COVID-19 Update: How We Are Serving and Protecting Our Clients
Justia Lawyer Rating for David M. Barish

When you apply for Social Security benefits based on your disability, expect the government to fight back aggressively. They will have lawyers well-versed in Social Security law. They may have medical experts with impressive resumes. However, if you come to your Social Security hearing armed with the right legal representation and the right medical experts supporting your position, then you can overcome all that, succeed and get the award of benefits you need. Before you go, though, make sure you have a skilled Chicago Social Security attorney on your side.

In a disability case, medical evidence will, of course, most likely be center-stage. One of the most powerful forms of medical evidence that you can place on your side is the testimony of treating physicians stating that you are, in fact, disabled.

The testimony of treating physicians generally carries a great deal of weight. Additionally, as a recent Social Security case from here in Chicago shows, the administrative law judge (ALJ) hearing your case must either given those doctors’ opinions weight, or give very specific reasons why she didn’t.

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As an Amazon warehouse worker, there are certain risks that come with the job. One thing that you, as an Amazon worker, should not have to accept as “just part of the job” is being placed at an unreasonable risk of exposure to coronavirus. If there is any slight degree of good news, it is that, if you’re placed in that kind of situation, the law may provide you with a remedy though civil action. If that sounds like your workplace circumstances, be sure to act without delay by contacting an experienced Chicago workplace injury attorney.

Reports have come in from Amazon warehouses around the county about workers at risk, and even some who have died. D.G. was an Amazon warehouse worker in Sacramento who had been injured at work. D.G.’s doctor’s orders following the injury stated he was required to remain seated at work at all times. Rather than allow D.G. to remain home during the height of the pandemic and governmental stay-at-home orders, Amazon continued to require D.G. to be present at the warehouse, according to a CNet report.

While at work, he asserted that he had his employer’s blessing to use the internet on his phone, text his wife and chat with other employees stationed nearby. He said he was given no work to do and received no supervision, but he was required to be at the Amazon warehouse’s breakroom 10 hours a day, every day. According to the report, his employer instructed to “sit there watching Netflix if I wanted to,” as long as he was sitting in that room.

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Anytime you set out on Illinois’ roadways and expressways, there is an element of danger. That’s especially true if your vehicle comes into contact with a “big rig.” These truck accidents, due to trucks’ size and weight, have an elevated tendency to cause major damage, injuries and death. Getting the full amount you deserve in this type of situation may involve many different types of evidence to establish all the damage for which you are entitled to receive compensation, so be sure you have an experienced Chicago truck accident attorney handling your case from the very start.

Just a few weeks ago, the state Department of Transportation released its latest accident statistics report, which covers January – December 2018. During that year, the state logged more than 13,000 accidents involving tractor-trailers, with 2,235 causing injury and 122 causing death. These numbers represented a significant increase over 2017, when there were only 11,700 truck crashes, 1,949 of those causing injury and 107 fatal accidents. In each of those three categories, the year-to-year increase was more than 10%.

Recent news stories provide further examples of the problem. In early July, the Chicago Sun-Times reported on a motorcyclist who lost his life while traveling north on Lewis Avenue in Waukegan. The driver of the Freightliner that was immediately next to the motorcyclist switched lanes to the right… and right into the path of the Harley Davidson. The motorcyclist was declared dead at the scene.

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It is sometimes said that no one likes attorneys until they need one. It can be easy to form negative opinions about lawyers based upon what you see a small minority doing in the news headlines. However, when you’re hurt and a powerful entity on the other side is inaccurately representing what happened in your accident in order to deny you the recovery you urgently need, you may feel overwhelmed or plain hopeless if you are without counsel. When that happens, you definitely need the services of the right Chicago car accident attorney. Your experienced injury lawyer can help you make sense of your case, take control and acquire the evidence you need (like eyewitnesses, forensic crash-scene evidence or video footage) to expose the truth.

An example of that type of situation happened recently in the Chicago suburb of Hometown. A Metra train crashed into a compact sedan one night at around 7:30 p.m. A WGN report indicated that, according to Metra, “the lights were flashing, the gates were down and other vehicles had stopped, but the female driver sped around the gates.” The accident critically injured three women inside the car. A 19-year-old male pedestrian struck by the car and died in a hospital two days later.

Obviously, if Metra’s description were true, that could be incredibly damaging to the court cases that the injured passengers and fatally injured pedestrian’s family might pursue against Metra, as it would indicate that the car’s driver, not Metra, was to blame for causing the accident. This is why you need ample resources on your side to discover all the favorable evidence that may be out there. The unfortunate reality is that, without strong evidence to contradict Metra’s description, may people might find the story of a relatively young driver in her 20s recklessly choosing to “beat” the train to be persuasive.

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We have heard stories from our clients and other attorneys about the difficulties that working men and women are having balancing their desire to be safe during the Covid-19 pandemic while earning a living or giving their children an education. We have heard about factories where there have been many positive tests. Sometimes were hear about all the steps management has taken to try to reduce the spread of the disease and sometimes we hear about management that is only focused on production and doesn’t really seem to care about the safety of their employees.

We have also heard about workers who have no choice but to face an increased risk of getting Covid-19. These are the first responders, police, and fire and healthcare workers. There are delivery drivers. There are grocery store workers and restaurant staff. There are teachers who are caught between the competing legitimate desires to remain safe and yet complete the mission of educating our children.

We have slowly started returning to some union halls to meet our clients. Those locals are very protective and make sure that there are a limited number of people in the building, that everybody practices social distancing, that there is plenty of hand sanitizer around and that everybody is wearing a mask. We had a number of paper masks with our firm’s name and number on it that we bring with us when we travel to these union halls. If somebody needs a mask, we have one for them.

The return of students to school every fall is supposed to be an exciting time, replete with the promises of new opportunities for learning and growth. However, in the midst of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, many teachers are preparing more than just their lesson plans as they return to the classroom this year – many are preparing their wills. As one teacher said, “I never would have thought when I become a teacher, I would need to get a will in place in order to go back to work.”

Unfortunately, the approach to school safety has been far from uniform – individual school districts themselves are largely responsible for determining whether and how they will open, and in what capacity. This can create fairly drastic variations from district to district, and some districts have had multiple iterations of re-opening plans or completely reversed course from in-person to remote learning. Some school districts have still pressed forward with in-person education despite explosions of COVID cases. For example, a photo from a Georgia high school recently went viral, showing a crowded hallway filled with teens not wearing masks. Predictably, the school reached over 35 positive cases, but the district is not completely abandoning in-person instruction.

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An elementary school teacher, Frederique Boisyvon, wears a face mask to protect against coronavirus, in a school, in western France. (photo courtesy of Associated Press)

Statistics from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) showed that, in 2015, some 13% of all large truck accidents were the result of driver fatigue, a percentage greater than alcohol and illegal drugs combined (11%). Drowsy truck drivers represent an extreme danger risk on Illinois’s highways, as an accident involving a sleepy (or sleeping) truck driver often also involves a big rig traveling at high speeds. If you or a loved one have been hurt by a trucker who drove while drowsy or otherwise fatigued, you may be able to recover substantial compensation in court, so you should act quickly to contact a knowledgeable Chicago truck accident attorney.

A tragic January accident is an example of just damaging semi accidents can be. The driver of a FedEx semi, traveling eastbound on I-90 near Rockford at roughly 1:00 a.m. one morning, crashed into the rear of a disabled vehicle that was positioned along the right-hand shoulder of the highway. The disabled vehicle’s driver, a young mother who had run out of gas and was standing alongside her vehicle, died at the scene. Her 4-year-old child, who was still in the vehicle, suffered minor injuries, according to a WIFR report. The report indicated that the truck driver was cited by police for “failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident.” Police indicated drugs and alcohol were not believed to be factors in the crash.

The information reported by the news media offers us some facts, but not everything, about this crash. We know that the accident happened in the wee hours of the morning. We know that the deceased driver pulled off the highway after her vehicle stopped running. We know semi driver was believed by police to be completely sober. The information from the news reports did not rule out driver fatigue as a factor in the crash.

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Whether you are an Uber or Lyft passenger or a driver for one of those services, you know that one of the biggest hurdles you’ll face, should you be injured during your ride, is that the rideshare company will try to avoid any legal liability, and will probably try use its driver contract agreement, which identifies all drivers as independent contractors, as the means to accomplish that. Drivers and passengers are beginning to log some successes in defeating that argument, as a recent case from Boston demonstrated. While this case is from a federal court in Massachusetts, it should signal that there are legal options available, including here in Illinois, should you need to sue a rideshare company. Start by retaining an experienced Chicago accident attorney to make sure you’re going about your legal action the right way.

In the Massachusetts federal court case, the judge said that a group of Lyft drivers had a “substantial likelihood of success” when it came to showing that they were employees of the rideshare company, not independent contractors.

That case was different in many ways than your Lyft or Uber injury case would be if you were injured a rideshare crash or as a result of a rideshare attack. The Boston case involved a group of Lyft drivers suing for minimum wage and overtime violations, not personal injuries.

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A multi-vehicle chain-reaction accident involving an Amazon semi-truck left two people dead in Houston, Texas shortly before Easter Sunday. Unfortunately, headlines and stories like this are popping up far too often. Amazon trucks are becoming involved in an ever-increasing number of accidents… accidents causing major injuries and sometimes fatalities. If you are injured in Illinois by an Amazon truck, or by a truck driver delivering items for Amazon, you may be entitled to compensation from the massive corporation. To find who owes you damages for the harm you’ve suffered, reach promptly and speak to a knowledgeable Chicago truck accident attorney about your circumstances.

In the Houston incident, the accident, which occurred in the wee hours of the morning, initially wrecked a Mazda, a Chevrolet pickup truck and a Lincoln SUV, according to the Houston Chronicle. The Mazda’s driver and a passenger in the Lincoln exited their vehicles. As they did so, “an Amazon 18-wheeler plowed through the crash site,” according to the report, killing them. A third person, a “Good Samaritan” who had stopped to help, only escaped the big rig’s path by jumping off the freeway overpass, landing some 10-15 feet below, whereupon he suffered serious injuries, according to ABC 13. The ABC report also indicated that the roads were rain-slickened at the time of the crash.

In late January, an Amazon Prime truck headed northbound on I-77 north of Charlotte abruptly crashed into and through a guardrail at roughly 1:00 a.m. Fortunately, in this accident, no one was seriously injured, as the truck collided with no other vehicles and the roughly 13,000 packages that spilled from the trailer generally landed on the grass to the east of the northbound lanes. WSOC, which covered the accident, stated that it was not known “yet what caused the truck to go off the interstate.”

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Workers across Chicagoland and all of Illinois have always faced the challenge of dealing with workplaces that may provide inadequate safety protections. Today, though, workers face a new challenge: employers that fail to provide them with the level of protection against novel coronavirus that the law says those workers are entitled to receive. If your employer isn’t following the prescribed guidance and is placing you at risk, the legal system here in Illinois may offer an opportunity to recover much-needed relief, so be sure to reach out to an experienced Chicago workplace injury attorney right away.

One recent case that offers some important good news comes from right here in Cook County, Risk and Insurance reported. The workers who brought that lawsuit were a group of fast-food employees who worked for McDonald’s. According to the workers, their employer required them to work in close proximity to potentially infected coworkers, contrary to the six-foot social distancing space recommended by the CDC. Additionally, the workers alleged that mask-wearing protocols were not being followed at their workplaces.

Already, the workers have cleared two important hurdles, according to the report. First, the workers defeated the employer’s request for summary judgment in its favor that would have thrown out the lawsuit. The judge stated that, “even if a remedy could be found in administrative bodies,” that doesn’t mean that the workers could not pursue, and potentially win, their case.

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