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icy roadsThere's no shortage of news about the brutal winter in the Chicago area this year, with record-low temperatures, snowfall, and icy conditions. The weather pattern known as the Polar Vortex that swept through Chicago in early January left much of the city under ice. When the weather is this bad, of course, there are consequences beyond the damage such weather can do to city infrastructure. While many businesses and schools stayed closed during the worst of it, the city has to move forward despite the brutal winter. Snow and ice can lead to increased accident rates. If you have been injured due to snow and ice and believe it could have been prevented, you may be eligible for compensation.

If you were injured in a slip and fall accident while riding the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), for example, you can file a personal injury lawsuit against the CTA for damages. In early January the Cook County Record reported that a woman is suing “the city's transit authority over allegations she sustained injuries on a bus.” The accident occurred in 2012, “when the driver accelerated quickly and in a jerky way, causing her to slip and fall on the wet floor,” according to the Cook County Record. This specific case may be more difficult to prove in a court of law, or may be ruled partial negligence, assigning only a fraction of the responsibility to the CTA.

According to the Illinois General Assembly, a person can file a personal injury suit up to two years after the date of the injury. To prove when and how the injury occurred, a person must have medical records of all hospitalizations and treatments, with doctors' notes and testimony.  If the personal injury was sustained in an act deemed criminal (such as an aggravated DUI charge) and the perpetrator is undergoing legal punishment, such as incarceration, the statute of limitations to file a personal injury suit does not begin until the accused has been released.

If you or someone you know is considering a personal injury suit in Chicago against the CTA or any other body or person, don't go through it alone. Contact the Law Offices of Cosmo Tedone and Barbara Morton today.

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Car Accidents and Personal Injury SuitsTraffic deaths continued to rise in the Chicago area for a second straight year throughout 2013, according to the Chicago Tribune. As of New Year's Eve, the Tribune reports, “there were 973 crash fatalities in 2013, compared with 956 fatalities in 2012, a nearly 2 percent increase.” This most recent increase comes on the heels of a 4 percent rise last year, in which the death toll for transportation accidents reached 956, compared to 918. The number for this year, of course, is higher than it has been in the past several years. Despite this, “deaths on Illinois roadways are still much lower than they have been historically, with 2013 the fifth consecutive year that fatalities were below 1,000, a dramatic low compared with the past nine decades,” the Chicago Tribune reports.

The reasons for the lower number of traffic fatalities vary. There are several statewide initiatives that have likely contributed to the lower numbers—for example, the mandatory wearing of seat belts (which became law in 1985). This law “was updated in 2003 to allow officers to stop vehicles simply because occupants failed to wear seat belts,” the Tribune reports.

According to the American Bar Association, automobile accidents in which one person is injured due to the negligence of another driver still account for the vast majority of tort lawsuits brought to court. Tort law, of course, is personal injury. According to the American Bar Association, “you have a negligence claim in a ‘fault' state if you are injured by a driver who failed to exercise reasonable care, because drivers have a duty to exercise reasonable care anytime they are on the road.” If a person is drinking and driving, for example, there's a clear reason for a negligence personal injury suit.

In a car accident in which you suspect you may be eligible for a personal injury suit against the driver of the other car, you don't necessarily have to have been physically injured. You merely must prove that “it caused an expectation that some harm would come to you,” reports the American Bar Association.

If you have been injured in a car accident and suspect you may be eligible for a personal injury suit in Joliet, the most important first step is to seek legal counsel. Contact the Law Offices of Cosmo Tedone and Barbara Morton today.

Both employers and employees have a difficult time understanding the employment status of workers hired through temporary staffing agencies. The recent workers' compensation case Suter v. Ill. Workers Compensation Comm'n illustrates the unique status of temporary workers who are injured on the job.

premises liabilitySuter v. Ill. Workers Compensation Comm'n

Suter concerns the injuries sustained by Mary Suter, a temporary worker who was employed by Manpower, a temporary staffing agency. Suter was assigned to the Illinois Department of Insurance where she was injured one morning while arriving to work. Suter sustained injuries when she slipped on ice and fell on her back after attempting to close her car door, which was parked in a specific parking spot assigned to her by the building manager. Soon thereafter Sutter filed a claim with the Workers' Compensation Commission under the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act.

The Commission, along with the lower circuit court found that Suter's accident did not arise out of her course of employment as required under the Act. Sutter was assigned the specific parking spot by the manager of the building where the Illinois Department of Insurance's offices were located. Both the commission and the court found that if the spot had been directly assigned to her by either Manpower or the Illinois Department of Insurance, the injury would have been considered as arising out of the course of employment, and thus covered by the Act. Since the spot was assigned by the building manager, who was not her employer, Suter's claim was denied.

 Suter appealed her case, and the outcome of this appeal indicates that small business employers should be aware of the parking lot exception found within the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act. Under the parking lot exception, Illinois courts have permitted recovery for injuries sustained in a business' parking lot. The exception applies if an injury is caused by a hazardous condition present in a parking lot that is both provided by the employer and under the control of the employer. The appellate court found that Suter's use of the parking spot was directly derived from her status as an employee of the Illinois Department of Insurance. They also found that because Suter was injured while on her way to work, she had a right to the workers' compensation benefits. As a result, the appellate court reversed the findings of the commission and circuit court, and remanded the case for further proceedings. The main thing that small business owners should take away from Suter is that a temporary worker injured in a work's parking lot can be covered under the Workers' Compensation Act. To get advice and more information about workplace injury liability you should contact the personal injury attorneys here at the  Law Offices of Cosmo Tedone and Barbara Morton, P.C. in Joliet, Illinois.
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