Illinois Plaintiff's Lawyer Personal Injury Blog- Legal News and Insights from Champaign Urbana Attorneys Koester & Bradley, LLP

Quick Tip of the Day: What to Do After a Slip and Fall Accident

8/25/2019

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Slip and Fall or Premises Liability cases may seem simple and less problematic than other personal injury cases, yet the damages of a fall can be severe and insurance companies are unlikely to settle in good faith.
--Tom Koester, Partner, Koester & Bradley LLP

Follow These Steps to Maximize Your Recovery for Slip and Fall Cases in Illinois

Slip and fall cases, otherwise known ad premises liability cases, are a  type of accident can happen to anyone and at the most unexpected times.  While it is possible for a severe fall to happen without the presence of negligence, in most situations, particularly with respect to commercial areas, such as stores and businesses, it is worth having the facts of the fall evaluated by a local premises liability attorney.  

Most businesses and homes are covered by sizable insurance policies.  The reasoning behind this is simple, homeowners and businesses do not want to be held personally liable for their own negligence.  For instance, if a leaking air conditioning condenser leaks water onto the floor of a business, or a home, and a business invitee, or home invitee falls on the water and breaks their hip, the insurance company, not the property owner, will likely pay for the injuries to the victim.  After all, insurance companies have plenty of funds, and policy owners should never feel bad about filing claims.  This process both protects the property owner, and allows the victim of premises liability negligence to recover.

Despite the fact that the process is simple, insurance companies are loathe to pay any sort of claims and will do everything in their power to make sure that victims of negligence go empty-handed.  This includes posting many so-called "news" stories about faked slip and fall accidents.  Even though hardly anybody fakes an injury for compensations,  Thus, after a slip and fall, or any sort of premises liability situation, it is important to take actions to maximize your recovery.

It is important to know what actions to take following the accident. The Central Illinois slip and fall lawyers at Koester & Bradley have found that certain elements can make a difference in these cases including the following:

  • Contact emergency personnel if necessary, but absolutely file an accident or incident report with the business or property owner in writing.  It is important to file a report of some kind, even if it is simply a narrative on a piece of paper.  Insurance companies and defendants cling to the lack of an incident or accident report as a way to deny liability.  
  • Record the names, numbers, and addresses of all witnesses.  This is vital because at some point, such as a trial or for a deposition, you or your lawyer will need to know what witnesses are involved.  Furthermore, trials can takes years to happen in some cases and witnesses can leave the area.
  • Obtain the insurance information for all parties.  This mans asking the business or home owner both if they are covered and by what company.  Most people do not have copies of their policy at the ready, so you or your lawyer will have to get this information from the insurance company directly.
  • Photograph the scene of the accident.  Smartphones are perfect for this purpose.  Then the photos are readily available to insurance companies, who have a right to ask, and your lawyers.
  • Hold onto all important information and documents.  This can be medical bills, medical records, accident reports, or even a journal or calendar that reveals the time and place of the slip and fall.
  • Speak with an experienced attorney before talking with an insurance company.  The insurance company will try to hold you to a story about what happened and will try to record your statement.  Refuse to talk to an insurance company without first speaking to a local premises liability lawyer.  

As always out personal injury team at Koester & Bradley is here to help you recovery for your slip and fall case, or just answer any of your questions along the way.

By: Tom Koester, Partner, Koester & Bradley, LLP

Illinois State Troopers: Protecting Drivers Across Central Illinois

7/27/2019

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Everyone who has had the pleasure of navigating the highways they pass through Central Illinois in Champaign County has no doubt been on the lookout for the Illinois State Troopers. Each day these law enforcement professionals put their lives on the line to make sure that travelers on Illinois highways are safe and secure. Illinois state troopers do far more than enforce traffic laws such as speeding and proper lane usage, they also assist individuals with automobile problems and difficulties ranging from flat tires to rescues and on-scene investigations.  In fact, Illinois state troopers are often tasked with performing complicated scientific accident reconstructions in order to prove what precisely happened to cause an automobile accident. This role is of particular importance in truck accident cases since semi trucks are so heavy in travel at such a high rate of speed.
 
Unfortunately, serving as an Illinois state trooper can be a very dangerous job. There has been much attention given to recent deaths of Illinois state troopers on the highway while in the line of duty.  These tragic accidents happen when drivers in the right-hand Lane fail to move over to the left when is Trooper is performing a traffic stop.  In March of 2019, when Illinois State Trooper Gerald Ellis was struck and killed, he was the second death of the year, with 16 other of Illinois' finest struck by passing vehicles.   In light of these accidents, the state of Illinois has passed legislation to attempt to deal with this dangerous problem. The illegal practice of failing to move over is incredibly dangerous not only two state troopers but also to civilian motorists tending to their vehicles on the side of the road. The next time you are passing the Champaign County and Central Illinois and you see a State Trooper or other motorists on the side of the road, pull over to the left hand lane and do your part to increase road safety and cut down on dangerous accidents.
 
Apart from patrolling on the highways Illinois state troopers provide a wide array a safety education programs ranging from the processor use of seatbelts, the simulations involving texting and drinking and driving. The Illinois State Police Focus much of their attention on ending distracted driving and operating Motor Vehicles while impaired since these two types A behaviorist lead to a high number of accidents across Illinois. Other Illinois State Police safety programs include Prom Night Safety, Motor Vehicle Safety, and rollover simulations which are intended to help inexperienced in teen drivers understand the deadly impact that improper vehicle control can have on themselves and other people sharing the road.
 
To combat distracted driving in Illinois, state troopers are now riding along in the cabs of semi trucks bringing their quote trooper and a Truck quote Ride Along program to the state of Illinois. The program was started in the Chicago area and and could spread to Champaign County and throughout Illinois. The intent of the program is to catch distracted drivers in the act without the trooper having to be in an easily identifiable Illinois State Police vehicle. After all, how many times have we all passed semi trucks without paying attention to who is behind the wheel? The program is part of the Illinois State initiative to crack down on distracted driving which is a major source of accidents and deaths in Illinois and in Champaign County. Koester and Bradley actively pursues and recovers for our clients and distracted driving cases.
 
At Koester & Bradley, we support our Illinois State Troopers in all of their work and remind all drivers in Illinois to stay alert and move over when a vehicle is pulled off the road.
 
TELL US ABOUT YOUR ACCIDENT
 
By: Ryan Bradley, Partner, Koester & Bradley, LLP

When and How Most Illinois Car Accidents Happen

6/29/2019

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At Koester & Bradley, a large percentage of our personal injury arise form auto accidents.  We see many common themes such as distracted driving, speeding, and even projectiles from children in rear seats.  Learning abut the causes of Illinois car accidents is a great way to minimize the chances of accidents for cautious drivers. --Tom Koester, Partner, Koester & Bradley LLP

 

Koester & Bradley Discusses How and When Auto Accident Happen

Auto mishaps are the leading cause of death among individuals aged 1 to 34 years old nationally.  The same general pattern holds true for Illinois as a state and also Champaign County and Central Illinois where Koester & Bradley focuses its personal injury practice.  Over 40,000 individuals each year in the United States die as a result of auto accidents.  While these statistics might be frightening, a simple understanding of the threats of motor vehicle and truck accidents can aid you in planning trips to minimize threats of potential crashes.

According to information from the National Freeway Website Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), automobile accidents are most likely to happen:

According to statistics, the majority of deadly car accident occur between the hours of 6 p.m. and 12 a.m.  This should really be no surprise since this is when most people are the most tired.  28% of all fatal traffic crashes occur during this time frame.  As nighttime sets in, there are typically more intoxicated or impaired drivers on the roads.  The second most unsafe time of day is between the hours of 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.  16% of all fatal traffic crashes occur during this time frame.  These times of day tend to me more harmful due to the number of drivers hitting the road, e.g. “heavy traffic” for commuters coming home from work.

Weekends also yield higher amounts of motor vehicle accidents.  Reported auto accidents are higher on Saturdays and Sundays than on any other day of the week.  Tuesdays and Wednesdays tend to have fewer reported accidents.

While there are plenty of auto accidents that occur in Winter months as a result of road conditions, more accidents actually occur in the Summer months.  The NHTSA reported that August is the leading month for traffic accidents to occur.  Experts believe that when the temperatures rise, more drivers tend to hit the roads and thus, more accidents occur.

Anytime a driver chooses to operate his/her motor vehicle impaired whether under the influence of alcohol or medications, the danger of a car or truck accident increases.  The NHTSA has reported that an alcohol impairment at a Blood Alcohol Content of 0.08 can significantly boost the risk of motor vehicle and truck crushes by about 8 times.  The threats of these crashes are increased by 25% when a driver is impaired by marijuana. 

Accidents caused by impairment from marijuana are an issue that Illinois and Champaign County will have to deal with in particular with both medicinal and recreational pot use legalized in Illinois.  In fact, Illinois police are already trying to prepare for the problem.

While impaired driving is the reason for a significant amount of auto mishaps, the NHTSA reports that 95% of all automobile accidents are created at last partly by human error. 

What does this mean for drivers in Champaign-Urbana and Central Illinois who want to avoid car accidents and the accompanying injuries?  All drivers must understand:

  • Evening and nighttime hours are the most dangerous--so stay alert!
  • Impaired driving is not just due to alcohol--it can also be from marijuana and even fatigue.
  • The slower you travel (within speed limits) the safer you will be.  Speeding is a major cause of Illinois Accidents as well.

Have you or a loved one been harmed in an automobile accident? If so, contact the Illinois motor vehicle accident lawyers at Koester & Bradley, LLP.  Our skilled and compassionate attorneys have been offering assistance to our clients since 1895. 

To find out more about our services, please call 217-337-1400 to schedule a free initial consult with one of our partners at Koester & Bradley, LLP. 

By: Tom Koester, Koester & Bradley, LLP

The Vital Importance of Tires for Driving Safety

6/18/2019

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Tires are expensive for a reason.  Tires represent the most important connection that your car make--to the road.  Proper tire maintenance can save lives, while poor tires can cause serious injury. --Ryan Bradley, Partner, Koester & Bradley LLP

 

Koester & Bradley Tells You All You Need to Know About Burning Rubber

At Koester & Bradley our auto accident lawsuit team as well as our trucking accident litigators constantly see the carnage that can result from poor tire maintenance and worn out tires.  It is understandable that Illinois drivers are reluctant to think about tires.  A good set of tires can cost between $400 and $1,000.  However when you realize that the tires on your vehicle are the sole connection that your car makes with the road, the cost seems more reasonable.  

Are your Tires Worn Out?  

It is estimated that over 33,000 crashes occur each year as a result of tire degradation.  Tire degradation is caused by (1) time, (2) ambient and operating temperatures, (3) flex fatigue, (4) partial pressure of oxygen in a tire and (5) constructing and compounding characteristics.  Although recent tire degradation has received a great deal of recent press, it is not a new problem but one that is been studied vigorously since the 1980s.  In fact, M. Pottinger wrote an article, “The Effect of Tire Aging on Force and Moment Properties of Radial Tires, in 1981 where he notes that “the physical properties of rubber such as modulus elongation, loss factors, etc. undergo significant changes over extended periods of time due to ozone, temperature, oxidation, humidity and other environmental factors.”  Similarly, M.A. Jacobson addressed the aging effect tires in his 1982 article, “Accident Avoidance-How Age Deterioration Can Affect Car Safety”.  He notes that the tread and sidewall rubber crack and harden due to age and exposure to sunlight, ozone, high temperatures and oxygen.  A 1986 article, “The Aging of Tires – Influence on the Damage Frequency” by F. Nowakowski discussed a study of 146 tread separation failures and concluded that a correlation existed between tire age and tire failures.  Nowakowski’s study advised that tires older than 6 years should be removed regardless of tread depth.  A June 1988 press release from Goodyear Commercial Tire Management informed the pubic that stored tires age and can be rendered unusable just as tires left in the elements. 

NHTSA & TIRE AGING TESTS

As a response to the Firestone tire failures, Congress asked The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the Fall of 2000 to develop a “tire aging test” in order to evaluate the risk of failure during the life of a tire.  The current regulation in 2000 only evaluated the life span and risk of new tires; tires that were already in use or were in storage were not regulated.  On November 1, 2000, the Transportation Recall, Enhancement, Accountability, and Documentation (“TREAD”) Act was enacted which mandated that the NHTSA revise and update the safety standards for light-truck and passenger cars.  The NHTSA reviewed the effectiveness of the current 2000 tire standards and then developed the NHTSA Tire Aging Test Development Project in 2002. 

The NHTSA Tire Aging Test Development Project set out to prove two goals:  (1) to understand service-related tire degradation over time and (2) to develop an accelerated, laboratory-based tire test which simulates real world tire aging and then allows the remaining structural durability of these test tires to be evaluated.  The NHTSA expected that the highest level of tire degradation would take place in warmer climates and thus, Phoenix was the location chosen for the collection of on-vehicle tires.  The NHTSA determined that changes in tire properties were due to two mechanisms:  (1) thermo-oxidative aging and (2) cyclic fatigue during tire deformation.  Thermo-oxidative aging occurs when the heat and reaction to oxygen causes the rubber compound and material interfaces of the tire to degrade.  Cyclic fatigue leads to cracks and separations of the tire tread. 

The NHTSA developed three methods of accelerated, laboratory-based tire testing to determine structural durability of aged tires.  The first two methods (Michelin’s Long-Term Durability Endurance Test and Continental’s Passenger Endurance Test) were combined to determine tire aging and durability.  Michelin’s test required the tires to be inflated to a mixture of 50% oxygen and 50% nitrogen and then run on a 1.707m roadwheel for up to 500 hours.  Continental’s test required the test tires to be run on the 1.707m roadwheel under proprietary conditions for up to 240 hours.  A test based on research by Ford was used for the third method which required that the test tire be inflated to a mixture of 50% oxygen and 50% nitrogen and then heated in an oven for a period of time in order to speed up the chemical reactions and test the material property changes.  The heated tire was then later run on a road wheel in order to study structural durability changes. 

New tires were then compared to the tires that had been aged in the laboratory setting.  The NHTSA reported that over 95% of tire failures in its complaint database involved wire-coat skim compound, the tire tread and belt area, and the wire-coat wedge compound between the steel belts in the tire tread.  These areas were studied in the most detail and it was found that increases occurred in the hardness, modulus, cross-link density and oxygen content.  The ultimate elongation, peel adhesion and flex property also decreased over time. 

The NHTSA then analyzed what variables had the biggest effect on the change in these properties.  Data was then collected comparing the changes in properties to those tires taken from service in Phoenix to those tires used in the laboratory-based testing.  The changes in the properties of the tire were higher in those tires used in the laboratory-based testing.  The longest roadwheel test times showed the same level of change in property as the same tires used in Phoenix with a real world use of 1 to 3 years.  A tire of 3 to 6 years of service in Phoenix had the same change in properties that a tire oven-aged had at the highest level.  It was also found that hardness of type E, H and L tires increased during oven-aging and decreased during real world service in Phoenix or roadwheel testing in a lab setting. 

Structural integrity was also tested based upon a method involving the oven-aging of tires and a stepped-up load test.  Tires aged 3 weeks at 70°C had longer running times before failure than did tires aged at 60°C.  C and L tires aged at 60°C at 8 weeks had no decrease in roadwheel time, despite the fact that L tires had the greatest loss in physical properties during aging tests.  B and D tires had failure times below 100% load only at aging times of 8 weeks at 65°C.  These same model tires had a predicted failure rate below 100% after 5 or more years of service in Phoenix.  E tires used for 3 to 4 years of service in Phoenix or oven-aged for 8 weeks at 65°C produced failures below 100% of the maximum rated load for the tires.  H tires used for 2 to 3 years of service in Phoenix or oven-aged from 6 to 8 weeks between 60°C and 70°C resulted in failure below 100% of the maximum rated load for the tires. 

TIRES:  HOW OLD IS TOO OLD?

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) studied several aged tire-related crashes in 2014.  They found that aged tires are often used well beyond safe service lives.  For example, in the February 15, 2014 Centerville, Louisiana crash between a school bus and a SUV, it was determined that the SUV’s driver lost control of the car after the right rear tire’s tread separated.  It was determined that the SUV’s tire was approximately 12.5 years old.  The crash resulted in the death of 4 people and injuries to 34 others.  The NTSB also determined that recalled tires tend to remain in service several months after a recall is issued.  For example, a 15-passenger church van rolled over on February 21, 2014 in Lake City, Florida resulting in two deaths and severe injuries to several minor children.  It was determined that the crash was likely caused by a left-rear tire failure.  The NTSB investigation determined that that the tire had been recalled for a known safety defect approximately one and half years before the crash but had continued to remain in service. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated that tire aging may have contributed to 23% of tire-related crashes.  Despite their years of research, the NHTSA has not defined what is an “appropriate” tire age but merely refers to vehicle and tiremaker recommendations.  “The British Rubber Manufacturers Association (BRMA) recommended in June 2001 that tires over six years of age should not be put into service and that all tires should be replaced ten years from the date of their manufacture.  However, the BRMA notes that even an inspection by a tire expert may not reveal the full extent of tire deterioration.”  Ford noted in its 2006 MY owner’s manuals that “tires degrade over time, even when they are not being used on the road.  It is recommended that tires generally be replaced when they are six years or older.”  Chrysler’s 2006 Owner’s manuals contained a similar warning noting that “tires and spare tires older than six years could result in sudden tire failure resulting in loss of control that could lead to serious injury or death.”  Tire Rack notes on its website that they believe street tires have a useful life in service of between six to ten years.  It is no wonder why the general public may be confused as to when tires should be replaced. 

TIRE RECALLS

The NTSB discovered that between 2009 and 2013, only 44% of recalled tires were actually removed from service and that only 20% of affected tires are returned to the manufacturer.  Under the current recall system, tire identification numbers (TINs) are compared against TINs listed on recall notices.  The problem here is that TINs are difficult to locate without the use of a professional vehicle lift because the number is listed on the inside of the tire’s mounted sidewall.  Cross-referencing a TIN with an individual recall bulletin is also extremely difficult as no recall database searchable by TIN is in currently in existence.  Unfortunately, this forces the consumer to rely on service shops and dealers to inform them of recalls.  The NTSB has recommended the following improvements:  (1) the printing of TINs on both sides of the tires, (2) requiring manufacturers to create TIN searchable recall databases on their websites, (3) requiring mandatory registration of all tires at the point of sale and (3) using radio frequency identification (RFID) chips and laser scan codes to transmit recall information.  Congress recently passed “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act” (FAST Act) which implemented NTSB’s proposed improvements #2 and #3.  However, the FAST Act does not require computerized registration or NTSB’s proposed improvement #4 which would help ensure effective communication to consumers. 

CONCLUSION

We know that tires will continue to degrade with (1) time, (2) ambient and operating temperatures, (3) flex fatigue, (4) partial pressure of oxygen in a tire and (5) constructing and compounding characteristics.  We know that tires will continue to be put into service if they appear serviceable.  Finally, we know that aged tire-related crashes will continue to occur until policies and practices are created and implemented by the government.

By: Ryan Bradley, Koester & Bradley, LLP

Semi Trucks Are Annoying--Don't Let Them Hurt You Too

6/12/2019

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The number of semi truck and tractor trailer accidents throughout Illinois are on the rise.  Drivers are constantly tired, and spurred on by trucking companies unconcerned with safety.  Still, there are ways to stay safe on the road. --Ryan Bradley

 

How to share the road with Trucks

With 10 gears, 500 horsepower, hauling 80,000 pounds and an average cruising speed of 65-70 miles per hour, today's commercial vehicles were built with the long-haul in mind. But if you've ever gotten stuck behind an 18-wheeler in the city, you are all too aware of how slow and clumsy these big rigs can be off the highway.  In Central Illinois in particular the prevalence of semi trucks is even higher with Illinois Interstate 57, 74, and 72 all intersecting along with smaller roads frequently used by semis.  The Champaign trucking accident team at Koester & Bradley has studied the causes of trucking accidents for decades and has come up with the following tips Illinois drivers can use to protect themselves from the destructive power of semi trucks and big rigs.

Getting Up To Speed

Never pass or maneuver around a commercial vehicle - truck or bus - illegally, even if it means taking a few more minutes on your commute. Although you may think you can zip around and in front of that trucker, keep in mind that most passenger car/tractor trailer accidents are much more than fender benders.

Safe in the Zone

Most professional truck and bus drivers try to leave a safe distance between themselves and the vehicle in front of them. This cushion of space is known as the "safety zone".  Yet, the safety zone is often invaded by risky drivers trying to better their position on the road.

Never zoom around a truck or bus only to pull directly in front of them. Stay out of the safety zone! As a rule when you pass a commercial truck or bus, allow 50 feet (five car lengths) between you and the big guy before merging back in front of him.  If you enter the zone in front of a big rig and need to apply your brakes, the 18-wheeler on your tail may not be able to stop in time.

Is He Making a Pass?  Remember, trucks are bigger than you are.

When you make the decision to pass, always be sure you can complete your pass quickly.  As you're approaching a big rig from the rear, anticipate what your passing speed needs to be and be sure you can get by without getting stuck behind another passing vehicle - you might be in one of the truck's blind spots.  Better to wait to start your pass after the one ahead of you has completed its maneuver and is clear of the safety zone.

Peek-A-Boo

If you can't see a truck's mirrors, you're in the truck's blind spot and the trucker can't see you.  Keep this in mind as you select your road position behind or alongside a truck or bus.  Always make sure you can be seen.  When passing, keep in mind that the truck driver has a big blind spot to his left just behind his cab. If you get caught in that blind spot the truck might start a passing maneuver of its own and squeeze you off the road or into oncoming traffic, or worse yet, collide with you.

Truck Accidents Will Still Happen

Koester & Bradley dedicates a significant amount of our practice to helping drivers injured in semi-truck accidents.  Remember, trucks have one goal in mind, deliver the load as quickly as possible and pick up another load.  That is how trucking companies make money--and they make lots of it.  Trucking companies almost always have large insurance policies as well.  This means that if you or a loved one are injured in a trucking accident, you should absolutely call a local Champaign and Illinois trucking accident lawyer so that you are paid the compensation that you deserve.

By: Ryan Bradley, Koester & Bradley, LLP

Does FDA Clearance Mean a Medical Device is Safe? No!

4/23/2019

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The process by which the FDA approves of drugs and medical devices has recently come under fire.  At Koester & Bradley, we have seen these problems first-hand. --Ryan Bradley, Partner, Koester & Bradley LLP

 

If a medical device or a drug is "cleared" by the FDA, is the device or drug safe?  Surprisingly, the answer is No.

With the premiere of the Netflix Documentary, "The Bleeding Edge," Illinois residents and those across the United States are finally becoming aware of a startling fact that Illinois defective product attorneys at Koester & Bradley have been monitoring for over a decade.  Namely, that FDA approval does not make a medical device safe.

Pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers are in business to make money.  Many companies put profits over safety in order to keep shareholders happy.  This attitude has dramatic and catastrophic impact on residents of Illinois who are victims of bad medical devices.  Although the FDA and other regulatory entities have to approve these goods, defective products still reach the market.  This is because drug and medical device companies do not always disclose all of the potential risks of the products they sell.

Our experienced products liability attorneys based in Champaign Illinois investigate claims related to defective drugs such as Uloric, Pradaxa, Xarelto, and Actos, and defective devices such as vaginal mesh, IVC Filters, knee implants, metal hips and other devices.

Koester & Bradley, LLP has decades of experience representing patients who have been harmed by defective medical devices and dangerous drugs.  We have represented injured victims in Illinois and across the country.  


Consumers should be educated about the risks associated with defective drugs and medical devices.   An educated consumer, whether in Central Illinois or another state must do their research before filling a new prescription or agree to have a medical device implanted.  Medical care providers are ready to help.  Ask your doctor about the risks including side effects and history of recalls and poor performance.  If you or a loved one has been injured by a defective device or drug, contact your doctor and Koester & Bradley, LLP.

Again, it is important to understand that a drug or medical device that has received approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not necessarily mean it is safe for all uses for all people or that it is not defectively designed or manufactured.  Drug companies are often known for marketing drugs for uses for which they were not originally approved.  Medical device manufacturers know all of the loop holes in the federal approval process that can be used to bring a dangerous device to market faster.  This is known as the 510(k) process.

At Koester & Bradley, LLP we have a team of attorneys, located at home in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, dedicated to holding the medical device and drug industry accountable.  We are constantly staying apprised with up-to-date information about dangerous products and continually updating our online resources.  If you or a loved one has been injured from a defective medical device or drug, call Koester & Bradley, LLP or submit a claim-- we have the experience to help.

By: Ryan Bradley and Tom Koester, Partners, Koester & Bradley, LLP

Winter Time Premises Liability (How to deal with winter time slip and fall cases)

3/06/2019

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Winter time in Illinois is certainly the high point for slip and fall and premises liability cases.  Follow these tips to keep yourself safe.

 

It's early march in Illinois and we know one thing for sure--winter is not over yet.  As Central Illinois and the Chicago Illinois area alike experience nearly 100 degree temperature fluxuations, ice and bitter cold are here for at least a few months.  Residential home and business owners should take care to prevent weather-related accidents and injuries. Accidents happen, but often weather-related accidents can be avoided by careful observation of your property and surrounding area.

What types of injuries happen during winter time in Illinois? 

  • Broken Bones
  • Muscle Strains 
  • Sprains
  • Fractures
  • Concussion


Sidewalks and Entryways 
Many homeowners are unaware that they are responsible for clearing the sidewalk adjacent to their home. While the your local government is often charged with clearing roads, typically, it will be the homeowners obligation to clear and salt the sidewalk. If you live in an apartment building, it will be the building owner's obligation to clear the areas of ingress and egress.


Business owners should take care to clear and salt outside entryways. Moreover, customers often carry water, snow and icy on their shoes and clothes that end up on the entryway floor. The business owner should take care to monitor the entrance area and make sure it is routinely cleaned and mopped to avoid slip and falls. Customers should also be alerted to the possible danger with a caution sign. 


Awnings and Covered Areas
Another area that poses risk to passersby is awnings and other covered areas. In cold temperatures, icicles hang from buildings. As temperatures rise, falling icicles may result in injury. Larger icicles falling from 30 feet or higher may result in serious injury or even death but even small icicles can cause harm. If your home or business has a covered area or awnings, you should take particular care to safely remove icicles. Individuals should take care to observe their surroundings while passing by buildings to prevent injury due to falling icicles.


Hopefully you can avoid injury as winter winds down. However, if you are injured because a home or business owner negligently failed to clear ice, snow, or icicles, from their premises, please contact us for a free consultation.  

By: Tom Koester, Partner, Koester & Bradley, LLP

Defenses to Mortgage Fraud in Illinois

2/26/2019

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One take away from the recent financial crisis is that BOTH borrowers and lenders are capable of fraud--which can put us all at risk.

 

Mortgage fraud in Illinois and across the country covers a wide range of crimes, all pertaining to funding for a home. While an individual may falsify information to get a mortgage that they otherwise might not be able to afford, professionals also can be guilty of mortgage fraud. Real estate professionals can flip houses and work with appraisers to increase their own profits. Mortgage professionals can give loans out, knowing that the people shouldn't be approved for a loan.

Because the crimes are so different, there are many defenses that come into play with mortgage fraud. Here are some common defenses that you and your lawyer may want to consider for your case.

  • False identity. Since many people steal other people's information in order to buy or sell a home, your lawyer may fight that you didn't know what was going on. Your identity could have been stolen or you might have been framed so there is no way that you knew about any illegal happenings that took place using your identity.
  • If someone else gets convicted because they stole your identity, they may also be accused of theft, along with mortgage fraud.  
  • Property owner gave consent. Since most mortgage fraud cases are performed by professionals, you might be able to fight that the owner of the property gave their consent and you had good faith intent.
  • The property owner might be held accountable for mortgage fraud, instead of you.
  • Entrapment. Entrapment is another commonly used defense. Your lawyer must have evidence showing that you wouldn't have committed mortgage fraud, unless you were forced to do so.

If you are looking at a case of mortgage fraud, you need an experienced lawyer to fight for you and your rights. A good lawyer will help you go through your options and potential defenses so together you can decide the best way to proceed. If you don't have a lawyer on your side, you are leaving your fate in someone else's hands. This can be a big mistake.

We are dedicated to protecting your money and identity. Don't hesitate to  contact us for any questions that you may have about identity and mortgage fraud.

By: Tom Koester, Partner, Koester & Bradley, LLP

Snowball Fights Are Legal! At Least in Parts of Colorado

2/11/2019

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According to the New York Times, snowball fights are now officially legal again in Severance, CO. 

 

Snowball fights have been a childhood pastime for as long as winter and children have existed. Apparently the exception, at least for the past century, has been the town of Severance in Colorado. Its law against throwing snowballs was incorporated in the town charter sometime in the 1920s for reasons that are unknown to history, according to the New York Times. The law has never been enforced, and no one knew what the penalty was for tossing a snowball at someone.

However, whether the law was enforced or not did not sit well with a nine year-old third grader named Dane Best. During a class trip to the Severance City Hall, the mayor of the community of 6,000 mentioned that some laws, such as the ban on snowball fights, are on the books for no discernible reason. Dane, understanding that the law had made him and just about every child in the town technically a criminal, decided to do something about it.

In due course, Dane presented his case at a recent meeting of the Severance Town Board, accompanied by 20 letters of support from his classmates and teacher and a PowerPoint presentation. Dane made the case that the law was outdated and that young children needed an incentive to abandon their computer games and go play outside, The Town Board, duly impressed by the young man's incisive legal logic, unanimously voted to make snowball fights legal for the first time.

As an award for his successful fight against City Hall, Dane Best was presented with a plaque and a gift certificate to buy a snowball machine. He was also presented with a snowball that had been preserved in a freezer, which he duly tossed into the air in triumph.

And who would be the target of Dane's very first legal snowball? Why his little brother, of course.

If you’ve been the victim of a car accident, Medical Malpractice, or you were hit with a snow ball with a rock in the middle, you’re probably entitled to more compensation than you think. Make sure to contact a law firm that has your best interests in mind, so that you’ll get the highest compensation possible.

By: Ryan Bradley, Partner, Koester & Bradley, LLP

Accident Avoidance for Winter Driving in Illinois

1/17/2019

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Illinois receives a wide range of winter weather from snow to freezing rain, to sheets of ice.  How can you protect yourself in the event of an accident?  Follow these tips.
-Tom Koester, Partner, Koester & Bradley LLP

Illinois has some of the Most Severe Weather in the Midwest.  Here is How to Stay Safe on Winter Roads. 

 

Winter is here, and Illinois is seeing its share of snow, sleet, and ice. When driving in that type of weather, it’s crucial to be prepared. Here are some tips on safe driving and how to avoid auto accidents while driving in the snow.  You may have heard these before, but they bear repeating.  When we counsel clients about auto accidents that take place in the winter, and especially in inclement weather, we hear the same types of stories repeatedly.

  • Try not to use cruise control when driving on icy roads.  This may seem like common sense, but cruise control causes accidents across Illinois in the winter and insurance companies will try to use the fact to pay less on your injury claim.
  • Speed up and slow down slowly and with caution.  Keep your head up and give yourself plenty of time to react.
  • Double your normal following distance. Usually, it should be around four seconds. When the roads are slippery, increase it to around eight seconds.
  • When going up a hill, make sure to get the inertia going before you reach the hill. Don’t try to power up the hill right when you reach it. When you reach the top, slow down and go down the other side with caution.
  • Never drive when you’re fatigued.  You don't have to be tired to be fatigued and be a dangerous driver.  Unfortunately this is a major problem in the trucking industry where drivers routinely drive tired and are forced to do so by their companies.
  • Keep the temperature in your car comfortable, so that you’re able to concentrate.
  • Always keep your gas tank half full. In addition, keep a safety kit with warm clothing, food, and drink. You will have a place to stay if you get stranded.  ALso, make sure you have an ice scraper. 
  • Keep your local AAA or towing company's number in your contacts.
  • Never turn on the car until you make sure the exhaust pipe isn’t blocked by snow or mud. This can cause carbon monoxide to leak into the car.
  • Keep up with your local weather forecast. Avoid going on long trips if snowfall is predicted.

If you’ve been the victim of a car accident, you’re probably entitled to more compensation than you think. Make sure to contact a law firm that has your best interests in mind, so that you’ll get the highest compensation possible.

By: Tom Koester, Partner, Koester & Bradley, LLP

Illinois Plaintiffs Lawyer Personal Injury Blog by Koester & Bradley, LLP 

Legal News and safety tips with Illinois Impact from the Accident and Personal Injury Firm Koester & Bradley, LLP

Authors

Ryan R Bradley is a personal injury and litigation lawyer based in Champaign County Illinois focused on representing injured clients and businesses navigate the maze of litigation to financial recovery.  


Tom Koester is a personal injury attorney based in Champaign County in Central Illinois focused on representing the injured and victims of Medical Malpractice and Personal Injuries.