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Proving Proximate Cause in a Personal Injury LawsuitTwo factors determine whether a defendant can be held liable in a personal injury lawsuit: actual cause and proximate cause. Actual cause, also known as cause-in-fact, is when the defendant’s actions directly lead to the injury. Proximate cause is determining whether the defendant could have reasonably foreseen that his or her actions would cause injury. Proving proximate cause can be straightforward with a defendant whose actions directly resulted in the plaintiff’s injuries. A reckless driver can reasonably foresee that his or her actions would put other drivers and pedestrians in danger. However, proximate cause can be more difficult to prove with a third party involved in the incident.

Recent Case

In Kramer v. Szczepaniak, the plaintiffs have filed a lawsuit against multiple defendants whom they claim are liable for a vehicle-pedestrian accident. The plaintiffs were leaving a Chicago movie theater at 1:30 a.m. and used Uber to call a ride. The driver could not figure out the directions to get the passengers to their destination and kicked them out of the vehicle when one of them offered to help give directions. While walking home, the plaintiffs were hit in a pedestrian crossing by a driver who was speeding. The plaintiffs filed a personal injury lawsuit against the driver of the vehicle that hit them, the Uber driver, Uber, and the person who let the Uber driver use his vehicle. Before hearing any arguments, a trial court dismissed the lawsuit against all defendants except for the driver who hit the plaintiffs, citing a lack of proximate cause.

Appeal

An Illinois appellate court reversed the trial court’s ruling, stating that there is a question of fact whether the Uber driver is liable for the injuries. The court said that the plaintiffs proved actual cause with the driver because they would not have been walking home if the driver had not forced them out of the vehicle before reaching their destination. As for proximate cause, the court said it is possible that the driver could have foreseen that he was putting the plaintiffs in danger because:

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Manufacturers Have Strict Liability with Product DefectsWhen a defective or unexpectedly dangerous product injures you, you can file a product liability lawsuit to collect personal injury compensation. Most product liability cases in Illinois fall under the theory of strict liability, which means that you do not have to prove that the manufacturer was negligent in order to hold it liable. Before you file a product liability lawsuit, you should make sure that your case meets the qualifications under Illinois law.

Product Liability Types

There are three categories of product liability claims, each of which blames the injury on a different defect with the product:

  • A design defect means that the faulty design of a product makes it inherently dangerous to consumers;
  • A manufacturing defect means that the manufacturer did not build the product to design specifications or used faulty materials; and
  • A marketing defect means that the instructions that came with the product did not warn consumers about dangers in using the product that would not be obvious to a normal person.

You will file your lawsuit against the manufacturer in most cases because it is likely responsible for the defect. You can include the business that sold you the product or the product wholesaler if they knew about the defect or somehow caused it.

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Strict Interpretation of Snow Removal Law Benefits Injury PlaintiffsThe legal distinction between a sidewalk and other walking surfaces may determine the success of your personal injury case. The Illinois Snow and Ice Removal Act states that property owners who remove snow from sidewalks abutting their properties are not liable if someone is injured because of icy conditions created by the snow removal. This legal immunity makes it difficult for people to receive personal injury compensation when they slip and fall because of an untreated accumulation of ice. However, some Illinois courts strictly interpret the law as applying only to sidewalks and not other paved surfaces.

Liability Standard

Illinois law does not require property owners to clear the snow off of their walkways or hold them liable for personal injuries on their property caused by a natural accumulation of snow or ice. Before the Snow and Ice Removal Act, personal injury victims could claim that property owners who cleared snow from their sidewalks created an unnatural accumulation of snow. The melting snow piles caused icy conditions on sidewalks. The Snow and Ice Removal Act changed the liability standard, and property owners are now liable only if:

  • They willfully or wantonly created the hazardous condition; or
  • Negligence in the condition of the property caused an unnatural accumulation of snow or ice.

Thus, property owners are not liable for the melt off from a pile of snow they have created, but they may be liable if a malfunctioning gutter system caused the ice accumulation.

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Which Factors Correlate with More Pedestrian Fatalities?Pedestrian fatalities in the U.S. increased between 2007 and 2016 and became a larger percentage of the overall number of vehicle-related fatalities, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. There were 5,987 pedestrian deaths in 2016, which accounted for 16 percent of the total fatalities. The statistics do not include the number of pedestrian injuries, which may also be increasing. Studying the subcategories of pedestrian fatality statistics uncovers interesting correlations. Pedestrian fatality rates were higher, depending on when they happened and who was involved.

Time of Day and Season

Three-quarters of pedestrian fatalities occurred while it was dark, which is not surprising. Nighttime drivers deal with decreased visibility and are more likely to be impaired. Fatalities were most frequent between 6 p.m. and midnight, which is the time of night when the most people are active. The time of year seems to determine at which point during that 6 p.m. to midnight time period that fatalities are more likely to occur:

  • During the fall and winter months, more fatalities occurred between 6 and 8:59 p.m. than between 9 p.m and midnight; and
  • During the spring and summer months, more fatalities occurred between 9 p.m. and midnight than between 6 and 8:59 p.m.

These statistics make sense because of the extended daylight hours during the spring and summer. Pedestrians are also less likely to be out at night when the weather is cold.

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Determining Injury Liability at Amusement ParksAmusement parks and carnivals can be full of excitement for attendees but also rife with dangers. Accidents that occur on the large rides can cause serious and deadly injuries. There is also a possibility of injury at smaller attractions, where attendees can slip or bump into objects. Amusement park injuries often fall under the premises liability section of personal injury law. Illinois law requires ride operators to have liability insurance in case of injuries. Identifying which party is liable for your injuries depends on the cause of the accident.

Owners and Operators

The people who own and run an amusement venue are often most directly liable for any injuries that occur on their premises. Examples of negligence include:

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