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What You Should Know About Rear-End Collisions and Back & Neck Injuries

When you have neck and back pain after someone rear-ends your car, you may have a condition commonly known as whiplash. If you feel immediate intense pain and you require emergency treatment and hospitalization, you likely have a far more serious problem. While you eventually recover from minor back and neck injuries, the most serious problems may require treatment indefinitely, and can lead to a variety of long-term consequences.

Even minor neck and back injuries cause pain, discomfort, loss of motion, and a variety of unexpected symptoms. Sometimes minor conditions turn out to be not so minor at all. They often require extensive medical treatment, pain medication, and physical therapy before your symptoms subside. Some seriously injured victims find relief through surgical intervention. Others adjust to the long-term disabilities, chronic pain, and permanent motion restrictions. Regardless of the severity, persons with back injuries often lose income during their recovery. If their disabilities continue, they live with a long list of physical, financial, and emotional consequences.

Why Is It Called Whiplash?

Whiplash gets its name from the neck motion that occurs when a motorist strikes another person’s car in the rear. The vehicle’s sudden deceleration after an impact causes a whip-like flexion and hyperextension of the neck. You flex and extend your neck every day, but the motion is usually harmless; when a sudden crash impact triggers the motion, it traumatizes soft tissues and underlying musculoskeletal structures. Whiplash injuries occur even at low-speed impacts.

Why Are Neck and Back Injuries so Painful?

If your whiplash pain seems to encompass your neck, back, head, and other areas of your body, it’s because neck and back injuries often affect the upper and lower back as well as their internal structures and nerves. As the NIH National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke explains, whiplash injuries harm intervertebral joints, discs, ligaments, cervical muscles, and nerve roots. This causes symptoms and conditions such as neck stiffness, muscle and ligament sprains and strains, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, depression, inflammation, and an extensive list of potential problems. Persons with back and neck injuries even suffer from referred pain where they feel pain in an uninjured body part.

Although whiplash is often seen as an insignificant injury, it’s sometimes a sign of a deeper problem. Knowyourback.com, the North American Spine Society website, projects that whiplash injuries should resolve within 6 to 10 weeks of an accident. Chronic pain beyond this timeframe is often due to an underlying disc problem or an issue with facet joints located at the rear of the affected vertebra.

Serious and Catastrophic Back and Neck Injuries

When a vehicle rear-ends a car at high speeds, the impact jolts the body causing severe injuries. If a semi, a bus, or another heavy vehicle initiates the impact, the injuries are often catastrophic and sometimes fatal. A sudden severe spinal trauma can fracture or dislocate a vertebra. Bone or disc fragments then damage spinal cord tissue. They destroy axons, the nerve cell extensions that deliver signals to the brain. This dynamic causes paralysis and functional losses from the damaged area downward.

Rear-end accidents cause these and other serious and catastrophic back and neck injuries.

  • Cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spinal fractures
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Paralysis at the damage and below
  • Loss of bodily functions
  • Loss of sensation
  • Herniated discs
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Reduced life expectancy
  • Permanent disabilities
  • Psychological problems
  • Fatal injuries

The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons website lists car or motorcycle crashes as one of four high-energy traumas that cause thoracic (mid-back) and lumbar (low back) spinal fractures. The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center’s 2018 Spinal Cord Injury Fact sheet cites auto accidents as a factor in 38.3% of spinal cord injuries nationwide.

Neck and Back Injury Treatment

Neck and back injuries vary widely, so the treatments vary as well. For whiplash injuries, doctors often treat patients using traditional soft tissue injury solutions. They include more complex treatment options if the pain continues or worsens.

  • Pain medications
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Cervical collars
  • Exercise
  • Physical therapy
  • Cervical traction
  • Spinal fusion
  • Laminoplasty
  • Laser surgery
  • Heat treatments
  • Medial branch blocks

For patients with catastrophic back injuries, treatment options are still limited. Advances in emergency medicine have improved spinal cord injury recovery. When given within hours of the injury, a steroid drug called methylprednisolone reduces nerve damage. For many spinal cord injuries, the treatment still emphasizes rehabilitation, condition management, and follow-up care like:

  • Respiratory support
  • Nerve stimulation
  • Surgery
  • Strengthening
  • Physical and psychological therapy
  • Chronic condition management (pain, heart, bladder, respiration, bowel)

Recoverable Damages from a Rear End Neck or Back Injury

Each neck or back injury is unique. The damages are often unpredictable, but settlements usually include the basic categories: economic damages and general damages. Economic damages reimburse actual costs incurred for medical treatment, therapy, medications, prosthetics, mobility devices and structures, lost wages, future wages, and more. General damages pay an injured person for the value of pain, suffering, emotional distress, scarring, lifestyle changes, diminishment of a spousal relationship, and other emotional and psychological considerations.

Never say I’m Okay

Sometimes a back or neck trauma takes a day or so to catch up with you. When you have no broken bones or immediate pain, you might not feel symptoms until a day or two later. That’s important to remember during the moments immediately following an accident. Neck and back injury symptoms often don’t manifest immediately. That’s why you should never insist that you’re okay following an accident: without medical observation, it’s often impossible to know for sure whether you are truly injury-free.

The delay factor often makes whiplash injuries controversial when you have a pending liability claim. When a person feels unharmed after a rear-end accident, they often respond “I’m okay” to police officers, witnesses, EMTs, and anyone else who asks. That sense of being okay, however, may only last until the pain begins a few days later. When you present an injury claim to the other person’s insurance company, your post-accident okay statements could support their doubts that your injuries aren’t legitimate.

Contact Our Personal Injury Attorneys

If someone rear-ended your car and caused your neck or back injury, they should be held responsible for your damages. Abels & Annes Personal Injury Attorneys have recovered millions for our clients: Let us determine if we can help you. Call us at (312) 924-7575 or complete our contact form at Abels & Annes online to arrange a free consultation.

Charter Bus Companies Have a Duty to Hire Qualified Drivers

Charter buses are convenient in many situations. Groups may rent a large bus to all travel together on excursions, to compete in athletic events, for social gatherings such as weddings, and more. Some people may also purchase tickets to ride charter buses as a form of long-distance transportation, as it can be more economical than flying, driving, or taking a train. While bus travel is known to be relatively safe, about 67,000 bus accidents happen each year, as reported by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). If a bus accident causes you injuries, it is important to recognize the potential causes of the crash to determine liability for your injury-related losses.

Bus Driver Errors

While not every bus accident is the fault of the bus driver, driver error is a common cause of crashes and passenger injuries. Buses are commercial vehicles, so every driver must have a valid commercial driver’s license (CDL) in order to operate any type of bus. Obtaining such a license involves taking a written test, passing a driving skills test, passing a medical examination, among other steps.

Once licensed, a commercial bus driver must then obey all of the relevant traffic laws in Illinois as well as an extensive set of FMCSA regulations. Buses are also known as “common carriers,” which means the bus owners and operators have a higher duty of care to keep passengers safe than other drivers on the road. Despite all of these requirements, bus drivers are only human and can make careless or even reckless decisions that lead to crashes.

Examples of driver errors include:

  • Speeding
  • Driving while intoxicated
  • Driving while overly fatigued
  • Distracted driving
  • Taking turns too fast
  • Ignoring traffic signals
  • Driving with a serious health condition

Any of the above, among many other possible mistakes, can cause a bus to crash and cause serious injuries to passengers and other motorists.

Bus Companies Also Have Responsibilities

While people may look directly to the negligent bus driver after an accident, you should realize that bus companies can also have significant liability for an accident. Bus companies can be automatically liable for the negligent acts of employees and they also may be negligent in their own right, as well.

Bus companies have many legal duties of their own, such as the duty to inspect and maintain buses and the duty to follow FMCSA regulations. One highly important duty is to hire qualified drivers. First and foremost, every driver who is allowed to operate a bus should have an active CDL. The most basic thing a company can do during the hiring process is check to make sure an applicant has a valid and current license to drive the bus. If a bus company allows someone without a CDL to drive, it can lead to liability for negligent hiring.

Negligent hiring can also involve many other missteps on the bus company’s part. This may include:

Driving and criminal records – A bus company should carefully check every applicant’s driving and criminal record. If the applicant has convictions for driving under the influence (DUI) or other severe driving offenses, there may be the risk of a repeat offense while they are operating a bus full of people. In addition, if someone’s driving record shows multiple speeding citations or other traffic violations, it may be a sign of a pattern of dangerous driving that may continue behind the wheel of the bus, and the company should carefully consider whether the driver is qualified.

Substance abuse – Even if a person does not have DUI convictions, they may still have a history of drug and/or alcohol abuse. Such a history may be an indication that impaired driving may occur in the future. Because impaired driving is so dangerous when it comes to bus driving, any bus company may want to rethink hiring someone with a known history of substance abuse.

Health conditions – In order to obtain a CDL, an applicant must undergo a thorough medical evaluation to ensure they have no major health conditions that may make driving unsafe. However, some bus driver applicants may have already had a CDL for several years and, in the meantime, may have developed new health conditions that make them risky drivers. Such health conditions may include arthritis, vision problems, conditions that may cause seizures, and more.

Previous work experience – A hiring bus company should also examine the past work experience of an applicant. For example, if the applicant was terminated from a previous bus driving job because of FMCSA violations or other misconduct, they may repeat their past conduct. If a driver lost their job after causing accidents, they may be prone to making errors that could cause future accidents.

Surprisingly, some bus companies hire unqualified or potentially dangerous drivers and allow them to drive around hundreds of people per day. If a driver is not properly qualified to operate the bus, a skilled attorney should examine the hiring practices of the bus company that employed the driver. If the company knew or should have known about the driver’s risks or lack of qualification, the company can be liable due to its negligent hiring.

In addition to negligent hiring, a company may also be held responsible for negligent supervision or retention of drivers. A company should carefully oversee every driver to ensure they are in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. If a company fails to adequately supervise employees or fails to take disciplinary action against drivers who violate safety rules, the company should be liable for its negligent actions.

Call Our Chicago Bus Accident Lawyers to Discuss a Possible Case Today

Dangerous bus drivers and bus companies can cause severe and life-changing injuries. The law firm of Abels & Annes, P.C., knows how to hold negligent parties accountable so that injured bus accident victims can recover for their medical expenses, lost wages, and more. If you would like to discuss your legal options, please do not hesitate to call (312) 924-7575 or contact us online for a free consultation today.

Remember to Discuss Pool Safety with Your Children

With Memorial Day bringing the unofficial start of summer, pools will be opening across the Chicagoland area. Whether you visit a public pool, a country club, or have a pool right in your own backyard, you should always remember that with the fun and recreation of swimming also comes a risk of injury and drowning accidents. Now is a good time to review swimming pool safety tips with your children and to remind yourself how to recognize possible hazards in and around pools to help prevent accidents.

Never Swim Unattended

First and foremost, your children should know never to swim alone. They should always have the supervision of an adult or lifeguard. As they get older, they should always swim with another friend who can call for help if something happens.

Pool Safety Enclosures

Pool owners should also always meet safety requirements to ensure that small children cannot wander into the pool area on their own. This includes having a barrier around the pool area with no gaps or holes, as well as a gate with a locking mechanism that is too high for a small child to reach. If you have a pool in your backyard, make sure the enclosure also prevents children from accessing the pool from inside your own house, as this is a common cause of accidents. If a pool owner does not take the necessary precautions to prevent children from falling into the pool unattended, they may be held liable if an accident does occur.

Follow all Rules and Warnings

Your children should be aware that each swimming pool is different and may have different rules to follow and warnings to heed. Common rules and warnings to emphasize include:

  • No diving in certain areas
  • Shallow end and deep end markers
  • No running
  • No lifeguard on duty
  • No glass in pool area

The only way for patrons to know which rules and warnings apply to a certain pool area is for the property owner to post the necessary signs. Owners should post highly visible and easy-to-read signage around the pool area to make sure everyone knows the proper safety conduct and how to safely behave at that particular pool. Make sure to read all the applicable pool rules to children not old enough to read. Failing to post the proper warnings may be considered to be negligent if someone gets hurt because they didn’t know the safety rules.

Stay Away From Drains

If a pool owner complies with all safety requirements set out by federal law, they should have the proper covers on every pool and hot tub drain. If properly covered, a pool drain does not pose an inherent threat to swimmers. However, it is hard for the average swimmer to tell whether drain covers are in compliance and the cover may not be completely safe. For this reason, it can be wise to warn your children to steer clear of drains whenever possible.

Non-compliant drain covers have the potential to cause serious and often fatal injuries. If the cover is not safe, it can suction a person – especially a small child – to the drain. The person can then be stuck under water to the point of drowning and evisceration can even occur. Pool and hot tub drain accidents can be extremely traumatic as a result and every pool owner should ensure that their drains are safe and in full compliance with safety laws.

Alert an Adult if Something Is Wrong

There are many, many other hazards that a swimmer may encounter that could pose the risk of harm. Your child should know to inform a lifeguard or adult if they notice anything out of the ordinary while they are in the pool area so that a potential hazard can be addressed immediately. Common hazards to report include:

  • Sharp edges of the pool that may prevent someone from holding on
  • Sharpness on the bottom of the pool that may prevent a swimmer from putting their feet down
  • Objects or tools left on the pool deck that could cause someone to trip and fall into the pool
  • Broken ladders or diving boards that may cause someone to fall in

These are only a few examples of potentially harmful conditions that should be rectified as soon as possible, or the pool owner may be held liable for any injuries that result.

What if a Pool Accident Happens?

If a pool accident happens and you or your child suffer injuries, an attorney can help you determine whether the accident happened due to the negligence of the pool owner. If so, you may have the right to seek compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, and other accident-related losses. You should always have a premises liability lawyer handle every aspect of your property insurance claim or your personal injury lawsuit, if litigation is necessary.

In the event of a tragic pool accident, you need a law firm that regularly handles wrongful death claims in Illinois. Wrongful death laws dictate who can file a claim and what damages may be obtained. Our attorneys understand how difficult it is to unexpectedly lose a loved one. We handle this type of claim with compassion and commitment so that you can focus on your own recovery.

Personal injury and wrongful death claims can provide important compensation for you and your family after a swimming pool accident. However, you do not have an infinite amount of time to file a claim and your rights to compensation do not persist indefinitely. Instead, Illinois has strict statutes of limitations for personal injury and wrongful death cases. You should not wait to have an attorney evaluate your situation to advise you of your legal rights and the best course of action in your case.

Contact a Chicago Personal Injury Attorney for Help Today

At the law firm of Abels & Annes, PC, we hope everyone in Chicago has a safe and enjoyable summer. However, in the event of an accident or injury, we are here to help. Our personal injury lawyers handle a wide range of cases and can evaluate your situation and advise you of your legal options. Please feel free to contact our office online or call 312-924-7575 to schedule a free case evaluation with a member of our legal team.

Four Things to Do after a Public Transportation Accident

The Chicago Transit Authority, otherwise known as CTA, operates the second-largest public transportation system in the United States. The CTA serves the City of Chicago, along with 40 neighboring communities, by rail and bus. Riders may pay cash for single-trip rides or a Ventra Transit Card or Unlimited Ride Pass for added cost savings.

Due to the convenience and low costs associated with public transportation in and around Chicago, it is a feasible alternative for visitors and locals alike. However, accidents involving public transportation vehicles do sometimes happen when drivers and operators are in a hurry or operate their vehicles in a careless or reckless manner. When these accidents happen, there are certain steps you should take in order to increase your chances of recovering monetary compensation.

The Chicago public transportation accident lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. understand the pain, suffering, and inconvenience associated with public transit accidents. Our lawyers can meet with you to discuss the facts and circumstances of your case and provide you with thorough, cost-efficient legal representation.

Step 1 – Complete an Accident or Incident Report

In most cases, after being involved as a passenger in a public transit> accident, the transit vehicle operator will ask you to make a statement or to fill out an incident report. When doing so, you should be as complete and accurate as possible about what happened during the accident. You should also carefully detail your observations, as well as> any injuries you sustained in the accident.

Step 2 – Treat Your Injuries

After you are involved in any type of accident – including a public transit accident – you should seek immediate medical treatment at a hospital or urgent care facility. You should do this even if you do not feel that you sustained injuries in the accident. In many cases, symptoms and injuries do not manifest themselves until several days after the accident. Once you are discharged from the hospital or urgent care facility, you should follow through with any treatment recommendations. This includes following up with a primary care doctor or specialist, if necessary.

Step 3 – Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer to File a Claim or Lawsuit on Your Behalf

If you have sustained injuries in a Chicago public transit accident, you may be eligible to pursue monetary compensation for any injuries and damages which you sustained. A personal injury lawyer can undertake a thorough investigation into the facts and circumstances of your case and can bring a claim against all potentially responsible parties. These may include the bus or train operator, the City of Chicago, the CTA, or another motor vehicle driver.

In public transit accident cases, most personal injury lawyers will sue anyone and everyone who could potentially be responsible for the accident, in order to protect the statute of limitations deadline. In the State of Illinois, for most public transportation accidents, if you do not file a claim or lawsuit against a responsible party within one year of the date of the accident, you will be forever barred from seeking monetary compensation for your injuries against that person or entity. Sometimes, you may also be required to provide notice within an even shorter time frame. In a Chicago public transit accident case, your lawyer may be able to do the following:

  • File a claim or lawsuit against the negligent transit driver – In public transit accident cases, one of the primary defendants is usually the bus or train operator who caused the accident. Public transit accidents occur under a variety of circumstances, including speeding, careless driving, or distracted driving. If the transit driver is the cause – or a cause – of the accident, you may be able to file a claim or lawsuit directly against him or her.
  • File a claim or lawsuit against the City or the CTA – In addition to filing a claim or lawsuit against the negligent transit driver, you may also be able to file a claim against the City of Chicago and/or the CTA. Under agency law, governmental entities can be held responsible when their employees behave in a negligent manner. They can also be liable for negligently hiring, retaining, or failing to supervise a negligent employee. Keep in mind, however, that special notice requirements and time limitations oftentimes apply when filing claims or lawsuits against governmental entities.
  • File a claim or lawsuit against the other motor vehicle driver – In some cases, the public transit operator operates his or her vehicle in a reasonable and careful manner. However, another driver negligently causes the accident. In that case, you may be able to file a claim or lawsuit directly against the driver and/or the owner of that other vehicle.

Step 4 – Follow Your Lawyer’s Recommendations

When it comes to litigating, settling, or trying a public transit accident case, a personal injury lawyer can be an invaluable asset and resource. A lawyer may be able to recommend the following:

  • Whether or not you should accept a pending settlement offer
  • Whether or not you should take your case to trial

Call a Chicago Public Transportation Accident Lawyer Today for a Free Initial Case Evaluation and Legal Consultation

Public transit accidents are complicated because it is often difficult to determine who or what caused the accident. The Chicago personal injury lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. can investigate your case and make a claim against the responsible persons or entities. Our team of litigation attorneys will then work to negotiate a favorable settlement offer in your case. If the insurance company refuses to place a reasonable settlement offer on the table, our attorneys welcome the opportunity to file a lawsuit in your case and litigate it through the Illinois court system.

In a public transit accident case, a personal injury lawyer may be able to help you recover monetary compensation for medical and physical therapy bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, lost earning capacity, emotional distress, mental anguish, and loss of consortium.

To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a Chicago, Illinois public transportation accident lawyer, please call us today at (312) 924-7575 or contact us online.

Bus Accidents Can Cause Serious injuries

Tens of thousands of Chicagoans take buses every day—whether the CTA or RTA public transportation buses, school buses, private charter buses or shuttle buses.

According to the American School Bus Council, each day some 480,000 school buses transport 25 million children to and from school.

We entrust our safety to the bus drivers and the mechanical safety of buses.

Unfortunately, bus accidents happen. Buses can strikepedestrians, bicyclists, or other vehicles. Those accidents, in turn, can cause injuries to bus passengers. And passengers can hurt themselves while boarding or exiting the bus.

The sheer size of buses can pose significant safety hazards. They are big, hard to maneuver, and take longer distances to stop. The limitless causes of bus accident injuries include:

  • Unsafe road conditions
  • Road hazards (such as large potholes) can lead to unexpected movement and injuries
  • Poor maintenance that leads to mechanical failures and collisions
  • Faulty parts that cause catastrophic failures
  • Driving error by either the bus driver or another third party (like a car driver)

Common Bus Accident Injuries

Although some bus accidents can result in minor injuries, all too often, bus accident victims suffer catastrophic injuries. They can follow a bus accident victim for a lifetime, even resulting in permanent disabilities, disfigurement, and death. Some bus accident injuries can include:

  • Back and neck injuries: Whiplash results when a sudden force causes the head or neck to shake forward or to the side. More serious neck and back injuries can involve injuries to the discs or even spinal column, resulting in decreased motion and even paralysis.
  • Extremity injuries: In a bus crash, your arms and legs may flail about in uncontrolled movements. This can result in injuries to your extremities, including cuts, bruises, torn soft tissue, and even broken or dislocated bones. The most severe extremity injuries are those that result in compound fractures or limb severing. These require immediate medical attention and can develop into lifelong, permanent injuries.
  • Internal bleeding and trauma: The force of a bus crash can cause a victim to hit the abdomen or torso. This can result in significant internal injuries to the stomach, spleen, kidneys, lungs, and ribs. Internal injuries are not always immediately apparent, so seek a medical evaluation, even if you don’t think the accident hurt you.
  • Traumatic brain injuries: >A traumatic brain injury (TBI) takes place when any sort of force fractures the skull or an impact to a victim’s head is so severe it results in the brain colliding forcefully inside the head. In a bus accident, this can happen if a violent motion causes you to hit your head on a window, a steering wheel, the pavement, or even the seat behind you or in front of you. This violent motion can lead to brief or much longer loss of consciousness. Mild TBIs, like concussions, usually resolve with rest and treatments. All TBIs can leave lifelong effects on people, including changes in personality, the ability to self–function, and memory loss. More serious TBIs can lead to hospitalizations and even brain swelling. In extreme cases, if left untreated, even mild TBIs can lead to death.

Serious injuries, like those listed here, inevitably lead to heavy financial burdens. Medical treatments and long-term rehabilitation is expensive. If you cannot work because of your injury, this also leads to lost wages and further financial problems.

What Should I Do After a Bus Accident?

Buses are large and powerful. As a result, when buses crash, traumatic and serious injuries can occur. If you are involved in a bus accident:

  • Assess your personal health and those around you. You need to make sure you are physically okay—and if possible, check those around you. If you or someone else has suffered injuries, seek immediate medical attention. Even if you don’t appear to have sustained immediate injuries, get a checkup soon after the incident. Some injuries take hours or days to manifest.
  • Don’t discuss fault with anyone. This is a common mistake that people make at accident scenes—whether victims or those at-fault. Insurance companies can use anything you say during this time against you if you later seek compensation for your injuries.
  • Contact the proper authorities. This might include the local police department, or local school if a school bus was involved.
  • Get as much information as possible (circumstances permitting). If you are not injured or your injuries allow, get the bus driver’s information, the bus number, route number, etc. (but don’t forgo immediate needed medical treatment). If you have a smartphone, take pictures.
  • Look for witnesses. If you see bystanders, ask them for their contact information and seek permission to follow up with them. This can prove important later when the facts start to fade from memory.
  • Be careful whom you talk to. Immediately after an accident, many people may want to talk to you or your family. This includes the other side’s insurance company and lawyers. Don’t talk to anyone you don’t want to or whom you think might not work in your best interests.
  • Consider hiring a bus accident attorney. Talk to an experienced attorney who deals with insurance companies to protect your rights.
  • Continue treatment for injuries. Continue to get proper and timely treatments for all of your injuries. Follow your recovery plan and document all of your appointments, expenses, and other losses.

Seek the Help of a Chicago Bus Accident Attorney

If you or someone you love was seriously injured in a bus accident, as a passenger or otherwise, preserve your legal rights. The bus accident attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. can help guide your potential personal injury claim. Contact us or call us today at (312) 924-7575 to discuss the details of your case.

The Emotional Consequences of Serious Burn Injuries

Advances in medical care have allowed people with serious burns to survive their injuries. But survivors often struggle with emotional distress that can take a serious toll on their mental and physical health.

If you or a loved one has suffered a serious burn injury, help is available. Medical professionals have improved their knowledge of how to help people recover from life-altering burns. Depending on the circumstances, you might also receive financial compensation for your injuries if someone else caused them.

Forms of Emotional Distress

Burn victims feel many emotions as they attempt to recover from their injuries. If a loved one was badly burned, do not feel surprised to hear the expression of:

  • Helplessness
  • Hopelessness
  • Anxiety
  • Loneliness
  • Irritability
  • Sadness
  • Tension

Suffering from a burn injury creates a vicious cycle where the physical symptoms of a burn can worsen your loved one’s emotional state. For example, your loved one may experience insomnia, which can increase anxiety and irritability. As fatigue increases, burn victims might find trouble concentrating, talking, or socializing with other people, which will only increase isolation.

Why Burn Victims Feel Distress

Burn victims have a lot of time to think about their injuries, and their anxiety will increase as they worry about the future. For example, your loved one might express anxiety about:

  • Their appearance. Burns to the visible parts of the body, such as the face, can cause extreme distress. Burns can also fuse people’s fingers and toes together.
  • Itching and scars. Some burn victims become consumed with thoughts of scratching their burns to relieve the itching. However, scratching can cause more damage.
  • Ability to find work. Especially severe burns may make your loved one worry howb to will pay medical bills and provide for the family.
  • Limited movement. Bad burns can lead to amputation of damaged limbs. Burn victims often worry about whether they can resume their old lifestyles or whether their injuries will render them permanently house–bound.

Although you might want to comfort your loved one, your expressions of care often will fall on deaf ears. Instead of trying to rally the burn victim all on your own, you might need to seek out psychological counseling to help your loved one dig out of the darkness.

Distress Can Increase Physical Pain

Burns are often physically excruciating, with pain lasting for months or years as the wounds heal. The dressing process itself can cause extreme pain. Emotional distress often makes the physical pain even worse, which can interfere with your loved one’s willingness to engage in physical therapy. Pain can also make communication difficult, so the burn victim may be unable to effectively speak with the medical team.

Help Is Available

Serious burn injuries are devastating, but by actively seeking out treatment, a burn victim can turn a negative spiral into a positive feedback loop, where increased mental wellness facilitates sleep, communication, and interpersonal relationships. For example, you should look into:

  • Burn victim support groups. Ask your doctors if they know of any groups. If no local group is available, then find one online. By participating in a support group, burn victims receive the emotional support they need from others who have struggled with burn injuries.
  • Psychotherapy. A mental health professional with experience helping burn victims can provide new ways to cope with emotional distress and innovative ways to strengthen social interaction.
  • Medication. A primary care physician can prescribe medicine to reduce anxiety, encourage sleep, and alleviate depression. A physician can also prescribe painkillers to help blunt the physical pain a burn victim feels.
  • A healthy diet. Although eating well won’t reverse emotional distress on its own, it can alleviate some of the negative physical symptoms.
  • Physical rehabilitation. By participating in rehabilitation, your loved one might see that a life of independence is still possible in the future. This realization can boost self-esteem and create positive physical and psychological effects.

Financial Compensation

When someone else is responsible for burn injuries, you can sue them for financial compensation. A variety of circumstances can result in burn injuries, such as:

  • An automobile accident. Someone might slam into you, causing your gas tank to ignite. Or a petroleum truck might catch on fire, burning people in the nearby area. You can suffer bad burns as you fight to extricate yourself from your car.
  • Intentional burning. Someone might burn you by lighting your clothes on fire or by throwing acid in your face.
  • Dangerous premises. Faulty electrical wiring might cause a home or office to catch on fire. If the owner of the premises is especially careless, a lack of fire exits might make escape difficult.

Every situation is different, and you shouldn’t assume that no one is responsible for your loved one’s burns without first meeting with a Chicago personal injury lawyer. Your lawyer can carefully gather evidence—a police report, witness testimony, your own memories—and pinpoint whose carelessness caused your injury. After identifying the party at fault, you can sue for compensation (called “damages”), including the following:

  • Past, present, and future medical care, including hospital stays, therapy, rehabilitation, and prescription drugs
  • Past, present, and future lost wages, if the injuries prevent your loved one from returning to work
  • Pain and suffering, to compensate for the physical pain
  • Emotional distress for the negative emotional impacts of the burn injuries, including permanent disfigurement
  • Changes in your loved one’s marital relationship, including the loss of care, companionship, and sexual intimacy

Speak With a Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Today

Surviving a burn injury is only the first step in a long road to recovery for burn victims—but fortunately, financial compensation, when available, may help. At Abels & Annes, our lawyers are committed to helping burn victims and their families begin to piece their lives together, one step at a time. Call us at (312) 924-7575 or contact us today for a free consultation.

4 Serious Injuries Your Child Can Sustain on the Playground

Playgrounds and kids just go together. Kids are drawn to the fun and freedom of the playground and the opportunity to run around and act like kids. When – instead of having fun on the playground – your child is injured, it can be especially traumatic. In fact, there are several injuries that are common to playground accidents.

Playground Safety

Playgrounds are built for children, and thus, should be safe for children. This means that playgrounds should be well-designed and well-constructed, well supervised (in the case of school playgrounds), and adequately and routinely maintained. There are several factors related to such maintenance that play important roles in keeping playgrounds safe for children:

  • Maintaining the equipment in good working order;
  • Ensuring that the equipment has no sharp, jagged, or broken edges;
  • Ensuring that the equipment has no loose or missing parts;
  • Ensuring that the equipment has no dangerous, slippery, or excessively hot surfaces; and
  • Maintaining safe, clean, and uncluttered grounds.

Proper maintenance of playgrounds is critical to keeping them safe for children to enjoy.

If your child has been injured in a playground accident, you’re likely overwhelmed and may not know where to turn for help. After seeking immediate medical attention for your child, consult with a playground accident attorney. The legal team at the Law Firm of Abels & Annes understands how emotionally difficult these claims can be, and we’re here to help guide your case toward just resolution.

Playground Injuries

Playgrounds allow your children the opportunity to run, jump, frolic – and be children. Unfortunately, however, accidents do happen, and there are four injuries that are most commonly associated with such accidents:

  • Fractures Serious fractures and sprains are common to playground accidents. Playground equipment allows children to climb up off the ground, but it also provides plenty of opportunities to fall from these heights. When you add in moving parts, such as swings and equipment that spins, the danger increases. Children – being children – avail themselves of every opportunity to recklessly throw themselves into their play, so fractures happen.
  • Concussions – Concussions are mild forms of traumatic brain injuries, which are caused by either a force or blow to the head or by a violent shaking of the head. Like fractures, concussions can be caused by falling from one of the many elevated surfaces found on playgrounds.
  • Internal Injuries – Internal injuries can be especially terrifying because they can be asymptomatic and can go unnoticed until they become more serious and more difficult to treat. If your child has taken a significant tumble or fall on a playground, it’s always a good idea to seek medical attention to ensure that there are no internal injuries involved.
  • Injuries that Require Amputations – Playground equipment is often rife with moving parts, nooks, crannies, and gaps. As such children – in their excitement – are prone to getting their arms and legs caught and squeezed in the traps these spaces can create. Such accidents can necessitate amputations or result in other serious physical injuries.

Playgrounds allow your children to get out and there and be children, but they aren’t without their own inherent dangers. And when such playgrounds aren’t safely designed, constructed, maintained, and monitored, they are more dangerous still.

Playground Accident Statistics

As noted, playground accidents happen, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shares some sobering statistics related to such accidents:

  • More than 200,000 children (14 years old and younger) are treated in emergency rooms each year for injuries sustained on playgrounds.
  • Approximately 45 percent of these playground-related injuries are categorized as severe fractures, dislocations, internal injuries, concussions, and amputations.
  • Most nonfatal playground-related injuries occur on public playgrounds, including school and daycare playgrounds.
  • Most playground fatalities – 70 percent – happen on home playgrounds and are related to strangulation (56 percent) and falls to the ground (20 percent).

Risk Factors

While every playground has inherent risk factors, the CDC assesses those risk factors that are most commonly associated with playground accidents:

  • Climbing equipment causes more injuries than any other equipment found on public playgrounds.
  • Swings are most closely associated with injuries on home playgrounds.
  • Girls sustain about 10 percent more injuries on playgrounds than boys do.
  • Children between the ages of 5 and 9 are most likely to sustain playground injuries that necessitate emergency treatment, and most such injuries occur on school playgrounds.

While there’s no way to guarantee that your child will remain safe on a playground, the Nationwide Children’s Hospital offers some safety tips related to recognizing those playgrounds that are and aren’t safe for your children to play on:

  • Playgrounds should have soft landing surfaces, including such materials as wood chips, sand, or rubber surfacing. Avoid playgrounds that incorporate concrete, blacktop, or grass as landing surfaces.
  • Spaces and gaps built into the playground equipment should be smaller than 3.5 inches or larger than 9 inches – spaces and gaps that fall outside these parameters can lead to dangerous accidents.
  • All platforms, ramps, and stairs should be equipped with handrails, guardrails, or another kind of barrier.
  • Anything on the playground that could be considered a tripping hazard should be dealt with appropriately. Playgrounds that are riddled with tree roots, rocks, and broken or uneven surfaces are not safe for children’s play.

When you think about playgrounds, you probably think about your children having hours of fun and not about what dangers may lurk there. If your child’s been injured in a playground accident caused by faulty design or construction, negligent maintenance, or inadequate supervision, you know how traumatic that is. You are not alone, however; a playground accident attorney can understand what you’re going through and help navigate your claim toward the compensation to which you are entitled.

If Your Child’s Suffered a Playground Injury, Call a Chicago Playground Accident Attorney Today

Playground accidents are harrowing, but the legal team at the Law Firm of Abels & Annes is here to help guide your claim toward its best possible resolution. If your child was injured in a playground accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence, please don’t hesitate to contact or call our office at 312-924-7575 for a free consultation today.

Burn Injuries: Common Causes

Burns can be one of the most painful injuries a person can sustain. Severe burns can damage all of the layers of the skin, as well as tissue below the skin. Victims of serious burn injuries commonly need surgeries and extended time spent in the hospital or a burn treatment center. The following are some of the common causes of serious burns.

Fires are the Leading Cause of Burns

By far, fires and flames are the most common cause of burn injuries in the United States. Fires can occur in many situations and for many reasons, including faulty wiring, unmaintained fireplaces or stoves, car or truck crashes, among many others. In many cases, a fire starts because a property owner, contractor, driver, or another party was negligent in some way. In such cases, any burn victims can hold the party that caused the fire liable for their medical costs, pain and suffering, and other extensive losses.

Additional Types of Burn Accidents

Fire is far from the only condition that can cause serious burn injuries. Some other causes include the following:

  • Thermal burns – This type of burn occurs when your skin comes in contact with an object that is hot. This can include stoves, irons, machinery, and more. These are common injuries in workplaces such as kitchens or manufacturing plants.
  • Scalds – Scalds occur when extremely hot liquid or steam hits your skin. One famous scald injury happened to a woman who sued McDonald’s for serving over-hot coffee that spilled in her lap, causing severe burns.
  • Electrical burns – While burns from electrocution are most common for contractors, electricians, construction workers, and individuals in similar fields, they can also happen at home due to faulty wiring or other electricity defects.
  • Chemical burns – These burns occur when a corrosive or otherwise toxic chemical comes in contact with the skin. This is also a common workplace injury.

Contact Our Chicago Burn Accident Attorneys for Help

The Chicago burn injury lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. know how devastating a serious burn can be. We protect the rights of burn victims, so please call for a free consultation at (312) 924-7575 today.

1http://www.ameriburn.org/resources_factsheet.php

2http://www.huffingtonpost.com/darryl-s-weiman-md-jd/the-mcdonalds-coffee-case_b_14002362.html

Who Is Liable if I Fall at Work?

Many adults spend most of their time during the week at work. Accidents can happen anywhere, but the time you spend at work increases the chances that you could suffer an accidental injury on the job. This is especially true if you work in an industry that has a higher risk of injury.

One common accident that can happen at any workplace is a fall. Falls can happen in many ways, including slipping and falling while walking in an office building or> falling from scaffolding or other heights at a construction site. No matter how or where your accident occurred, you are probably wondering, who will compensate me for the costs I incurred because of my work-related fall?

Your Employer

Illinois law requires most employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance, which should provide coverage and benefits for workers who are injured on the job. This includes falls, and anyone who was injured from a fall at work should be able to make a workers’ compensation claim and receive compensation for medical costs and lost wages.

However, the workers’ compensation system is far from perfect, and many valid claims are not properly handled, which can result in a denial of important benefits for you. If you are having any difficulty with a workers’ compensation claim, you should call a Chicago work injury attorney as soon as possible.

Third Parties

Workers’ compensation law generally prevents you from filing a personal injury lawsuit in exchange for receiving benefits. However, this refers to a lawsuit holding your employer liable for your injuries. In some instances, a third party who is not your employer may be responsible for causing your fall. If you can prove that the negligence of a third party caused your fall and related injuries, you may have the right to seek compensation from that party through a personal injury claim.

Contact Our Chicago Workplace Injury Attorneys for More Information Today

The best way to be sure you are seeking all forms of compensation you deserve is to consult with a workplace injury attorney who understands relevant Illinois law. Please do not hesitate to >call the Chicago office of Abels & Annes at (312) 924-7575 to discuss your situation for free today.

Four Common Workplace Injuries

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were approximately 2.9 million nonfatal injuries reported by private employers in 2015. Workplace injuries often entitle victims to significant compensation for their losses, so it is important for anyone hurt on the job to have an attorney review the facts of his or her case. Here are four of the most common types of workplace injuries that people sustain in the Chicagoland area.

Traumatic Brain Injuries

Traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs, can occur when a blow or jolt to the head results in a disruption in the way the brain normally functions. These injuries can occur at the workplace in a number of ways, including falls, struck-by events, motor vehicle accidents, or accidental explosions.

Back Injuries

Back injuries are another common type of workplace injury, and they often affect people who are in jobs that require heavy lifting or other physical tasks. They can also be the result of falls, motor vehicle accidents, or ill-fitted chairs or work equipment.

Broken Bones

Many people who are injured in workplace accidents sustain broken bones. In some cases, fractures result in extreme pain, disfigurement, or even lengthy periods of hospitalization.

Repetitive Strain Injuries

Repetitive strain injuries, or RSIs, occur over a period of time rather than as a result of a single incident. Common examples of RSIs include carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, tennis elbow, trigger finger, and focal dystonia. These injuries often arise after years or even decades of using the body in a particular way and can affect people in virtually any industry. As a result, anyone who has been diagnosed with a repetitive strain injury should consider the possibility that the injury was a result of working conditions and should discuss it with an attorney.

Call Abels & Annes, P.C. Today to Speak with a Chicago Personal Injury Attorney Today

Workplace accidents can leave victims with extremely serious injuries that can affect them for years. To find our whether you will be able to file a claim, call our office today to schedule a consultation with a Chicago personal injury lawyer. If you would prefer to send us an email, please fill out and submit our online contact form.

We serve the following localities: Cook County, Berwyn, Chicago, Cicero, Evanston, Tinley Park, DuPage County, Aurora, Naperville, Wheaton, Kane County, Elgin, Geneva, Lake County, Waukegan, Will County, Joliet, Winnebago County, and Rockford. We also serve Arizona personal injury clients in our Phoenix office.