COVID-19 Update: How We Are Serving and Protecting Our Clients

Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

AMAZON-300x197Jeff Bezos can probably take credit for changing the way people shop online more than any single person. While the road to Amazon’s dominance as a retailer certainly has been fueled by a spark of ingenuity, that same road has also been filled with many strategies designed to protect the company to the detriment of its work force. While news stories have focused on Amazon fulfillment worker injuries at its numerous warehouses across the country, many Chicago area Amazon workers face other challenges. This is especially true as Amazon uses a strategy that involves treating its Flex drivers as 1099’s or independent contractors even though they are under the direction and control by Amazon.com, Inc. as to how they are required to do their jobs. For instance, Amazon uses GPS to tell the drivers where to go after the packages are picked up. Amazon has the right to control how many blocks a driver gets, which means that sometimes a driver will not get consistent work.

Many Amazon delivery drivers may be surprised to learn that Amazon.com, Inc. does not consider them to be employees. That means that Amazon Flex drivers will be told by Amazon’s lawyers that they do not have workers’ compensation benefits when they sustain a work injury. Amazon operates very much like Uber and Lyft as part of the gig economy that uses a strategy of evading the existing laws that are designed to protect workers when they are hurt on the job. This probably is not a surprise because it is a way of saving money and passing the buck to society both by not paying for work comp insurance and by pushing the costs onto local, state, and federal governments. They also operate like many delivery companies in that they tell their drivers that they are their own boss yet control they way they do their jobs from start to finish by using an app. For example, Amazon drivers must operate under a “Block.” This means that a driver must deliver a certain amount of packages in a set time based on what the company thinks that a driver should be able to accomplish. A driver is paid the same whether they complete this block in the allotted time or not.

Certainly, Amazon Flex drivers are at a higher risk of harm than most people because they are driving through many urban and suburban areas, parking, walking to doorsteps, and doing all of this through ice, snow, sleet, and rain, especially in Illinois. It comes as no surprise that Amazon delivery drivers sustain work injuries not only in major vehicle accidents, but also in slip and fall and trip and fall accidents. In the recent weeks, there have been many concerns voiced about Amazon drivers becoming infected with the Coronavirus and developing Covid-19 illness. According a a recent Seattle Times article, Amazon is telling drivers to knock with their phones, don’t sneeze on packages, and to have customers step away from their ID’s left on the ground to avoid spreading the virus. https://www.seattletimes.com/business/amazon/amazon-gives-delivery-drivers-detailed-guidance-for-working-amid-coronavirus/ Considering the recent surge in orders and Amazon increasing the hourly rate for Flex drivers, not only will there be an increase in the number of Amazon workers hurt at work and left in the cold from car crashes, but there will probably be a surge in the number of workers who fall ill with Covid-19 who are easily and rapidly replaced by Amazon. In fact, the way that Amzaon treats its workers is very close to treating them like robots. It is expected that Amazon will proceed this way until they can replace their drivers with automated vehicles and drones. Despite what Amazon’s lawyers say, Flex drivers are covered under Illinois Workers’ Compensation law.

Unfortunately, injury-causing or fatal workplace accidents too often involve an employer that cut safety corners to save time, money, or both, or that otherwise ignored its worker safety and health obligations. When that happens, the workers harmed by the accidents that ensue may have their lives forever changed (or ended) by those injuries. The law says that, when that happens, the workers or their families may be entitled to be compensated for the harm that they suffered. Be sure to contact a Chicago work injury attorney about your situation.

Back in May of 2019, an explosion at a specialty chemical plant rocked the city of Waukegan. The explosion was so massive that it was felt throughout much of Lake County. For five families, though, what they suffered was far worse than just feeling an odd rumble beneath their feet. The explosion killed four workers and very seriously injured a fifth.

And, according to an investigation performed by the Chemical Safety Board, it didn’t have to happen. The Chicago Tribune reported that the interim executive of the board declared the accident to be preventable because more complete safety “management systems could have avoided the incident.”

Many times, vehicle accidents involve a limited range of legal options. You can pursue the at-fault driver and his auto insurer… and that could be all. In other situations, though, a vehicle accident may present you with a greater array of legal avenues. If, for example, your injury accident was caused by the driver of a truck or other work vehicle that was doing work for the City of Chicago, then you may be able to pursue compensation from the City of Chicago.

This option of suing the city may greatly enhance your odds of getting a full and fair recovery, whether via verdict or settlement. To learn more about the various legal options available to get the full amount of compensation you deserve, be sure to engage an experienced Chicago injury attorney.

Two accidents that illustrate this point recently ended in settlements. The more recent accident, reported by the Sun-Times, occurred in the West Englewood neighborhood of Chicago. Reportedly, the accident victims, 7-year-old S.L. and her mother, J.L. were attempting to cross South Ashland Avenue at West 65th Street. The pair made it only halfway across the street before they were struck by a tractor’s trailer. The accident left the mother with a hip injury but killed the girl.

Continue reading

Sleep Tips for Commercial Drivers

If you are a commercial driver or you know one, it’s important to educate yourself about drowsy driving, what helps mitigate it, and what makes it worse.

1. Get Enough Sleep Before You Drive

If you are a close loved one of someone who died in an auto accident, you likely have many things on your plate in the days, weeks and months after the tragic incident. You may be dealing with interactions with friends and family. You may be dealing with the deceased’s personal effects and final arrangements. You are doubtlessly dealing with your own emotions. On top of all that, there may the matter of possible legal action based upon the accident. As you deal with the multitude of personal and family issues that require your attention, leave the litigation issues to the legal professionals. Retain knowledgeable Chicago auto accident counsel to be sure that your case gets the legal representation it needs.

Patch.com recently reported on a wrongful death filing submitted in nearby Will County. In that civil court complaint, the estate of a woman fatally injured in a crash just west of Joliet had sued two drivers. The complaint alleged that J.B., an elderly woman, was riding in a minivan that was being driven by E.C., her caretaker. E.C. was traveling west on a city street near an interstate overpass. A.R. was driving his 1999 Mitsubishi eastbound on the same road. As the two vehicles crossed paths, a massive collision occurred.

The lawsuit named both E.C. and A.R. as defendants. The complaint alleged E.C. was negligent in her driving and therefore liable. Specifically, the lawsuit asserted that E.C. had a solid red traffic light in her direction but that, in spite of her red light, she improperly failed to yield the right of way. The lawsuit also named A.R. and asserted that he was negligent.

If you lose a loved one as a result of someone else’s wrongful action or inaction, it is important to understand that you only have a limited time to assert your rights through the legal system. In the circumstance of a wrongful death that is a result of an auto accident, you have either two years from the date of the accident or one year from the date of the victim’s death, whichever is later. It is very important to be keenly aware of these deadlines because a failure to comply with the statute of limitations can result in a dismissal and no compensation, regardless of how strong your evidence is. That’s one reason why it is important to contact an experienced Chicago wrongful death attorney about your situation and the options for proceeding.

The underlying accident in a recent case, as reported by theherald-news.com, was a tragic car crash in the small village of Beecher in Will County. Sean, a 25-year-old local man, was allegedly speeding. In fact, he was allegedly going more than 20 miles per hour over the 55 mph speed limit when he blew through a stop sign and slammed into an SUV carrying a pregnant mom and her three young sons. The mother and youngest son died at the scene, while the other two boys died a few days later, according to the report.

The husband and father of the victims sued the driver under the Illinois Wrongful Death Act. Under the Illinois statute, only a limited number of people can bring a wrongful death action. These include a spouse, an adult child, or a parent (if the deceased person is a minor). Since the dead people in this case were the man’s wife and his three sons, he clearly was someone legally permitted to bring a wrongful death lawsuit.

Illinois law allows injured people to hold employers liable for the acts of their employees in certain situations. While the law generally says that one party cannot be liable for the criminal acts of another, the law does demand that employers “act reasonably in hiring, supervising and retaining” their employees. In order to succeed under Illinois law, you must show that the employer knew or should have known that the employee in question posed a danger to third parties (and that this problem was known at the time of hiring or retention), and this problem was the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. If you’ve been injured because an employer didn’t do enough to stop one of its employees, you may have a case and should consult Illinois injury counsel about your circumstances.

The details of one recent federal case were truly tragic. Alisha, who was from just outside Chicago, had worked for a “big box” home improvement store since she was 16. During her five-year tenure with the store, Alisha only had one supervisor. That supervisor allegedly verbally abused her at work and monitored her activity both during and outside work. The supervisor also required that she accompany him on business trips. Eventually, he demanded that she accompany him to his sister’s wedding in Wisconsin, threatening to reduce her hours or terminate her employment completely if she refused. She went. After the wedding, he raped and killed her.

Alisha’s mother, Sherry, sued the employer for wrongful death. She argued that the employer knew about the supervisor’s disturbing propensities and did not do enough. By failing to take appropriate steps, the employer was liable for the supervisor’s violent acts.

When you are injured in a bus accident, you may have multiple different ways that you can secure a legal recovery for the damages you suffered. If the driver of the bus drove the vehicle in a manner that was not consistent with reasonable standards of safety, that may create liability. If the owner did not maintain the bus properly in terms of safety or if the bus had safety issues in the way it was manufactured, these too could create a viable case. However you’ve been injured in a bus accident, you should contact knowledgeable Illinois bus accident counsel to help you protect and pursue your case.

One tragic recent bus accident situation involved a suburban Chicago man. Jimmy was out with friends on the night of June 2, 2017 to celebrate the birthday of a former co-worker. To facilitate the festivities and promote safety, none of the group was driving – they traveled aboard a party bus. At a little before 3:00 am, the group was still traveling and partying. They were headed northbound on the Tri-State Tollway when Jimmy got up to turn up the volume on the bus’ radio, according to Patch.com.

However, as Jimmy reached for the volume knob, something went wrong. He tripped and fell, and, when he did, he tumbled down the bus’ stairs toward the doors. When he hit the doors, the doors flung open, leaving Jimmy to fall out of the bus and onto the surface of the I-294 travel lane immediately to the bus’ right. The driver of an SUV, who did not stop, ran over Jimmy and killed him, according to the Patch report.

In a personal injury case, you’ll likely need a variety of types of evidence to support your claims. This might include expert opinions, eyewitness testimony, document evidence, and photographic evidence. In the recent wrongful death case of a Chicago-area bicyclist, the bicyclist’s family had all of these things. With this substantial evidence backing up the plaintiffs’ case, the Illinois Appellate Court ruled that the trial court was not unreasonable in finding for the plaintiffs and awarding $1.875 million in damages.

Continue reading