Wrongful Death

Jet Ski Accidents are Increasing and More Dangerous

The lawyers at Grazian and Volpe have noticed a marked increase in the representation of clients injured in boat crashes with or on Jet Skis during this short Chicago summer season. The injuries have been serious including broken bones, head injuries and in one case, a wrongful death. We decided to do some investigation into this spike in jet ski and boat accidents and found some very interesting information that needs to be shared as widely as possible.

Jet skis are the common name for personal watercrafts or “PWC and are defined by the US Coast Guard as a jet-propelled boats shorter than 13 feet in length. PWCs do not use propellers like traditional watercraft and are powered by water jet propulsion making them generally a more agile and faster watercraft and potentially more dangerous.

PWCs have been widely marketed as an affordable alternative to boats and accessible to all members of the family. Unfortunately this appealed to many inexperienced boaters as well as parents allowing the use of these craft by children and teens. Children and teens are very attracted to the speed and agility of these crafts resulting in a boom in serious injuries and deaths due to the unsupervised or reckless use of these watercraft.

PWC manufacturers have added little in the way of safety features and have focused on pushing the limits of speed and performance. Original engines averaged at 500cc-today’s average engine is around 1500cc and can reach speeds of 60-70 miles per hour.

PWCs do not have rudders meaning that there is virtually no steering unless the rider is accelerating and a PWC traveling at top speed can take 300-400 feet to make a stop; meaning that the riders needs to accelerate from danger rather than stop for it. That is not a natural reaction and a major cause of collision injuries.

Riders falling off a jet ski may be subject to horrific orifice injuries caused by the high pressure force of an extreme volume of water pushing into a riders’ orifices. An uncomfortable injury to describe and catastrophic to experience.

Parents need to exhibit safe riding habits with jet skis and to teach the same to their children. They may be liable for injuries caused by their children operating jet skis or their child may face terrible injury for reckless or inexperienced operation of a PWC.

Illinois law states that a person at least 12 years of age and less than 18 must possess a valid Boating Education Certificate of Competency issued by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources or be accompanied and under the direct control of a parent or guardian, or a person at least 18 years of age designated by the parent.

It has been the experience at Grazian and Volpe that many parents are not familiar with the law and do not understand how dangerous jet skis can be- until it is too late and a child or another boater or swimmer has been harmed.

Strive to avoid motorcycle accidents this summer

Summer is finally here, but with it comes increased safety risks for many people here in the Chicago area. As the weather becomes nicer, there are more and more residents taking to the streets, or their bicycles or motorcycles. Motor vehicle drivers need to do their best to keep a proper lookout for pedestrians, cyclists and bikers in order to avoid tragic collisions. Of course, those on foot or bikes should also follow traffic laws to protect themselves and prevent serious accidents.

Pedestrians and bikers are, of course, at a great risk of suffering catastrophic injuries when collisions with cars do occur. Many residents have heard that late last week a man died after falling from his motorcycle and being struck by a taxi in the North Side Lakeview area.

CBS Chicago reported that the accident took place at about 3 p.m. Thursday, June 20, in the area of North Lake Shore Drive and West Grace Street.

The cab driver has stated that he did not have time to brake. He was not cited in relation to the fatal accident.

A number of dangerous motorcycle accidents occur in the spring and summer months when drivers neglect to see motorcycles because they are yet not used to sharing the roads. This often happens when drivers pull out onto a street or make a left-hand turn. Such accidents can lead to fatal injuries for motorcyclists, so it is important for drivers to always look both ways when turning or pulling onto a street. Additionally, it is crucial for drivers to avoid distractions – like cellphones – that can keep them from spotting a motorcycle or pedestrian.

When negligence does lead to a motorcycle accident or another type of motor vehicle accident, victims and their families may be wise to talk to a personal injury attorney about their rights and options.

Source: CBS Chicago, “Man Dies After Falling From Motorcycle, Getting Hit By Car In Lakeview,” June 20, 2013
Source: Albany Times Union, “It’s ‘left-turn’ accident season for motorcyclists,” Matthew Hamilton, June 6, 2013

Wrongful Death of Pedestrian Caused by Texting Driver

The family of a 15-year-od boy has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against a man who, while texting and driving, struck and killed the boy while the victim and a friend were walking on the shoulder of a street. The man’s vehicle left the road and struck the victim who died the next day in the hospital.

The man has a long history of traffic violation and has been charged in criminal offense, automobile homicide involving the use of a hand-held wireless communication device while driving which is a felony.

Utah, where the accident occurred had just passed an amendment to its’ texting-while-driving law making it illegal to be doing anything on a hand-held wireless communication device except making or receiving a call, or using GPS navigation. Before the amendment, the driver had to be sending a text at the instant the accident occurred. Merely looking at a text or screen of a cell phone was not illegal.

Grazian and Volpe applauds the broadening of Utah’s texting-while-driving laws. As we have pointed out in numerous article texting-while-driving causes more accidents that driving and drinking. We cannot be too tough on this practice.

It is always better to stay safe and avoid accidents – but if you can’t stay safe – stay with Grazian and Volpe – Chicagoland’s Injury Lawyers for over 30 years.

Bicycle and Large Truck Accidents and Deaths Rise Suddenly and Sharply

Deaths of bicyclists and occupants of large trucks rose sharply last year even as total traffic fatalities dropped to their lowest level since 1949 according to federal safety officials. Bicyclists deaths jumped 8.7 percent and deaths of occupants of large trucks increased 20 percent while overall traffic fatalities dropped 1.9 percent.

The increase in bicycle deaths may reflect more people riding bicycles to work and for pleasure according to Jonathan Adkins, deputy executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association which represents state highway safety agencies.

For example, in Washington D.C. there has been at 175 percent increase in bicyclists during morning and evening rush hours since 2004.

The increase in large truck accidents in death may be more difficult to ascertain. The NHTSA is working with the Federal Motor Carrier Administration to gather more information to better understand the reason for the increase. Industry officials suspect there may be a connection between states increasing their speed limits and the increase in deaths. Texas has increased the speed limit to 85 mph on Highway 130 between Austin and San Antonio with a correlating increase in accidents.

Grazian and Volpe cannot stress enough the need for bicyclists to obey safety laws. where protective gear and use equipment and clothing that is lighted and/or visible in all weather conditions.

Remember-it is always better to stay safe and avoid accidents but if you can’t stay safe stay with Grazian and Volpe – Chicagoland’s Injury Lawyers for over 30 years.

$109 Million Wrongful Death Verdict Against Power Company

The largest personal injury award in the county’s history was awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit to the husband and family of a woman who was killed by a falling power line in her backyard. The woman burned for more than 20 minutes while in mother-in-law and two young daughters watched helplessly until utility crews arrived to turn off the electricity. The victim’s mother-in-law attempted to help but was burned in the process and unable to render aid. The victim had several fingers severed from her left hand and her left arm was amputated by doctors in an attempt to save her but she died three days later in a local hospital.

Evidence was presented showing that the power company failed to properly train workers for years before the accident and after the victim’s husband told the company that he was concerned for his family’s safety because the spliced power line in their backyard had failed twice before.

It was shown that the power company did not properly train its workers to use a wire brush to clean the power lines before they were spliced. This failure caused the splices to rust which leads to overheating and failure of the lines. The victim had gone outside to call the power company because she saw a tree burning to the overheated wire, cutting power to the house.

This was the most tragic of premises liability injuries and the jurors were justly incensed by the wanton nature of the power company’s response to this safety issue and deliberated less than two hours.

As summertime approaches and more adults and children venture outdoors, Grazian and Volpe advises that all be aware of the presence of power lines and their conditions. Fallen and impaired power lines should be avoided and reported and children taught safety awareness in the presence of these lines-especially where lakes or pools are present.

It is always better to avoid accidents and stay safe but if you can’t stay safe-stay with Grazian & Volpe, Chicagoland’s Injury Lawyers for over 30 years.

Wrongful Death Suit Settled Against Senior Housing

A wrongful death lawsuit was settled on behalf of the children of two elderly parents filed against a senior housing unit in St. Joseph, Missouri.

89-year-old Ellis Marion Stephens and his 86-year-old wife, Iris were killed in a fire at the Danford Hall Apartments.

The decedent’s children filed a wrongful death suit alleging negligence which caused their parent’s deaths.  The fire had started when a man using oxygen in another apartment who was using oxygen fell asleep while smoking.

The negligence alleged involved improper and insufficient fire warning systems and failure to supervise.

Grazian and Volpe if pro-active in counseling their clients as well as the general public of the potential dangers to residents of senior housing and nursing facilities. Relatives and friends of senior residents need to be vigilant in policing the care and staffing of these facilities and to educate themselves as to care and treatment plan proscribed for their loved ones.

It is always best to stay safe and avoid injury, but if you can’t stay safe-stay with Grazian & Volpe, Chicagoland’s Injury Lawyers for over 30 years.

Avoid Traumatic Brain Injury and Wear a Helmet When Hitting the Slopes!

In recent years, there have been countless stories involving celebrities who have fallen or collided while skiing and been killed or seriously injured by severe brain trauma. These are the stories that make headline news. Emergency room physicians have more reports of the common folk sustaining concussions or other serious head trauma while skiing- in fact, according to the Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma the number of ski-related brain trauma injuries is “alarming. So the question became whether or not it was better to wear a helmet for head protection while skiing or snowboarding.

Researchers from the department of sport science at the University of Innsbruck set out to determine whether wearing a helmet while skiing increased people’s willingness to take risks, in which helmets could actually decrease safety on the slopes.

They found no correlation between wearing a helmet and increased risk taking behavior. In fact, the more experienced the skier, the more likely they were to wear a helmet. In addition they found that helmets reduce the risk of serious head injury by as much as 60 percent but a surprising number of safety experts and snow sports enthusiasts remain convinced that helmets reduce overall risk.

A survey of ski patrollers from across the country found that 77 percent did not wear helmets because they worried that it would reduce peripheral vision, hearing and response times.

However, researchers brought snowboarders and skiers into the lab in 2011 to test this theory. What they found was that peripheral vision and reaction times were virtually unchanged when they wore a helmet, compared with wearing a hat. Goggles slightly reduced peripheral vision and increased response times but helmets had no significant effect.

Dr. Adil H. Haider, a trauma surgeon and associate professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore states that the take-away form the growing body of science is unequivocal, “Helmets are safe. They don’t increase risk taking. And they protect against serious, even fatal head injuries. The Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma has issued a recommendation that “all recreational skiers and snowboarders should wear safety helmets,” making them the first medical group to on record advocation universal helmet use.

The lawyers at Grazian and Volpe have represented hundreds of clients who have sustained serious injury due to a head trauma. We advise all our clients to wear protective head gear whenever engaged in an activity that presents the potential of a fall or collision. We now add skiers and snowboarders to that list.

Remember, it is always better to remain safe and avoid injury, but if you can’t stay safe, stay with Grazian and Volpe, Chicago’s Leading Trauma Injury Lawyers for over 30 years.

Ameren Settles Wrongful Death Caused By Residential Gas Explosion

While gas is cheaper than electricity when it comes to powering homes and commercial properties it does carry the rare but always present risk of explosion.

Ameren recently settled such a case with the daughters of elderly parents in wrongful death lawsuit. The explosion occurred at the couple’s home in March of 2008.

According to an investigative report filed by the responding fire department was powerful enough to thrust the walls of the house outward several feet. The front door of the house was blown into the yard across the street, and the first floor collapsed into the basement. Further investigation revealed that 1,800 cubic feet of gas had flowed into the basement of the home on the morning of the explosion. In the weeks prior to the explosion, no more than 700 cubic feet of gas per day had been pumped into the home.

The theory of the wrongful death lawsuit alleged that Ameren had “superior knowledge” of the gas distribution system that carried natural gas into the home and that it was the company’s responsibility to act in a timely manner to shut off the excessive gas it had been pumping into the home.

Ameren countered that it did not willfully cause the accident and was acting according to government regulations. They argued that defendants did not respond to the distinctive “rotten eggs” odor  which occurs when even a small amount of gas is released. Ameren also claimed that the decedents failed to maintain their gas appliances.

It is important that all homeowner’s be aware of the risks of gas utilities and be vigilant in reporting any smell of gas in the home.  Decedents in this wrongful death suit may have been too elderly to recognize the warning signs and utility companies need to be aware of infirmities of their consumers and monitor closely the flow of gas into all buildings.

Remember, it is always better to stay safe and avoid injury-but if you can’t stay safe-stay with Grazian and Volpe, Chicagoland’s Injury Lawyers for over 30 years.

Property Owner Pays $1 Million In Women’s Shooting Death

In a new twist in premises liability law, a settlement has been reached by the family of a woman killed in a drug-related shooting. The family will receive $1 million from the owner of a crime-ridden apartment complex for the wrongful death of this young woman.

Decedent was 19 years old when she was gunned down in August of 2011 while sitting outside the apartment complex. She was an innocent bystander without knowledge of the drug transaction that resulted in the fatal shooting.

The lawsuit against the property owner alleged that the owner failed to provide adequate security given the acknowledged dangerous threats which existed in the complex. Two men were killed in the shooting a young infant who subsequently recovered from a gunshot would to the head.

This settlement will act as a warning and precedent for all landlords who lease properties in crime ridden areas. Many of these units are Section 8 housing where the landlord receives guaranteed rental payments from the government. Instead of maintaining the properties, these landlords ofter pocket the income and neglect the safety of there tenants. Tenants in these properties need to be proactive in demanding that the property is secure, in repair and up to code. City authorities are spread thin and cannot be counted on to assure that every building is safe and habitable. Tenant involvement is required – the “old squeaky wheel” will help to protect the safety of all tenants.

Remember – it is better to stay safe and avoid accidents and injuries but if you can’t stay safe-stay with Grazian and Volpe, Chicagoland’s Injury Lawyers for over 30 years!

$3 Million Settlement in Gas Station Premises Liability Case

A $3 million dollar settlement was awarded to the parents of a 21-year old man in a premises liability cause of action filed against the owner of the gas station as well as two other firms that supplied the station with products and marketing.

The 21-year old man, who had schizophrenia died after the clerk allegedly shot him during a scuffle in the convenience store gas station. The clerk fled the United States to his own country before he could be charged voluntary manslaughter and armed criminal action.

Grazian and Volpe are glad that the victim’s mother was able to get some closure in this wrongful death suit and wish her strength in recovering from this tragedy.