Chicago IL Personal Injury Blog

Monday, January 19, 2015

Arbitration in Nursing Home Disputes

Can a Nursing Home Force My Family to go to Arbitration with Our Legal Claim?

Nursing home contracts often include forced or mandatory arbitration clauses. These clauses require any legal dispute between the parties to go to arbitration instead of to the court system. One 2011 study found that in some areas anywhere from half to all of the nursing homes included these types of clauses in their contracts.

Arbitration is an alternate dispute resolution method. It is a private trial of sorts, with an arbitrator (normally an attorney or retired magistrate) sitting as a judge, making rulings of fact and law and making a final decision in the case (unless it settles). This method is not necessarily bad for plaintiffs, but in these contracts the rules are such that it can stack the deck against them.  Some things plaintiffs should be concerned about are:

  • Access to evidence may be limited.
  • The losing party (there is a good chance that will be the plaintiff) may be responsible for the costs and legal fees of the successful party.
  • These decisions are very difficult to appeal to the court system.
  • Arbitrators are normally chosen and paid by the nursing homes. There is a built in incentive for the arbitrator to find for the nursing home in hopes of getting more cases to work on and earn more fees.
  • Proceedings are confidential, unlike trials, so there is no fear by the nursing home of any bad publicity.
  • It may be the arbitrator, not a judge, who decides whether or not the claim should go to arbitration.

Given how common these clauses have become it may be difficult to find a nursing home for a loved one that will consent to a contract without this type of language. If you or a loved one need to quickly find an open space in a nursing home, there may be little or no time to “shop around” and find a nursing home that will allow legal claims to go to court.

If you or a loved one have a potential legal claim against a nursing home because of injuries suffered due to neglect or abuse, whether you signed a contract with an arbitration clause or not, you still may be able to get your day in court.  Call the Chicago, Waukegan and McHenry personal injury attorneys at Ryan, Ryan & Landa at (847) 416-1989 for a consultation today.  We handle all types of nursing home negligence cases.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Wrongful Death Accident

Ryan, Ryan & Landa attorney Michael Viglione recently finalized settlement of a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family members of a 71 year old man who died due to injuries sustained in a slip and fall on snow and ice on a negligently designed handicapped parking ramp.

Due to the fact that no one witnessed the incident, Viglione was forced to prove the location and mechanism of the fall through post-occurrence witness testimony, medical records detailing the injuries sustained, and the testimony of an expert biomechanical engineer.

Additionally, Viglione enlisted an expert architect to opine as to the deficiencies of the handicapped parking ramp, its violation of various handicap accessibility laws, and how these violations caused the occurrence. 

The settlement, which earned the family $975,000.00, was a testament to hard work and what a wonderful man and father the decedent was throughout his life. 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Daughter of Woman Killed in Illinois Crash Settles Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Could you be compensated if your loved one was killed in a car accident?

As common as it is, driving is one of the most dangerous behaviors we can engage in.  Not only do we have to be concerned with our own driving, but we must be worried about all of the other drivers on the road.  When another driver or drivers act negligently and cause personal injuries or death, the person injured or his or her family might be entitled to compensation.  Recently an Aurora, Illinois woman was killed due to the negligence of other drivers and her family has agreed to a large settlement.

In April of 2013, Carmen Cantu was driving her Nissan eastward down Interstate 88 in Illinois.  She was rear-ended by another car driven by Spencer Johnson and then hit by a commercial truck operated by Duane Buell and owned by Breckenridge Trucking Inc.  Cantu died as a result of injuries sustained in the crash.  Johnson was charged with traffic violations relating to his failure to slow down and was found guilty, while Buell was not held criminally liable.

Cantu’s daughter, Veronica Cantu, brought a wrongful death lawsuit, not only against Johnson and Buell, but also against Breckenridge Trucking. Both Johnson and Breckenridge are now paying out after reaching a $1.25 million dollar settlement. Of the $1.25 million dollars, Breckenridge will pay out $1 million while Johnson’s insurance company will be responsible for $250,000.  As Cantu had two daughters, Veronica and Evelyn, the court will decide how the proceeds from the settlement will be divided.

Automobile accidents happen every day and some are more serious than others.  If you have sustained personal injuries or your loved one was killed in an accident, it is imperative to obtain the advice of a seasoned attorney. The Chicago, Waukegan and McHenry personal injury attorneys at Ryan, Ryan & Landa have years of experience in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits.  Call (847) 416-1989 for a consultation today.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Serial Teaches Lawyering Lessons

The popular podcast "Serial" recently concluded its dynamic first season.  For those who are not familiar with the show, it informally reopened the investigation into a 15 year old first degree murder case in Baltimore, Maryland. Through exhaustive evaluation of witness testimony, cell phone records, motive, and just about everything pertaining to the case, host Sara Koenig presented a compelling argument for a "should have been" acquittal at trial.

In addition to elucidating the concept of reasonable doubt and how it pertained to that case, one extremely interesting thing Serial underscored is the necessity of immediate preservation of evidence.  For example, a key element of the trial was the State's argument that the accused, Adnan Syed, made a pay phone call to his friend Jay from Best Buy immediately after murdering his ex-girlfriend in the store's parking lot.  The defense questioned the existence of a pay phone at Best Buy and denied any crime took place in the parking lot.

What was left unsaid in Serial was that Syed's lawyers should have sought immediate preservation of all Best Buy surveillance tapes.  These tapes, both from interior and exterior cameras, could have definitively proven that the pay phone call and alleged parking lot murder never occurred.

This is a critical lesson for accident victims.  Once a catastrophic harm occurs, you immediately need a lawyer to preserve all accident footage, locate witnesses, and gather up every shred of evidence to prove your case.  Time is of the essence, as once this information is overwritten, discarded, or otherwise lost, it simply does not come back.  Try as hard as it might, the show Serial could not uncover the degree of truth that an unbiased camera likely recorded.     

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Boating Accident on Lake Michigan Leads to Negligence Lawsuit

Can a service provider be held liable for negligence?

Boating is a popular hobby because it allows people to enjoy pastimes like fishing and socializing with family and friends, all while traveling from one place to another.  Boaters enjoy a lot of benefits but should also be aware of the dangers involved.  Accidents on the water are a common occurrence and can easily turn deadly.

In May, 26 year old Ashley Haws embarked on an evening journey from New Buffalo, Michigan to Chicago, Illinois with three other people.  The group traveled on a motorboat owned by Axess Holding Co. LLC. and serviced by SailTime Chicago.  At around 7PM the boat malfunctioned and all four of the passengers were forced to disembark.  Only one individual survived the ordeal after being found floating on life vests and a part of the boat, the rest of which had sank.  Ashley Haws was also found early the next morning and was rescued, but later died of hypothermia.

Ashley’s mother has now brought a lawsuit against Creative Yacht Management doing business as SailTime Chicago as the company responsible for the maintenance of the boat.  Haws claims that the company was negligent in the service, maintenance and equipment of the boat which resulted in its malfunction and subsequent sinking, causing Ashley’s death.  As it is unclear how the boat actually malfunctioned and what the cause was, this should be an interesting case with many parties involved.  

Due to the proximity to Lake Michigan, Chicago residents are no stranger to aquatic accidents.  The experienced attorneys at the law firm of Ryan, Ryan & Landa regularly work with clients injured and the families of those killed in aquatic accidents.  Because these cases are a unique area of personal injury law, it is important to be represented by someone with experience.  Contact the firm today by calling (847) 416-1989 if you have a claim relating to an aquatic accident.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Anesthesia Accidents

Medical errors involving negligent administration of anesthetics or improper monitoring of patients that are sedated can have catastrophic consequences.  If you or a loved one has been harmed due to an anesthesia error, please contact Ryan, Ryan & Landa for a free consultation immediately.  We are well versed in Illinois law which that an anesthesia care team appropriately sedate, monitor, and safeguard all patients during surgical procedures.  We will ensure your full recovery. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Fall Down Accidents

As the winter season is upon us, it is important to remind people to be very careful while walking in icy, snowy, and/or slippery conditions.  

Unfortunately, both commercial and residential property owners often unwittingly contribute to slip and fall hazards.

Examples such as negligently plowing snow and ice into giant mounds individuals are forced to walk over, failing to properly salt and clear handicapped parking areas, and failing to fix gutter defects that cause unnatural accumulations of ice are but a few ways that property owners can cause or contribute to fall down accidents.

Contact Ryan, Ryan & Landa if you or a loved one experiences a fall down accident due to any of the above conditions or otherwise.  We are experienced in determining defects that cause fall downs, identifying all available insurance coverage, and ensuring you receive reasonable and fair compensation.   

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Truck Accident Caught on Camera Results In Wrongful Death Suit

Automobile accidents are a leading cause of death in the United States.  The presence of commercial trucks on the road makes driving even more dangerous.  Due to the size and weight of these vehicles an accident with a truck can have devastating results.  

Many parties can contribute to a trucking accident and many cases revolve around misconduct by the truck driver.  Truck drivers work long hours, usually by themselves, which can cause them to fall subject to fatigue and boredom.  These two factors often cause drivers to engage in negligent and reckless conduct while behind the wheel.  Now, many drivers are monitored using cameras installed in the cabs of their trucks.  A recent Illinois case is centered on footage recorded by one of these cameras.  

Jeanette Pivot, 64, was killed in an accident with a tractor trailer.  She was traveling down I-80 at night when she realized there was a car accident ahead due to the flashing lights of a police vehicle.  She stopped at the accident and was then hit in the rear by a tractor trailer traveling in the same direction who failed to stop in time.  A camera installed in the driver’s truck shows him with heavy eyelids and nodding off.  It also shows that he does not react to the scene until 1 second before colliding with Pivot.  

The driver has been charged with reckless homicide and accused of falling asleep at the wheel.  His attorneys claim that he did not fall asleep but was blinded by the scene ahead.  Pivot’s daughter has also filed a wrongful death suit against the driver and his employer, Black Horse Carriers, seeking damages for the death of her mother.  It is unclear how the video will be perceived in this case.

For now, the debate about the use of cameras in trucks and busses is ongoing.  While these devices can show what happened before and after a crash, it is unclear if they actually prevent accidents from occurring.  

If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in a trucking accident, you need an experienced attorney.  Contact the Chicago, McHenry and Waukegan, Illinois attorneys at Ryan, Ryan & Landa today by calling (847)416-1989.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Roll-Over Accident

Ryan, Ryan & Landa attorney Michael Viglione recently finalized settlement of a roll-over accident claim that resulted in a herniated lumbar disc and mild traumatic brain injury.  The matter was resolved for payment in full of the insurance company's policy limits.  The accident stemmed from a driver running a red light and t-boning the plaintiff's vehicle. The impact flipped the plaintiff's vehicle and ended up pushing it into a tree.

Ryan, Ryan & Landa is dedicated to helping roll-over accident victims achieve full compensation for resulting injuries. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Victim's Family Sues Drunk Driver and Bar That Served Him Alcohol

A drunken driving accident that caused the death of a 77-year-old man has now resulted to a lawsuit against both the driver and the bar that served him the drinks that led to his intoxication.

Josef Brzek's daughters, Pawe and Anna, and his wife, Ewa, are the plaintiffs in the seven-count suit filed in Cook County court.  It alleges wrongful death and negligence in Brzek's death.  Ewa was at the wheel and Josef was a passenger in their 2002 Ford Taurus when 42-year-old Nicholas Raspanti drove into oncoming traffic and hit the Brzek's car in a head-on collision.

The accident occurred at 6:45PM on July 1.  Josef Brzek died at 9:19AM the following morning.  The autopsy showed that multiple injuries caused his death, with heart disease cited as a secondary factor.  The medical examiner ruled the death an accident.

The wrongful death action seeks at least $350,000 in damages and names both Raspanti and the establishment that served him, Kowal’s Bar and Grill in Hickory Hills, as defendants.  According to Cook County Sheriff’s office and the police, Raspanti has been charged with two counts of aggravated DUI and is being held with bail set at $500,000.

Under Illinois law, plaintiffs can sometimes recover damages from a bar if they can prove, among other things, that the bar sold alcohol to a patron who harmed them; that the alcohol caused the patron's intoxication; and that the intoxication had a causal role in the harm the plaintiffs suffered.

If you or a loved one has been harmed by the negligent conduct of others, you may be entitled to damages, both from those directly responsible and from those who played a contributing role.  The personal injury attorneys at the law firm of Ryan, Ryan & Landa have experience handling all types of accidents and injury claims, including lawsuits for wrongful death after an automobile accident.  For a free consultation, call us today at (847) 416-1989.


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Highway Accident

Ryan, Ryan & Landa attorney Michael Viglione finalized a confidential settlement for a client injured in a highway accident in Cook County, IL.  The accident occurred when a tire from a homemade trailer came loose and flew through a driver's windshield on the expressway.  The occurrence resulted in a traumatic brain injury and corresponding deficits.  The at fault driver negligently constructed the trailer and subsequently failed to inspect the trailer prior to taking it on the highway.  The case was settled without a formal lawsuit filed. 

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| Phone: 847.416.1989

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