Stuff in the ‘Cook County IL’ Category

$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.

Drowsy Drivers Responsible for Fatal Car Accidents

A new study of driving behavior finds drowsy drivers responsible for 730 deadly motor vehicle accidents and an additional 30,000 crashes that were nonfatal.

Even being tired and sleep deprived without actually nodding off can be a serious problem on the road. Fatigue slows reaction times and can lead to poor judgment. Studies show that going without sleep for 20 to 21 hours and then getting behind the wheel is comparable to having a blood alcohol level of about .08%, which the legal limit in most states. In fact, going without sleep for 24 hours is equal to a blood alcohol level of 0.1 percent which is higher than the legal limit in all states!

Studies show that people who fall asleep at the wheel may do it so quickly-and briefly-without registering the lapse. Warning signs included having trouble remembering the last few miles that you’ve driven, or missing an exit.

Many people who find themselves groggy while driving resort to blasting the radio or rolling down the window but those measures are largely shown to be ineffective. Drinking a caffeinated beverage may help, but effectiveness depends largely on an individual’s physiology or tolerance to caffeine.

Experts advise finding a safe place to pull over and drift off for a few minutes. Alertness can be restored by a short nap and a cup of coffee keeping you and other drivers safe from your drowsy driving. Remember is is always better to stay safe but if you can’t stay safe stay with Grazian and Volpe, Chicagoland’s Injury Lawyers for over 30 years!

AT&T Chief Speaks Out on Texting at the Wheel

Chicagoland’s Injury Lawyers at Grazian and Volpe have been adamant in informing the public against the dangers of serious injury due to car accidents that occur when a driver is texting.  We are pleased to see that a prominent carrier is raising awareness on this issue and the message is personal and starting at the top.

Randall L. Stephenson, the chairman and chief executive of AT&T, spoke at a conference in New York to hundreds of major investors, including Fortune 500 executives. The topic was the state of the telecom businesses, but he began with a request on a different topic: Please don’t text and drive.

Mr. Stephenson said that a few years ago someone close to him caused an accident while texting. As he has become more vocal about texting and driving, he said people were coming up to him and writing him with their own stories of tragedy, including admissions that they caused accidents.

The smartphone “is a product we sell and it’s being used inappropriately.” For him, that means the company he runs has to get involved in a public awareness campaign. “we have got to drive behavior.”

While safety say that history shows that public service campaigns have had limited success on issues like drunken driving or seat belt use unless they are paired with strong laws and that is something Mr. Stephenson opposes.

David D. Teater, senior director of the National Safety Council, had a son killed by a driver talking on her phone. He states that he is pleased to see telecommunications companies no longer lobbying against laws aimed at curbing driver distraction caused by electronic devices.

“We’d love their support on the legislative side,” he said of AT&T’s position. “But the fact they’re are not opposing us is good.”

Currently 39 states ban testing while driving. Research shows that the activity sharply increases the risk of crash, even beyond the risk posed by someone with a .08 blood alcohol level, the legal limit in many states. Yet researchers say that there is no indication drivers are less incline to text and drive, and there is some indication that the behavior is increasing.

Drivers need be aware of the dangers of mobile devices while driving and not ignore the dangers because this activity is not prohibited by legislation.

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

Texting While Parenting Equals the Dangers of Distracted Driving!

Chicagoland’s Injury Lawyers at Grazian and Volpe strive constantly to educate their clients as to the dangers of distracted driving. Child safety experts now cite the rising number of non-fatal injuries to children under age five between 2007 and 2010, after falling for much of the prior decade.

The question is whether high-tech gadgetry is effecting the ability of adults to provide proper supervision to young children. Emergency doctors see the growing use of hand-held electronic devices as a plausible explanation for the surprising reversal of a long slide in injury rates for young children.

Child safety experts attribute the previous slide in injury rates starting in the 1970s to the implementation of safer playgrounds to baby gates to fences around swimming pools. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that “The injuries were going down and down and down” noting that the recent uptick is “pretty striking.”

Statistics from the government’s Consumer Product Safety Commission, which tracks injuries by product type, show children are getting hurt more, including serious falls, during activities and at ages that would warrant close supervision.

While casualty has not been well documented, emergency room doctors cite the well-proven connection between driving while distracted and the rise in smartphone use. They state it is logical and born out by statistics to apply the same dynamic to parenting and smartphone use. Complicating the picture is that people tend to under-report the amount of time they spend on mobile devices. Barbara Morrongiello, a psychology professor at the the University of Guelph in Canada studies the relationship between child-supervision and injury and states that most people do not realize how much they are distracted by devices.

In fact a recent incident wherein a woman was watching a friend’s two-year-old son when another friend texted her illustrates the point perfectly. The child slipped into the pool, flailed for about a minute, drifted toward the deep end, then sank. The woman was looking at a photo on a smartphone. About three minutes after fiddling with the cellphone, she dropped it and then noticed the young boy underwater. She plunged in and pulled him out. The whole event was documented on a security camera. The woman told an emergency technician that she had taken her eyes off the boy for only 20 seconds. The security-camera footage shows she did not look at the boy for more than 3 minutes!

Ms. Morrongiello says that information she has collected from 62 families with two-year-old children revealed that 67% of injuries occurred when a parent wasn’t supervising and only 10% occurred when a parent was watching.

Grazian and Volpe blog about this subject in the hope that all parents and caregivers will pay heed to this recent spate of evidence and try to avoid mobile device use whenever caring for young children or any person entrusted to their care. It is always better to stay safe, but if you can’t stay safe-Stay with Grazian and Volpe, Chicagolands Injury Lawyers for over 30 years.

Drinking on the Job Costs Employer $10 Million in Punitive Damages

Drunk driving accidents are always tragic and never really an accident but the result of the total disregard the intoxicated driver has for others who share the road. A recent verdict assessing punitive damages against the employer of a drunken employee is a landmark finding in the war against drunk driving.

Ten million in punitive damages was upheld by a the New Mexico Court of Appeals in favor of the family and estate of a man killed by a drunken driver in 2003.

The Court ruled that there was enough evidence to support the full amount of damages awarded against the parent company of a New Mexico convenience store. A store maintenance worker employed by convenience store, crashed into a motorcycle ridden by the decedent who was stopped at an intersection. Decedent died from the injuries sustained in the crash.

The Court found that the convenience store owner and employees knew the employee drank on the job and had bought alcohol at the store on the day of the accident and that these actions “demonstrated a reckless disregard for the health and safety of others.”

This verdict drives home the responsibility that we all need to exercise in the prevention of drunk driving. If someone you know or see is intoxicated and about to drive an auto, truck, motorcycle or bicycle, please do your best to prevent that person from doing so. The life you save could be your own or that of someone you love.

It is always better to avoid or prevent an accident but if you can’t stay safe, stay with Grazian and Volpe, Chicagoland’s Injury Lawyers for over 35 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.

$200 Million Verdict in Nursing Home Fall Involves Chicago Private Equity Firm

A tragic nursing home wrongful death occurred in Florida nursing home that is part of a large conglomerate comprised in part by a Chicago private equity company.

The facts are despicable. Elvira Nunziata was a 92-year-old  dementia resident at the Pinellas Park Care and Rehab Center. Mrs. Nunziata was a resident in the facility for a little over a year when she fell down ten cement steps while belted in her wheel chair. She may have spent over an hour at the bottom of the stairwell before she was found and evidence indicated she may have drown in her own blood.

At trial, it was found that the staff knew she was active despite being in a wheel chair and was prone to wandering. Three different alarm systems were called for in her care plan-on her clothing, wheelchair and on the exit door. It appears that none were in place or activated at the time of her fall. Earlier that same day, investigations revealed that the resident had been seen attempting to get through that same day. After her death, the facility spent $5000 to install magnet locks on all of the doors.

Trial testimony revealed that the facility was chronically short-staffed and lacking sufficient levels of the most basic of supplies. Complaints had been made by former employees to their supervisors, but no actions were ever taken. Most disturbing was the testimony of the caregivers stating that staff was increased to adequete levels during state inspections of the home, and immediately decreased to dangerous levels upon the departure of the inspectors.

The defendant in this case was Trans Health Management, which was part of a large conglomerate comprised, in part, by a Chicago private equity firm. Through various mergers and acquisition the company grew to having more than 200 facilities in 20 states, making it one of the largest private nursing home chains in the United States.

Another warning to derelict nursing homes. Companies and persons charged with the care of the elderly must be held to the highest level of care and held accountable for the their negligence and disregard for the safety of their charges.

We cannot stress enough the importance of family involvement in assuring this care. Our blogsite at myaccidentlaw.com is rich with articles which will help family and friends to learn the signs of nursing home abuse and neglect and how to advocate on behalf of their loved ones. Please call with any questions-consultations are always free.

Prevention is crucial, but if you can’t stay safe, stay with Grazian and Volpe, Chicagoland’s Injury Lawyers for over 30 years.

Well Deserved $8 Million Dollar Verdict in Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit

Nursing home abuse is always tragic and often compounded by the fear or inability of the victims to communicate what is happening to them. That is why we at Grazian and Volpe are always pleased to see justice served to those who do not take care for the safety and well-being of our elderly.

A state court jury in Tennessee awarded $8 million in damages including $5 million in punitive damages to the estate of a retired surgeon whose legs were broken while he was in the care of Treyton Oak Towers, a nonprofit nursing home.

Dr. David Giffen died less than two months after he was improperly transferred from a chair into his bed. After Dr. Giffin’s legs were broken he was put back in bed “like it didn’t happen” according to the court transcript. Employees were ordered to change medical records and cover up the incident. Because of a stroke, Dr. Giffin was unable to communicate what had happened or the agony he was experiencing.

After being found with the two broken bones, Dr. Giffen was treated at the hospital and later transferred to a different nursing home. He died less than 6 weeks later. Dr. Griffen had severe osteoporosis and the nursing home said doctors failed to inform its employees of this diagnosis. It was determined that Dr. Griffin was transferred without a lift and by only one nursing assistant, in violation of the nursing home’s care plan, which required two nursing assistants.

This verdict should serve as a warning to all nursing homes. Once again, Grazian and Volpe strongly recommends that family members be ever vigilant for the care and safety of their loved ones in nursing homes. It is always better to stay safe, but if you can’t stay safe-stay with Grazian and Volpe, Chicagoland’s Injury Lawyers for over 30 years.

Wrongful Death Settlement in Chicago Megabus Lawsuit

Wrongful death settlement for family of pedestrian struck in crosswalk.

We recently wrote of the increased dangers that elderly pedestrians face in urban areas. Wes Kruger, age 64 was in a cross walk on February 10, 2010 when a left-turning Megabus struck him and dragged him 30 feet before stopping. Kruger died soon thereafter at Northwestern Hospital. It appears that the bus driver simply did not see Mr. Kruger in the crosswalk. There was no failure of bus maintenance or driver training proven at trial.

The wrongful death suit was settled for $5.1 million. Our heartfelt sympathies go out to the Krugers and sincerely hope this settlement can provide some closure for this tragic traffic accident.

More Information on the Prevention of Bed Sores in Nursing Home Patients

Many of our clients at Grazian and Volpe and readers of our blogsite at myaccidentlaw.com appreciate as much information as possible to help them take care of their loved ones who live nursing homes. As our population ages, more and more families are having to make the decision whether to place their loved one in a long term care facility.

Family members justifiably have concerns about the adequacy of care in nursing home facilities – there is certainly no shortage of horror stories of patients falling, being malnourished and maltreated. As we have stated repeatedly -it is imperative that family members become active in monitoring the care plan and carefully observing the patient for signs of abuse, malnutrition, and cognitive abilities.

Bedsores are a serious danger for nursing home patients are ulcers or “bedsores” which may appears most commonly on the feet, backs and buttocks of patients who may required to spend hours in bed such as patients who are fall risks and often secured in one position.

Family members should observe whether the patient is in the same or similar position on each visit. Bed bound patients should be rotated or turned every two hours. Diabetic patients or patients with wounds or sores are more vulnerable and this practice along with skin massages to increase blood flow are crucial.

Be vigilant for signs of soiled linens or diapers that are not changed frequently. Adequate nutrition and hydration are absolutely necessary to maintaining good skin quality. Family members should assure that proper padding and cushioning should be provided at pressure points such as joint bones.

Once a patient develops bedsores, the cure can be difficult and long term. A nurse specializing in wound care should be assigned to the patient. The wounds should always be cleanly dressed and appropriate antibiotics and medications administered.

Grazian and Volpe strongly recommends that family members closely monitor their loved ones, which should included having a nurse assist with moving the patient for you to inspect the skin for signs of red or irritated skin. Unfortunately, we are often called in after the patient has developed bedsores to such an extent that a bacterial infection or sepsis has set in and the prognosis for recovery are poor.

Prevention and staying safe are always best but if you can’t stay safe stay with Grazian and Volpe, Chicagoland’s Injury Lawyers for over 30 years.