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February 2013 Archives

So Now Winter Really Is Coming!

A few months back this blog gave you some important information on winter weather and how it relates to personal injury lawsuits. Well, winter has not made much of an impression on Chicagoland this year...until now. With the biggest storm of the season set to hit Illinois tonight, things like the "natural accumulation rule" and winter driving safety come to mind for any personal injury lawyer in Chicago or the surrounding areas. What is the natural accumulation rule? Again, as the Illinois Supreme Court put it in the 2010 case of Krywin v. Chicago Transit Authority: "Under the natural accumulation rule, a landowner or possessor of real property has no duty to remove natural accumulations of ice, snow, or water from its property." What that means is that if it fell from the sky, and the landowner, operator, or landlord did not do anything to it (did not shovel, salt, plow) if a person falls on it, the landowner, landlord, or operator is not responsible. This rule does not mean that a situation where a person slips and falls on snow or ice means there is no case. The natural accumulation rule demonstrates that when a landowner, landlord, or property operator did do something to try and remove snow or ice, but did it incorrectly, a personal injury lawsuit may exist. Negligent snow removal, melting and refreezing of plowed piles of snow, pot holes and broken pavement, dripping gutters that cause ice on sidewalks, and so on can all be the basis of a slip and fall lawsuit for a winter fall (which can often cause massive injuries). Be careful out there. But, if the unfortunate or unthinkable happens to you as the snow and ice falls, remember, only an experienced personal injury attorney can advise you as to if you have a case for a slip and fall, car accident, or any other injury related to snow and ice accumulation. Our Firm has handled numerous slip and fall cases, including ones related to snow or ice covered surfaces at malls, businesses, and in residential areas. The same is true of car accident cases caused by winter conditions (of which there will probably be many over the next day or two). Do not take the word of a friend, or believe what you see in the media. If you have been injured, you should contact a qualified personal injury lawyer to discuss what your options are, and if you have a case.

Sunland Salmonella Outbreak Update

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local health officials investigated an outbreak of Salmonella Bredeney infections linked to Trader Joe's Valencia Creamy Salted Peanut Butter, with SKU # 97111, made by Sunland Inc. of Portales, New Mexico. On November 30, 2012, the CDC issued a final update reporting that this outbreak appeared to be over, after a total of 42 people from 20 states (including Illinois) were infected. Other effected states include: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Louisiana, Massachusetts, West Virginia, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, and Virginia. Most people injured by the contaminated food were infected with Salmonella and developed diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts from four days to a week. In some people, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. In these patients, the Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the blood stream, and then to other body sites and can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics. Young children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems are the most likely to have severe infections. It is estimated that Approx. 400 persons die every year with acute salmonellosis. The FDA found that between June 2009 and August 2012, Sunland Inc. had distributed, or cleared for distribution, peanut and almond butter after testing identified the presence of at least one of nine different Salmonella types in those lots. Two of these lots showed the presence of the outbreak strain of Salmonella Bredeney. Further, during the inspection of the processing plant in 2012, the FDA found the presence of Salmonella in numerous environmental samples, including Salmonella Bredney. Investigators found that employees improperly handled equipment used to hold and store food. There were no hand washing sinks in the peanut processing building production or packaging areas and employees had bare-handed contact with ready-to-package peanuts. This is in addition to numerous other problems with the handling and storage of equipment, and products, both raw and cooked. On November 26, 2012, the FDA suspended the "food facility" registration of Sunland, Inc. which is required for a facility that manufactures, processes, or holds food in the United States. This was the FDA's first use of its suspension authority under the Food Safety Modernization Act. On December 21, 2012, U.S. District Judge William P. Johnson signed a consent decree imposing requirements on Sunland Inc.to keep potentially harmful products from entering the market. Based on the requirements of the decree, the FDA reinstated Sunland's food facility registration. However, the company cannot process or distribute food from its peanut butter plant or peanut mill plant until it has complied with the consent decree's requirements to the FDA's satisfaction. The consent decree requires actions including that Sunland retain an independent sanitation expert to develop a sanitation control program that the company must then implement, and, the company must conduct environmental monitoring and testing to ensure that disease-causing organisms are not present in its facility or in its food products. Hopefully, all these steps will go a long way toward preventing any future injuries due to food poisoning or other food borne illnesses. More information on the situation can be found by clicking here. 

One Crash, Two Claims - Car Accident Issues

Many people do not realize that when they are in a car accident, whether minor or serious, two potential claims are created: property damage and bodily injury. With the way insurance policies are written these days, and the way the claims are processed, it is important for the average driver to understand the realities of how to get compensated for injuries suffered in a car accident, whether they be related to your property or your body. Property Damage. The most common claim that gets attributed to a property damage portion of a policy is the damage to the car itself. But, it is not just limited to that. Items in the car, articles of clothing, or even damage to the area around the crash, all fall under property damage. The owners of this property are entitled to fair compensation for the value of what they lost, often determined by the fair market value of the item immediately before it was damaged, or the cost to fix it and put it back in the condition it was in immediately before it was damaged. What drivers need to be aware of is that these claims are often assigned to insurance adjusters who just handle these types of claims, and not bodily injury claims. Thus, for one accident, there can not only be two claims, but two insurance adjusters as well. Bodily Injury. These claims are for the people physically hurt in a car crash, whether they be the driver, a passenger, or even someone outside of the cars that was struck. Their personal injury claims fall under bodily injury coverage provisions of insurance policies. Whether the injuries are minor, some bumps and bruises, up to broken bones, concussions, or even death, all claims for injuries to a person in a car accident fall under bodily injury coverage. Given the complexities of modern insurance policies, and the practices of some insurance companies in processing claims, it is important that you know your rights if you are injured in a car accident, or any type of accident. Only an experience attorney can properly advise you of what your rights are in any given situation involving a car accident. Before giving any type of statement to an insurance company, if you are in an accident and suffered any type of injury, you should speak with an attorney who has your interest in mind. 

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The Collins Law Firm, P.C.
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Naperville, IL 60563

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