A Winter Wonderland of Liability

A Winter Wonderland of Liability

Snow, sleigh bells, lights, a race across the street and a hard fall onto an unplowed walkway is all part of winter in Chicago. Even in the isolated world of Covid-19, a snowfall mixed with a waning desire to shovel provides all the ingredients for a premise liability lawsuit filed against you. “Living in a crowded city like Chicago is always challenging,” says Jeffrey Kroll, Partner with Kaveny + Kroll Trial Attorneys in Chicago (,specializing in premise liability and personal injury. “But, when you add in the elements of winter, our usual roadways and walkways can become hazardous.”

Kroll cautions drivers to be extra aware once the temperatures begin to dip. “More often than not, those who are braving the elements will cross streets in the shortest amount of time/space possible, even if that means jaywalking or coming out from behind parked cars.”

And, while many find that they don’t have the time or energy to clear their property and sidewalk after a snow or ice storm, Kroll reminds us that in Chicago, shoveling is more than just an afterthought…it’s the law.“Every owner, lessee, tenant, occupant or person in charge of any home, building or lot of ground in the city that touches a sidewalk or public way is responsible for removing snow and ice from a 5-foot-wide portion of the sidewalk, according to Section 10-8-180 of Chicago’s Municipal Code” says Kroll. “This responsibility is in effect seven days a week and requires paths to be clear of snow by 10 am the morning after an overnight snowfall or 10 pm following one that occurs during the day.”

The sidewalk snow regulations affect all home, business, and property owners. Business owners that rent space adjacent to sidewalks are responsible for shoveling snow as well. Some landlords for residential and commercial property hold tenants responsible for snow clearance as a part of their lease agreements. Renters who aren’t certain of their shoveling responsibilities should check their rental agreements or ask their landlords for clarification. If you on a corner lot, you must remove snow and ice from sidewalks on all sides of your building and from corner sidewalk ramps. This applies to residential property and business owners. The city also prohibits shoveling snow into any right of way including bus stops, divvy stations or any situation where the snow would impede traffic of any kind.

“This ordinance was created in order to ease the burden on those who may be facing mobility challenges, particularly when it comes to navigating snow filled or icy thoroughfares, including children, older adults and those with any disabilities,” says Kroll. “This is a shared community responsibility to assure safe passage for everyone, regardless of the weather conditions. And, by helping others, you protect yourself from the threat of liability should someone fall on your property.”

Not being a good neighbor comes with a price tag as well. Fines ranging from $50 to $500 can be attached to tickets issued by Chicago’s Department of Transportation, who employ inspectors to check for problems and follow up on complaints made to the city’s 311 hotline. “Frankly, the fines can be the least of your problems,” says Kroll. “A face plant on an icy patch of your sidewalk or driveway can result in a premise liability suit which can be quite costly depending on the severity of injuries suffered. And, in all honesty,with Covid-19 raging in our city, no one wants to end up in an emergency room from an avoidable fall.”

Kroll recommends that even if you are not in the mental or physical condition to take on shoveling duties, consider hiring an individual or a service to stay in compliance with the law and the possibility of further liability. “At the end of a snowy day, you are far better off safe and shoveled.”

On the Road Again: Driving through COVID-19

On the Road Again: Driving through COVID-19

Face it, right now is an ‘interesting’ time in our county… for a variety of reasons. The least of these reasons is our roadways. For months, the pandemic kept us quarantined. Today, many are still sequestered in their homes. Yet, Illinois saw an 11% increase in roadway fatalities in the first three months of the year. How can this be with a lockdown in place? With a COVID-19 pandemic resurgence, more and more people are supposed to be at home. More and more people are working from home. In Chicago, rush hour traffic is nearly desolate in place of the usual bumper to bumper traffic. One would think we should be nearly accident free. That would be an inaccurate assumption.

So, what is happening? Why is it that when are ‘grounded’ by the pandemic and statistics indicate that there are fewer drivers on the roads, why are we seeing an unexpected increase in roadway fatalities?

According to the Washington Post, the answer is quite simple. With open roadways, people are driving more recklessly. Average speeds have increased significantly above the posted speed limit, in fact, more than doubling in many cities.

Less congestion, plus wide-open roads for motorists, is a recipe for disaster. Furthermore, when you account for some drivers having a bit of “rust” on them for not driving as much during this period of time, it adds to the fateful equation. The roads, while mostly devoid of commuters, are also filled with younger drivers who are out of school, home from school with time on their hands and a vehicle at their disposal. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the risk of motor vehicle crashes is higher among teens aged 16-19 than among any other age group. In fact, per mile driven, teen drivers in this age group are nearly three times more likely than drivers aged 20 and older to be in a fatal crash. Another factor is that the pandemic has ‘driven’ many off of public transportation and on to bicycles, scooters and walking, creating greater hazards for drivers looking to avoid these added elements to our roadways.

So, understanding the cause is helpful, but what of the solutions? How do we prevent future fatalities during a pandemic? As a Trial Attorney and Partner with Kaveny + Kroll ( in Chicago, specializing in transportation accidents and fatalities, here are a couple of suggestions for staying as safe on the road as are at home:

  • Regardless of the chill in the air, do not underestimate the increase of pedestrians and potentially, bicycle traffic, particularly in urban areas.
  • Obey speed limits, even if the roads are clear and traffic is light.
  • Follow local and state directives to stay off the roads if officials have directed drivers to do so.
  • Some states have asked drivers to shelter in place and stay off the roads except in certain situations.
  • Practice defensive driving and drive attentively, avoiding distractions. When you combine distracting driving with excessive speed, the risk of a fatality greatly increases.

COVID-19 has shown us that much of the damage can be collateral, whether through the economy, social interaction, civil unrest or through increased accidents on our roadways. This is not the time to let down our guard in any of these areas, as we slowly transition into our ‘new normal’.

September 17th is World Patient Safety Day

September 17th is World Patient Safety Day

On September 17, 2020, we will mark WORLD PATIENT SAFETY DAY, a cooperative effort of all 194 World Health Organization (WHO) member states. The objectives of World Patient Safety Day are to increase public awareness and engagement, enhance global understanding and spur global solidarity in action to promote patient safety. “Our purpose in honoring this date is to recognize patient safety as a global priority,” says Elizabeth Kaveny, Managing Partner of Kaveny + Kroll Trial Lawyers in Chicago (

An experienced trial attorney representing patients in their recovery against health care providers guilty of medical negligence, Kaveny has long spoken out about the dangers that exist in our medical system…even pre-Covid-19 “Medical Error is the third leading cause of death in the United States, right behind Heart Disease and Cancer,” says Kaveny. “It has been noted that Covid is now the third leading cause of death but that’s only because Medical Error is not recognized by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) which collects and reports the data. Medical error can include misdiagnosis, delay in diagnosis, error in treatments such as medication or surgery, or lack thereof, all the way to criminal conduct. The causes of these ‘mistakes’ can range from inexperience and lack of education to an overtaxed system and lack of attention to detail.

The WHO reports that 4 out of 10 patients are harmed in the primary and/or ambulatory settings and up to 80% of these incidences can be avoided. Yet, while research efforts and funding routinely go to addressing and trying to reduce the risk of sickness and death from disease, much less can be said of working to mitigate the often lethal consequences of medical error. “So many of our clients’ families (or the direct victims of medical malpractice if they are fortunate enough to survive their ordeal) come to us with broken spirits and lives,” says Kaveny. “While our primary responsibility is to provide them with justice and financial compensation, we at Kaveny + Kroll spend much of our time strongly advocating for the need to proactively prevent these tragedies from occurring.”

In the current climate of Covid, many physicians and facilities are overwhelmed by the spread of the virus, What are we to reasonably expect in our system, straining under the weight of COVID-19? The truth is we can expect a higher than ‘normal’ amount of medical error, failure or delay in diagnosis. This could be the current or future heart patient, cancer patient or victim of infection whether home or facility based. Essentially, we concern ourselves with our most vulnerable segments of the population, which we all try to support every single day.

“For everyone so bravely fighting our current COVID-19 pandemic, please keep in mind that with  medical error acting as the annual cause of 250,000 to 400,000 deaths alone not to mention injuries per year, patients essentially experience a pandemic of medical error…every year,” says Kaveny.

But, there are ways to help advocate and prevent mistakes from happening and part of that starts with choosing the right providers or facilities based on your individual needs and circumstances. “To help assure yourself the best care, it’s important to do your homework and serve as your own ‘Medical CEO’ when making potentially life changing decisions,” suggests Kaveny. ““Many patients try to achieve a ‘one stop shop’ when it comes to their healthcare, something we do not recommend based on our experience “While your primary physician may make all referrals ‘in house’ and suggest ‘continuity of care’, many times, this is about convenience and allegiance to their own health system. In a rapidly changing and dynamic medical and scientific environment, you may have to go the distance for the best diagnosis depending on your condition, even if that distance is across town or further. The goal is to get the best care for you and your family, not the easiest.”

Kaveny recommends doing your research starting with Google, Medical ratings websites and recommendations from friends, family and those that are specifically dealing with your condition. “Word of mouth still remains one of the best ways of locating the best care,” says Kaveny.

Once you locate a physician, remember:
1) Be Honest in retelling your past, present and what you expect for your future
2) Ask about their experience in your particular condition
3) It’s okay to ask if they have been sued! A physician who responds negatively may be a red flag.
4) Ask about the possible complications that could occur, with your condition or their treatment

Keep in mind, the ‘visit’ goes both ways. “A good physician works from the SOAP model,” says Kaveny. “This allows for the most thorough view of a patient, their condition(s) and concerns. It can also be a checklist for patients in evaluating their physician experience.”

S – Subjective (Patient History)
O – Objective (Exam)
A – Assessment by Physician
P – Plan of Treatment/Management

“Being knowledgeable and prepared is an important element of Patient Safety Advocacy, on September 17th as well as through the rest of the year,” says Elizabeth Kaveny. “This is part of our mission to protect and serve not only our client population but the population as a whole.

COVID-19 and the Cubicle

COVID-19 and the Cubicle

Ava Gehringer is a Trial Attorney with Kaveny + Kroll ( Born, raised and currently an Evanston resident, Ava Gehringer penned the following column on Covid and the Cubicle…

In March, a staggering eighty-one percent of employed Americans polled reported that they expected a negative effect on their workplace from COVID-19, according to a Gallup survey. However, in that same survey, approximately four in five American employees expressed confidence they would be able to successfully meet the requirements of their job, even if the outbreak continued. It has been four months since our nation’s cities -and offices- experienced the most drastic change in decades. Still, almost half of American workers continue to express concern about being exposed to COVID-19 at work.

Employees are not the only workers who express concern, though. As we begin piece together what the pandemic means for us as a society, employers have had to quickly adapt to an everchanging landscape of liability for potential workplace exposure to COVID-19. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) has most recently issued updated guidance for employers geared toward providing rules for when employers are responsible for recording cases of coronavirus in the workplace.

While this naturally places an added burden on employers, especially when it comes to how they are required to determine whether COVID-19 exposure is workplace related, it is one of the primary ways employers can work toward the collective goal of contact tracing as a means of reducing the overall case count in the country.

But these are unchartered waters for not only the general public but for employers. While OSHA has deemed COVID-19 a recordable illness, the same has never been true for the common cold or seasonal flu. An employer’s duty to record work-related instances of COVID-19 is thus new and, naturally, riddled with potential flaws.

What is particularly tricky is that, even if employers place strict guidelines to limit the exposure of employees to one another while in the office, several inherent hurdles make such guidelines less than foolproof.First, the more we learn about this virus, the more it becomes clear that it is most easily transmitted indoors with relatively close and prolonged contact with others. In short, the average office space. Second, while the interoffice rules employers place are set to reduce the risk or spread, employers cannot control the choices their employees make to otherwise expose themselves once they leave the four walls of the office. Thus, because no mask wearing, occupancy-limiting, surface wiping policy can completely negate the risk of exposure, there will always be the risk of potential workplace liability.

Cue OSHA. Under OSHA’s guidelines, upon learning about a case of COVID-19 within its walls, employers are required to conduct a reasonable investigation into the illness’s relation to work. If they deem the COVID incident was “work-related” it must be recorded on an OSHA form 300. Experts also encourage employers to document efforts to investigate, should OSHA raise questions.

OSHA defines “work-related” as an event or exposure in the work environment which either caused or contributed to the resulting condition, or significantly aggravated a preexisting injury or illness, subject to certain enumerated exceptions. Understanding this definition’s limitations and ambiguity OSHA gives examples of how an instance of coronavirus might be work-related, such as when several cases develop among workers who work closely together, absent no alternative explanation.

Yet, this reasonable investigation must be conducted while balancing it with the respective employers’ respect for privacy concerns of its employees and presumed lack of expertise in the medical field. In light of those concerns, OSHA notes that it is generally sufficient to ask the employee how he/she believes they contracted the illness and discuss possible activities they engaged in outside of the work setting that may have led to the illness.Employers must also, of course, review the employee’s work environment for potential COVID exposure.

Due to the natural difficulty involved in tracking potential workplace exposure, experts have encouraged employers to focus primarily on prevention. Though admittedly not a perfect solution, requiring employees to fill out affirmations that they have not been in close contact with a person with COVID and that they themselves are not experiencing COVID-related symptoms, taking the temperature of employees before shifts, social distancing, mandating masks in common areas, and sanitizing work stations are all prudent steps to take to stop the potential liability before it even begins. At the very least, such measures are a first line of defense for employers navigating the topsy turvy waters of the pandemic.

Covid-19 waivers: Lawyers explain what you should know before signing a coronavirus liability waiver

Covid-19 waivers: Lawyers explain what you should know before signing a coronavirus liability waiver.


Chances are you have signed a liability waiver in your lifetime—perhaps prior to participating in an extreme sport or joining a local gym. But odds are you have not been asked to sign one before going shopping, dining at a restaurant, or getting a haircut. Until now.

As states gradually reopen, businesses, school districts, and universities across the country are implementing mandatory COVID-19 liability waivers in an effort to insulate themselves from a potential onslaught of negligence lawsuits related to COVID-19 exposure. For example, a school district in South Carolina is requiring parents, as part of the student registration process, to sign an agreement that states:

By signing this agreement, I acknowledge the contagious nature of COVID-19 and voluntarily assume the risk that my children and I may be exposed to or infected by COVID-19 by attending and/or participating in sports-related activities in connections with the District’s schools. . . . I understand and agree that this release includes my claims based on the actions, omissions, or negligence of the district, its employees, agents, and representatives, whether a COVID-19 infection occurs before, during, or after participation in any school-related activities.

“First and foremost, it’s important to remember that waiver or not, claiming injury is a one to one proposition,” says Jeffrey Kroll, Partner with Kaveny + Kroll Trial Lawyers ( in Chicago. “In other words, if you are affected by Covid through contact with a business or organization, the liability would only apply to you, not whomever else you would pass along the virus to.”

school district in Missouri is requiring parents who want to their child to play a school sport to sign a similar waiver releasing the district and its employees and agents “from any and all . . . legal liabilities for” not only any “injuries” sustained by the child, but also “death.” Similarly, last month, the President of the United States’ reelection campaign required everyone attending a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma to sign a waiver that stated: “By attending the Rally, you and any guests voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19 and agree not to hold Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.; BOK Center; ASM Global; or any of their affiliates, directors, officers, employees, agents, contractors, or volunteers liable for any illness or injury.”

The NFL is reportedly considering requiring fans to sign a similar waiver to attend games. Colleges across the country have asked student-athletes to sign COVID-19 liability waivers absolving the college of liability if the player contracts COVID-19 when they return to campus. Two United States Senators have introduced legislation to prohibit colleges from using this practice.

The increasing use of these waivers raises important questions for individuals about the nature, scope, and effect of these waivers. Are they enforceable in court? If you sign one and then contract coronavirus due to the negligence of a business or school, would the waiver bar your claim for damages, or merely count as evidence against you—that is, evidence that you “assumed the risk” of contracting COVID-19? Because no court in the country has ruled on the enforceability of one of these waivers yet, answers to these questions remain undetermined. Nevertheless, here are some things you should know before signing one of these waivers:


  1. Each state has its own laws regarding the enforceability of liability waivers. Three states—Louisiana, Montana, and Virginia—prohibit them entirely. All other states recognize and enforce them if certain requirements are met, though some states apply these requirements strictly while others apply them moderately or leniently.
  2. On the whole, courts tend to impose three basic limits on liability waivers. First, courts generally hold that you cannot assume risks of which you are entirely unaware. For this reason, before enforcing a liability waiver, courts will typically check that the language is clear and comprehensible and unmistakably sets forth the parties’ intent and the terms and effect of the agreement. Given the widespread coverage of the global coronavirus pandemic, a court would likely be hard pressed to credit an argument that an individual did not understand the risks contemplated by a waiver discussing “COVID-19 exposure.”
  3. A second general limit on liability waivers is that courts typically require that risks be assumed voluntarily rather than involuntarily or without a real choice in the matter. For this reason, a supermarket outside a city center could not require all shoppers to sign a liability waiver before buying food. However, this limitation may not apply in the case of a hair salon, for example.
  4. Third, courts generally will not enforce a liability waiver that violates public policy. For this reason, most states decline to enforce liability waivers purporting to shield an entity from liability for gross negligence, reckless conduct, willfull/wanton misconduct, or intentional torts.The general rule is that a liability waiver can shield an entity from liability for only its negligent conduct—that is, failing to act with reasonable prudence under the circumstances. Of course, there is some variation in the particulars of these limitations across states, and in courts’ willingness to enforce them.
  5. In Illinois, liability waivers are enforceable, though disfavored by courts. This means that Illinois courts will generally enforce liability waivers as a bar to suit so long as they clearly spell out the intention of the parties and do not violate public policy, but will, in evaluating whether a waiver satisfies these requirements, strictly interpret the language of the liability waiver against the party seeking to enforce it. In simpler terms, the tie usually goes to the party seeking non-enforcement. As in other states, if a waiver is upheld, it will apply only to ordinary negligence.
  6. Do courts typically enforce liability waivers signed by minors? Most states will treat such a waiver as enforceable but voidable, meaning that the other party can enforce the contract unless the minor voids the contract before he or she reaches the age of majority (which is 18 in all but three states, including Illinois). The reason is that most states hold that a minor lacks the capacity to contract. An exception exists where a minor contracts for necessities such as food, shelter, or medical care, which courts will generally enforce.
  7. What about liability waivers signed by a parent or guardian on behalf of a child? Most states do not enforce such waivers, though some states recognize an exception to this rule where the parent-signed waiver relates to a public school, municipal program or voluntary extracurricular program. Courts often uphold such waivers out of a recognition that these programs might not exist without such protection from liability. For this reason, we may see more school districts implement mandatory liability waivers in connection with extracurricular activities and sports programs.


What This Means for You:

The bottom line is that you should not take COVID-19 liability waivers lightly. Treat them with the respect they deserve. If a business is asking you to sign one before letting you on its premises, understand you are not required to sign the waiver. It is your choice. At the same time, recognize that the business may deny you services.

Treat these waivers properly by taking the time to read them carefully. If a waiver clearly states the risks you are assuming and the rights you are relinquishing (such as the right to sue), understand it is possible that that waiver may be enforced by a court to bar any claim you might have otherwise brought against the other party to the agreement.

The information contained herein is not a substitute for legal advice. As specific questions arise, do not hesitate to contact us at Kaveny + Kroll Trial Lawyers,




Zachary Hofeld is a Trial Attorney with Kaveny + Kroll Trial Lawyers. Hofeld graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School. During that time, he served as Managing Editor of the Minnesota Journal of International Law, advanced to the William E. McGee National Civil Rights Moot Court Championship, earned his M.B.A. degree, and briefed, argued, and won a prominent immigration appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Jasso Arangure v. Whitaker, 911 F.3d 333 (6th Cir. 2018).

Hofeld spent his undergraduate years at Harvard, where he studied Government, led the Harvard Cancer Society, and played Varsity Baseball.

The art of parenting and persuasion

The art of parenting and persuasion. Balancing life and the law.

Chicago Daily Law Bulletin – July 22, 2020
by Jeffery J. Kroll
Jeffrey J. Kroll is a founding partner of Kaveny + Kroll LLC. He has achieved settlements and verdicts in a wide range of cases, from trucking accidents to medical malpractice to sports safety cases.

Having an 18-year-old son and a 12-year-old daughter can be really interesting … even under the most benign of circumstances! Under the glare of a pandemic, however, I have realized the more time I spend with them, they are so me — and so not me.

We may share likes and dislikes, but many of their interests are beyond my comprehension. Sure, I have been in a couple of TikTok videos with Lily and have engaged in a variety of activities with my soon-to-be at college son, Jack, and his friends until midnight. Yet, we are all fiercely individual in so many aspects, which makes me wonder how much I actually impact their choices — and ultimately their future. It also gives me a view from the side of judge and juror, one that is not my primary vocation.
That line of thinking leads me back to my own life and to the jurors we work with and how impactful they are on potential life-changing decisions for our clients. Sure, jury selection may not return for this calendar year, but as trial lawyers we need to stay sharp.

Like my children, jurors tend to lean toward the opposite of what you are trying to persuade them to do or think. It is human nature for someone to do the opposite of what someone is trying to make you do. Yet, we have to be careful not to lose objectivity because when someone, such as jurors, are being coercive or manipulative, we tend to retreat to what we know, not what others want us to know. That could very well be the exact opposite of what you are trying to portray.

Wisdom springs from reflection, folly from reaction. When you feel your tenet is being constrained or compromised, your inclination is to resist. In doing so you can overcompensate. There is something known as backfire effect. When your core beliefs are challenged, it can cause one to put even more confidence in their beliefs — and their corresponding reactions. In other words, do not criticize or publicly attack jurors. As Mark Twain said, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

Often, right or wrong, the first thing you judge influences your judgment of all that follows. First impressions matter. Be mindful of this self-bias during jury selection. Your initial thought is proven to have a significant effect on your thoughts of others. Human minds are associated in nature, so that the order in which you receive information helps determine the course of your judgments and perceptions.

I recommend being mindful of this bias during jury selection because that is the first judgment the jury gets of you not only as an attorney, but as a human being. The impression the Tierney Darden trial team made during jury selection anchored the jury to a potential $150 million verdict. This simple interaction influenced the idea of what a realistic verdict looked like for a client who had profound injuries. This first judgment of us by the jury was shared by the jury with a judgment worth $148 million. Our goal was to anchor them to the amount of $150 million.

Richard Feynman, a renowned physicist, once said, “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool.” We are primed to see and agree with ideas that fit our preconceptions and ignore and dismiss information that conflicts with them. This is known as confirmation bias. I have fooled myself too often with a potential juror. When selecting a juror, use your brain, not your ego. Too often we judge jurors on their character but opt to judge yourself on the situation. It is not only kind to view other’s situations with charity but be objective as well. Not doing so can be detrimental to your case.

The framing effect is where you allow yourself to be unduly influenced by context and delivery. All of us are, in fact, influenced by delivery, framing and subtle clues. This is why the ad industry is so powerful, despite almost everyone believing they are not impacted by sublime and subtle advertising messages. This is especially important as a trial attorney. Your context and delivery of your theme, your ad, as early as jury selection, can be the cornerstone piece to the puzzle.

After years of continuing to practice on the attorney side, it is refreshing and eye opening to be on the juror side from time to time when it comes to Jack and Lily. It is important we take lessons given to us by others, even if those “others” are our children, and apply them to our trial practice. Always remember our execution during jury selection and continuing through closing arguments will be the lasting impression that will shape jurors perspective of us, our client and the issue at hand. Taking a second to look through the other side of the glass might just be your ticket to a successful trial. Whenever these trials do come back.

Handle with care. Fireworks safety in the time of COVID-19.

Handle with care. Fireworks safety in the time of COVID-19.


To say that we all could use a cause for celebration these days is an understatement. COVID-19 entered our lives only this past spring and has left a trail of illness and death. The pandemic has also given cause to ‘lesser’ effects and disappointments none the less with a plethora of cancellations from schools and camps to graduations and parties.

Now, as we come upon the 4th of July, traditionally a time to celebrate summer, we are faced with more of the same. As far back as any of us can remember, fireworks are used to mark special events and holidays. But, this year, most professional firework shows have been canceled to avoid crowds and transmission of the virus. This includes the ‘extra’ summer displays at baseball games and other events, most of which have been canceled as well. Seems like a perfect time to take advantage of Illinois’ move into Phase 4 and a loosening of restrictions. A backyard barbecue, a few beers and a homemade fireworks display to replace the professional one can appear to have all the makings of a small scale celebration…finally. Yet, it is important to know and appreciate that fireworks are not safe in the hands of consumers. As will be seen, fireworks cause thousands of injuries each year, on the 4th or any other time throughout the summer months.

No one is more keenly aware of this than Jeffrey Kroll, Partner with Kaveny + Kroll Trial Lawyers ( in Chicago. Kroll has represented a number of individuals injured or killed due to fireworks accidents. “Despite fireworks being illegal in the State of Illinois without a permit, it’s not difficult to obtain fireworks, but it’s also not difficult to get injured by them,” says Kroll.

“It’s also not unusual for children to be playing with sparklers,” says Kroll. “Many believe sparklers are a fun and safe alternative for young children, must do not know sparklers account for roughly 25% of all emergency room firework injuries. To put things in perspective, water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, cakes bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, wood burns at 575 degrees Fahrenheit, and glass melts at 900 degrees Fahrenheit. Sparklers burn at 1200 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a catastrophic accident that followed an errant firework explosion in a group of minors at Bloom Township High School, Kroll obtained a settlement for the children permanently burned and scarred by the fireworks. “It is simple to say that fireworks displays are inherently and abnormally dangerous and ultra-hazardous activities. Combine this with alcohol and you have a sure-fire recipe for disaster,” attests Kroll.

Not isolated instances, children aged 10-14 have the highest rate of firework injuries with more than 1/3 of the victims of firework injuries occurring to children under the age of 15. Yet, it is not just children getting injured. Burns account for close to 45% of the 91,000 injuries treated in the emergency rooms seen in the month around July 4th, half of those injuries were to the extremities and 34% were to the eye or other parts of the head.

Personal injury aside, Fireworks started an estimated 19,500 fires in 2018, including 1,900 structure fires, 500 vehicle fires, and 17,100 outside and other fires. These fires caused five deaths, 46 civilian injuries, and $105 million in direct property damage.

“Even more so, keep in mind that a pandemic is not the time for a fireworks related visit to the ER,” says Kroll. “It is the time to stick with the simple and safer stuff such as sparklers, crafts and even silly string. It’s our best bet to assure that a cause for celebration doesn’t turn into yet another cause of concern.”

Source: NFPA’s Fireworks Fires and Injuries report

Keeping our workers…and their workplaces safe!

The world hit pause.
Your need for justice didn’t.
So neither did we.


Last month, President Donald Trump said he would sign an executive order to shield meatpacking companies from legal liability from worker claims of not being adequately protected from coronavirus exposure. He also discussed a broader ‘liability shield’ to protect corporations from coronavirus lawsuits. “This type of discussion is alarming to us as advocates for victims’ rights,” says Elizabeth Kaveny, Managing Partner of Kaveny + Kroll Trial Lawyers ( in Chicago.“During this time of worldwide pandemic, safety for those providing essential services must remain paramount.”

Kaveny’s comments are supported by Ralph Nader and a group of attorneys, law professors and activists. In an open letter to President Trump and members of Congress, Nader’s coalition called for a higher level of protection for our vulnerable workers in the face of preventable harms that can cause injury or death.

Much of this concern involves the pandemic itself and the exposure of workers to the coronavirus due in some instances to improper safety and hygiene practices in the work environment. There have already been numerous outbreaks in companies large and small, where workers have fallen ill and/or exposed their colleagues to infection due to improper reporting and tracing of cases as well as lack of social distancing or protective person equipment(gloves, masks, et al).

“These protections are as important in our factories and facilities to keep workers safe, as they are in the healthcare setting to keep our providers safe,” says Elizabeth Kaveny. “Likewise, as consumers we rely on a ‘standard of care’ which implies that the care and treatment we receive in a professional environment (medicine, law et al.) meet the level of knowledge available. Cases have been reported throughout the country of individuals losing their lives due to lack of proper testing, care or treatment. Everyone must be charged with meeting the applicable ‘standard of care’ in providing the proper safety checks and balances. This certainly should apply to companies on behalf of their employees.”

The Illinois AFL-CIO, a federation of unions representing 900,000 workers in the state, including grocery store workers, bus drivers and manufacturing employees have vowed to fight for workers’ protection as a way to push their employers to provide safe workplaces. Hundreds of workers at grocery stores, meat and food processing plants, public transit facilities and other businesses have died as the virus has spread throughout their workplace.

“We are all in this together,” says Kaveny. “For this to be completely true, we must be able to protect and enforce regulations that keep workers, who in turn are charged with keeping our country running safe.”




Elizabeth A.Kaveny is proud to have been recognized as one of the 10 Best Personal Injury Attorneys in Illinois in 2018 and one of the top 5 Women Attorneys in her field for each of the past 5 years. Elizabeth has been accepted into one of the country’s most prestigious national organizations, the American College of Trial Lawyers, and last year became a barrister with the International Society of Barristers. 

Elizabeth is an often-requested teacher and lecturer on trial advocacy, having taught at Northwestern University’s School of Law, Loyola University School of Law, the National Institute of Trial Advocacy and lectured for numerous bar associations and organizations in their continuing legal education programs throughout the country.

The world hit pause. Your need for justice didn’t. So neither did we.

The world hit pause.
Your need for justice didn’t.
So neither did we.

While the closing of our civil courtrooms has caused a delay, it hasn’t stopped our work for you at Kaveny + Kroll. Remote technology allows us to still meet with you, take depositions, and conduct witness interviews and pre-trial hearings.

Rest assured, while we are doing our part to protect public health during the Covid-19 crisis, we are also staying strong for our clients.

We are working for you today and every day, whether you are an existing client or a new one. The wheels of justice will return to full speed. At Kaveny + Kroll, we are already there.


Kaveny + Kroll Trial Lawyers ( is a leading boutique medical malpractice and personal injury law firm in Chicago. They were established in 2019 by award-winning attorneys Elizabeth A. Kaveny and Jeffrey J. Kroll.  The firm is driven by a commitment to justice and the need to fight for victim’s rights and financial recovery. At Kaveny + Kroll, we believe a valued law firm should take your case personally … because it is.

Justice Denied? The Ripple Effect

Justice Denied? The Ripple Effect

In concerted efforts to restore the most crucial systems back to order and to best keep cases preceding to resolution, The Circuit Court of Cook County has released a general administrative order in efforts to address the ever-changing landscape in the Circuit Court of Cook County caused by COVID-19.

While we are still bobbing and weaving as a city, state and nation, to determine when and HOW we can safely return to our most essential services, the latest order looks to better define and offer guidance moving forward in the legal arena. While there is still no in-person hearings on any motions including emergency motions, this order directs that beginning April 15, 2020, all emergency motions will be heard remotely through telephone or video.

In a more fluid sense, cases that were set for trial between March 17, 2020 and August 14, 2020, will be reset  for  a trial setting (NOT a trial) on a date between June 29, 2020 and August 14, 2020. At this time, those cases can expect an actual trial date to be set within 60 days of the trial setting date, assuming normal court operations have resumed.

While this seems to offer at least a partial return to the semblance of law and order, it is crucial to note that while this provides a broad spectrum for moving forward, the devil is in the details.

“Most  of our clients who were set to go to trial in late March, April or May, have already been waiting for their chance to be heard for up to four years,” says Jeffrey Kroll, Partner with Kaveny + Kroll Trial Attorneys ( in Chicago. “Due to the usual traffic of the court system, civil cases in Cook County generally experience a 2-4 year lag from file to trial,” says Kroll. “That translates into families who are living with the severe injury or death of a loved one not getting their day in court until much later than expected. Consider the case of a child egregiously injured at birth. Until a case is tried and found for the plaintiff, the family must pay for all the health and maintenance of their child’s care, costs that can easily be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. Covid-19 has extended this timeline even further, albeit with reasons of safety and public health in mind.”

Even with the tentative schedule in place, Kroll cautions the public to not assume that all will be business as usual…even on a delayed schedule. “There are so many considerations beyond the opening of the court systems, whenever that happens,” says Kroll. “Multiple expert witnesses who were lined up to present on a certain date, now have to rearrange and coordinate their schedules for a new trial date. Jury work also takes on an entirely new realm as many who have not been working during the pandemic will be hard-pressed to come back to serve on a jury…for $17 dollars a day.

The safety issues are an entirely other ‘court’ to contend with. From the close quarters in the courtroom to the jury room, the threat of contagion must be considered. “Ultimately, we will get going again,” says Kroll. “But, in the case of COVID-19, the wheels of justice may move quite slowly to ensure public safety.”



Kaveny + Kroll Trial Lawyers ( is a leading boutique medical malpractice and personal injury law firm in Chicago. They were established in 2019 by award-winning attorneys Elizabeth A. Kaveny and Jeffrey J. Kroll.  The firm is driven by a commitment to justice and the need to fight for victim’s rights and financial recovery. At Kaveny + Kroll, we believe a valued law firm should take your case personally … because it is.