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b2ap3_thumbnail_winter-shoveling-work-injury-snow-ice.jpgThere is no doubt about it: Illinois winters can be harsh. Snow and ice accumulation can make something as simple as going to the grocery store or walking through a parking lot a treacherous excursion. Icy walkways, sidewalks, and parking lots are especially dangerous because of the potential they have to cause slip and fall injuries. Slipping on ice and falling can cause broken bones, serious back injuries, and even traumatic brain injuries. If you or a loved one have slipped on ice and fallen on a commercial property, you may be wondering whether or not you can sue the property owner for damages. Illinois personal injury cases involving snow or ice-related injuries are especially tricky due to a special law regarding snow and ice accumulation.

Natural vs. Unnatural Accumulation of Snow and Ice

Unlike other types of property maintenance, most property owners are not obligated to remove “natural accumulations” of ice, snow, or melt water. One exception to this rule is if a lease or contract obligates a property owner to remove natural accumulations. This means that a property owner is typically not liable for injuries caused by the accumulation of snow or ice caused by the weather. However, if an individual slips and falls on an “unnatural accumulation” of ice or snow, the property owner may be liable.

Consider the following scenario: In order to clear his parking lot of snow, a business owner arranges for the snow to be plowed and piled in the corner of the parking lot. As the weather changes over the next few days, the snow from the pile melts and refreezes creating a very icy patch near the entrance to the business. A patron entering the business slips on the ice and suffers a major head injury. In this situation, the property owner may be liable for the patron’s injury because the icy patch on which the patron slipped was an unnatural accumulation of ice caused by the property owner’s actions. Differentiating between natural and unnatural ice accumulation can be extremely challenging and will require guidance from an experienced attorney.

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Lake County personal injury attorneysIn order to reach the emergency as soon as possible, police cars, fire trucks, ambulances, and other emergency vehicles may run red lights and drive in ways typically not permitted by law. Loud sirens and flashing lights alert the surrounding motorists to move over and make way for the emergency vehicle. While most motorists see the warning signs and safely move out of the way of  approaching emergency vehicles, others are not able to avoid the emergency vehicle and a collision occurs. A motorist may also hit something else while attempting to avoid an emergency vehicle.

Illinois Laws Regarding First Response Vehicles

Moving out of the way of first response vehicles is not only common sense, it is also mandated by law. Drivers are required to yield to any authorized emergency vehicle that is signaling an emergency. The driver is expected to pull over to the right side of the road and remain stopped until the emergency vehicle passes or the police directs the motorists to proceed.

Another law mandating motorists’ behavior with regard to first response vehicles is the “Move Over” law. The Move Over Law requires motorists to reduce speed, change lanes, and proceed with due caution when they approach an emergency vehicle stopped along the road. The law is also called “Scott’s Law” in memory of the death of Lieutenant Scott Gillen of the Chicago Fire Department. Lieutenant Gillen was struck and killed by a drunk driver while providing aid at an accident site.

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Lake County personal injury attorneysBeing involved in a serious car accident or other injury-causing incident can leave both physical and mental scars. Experiencing the chaos and destruction caused by a major auto accident firsthand can be extremely shocking. Some car accident victims are even witness to the death or catastrophic injury of other individuals involved in the accident such as passengers or pedestrians. Needless to say, these mental images can haunt a person for years. Mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, phobias, and depression can be caused or worsened by a major accident. These injuries may not be observable in the way that a broken arm is evident, but they are just as real.

Signs of Psychological Distress After an Accident

While we often think about physical injuries when we think of the damage caused by major auto accidents, the psychological damage caused can often be just as distressing or even worse than the physical injuries. One mental condition that is especially common in accident victims is PTSD. The symptoms of PTSD may only become apparent weeks or months after the traumatizing event. They include but are not limited to:

  • Nightmares
  • Distressing flashbacks
  • Headaches
  • Chills
  • Shaking
  • Heart palpitations
  • Panic attacks
  • Insomnia
  • Mood swings and
  • Difficulties completing daily living tasks or work-related tasks

If you have experienced these issues after a traumatizing event, speak with a mental health professional immediately.

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Lake County personal injury attorneysWhen someone is involved in a car accident, slip and fall, or other injury-causing accident, they may suffer a mild traumatic brain injury called a concussion. Most of the time, the symptoms caused by a concussion are short-term. However, some people who suffer a concussion develop post-concussion syndrome. The symptoms of post-concussion syndrome can dramatically affect a person’s ability to do his or her job, participate in hobbies, care for children, and enjoy life the way he or she could before the concussion occurred.

Common Causes of Concussions

A concussion is a brain injury that occurs when the brain strikes the inside of the skull or is otherwise injured. A violent blow to the head, such as a person hitting his or her head on the dashboard during a car accident, can cause a concussion. Sports, falling, pedestrian and bicycle accidents, and physical abuse can also cause someone to suffer a concussion. It is not always easy to know if you have a concussion. Symptoms such as headache, nausea, and confusion may not appear for days or even weeks after the injury. This is one reason that it is so important for anyone involved in an auto accident or other serious accident to get checked out by a medical professional as soon as possible.

Post-Concussion Syndrome Symptoms

Some people who experience a concussion develop post-concussion syndrome. This is especially common in people who have previously experienced head trauma. Symptoms of post-concussion syndrome include headache, difficulties with sleeping, dizziness, depression, anxiety, irritability, reduced concentration, memory problems, sensitivity to noise and light, ringing in the ears, and blurred vision. These symptoms can radically affect a victim’s life. Through a personal injury lawsuit, a person suffering from post-concussion syndrome may be able to receive compensation for their medical bills, missed work, reduced employability, pain and suffering, and more.

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Lake County personal injury attorneysBeing involved in a severe car accident can impact the rest of your life. Not only can a car crash leave you with enormous medical bills, but it can also stop you from enjoying life the way you did before being involved in the accident. Through a personal injury claim, you may be able to get compensation for your hospital bills, prescription medication costs, and other expenses. You may also be able to receive compensation for your pain and suffering as well as any disability or disfigurement caused by the accident. These are only some of the damages available to injured plaintiffs in personal injury lawsuits. However, in order for a person seriously injured in a car accident to win a personal injury claim, he or she must prove that the other driver was in some way responsible for the accident. Along with a qualified attorney, an accident reconstruction specialist may help you prove fault in a car accident claim.  

Proving Negligence or Fault in a Car Accident

Some car accidents are straightforward. For example, when someone is driving under the influence and hits a pedestrian on the sidewalk, there is little question as to who is at fault for the pedestrian’s injuries. However, some accidents can be highly complex and involve a variety of factors. Multi-car pile ups can be especially hard to sort out. In situations where fault is not obvious, an accident reconstruction specialist may be able to help. 

In Lake County, Illinois, the Technical Crash Investigations Team may assist in determining what happened during a serious car wreck. The team may be able to reconstruct the scene of the accident in order to understand whether or not a criminal offense has been committed. 

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