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Bus Accidents

Bus Accidents

by Jeffery J. Kroll

With the population well in excess of 2 million people, the City of Chicago is the third most populous city in the United States. Roughly 25% of all employees in the City of Chicago use a bus to get to and from work. Buses provided an essential service to many U.S. communities, including, Chicago.

However, bus accidents comprise roughly 4% of all collisions each year. Due to the vehicle size and a number of potential victims in a single bus accident, the aftermath of a bus accident can be very devastating. Innocent victims of a bus accident may be left with both economic and life altering non-economic damages as a result of the bus company’s mishap. It is important to understand one’s rights when such an event occurs.

A bus is typically defined as any vehicle which can transport nine or more people, including the driver. When you think about it, there are so many different buses driving in or around the Chicagoland area:

  • Chicago Transit Authority
  • PACE Suburban Bus
  • Reginal Transportation Authority
  • School Buses
  • Charter Buses
  • Shuttle Buses
  • Tour Buses
  • Megabus
  • Wheelchair-accessible Buses

When a bus accident occurs, determining the cause of the collision can be challenging. The bus accident attorneys at Kaveny + Kroll have experience in handling and litigating bus accident cases. Some of the common causes for a bus accident include, but are not limited to:

  • Distracted driving
  • Failure to maintain a proper lookout
  • Bus Blind spots
  • Excessive speed
  • Improper lane changes
  • Sudden stops

If you or a loved one have been involved in a bus accident, enlisting the aid of experience bus accident attorneys will help answer questions and expedite the process. Contact the bus accident attorneys at Kaveny + Kroll.

Chicago L Train Accidents

Chicago L Train Accidents

by Jeffery J. Kroll

The Chicago L train is a form of Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) transportation that runs on eight different “lines” which have their own route throughout areas all through Chicago but focused on downtown, Midway Airport and O’Hare Airport.

According, to the CTA, on an average weekday, over 1.5 million people use public transportation. With so many people, there is an inevitable chance for life changing events to occur.

What kinds of L Train accidents can happen?

L train accidents can occur in many different ways. All which can cause significant injury and even death. The common carrier law in Illinois includes any public transportation entity and holds that these entities, such as the CTA, owe those using it the highest duty of care. When this highest duty of care is breached in an L train accident, it may because of negligence, and an injured victim can receive compensation for the economic and non-economic damages and injuries which one suffered.

Some common causes of train and rail accidents include:

  • Inadequate train or rail maintenance
  • Train derailments
  • Inadequate or lack of inspections
  • Sudden stops
  • Speeding
  • Reckless train engineers
  • Defective equipment
  • Equipment or mechanical failures
  • Spills, garbage, or debris on train platforms
  • Tripping or slipping hazards onboard trains
  • Third-party drivers or pedestrians
  • Unprotected railroad crossings
  • Objects on the tracks
  • Bridge collapse

If you or a loved one are involved in a L train accident, enlisting the aid of an experienced  L train accident attorneys we will help answer any questions and expedite the process. Contact the L train accident attorneys at Kaveny + Kroll.

An Image by Any Other Name

An Image by Any Other Name

by Jeffery J. Kroll

The ability to anticipate the critical issues that must be explained and simplified for the jury is essential to any successful trial lawyer. I have been fortunate as I have had the opportunity to lecture around the country to other lawyers on the use of themes and analogies to persuade jurors.

What is a theme? A theme is a phrase that brings a vision to jurors. Themes are the anchors around which the jurors visualize the case. You want and need your jurors to remember your theme. If you think about it, sound bites make for effective themes. A sound bite or a movie trailer grabs your attention. You see the clip. You want to see the movie. A trial theme is no different.

Your theme must be limited to a ten-word telegram that explains the case. No matter how complex your case is, your theme must be contained in ten words or less. It sounds pretty simple. It is not. We live in a world full of themes. We have theme parties, theme parks, theme songs and holiday themes. If you are invited to a theme party, you know exactly the reason for the celebration. Why is a theme important?

  1. You, and not opposing counsel, control the definition of the case, which can influence the dialogue in the jury room.
  2. We all want a simple solution; the master key, the secret formula… jurors are no different. Provide jurors with the solutions. Give them the master key with your theme.

When developing a theme, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is your theme based on justice or some technicality? Jurors want to do the right thing. A theme based on a technicality may not work.
  • Will the instructions at the end of the case coincide with your theme? “An improper lane change caused a life change” is a simple but effective theme.
  • Will the theme fit in with the values or beliefs of the jurors?
  • Will the theme cast your client in a role with which the jurors can identify?
  • Bottom line, what is the message that I want to transmit to the jury with my theme?

It is difficult to make jurors listen if you do not know what they are thinking, so trial lawyers need to try and influence the dialogue in the jury room. Allow the jurors to concentrate and absorb your theme. People remember things in threes, e.g., Blood, Sweat, and Tears; Earth, Wind and Fire, so it is effective to have a theme with three words in it. For example, in a trucking case, I argued the truck driver should have slowed down due to bad weather. The conditions should have forced him to slow down due to bad weather. The conditions were obvious, skidding was predictable and slowing down would have made the collision preventable.

By simply reading the newspaper or being “in-tune” with society, themes will leap out at you. Themes should be used in opening statements, throughout the trial with lay and expert witnesses and during closing arguments. Use themes as an effective way of communicating with jurors. By creating a case theme, you control the definition of the case. When you control the definition of the case, you control the dialogue in the jury room. When you control the dialogue in the jury room, a favorable result is likely.

Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic Brain Injury

Each year in America, there are over two million individuals that sustain Traumatic Brain Injuries. Traumatic Brain Injuries are a major cause of death and disability and actually contribute to almost one-third of all injury deaths. Traumatic Brain Injuries can be caused by automobile accidents, falls, work related accidents, and even sports-related collisions. Some of the symptoms one can expect following a brain injury may include loss of consciousness, headaches, dizziness, vision issues, and possibly emotional and behavioral changes. Many of the injuries are mild injuries, such as a concussion, which most people are familiar with.

What about an individual suffering from a closed head injury? A closed head injury is a type of trauma where the brain is injured because of a motion that causes the brain to knock against the inside of the skull. Closed head injuries are different than open head injuries, as no object actually penetrates the brain when the injury occurs.

Often times, another person’s negligence will cause the Traumatic Brain Injury in some fashion. Careless driving and inadequate safety measures are just a few of the several causes which can lead to someone sustaining a brain injury. Studies show that people are more prone to a brain injury over the age of 75 and children under the age of five.

If you or a loved one have sustained a brain injury at the fault of another and you believe you may have a claim, the attorneys at Kaveny + Kroll have experience in representing Traumatic Brain Injury victims. Call the lawyers at Kaveny + Kroll for a free consultation.

What damages are available in a Wrongful Death?

Kaveny Kroll
What damages are available in a Wrongful Death?

The death of a loved one can be devastating for all surviving family members. Sadly, the pain can be greater if the death was caused by the negligence of another person or corporation. In legal terminology, the death at the hands of another is often referred to as a Wrongful Death. The Wrongful Death of a person can be due to the action of a person, corporation, or agents of that corporation. It can also be due to unsafe conditions on the street, railroad or machinery under their operation.

Surviving family members can claim both economic and non-economic damages by filing a Wrongful Death action. The Wrongful Death lawyers at Kaveny + Kroll can help in determining the amount sought against the responsible parties.

Economic damages are financial losses that can be calculated. The family members of the deceased person can seek compensation for monetary losses due to the Wrongful Death of a loved one. They can file a claim for the loss of income due to the Wrongful Death actions. They can seek compensation for the loss of compensation the deceased could have provided in the future. Also, family members of a Wrongful Death case can seek additional means of compensation for economic items such as medical expenses incurred in treating the deceased prior to their death, family counseling expenses, and burial expenses.

Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are a bit more difficult to calculate. The compensation for non-economic damages is often a contentious issue in a Wrongful Death case. Experienced Wrongful Death attorneys at Kaveny + Kroll can assist in seeking fair compensation for non-economic damages.

Surviving family members can seek compensation for the grief, sorrow, and mental suffering one has sustained as a result of the death of a loved one. Similarly, family members can be compensated for the loss of mutual benefits that each family member would have received from the deceased including love, affection, care, attention, companionship, comfort, guidance and protection.

Often times, a component of the Wrongful Death action is the Survival Action. The family can also be compensated if there is evidence of Survival to have resulted from the negligent conduct of another person during the time period between the time of the family member’s injuries and the time of their death. This is known as a Survival Action. Call the lawyers at Kaveny + Kroll for a free consultation.

Pedestrian Injuries

Pedestrian Injuries

If someone operating a motor vehicle does not carefully watch the road, devastating and catastrophic results occur. Unfortunately, this is especially true when you are a pedestrian. The pedestrian accident lawyers at Kaveny + Kroll know, these vehicle collisions tend to cause serious and catastrophic injuries. Some of the common causes of these collisions are:

  • The driver was not attentive,
  • The driver was distracted,
  • The driver failed to abide by the posted speed limit,
  • The driver failed to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk,
  • The driver turned at an intersection without being attentive and failed to look in both directions.

In urban areas, like Chicago, there is a much higher possibility of a pedestrian collision occurring. Yet, some deadly pedestrian accidents do occur on suburban and country roads. There are several winding roads that may have highly limited visibility. When high speeds are involved, serious injuries can occur.

Pedestrian collisions can happen in a myriad of ways, and it is very important to get the appropriate medical treatment if you are injured. Similarly, by hiring pedestrian accident lawyers, such as Kaveny + Kroll, experienced in dealing with pedestrian injury cases, you focus on your recovery while the Kaveny + Kroll attorneys handle the legal process. Call the lawyers at Kaveny + Kroll for a free consultation.

Mental Health Olympic Style

Mental Health Olympic Style

by Elizabeth A. Kaveny

(CHICAGO, IL)…

Simone Biles’ exit from the women’s gymnastics team events of the Tokyo Games has brought global attention to mental health. In the week following Biles’ withdrawal, stories about the gymnast and mental health generated more than 2 million social media interactions. Supporters praised her brave decision to admit that she was under an amount of pressure and stress that was affecting her mentally to the point of being unable to perform. Critics found nothing brave or heroic about quitting, but rather the selfish decision of a weak person. Regardless of which viewpoint you share on Biles’ exit, or Naomi Osaka’s withdrawal from the French Open citing long bouts of depression, the athletes’ actions have drawn great attention to the topic of mental health.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, suicide resulting from depression is a major public health concern and among the leading causes of death in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide was the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34, and the fourth leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 35 and 44. Join that with the recognition of medical errors as the third leading cause of death across the board, and it becomes necessary to examine how mental health issues and suicide are being handled medically.

As tragic as any suicide is, those committed just days after being a patient is seeking help and treated for depression and/or suicidality are particularly inexcusable. Elizabeth A. Kaveny, Managing Partner of Kaveny + Kroll Trial Lawyers (www.kavenykroll.com), “In-patient suicides have been recognized by the National Quality Form as a never event. Never events are errors so egregious that they should never happen to a patient under any circumstances and are recognized as such by medicine and the law.”

Elizabeth Kaveny has handled numerous suicide cases – inpatient suicides, inpatient attempted suicides, and suicides committed just days from discharge for mental health treatment. Kaveny obtained the largest verdict from a Cook County jury for a patient’s attempted suicide while admitted to the behavioral health unit of one of Chicagoland’s premiere hospitals. Citing violations of its own policies and procedures, she was able to show that what happened to her client was so negligent to warrant a substantial remedy in his behalf, including leaving him with a debilitating brain injury.

Kaveny has become known in Illinois in her work for representing the families of individuals who were identified as high-risk for suicide, yet discharged from the appropriate level of oversight and care. “One of the major myths of suicide is that if a patient wants to kill themselves, they will,” says Kaveny. Medical studies show that’s just not true. Rather with the right treatment plan consisting of medication, therapies and time, individuals can learn to live with depression and respond appropriately and safely when their depression rises to an unbearable level. Perhaps one of the more public figures in this arena is another Olympian Michael Phelps. Phelps has been public in his continuing battle with mental health and has discussed the suicidal tendencies that still exist and how he, his family and his medical team work together to keep them at bay.

“Whether an Olympian or an everyday person, we are all entitled to receive medical care including that which addresses our mental health as much as our physical,” says Kaveny. “If this doesn’t occur, it’s up to me to step in, in the same way I would in the case of any other type of medical negligence or malpractice. That is my mission and my commitment to people around the country.”

By Road or By Trail

May is National Bike Month and a harbinger for ‘two wheelers’ in Chicago!

by Jeffery J. Kroll

Did you know that May is National Bike month? And yes, the timing couldn’t be better…the weather in Chicago is finally warming up and the city is beginning to reopen its businesses, not only for the people of Chicago, but scores of tourists. With the rebirth of prominent Chicago sights like the Willis Tower, North Avenue Beach, Millennium park and Lincoln Park Zoo, it will only mean one thing; people and traffic congestion will be out and about once more enjoying all of what the Mecca of the Midwest has to offer. However, with warm weather and the city’s revival, comes concerns with the peaceful coexistence between drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians.

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, while the nation has experienced a 16.5% reduction in vehicle miles traveled during the pandemic, sadly, nearly 3,000 pedestrians were killed on U.S. roads during the first six months of Covid – a staggering 20% increase from 2019. Here at home, pedestrian deaths in Illinois also increased 7% from 2019. How can that be possible?

With a Chicago metro area population of 8.8 million people representing a substantial portion of the state’s 12.63 million people, it is easily explainable how Illinois ranks #9 in pedestrian traffic fatalities by state between the months of January-June in 2020. According to the City of Chicago Bicycle Crash Analysis, nationally, .6% of workers commuted to work by bike in 2010. In Chicago, it was 1.3%, or 15,000 cyclists daily. Since the shared bike program, those numbers have surely increased in Chicago. Of the city’s 77 community areas, six of them – north and northwest of the loop – accounted for more than 1/3 of all bicycle miles traveled and 1/3 of bicycle crashes. Half of all those crashes occurred during the summer months of June, July and August during midday in nice weather.

As offices, restaurants and stores continue to open up in the coming months, Chicago is bound to see an influx of pedestrians and bicyclists on the roads. Looking at Seattle, Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles, Baltimore and Milwaukee, Chicago ranked #3 in bicycle commuters, only behind Seattle and Philadelphia. Out of the 12 largest cities, Chicago ranked #2 in bicyclists as a percentage of all daily commuters.

In fact, over the last five years, bicycling in Chicago has increased at a rate higher than almost every other major city. According to the Chicago Department of Transportation, the city recently came out with its 2020 Chicago Streets for Cycling Plan. This plan includes a 645-mile network of on-street bikeways, nearly a 500-mile increase from its current 200 miles of on-street bikeways. All Chicagoans must be prepared for this conversion and the risks associated with the increase in bicycle traffic.

Whether it be walking to work, biking along Lake Shore Drive, or operating a motor vehicle on our city streets, all need to be vigilant of our surroundings, so that pedestrians, bicyclists and motor vehicles can peacefully coexist on our city streets.

Monsters of the Midway

Monsters of the Midway

They rule the road. Whether 18 wheelers or their smaller counterparts, trucks take to our nation’s highways and byways regardless of the situation. Even throughout Covid-19, the trucking industry was active, albeit less than normal, in delivering needed supplies throughout the country. Often times, these trucks were practically alone on the roads. Inclement weather throughout much of the country in February caused delays as truckers had to navigate weather conditions safely and expeditiously. But, as the snow has melted, and the Covid-19 vaccines have come into play, the world as we knew it has come back to life…at least a bit. “What we are seeing to a certain extent is a bottleneck of trucks in cities and towns trying to get back on track after being sidelined recently,” says trucking accident attorney, Jeffrey Kroll, Partner with Kaveny + Kroll Trial Lawyers in Chicago (www.kavenykroll.com). The congestion can make for more dangerous conditions as these behemoths of the road catch up on their usual rounds. The results can increase the already rising number of traffic accidents and fatalities that we have witnessed since the pandemic began.

Truck accidents are far more severe than car collisions because of the massive size and weight of the tractor/trailer. With the ever increasing number of semi-trucks sharing the road with passenger vehicles comes a greater likelihood of being involved in a trucking accident. Statistics on trucking accidents are grim – tractor trailer accidents are responsible for 1 out of every 8 traffic fatalities in the state of Illinois alone. In 2019, 5005, people were killed in accidents involving a truck weighing over 10,000 pounds.

The trucking accident attorneys at Kaveny + Kroll, LLC have decades of experience in assisting individuals and families navigate the complex legal system when a truck collision is involved. The complexities of commercial vehicle accidents are influenced by Federal Statutes, ownership issues of the tractor or trailer, and the insurance companies that defendant them. These various entities are well versed in defending tracking lawsuits brought against them for personal injury or wrongful death. We have represented motorists, pedestrians, passengers and even bicyclists, who have had their lives altered with a truck resulting in deleterious consequences. Sadly, we represented the family of a young lady who was killed by a right hand turning truck on the North side of Chicago. It was the first shared bike death trial in North America.

Our firm is experienced with Federal Safety Regulations which apply to trucking companies and have achieved successful settlements and verdicts by demonstrating that the violation of these regulations caused or contributed to this life changing event. (https://kavenykroll.com/practice-areas/car-truck-or-recreational-vehicle-accident/)

With our law offices headquartered in downtown Chicago, our truck accident attorneys know the area well and have experience in working on large trucking accidents involving all of our Illinois highways and toll roads, including, but not limited, to I-80, I-55, I-294, I-290, and I-90.

While most truck cases stem from driver error, similar to motor vehicle collisions, our firm has consistently helped individuals in the following types of trucking accidents:
•        Rear end accidents
•        Intersection accidents
•        Jackknifed semi
•        Rollover
•        Driving too fast for road conditions or traffic
•        Poor maintenance on the tractor/trailer
•        Left hand turn accidents
•        Right hand turn accidents

Regardless of the circumstances, crossing paths with a truck at a high rate of speed, regardless of the conditions can be devastating to all those involved. “Our goal is to level the playing field,” says Kroll. “While trucks will generally believe they rule the road, our purpose is to assure that our clients have their stories told in a way that allows them to obtain justice and full compensation.”

What You Don’t Know…

What You Don't Know...

Ava Gehringer is a Trial Attorney with Kaveny + Kroll (www.kavenykroll.com). Born, raised and currently an Evanston resident, Ava Gehringer penned the following column on What You Don’t Know…

How much do we have to see to believe? How much of that is dictated by whether it is what we want to see and believe?

Once we see the consequences of things we could have done but didn’t know we should have, would we go back to change those things? Or is the devil you know better than the devil you don’t?

The COVID-19 vaccines have gone through plenty of criticism. Some fear the unknown of them, and the “rushed” safety clearance, but did any of those people know what was in the vaccines they never question because they weren’t created in their lifetime? Is the age of information at our fingertips even helpful if we as laypeople lack the experience to adequately process and act on that information?

These questions are made all the more puzzling by data showing that in facilities where both residents and staff qualify for the first round of vaccinations, the residents are far more likely to agree to be vaccinated than the staff. For example, at one veterans’ home in Illinois, 90% of the residents have reportedly been vaccinated, whereas only 18% of the staff have been. (https://chicago.suntimes.com/politics/2021/1/4/22213911/illinois-states-veterans-homes-staff-covid-19-vaccine-lasalle-manteno-anna-quincy). Thus, it seems, even some nurses and doctors who have seen firsthand the agony the virus causes are hesitant. What are we to take from that? When medical professionals refuse to be inoculated in extremely high numbers, what do we make of Anthony Fauci being vaccinated live on our TV screens?

Though the FDA has of course given clearance to the vaccine makers to begin distribution, they also have warned against possible side effects. As of now, the side effects appear to be generally mild, and the risk of adverse reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine is far outweighed by the risk of serious illness or death due to contracting COVID-19. For those who do suffer an adverse reaction, though, is it possible companies who distribute the vaccine could be legally responsible for injury caused?

Though too early to say for sure in the context of COVID-19 specifically, vaccines have been a source of intense debate. While most blindly accept the MMR vaccination regimen (measles, mumps, rubella) required by schools across the nation, some vaccines haven’t reached that level of broad acceptance. And of those, some have become the source of legal battles.

For instance, Gardasil—also known as the HPV vaccine—has been at the center of many controversial debates. Marketed as a safeguard from cervical cancer (as well as certain STIs and other cancers), the three-dose vaccine first became available in 2006. Over time, the vaccine has been encouraged for boys and girls as young as nine and as old as twenty-six.

Since 2006, Gardasil has been at the center of numerous lawsuits. In one case, a family’s 21-year-old daughter died unexpectedly shortly after receiving her third and final Gardasil shot. Two years after her death, her family filed a claim with the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP). Though the Special Master ruled in 2016 that the family had not met their burden of proof (namely, that the administration of the vaccine caused their daughter’s death), the family appealed that decision to the Court of Federal Claims. In 2017, a judge vacated and remanded the decision, and sent it back to the Special Master to reconsider. Some three months later, the Special Master changed course and awarded compensation to the young woman’s family. (Source: https://newyork.legalexaminer.com/health/fda-prescription-drugs/family-found-to-have-met-burden-of-proof-that-gardasil-caused-daughters-death/)

Other families have brought similar cases in states across the country alleging Merck, the company who makes Gardasil, misled the FDA, legislators, doctors and moms about the safety and efficacy of the Gardasil vaccine. In one, a 19-year-old alleged she suffered and continues to suffer from an autoimmune disease after receiving multiple Gardasil injections. (Source: https://www.baumhedlundlaw.com/blog/2020/august/gardasil-lawsuit-claims-hpv-vaccine-caused-teen-/)

Thus, while there is not yet clarity about potential legal exposure for adverse reactions to the various COVID-19 vaccinations distributed by Pfeizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and the like, there is some precedence for liability as a result of adverse effects allegedly caused by vaccines. For now, however, the FDA and the medical community have determined any risk posed by adverse effects of the vaccine are far outweighed by the risk of serious illness or death caused by COVID-19.

Employers in the age of COVID-19 now have yet another legal hurdle novel to this pandemic. Employers who are desperate to open the doors of their respective businesses are now scrambling to come up with incentives to persuade their employees to get the vaccine. From proof of vaccination earning employees a raffle ticket to win a Google Next entertainment system to bonuses for those who safely return to the office, employers are grappling with the possible legal consequences if their incentive programs begin to cross the line into HIPAA violations.

The EEOC issued guidance last month that suggests employers can legally require most workers to be vaccinated, barring people with sincerely held religious beliefs or health worries such as allergies. Nonetheless, employers are still nervous, as these are questions we have never had to consider in modern legal history.

For those completely fed up with the restrictions COVID-19 have placed on day-to-day life, the “unknown” of the vaccine seems not to bother them. The devil they don’t know cannot be as bad as the devil they’ve come to know in the last 10 months. For others, especially those who have not had much of their lives interrupted by the pandemic—essential workers or those who are able to largely ignore the strict guidelines of the nation’s largest cities—the risk of the unknown seems to weigh far heavier on their minds.