclists to ride cautiously with this common cause of accidents in mind. Still, as any car injury lawyer could attest, defensive driving may not always be enough to protect motorcyclists from serious accidents.

    Crash risk factors

    Research increasingly suggests that motorcyclists face a high risk of accidents even if every person on the road is driving conscientiously. This occurs because of the way the brain perceives small and less commonly seen objects. Many drivers simply fail to recognize motorcycles or accurately judge the speed and distance of these vehicles.

    According to multiple studies, drivers often unconsciously use an approaching vehicle’s size as a proxy for its distance. Using this shortcut, the brain decides larger vehicles are closer, while smaller vehicles are further away. This may lead many drivers to overestimate how far away an oncoming motorcycle is. As a result, these drivers may perform maneuvers that they do not have time or space to safely complete.

    Drivers also may be less likely to detect motorcyclists because motorcycles are relatively rare compared to other vehicles. In a study conducted at Monash University, researchers had participants complete driving simulations with high or low volumes of motorcycles. People who performed the low-volume simulation could not detect the motorcycles until they were much closer to them. This finding could help explain why many accidents occur at the start of riding season, when drivers aren’t used to seeing motorcyclists.

    Recourse after accidents

    When the actions of other drivers cause motorcyclists to experience accidents and injuries, legal remedies may be available. If an injured motorcyclist can prove another driver was negligent, the motorcyclist may be able to collect various damages.

    When assessing liability for motorcycle crash injuries, Illinois follows modified comparative fault laws. If an injured motorcyclist contributed in any way to an accident, the motorcyclist may still be able to seek compensation. However, motorcyclists who are deemed more than 51 percent at fault in an accident can’t recover compensation. Additionally, any compensation that is ultimately awarded will be reduced by the amount of fault assigned to the motorcyclist.

    These provisions make documenting the accident circumstances and clearly establishing fault essential for injured motorcyclists. Partnering with a car injury lawyer may be advisable for these accident victims. An attorney may be able to offer guidance or provide other necessary assistance during the claim process.

     

  • Parents of disabled children may experience depression and memory loss

    I'm just so sadRaising a disabled child can create unique challenges for Illinois parents. These parents typically face high levels of stress, misunderstanding from others and burdensome financial expenses. Additionally, the demands of caring for a disabled child can adversely affect a parent’s relationships and career.

    Sadly, the challenges of caregiving may also harm a parent’s personal health. New research suggests that the parents of disabled children are vulnerable to adverse cognitive effects, including memory loss and depression.

    Cost of caregiving

    The study, which was published in The Journals of Gerontology: Series B, used data collected on 640 parents. This group included 128 parents with disabled children. From the results of surveys and cognitive testing of these parents, the researchers produced the following findings:

    • The parents of disabled children reported more negative parenting experiences than the other parents.
    • The mothers of disabled children reported twice the rate of depression during the past year that other mothers reported.
    • The mothers of disabled children experienced more cognitive aging and memory loss than any other parents.

    These patterns may arise because stress negatively affects overall health, as any Social Security attorney in Naperville understands. Men may be less vulnerable to these health effects, which could explain why only mothers showed memory loss and depression.

    The researchers found that mothers with supportive networks and feelings of control were less vulnerable to depression and cognitive aging. Still, many mothers of disabled children may be at risk for developing their own debilitating conditions.

    Disabling mental disorders

    Depression and other mental disorders can take a significant physical and psychological toll. Mental Health Month during May helps call attention to the debilitating effects these disorders often have. In severe cases, mental disorders may prevent victims from working, looking after themselves or interacting with others. In these cases, victims may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits.

    As any Social Security attorney in Naperville could explain, disabled adults may qualify for SSD benefits if they meet medical and non-medical criteria. Sometimes, the children of beneficiaries may be eligible to receive their own dependent benefits.

    Claiming SSD benefits

    The Social Security Administration recognizes numerous mental illnesses and disorders as disabling, provided they meet set criteria. Claimants must document established symptoms and severe functional limitations, as any Social Security attorney in Naperville knows. Claimants can do this through medical records, professional assessments, third-party accounts and personal descriptions.

    People with mental disorders may also qualify for medical-vocational allowances if they cannot work gainfully. An SSA claims examiner may consider a claimant’s age, vocational background, education and collective impairments when awarding an allowance. People who suffer from mental disorders and other impairments may receive allowances even if their mental disorders are not independently disabling.

     

  • Marijuana use may not automatically lead to a workers’ comp claim denial

    Medicinal marijuana is now available for some Illinois residents. Recently, recreational use has also been legalized in a few states around the country. These new laws have created tension, as any injured workers lawyer in Schaumburg would explain. The laws have also raised numerous issues in non-criminal legal matters, such as workers’ compensation.

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    Marijuana use may not automatically lead to a workers’ comp claim denial

    Drug use and workers’ compensation claims

    In Trent v. Stark Metal Sales, a recent Ohio case, a man was injured in a workplace accident. He tested positive for marijuana, which he stated was ingested weeks prior to the worksite injury. His employer attempted to have the man’s workers’ compensation claim dismissed due to his drug test results. An Ohio appellate court, however, determined that the employee’s injury was not caused by that drug use. As such, the court ruled that the worker’s claim could not be denied based on the drug test.

    The state of marijuana laws in Illinois

    A Roosevelt University study explains that more than 100 municipalities in Illinois have ordinances which provide lower-penalty options for marijuana possession. The state has also begun a pilot medicinal marijuana program. With these changes, the number of people using this drug for both medical and recreational purposes may rise. This may lead to an increase in the legal issues presented in the Ohio case.

    Denials based on positive drug or alcohol tests

    According to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, compensation will only be paid for injuries that arose out of and during employment. Any injured workers lawyer in Schaumburg would explain that some employers attempt to deny claims based on drug or alcohol tests. Employers base these denials on the fact that drug and alcohol use is prohibited during work. According to this logic, intoxicated employees are not working at the time of the accident because they are breaking a company rule. Employers therefore conclude that any injuries incurred while workers have these substances in their systems prohibit their claims.

    Testing procedures

    Employers may test employees for drugs and alcohol. However, the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission has issued regulations on how these employee drug tests must be administered. These include the following requirements:

    • Anonymity of the test subject during test procedures
    • Urine and blood collection must be administered by a trained professional
    • The completion of a Chain of Custody form

    It may be possible to challenge test results if the IWCC’s requirements are not met. If a workers’ compensation claim denial is based on improperly administered drug tests, it may provide grounds for a successful appeal.

    Legal guidance in claims proceedings

    Many workers’ compensation claims are complex. When an employer attempts to deny a claim due to a positive drug test, these complications may increase. As such, those who are appealing a denial based on such tests may wish to speak with an injured workers lawyer in Schaumburg. Consulting with an attorney may provide the legal guidance necessary to file or appeal a compensation claim successfully.

  • Why aren’t doctors required to renew their medical license more often?

    hospital hallwayA recent study published in the Journal of Patient Safety states that between 210,000 and 440,000 patients die each year in U.S. hospitals due to preventable forms of medical harm. Chicago medical malpractice attorney should be aware that this makes medical mistakes the third leading cause of death in the nation, behind only heart disease and cancer.

    While this number includes errors made by all healthcare professionals within hospitals, it fails to include harm that did not cause the death of patients, or the medical errors that occur outside of hospitals in regular doctors’ offices and clinics.

    Questions on certification

    The staggering number of medical mistakes occurring in the nation leave many wondering why doctors are not required to renew their medical license more often. A Chicago medical malpractice attorney understands that those in other less life-and-death professions are often required to undergo yearly or biannual license renewals to prove that they are meeting the standards set by their state’s licensing organizations. The Illinois State Medical Society requires that doctors renew their licenses once every three years.

    Within the physician license renewal period, doctors must earn 150 hours of Continuing Medical Education credits to ensure that they are maintaining their knowledge. However, only 40 percent of these hours must be spent in formal educational programs. With 50 hours of CME credits required each year, only 20 of these hours, or a little over two working days a year, are deemed necessary to ensure that doctors both maintain and expand their knowledge on relevant topics. Considering the vast discoveries and advancements in medical science that occur each year, this requirement may be seen as little more than a token gesture.

    Troublesome lack of testing requirements

    The discussion may go even further to question why physicians are not required to undergo regular testing to ensure that they are keeping abreast of changes in the medical field, such as new treatments, additional testing and changes in public policy. According to the Huffington Post, doctors must pass exams to get their state license and then they are no longer required to do anything other than annual CME. In order to prove their specialties, however, many physicians join boards that have slightly more rigorous standards: maintaining certification may require doctors to pass a knowledge exam once every 10 years while demonstrating a continual improvement in their knowledge of providing care to patients. While this is an obvious improvement over no testing requirements, the rates of medical error-related deaths in the U.S. should have patients and their family members calling for more testing and more accountability.

    Those who have been injured by medical mistakes should contact a Chicago medical malpractice attorney for assistance immediately. With their help, patients may be able to better face their opposition and regain the chance at creating a new life for themselves following such a devastating occurrence.

  • The dangers auto mechanics face

    Auto mechanics in Illinois are regularly exposed to unique job-related hazards, and their injury rates reflect this. According to the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics data available, mechanics suffered over 15,000 injuries in 2005 alone. This figure only reflects illnesses or injuries severe enough to result in time missed from work. The number of injuries that went unreported or caused delayed effects was likely even greater.

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    The dangers auto mechanics face

    The same data shows that, out of all occupations, mechanics suffered the fourteenth highest rate of injuries requiring time away from work in 2004 and 2005. As any workers compensation attorney knows, these workers also face an above-average risk of catastrophic or fatal injuries. Sadly, these injuries are often difficult for mechanics or their employers to prevent because they originate from many different sources.

    Sudden acute injuries

    Mechanics often suffer acute injuries, such as cuts and burns, while using tools or handling automobile parts. These injuries frequently occur when tools or parts fall, break or malfunction. According to the 2005 BLS data set, 44.5 percent of all mechanic injuries involved contact with objects.

    In a 2011 study published in Industrial Health, mechanics reported cuts more than any other injury. However, mechanics may also suffer from burns, fractures and limb loss. The use of gloves, safety goggles and steel-toed boots may prevent some of these injuries. However, safety protocols often vary between garages, leaving some workers exposed to hazards. Furthermore, as a workers compensation attorney might note, protective gear cannot prevent every injury.

    Exertional and stress injuries

    Repetitive trauma injuries, such as back injuries, are also common among mechanics. These injuries accounted for one-fifth of all injuries that mechanics reported in 2005, according to the BLS data. Lifting heavy objects, such as tires or engine parts, is a frequent cause of these injuries. Over half of the overexertion injuries that mechanics suffered in 2005 occurred under these circumstances.

    Even when mechanics are not straining their joints and muscles to lift heavy objects, they may be at risk for musculoskeletal injuries. To access different vehicle systems or parts, mechanics often must work bent over or in even more contorted positions. These stooped or twisted postures can strain the back, neck and other parts of the body.

    Some repetitive stress injuries can be avoided through team lifting procedures. The use of specialized machinery to move heavier objects can also help protect mechanics from injury. However, musculoskeletal injuries that occur due to an awkward working position may be more difficult to address.

    Illnesses from exposure

    Mechanics usually work with harsh cleaning chemicals, gasoline additives and other potentially harmful substances. In severe cases, these substances may cause skin burns, organ damage, vision loss or toxic poisoning. Additionally, mechanics may face even more severe complications if they are exposed to asbestos or lead.

    According to the Environmental Protection Agency, some brakes and clutches used today contain asbestos. As any workers compensation attorney knows, even brief exposure to this substance creates a risk of respiratory illness and cancer. Garages that perform work on brakes or clutches over five times per week must take measures to mitigate this risk. However, other garages are not explicitly required to do so.

    Mechanics may also work with various products that contain lead, including vehicle batteries, paint and welded parts. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, lead exposure can result in anemia, kidney disease and neurological damage. The buildup of lead in the body can also cause seizures or death. OSHA requires all employers to take precautions when lead exposure exceeds set levels, but garages may not always reach this threshold.

    Injured workers’ rights

    These working conditions and hazards may cause mechanics to suffer costly, debilitating and even permanently disabling injuries. Fortunately, workers’ compensation benefits may be available to mechanics who are hurt while working as employees in Illinois.

    Under the state’s no-fault workers’ compensation laws, an employee or employer’s fault in a workplace accident is typically irrelevant. However, injured mechanics must clearly prove that their injuries or illnesses arose directly in the course of their jobs. If a claim is approved, an injured worker may receive medical benefits to cover various costs, including:

    • Medical treatment, such as surgery, emergency care and ongoing care
    • Rehabilitative treatment, including physical therapy and chiropractic visits
    • Ongoing treatment to manage the illness or injury, including prescriptions and medical appliances
    • Measures needed to address permanent injuries, such as prosthetic devices and home modifications

    Mechanics who cannot work at full capacity or at all because of a work-related injury or illness may receive temporarily disability benefits. Vocational rehabilitation may be available to mechanics who are left unable to perform their jobs. Those who have suffered permanent and severe injuries may also qualify for permanent disability benefits.

    Claiming benefits

    To receive workers’ compensation benefits, mechanics must report and claim their injuries within state deadlines. In general, injured workers most notify employers within 45 days and file claims within three years. Workers who develop occupational illnesses must give notice as soon as the illness and its origins become apparent. Generally, these workers must file claims within two years of the last date of exposure to the hazard or substance. In cases of asbestos exposure, however, workers have an additional year to make their claims.

    Unfortunately, people who miss these deadlines cannot pursue compensation. To reduce the risk of delays or other issues, injured mechanics may benefit from partnering with a workers compensation attorney. An attorney may be able to assist a mechanic in documenting a claim and meeting all other legal requirements during the claim process.

  • Language barriers may increase approval for SSD benefits

    Person Hand With Pen Filling Social Security Disability FormIllinois has a diverse population with many residents who natively speak languages other than English. According to national Census data, 21 percent of people over age 5 spoke a non-English language at home in 2011. Of those people, 22 percent reported speaking English poorly or not at all.

    Limited English use can severely limit job opportunities, especially for people who suffer from debilitating conditions. Fortunately, as any Oak Lawn disability lawyer could attest, English use is weighed during Social Security Disability claims. People who can’t speak English may be more likely to receive SSD benefits.

    Evaluating education

    During the SSD claim process, some medical conditions are automatically considered disabling. However, more often, applicants receive benefits because they cannot gainfully work. To determine whether gainful work is available, claim examiners considers many aspects of each applicant’s background. The examiner then consults official guidelines to determine whether the person qualifies as disabled.

    The factors that claims examiners evaluate include age, educational level, work experience and job-related skills. The Social Security Administration recognizes four levels of education, which are broken up as follows:

    • Inability to communicate in English — this includes an inability to speak, read or write English.
    • Illiteracy — a person who cannot read or write simple messages is illiterate.
    • Marginal education — education below the sixth grade level is marginal.
    • Limited education — a person who stopped school between seventh and eleventh grade has a limited education.

    Under the SSA’s guidelines, older applicants with limited education or English use are likelier to qualify for SSD benefits. This is because younger workers are considered more capable of learning new skills. As any Oak Lawn disability lawyer could confirm, applicants under age 45 cannot receive SSD benefits based on language barriers. In contrast, older claimants may, even if they have the skills and physical capacity to work.

    Potential reforms

    The SSA may revise this policy because of its effects on claims in Puerto Rico. As U.S. citizens, residents of Puerto Rico can seek benefits, as any Oak Lawn disability lawyer would agree. However, current claim guidelines don’t account for the predominant use of Spanish in Puerto Rico. Some applicants may receive benefits because they can’t speak English, even though they speak the local language.

    As The Washington Post explains, under these standards, highly skilled and educated individuals could be found disabled. An audit indicates that 218 people received benefits between 2011 and 2013 based on these guidelines. In response to the audit, the SSA is conducting research and accepting input about potential changes.

    A rule change could allow claims examiners to consider local factors, including predominant language. However, this change would likely not affect non-English speaking claimants here in Illinois, where English remains the predominant language.

  • Why aren’t hospitals doing more to protect nurses from injuries?

    beautiful young female medical intern with tablet computerNursing injuries are a rampant problem, even in the well-respected hospitals of Illinois. According to National Public Radio’s series on the subject, the annual rate of nursing injuries is over 35,000. In most cases, these injuries are the result of lifting and transporting patients. This is a serious problem that requires immediate attention, as any medical malpractice attorney in Cook County would attest.

    Solutions already exist

    Given the severe impact of nursing injuries on the healthcare industry, some might think that there is no solution to the problem. This, however, is not the case. According to NPR, many studies have indicated that nursing injuries are greatly reduced when hospitals invest in ergonomic equipment. These devices are used to help nurses move and lift patients. One federal study reported a 40 percent reduction in nurse injuries after the implementation of such equipment in U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals.

    Addressing implementation issues  

    While ergonomic solutions to nursing injuries already exist, the problem is still extensive. According to the American Nurses Association, this is due in to the perception that this equipment is too expensive. In addition, many hospital administrators believe that their nurses will refuse to use such equipment.

    The ANA refutes these claims, stating that the successful implementation of ergonomic solutions is very possible. However, the association notes that nurses should be provided with an opportunity to weigh in on equipment options. The ANA explains that doing so will increase hospitals’ ability to gauge which types of equipment will work best for their nurses. This, in turn, will encourage nurses to use the equipment regularly.

    Legislative remedies

    NPR notes there have been efforts to address nursing injuries through legislation and regulations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. These efforts, however, have been largely unsuccessful. There are no specific Illinois laws dealing with the problem. In addition, local nursing organizations, such as the Illinois Nurses Association, are not currently sponsoring any such legislation. A medical malpractice attorney in Cook County would note that laws specifically dealing with the problem may drastically reduce nursing injuries in this state.

    Nurses are an extremely important part of the American healthcare system. As such, it is important that these professionals receive the support they need to do their jobs properly. Providing them with equipment that allows them to work safely would go a long way toward this goal. Nurses who have suffered injuries may find it helpful to speak with a medical malpractice attorney in Cook County. This may offer an opportunity to learn about the legal options available to nurses hurt on the job.

  • Data stored on aiplanes’ black boxes may help a personal injury claim

    Most safety experts agree that flying is the safest from of travel in existence today. However, airplane accidents, while rare compared to car crashes, do occur with regularity. The high rate of speed and altitude at which planes travel often results in a significant amount of damage to the human body. An Illinois personal injury attorney knows that those who survive these accidents are often left severely burned, with multiple broken bones and other significant, life-threatening injuries. These injuries can leave people permanently disfigured and disabled. When in this situation, a black box may be one of the best tools an injured passenger has to prove his or her case.

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    Data Airplanes Black Box Personal Injuries

    What is a black box?

    One of the greatest tools that investigators use to determine why these accidents occur is known as the black box. The box is actually bright orange in color for easy locating following an accident. According to National Geographic, the black box is equipped with an Underwater Locator Beacon, which is activated whenever the device comes in contact with water. This beacon can transmit from a depth of up to 14,000 feet. They are also tested in extreme conditions to ensure that each black box has the greatest chance at successfully recording and storing data until rescuers and investigators can reach it following an accident.

    A black box consists of a flight data recorder and a cockpit voice recorder. All commercial airplanes and corporate jets are required to have these two pieces of equipment installed so that investigators have some information with which to determine why a crash occurred.

    The cockpit voice recorder

    As the name suggests, the main purpose of a cockpit voice recorder is to record every sound that occurs within the cockpit. It picks up the things the pilots say as well as any background noise that may occur. This may include any unusual sounds that happen immediately prior to an emergency. Keen investigators can pick up sounds that indicate something serious is happening, such as emergency pings, pops and stall warnings. Skilled investigators are even able to determine vital information about a plane, such as its speed, engine rpm and even the cause of a crash, simply from the sounds heard in the cockpit.

    The Flight Data Recorder

    The Flight Data Recorder may have an even greater significance than the cockpit voice recorder in aviation accident investigations and lawsuits. This small piece of equipment is responsible for recording the various operating functions of a plane including altitude, time, airspeed and heading. With modern advances in technology, the flight data recorder has also taken on the task of recording other important information that may lead investigators to the cause of an accident. These include individual wing flap movements, the use of auto-pilot, and how much fuel the plane has at any given moment. Using the data in this recorder, crash investigators can reconstruct the final minutes before a plane went down using computer models. This allows them to visualize how a plane is acting immediately prior to a crash.

    Why black boxes matter for personal injury claims

    The purpose of a black box is to determine the exact cause of an accident. When passengers are injured in an accident, absolute proof of the events that caused their injuries is essential to proving a case. A personal injury attorney often understands that negligence is usually a significant factor in aviation accidents.  With a cockpit voice recorder picking up the movements and speech of the pilot and copilot, injured parties may be able to prove that those who were entrusted with their lives were behaving inappropriately and inadvertently caused a crash.

    Pilot error was deemed responsible for a recent crash that occurred in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The flight was bound for Fort Lauderdale, but it crashed shortly after take-off after its engines ingested debris from the runway. One of the passengers on the flight, a Palm Beach County resident, sustained injuries to his arm, knee, neck and shoulder and was left with post-traumatic stress disorder following the crash. A preliminary investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration found that the pilots made several obvious errors that contributed to the crash, including entering improper runway and take-off speed information into the plane’s computer. The injured passenger is now suing the airline for damages.

    Rare but dangerous events

    According to reports from Boeing, one of the largest plane manufacturers in the world, 20 percent of accidents occur during takeoff while another 36 percent occur during the final approach and landing. Possible reasons for crashes at any time during a flight include the following:

    • Bird Strikes
    • Air traffic control error
    • Fire in the cargo hold or cabin
    • Design flaw
    • Fuel starvation
    • Lightning strikes

    Pilot incapacitation may also be a factor in some crashes. This would occur if a pilot had a sudden medical emergency. In each of these cases, a black box would collect information and data unique to the situation so that investigators and those injured in a crash could learn, either directly or indirectly, the true cause of an accident.

    Those who have been injured in an aviation accident should immediately seek out the counsel of a personal injury attorney in Illinois. Although these accidents are not as common as car crashes, their impact on the lives of those involved can be much more severe and long-lasting. With the help of an attorney, injured passengers may receive compensation for their injuries and the effects the flight has had on their lives.

  • Workplace bullying can lead to long-term employee illnesses

    Bullying is not just a problem in schools. It is also a threat to employees in many American workplaces. According to a recent study by the U.S. Workplace Bullying Institute, bullies on the job can cause serious health problems in their victims. In some cases, bullied employees are temporarily or even permanently disabled because of cruel treatment at work. By learning more about the dangers of workplace bullying, workers and employers can reduce the risk of serious consequences.

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    Workplace bullying can lead to long-term employee illnesses

    What is workplace bullying?

    Workplace bullying is a complex set of behaviors that can have a devastating effect on its targets, as any workers’ comp attorney in Chicago knows. These forms of abusive conduct may include all of the following:

    • Threats
    • Intimidation
    • Verbal or physical abuse
    • Deliberate humiliation
    • Sabotage
    • Withholding of necessary resources

    Many bullies use a combination of these techniques to create fear and uncertainty in their victims. The cumulative effect of active abuse, passive mistreatment and withheld resources can cause workers to lose their health and their livelihood.

    Long-term illnesses caused by bullying

    When an employee is bullied for months or years, extreme stress may lead to serious health conditions. Many bullied workers develop psychological disabilities that can cause long-term loss of employment. Other workers may develop physical conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome and other circulatory or digestive disorders. A wide range of medical conditions are linked to the effects of abuse in the workplace. In some extreme cases, mistreatment on the job can be as harmful to health as domestic abuse.

    Post-traumatic stress disorder

    One of the most common conditions linked to severe workplace bullying is post-traumatic stress disorder. This syndrome is traditionally associated with veterans who experience combat stress on the battlefield. In recent decades, doctors have also recognized PTSD in civilians who live through experiences such as rape, assault, natural disasters, domestic violence and workplace abuse. PTSD may result from a single traumatic event. If the trauma is ongoing for a substantial period of time, PTSD can become especially complex and debilitating. According to the most recent statistics compiled by the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, a branch of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, more than 5 million people in America are currently living with PTSD.

    PTSD and workplace bullying

    When workplace bullying escalates to the level of constant abuse, humiliation or sabotage, it can cause PTSD symptoms in workers. These symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, partial or total insomnia, exaggerated startle reactions, digestive or nervous system malfunctions, inability to discuss the traumatic events, drug abuse and alcohol abuse. In severe cases of PTSD, the patient may attempt suicide or lash out at others with violent acts.

    PTSD can develop gradually in bullied workers

    Some bullied workers may endure mistreatment on the job for months or even years before noticing symptoms of PTSD. Every workers’ comp attorney in Chicago is aware that PTSD can develop gradually when an employee is forced to endure abusive conditions. In today’s challenging economy, workers are often afraid to report abuse for fear of losing their job and their family’s means of support. This situation can lead to years of cumulative abuse in the workplace and disabling medical consequences.

    Bullying and pre-existing medical conditions

    If an employee is suffering from a pre-existing medical condition, bullying can make it worse. In some cases, a previously manageable ailment may become a fully disabling illness under the stress of long-term workplace mistreatment. In these cases, the disabled worker is eligible for benefits as long as the work-related disability lasts. If the disability is permanent, Illinois workers’ compensation law provides benefits for the duration of what would have been the employee’s career.

    Public opinion on U.S. workplace bullying

    Bullying on the job has begun to receive more publicity as employers and employees become conscious of its risks. For the majority of Americans, bullying is no longer acceptable behavior. According to key findings of a 2014 survey carried out by the Workplace Bullying Institute, 72 percent of people are now aware of the dangers of workplace bullying. 93 percent of survey respondents are in support of legislation to make American workplaces safer for victims and potential victims of bullying on the job.

    Disturbing statistics from the WBI survey

    Unfortunately, not all of the statistics from the recent WBI bullying survey are encouraging. While more than one in four American employees currently report direct experience with abuse on the job, a full 72 percent of employers have allegedly denied, rationalized, defended or even encouraged this kind of abuse. These statistics show that bullying education still has a long way to go in America. Until employers are willing and able to cooperate with anti-bullying efforts, many employees will remain at risk.

    Anti-bullying initiatives are good for employers as well as workers

    When employers make the effort to implement anti-bullying initiatives, they benefit along with their workers. A healthier workplace environment can lead to fewer missed days of work, less conflict among workers and a sharp drop in employee turnover. U.S. Department of Labor studies show that employees are happier and more productive when they can confront their employers about bullying and harassment without fear of retaliation.

    Workplace bullying is a serious problem for millions of American employees and their families. People who have been bullied on the job should consider speaking with a workers’ comp attorney in Chicago about their options.

  • Nursing home deaths: When to suspect something isn’t quite right

    Some nursing homes try to offer their residents good personal and medical care, but these reputable facilities are often overshadowed by the lack of care given at many other homes. Nursing homes are notorious for not providing patients with the care that they need in order to live a full and happy life. An injury lawyer understands that in many instances, elderly patients within these homes are neglected, abused, and even killed by those who have sworn to protect and care for them.

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    Nursing home deaths When to suspect something isn’t quite right

    When a family has no choice but to place their elderly loved one in a home, it is often difficult to determine whether or not the workers of the nursing home they have chosen are genuinely concerned for the welfare of their residents. Unfortunately, it often takes some time to fully see the truth. In that time, patients may die, leaving families unsure of what happened or where to turn.

    A problem with the system

    Many of these nursing home deaths are labeled the simple, natural result of old age or other ailments common to those in the elderly population. According to pbs.org, the truth is that few nursing home deaths are investigated. This is due to the nature of how deaths are ruled suspicious. In most cases, the physicians treating patients are the ones who determine whether or not they died under natural circumstances. If the doctor sees a fatality that may be suspicious, he is required to report it to the medical examiner or coroner for further investigation.

    The problem arises because doctors often get it wrong. PBS reports that a 2008 study found that nearly half of all doctors who participated failed to correctly identify the cause of death for an elderly patient who had suffered a brain injury due to a fall. Unfortunately, an injury lawyer knows that falls are a contributing factor in many nursing home patient deaths.

    An additional problem arises when doctors are not even required to see the body of the deceased before they rule their deaths natural or suspicious, as is allowed in most states. In one shocking example reported by PBS, an 83-year-old patient was beaten to death by an aide, yet the doctor simply marked the death unsuspicious because he never saw the bruises caused by the beating.

    A widespread issue

    The National Center on Elder Abuse reports that instances of elder abuse and neglect are so widespread that we have no true way to know for certain how many people are affected by it every year. One study found that only one in 14 cases is ever reported. Another study, the New York Elder Abuse Prevalence Study found that the number is closer to one in 24 cases.

    Abuse in nursing homes happens at unacceptable levels. The NCEA reports that 44 percent of nursing home residents who participated in a survey indicated that they had been personally abused while 95 percent indicated that they had witnessed another patient being neglected.

    Those who are being abused are more likely to be killed in these neglectful or hostile situations. Just like other forms of abuse, it often escalates until the abuser causes significant enough injuries to cause death. For the elderly who are confined to nursing homes, even one episode of abuse can be fatal.

    It could happen to anyone

    Unfortunately, these horrors often occur in Illinois. A South Holland, Illinois nurse is a suspect in the deaths of three elderly patients who were under her care. According to WGNTV.com, six patients at a nursing home were hospitalized recently for unknown causes. One of the patients, a 98-year-old woman, died the day after she and the other patients were admitted. Another two residents died shortly thereafter.

    The Cook County medical examiner’s office has determined that the elderly woman died after being administered toxic levels of potent painkillers, morphine and hydrocodone. She also suffered from two serious heart conditions, which contributed to her death. This has prompted police to investigate the other two deaths as potential homicides as well. The nurse who was caring for all six individuals has been suspended, but has yet to be charged in the matter.

    When a nursing home death occurs

    After losing an elderly loved one, it is never easy. Things are made even worse when the death seems suspicious. Those who have lost loved ones in a nursing home should always follow their instincts. If they feel that something is not right, they should take the time to determine whether or not foul play was involved. Family members should ask the following questions:

    • Did the doctor see the body before filling out the death certificate?
    • Were there any unexplained bruises on the body?
    • How do staff treat current patients?
    • How clean and well-kept is the facility?
    • Was the deceased malnourished or dehydrated?
    • What medications was the patient seeing before he or she died?

    While these questions do not guarantee that family members will immediately discover the truth, it will help the facility in question know that the family will not easily give up without an investigation. In some cases, the facility may become uncooperative or unhelpful. This should be a red flag that something is amiss and family members should then proceed with asking law enforcement or other state agencies to become involved and perform an investigation.

    Those who have lost loved ones to suspicious nursing home deaths may have grounds for a case against the home, its administrators and the individuals who were deemed responsible for the deaths. Affected parties should contact an Illinois injury lawyer immediately for a case review.

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