Justia Lawyer Rating for David M. Barish

An Uber driver in Chicago made the news in late July for the wrong reasons. The driver, a 27-year-old from Midlothian, allegedly was driving drunk when he struck a police officer’s vehicle on I-94 near 76th Street. The officer was injured and required hospitalization.

If you were injured in an accident caused by a drunken Uber (or Lyft) driver, would you know what to do? Would you know who to pursue for compensation for the harm you suffered? For answers to these and other essential questions, be sure to seek out the advice of an experienced Chicago car accident attorney.

In that type of situation, you’d probably recognize that you could sue the driver. But, what do you do if the driver has few assets only has minimal insurance coverage, while you have piles of medical bills and other damages? Can you sue Uber? The answer is: potentially yes.

In slip-and-fall (and trip-and-fall) cases, there are several techniques the defense may deploy to attempt to defeat your claim and avoid paying compensation to you. One of the more common tactics is to assert that the defect that caused your fall was “open and obvious.” This argument can be powerful because the law says that the owners or controllers of a property have no legal obligation to provide protection against, or a warning about, open and obvious risks. In order to make sure you have your opportunity for your day in court (and to obtain the compensation you deserve), be sure that you are prepared by having experienced Illinois premises liability counsel representing you in your case.

One man who had to battle against an “open and obvious” argument was Steven, who was injured while attempting to enter the condo he shared with his girlfriend, Karen. According to the injured man’s lawsuit, he slipped and fell on the “stoop and stairs” situated in front of the condo’s entrance. The fall caused Steven to suffer very serious injuries to his left knee and left ankle, which caused him to have to undergo multiple surgeries and led him to sue.

According to Steven, the problem arose after the property manager hired a firm to apply an epoxy substance to the stoop and stair area. Allegedly, after the epoxy job was completed, the stoop and stair area was very slippery, especially when wet. Karen allegedly complained to the property manager at least 3-4 times, starting in 2008. (Steven’s accident took place in October 2009.)

Uber drivers might not be considered employees by Uber, but rather independent contractors. Like many disrupter companies, Uber has very little interest in following the workers’ compensation laws in the States that they operate so that they can save money. This is important to Uber since they lose hundreds of millions of dollars each year as they increase the reach of their business across the globe. This isn’t surprising considering that Uber has sought to upend many of the state and local regulations regarding taxi and chauffer licensing. They certainly don’t want to pay health care insurance for their drivers either. When people think of Uber, they usually don’t think about layers of companies that make a company like it. Uber prefers to attempt to dictate what the law should be for their benefit by hiding beyond their wholly-owned subsidiary Raiser, LLC. Uber is protected through direct litigation because of Raiser LLC. By doing so, Uber claims that when one of their drivers gets hurt while on ridesharing duties are not employees. While this would have most people scratching their heads, in in places like Chicago, Illinois, the laws seem much clearer in establishing that Uber drivers are indeed employees while transporting or driving to transport passengers. What is clear is that Raiser is not associated with Lyft and Lyft is not associated with Uber.

In all likelihood, most people who aren’t working for Uber don’t realize it, but Raiser, LLC pays the Uber drivers for their rideshare fees. Basically, Uber collects the money and Raiser pays the drivers. By doing this, Uber claims that it doesn’t directly employ the drivers. At the end of the day, Raiser basically cuts the driver their checks by sending funds to a driver’s bank account. Then, once per year, Raiser sends the drivers a 1099 tax form for work as an independent contractor. When a driver has an issue with Uber, the driver has to take it up with Raiser, which acts as a protective shield or intermediary for Uber where the drivers will be coldly directed to “Terms and Conditions” to deal with their concerns. In issues involving workers’ compensation, the major concern for an arbitrator or commissioner is evaluating direction and control. If someone exercises a certain amount of control over the way in which another person does the job duties, then an employee-employer relationship is established. Most employers like to avoid employment relationships for liability and tax reasons, but their avoidance sometimes backfires. Ironically, in a personal injury situation, Uber seems to clearly be in an agency relationship with the driver while the driver is picking-up and dropping-off passengers. It certainly seems to be hypocritical to have drivers acting as agents of Uber, but then when those agents are hurt during agency, Uber will not provide the basics of a claim like providing disability checks or paying for medical bills.

Although drivers must use Uber’s app for picking-up and dropping-off passengers, Uber claims that they simply don’t employ the drivers when they are hurt during that software-driven, nearly automated process. Clearly, without the app, Uber drivers wouldn’t be able to do their job. Further, the app provides a medium of communication for the Uber drivers and potential customers as well as a portal between the drivers and Uber. To say that Uber doesn’t control its drivers certainly seems to be contrary to the daily functions of a driver using Uber’s app. While Raiser LLC is liable for any rideshare accident that happens at Uber, when someone makes a claim against Uber, the claim would also be against Raiser, LLC. Legally, Uber drivers are borrowed employees of Raiser LLC or the subsidiary Uber uses in the Chicago market. As far as Uber is concerned, drivers don’t work for them even though they use their app continually and display the brand name clearly.

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

Chances are, if you’ve watched enough television or movies, you’ve become familiar with a certain stereotype: a person who is involved a car accident where one vehicle is stopped and the other is going 2 mph. The person struck appears fine at the scene, only to reappear later in a massively bulky neck brace. Like many stereotypes, this one rarely reflects reality. The truth is that, even if you’re involved in a low-speed crash and even if the pain you feel doesn’t set in right away, that doesn’t mean that you weren’t seriously injured as a result of the accident and it doesn’t mean that you cannot recover compensation for the harm you suffered in that accident. Whether the wreck was high-speed or low-speed and whether your pain started immediately or had a delayed onset, make sure you fully explore your options by contacting an experienced Chicago injury attorney about your situation.

A recently settled case, originally reported by the Madison-St. Clair Record, was an example of precisely this kind of scenario. J.D. was driving his motorcycle through a small Illinois town just east of St. Louis when he approached an intersection. J.W. was parked on the side of the road and was attempting to turn left into a parking lot. As J.W. turned his pickup truck left, he crossed into the path of J.D.’s motorcycle, according to the motorcyclist’s complaint. The impact allegedly caused the bike to topple over and pin J.D. underneath.

J.D. sued J.W. for negligence. Although J.D.’s accident was a low-speed one, the motorcyclist allegedly suffered significant damages. His complaint asserted that the accident caused him to incur “progressive and disabling injuries to his neck, back, and spine; left shoulder, hand and wrist; and pelvis.” These injuries allegedly caused the motorcyclist to incur substantial medical bills, in addition to a great deal of pain and suffering, according to the Record.

A worker who suffers a workplace injury in Illinois is entitled to pursue a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. Some claims may proceed in a straightforward way, where the focus falls primarily, or solely, on whether or not the injury was compensable and the extent of benefits to which the worker was entitled (and which the employer’s workers’ compensation insurer will pay).

Other times, though, there are added “wrinkles” in a case. Many times, these extra hurdles are things that are impossible to see in advance. One of the best ways to protect yourself and your claim is to make sure that you have an experienced Illinois workers’ compensation attorney on your side, who knows how to navigate the system and engage in the proper procedural steps in response to any unexpected hurdles.

What do we mean by unexpected additional hurdles? Look at the case of G.K., an employee of a stucco contractor. G.K. was reportedly injured on the job in 2008 and filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. At this point, G.K.’s case might have seemed straightforward, but it wasn’t. There was a problem that was completely not the worker’s fault: the employer had breached its contract with its workers’ compensation insurer, so the courts decided that the insurance company was not legally obligated to pay anything in G.K.’s case.

In a recent ruling, a federal judge threw out an injured Uber passenger’s lawsuit claim that Uber was negligent in its hiring of the driver who caused his injuries. While that is not good news for the passenger, there is a silver lining. The judge allowed the injured man to re-file at a later date and also provided some key knowledge for this passenger and, potentially, for other injured in accidents caused by Uber or Lyft drivers. Suing Uber or Lyft and winning isn’t easy. To make sure you are pursuing your case in the most effective way possible, be sure that you have an experienced Chicago injury attorney working for you.

According to the injured passenger, J.F., his night of December 22, 2016 unfolded as follows: he entered an Uber vehicle in Philadelphia and told the driver he wished to travel to Cherry Hill, New Jersey. The driver refused. The passenger, aware that Uber policy doesn’t allow “a driver to refuse a trip after learning where the customer wants to travel,” didn’t leave and repeated his demand to ride to New Jersey. The driver got out, came around to the passenger side of the vehicle, pulled the passenger out, threw him to the ground and proceeded to kick and beat him, causing the passenger to suffer multiple broken bones and teeth.

As a result of those injuries, the passenger sued Uber. One of the claims that the passenger made in that lawsuit was that Uber was negligent in hiring the driver who beat him. The trial court eventually dismissed that claim, but the judge allowed the injured man to pursue additional discovery and re-file the negligent hiring claim later once he acquired more evidence.

osha-heat-ad-large-en-page-001-267x300Most heat-related health problems can be prevented, or the risk of developing them can be reduced. For indoor environments, refer to the information below.

Engineering Controls

The best way to prevent heat-related illness is to make the work environment cooler. A variety of engineering controls can reduce workers’ exposure to heat:

If you’re hurt in an accident where the at-fault driver was an Uber or Lyft driver, you may be concerned about getting a proper and full payout for your claim. Fortunately, rideshare companies like these offer liability insurance for their drivers. That coverage only applies in certain situations and, even if it does, it may require strenuous effort (just like in many other insurance situations) to get the insurer to pay up. To be sure that you are pursuing your claims in the right way, and getting the full payout that you deserve, be sure you have a knowledgeable Chicago injury attorney guiding you throughout the process.

As it now stands, Uber and Lyft drivers in Illinois are generally considered independent contractors. As a result of that, if your injuries were the result of an Uber or Lyft driver’s negligence, the rideshare company may try to get the driver’s personal insurance to pay. Many drivers’ personal insurers, however, will refuse claims resulting from the driver’s Uber/Lyft activities unless the policy includes commercial coverage. That’s because most personal policies say that the driver must use the vehicle only for personal use and, if she/he doesn’t, then the insurer isn’t liable for paying claims based on that non-personal-use accident.

Fortunately, there is the insurance coverage held by Uber or Lyft. The amount of compensation that you may be able to seek depends on what the driver was doing when the accident took place. If the driver was not logged into the Uber or Lyft app at the time of the accident, then Uber or Lyft’s insurance will say that the driver was not operating as a rideshare driver at the time and will deny coverage. (Of course, if that happens, then you may be able to assert successfully that the driver was using the vehicle for personal use in that moment and pursue a successful claim against the driver’s personal insurance.)

When you are hurt at work and it becomes necessary to pursue a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, there are several hurdles you have to clear. For one thing, you have to meet all of the procedural requirements that go with the workers’ compensation claim process, which can be challenging for those not familiar with the rules.

In addition, you may have factual issues in your case that could open the door to attacks by your employer. For example, if you have incurred additional accidents after you suffered the original workplace accident that was the basis for your claim for benefits, your employer may try to argue that the later accident was the real cause of your harm, not the original workplace accident. Whether it is meeting all the procedural obligations or being prepared to take on your employer’s arguments, it pays to be sure that you are fully prepared and that includes having an experienced Chicago workers’ compensation attorney on your side.

D.H.’s claim was one that involved this issue of intervening accidents. The employee was working for an electrical entity when his right arm was injured on June 16, 2014. The next year, in April, while working for a different employer, the employee injured his right shoulder.