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

As gas prices continue to soar, another major concern is impacting many Illinois drivers. According to data kept by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 42,060 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2020. https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars /2021/03 /05/ pandemic-travel-traffic-deaths-up-8-2020-despite-driving-less/4590942001/ This figure represents an 8% increase from 2019. The increase in fatalities is the highest seen in nearly one hundred years – back when many people were driving their brand new Ford Model T’s. With vehicle traffic down sharply during the pandemic, many would wonder why this increase has happened. The root cause of this increase appears to be a substantial rise in high speed fatalities all of which are a result of drivers simply disregarding perhaps the most basic traffic rule. While many of the fatalities seen on our highways before the pandemic were due to violent trucking crashes, the trend on our roadways appears to be increasing due to the reckless operation of passenger cars. As we reach the halfway point in the year, it does not appear that this trend is reversing with increased traffic on our roadways. https://www.cmap.illinois.gov/ updates/all/-/asset_publisher/UIMfSLnFfMB6/content/covid-affects-transportation-update

Reducing speed is a simple way to prevent injuries and death, but being cautious on the road and watching out for motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians is probably even more important. The reason for this is because most traffic crashes happen within 4.6 miles of our homes.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4375775/#:~:text=The%20median%20distance%20between%20home,occur%20very%20close%20to%20home. Even more concerning is that the average vehicle to pedestrian collision is 1.1 miles from home and a vehicle to cycle collision is 1.2 miles from home. As many of our fellow citizens seem to be demonstrating less consideration for each other on the roadways, the sheer volume of e-commerce deliveries are increasing the risk of harm to our loved ones. It’s fair to estimate that e-commerce deliveries by Amazon, UPS, and FedEx have grown 13-16% every year with no slow down on the horizon. https://www.truckinginfo.com/324451/how-is-the-growth-of-e-commerce-affecting-trucking It stands to reason that the more e-commerce orders we place, the more the risk of harm increases from e-commerce vehicle collisions of all kinds. Although UPS maintains a union workforce, their competitors do not and will not. Along with a non-unionized fleet of drivers comes more turnover, less training, and generally less incentive for safety. It is dangerous enough that Amazon clearly prioritizes profits over safety, but when Amazon’s Flex drivers are injured they are immediately denied workers’ compensation benefits because Amazon considers them independent contractors rather than employees despite telling the Flex drivers how to do their jobs. As the movement to unionize at Amazon grows, there is hope that Amazon Flex drivers will be given fairer treatment by a company worth nearly two trillion dollars.

Not unlike Amazon, gig economy companies like Lyft, Uber-Rasier LLC, DoorDash, GrubHub, and Postmates have a business plan that places profit over prevention of injury. Quite simply, these taxi replacements and food delivery companies enjoy all the benefits of having employees without any of the responsibilities that come with it. Uber drivers are not paid by Uber. Instead, they are paid by Rasier LLC. This allows Uber to control more drivers on more roads and never take responsibility for their driver’s when they cause collisions. Gig economy companies have only recently begun conducting background checks, but alarmingly they do not require their drivers to have any special licensing or any special training. Quite simply, if gig economy employees were given basic training, they would drive safer. Not surprisingly, Uber is reluctant to release many of the traffic crash statistics that they compile. https://techcrunch.com/ 2019/12/05/ubers-fatal-accident-tally-shows-low-rates-but-excludes-key-numbers/ Clearly, the frequency of injuries and fatalities will increase due to gig economy companies like Amazon, Lyft, Uber, Doordash, Grubhub, and a Postmates. Unless and until these companies are held accountable in court, they will take advantage of victims regardless of whether they are injured by a gig economy vehicle or are injured driving a gig economy vehicle.

Amazon warehouse workers know as well as anyone that, when an employer expects workloads and deadlines to be met by too few workers, the employer creates an environment with a clear potential for injury. If you’ve been one of those warehouse workers and you’ve suffered an injury on the job, you should waste no time in reaching out to an experienced Chicago workers’ compensation lawyer to see what benefits may be available to you.

On April 7, 2021, a group of Amazon workers at one of the mega-corporation’s Chicago-area distribution centers staged a walkout to protest working conditions at the facility. According to the workers, the employer has failed to fully staff the center, which has led to more worker injuries.

A report by the Chicago Sun-Times indicated that the walkout included dozens of Amazon warehouse workers employed at the company’s facility in the Gage Park neighborhood. Also joining the demonstration was Chicago Alderman Byron Sigcho-Lopez, WTTW reported.

Continue reading

Here in Chicago and throughout Illinois, construction workers are faced with a variety of health and safety risks. Some are inevitable parts of the job. Others, though, occur because someone was negligent and that negligence led to a worker getting hurt. When that happens to you and those who caused your harm were someone other than your employer, you may be able to bring a lawsuit and recover substantial compensation in court. To find out more about the legal options you have, take prompt action by reaching out to a knowledgeable Chicago workplace accident attorney.

R.G. was one of those workers where negligence allegedly caused his construction injury. He was working at a construction site in Chicago relocating sprinkler heads and was entering a freight elevator to retrieve some equipment when another worker mistakenly closed the elevator door too soon.

The door struck R.G. in the head. The impact was so substantial that it knocked R.G.’s hardhat off his head and broke the suspension band inside his hardhat (which inflicted a scar on the man’s forehead.) That day was the last day that R.G. worked, and he was, at the time of his deposition, awaiting neck surgery.

Continue reading

Whether the semi-truck driver who hit your vehicle and caused your injuries was drowsy, intoxicated, distracted, or negligent for some other reason, if the police cited that trucker for some sort of infraction (like speeding, improper lane usage, or failure to reduce speed,) that citation can be an extremely important piece of your successful injury case, helping you get the compensation you need. That’s often because of a legal concept called negligence per se. Whether your injuries arose from a trucker’s ordinary negligence or negligence per se, be sure to seek out representation from an experienced Chicago truck accident lawyer to help you select the best pathway forward to get the compensation you need.

There are various scenarios in which a trucker can be cited by the police. Back in March, a 62-year-old semi-truck driver crashed downstate in Wayne County. The trucker fell asleep while traveling east on Interstate 64 and overturned in the median. The trucker’s passenger was injured in the crash. Police cited the trucker for “driving while fatigued and improper lane use,” according to 14news.com.

In late April, a trucker crashed on Interstate 57 in Franklin County after he veered to the right, overcorrected, and overturned his rig. In that crash, the driver received a citation for “failure to reduce speed to avoid a crash and improper lane usage,” KFVS 12 reported.

A change in the federal regulations could have a massive impact on the people who drive for Uber or Lyft, including the thousands of Uber and Lyft drivers in Illinois. The removal of a rule released under the Trump Administration means that it will now be harder for companies like Uber and Lyft to classify their drivers as independent contractors (as opposed to employees,) which means it will be relatively easier for those drivers to obtain benefits like workers’ compensation. If you were hurt while driving for Uber or Lyft, be sure to act without delay in contacting a knowledgeable Chicago workers’ compensation lawyer.

Back in early January, the U.S. Department of Labor released a new rule that clarified who did – and did not – qualify as employees as opposed to independent contractors under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Under the standard created by that rule, it was relatively easier for employers to classify workers as independent contractors and not run afoul of the law and federal regulators.

Under the Biden Administration, that rule is no more. In withdrawing the rule effective May 6, the current Labor Department said that the previous rule did not properly reflect the text of the FLSA and relevant judicial rulings.

Continue reading

Recently, we have heard a great deal about the dangers that unsafe drivers driving for services like Uber and Lyft represent. While the threat posed by drivers who never should have been authorized by their rideshare services remains very real, the problem is bigger than just rideshare drivers. In addition to those drivers, there is also a similar danger posed by certain food delivery drivers (driving for services like Uber Eats, Door Dash and Grubhub,) as an incident from right here in Chicago illustrates. If you’ve been hurt by a food delivery driver who shouldn’t have been driving for that service, you may be able to bring a legal action and recover much-needed compensation. Reach out to a knowledgeable Chicago injury attorney to find out more.

In this Chicago case, the platform being brought to court was Grubhub. The victim was a Lake View East restaurant worker who was run over and drug for several feet by a man who was driving for Grubhub. The injured woman suffered several broken bones, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Those included a broken pelvis, two broken arms and fractures in both legs. She also suffered nerve damage to both arms and required surgery on both of them, according to her attorneys.

In her lawsuit against Grubhub, she asserted that it contributed to the very serious accident through its negligence. Grubhub’s app allegedly allowed the driver, who was not licensed to drive and (according to Grubhub) was not one of its authorized drivers, to access the platform through the account of another individual who was an authorized driver.

Continue reading

Flight attendants encounter a wide spectrum of passengers on the job. Regrettably, those sometimes include troubled people, including people with substance issues and those with mental health issues. Either of these groups can be particularly prone to violent outbursts during a flight, especially longer-haul flights. If you’re a flight attendant who’s been hurt by an out-of-control passenger, then you may be entitled to take certain legal actions and recover compensation, so you should make sure you don’t delay in contacting a knowledgeable Chicago injury attorney to discuss your situation.

Recently, multiple news sources covered the story of a Newark-to-Miami United Airlines flight that diverted to Charleston, South Carolina due to a passenger’s violent outburst. The passenger allegedly became agitated and then attacked, biting one man’s ear, striking another in the nose (and possibly breaking it), and hitting a third person in the temple, according to USA Today.

Many flight attendants, including O’Hare-based United and American Airlines crews and Midway-based Southwest crews, likely read this story with a grim sense of familiarity, having their own “horror” stories of violent passengers. Injuries inflicted by violent passengers stand as the dark flip side to the glamorous life that many people often associate with being a flight attendant.

Continue reading

This discussion is a continuation of our firm’s information regarding your rights for COVID related injuries. Please view Part 1 on the firm’s YouTube Channel at: https://youtu.be/dO7G6MBxNR4 for Richard Johnson’s discussion of COVID injuries being covered under The Illinois Occupational Disease Act and Illinois Workers’ Compensation Law.

As our nation is seeing a rapid rate of COVID vaccinations being administered, unfortunately some individuals will have adverse reactions that result in serious injury or death. In Illinois, it is well established that adverse reactions as a consequence of employer required vaccinations may be compensable and entitle the injured worker to workers’ compensation benefits.

Legal authority for this type of injury is set out in Section 11 of The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. The Statute provides as follows:

As the long-awaited COVID-19 vaccinations become increasingly available to the general public, many employees and unions may be questioning whether it is legal for employers to force their employees to receive vaccinations as a condition of employment. Interestingly enough, Katz, Friedman’s Senior Labor Partner, Stanley Eisenstein, was recently asked that very question in an appearance on Channel 7, ABC Chicago’s local news affiliate.

The short answer to the question is, “Yes.” Generally speaking, employers in the United States can require employees to receive vaccinations as a condition of continued employment. However, there may be some exceptions. For instance, if you are part of a union covered by a collective bargaining agreement, then your employer may have a duty to bargain with the union over any mandatory vaccination policies and procedures. There may also be exceptions or limitations on an employer’s ability to mandate vaccinations under certain federal employment statutes if, for instance, an employee requests an exemption based upon a disability or a sincerely held religious belief.

General Right of Employers to Require Vaccinations for At-Will Employees

Amazon is in the news again and it isn’t good news for some of the company’s warehouse workers in the Chicago area, according to groups that advocate on behalf of those workers. Recent reports say that many workers are being presented with a dismal choice: lose their jobs in the middle of this pandemic-fueled recession or else agree to work 10½-hour-long graveyard “megacycle” shifts at a new warehouse. This comes even as past research has shown that longer shifts often can lead to greater health and safety problems for workers. If you’ve been hurt at your warehouse job in or around Chicago, whether or not you were working exceptionally long shifts, you should take the time to contact a knowledgeable Illinois workplace injury attorney to get the legal advice you need.

According to a report from Motherboard, the aforementioned offer came on January 25 to the workers at Amazon’s McKinley Park warehouse known as DCH1. According to the reports, Amazon informed the workers that the company was closing down DCH1, which meant that those workers had two options: accept work at a new Chicago-area warehouse or else be terminated. The catch was, however, that the positions at the new warehouse involved megacycle work, which meant working four days per week, from 1:20 am to 11:50 am.

The situation facing DCH1 warehouse workers isn’t unique. According to the Motherboard report, Amazon “has been quietly transitioning warehouse workers at delivery stations nationwide to the ‘megacycle’ shift in recent months.”

Continue reading

Contact Information