DuPage County Closes Traffic Courts Through End Of Year

Covid-19 cases are rising at a dramatic pace in Illinois. We have seen a steep rise in the number of cases and in the positivity rate throughout the state. The DuPage County Chief Judge Daniel Guerin announced that they are taking steps to stop the spread of the virus by shutting down its’ traffic courts through December 31, 2020. The Chief Judge released the following regarding the shutdown: “In order to protect the health and safety of court employees and the general public, we decided that continuing traffic matters through the end of this year was the responsible and prudent step to take in response to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases.”

The Downers Grove satellite court room and the two court rooms at the main courthouse in Wheaton. Cases will be rescheduled to dates at least 28 business days from their current dates. The court clerk will send notices via mail.

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago accident attorney, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Ex-MLB Player Sues His Old Team For Career Ending Injury

Former San Francisco Giant’s baseball player, Mac Williamson, has sued his old team for a catastrophic head injury he suffered in 2018. On April 24, 2018, Williamson tripped over the bullpen mound placed in the outfield at San Francisco’s AT&T Park causing him to hit his head against the wall in left field foul territory. Williamson filed suit against China Basin Ballpark Company (“CBBC”) the subsidiary that owns and operates AT&T Park.

According to the lawsuit, Williamson suffered a severe concussion, which allegedly ended his career playing major league baseball. The lawsuit claims the following:

“It has long been known that bullpen mounds on the field of play create an unreasonable risk of harm… Prior to building the Park, CBBC knew, or at a minimum should have known, that placing bullpens on the field of play was a safety hazard for players.”

Typically when filing a premises liability lawsuit and eventually proving the claim in court, the Plaintiff must show that there was a defect on the premises and that the owner knew about the defect and chose not correct it or failed to provide any warnings. In this case notice is not the issue as the Giants placed the bullpen mounds in the outfield foul territory when the stadium opened in 2000 and kept them there until 2019. The question is whether having the mounds out there would be considered a defect. Although not very common anymore, there have always been bullpen mounds in foul territory at major league baseball stadiums. The players obviously know about them, but the question is whether they could still be considered a defect. This is most commonly a question of fact for the jury to decide. So, at the very least, Williamson should be able to avoid any motions to dismiss and summary judgment motions by the defense as long as they have an expert opinion concluding that leaving the mounds on the field are a defect on the premises.

Regardless, the defense will definitely file what are called affirmative defenses, which can reduce their amount of fault. Those affirmative defenses could include comparative fault (Williamson was at fault for tripping over the mound) or also the “plain view” defense as the mounds were in the Plaintiff’s view prior to tripping and he should have avoided it. I think the affirmative defenses will be hard for the defense to prove in this case because because the Williamson’s attorney’s will argue that he was doing everything in his power to help his team win by attempting to catch the baseball and record and out, and while doing so, it was impossible to avoid the mound that he tripped over.

This is a unique case that I haven’t seen before. The damages here could be significant if they can prove that Williamson lost out on multiple years of salary as a major league baseball player. This could total into the millions of dollars. Williamson will also be asking for pain and suffering and loss of a normal life. This is also significant as he is not longer able to partake in his life’s passion – – playing baseball. Plus, his comments indicate that his day to day struggle with his brain injury has been significant.

One final issue to remember is that depending on California workers’ compensation law, Williamson could be owed money from the team for his work injury. Workers’ compensation does not require proof of wrongdoing by the employer. The employee merely has to prove that his accident happened on the job and was caused by his employment. Though the damages awarded are not as high as they would be in civil court, he could be owed payment of his medical bills, lost time from work and a lump sum permanency award for his head injury. There is also the possibility that he could be awarded a wage differential at trial (or via settlement), which is typically 2/3 of the difference of what he was earning in major league baseball less what he can earn in the open market. Again, this could be significant since most jobs do not pay anywhere near what professional baseball players earn. Williamson may have already filed a work comp claim, although it is unclear in any of the media I have read about this case.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a Chicago slip and fall case or suffered an Illinois work injury or have an Illinois Workers’ Compensation claim, then call Chicago accident attorney, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Major League Baseball To Extend Netting At All 30 Ballparks

Multiple news outlets, including ESPN.com, reported this week that all 30 Major League Baseball (“MLB”) parks will extend their protective netting beyond where they currently sit as of the end of the 2019 season.

While at the Winter Meetings, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, told reporters that the netting at all ballpark stadiums will extend beyond the duguouts (where the teams sit), but that each stadium will be different. “Seven clubs will have netting that extends all the way to the foul pole,” Manfred said. “Fifteen additional clubs are expanding netting for the 2020 season. There is some variation in this group of 15, but, in general, they are extending netting past the end of the dugout to the elbow in the outfield where the stands begin to angle away from the field of play.”

The Chicago White Sox were the first team to extend netting all the way to the outfield foul poles, which essentially protects all fans on the lower level from foul balls and broken bats that inadvertently fly in the stands.

There have been calls from the media and fans to extend netting at all the ballparks after a series of fan injuries, including the serious injury to a young girl this past season in Houston. MLB is doing the right thing in this situation. I have discussed on this blog in the past that Courts throughout the country have rarely held the MLB or individual teams liable for fan injuries from fly balls. This has been referred to in common law as the baseball rule which says that fans by buying a ticket they are assuming the risk that they could be injured at a game by a ball or a bat flying into the stands. I have criticized this rule over and over again because as the injuries continued, many teams were reluctant to expand their protective netting. The MLB, which knows they probably won’t be held liable in court, is still doing the right thing by expanding the netting at all the stadiums.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a Chicago personal injury accident or Chicago truck accident, then Call Chicago accident attorney, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076

How To Prepare For Thanksgiving Travel Week

According to AAA, the 2019 Thanksgiving Holiday will be the busiest travel week of all time. AAA estimates more than 55 million travelers this year. 49.3 million Americans are expected to travel by automobile, which would be the most since 2005 and a 2.8% increase from last year.

With that in mind the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and Illinois State Police have provided the following travel tips, including what to bring with you before you hit the road. This is incredibly important this year as parts of central and southern Illinois could be hit with a couple different winter storms.

Cell phone and charger
• First aid kit
• Water and high-calorie, non-perishable food
• Boots, hats, gloves and extra clothing to keep dry
• Blanket
• Crank radio and flashlight
• Sack of sand or cat litter
• Shovel
• Windshield scraper and brush
• Tool kit and tow rope
• Booster cables
• Compass and road maps

Be careful this week if you are traveling by car to see family and friends. You could be faced with nasty weather along with an abnormal number of vehicles on the road.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a Chicago truck accident or Illinois traffic accident, then call Chicago accident attorney, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076

Will County Sheriff Launches Labor Day Traffic Safety Campaign

Will County Illinois, which is adjacent and directly south of Cook County, decided to launch a traffic safety campaign with started August 16 and run through Labor Day weekend. The campaign is aims to stop drunk, unbuckled and distracted drivers.

“Our goal is to help ensure that our community’s residents and visitors make it home safely after the party ends,” Traffic Sergeant Kyle Lakomiak said in a release. “We will be out in force to keep impaired drivers off the roads. If you will be celebrating, we urge you to plan for a sober ride home. It could be a matter of life and death.”

The “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign is funded by federal traffic safety funds administered by the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Labor Day weekend is one of the busiest traffic weekends of the year. Be sure to to aware of your surroundings, buckle up and put your phone down when behind the wheel.

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in an Illinois traffic accident or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago accident attorney, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Chicago To Install Audio Crosswalk Signals For The Blind

Various news outlets reported last week that the city of Chicago is taking a huge step in improving the safety for blind pedestrians. The city announced it will install approximately 50 to 100 new audio signals at intersections throughout the city. A high-pitched chirp attached to pedestrian signals lets those with visual impairments know it is safe to cross the street. Others have voice signals.

According to the reports, the blind community will have input as to exactly where the the new signals will be installed.

This is an encouraging to step by the city to help citizens who cannot protect themselves. Unfortunately Chicago has lagged behind other cities around the country. For instance, San Francisco and Minneapolis, two cities much smaller than Chicago each have over 200 audio signals at crosswalks.

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a Chicago pedestrian accident or a Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago accident attorney, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Ralph Nader: All 737 Aircrafts Should Be Grounded For Good

Longtime consumer rights advocate, Ralph Nader, who is best known for pushing automakers to install seat belts, made a very strong statement yesterday against Boeing. He stated all of their 737 aircrafts should be grounded and should never fly again.

Nader’s comments come just one month after his niece,
Samya Stumo, died while aboard the Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max 8 plane crashed in Indonesia, which killed all 157 passengers.

“Those planes should never fly again,” Nader stated. He is also pointing blame at the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”), who is charged with overseeing the safety of all air traffic in the United States. “If we don’t end the cozy relationship between the patsy FAA…and the Boeing company, 5,000 of these fatally flawed planes will be in the air all over the world with millions of passengers,” Nader said.

Both Boeing and the FAA are still trying to determine the exact cause of the plane crash. A preliminary report has pointed towards faulty software installed by Boeing on the 737s. “It’s our responsibility to eliminate this risk. We own it, and we know how to do it,” stated Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg in a statement released by the company last week. Boeing said it is still working with the FAA and regulatory agencies to develop and certify an “anti-stall” software update designed to keep the system from being activated unintentionally, along with additional training for pilots.

This obviously is not enough for Nader and other family members of the 737 crash victims. Nader has advocated for consumer right over the last 50 years and has succeeded in the push for change in the auto, food and drug
industries, workplace safety and clean air and water. Thankfully, the 737 Max 8 planes are currently grounded. T Boeing must correct their errors quickly and completely before any consideration to put them back in the air.

If you or a loved has been seriously injured in a Chicago product defect case or suffered a serious personal injury, then call Chicago accident attorney, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-106.

Class Action Lawsuit Alleges Antitrust Violations Against Real Estate Brokers

A new class action lawsuit against the National Association of Realtors (“NAR”), by a group of home buyers was filed in the United States District Court, Northern District Illinois this week. The lawsuit, titled Moerhl v National Association Realtors (NAR) alleges antitrust violations by the NAR, due to their practices of forcing home buyers to pay a non-negotiable 6% fee to their agents on all home sales. The suit states that this practice by buyers agents prevents home sellers from the freedom to negotiate their own rate with their real estate agents. Realogy Holdings, HomeServices of America, RE/MAX and Keller Williams are also named in the suit.

The lawsuit cites a 2002 study that if sellers were free to negotiate with their agents, then the commission would fall somewhere closer to 3%.

I am certain that the NAR and associated agencies will argue that that the benefits that brokers provided more than made up for the 6% commission paid. For example, they will argue that the benefit of putting the home up on the MLS, which allowed the homes to be viewed on multiple websites (Redfin etc…), allowed homes to be sold much more quickly and at the highest possible price. They will argue that homes sold by buyers most likely take longer to sell and do not reach the same value as they would on the MLS because they are viewed by less potential buyers.

I am not an antitrust expert by any means, but I will predict that this will be a fiercely fought legal battle. Experts are saying there could be up to 54 billion in damages alleged.

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a Chicago personal injury accident or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago accident attorney, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

NTSB Issues Initial Report From Fatal Duck Boat Accident

The National Traffic Safety Board (“NTSB”) issued an initial report regarding the fatal duck boat accident that occurred on Table Rock Lake in Branson Missouri last month. The accident killed 17 of the 29 passengers who were aboard.

The report states that the boat sank while it was within fifteen (15) of water, and eventually sank to to bottom at 70 feet below the surface. The report, unfortunately, only raises more questions, including why the boat company and its’ captain allowed the boat to go back out into the water while an enormous storm with 70 mph winds was about to hit them? Also, why weren’t the passengers wearing life jackets? Were there enough life jackets? I’m also curious as to the design of these boats? Are they safe or is there a flaw in the design which can cause it to capsize?

Two (2) different lawsuits have been filed already for a handful of the deceased’s families by the same personal injury attorney. Once lawsuit was filed in federal court in Kansas City, which names the touring company, their parent companies and also the boat manufacturer. A second lawsuit was filed in state court. It will be interesting to see how much information is gleaned during discovery period of these lawsuits, or if settlements will be reached prior exchange of documents and depositions. I will also be looking forward to the NTSB’s final report.

If you or someone you love has been injured in an Illinois boating accident or a Chicago personal injury accident, then call Chicago accident attorney, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Arizona Back-Up Uber Driver Was Watching TV On Her Phone At Time Of Fatal Crash

I wrote several months ago about the self-driving Uber accident that killed a pedestrian. It was unclear at the time whether the self-braking system had failed or whether the pedestrian who walked out onto the street gave the vehicle enough time to stop.

Many of those questions have now been answered in a 300 page accident report from the Tempe, Arizona police. According to a car accident lawyer, the back-up driver was watching the television show “The Voice” on her phone when the car crash occurred. The report concludes that if the driver would have been paying attention to the road rather than her phone, she could have braked on time as she could have reacted 143 feet prior to striking the pedestrian.

The National Transportation Safety Board (“NTSB”), released a separate report last month, which said the autonomous driving system on Uber’s Volvo XC-90 SUV spotted the pedestrian about six seconds before hitting her, but did not stop because the system used to automatically apply brakes in potentially dangerous situations had been disabled. Thus, the duty of stopping on time for pedestrians or other vehicles was left to the back-up driver.

The family of the deceased pedestrian has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against both the driver and Uber. In most states, Uber insures their driver’s vehicles up to 1 million dollars per accident. I’d imagine that the family of the deceased are seeking over 1 million and to collect over the policy limits they would need to allege in their complaint and prove that Uber was negligent in the training and supervision of their driver (i.e. the driver was not made sufficiently aware that the self-driving brake system would not stop in certain situations).  Maybe the drivers are overly reliant on the autonomous braking system, and that they should have been trained to be more vigilant even when the self-driving program is on. The family could also allege that Uber’s technology was faulty or that it should not have been disabled, especially at night. I will be following this case as it progresses.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a Chicago pedestrian accident or Chicago Uber accident, then call Chicago accident attorney, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.