Serious Injuries

Women Face More Injury in Car Accidents

When litigating car accident lawsuits, we have always found that women seem to consistently sustain more serious injuries than males. Predominantly, back and brain injuries. We began to wonder if this was just the experience of Grazian and Volpe or if it was a statistical fact.

We began to do some research and came upon a study done by the University of Virginia in October of 2011. Interested readers can access the full report at
ajph.aphapublications.org/.

Researchers reviewed information on 45,445 crash victims gathered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over 11 years. Compared with male drivers studied, women were 5 1/2 inches shorter and 35 pounds lighter; fewer were overweight; and more were driving passengers cars at the time of the crash(carpools, ferrying children and elderly parents and family members). After controlling for these factors and others, the study found that women were 47 percent more likely to suffer severe injuries, most notably brain and spinal injuries.

The study concludes that females are more susceptible to brain injury and spinal injury because of differences in neck strength and musculature. In addition, the positioning of head restraints and seating positions are not configured for the shorter female stature. The study posited that car safety devices have been designed with a male template and car manufacturers may need to consider designing safety features which can accommodate gender differences.

Dipan Bose, lead author of the study cautions female drivers “ensure that their safety systems perform optimally, including maintaining a good belt fit and correct seating posture.”

We have not seen any accommodations made by car manufacturers so it seems incumbent upon female drivers to take it upon themselves to provide for a more secure interior driving environment by assuring their necks and backs are secure and well-supported and their seat belts fit firmly.

Remember, it is always better to stay safe and avoid an accident and a lawyer. But if you can’t stay safe, stay with Grazian and Volpe, Chicago’s experienced car accident attorneys for over 30 years.

Indoor vs Outdoor Slip and Fall Claims

Slip and Fall claims are based on negligence and premise liability theories. An owner of a premises has a duty to maintain the premises in a manner that is safe for visitors. If the owner fails to maintain the premises in a safe condition, he or she may be liable for injuries that are the result of the unsafe property conditions.

Indoor and outdoor slip and fall accidents often rest on different factors for liability. Knowledge of the law that applies to each accident is crucial to obtaining an excellent result in litigation. Lawyers who are not experienced in slip and fall accidents may often fail in obtaining good settlements because they pursue an incorrect theory of liability.

When a claim involves a slip and fall that occurred outdoors, the following factors may be considered:

1) Weather conditions: Rain, snow, ice, and freezing conditions may create situations where slip and falls may occur. Not all conditions are the stuff of lawsuits. Mother Nature is never liable but human intervention and Mother Nature may present another picture. For example, fresh snowfall creating slippery conditions is not actionable but commercial snow shoveling that creates a dangerous walking hazard does present liability. A natural accumulation of ice does not create premises liability but an accumulation created by a faulty gutter or leaky spigot does
2) Lighting conditions: a premises owner may be liable for a slip and fall caused by inadequate or broken lighting
3) Parking garages and parking lots: Oil and grease from cars may collect and create unsafe pedestrian conditions
4) Stairs: Improperly designed stairs which include rises and railings out of code can cause serious injury and are the duty of a premises owner to correct and maintain

In the case of outdoor claims, the owner is usually liable only for the property they own and control. Sidewalks and streets are normally maintained by the city or local municipal government. A premises owner may be liable if he shovels the sidewalk or has part of his property extending over the public access point, such as a tree or roof.

When a claim involves and indoor slip and fall in either a public or private space liability can be broader:

1) Floors, stairs, elevators and escalators must be well-maintained and kept free of debris. Warning signs should be posted where hazardous conditions exist. Mechanicals must be in working order and clear of protruding parts that may cause injuries.
2) Rushing employees who cause a slip and fall accident with a patron may also result in premises liability for the owner as well as a workers’ compensation suit if the employee is injured
3) Business establishments must be handicap accessible at all levels

Premises liability and slip and fall accidents can be a complicated area of law subject to many nuances. Injured victims should interview lawyers to assure that they have experience and success in litigating these cases. Grazian and Volpe has a proven, successful track record in slip and fall litigation. Visit us on Facebook and at our website for more informative articles designed to help the public protect its legal rights.

When is a Slip and Fall Not Worth Money?

There are two questions that are very important in analyzing the monetary value of personal injuries suffered in any type of accident. The questions are as follows:

1) Is there any liability for the accident meaning can fault be attributed to another party and can that party be sued? and;

2) Were injuries suffered and are those injuries of a serious enough nature to warrant the emotional and financial cost of pursuing compensation through the legal system?

The answer to the first question depends on whether their exists a person or entity that caused the accident or was responsible for preventing the circumstances causing the accident. For example, was the driver of a car texting on her phone which caused her to hit another driver or pedestrian or; did the landlord fail to provide adequate lighting or comply with the building code in such a manner has to cause a person to fall and sustain an injury? Liability can be a complex subject and will always require the scrutiny of an experienced personal injury lawyer to determine whether there exists sufficient liability to proceed with a personal injury lawsuit.

The answer to the second question as to whether there had been a injury directly attributable to the slip and fall or any accident depends on the seriousness of the injury and whether the person injured suffered the injury as a direct result of the accident or whether the injury existed before the accident. For example, a person who has been treated for back pain in the years before an accident will have a difficult time proving that their back pain was caused by a recent accident. Again, these issues demand a careful evaluation by a qualified and experienced personal injury attorney.

However, one thing is definitive. If the injury was not serious enough to demand medical attention it is not serious enough to warrant compensation. It is almost impossible for the most experienced personal injury attorney to prove you are entitled to compensation for personal injuries when there is no proof of a personal injury. This proof may only be provided by a medical professional. Grazian and Volpe has served injury victims in Chicago for over 30 years obtaining verdicts in the thousands and millions. It is always disheartening to explain to a person suffering from injury that we cannot take their case because they did not seek medical attention. Going to a doctor or hospital days or weeks later calls into question whether the injury was actually caused by the accident or slip and fall and/or seriousness enough to warrant the monetary and emotional drain required to pursue a personal injury lawsuit. We will always attempt to do what we can to make recovery possible for any client where it is justified but insurance companies are always on the prowl for reasons not to compensate an injured party. It is important that anyone suffering personal injury in any accident attempt to document the accident and accident site through any means available, i.e., witnesses, photos, and police reports. It is of utmost important that immediate medical attention is sought. Obviously that is easy in the case of broken bones and other serious injuries. However injury victims need to know that brain, neck and back injuries may not be obvious and it is better to error on the side of caution and obtain immediate medical attention. It may mean the difference between recovering and not recovering money damages for personal injuries suffered.

Government Held Liable in Serious Bus Accident

Every personal injury attorney knows how difficult is is to hold any government, whether local, state or federal in a personal injury lawsuit. Even if a plaintiff is able to survive the immunity defenses the difficulty in proving the standard of negligence often leaves a very seriously injured plaintiff with no recourse and no reward. A recent New York jury awarded a 13 year old boy approximately $6.78 million after the youth suffered a degloving injury to his right lower leg and fractures to his fibula and heel bone. The boy underwent numerous surgeries and required several months of exhausting and painful rehabilitation.

According to the court records, the boy was running alongside the bus before it began to move and hit the side of the bus to alert the driver of his presence. As he approached the bus’ middle wheels, he tripped and his legs fell under the bus. The bus began moving and rolled over his legs resulting in his serious injuries.

The jury found the Transit Authority negligent in that the bus driver failed to note that the boy was near the bus and negligently moved the bus when the boy was in the zone of danger.

As Chicago Personal Injury Attorneys of over 25 years, we have handled numerous causes of action against private and public bus services (see myaccidentlaw.com/blog articles categorized “bus accidents”). As Chicago residents of equal time, we have noted on many occasions the reckless and negligent driving habits of some (not all) bus drivers for the CTA and the private bus companies. We have also noted that private bus services have fewer defenses to their negligence than public bus drivers and this leads to a disturbing increase in the serious personal injuries suffered by pedestrians, persons in cars or on bicycles and bus riders involved in bus accidents with publicly run bus services. We applaud the jury in New York and believe holding drivers and municipalities culpable for reckless and negligent bus operation inures to the benefit of the public as a whole.

Grazian and Volpe has studied this lawsuit closely and hopes to successfully employ the concepts of liability established in the case for the benefit of our clients who are victims of bus accidents as well as for the furtherance of safe and responsible bus operation.

Prevent Car Accidents – Make Sure Your Vehicle is Winter Ready

Chicago winter is upon us and your personal injury attorneys at Grazian and Volpe would prefer you not be one of the thousands of victims of winter related car accidents. One of the best ways to avoid motor vehicle winters in the long and icy Chicago clime is to make sure your vehicle is winter ready. Winter ready not only includes good snow or all weather tires but also making sure you can see while driving and can remove icy or snowy accumulations from lights and windows.

Grazian and Volpe appreciates your business but would prefer that our clients stay safe. Consider the following steps to assure your car is cold, wet and winter ready:

  • Make a visual inspection of your vehicle lights: make sure front, rear and hazard lights are operating at properly and at full power
  • Check the spray nozzles of your windshield-washer system to make sure they are not clogged by debris or wax
  • Before you embark on any trip, make sure you have gas and windshield wiper fluid. A gas tank that is at least half full will reduce condensation in you tank and fuel system and your vehicle will be easier to start when cold.
  • Change your wiper fluid to a brand made especially for freezing conditions and purchase winter wiper blades which are designed to cut through ice and snow
  • Check your heater, defroster and rear-window defroster before you need them
  • Carry emergency equipment in your vehicle including a snow/ice scraper, a flashlight, a fresh supply of batteries, flares, a shovel, first-aid kit, blankets and your cell phone and a car charger. Extra clothes and snacks and bottled water will be very helpful in the event you are stuck on the road for hours. (Remember the Chicago snowstorm of 2010 when drivers were stuck on Lake Shore Drive for 10 plus hours?)
  • Please, please, please clear the snow and ice off your care before driving-windows, roof, hood, mirrors and lights. In the last 25 years, we have had more than just a few cases where car accidents occurred because the driver was blinded by snow blowing off his own hood!

There is nothing more tragic then serious personal injuries caused by an accident that could have been avoided by a few simple safety steps and precautions.

Remember, it is better to stay safe but if you can’t stay safe-stay with Grazian and Volpe, your Chicago and South Chicago Car Accident Lawyers for over 25 years.

Please follow us on WCIU, You and Me in the Morning (the first Tuesday of every month) or at myaccidentlaw.com/blog where we answer your questions and provide information to stay safe and protect your rights.

Bus Accidents: Beware the Low-Cost Carrier

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)  has found that so-called curbside bus companies, which pick up riders on sidewalks rather than in terminals, are involved in bus accidents involving fatalities at seven times the rate of traditional carriers like Greyhound. On September 8, 2011 Grazian and Volpe wrote of a recent NTSB study finding that bus accidents involving fatalities were greater than expected and appeared to be under reported (myaccidentlaw.com/blog 9/8/2010). As the initial report involved all bustypes,this latest study is more disturbing because it focuses on only”curbside” buses. The curbside carriers first gained popularity in urban areas, such as Chicago, by offering frequent rides betwen major cities for as little as $1 a seat. Popularand catering primarily to students and budget-conscious travelers, these carriers have racked up an alarmingly high number of fatal accidents and safety violations over the last few years. While the report found that low-cost bus companies were a safe mode of travel and that accidents happened infrequently, the bus accidents that do occur, were far more likely than traditional carriers to result in serious injury or wrongful death.

The report suggests that the reasons for the increased rate of serious injury and wrongful death is related to the disproportionate (by industry data) larger number of violations issued to these companies relating to driver fatigue and training errors. In addition, the industry has exploded due to the depressed economy. Regulators indicate that it is more difficult to inspect low cost buses because they do not park in traditional terminals and officials must locate and inspect these buses on crowded street corners. Since they are barred from inspecting buses in the middle of a scheduled trip, it is difficult to conduct the surprise inspections necessary to determine the true operating procedure of any motor carrier. Apparently, many drivers and owners of low-cost bus companies do not speak English, and their records are often kept in other languages. Officials are concerned that this language barrier may mean that some owners and drivers do not fully understand the federal regulations and how to comply.

We reported in our previous article (myaccidentlaw.com/blog) that the Transportation Department, which has oversight of the motor coach industry, had nearly doubled its safety inspection on buses in the past five years and recently issued rules banning bus drivers from talking on cellphones or sending text messages while driving. However, this increase in enforcement and regulation is not applying to the low-cost bus carriers.

Grazian and Volpe has advocated for the rights of victims of bus crashes in Chicago and South Chicago for over 25 years. We have noted an increase in clients who are involved in bus crashes involving low cost carriers. Fortunately, we have not seen a wrongful death but have noted that the injuries sustained are serious injuries often involving brain injury and/or spinal injury. We hope this report will act as a wake-up call to Congress and the National Transportation Safety Board and more inspections and pro-active regulations are promulgated to protect the lives of those using these low-cost providers. Please follow Grazian and Volpe on website or on WCIU, You and Me in the Morning the first Tuesday of every month where we take questions and inform out viewers on how to stay safe and if they have been involved in an accident-how to make sure they obtain the best compensation possible.

Car Accidents Pose Greater Risk for Women

It has been our experience as car accident lawyers that women seem to fare worse in car accidents than men. Our experience received scientific confirmation when researchers at the University of Virginia concluded a study this month which was published online on October 20th in the AMerican Journal of Public Health.

The researchers at the University of Virginia reviewed information on 45,445 crash victims which was gathered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over 11 years. They found that, compared with the male drivers studied, women were 5 1/2 inches shorter and 35 pounds lighter; fewer were overweight; and more were driving passengers cars at the time of the crash(carpools, ferrying children and elderly parents and family members). After controlling for these factors and others, the study found that women were 47 percent more likely to suffer severe injuries, most notably brain and spinal injuries.

The study concludes that females are more susceptible to brain injury and spinal injury because of differences in neck strength and musculature. In addition, the positioning of head restraints and seating positions are not configured for the shorter female stature. The study posited that car safety devices have been designed with a male template and car manufacturers may need to consider designing safety features which can accommodate gender differences.

The lead author of the study, Dipan Bose states that for now, “female drivers can ensure that their safety systems perform optimally, including maintaining a good belt fit and correct seating posture.”  Grazian and Volpe hopes that the results of this study are heeded by the car industry and advises their clients to review the National Highway Traffic Administrations website to determine the best seating position for safe operation of the vehicle and maximum protection in the event of a motor vehicle accident.

Please visit us at myaccidentlaw.com/blog for more blog articles regarding motor vehicle safety and protection against brain injury and spinal injury. Remember- it is always best to stay safe, but if you can’t stay safe-stay with Grazian and Volpe – your accident lawyers in Chicago and South Chicago for over 25 years.

More Brain Injury Tragedy in the NHL

Not to sound like a broken record when it comes to brain injuries – but we don’t care if it serves to prevent more tragedies like that of former N.H.L star Rick Martin. On October 13, 2011 at myaccidentlaw.com, we wrote of the changes to N.H.L. regulations regarding prevention of brain trauma through hit limitations. I expressed my incredulousness at the reluctance of a number of players to embrace these changes. Hopefully, a recent article in the New York times regarding the death of Rick Martin will serve to garner full league support.

The Times reported that Mr. Martin had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a neurodegenerative disease linked to repeated brain trauma when he died last March of a heart attack at the too young age of 59. Martin had only 14 fights in fourteen seasons in the junior leagues and the NHL. He did not wear a helmet for most of his career and sustained no known brain trauma outside of hockey, according to a Boston University report issued in a new release following his death. The Boston University researchers found that Martin was in the second stage of the disease, which was unlikely to significantly affect his cognitive abilities or behavior. There are four stages of the disease, and the fourth is the most severe including memory loss, depression and lack of impulse control.

Rick Martin’s case indicates that even hockey players who don’t engage in fighting are at a risk for C.T.E (chronic traumatic encephalopathy). Martin’s only known concussion occurred in a 1978 game against the Rangers during which his head hit the ice, causing immediate convulsions.

Researchers at the Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatice Encephalopathy have currently completed the analysis of the brains of more than 70 former athletes, with than 50 with signs of C.T.E., including 14 of 15 former N.F.L. players, as well as college and high school football players, hockey players, professional wrestlers and boxers.

All brain injuries are tragic for both the sufferer and the family. Grazian and Volpe has advocated for hundreds of brain injury victims, most of which are suffered as a consequence of a motor vehicle accident. The increase among athletes exhibiting advanced stages of brain injury has sky-rocketed in the last decade and is most disturbing because many of these injuries could be prevented by appropriate head gear and promulgation and adherence to safe and fair standards of play. Please visit us at myaccidentlaw.com/blog and WCIU, You and Me in the Morning where we report on new findings and laws in the area of prevention of brain injuries and pursuit of claims. Remember, it is always better to stay safe-but if you can’t-stay with Grazian and Volpe!

Motor Vehicle Accidents and the Black Box

On October 3, we advised motorcyclers and cyclists to buy a Garmin or similar GPS technology for use during their rides. When victims of motor vehicle accidents, cyclists are often at a disadvantage in proving liability because of the types of injuries they commonly sustain. A GPS can help to reconstruct the true pathology of the accidents and help the victims establish liability (myaccidentlaw.com/blog Cyclers-Get a Garmin!).

We were pleased to discover that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has mandated that all automobile manufacturers must equip their new vehicles with event data recorders (EDRs) commonly known as the “black box” by the year 2013. Similar to the black box in aviation, an EDR provides a comprehensive picture of events leading up to a crash. An EDR records a variety of events surrounding an automobile accident such as vehicle speed before the crash, deceleration and acceleration rates, vehicle trajectory before, during and after the crash; and, elapse of time between impact and airbag deployment. This information can ofter by invaluable in determining equipment failure, liability and determining physics of injuries.

As of 2008, the NHTSA reports that 90% of vehicles manufactured today are equipped with EDRs. However, the data collected is not available to all parties and only GM. Ford and Chrylser have implemented technology for the downloading and interpretation of data collected. All other manufacturers have refused to do and consumers can only access the data through litigation.

While it seems only natural that the owner of the car should be the owner of the EDR data, auto manufacturers have buried boiler plate language in sale and lease agreemens in which the purchaser waive their privacy rights to the data in the event of a lawuit against the manufacturer. In addition, EDR data can be easily overwritten by new data if the car is still drivable.

Grazian and Volpe has advocated for over 25 years for the victims of motor vehicle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, motorcycle accidents and truck accidents. Most tragic are those where serious injuries such as brain and spinal injuries occur or wrongful death. In these cases, liability may be difficult to establish due to memory loss or unconsciousness suffered by the victims. The EDR “black box” technology can be an invaluable tool and obtaining just and maximum compensation for victims and their families. We hope that the NHTSA continues in its efforts to standardize issues relating to ownership of access to this data as well as enforcing the compliance of all auto manufacturers.

Serious Injury: The NFL and Brain Concussions

Serious Injury: The NFL and Brain Concussions

New twist in personal injury liability:  75 former NFL players have sued the National Football League claiming that it had concealed the danger of concussions from its coaches, players, trainers and general public since it first learned of the harmful effects of concussions in the 1920s.  The NFL only warned active players in June of 2010. According to the suit, the NFL knew for decades that multiple blows to the head can cause long-term brain injury but fraudulently denied it. The suit states that the NFL established the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee in 1994 to study the risk of long-term brain injury to players. The former players contend the committee published “false, distorted and deceiving findings” that the risk was minimal in order to deceive Congress, players and the public. The suit also names helmet-maker Riddell, the NFL’s official helmet supplier as an additional defendant.

Brain concussions are defined as movements of the brain inside the skull resulting from an impact. Most personal injury claims are for concussions sustained as the result of impact from a motor vehicle accident.  Research indicates that multiple concussions may cause or contribute to future problems such as dementia, headaches, memory loss, blurred vision, sleeplessness and ringing in the ears. Some of the NFL players claim that their concussions have caused depression, anxiety, “explosive mood changes”, poor judgment and substance abuse.

This promises to be a landmark case having a huge impact in personal injury litigation as it pertains to brain injuries. Grazian and Volpe will be monitoring this case closely to see if findings can assist in helping its clients who are victims of brain concussions to obtain damages for present brain injuries and future and likely to occur damages and needed treatments.