Articles Posted in Pedestrian accidents

Geneva Lewis, age 72, slipped and fell on water on the floor at Pierre’s Bakery in Blue Island, Ill. It was Feb. 25, 2009 and  Lewis, a retiree, fell suffering a torn rotator cuff of her right shoulder.It required surgery to repair. A very painful recovery process followed.

The defendant, Pierre’s Bakery, contended that the floor where Lewis fell was dry and that the “wet floor” warning signs were in place, including a sign within 5 feet of where she fell. Pierre’s also claimed that Lewis was at fault for choosing not to keep a proper lookout and that her injuries were due to her age-related degenerative arthritis.

Pierre’s introduced photographs of the scene of the fall, which showed a dry floor with warning signs. 

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The Illinois Third District Appellate Court has held  that the large hardware chain Menards was entitled to insurance coverage under the automobile insurance policy issued to the insured, the customer, who was injured while a Menards employee loaded her car. 

In this case, Ruby Bohlen purchased gravel and bricks from a Menards store in Champaign, Ill.  She brought her car around to the loading area where her car was to be loaded by an employee of Menards. While the Menards employee was loading the bricks, Bohlen tripped and fell on debris near her car and was injured. 

Bohlen filed a lawsuit against Menards claiming that Menards was negligent in failing to provide a safe place for its customers.  As part of the complaint, Bohlen claimed that Menards chose not to remove debris from the aisles, sidewalks and other areas of the store. 

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In September 2008, Robert Jones, a delivery man bringing pizza dough to the Pizza Hut restaurant in South Elgin, Ill., was hit by a Pizza Hut employee. Mr. Jones was delivering pizza dough on a loaded dolly through the parking lot heading toward the restaurant’s back door when he was hit by Bibiana Bojorge, who was on her way to deliver a pizza.

Jones, 41, sustained a leg fracture that required surgery. He also will require a knee replacement surgery in the future.

The defendant argued at the trial that Mr. Jones had pizza dough stacked up too high on his dolly, so he was not able to see in front of him. The defendant contended that Mr. Jones ran into the car driven by the 19-year-old pizza delivery driver.

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued an advisory to pedestrians after statistics showed pedestrian fatalities rose by 4 percent in 2010 relative to their levels in 2009. The report notes that 4,280 pedestrians died in 2010, up from 4,109 in 2009. Another 70,000 pedestrians were injured in traffic crashes in 2010.

On average, a pedestrian was killed every two hours and injured every 8 minutes in 2010, the report states.

The total number of fatalities in Illinois was 927 that year. Of that total, 115 — or 12.4 percent — were pedestrian deaths, according to the report. That is a much smaller percentage, however, than other states. In the District of Columbia, for example, 54 percent of the traffic fatalities involved pedestrians in 2010, while in California, the percentage of car deaths involving pedestrians was 22 percent.

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A recent Cook County lawsuit was reviewed by the Illinois Appellate Court, which found that the trial judge had erred in dismissing the plaintiff’s personal injury claim. While the judge had held that the case facts supported a summary judgment in favor of the defendant hospital, the appellate court found that there was sufficient evidence to support some of the plaintiff’s claims. Caburnay v. Norwegian American Hospital, 2011 IL App. (1st) 101740 (Dec. 23, 2011).

The injury in question occurred at Norwegian American Hospital. The plaintiff, Dr. Fernando Caburnay, was an anesthesiologist at the hospital and was waiting for an elevator at the time of his accident. It was a rainy day and a 6 ft. x 10 ft. rubber mat had been placed in front of the elevator. As Dr. Caburnay was stepping back from pressing the call button, he tripped backwards over the mat. The back of his head hit a couch, and he fractured his spine, leaving him a quadriplegic.

Dr. Caburnay filed a personal injury lawsuit against Norwegian American Hospital, the basis of which was their negligence in creating a dangerous situation in the form of the rubber and fabric mat. Dr. Caburnay testified that the mat was the cause of his injury; he tripped after catching his foot on a fold in the mat and falling backwards. However, the hospital denied liability for Dr. Caburnay’s injuries and filed a motion for summary judgment in which it asked the judge to dismiss the claims against Norwegian American Hospital. The judge complied, at which point Dr. Caburnay filed an appeal.

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The Illinois Appellate Court ruled on a premise liability claim involving a building owner’s duty to maintain clear sidewalks and driveways. At issue was whether or not the plaintiff’s amended complaint raised new issues of fact in Kristopher McCarthy v. R&M Holdings & Quality, No. 1-10-2778 (February 2, 2012). While the trial court held that it did not, the appellate court found that it did and remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings.

McCarthy was brought after the plaintiff slipped and fell on the way to his parked car. McCarthy had just finished his shift at the Harwood Heights Cosco on an icy December day. His car was parked in the parking lot next to Cosco’s parking lot. According to McCarthy, he was walking through the snow and did not realize that there was a layer of ice underneath; he fell and dislocated his right shoulder and right knee.

McCarthy brought his premise liability lawsuit against R&M Holdings & Quality, the owner of the commercial building and property. In his complaint he alleged that the icy patch he fell on was part of the run-off from the building’s roof and gutters. There was a downspout that ran directly into the parking lot; McCarthy alleged that this downspout was the source of the water that formed the ice that he fell on and therefore was caused by the building owners and not a natural hazard.

In his first complaint, McCarthy cited ordinary negligence and per se negligence under the Harwood Heights Municipal Code, §15.24.100. While ordinary negligence requires a party to prove that someone acted in an unreasonable or wanton manner, per se negligence simply requires a party to show that an entity violated an established law or code. In response, the defendant property owner filed a motion for summary judgement on the basis that the case could be decided without a trial. The judge dismissed the plaintiff’s original claims, but allowed the plaintiff to file an amended complaint.

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We often tell new teenage drivers that “driving is not a right, it’s a privilege,” in an effort to impress on them the many responsibilities that come with driving. When we get behind the wheel we need to be conscious of driving in a way that ensures our safety as well as that of other drivers and pedestrians. It is for this reason that we commit to memory many rules, e.g., the pedestrian always has the right of way, or reduce speed in a school zone. The failure to follow these rules increases the possibility of a car accident occurring.

A recent Cook County jury was asked to analyze a personal injury lawsuit involving a pedestrian and a car. The plaintiff was a student at Proviso East High School in Maywood, Illinois, and was leaving his school when the car accident occurred. The case was filed by a teenage boy who was hit by a driver while walking across the street to get a ride. As a result of the pedestrian car accident, the teenager sustained a severe leg fracture, requiring surgery and the placement of four screws. And while the boy eventually made a full recovery, it was not until his family had amassed over $35,000 in medical bills.

The defendant car driver was issued a ticket for traveling over the 20 mph posted speed limit and for failing to yield to a pedestrian. The driver freely admitted that he was going 5 to 10 mph over the posted school zone speed limit. However, despite this admission of guilt, the Cook County jury found in favor of the defendant driver.

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As a general rule, pedestrians have the right of way; however, this does not mean that the driver is always at fault. While car drivers have a duty to look out for pedestrians in a designated crosswalk, they do not have the same duty to watch for pedestrians on a designated roadway. In the Cook County personal injury lawsuit of Hashi Said v. Mamoudou Barry, 09 L 5973, the jury found in favor of the car driver, not the pedestrian.

Hashi Said was the pedestrian in this scenario. Said, a taxi cab driver, had parked his cab at a taxi holding area located at O’Hare airport. The taxi holding area is a designated area where cabs line up; it includes an area at the roadside where the cab drivers can socialize and take breaks. At the time of the pedestrian-car accident, Said was walking in the parking lot area when he was hit by a cab being driven by Mamoudou Barry.

The force of the collision caused the 33 year-old Said to sustain a left knee fracture and a tear to his left lateral meniscus. Said was out of work for ten months while he underwent three separate surgeries and physical therapy. And despite all his medical treatment, Said will likely need a knee replacement in the future.

Said filed a personal injury lawsuit against Barry, in which he alleged that Barry had caused the pedestrian accident by driving at an unnecessarily high speeds. According to Said’s theory of liability, if Barry had not been driving at those high speeds, then the auto accident would not have occurred. Said was seeking reimbursement for his medical expenses, pain and suffering, and payment of his $72,793 workers’ compensation lien.

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Personal injury lawsuits like Heather Pflanz v. Chicago Transit Authority, et al. 08 L 4878, remind us that injuries can result from the activities we engage in on a daily basis. The plaintiff in the Chicago lawsuit fell after boarding a Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) bus, injuring her leg so badly that she need surgery. And while the Chicago jury found the plaintiff to be partially responsible for her own injuries, it found that the bulk of the blame lay with the bus driver.

The incident occurred after 37 year-old Heather Pflanz boarded a northbound CTA bus near State Street and Maple Street. Pflanz boarded the bus and was looking through her purse to find her Chicago Card to pay the bus fare. However, the bus reportedly pulled away from the curb suddenly, causing Pflanz to lose her balance and fall forward.

As a result of her slip and fall injury, Pflanz fractured her right tibia/fibula in her lower leg. The severity of the break meant that Pflanz needed to undergo surgery and have nails and screws installed in her leg for additional support. Although Pflanz has recovered, she continues to have ongoing swelling, pain, and stiffness in her right ankle. In addition, Pflanz has since been diagnosed with patellar tendinosis in her right knee and may require additional surgery to fix her kneecap’s tendon.

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While the widespread use of the internet has provided many benefits to the legal community, e.g. online case law, electronic court dockets, etc., it has also brought some challenges. Take for instance the case of Eskew v. Burlington Northern.pdf. In Eskew, the defendants requested a retrial after discovering that one of the jurors had blogged about the trial.

At the Illinois wrongful death trial of Eskew, the jury awarded $4.75 million to the widow of Scott Eskew, a legally blind man who was killed by a train at a Berwyn Metra stop. The estate and family were represented by attorneys Michael Rathsack and Jay Paul Deratney. However, following the wrongful death trial, it was discovered that one of the female jurors had been posting blogs regarding the trial and jury deliberations while the trial was still going on.

Not only did the defendants argue that the blog posts violated the general jury instruction of not talking about the trial while it is going on, but also showed other discrepancies in the jury’s behavior. The defendants requested that the trial judge launch an evidentiary investigation into the juror’s blog and the alleged juror misconduct. However, the trial court denied this request; it is this denial that is at the issue of the defendants’ appeal.

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