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Cook County business interruption insurance attorney coronavirus COVID-19Businesses throughout Illinois and across the United States have been forced to close due to the coronavirus outbreak. Some businesses have been able to receive aid through federal or state programs, while others have come up with creative ways to maintain cash flow during this difficult time, but nearly everyone is struggling to address the negative effects that COVID-19 has had on the economy. 

Because of the unexpected closures that have been mandated by stay-at-home orders and other government-imposed requirements, many business owners are looking to determine whether they can be reimbursed for their losses under their business interruption insurance policies. Unfortunately, many insurers have been denying these types of claims. When addressing these denials, businesses will want to work with an attorney who is experienced in litigation involving insurance companies.

Difficulties With Business Interruption Claims

Many businesses’ commercial property insurance policies include business interruption coverage that is meant to provide reimbursement for losses that result from an inability to use the property to conduct business. However, whether business closures due to the outbreak of an infectious disease will be covered under these policies is an open question that is still being addressed by many insurers and policyholders. Prior to the coronavirus crisis, these types of claims were relatively rare.

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Chicago workers’ compensation lawyer coronavirus COVID-19The coronavirus pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives. Stay-at-home orders have required many people to minimize contact with others in order to avoid becoming infected or spreading the disease. However, many workers at “essential businesses” have been required to risk exposure, and doctors and nurses, as well as employees at grocery stores, restaurants, and other important areas of the economy, have bravely placed themselves in harm’s way to ensure that others receive the care and services they need. Even when precautions are taken to minimize the risk of infection for these workers, some have contracted COVID-19, and they and their families are likely wondering about whether they will be able to receive workers’ compensation or if they have other legal options to address the harm they have experienced.

Recent Lawsuits Demonstrate the Difficulties Faced by Workers

Many employees of essential businesses are concerned about the possibility that they may be exposed to the coronavirus, become ill, or pass the infection to family members. In some cases, workers have experienced significant harm or died after contracting COVID-19. On April 6, 2020, the estate of a man who worked at a Walmart Supercenter in Cook County filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Walmart after the man died from complications related to COVID-19. The lawsuit alleges that Walmart acted negligently in a variety of ways, including failing to properly disinfect the store, provide employees with personal protective equipment, follow social distancing guidelines, or evaluate and respond to employees who showed symptoms of infection.

In another lawsuit, a nurse who worked at Northwestern Memorial Hospital claimed that she was wrongfully terminated by her employer after raising concerns about the masks provided to hospital employees. She stated that she was fired after bringing her own N95 mask to work and informing other employees that the masks distributed to employees by the hospital were less effective in preventing COVID-19 infections.

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Cook County defective product attorney ranitidine ZantacIn the United States, we expect the medications that are available on the market to be safe for people to use. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) closely regulates drugs and takes steps to protect public safety if any issues are discovered. Recently, the FDA has recommended that all ranitidine products be removed from the market due to unsafe levels of a carcinogenic substance. Because this drug is widely used to treat heartburn, acid reflux, and related conditions, consumers may have suffered adverse effects after using it. If you have been harmed by a dangerous drug or another type of defective product, you will want to consult with an attorney to determine your options for recovering financial compensation.

How Dangerous Is Ranitidine?

Ranitidine is commonly known under the brand name Zantac, although it is also available in generic form, and it can be prescribed by a physician or purchased over the counter. In 2019, the FDA began investigating ranitidine products after learning of testing that found the presence of N-nitrosodimethylamine, or NDMA, which is a known human carcinogen. Contamination by NDMA may negatively impact those with stomach, liver, colorectal, esophageal, kidney, bladder, prostate, and pancreatic cancers.

In some cases, drugs were found to contain 26,000-90,000 times the FDA's acceptable daily limits of NDMA. However, even though some products tested did not contain unacceptable levels of the cancer-causing substance, testing found that levels of NDMA in a product will increase over time, especially when drugs are stored at higher-than-normal temperatures. Due to the significant risk of contamination and the potential harm this chemical can cause to consumers, the FDA has requested that manufacturers withdraw ranitidine products from the market and that all products, including those that come in tablet or liquid form, be removed from store shelves.

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Dear friends and clients,

At Winters Salzetta O’Brien & Richardson, LLC, we are doing our part to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, while continuing to work tirelessly on your behalf. We anticipate being able to perform all of our job functions and duties that we owe to our clients and loved ones without any interruption. Our goal is to continue to work as normal, although our entire staff may not be in the office at the same time. We are hopeful that the virus will be contained and that we will all be back to our normal lives soon. In the meantime, when you call us, we will answer the phone and return your messages. When you email us, we will email you back. We encourage you to continue contacting us with your legal questions as you have in the past. Our face-to-face meetings with you may be curtailed for a time, but we will continue to work towards your goals. We will make sure that we maintain appropriate health standards so as not to infect or contaminate anyone unnecessarily. Please know that the various courts throughout Illinois and most of the country have announced measures to stem the spread of the virus in courthouses. Most of these initial steps involve 30 or 60 day partial shutdowns of courts. We continue to have access to the courts for emergent matters. We also continue to monitor the status of all jurisdictions in which we represent you and continue to monitor the court status of every single case that we handle for you. This temporary partial closure of courthouses will not stop Winters Salzetta O’Brien & Richardson from ensuring that everyone gets their day in court.

If you have a specific question about your case or any legal matter, please do not hesitate to contact us at 312-236-6324.  Be safe and be happy.

Tagged in: coronavirus

Chicago personal injury lawyer for Boy Scouts sex abuse claimsOver the past decade, many victims of sexual abuse have begun to speak out against their abusers and take legal action against the organizations that allowed this abuse to occur. The Boy Scouts of America, which recently changed its name to Scouts BSA, is one such organization that has faced hundreds of lawsuits from people who have suffered sexual abuse by scout leaders and other volunteers. In February of 2020, the Boy Scouts filed for bankruptcy, leaving many wondering about how this will affect current and future personal injury claims against the organization. 

Bankruptcy and Civil Lawsuits

Chapter 11 bankruptcy allows a company or organization to reorganize its assets and finances and work with creditors to determine how to pay off outstanding debts. One effect of the bankruptcy filing is that it automatically halts any civil lawsuits against the organization. In most cases, bankruptcy will prevent additional lawsuits against an organization based on events that occurred prior to the bankruptcy filing.

Legal experts have stated that the Boy Scouts likely began to consider bankruptcy due to changes to the laws in multiple states that extended the statutes of limitations in civil lawsuits for sex abuse. Between 2017 and 2019, the Boy Scouts paid out $150 million in settlements and other legal expenses. The organization is currently facing 275 lawsuits, and it estimates that between 1,000 and 5,000 more victims could potentially file claims seeking compensation for sex abuse. According to tax documents, the organization owns more than $1 billion in assets, and it may be able to work with insurers to ensure that victims are fairly compensated.

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Cook County cervical spine injury lawyerYour spinal cord is a key part of your central nervous system, and any injuries which result in damage to the spine can not only be very painful, but they can lead to long-lasting complications, including numbness, tingling, and paralysis in different parts of the body. Cervical spine injuries that affect the vertebrae in the neck can be especially dangerous, and they can result in permanent disability. These injuries often occur in motor vehicle accidents, but they can also happen in a variety of other situations, such as construction site accidents or slip-and-falls. If you have suffered a spine injury, you will want to work with a skilled attorney to determine your options for pursuing compensation.

Is Surgery Necessary for Cervical Spine Injuries?

The first seven vertebrae in the spine are known as the cervical vertebrae. Damage to the nerves in this area of the spinal cord can lead to paralysis in the arms, legs, and trunk; impairments in one’s ability to breathe, eat, drink, and speak; and loss of bowel and bladder control. 

Not every type of cervical spine injury will result in permanent disability. In some cases, people experience a herniated disc, which occurs when one or more of the discs that act as cushions between the vertebrae rupture. This can cause significant pain, and it may lead to compression of the spinal cord, resulting in numbness, weakness, and loss of fine motor control in the hands and arms.

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Chicago medical negligence attorney for misdiagnosisWhen you receive medical care, you place a great deal of trust in your doctor and other medical personnel. Because of their medical expertise, you expect them to be able to identify your needs and determine the best treatments. Unfortunately, doctors do not always meet these expectations, and if they fail to provide the proper level of medical care, you can suffer serious harm. Misdiagnosis is one of the most common forms of medical malpractice that can result in serious injuries to patients, and it occurs far too regularly.

A recent study conducted by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found that around 12 million people experience diagnostic errors each year in the United States, and in around one third of these cases, misdiagnosis results in permanent injuries or wrongful death. The study also estimated that between 40,000 and 80,000 people die each year because of misdiagnosis.

What Are the Most Commonly Misdiagnosed Conditions?

The study identified three areas in which misdiagnosis occurs most often:

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Cook County toxic chemical injury attorney ethylene oxideIn 2018, people in the Chicago area became aware of the significant dangers posed by a toxic chemical. Sterigenics International, a company that sterilizes medical equipment, was found to be emitting ethylene oxide, a known carcinogen, from its facility in Willowbrook. A variety of legal challenges have been raised against the Willowbrook plant, but due to its decades in operation, people in the surrounding communities, including Hinsdale and Burr Ridge, are at risk of serious personal injuries.

Changing Laws and Regulations Regarding Ethylene Oxide

While Sterigenics has claimed that its Willowbrook plant was operating within the emissions regulations set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the EPA reported in 2018 that people in the surrounding areas were at an elevated risk of contracting cancer due to the presence of ethylene oxide in the atmosphere. As a response, a variety of legal complaints were lodged against Sterigenics, and in February 2019, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker issued an order to shut down the facility.

In the ensuing months, Sterigenics was able to reach an agreement with Illinois lawmakers and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to reopen the plant, as long as new equipment was installed to drastically reduce the amount of ethylene oxide emissions. However, people in the community and public officials continued to fight against the facility being able to operate in Willowbrook. In September 2019, Sterigenics announced that it would be permanently closing the plant and that it would no longer operate sterilization facilities in the state of Illinois.

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Chicago drunk driving accident attorneyThe holiday season can be a wonderful time to enjoy parties and gatherings with friends and family, and the festive atmosphere of joy and cheer is often enhanced by the consumption of alcohol. Unfortunately, some people do not act responsibly during this season, and they may choose to violate the laws against driving under the influence. Drinking and driving can lead to dangerous or fatal car accidents, and victims in these cases may be left struggling to pick up the pieces after a tragedy.

The Dangers of Holiday Drunk Driving

Driving under the influence of alcohol is dangerous at any time of year, but it can be especially deadly during the holidays. During this time, there are often large numbers of vehicles on the roads because people are traveling to spend time with family or because they are taking shopping trips. This increased traffic, when combined with the trickier driving conditions that come with the colder winter weather, can result in very serious motor vehicle collisions.

The increased risk of drunk driving accidents during the holidays has been demonstrated in recent years. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that in 2017, 885 people were killed in car accidents involving drunk drivers throughout the month of December. In addition, there were 267 fatalities in drunk driving accidents in the days surrounding Christmas and New Year’s Day, and this fatality rate was higher than in any other holiday period in 2017.

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Chicago dangerous product attorney e-cigarette lung illness
As the elderly population in the United States continues to increase, more and more seniors are receiving care in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Sadly, these facilities are often understaffed, and in many cases, employees are not properly trained or qualified to provide the care that residents need. Instances of nursing home abuse and neglect have become alarmingly common, and statistics show that around 10% of seniors have experienced some form of neglect or abuse. Pressure sores are one of the most serious effects of nursing home negligence, and family members of nursing home residents who experience these types of injuries should be sure to understand their legal options.

What Are Pressure Sores?

Pressure sores, also known as bedsores or pressure ulcers, can develop when a person stays in one position for too long. This can occur when a nursing home resident is bedridden or spends most of their time in a wheelchair. When constant pressure is placed on parts of the body such as the hips, buttocks, back, shoulder blades, heels, or ankles, this can cut off blood flow, and it can lead to sores on the skin, infections, and damage to muscles, joints, and bones.

There are four stages of pressure sores:

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Chicago dangerous product attorney e-cigarette lung illness
Over the past several years, the use of electronic cigarettes (also known as e-cigarettes or vape pens) has grown by leaps and bounds. Manufacturers of these devices have marketed them as being safer than traditional cigarettes, and “vaping” has become especially popular among teens and young adults. However, a variety of concerns have arisen regarding the harm that these devices can cause to their users. In addition to a large number of reported injuries from exploding e-cigarettes, multiple health issues have begun to make themselves known. If you have experienced a personal injury after using a vaping device, you should speak to a skilled attorney as soon as possible.

Lung Illness Related to Vaping

One of the most worrisome issues currently affecting e-cigarette users is the outbreak of vaping-related lung illness (known as “e-cigarette or vaping product use associated lung injury,” or EVALI) that has occurred throughout the United States. People have reported serious respiratory symptoms, including chest pain, coughing, shortness of breath, and fatigue, after using e-cigarettes. As of November 2019, more than 2,000 cases have been reported, and 39 people have died.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have been researching this outbreak, and a potential source has been identified. Vitamin E acetate, an additive that is used in some vaping products, was found to be present in samples of fluid collected from patients’ lungs. This substance is usually harmless, but when inhaled, it may interfere with the normal functions of the lungs.

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Cook County slip and fall injury attorney snow and ice
As the temperature drops in the Chicago area, people are beginning to prepare for winter conditions, including snow and ice that may be present on roads, sidewalks, and other walkways. These conditions can significantly increase the risk of a slip and fall accident, and when injuries occur, victims may be unsure about their legal options. In these cases, it is important to understand how Illinois’ premises liability laws apply to a situation, and an experienced personal injury attorney can help determine whether a property owner may be held liable.

Slip and Fall Accident Injuries

While losing one’s footing and falling down is often seen as a minor incident, these types of incidents can result in serious injuries that have long-term effects, especially when snow or ice are involved. During cold weather, surfaces are very unforgiving, and a fall can lead to injuries such as:

  • Broken bones

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Chicago winter car accident lawyer
Every year, Chicagoans brace themselves for the bitter cold, strong winds, and snowy and icy conditions that they must deal with during the winter months. As the temperature begins to drop, and we start to experience inclement weather, one concern that is on many people’s minds is the increased possibility of car accidents. Drivers will want to take additional care to protect their safety during winter weather, and those who are injured in a collision should be sure to understand the forms of driver negligence that may have led to their auto accident.

Safety Measures When Driving in the Winter

It can be very easy to lose control of one’s vehicle during winter weather. To reduce the likelihood of a collision, drivers should do the following:

  • Perform proper vehicle maintenance - Drivers should ensure that all of their car’s safety systems are in working order. If tires are worn or bald, this can reduce traction, causing a vehicle to slide out of control when stopping or turning. Burnt-out headlights can reduce a vehicle’s visibility, and if windshield wipers or defrosters are not working properly, a driver may be unable to fully see the road around them. Failure to keep a vehicle maintained may be considered a form of negligence on the part of a driver.

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Lake County landlord liability attorney
In 2017, there were nearly 18.8 million residents living in apartment complexes across the United States. These living units are supposed to be overseen by capable management teams; however, instances of carelessness by landlords occur far too frequently, putting residents at risk of serious injuries. When a property is not adequately maintained, residents may be able to hold a landlord responsible for any personal injuries or wrongful deaths suffered. Some of the most serious injuries can occur in apartment fires, and victims of these incidents may be able to pursue compensation through a premises liability lawsuit. It is crucial for victims of an apartment fire to find out if all the safety regulations and building codes were followed correctly.  

Types of Tenant Injuries

When a fire occurs in an apartment, tenants often do not have much time to make a safe exit. In a multi-floor apartment complex, residents on higher levels could become trapped inside a raging inferno for an extended duration. In these cases, people are likely to suffer injuries from smoke inhalation, as well as serious burns. These injuries can be incredibly traumatic, resulting in damage to the lungs and internal organs, significant scarring and disfigurement, and long-term pain.

When Can a Landlord Be Liable?

An apartment fire could happen at any moment, for almost any reason; when an emergency does arise, a landlord is responsible for making sure safety equipment has been tested and regulations have been met. Depending on the location, size, and number of tenants an apartment has, the fire safety requirements can change, although there are some general guidelines that should always be considered. A landlord should ensure that:

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Lake County boating accident attorney
People in the Chicago area and throughout the state of Illinois often enjoy spending time on the water in boats or other types of watercraft. While this can be a relaxing and enjoyable activity, it can also be dangerous, and boating accidents can lead to serious injuries or fatalities. If you have been involved in a boat accident, you should work with a personal injury attorney to determine your options for recovering compensation from the parties who were responsible.

Common Causes of Boat Accidents and Injuries

According to the most recent data available from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, there were 80 boating accidents throughout the state in 2017. These accidents resulted in 48 injuries and 12 fatalities. However, these numbers may not accurately reflect the actual injuries that occurred in boat accidents, since they do not include “non-reportable” accidents. For example, injuries or fatalities that occur when someone jumps or dives from an anchored or moored boat are not reportable.

Some of the reasons boating injuries may occur include:

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DuPage County work area injury attorney

It is no secret that construction work is a dangerous job. However, people may not realize just how dangerous it can be and how often construction accidents and injuries occur. In 2017, more than 20% of all work-related fatalities occurred in construction. That is, one out of every five people killed in workplace accidents were construction workers. 

Falls are the leading cause of fatalities for construction workers, accounting for over one third of all deaths. Due to the risks of falls, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has put regulations in place to provide protections for workers.

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Lake County popcorn lung attorneyIn 2000, a number of workers at a Missouri facility that manufactured microwave popcorn developed a lung condition called bronchitis obliterans. This illness, which has become known as “popcorn lung,” was caused by the inhalation of a chemical used in popcorn flavoring. Despite its name, popcorn lung can have a variety of causes. Those who experience this condition may be able to hold a negligent employer or product manufacturer responsible for their injuries. 

What Causes Popcorn Lung?

A person may contract popcorn lung after being exposed to a number of different substances, including:

  • Diacetyl - This chemical was responsible for injuring the workers at the aforementioned popcorn plant, and it is often used for flavoring in food products like candy, potato chips, and dairy products. It is also commonly found in the “e-juice” used in electronic cigarettes and vape pens. While its use has been banned in e-cigarettes in Europe, it is still regularly used in the U.S.

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DuPage County work area injury attorney

Construction zones are a familiar sight on the roads in Illinois, and most people are aware of the need to take extra care when driving through work areas. However, many drivers fail to follow the proper roadway safety rules, and when car accidents occur in construction zones, workers are likely to be seriously injured. These types of accidents occur all too frequently. In fact, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) reports that on average, more than 5,000 accidents occur every year in work zones throughout the state. These accidents lead to more than 1,500 injuries on an annual basis.

Construction Zone Safety Tips

Drivers can face severe penalties if they do not obey the law in a work zone. Striking a worker in a construction zone can result in fines up to $10,000 and a prison sentence of up to 14 years. In order to avoid construction zone accidents, drivers should take the following safety precautions:

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Lake County vape pen injury lawyer“Vaping” has grown significantly in popularity in recent years, and it is often seen as a safer alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes. However, as more and more people have begun using electronic cigarettes (commonly known as e-cigarettes or vape pens), a large number of people have reported serious injuries from devices that explode or catch fire.

Exploding e-cigarettes can be incredibly dangerous, especially when these incidents occur near someone’s face. For example, in one recent case, a Nevada teen’s jaw was shattered and several of his teeth were knocked out when his device exploded in his mouth. In another case, a Florida man was killed when a vape pen exploded and sent shrapnel into his brain. Those who are injured by dangerous e-cigarettes should work with a personal injury attorney to determine their options for pursuing compensation.

What Causes E-Cigarette Explosions?

E-cigarettes use high-powered lithium-ion batteries to vaporize a liquid, and these batteries are often unstable, leading them to overheat, catch on fire, or explode. Some of the causes of these incidents include:

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Cook County electrocution injury attorney

Electric shocks can cause devastating injuries, and people in certain occupations are at a higher risk of being electrocuted. In fact, electrocution is the sixth most common cause of workplace fatalities in the United States, and 54% of the deaths caused by electrocution are suffered by workers in the construction industry. If you have experienced an electrocution injury while working, you should be sure to understand your legal options for recovering compensation.

Effects of Electrocution

The injuries that occur when electricity flows through the body can vary depending on the type and amount of electrical current and the parts of the body affected. Some  common injuries include:

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