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Rockford personal injury attorneyPerhaps more so than any other legal action, personal injury lawsuits are shrouded in misunderstanding. People hear television commercials about getting compensation for an injury and incorrectly assume that personal injury lawsuits are designed to “cheat” the system and make an easy buck. The purpose of personal injury lawsuits is to compensate a person for injuries sustained due to another party’s negligence.

If you are ever hurt by a drunk driver, defective product, unsafe environment, dog bite, incompetent medical professional, or another act of negligence, you may be out thousands of dollars. Medical bills and ongoing physical therapy can easily bankrupt a person, and insurance companies are notorious for only covering a minimum of costs. Missed work can result in even more financial hardship. Injury suits provide an avenue for injured people to recover some of these costs as well as be compensated for pain and suffering. Read on to learn about how personal injury cases are often misunderstood and how you can pursue compensation for your injuries.

Falsehoods Regarding McDonald’s Hot Coffee Case Damaged Public Perception of Personal Injury Suits

Back in 1992, a 79-year-old woman bought coffee at the McDonald’s drive-thru and spilled it on her lap. She sued McDonald’s and was awarded millions. If this story sounds familiar, it is because the McDonald’s hot coffee lawsuit unfairly became the poster child of frivolous lawsuits in the 1990s. However, the real story of this lawsuit was nearly completely unknown to the public thanks to biases and irresponsible journalism. The liquid which the elderly woman spilled was not simply “hot coffee,” It was coffee heated to the outrageously high temperature of 190 degrees – a temperature hot enough to cause third-degree burns in three to seven seconds. When the woman spilled her coffee, it soaked into her pants and continued burning her. She suffered third degree burns on her legs and genitals which were so horrific, she went into shock. The woman’s burns were so severe, she required multiple skin grafts and extensive medical care. 

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Rockford medical malpractice lawyersWhen a person goes to the hospital to get surgery for an illness or injury, they assume the doctors, nurses, and surgeons taking care of them will do their job with caution and attentiveness. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. A recent study from Johns Hopkins shows that over 250,000 individuals die every year in the U.S from medical errors. Other studies suggest that the number of individuals killed by medical mistakes is closer to 440,000. One medical error which occurs startlingly often is the unintended retention of foreign objects (URFOs) during surgical procedures.

Surgical Items Left Inside Patients Bodies

Alarmingly, it is not unheard of for patients to discover that a surgeon or other medical professional left a piece of medical equipment inside their body. Leaving surgical instruments in a person’s body after invasive procedures can cause serious illness and even death. The type of object left in the person’s body and the length of time it was retained are the main factors that determine the severity of this error.

In some cases, retained objects are discovered immediately after a surgical procedure through an X-ray or during a follow-up. Other times, the foreign objects left in a patient’s body are only identified after the patient seeks medical attention for unexplained pain. The most common objects which are left inside patients include:

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Rockford personal injury attorneysGetting hurt in a car crash or other accident can be an overwhelmingly emotional experience. In the moments after an accident, most people are in shock. They immediately start thinking about how to handle the situation and give little attention to their own well-being. Unfortunately, many people have decreased their chances at receiving compensation for their injuries because they delayed or skipped medical treatment after an accident. If you are ever involved in an accident and you are hurt, it is critical that you have a medical professional assess your injuries.

Adrenaline Masks Pain During Traumatic Events

Imagine you are driving down the highway with your family. Suddenly, another car veers into your lane, causing your vehicle to crash into the guardrail. After the impact, you will probably be more concerned with the other passengers in your vehicle than yourself—even if you are seriously hurt. This is partially due to a mechanism in the brain which helps block the feeling of pain in dangerous situations. In traumatic circumstances, an injured person’s bloodstream is flooded with a hormone called adrenaline. In addition to dilating the person’s pupils and increasing their heart rate, the hormone also blocks their brain’s ability to sense pain. This “stress-induced analgesia,” can trick injured people into believing they are less hurt than they really are. The injured person may cause further bodily damage by delaying medical treatment.

Delaying Medical Treatment Can Decrease Your Chances of Getting Compensation

Being involved in a serious accident can leave a person with burdensome medical bills and financial hardship due to missed work. Symptoms that do not become apparent until days or weeks after an accident can be more difficult to relate directly to the accident. As a result, insurance companies may try to evade liability. Getting compensation for injuries by means of a personal injury lawsuit may be a viable solution for some, but those without documentation of their injuries will have a much harder time making a successful claim.  

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Rockford personal injury attorneyFrom the beginning of automobile manufacturing, auto manufacturers have worried about safety. Motor vehicles are constantly being redesigned with increasingly effective safety features. Components like seatbelts, safety glass, and padded dashboards were among the first efforts at increased automobile safety. Airbags designed to cushion passengers in the event of a car crash were another significant addition to automobile design. More recently, experts have been working to understand how these safety features work together to prevent passenger injury during a traffic accident. Insurance companies and automakers are continuously analyzing data in an attempt to answer the question, “Which seat is the safest to be in during a car crash?” 

The Rear Middle Seat Is Often the Farthest from Impact

Many people believe that the rear middle seat is the safest seat in an average automobile. This seat is the furthest away from the sides of the car. In the event of a crash, the passenger in the middle seat is theoretically less likely to come into contact with crushed windows and sides and suffer injury. Statistically, the rear middle seat has been found to be the safest seat during crashes that occur at intersections.

NHTSA Says Children Should Always Ride in the Back Seat

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) officially recommends that parents place children under 13 years of age in the back seat. The rear middle seat is considered the best seat for children, but only if that seat is equipped with a functioning 3-point seat belt. The NHTSA also recommends the rear middle seat as the safest location for a child in a car seat. Studies show that placing a car seat in the rear middle may reduce the risk of injury by up to 43 percent.

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Winnebago County personal injury attorneyAs the old proverb goes, two wrongs do not make a right. In fact, when applied to an auto accident or other type of personal injury, two wrongs can actually create an even bigger problem. Countless television commercials, billboards, and phone book advertisements bombard you daily about your rights to collect compensation following an accident. What they may not tell you right away, though, is that your contribution to your own injuries could impact the amount you may be able to recover.

Determining Who Was Negligent

Assume for a moment that you are in your car, sitting at an intersection, waiting for the light to turn green. You are listening to music on the radio, but are not otherwise distracted by a cell phone, or any other additional stimulus. Without warning, a drunk driver slams into the back of your vehicle, causing extensive damage and leaving you with broken bones and a neck injury. While the other details of the case, including insurance coverage and criminal charges, may not be so clear, the assignment of fault in this example would be very straightforward. The actions of the drunk driver caused the accident and he or she would likely be completely liable for your injuries.

Now consider a more complex hypothetical situation. In this case, you are driving 15 miles per hour over the speed limit while talking on a hand-held cellphone when another driver, who is also texting, runs a red light and broadsides your car. In this example, both you and the other driver were engaged in illegal—possibly negligent—behaviors that may be seen as contributing the subsequent accident and injuries. If you file a personal injury claim, it may be left to a judge or jury to determine each party’s percentage of fault before damages can be awarded.

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Winnebago County personal injury attorneyA traumatic brain injury can happen to anyone, and at any age. When it does, the end result can be catastrophic. This is especially true in cases involving serious injury and excessive brain swelling. Unfortunately, there are currently no medications to treat the swelling—only drugs that help to improve the ultimate outcome for patients who survive. Thankfully, recent studies suggest an answer may be on the horizon, but with one major caveat: it may only work in adults.

Antibiotics and TBI Swelling in Children and Adults

The potentially deadly implications of TBI do not typically come from the injury itself. Instead, it is generally caused by the post-injury swelling of the brain. Previous studies have suggested that genetics may play a role in the severity of this swelling, but no one really knows why some are more prone than others to rapid and life-threatening swelling.

Published in the journal Experimental Neurology a recent study found that antibiotics may help to mitigate the brain swelling in adults. Unfortunately, mice models also indicated that antibiotics may actually have a negative effect on the developing brains of children. This essentially means that scientists may be able to move forward with more studies in adults, but they remain largely at a loss when it comes to the treatment of TBI-related brain swelling in children—the most vulnerable members of society.

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Winnebago County car accident attorneysThere are currently nine states—plus Washington D.C.—in which recreational marijuana has been legalized. A substantial number of other states have decriminalized low-level possession of marijuana, implemented legal medical marijuana programs, or both. Illinois is one of those that has done both. The increasingly lax laws regarding marijuana use have led many to wonder what the impact will be on public safety. Two recent studies that seem to contradict each other offer a fairly reasonable insight into the effect of legalized marijuana on the rate of car accidents.

More Accidents

The first study was conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and looked at insurance claims for crashes filed between 2012 and 2016. In 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first two states to legalize recreational cannabis use for adults over the age of 21. The researchers looked at those two states along with Oregon and compared their accident claims with neighboring states that did not legalize recreational use. The study estimated that crash rates were about 3 percent above what they would have been if marijuana had not been legalized. While the increase is not dramatic, it is statistically significant, according to the study.

No Effect on Fatalities

The second study was published by researchers from the University of Texas and Rice University and examined car accident fatality rates between 2009 and 2015. Their findings indicated that there was no increase in fatalities in Colorado or Washington compared to other states during the first three years of legalization.

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Rockford In workplaces nationwide, workers are required to use various chemicals and other materials in order to perform their jobs properly. While many chemicals are fairly safe, others often present severe dangers, including the ability to cause serious burns. If you have suffered a chemical burn while on the job or while visiting an industrial or construction site, seek treatment immediately and learn about your rights to possible compensation.

Breaking Down a Chemical Burn

Chemicals that can seriously burn a person are usually strong acids or bases. Some such chemicals are found in most homes and may include ammonia, chlorine bleach, and drain cleaning liquids and gels. In manufacturing and industrial settings, however, there are many more chemicals that are often used for a wide range of applications. These chemicals are usually even more concentrated—and therefore more dangerous—than their household counterparts.

When a caustic or corrosive chemical makes contact with your skin, the substance could start to eat away at your flesh. The severity of the burn depends on several factors, including the type of chemical, its concentration, and how long it stays in contact with your skin. The least serious type of chemical burn is called a “superficial injury” as it only damages the top layer of skin. A “dermal injury” or “partial thickness” burn refers to damage to the second layer, called the dermis. The most serious type of chemical burn is a “full-thickness injury” and damages the top and second layers of skin, as well as the tissue underneath, including muscle and fat.

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Rockford wrongful death attorneyWhen someone dies as a result of another person’s negligence or misconduct, the decedent’s family may sue for "wrongful death." This claim is separate from any criminal charges such as murder or assault which may have been brought against the defendant in a wrongful death lawsuit. A person can also be found liable for wrongful death even if no criminal charges were ever filed against that person. A wrongful death lawsuit can be a highly beneficial legal tool for families of victims who wish to pursue financial compensation for their loss.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit and When?

The personal representative of the victim’s estate, called the “special representative,” is the only one who can bring a wrongful death suit. This representative is most often a close family member. In order to have a valid wrongful death case, several criteria must be met. Firstly, someone must have died. The death must have been caused by another’s negligence, such as when a drunk driver kills a pedestrian, or through intentional harm. Another requirement is the survival of family members who have experienced damages as a result of the death.

What Types of Damages are Considered in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

The damages surviving family members can recover compensation for include medical expenses, the deceased’s lost wages, the value of the services that the victim would have provided, and funeral and burial expenses. Additionally, a wrongful death lawsuit can help recover compensation for the deceased’s person's mental and physical pain and suffering. Damages can also include losses relating to the non-financial, emotional benefits the victim provided their family. For example, the loss of the nurturing and care a parent would have provided to his or her children can be considered recoverable damages. Loss of companionship and love as well as loss of consortium, the losses a widowed spouse experiences, can all be included in a wrongful death lawsuit. Damages can also include the mental suffering and grief suffered by the surviving family members.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_gavel-justice-personal-injury-courtroom.jpgWhen you or someone you love is injured in a car crash, or any other situation caused by another party’s negligence, you may be able to collect compensation for your injuries. This compensation is meant to reimburse you for medical expenses, lost wages, damage to your property, and other types of losses that can be measured financially. Your recovery may also include damages for non-economic considerations like pain, suffering, scarring, and disfigurement. Unfortunately, collecting the compensation you deserve is not always easy, and it is important for you the steps that could be necessary.

Filing Your Claim

In most personal injury matters, the first step is file a claim for damages with the insurance company of the person or entity you believe was at fault for the accident. This process usually includes an exchange of relevant information, in addition to reports filed by the police and witness statements. At this stage of the game, you will probably need to have some type of proof to show the insurance company that their client is responsible for your actions. Most insurance companies are not likely to admit responsibility without convincing evidence.

Depending on the details of your case, the insurer might offer a settlement. It is critically important to remember that accepting a settlement almost always limits your ability to take legal action in the future. You should never agree to a settlement offer without first consulting with your lawyer.

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Rockford motorcycle crash lawyersAs spring turns into summer over the next few weeks, more and more motorcycles will be out on Illinois roadways. Helmet laws have long been a topic of intense debate for motorcycle riders across the country, as each state has the freedom to make its own laws—or not—regarding helmet use. In Illinois, there are no helmet laws for motorcycle riders, which means that each rider must decide for himself or herself whether or not to wear one.

Advocates of mandatory helmet laws believe that wearing a helmet decreases the likelihood of serious injury in a crash—an outcome that serves the public interest. Those who oppose helmet laws maintain that because it is the rider who is at risk, the rider should have the freedom to go helmetless. Some riders even go so far as to suggest that while helmets may protect the head from impacts, they can actually cause neck injuries.

Added Weight

The basis for the claim is that a helmet adds weight to the riders head and neck. When the motorcycle is moving, the head and helmet combination is moving at the same speed. If the motorcycle stops quickly—such as during a crash—the head and helmet will continue moving forward. The theory holds that in many cases, the inertia of the head and helmet is too much for the rider’s neck, which can cause broken vertebrae or even a severed spinal cord.

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Winnebago County car accident lawyersThere is little argument against the fact that smartphones and other hand-held technology has dramatically changed Americans’ lives in the last few decades. We use our phones for everything from texting and calling to GPS navigation, social media, “Googling” information, and even streaming video. Unfortunately, some people choose to do these things while driving. Even though some mistakenly believe that they can “multitask” while driving, the reality is that doing anything other than driving while behind the wheel greatly decreases a person’s ability to safely operate the vehicle.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,477 people were killed in car accidents caused by a distracted driver in 2015. During the same year, a shocking 391,000 people were injured in these types of accidents. A countless number of public service announcements and campaigns have attempted to decrease the number of people killed or injured by distracted driving incidents each. Many states have enacted laws to make using a cellphone while driving illegal or to require the use of hands-free devices. Unfortunately, some people continue to endanger others by using their phone at the wheel.

Cell Phones Are Not the Only Dangerous Distraction

The tricky thing about cell phone use legislation is that many everyday occurrences can be even more distracting while driving. For example, studies show that talking on a hands-free phone or through a Bluetooth connection may be just as distracting as using a handheld phone. In fact, the simple act of talking to another person inside the car can be distracting. Australian researchers found that the presence of children in a vehicle is 12 times more distracting to a driver than using a cell phone. Startlingly, the research also showed that people driving with children in the car take their eyes off of the road for more than three minutes of a 16-minute trip on average.

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