Personal Injury News & Developments

Accessible Bike HelmetsLack of helmet use has a clear link to serious injuries to the head, neck and spine resulting from bicycle accidents and the City of Chicago could follow other cities’ leads by rolling out a helmet distribution program to accompany the Divvy bike sharing service that allows people looking for healthy alternatives to travel to pick up a bike from one of many locations spread throughout Chicago and to return it later that day. The helmets would be distributed via machines that would allow bicyclists to obtain a helmet for a rental fee and to return it later into another receptacle so that it can be properly cleaned and sanitized. If successful, the hope is that more bicyclists riding in the city will use helmets, reducing the number of serious injuries that occur in accidents.

Varying Degrees of Success Elsewhere

Chicago will not be the first city to attempt the feat of encouraging bicyclists to wear helmets. Boston and Seattle have both rolled out their own programs and seen varied levels of success. In Boston machines similar to the ones Chicago is planning to use were placed throughout its Hubway system— the equivalent of Chicago’s Divvy service. The machines failed to encourage enough cyclists to obtain helmets and the machines were later removed. Boston still offers helmets to Hubway users but they must now purchase them at the time they buy a membership.

In Seattle, helmets are available to anyone who wishes to use one for no charge. The free rental service provides adjustable helmets and those who opt to use the program may borrow the helmets for twenty four hours before returning them to be cleaned. Thus far, the program is still in effect today.

Main Concerns Related to Publicly Shared Helmets

While bike helmet programs offer a solution to the dilemma of encouraging bicycle safety, there are some significant concerns that must be addressed. These concerns are primarily expressed by the people who would use the helmets and have reservations wearing a helmet that has been shared with others.

  • Sanitation— while the helmet program promises to provide clean and sanitary helmets, riders are concerned about the spread of infections, lice and disease if the helmets are not properly disinfected.
  • Helmet quality— while all helmets issued through the program would be presumed to meet safety standards, there are concerns as to whether the previous wears would have mistreated or damaged the helmets before returning them and at what point the helmets would be removed from circulation.
  • Cost— helmets won’t be free and the cost of renting one may dissuade cyclists from renting one, which is why the program in Seattle offers the helmets at no charge. The cost of providing free helmets may not fit into the City of Chicago’s budget due to current financial struggles, so the helmets will need to be paid for through rental fees.

When Chicago rolls out this helmet program, those concerned with the alarming statistics concerning the link between severe injury and refusal of cyclists to wear helmets may breathe a sigh of relief, but only time will tell whether the rental service will have the intended benefit. The difference in injuries suffered in bicycle accidents of similar nature when the victim has worn a helmet compared to when a helmet was not used is staggering enough to encourage those educated on the issue to use a helmet. However, even if the City of Chicago provides easy accessibility to helmets it is still up to the individual to decide whether or not to wear one.

At least this time there will be one fewer excuse for people who adamantly try to find one to proceed without wearing the piece of equipment that may very well save their lives.

Warning on ZofranNowadays we are constantly being bombarded with commercials and radio advertisements that detail the horrors experienced by people who had taken medication without being informed of the potential side effects or who had been prescribed medication that was rushed to market without adequate research or clinical trials to support safe use. Zofran was marketed for decades as a treatment for nausea but the product labeling failed to warn of the possible effects that the medication could have on unborn children. Why was Zofran’s manufacturer allowed to market this drug without providing the relevant warnings and who should be responsible for making sure that all medications on the market come with accurate and unabridged warnings to ensure the safety of everyone who consumes them?

GlaxoSmithKline Knew More than it Led On

Zofran was created in the 1980s and its original purpose was treatment solely for patients who had undergone intense cancer treatments or were recovering from surgery. It was proven to alleviate the symptoms of vomiting and severe nausea in those to whom it was prescribed and received approval by the FDA in 1991. It did not receive approval for use by pregnant women or for the treatment of morning sickness, however, and GlaxoSmithKline never sought approval for this form of use either. Instead, the company knowingly circumvented the FDA by encouraging doctors to prescribe it off label.

The primary reason that GlaxoSmithKline chose not to seek FDA approval to market Zofran as a medication for the treatment of morning sickness is that its own research suggested that there was a potential that the medication could cause serious harm to the development of unborn children. The market of pregnant mothers experiencing severe nausea and vomited represented the opportunity for immense profit, however, and GlaxoSmithKline made the choice to conceal the information and place profits above the lives of the victims impacted and the families who would need to care for them.

How Drug Labeling is Overseen and Regulated

The Food and Drug Administration keeps records of complaints and known adverse events that are associated with medications and is able to take action for the benefit of our health when evidence suggests that a product is unsafe. It is a legal requirement that all drug manufacturers label their medications with warnings relevant to any severe or potentially fatal side effect. If such a warning is omitted and the FDA discovers a link between a medication and an adverse event or reaction, action may be taken depending on the severity of the infraction and the potential dangers to the health of patients taking the medication.

Pharmaceutical companies are not only encouraged to constantly update their drug warning information, but they are required to in the event a strong link to serious health concerns is established. If the manufacturer of a drug fails to provide adequate warnings, the FDA may step in and require such warnings. Many lawsuits involving pharmaceuticals are centered on whether sufficient warnings were present on labels and in most cases, the medications remain on the market with revised labels that inform patients of the current known side effects and risks.

Is Zofran’s Warning Label Sufficient

The short answer to this is a simple— no. It simply does not matter that Zofran was prescribed off label because if the medication is known to cause birth defects, the information must be presented to doctors prescribing the medication and to patients taking it so that medical professionals can make educated decisions and the patients have full disclosure. Incentives were even provided to doctors to write prescriptions for Zofran in the form of kickbacks, suggesting an even more insidious degradation of medical ethics in favor of profits on part of GlaxoSmithKline.

It is hard to believe that any doctor would prescribe a medication in good conscience with the knowledge that it could cause serious harm to an unborn child. Therefore, the erroneous assertions given to the medical community by GlaxoSmithKline that the medication was safe tarnished the reputations of numerous medical professionals and caused great suffering to an untold number of children who must now cope with medical conditions that they may never fully recover from.

If you were prescribed Zofran during your pregnancy and your child was born with congenital birth defects– such as cleft palate, developmental problems, neurological disorders or other injuries, contact the Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers today to learn more about your rights and legal options. We will be happy to arrange a free consultation in order to collect all of the information needed to launch a deeply thorough investigation into your child’s injuries so that we can let you know whether you have a strong case and how best to pursue it. In addition, we will be glad to assist you in obtaining the best medical care available for your child so that he or she receives the treatment that he or she is entitled to while ensuring that you will be able to afford it.

Our attorneys only get paid when you do and if we fail to secure compensation on your behalf, our time and services will be without charge.

Wrongful Death from Power MorcellatorPower morcellator manufacturers and practitioners performing hysterectomies and other uterine procedures with the devices have come under fire following the discovery of a strong link between power morcellation and the spread of cancerous tissue to the uterus. The son of a woman who died from uterine cancer not long after undergoing a procedure which implemented the use of a power morcellator is seeking damages from multiple parties he alleges failed to warning his mother of the risks associated with the elective procedure and that had she underwent a more traditional procedure, she would still be alive today. The lawsuit was filed on April 10, 2015 and is being heard by the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina.

Storz Morcellator Cited as Responsible for Spread of Cancer

The plaintiff’s mother was advised to undergo a laparoscopic procedure to remove uterine fibroids and was diagnosed with adenosarcoma and sarcomatous overgrowth less than a week after the procedure. It is alleged that the Storz power morcellator used during her surgery disseminated cancerous tissue and spread it into her abdomen; she died of her ensuing condition on April 13, 2012. The plaintiff is seeking damages from Karl Storz Endoscopy-America, Inc., Karl Storz Endovision, Inc., and Karl Storz GMBH & Co. KG for wrongful death, misconduct and the failure of the device manufacturer to provide adequate warnings about the risks of power morcellation procedures.

Procedures Initially Marketed as Less Invasive Alternative

Power morcellation procedures similar to the one that the plaintiff’s mother underwent have been marketed as a less invasive and safer alternative to more traditional surgery. Laparoscopic procedures have the benefit of quicker recovery periods so that patients are able to return home and get back to their lives sooner but they often come with risks that patients are never informed about. This particular lawsuit is one in an exhaustive list that are expected to come as the major manufacturers of power morcellators have begun to recall the devices and remove them from the market.

Major insurance carriers have also made pointed responses of their own— several companies have announced that they will no longer cover the procedures and others are expected to follow suit. The FDA has gotten involved as well, issuing an advisory notice against morcellation procedures for women unless there is absolutely no other viable alternative. The largest manufacturer of power morcellators, Ethicon, is expected to become the subject of a growing mass tort as more victims and their families begin to come forward.

If you or a loved one underwent a surgical procedure involving the use of a power morcellation device and later received a diagnosis of uterine cancer, you may be entitled to compensation. This compensation may be in the form of the cost of cancer treatments and other medical care, wrongful death in the event your loved one has passed since her diagnosis, loss of income, pain and suffering and punitive damages to make the statement to the manufacturers of these devices that the safety of patients must always come before profits and the bottom line.

Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers are a leading and reputable team of lawyers who represent people from all walks of life who have been injured due to greed, carelessness or reckless behavior and we would be happy to assist you in your time of need. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys to learn more about pending litigation and how it may impact your case, to discuss your own legal options and rights and to begin the process of gathering information which we can use to conduct a thorough investigation into your case so that we can give you the best advice possible on how to move forward. Unless we are able to secure compensation on your behalf, all of these services will come at no cost to you at all.

Trip and Fall Cases and How Hard They Are to ProveTrip and fall accidents happen all too often and typically end with serious injuries. When these kinds of accidents are caused by the negligence, carelessness or recklessness of others, victims often seek legal recourse for compensation. Common areas were trip and fall accidents occur include ramp ways, doorways, uneven surfaces, heavy traffic areas, stairways, unstable working surfaces, unguarded heights and outdoors on slippery or wet surfaces caused by ice, snow or rain.

Hundreds of thousands of individuals in the U.S. suffer a serious injury from a trip and fall accident each year. In fact, nearly 40 victims – mostly the elderly – die each day of a slip and fall accident. Even though these are common occurrences, only a few trip and fall claims and lawsuits are ever filed and resolved. Out of that, only a handful of victim cases that are finally heard by a judge and jury are ever resolved successfully. This is because trip and fall cases are often more challenging than many individuals think.

Proving the Facts

Winning a premises liability lawsuit for compensation or negotiating a settlement for recompense requires the victim to prove how the actions or inactions of others directly caused their injuries. However, traumatized victims seriously injured in a trip and fall case often have difficulties proving how they had no reasonable means available to avoid causing their injuries, even if they were paying attention to their own actions.

In addition, the victim must also prove that the property owner or others in charge had reasonable knowledge that the potential trip and fall danger existed. Proof must also show that the those at fault for the injuries had adequate and reasonable time to repair the problem, but took no action to correct it.

Common Premises Liability Cases

Many common cases involving trip and fall accidents often qualify for a premises liability claim or lawsuit, especially when those responsible for maintaining a safe environment failed to:

  • Warn others of wet surfaces by barricading the area or marking it with signage.
  • Correct any dangerous or hazardous condition on a stairway or walkway.
  • Properly maintain equipment and machinery that resulted in personal injury.
  • Provide sufficient security to ensure a safe environment in a hazardous area.
  • Maintain a safe environment in a retail establishment that resulted in an injury.

If the trip and fall accident occurred on government property or at a public park, federal and state government agencies might be held financially liable for any injuries or fatalities. However, filing a claim or lawsuit against the government can be challenging and often requires the skills of an experienced personal injury premises liability attorney.

Resolving the Case

Trip and fall cases are challenging and complex. Ensuring you receive fair financial compensation to cover your injuries will likely require the skills of a premises liability attorney. Your lawyer will show how the actions of others at fault were unreasonable and that the existing dangerous condition at the time of your trip and fall accident was not obvious to you. Your attorney will show how the efforts to repair the problem were negligent, careless or missing. To do this, your lawyer will need to:

  • Gather pertinent evidence.
  • Speak to eyewitnesses.
  • Hire investigators and experts to testify to the extent of the problem and your medical condition.
  • File all documents in a timely manner.

Most importantly, your attorney will prove your case by showing how you did not and could not have caused the accident on your own. Your lawyer will prove how you were not distracted at the time of the accident and had a legitimate reason to be in the dangerous or hazardous area. The attorney working on your behalf will show that there were not obvious warning signs in the area or barricades in place to minimize the potential of causing serious harm to you or anyone else.

After building a case for compensation, your attorney will use their years of negotiating skills to seek an out of court settlement with the claims adjuster or opposing counsel. If you do not accept the settlement amount, your attorney will build a strong case to take your lawsuit to trial.

How to get the Safest Bicycle HelmetFew individuals would elect to drive a motor vehicle or ride as a passenger without wearing a safety belt. However, many adults and children ride bikes without a helmet. Hopping on a bicycle without wearing a safety helmet can cause significant life-altering problems if you are involved in a collision, crash or spill.

Wearing the safest bicycle helmet will not only increase your chances of saving your life, but also prevent or reduce the severity of an injury to your head when involved in a crash. However, to be its most effective, you must wear the helmet faithfully to reduce the risks of head injuries when taking a spill on a bike trail or city street.

Bicycle Helmets: Designed for Safety, Not Looks

The effectiveness of the helmet is limited by its design, material quality and how well it fits your head. It must provide a comfortable snug fit without being too tight. It should remain on the head no matter what happens and not move in any direction more than an inch. It must be designed with an adequate venting system and be simple to use.

Consider purchasing a bicycle helmet constructed with a thin plastic shell. This design allows the helmet to easily skip across rough terrain and pavement while preventing a jerking motion of the head and neck. Avoid helmets constructed with excessive ventilation because they minimize the amount of padded cushioning or concentrate the impact of the collision at one point on the head.

Safety helmets are designed to reduce the high impact of energy force hitting the head while cushioning the blow with a substantial layering of stiff foam. Avoid purchasing a bicycle helmet cushioned with EPS (expanded polystyrene) that will not bounce back once crushed. Instead, purchase a helmet designed with EPP (expanded polypropylene) foam which easily returns to its original shape when crushed.

CPSC Sticker

In 1999, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission established a standard in safety helmets as a response by the U.S. Congress to improve bicycle riding safety. The federal government formed a task force to test materials and construction of bicycle helmets in addition to labeling, instructions and testing requirements for approval. These approved safety helmets are identified with a CPSC sticker.

Additional safety standards used in the design, manufacturing and selling of safety helmets include the ASTM F1447 standard, which is identical to the CPSC standard and the less used Snell B-95 standard. It is important to note that counterfeit CPSC stickers have been found on look-alike or knockoff helmets sold by irresponsible retailers. In addition, even though the standards are well-established to ensure the safety of the helmet, how well it fits on your head can never be standardized. Take the time to ensure the helmet you choose fits properly.

Helmets for Children

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has standardized safety helmets to be identical for both adults and children. However, there are significant differences in the form and weight of a young child’s head, so the testing procedures for helmets designed for children might not prove to be identical to those crafted for adults. Typically, the weight of the helmet is usually too heavy for a toddler, because their neck muscles are not strong enough to hold the weight.

Points to Remember

Properly fitted helmets often feel very comfortable. A good fit can make it easier to get your child to actually wear it for safety. Retail establishments that specialize in bicycle sales tend to offer assistance in fitting all children and adults with the best safety bicycle helmet. The helmet should be replaced if an impact crushes the interior foam. This is because any force upon the exterior of the helmet can create damage that is often not readily visible.

It is best to find a safety bicycle helmet that fits properly before choosing one with adequate ventilation, sweat control and coolness features. Before purchasing, make sure an official CPSC sticker is positioned on the inside of the smooth shell helmet. Finally, helmets are always priced affordably and are rarely offered at a discount. Because of that, it is important to avoid waiting for a lower sales price or buy one only after you have been involved in a crash.

Updates with GranuFloGranuFlo and NaturaLyte are medications provided for the treatment of kidney failure as a part of dialysis treatment but evidence has surfaced that suggests that the manufacturer of both medications failed to provide adequate warnings to doctors and the general public regarding the risk of severe adverse events. Fresenius Medical Care is alleged to have continued marketing its products without relevant warnings even after it recorded serious complications with the medications in its own clinics. Thousands of GranuFlo lawsuits are being anticipated as victims and their families continue to come forward, but the direction of the mass tort is going to hinge greatly on the result of two bellwether trials set for the beginning of 2016.

GranuFlo Proven to Have Deadly Side Effects

Among the adverse effects of GranuFlo and NaturaLyte include heart failure, stroke and sudden death and the failure of Fresenius Medical Care to disclose these risks is considered almost criminal when considering that the company observed these effects in patients first hand. Both medications were administered to patients in clinics owned and operated by Fresenius but were also distributed to other clinics that were not associated with the drug manufacturer. Doctors were never informed of or provided any information about the risk of sudden and serious complications with the medications and this failure to disclose information has resulted in numerous deaths and life threatening injuries.

How a Bellwether Trial Impacts Others to Follow

Class action lawsuits, also known as mass torts, are often condensed into what is called Multidistrict Litigation. 1,800 GranuFlo cases have already been condensed into an MDL and the bellwether trials will impact the MDL proceedings as precedents are established. An MDL allows evidence and facts to be established which can then be returned to the numerous individual courts hearing cases across the country and greatly reduces the resources and time required for thousands of people to file claims against a company for negligence or wrongdoing. Bellwether trials are unique in that they are the very first cases to be heard in a mass tort and the resulting judgment rendered can set a precedent for all cases to follow.

If the bellwether trials go well for the defendants, they may become more brazen in their positions and force every victim to take an issue to trial. A result of this manner would also make it more difficult for the masses to win their cases. If the bellwether cases favor the plaintiffs, however, it normally opens the door for large settlement offers motivated by the potential for even greater financial loss should the defendant pursue a defense in all cases.

The Current Status of the GranuFlo Bellwether Trials

The two cases that are to be heard in 2016 will both be heard within a month of one another. The first trial is to be heard on January 11 and the second on February 16. While the results of these trials could easily sway the direction of those to follow, it is important to consider that MDLs usually rely on the facts and evidence established in around twenty unique bellwether cases. Once these cases have been heard though, GranuFlo lawyers will be able to more accurately estimate the amount of damages victims can expect to receive and project their chances of successfully winning their cases.

If you or a loved one suffered a debilitating or life threatening injury because of the use of GranuFlo or NaturaLyte during dialysis treatments, contact the Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers to learn more about the current state of litigation and how it will affect your chances of filing a successful GranuFlo lawsuit. Our attorneys have recovered compensation for thousands of clients in similar medical product liability lawsuits and will work tirelessly to represent your interests throughout this class action lawsuit. Schedule a free consultation to learn how mass torts are heard and whether it is in your best interest to pursue an individual lawsuit or a settlement with the drug manufacturer.

Once we have reviewed your case we will inform you of all the legal options available to you and let you know exactly how the legal process will proceed so you know what to expect. Should we be unable to recover compensation on your behalf, our services will be free.

What to do When you Fall Down a StairwayIf you have fallen down the stairway, you are likely suffering serious injuries. This is because as your body fell, it had the potential of striking many hard surfaces before the falling stopped. As a result of your injuries, you are likely facing extensive medical bills, time away from work and financial obligations that are difficult to meet. So exactly what are your legal options for seeking recompense to pay your bills and recoup your lost wages?

Both indoor and outdoor stairway accidents are common occurrences for a trip and fall incident. When a stairway accident happens on another’s property, victims have the legal right to seek damages. This is because many stairway slips and falls can be prevented by the property owner, manager, landlord or occupant. Many of the preventable reasons that individuals fall on stairs, steps and stairwells involve:

  • Collapsing or crooked stairways
  • Stairways with insufficient lighting or unlit conditions
  • Defective handrails that give way
  • Dangerous stairway surfaces including marble, granite and tile
  • Inoperable or unsafe fire escape
  • Missing protective handrails that leave the staircase open
  • Inadequately maintained flooring surfaces including broken tile, cracked linoleum, frayed carpeting and cracked concrete
  • Obstacles and debris left on the stairway including toys, boxes and packages
  • Slippery surfaces created by wet cleaning supplies, excess wax or liquids
  • Mismatched or non-uniform riser heights that do not meet building code specifications

Serious Injuries

The potential of suffering a serious injury when involved in a stairway accident is high. Many of the common injuries that occur include:

  • TBI (traumatic brain injury)
  • Broken bones and fractures especially on the foot, hips, ankles and legs
  • Spinal cord injury

Seeking Financial Compensation

Property owners of movie theaters, offices, hotels, houses, buildings, shopping malls, grocery stores, restaurants or other buildings have a legal responsibility to maintain or fix any broken step, damaged stairway or problem with the stairwell. In addition, the staircase and stairway areas must be continuously maintained, well lit and secure to ensure the safety of everyone who uses it. If the stairway you used was unsafe and your fault caused injuries, the property owner, manager, tenant or occupant can be held legally liable for your damages.

You have the legal right to seek and obtain fair and full monetary recovery for all of your losses, injuries and damages. However, seeking compensation in slip and fall premises liability cases can be complex. Because of that, it is essential to hire a personal injury attorney who specializes in premises liability cases. Skilled legal representation can help you win a fair settlement or jury verdict. Your attorney will need to carefully investigate your claim and prepare a solid case using evidence, eyewitness accounts and the testimony of professional experts.

Building a Case to Prove the Property Owner or Maintenance Company is at Fault

Your attorney will need to prove how the property owner, management or others were in charge of maintaining the stairway and failed in their duties to provide you a safe environment. By proving negligence existed at the time of the accident, your attorney can show elements of your case including:

  • Dangerous or slippery conditions existed on the stairway.
  • Those in charge knew or should have known that the dangerous condition existed and took no action to remedy the problem.
  • Your injuries are a direct result of the fall that happened due to the unsafe conditions on the stairway.

Even if the property owner or others in charge of the premises were unaware of the problem, liability can still exist. Your attorney will need to show how any reasonable individual in charge of the stairway could have discovered the dangerous conditions and take remedial actions.

Paying for Legal Services

Stairway slip and fall cases, like most personal injury claims, are accepted by reputable attorneys on contingency. In other words, your attorney’s legal services will only be paid after winning a court award or negotiating an out-of-court settlement.

Hiring a season premises liability attorney will assure you that all your documents are filed before the expiration of the statute of limitations. Your lawyer will handle every aspect of the case to ensure it reaches a successful conclusion. The law firm you choose will likely offer a no-obligation free initial consultation to discuss the merits of your claim and provide you various legal options to resolve your case.

Electric Cars Can be Dangerous to PedestriansPedestrians can easily hear the sound of a large motorcycle or diesel chugging commercial truck when passing close by. However, the same cannot be said for hybrid and battery-powered vehicles that barely make a whisper when moving. The decades of designing electrical cars and hybrids in an effort to reduce inside and outside noise has resulted in nearly silent transportation with maximum comfort from minimal noise.

Many potential car buyers seek out electric vehicles because of their numerous features including minimal noise, low running costs, a quiet drivetrain and their ability to help the planet. Electric car owners have remarked that the absence of noise while traveling tends to reduce stress levels and makes the driving experience on busy urban streets and rural areas far more enjoyable. Though automakers have created an environmentally-responsible appealing package, many manufacturers are now realizing that the quietness of electric vehicles are posing new potential risks on the roadway.

Missing Audible Indications

Most safety concerns have focused on the electric vehicle missing audible indications that the automobile is no longer standing still. This poses a significant problem to pedestrians in close proximity to the vehicle, especially those who are partially-sighted or blind. In addition, cyclists, children and pedestrians wearing headphones are at greater risk of being involved in an accident with an electric or hybrid vehicle. The low noise problem has been significant in loud urban areas, especially those congested with buildings where the traveling electric vehicle is too silent to be heard.

What Safety Experts Say

In 2013, the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) began discussing the need to have emitting noise from hybrid and electric vehicles when moving at slow speeds. This is in response to the real world concept that hearing and seeing offers our best defense against harm like getting run over or hit by a motor vehicle. For well over 100 years, gas guzzling internal combustion engine vehicles have generated a menacing mixture of sounds to alert anyone in close proximity.

The NHTSA believes mandating noise-emitting devices on electric vehicles could prevent nearly 3000 cyclist and pedestrian accidents with injuries every year. The administration cited a 2011 research paper concluding electric cars and trucks post twice the risk of causing accidents when stopping, slowing, starting in traffic, backing up or when leaving and entering driveways and parking spaces.

Opponents of the study note that though statistics are outdated because the research was based on the limited number of electric vehicles traveling streets back then. Some also claim that the consideration for mandating noise emitting devices has only been targeted to electric cars and trucks. The opponents claim that newly designed gas and diesel fueled cars also produce low decibel noise levels.

If the mandate becomes law, redesigning new electric vehicles and retrofitting older ones will be a relatively minor and inexpensive solution. Even so, many consumers are objecting to the intrusion claiming the design and functionality of automobiles should not be in government hands, even though it is an obvious safety feature that can save lives.

Beneficial Advancement in Technology

Associating electric vehicles as “silent killers” might be an erroneous perception. This is because hybrid vehicles and those that operate on stored electrical energy have offered significant benefits to the environment and future of automobiles. To date, there is no significant up-to-date verifiable data that directly correlates death and serious injury with the lack of noise in hybrids and electric vehicles.

That said, if federal and state governments require electric vehicles and hybrids to emit noise to alert its presence, the device will need to be installed so cyclists and pedestrians can determine the vehicle’s location, it is traveling speed, and whether it is moving away or toward the listener. In addition, the sound heard cannot be annoying so that it contrasts significantly from backup signals, horns and sirens. These aggressive warnings are designed to be deliberately unpleasant to gain immediate attention for a short duration.

Finally, the sound must be standardized so as not to confuse the pedestrian, cyclist or others on the roadway. This is especially crucial to increase safety around crowded intersections. After all, the entire idea of making our world noisier in a “greener” environment must be based on increasing safety for everyone.

CTA Train Accidents and Who is to BlameUpon the conclusion of an investigation into the March 2014 train derailment at the Chicago Airport, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and federal investigators determined multiple parties should share the blame. The Blue Line accident occurred at approximately 3 AM in the morning. Authorities concluded driver fatigue likely played a role in the accident after determining the operator was exhausted from working 12 straight days in a row.

In the eight car accident, 32 individuals on board suffered serious injuries when a commuter train derailed at O’Hare International Airport. Eyewitness accounts and video recordings indicate that the train was traveling at too fast a speed while approaching the “end of line” train station. At the accelerated speed, the commuter train never stopped in time to avoid a shock absorber “bumping post” positioned at the end of the train tracks.

Before coming to a complete stop, the train crashed into a platform after scaling an escalator that provided ingress and egress to the underground station. The early morning timing of the accident likely played a crucial role in saving many lives and casualties. This is because the active station at the airport is typically heavily congested with travelers and employees at busier times of the day.

Though reports are not clear as to how many individuals were traveling on board when the collision occurred, seven individuals were treated at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital (Park Ridge) for whiplash injuries. None of the injuries were life-threatening. All injured passengers taken to the hospital were released within hours after the accident.

An Ongoing Problem

The investigation concluded that the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) should share some of the blame. Investigators have recommended the need for additional safety procedures and equipment. These include installing advanced technology control systems that can apply the commuter train’s braking system automatically. The newly installed equipment could prevent a crash if the operator fails to take action.

This is not the first time the Chicago Transit Authority has had to deal with a serious train accident with injuries. In September 2013, a Blue Line train collided into the back of another train while entering a station in a Chicago suburb. That accident caused injuries to more than four dozen commuters.

CTA Lawsuit

Almost immediately, at least one negligence lawsuit was filed against the CTA in Cook County court. The 23-year-old plaintiff Delila Jefferson suffered injuries in the derailment while commuting to her airport job as a security officer. Ms. Jefferson suffered serious back and neck injuries and a broken foot. The negligence personal injury lawsuit seeks financial compensation of more than $50,000 to cover losses, damages and suffering.

The Need for Safety Improvements

While the NTSB is not given regulatory authority, it investigates pipeline and transportation accidents. Just two months prior to the March 2014 CTA train derailment, the National Transportation Safety Board released its recommendations on the most needed safety improvements. Their recommendations came on the heels of a New York commuter train derailment that occurred at the end of 2013, killing four passengers. The U.S. investigative agency advised making improvements in transit safety as one of its highest priorities.

In December of that year, a commuter train derailed on the New York Metro-North Railroad, causing significant injuries to passengers on the train along with rail workers. The agency still maintains open recommendations involving the 2009 Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority crash between two trains. The accident killed nine individuals. Investigators concluded that the collision was a result of a failing automatic train operating system.

It is the advice of the National Transportation Safety Board that transit agencies and operators adopt effective programs known to be beneficial in the airline industry. These programs include encouraging every employee to report any safety issue or hazardous condition without fearing punishment. This effective tool helps gather data necessary to spot any shortfall before it causes a catastrophe.

In addition, members of the safety board continue to recommend installing positive train control systems that automatically take control of the train to stop it any time the system senses a an approaching collision. This type of system also eliminates the possibility of the train traveling at too fast to speed.

Premises Liability with Building CodesEvery year, hundreds of thousands of individuals suffer serious injuries in accidents that occur on public and private property. In many of these cases, problems with premises liability arise concerning the building’s design, construction and compliance with complex local, state and national building codes.

Building codes are essential to designing and constructing safe buildings and facilities. These minimum standards must be followed to create a safe environment for occupants and visitors. There are building codes for every facet of construction from the foundation to the rooftop. The codes regulate materials, components, design and building practices to ensure the durability and safety of the structure and its systems including mechanical, electrical and plumbing.

Additionally, building codes involve the installation of the buildings fire sprinklers, energy uses, emergency escapes, ADA compliance, exit signs, smoke detectors, elevators and accessibility. In addition to establishing building codes, the state also takes various means to enforce the codes and punish violators. Common violations often involve structural defects, missing exit signs, dangerous stairways, leaky gas fittings, faulty electrical wiring, malfunctioning sprinkler systems and absent emergency lighting.

Establishing Negligence By Evidence of the Code Violation

By law, the enforcement of local, state and federal building codes are handled by the local building inspector. Their duties include examining buildings under construction, reviewing architectural design plans for new buildings and additions, and compliance issues in existing structures.

Negligence can be established any time an owner, possessor, lessee, or others in charge of property fail a building inspection or violate a building code. If any individual suffers injuries due to a code violation on the property, the owner or others in charge of the premises can be held civilly liable. However, the law establishes a specific threshold must be met in filing a premises liability claim or lawsuit for compensation.

Lawsuits Based on Negligence of Landlords

Unfortunately, it is a common occurrence for tenants, guests, customers or others visiting property to suffer serious injuries caused by a building code violation. In many incidences, the violation creates a hazardous environment or specific challenges during an emergency event. If an individual is harmed because of a violation, they can file a claim or lawsuit to pursue recompense from every individual at fault for their injuries.

However, to build the case based on negligence, the victim is required to prove four specific elements that include:

  • Duty of Care – The victim must prove that every individual at fault in the case was required to provide a duty of care. Every responsibility or duty of care, including those set forth by local, state and federal building codes, must be provided to every individual lawfully entering or using the property.
  • Breach of Duty – Once the duty of care has been established, the victim must prove how the duty was breached by all defendants involved in the case.
  • Proof of the Breach – To prove this element, the victim can detail how the defendants neglected to act or took action including violating a building code that then resulted in causing the victim’s injuries. As an example, the defendant might have neglected to install exit signs in the building, or removed them, which then caused confusion during an emergency situation where the victim was injured.
  • Accident-Related Harm – To win a successful lawsuit or claim, the victim must prove a connection between the established negligent violations of a building code to the actual harm they suffer.

Solid premises liability lawsuits are built on established negligence of building code violations by proving the four elements listed above.

Resolving a Premises Liability Accident Case With the Use of Building Codes

These types of premises liability cases are complex and difficult to resolve. Because of that, many victims will hire a personal injury attorney who specializes in building code violation cases. An experienced lawyer will build the case for recompense by gathering and preserving evidence, investigating the scene of the accident, interviewing eyewitnesses and establishing exactly what code is applicable to the case.

The attorney will present the evidence to a claims adjuster working for an insurance company or in front of a judge and jury at trial. By establishing proximate cause, the lawyer can show the reason why the defendants in the case of the victim damages that could include medical expenses, lost wages along with mental and emotional stress, pain and suffering.