Articles Posted in Building safety

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Workplace accidents, especially those that occur in work environments that are not inherently dangerous, are all too common and tragic. They are particularly tragic because there is a common theme among these accidents of preventability. Oftentimes, these accidents occur because of the negligence of a party in charge or with some authority. In these instances, but for the negligence, the danger would have never been present and the accident never would have occurred.

Common forms of negligence in the workplace can widely vary. One example is when business operators fail to perform proper inspections of the premises. Such inspections can make business owners and operators aware of unsafe conditions and put them on notice to fix these dangers. However, a business owner cannot be willfully blind to the fact that dangerous conditions could exist but fail to attempt to discover these conditions by not having an inspection performed. Another example is when a business owner is fully aware of safe procedures to implement in the workplace but fails to require that these guidelines be followed. Lastly, a business owner may be fully aware of a dangerous condition on the premises, but neglect to attend to and fix the danger, ignore it, and continue to allow it to pose harm to others.

According to an article by Komo News, a barista died in a coffee shop explosion. The article reports that the flames overtook the shop so quickly that the barista had no chance to escape. She suffered extensive burns, which were ultimately the cause of her death. The victim had two children, who unfortunately lost their mother as a result of the accident.
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Summertime is a favorite season for many Chicagoans. After our notorious cold and harsh winters, we gladly embrace the summer warmth and pleasant temperatures. Chicago citizens tend to flock to outdoor activities throughout the city, from festivals to the lakefront paths and especially neighborhood barbecues. However, when the places we go to relax with friends and family are unsafe, summertime fun can quickly turn dangerous, putting our loved ones in harm’s way.

According to a recent article by ABC 7, an upper level deck in Evanston collapsed, injuring several people. According to building inspectors, the porch was not properly attached to the home. The inspectors further stated that when porch collapses like these occur, they normally occur where the deck meets the house, which is what happened in this incident at hand. According to one building inspector, the deck was not properly adhered to the structure.

The incident occurred in Evanston in the 1900-block of Darrow Avenue on Memorial Day. Several people were on the second-floor porch when it gave way and fell down to the first floor. One of the seven victims described how she heard a cracking, and the floor suddenly dropped. She elaborated that no one had any time to grab onto anything. She was knocked unconscious from the fall and then awoke finding cuts to her head and an injured knee. Another victim described how the porch suddenly collapsed and everyone fell on top of one another, with debris from the porch, including a hot grill, falling on top of them too. The family said their landlord had told them that he was going to fix their deck.
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When we walk around the city of Chicago, we expect that we are reasonably safe. We definitely don’t expect to suddenly fall into a manhole, a piano to be dropped from a forklift, or for things to fall from the sky like a scene from a cartoon or movie. However, when people are negligent or reckless, strange and dangerous things do happen.

A recent post by the Cook County Record for instance, explains how a father is suing a Chicago landlord after an air conditioning unit cover fell and struck his daughter. The father argues that the landlord was negligent by failing to fix and repair the air conditioning unit cover or warn him of the dangerous condition.

Our attorneys stress that under premises liability law, a landowner or landlord owes a legal duty of care to those on the land or premises, such as tenants. This legal duty includes the duty to inspect the land for dangers, remedy known dangers, and to warn those on the land of known dangers. When such an accident occurs to someone living on the property, the landowner may be liable if the plaintiff can prove that the landowner’s negligence led to the injury. Often the plaintiff must show that the landowner failed to maintain the property or created the unsafe condition that was the cause of the injury.
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There are times we see news articles about local tragedies and wonder how in the world such an incident could have happened. The simple answer is that many of these incidents, tragedies, and accidents should never happen and they could be preventable. Many of these troubling situations would never occurred but for the negligence of someone who owes a legal duty to others to prevent the exact type of accident that occurred.

One type of accident commonly associated with preventable negligence falls under the umbrella of premises liability law. To elaborate, when a tenant or visitor is seriously injured in an accident on another person’s property, the owner can be held legally responsible if proven in a lawsuit that it was the owner’s negligence that led to the injury. For example, some common injuries occurring on property can include slip and fall accidents, dog bites, swimming pool drownings, and exposure to hazardous substances like lead or mold. In such lawsuits, the plaintiff must prove that the landowner knew the conditions on the land were unsafe and did not alert others to these dangers, failed to maintain the property and let it decline into a dangerous state, or created a hazard that caused injury.

The Chicago Tribune recently reported that two women were injured in a building collapse in Chicago’s Washington Park neighborhood. The three-story condominium apartment building collapsed, entrapping the two women and a dog. One of the victims was on the third floor, and the other was on the second floor at the time of the collapse. Both victims were in serious to critical condition and transported to local hospitals. The building, built in 2005, received a citation for building code violations last year, but none were related to explosion hazards.
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When going to our place of employment, we have the right to expect and trust that our work environment is a safe place to conduct business. Whether in a manual labor job or a desk job, all workers deserve to work in safe place where they will be free from harm or injury. This means employers are to inspect premises for dangers and repair them, provide necessary equipment to keep employees safe, have standards of safety that those in the organization are to adhere to, and warn employees of any known dangers. When an employer fails to provide a safe work environment and injury results to an employee, that individual may be able to hold the employer liable for the worksite accident in a premises liability lawsuit.

In the southern Illinois town of Granite City, two people are dead and several have been injured in a recycling plant explosion where over 160 people work, according to news by CBS. At Totall Metal Recycling a mortar shell exploded causing injuries and death. Authorities are not allowing anyone near the scene of the explosion at this time for risk of another explosion if more mortar shells happen to be inside the plant. According to the website of the plant, they recycle all types of metals from computers to even motor vehicles. They also frequently deal with the ammunition industry.

As premises liability law dictates, a landowner must prevent injury to others by inspecting the premises for dangers, fixing any discovered and known dangers, and warning those on the premises of known dangers and hazards. Because the website stated that they frequently deal with the ammunition industry, this begs the question of whether the company should have had the knowledge to know that active explosives could enter the plant, detonate, and harm employees. If so, perhaps the company should have inspected for such dangers and remedied the danger upon inspection. While the explosion is still under investigation, it worth deliberating that if inspection for such a hazard had been conducted, that death and injury to employees would not have occurred.
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As our readers know from our past discussions on our personal injury blogs, owners and operators of commercial buildings can be held liable for injuries suffered by patrons on the premises. Where a landowner fails to warn patrons of dangers, fix dangers, or causes injuries to patrons, victims can file a premises liability lawsuit. It is the duty of the owners and operators of the premises to prevent injury, warn of any dangers, and remedy all known hazards for all patrons of the establishment.

A partially blind woman is suing the Lyric Opera House of Chicago after she fell on the premises, according to an article by the Cook County Record. The woman has filed suit in Cook County Circuit Court against Lyric Opera of Chicago and Travelers Insurance (the opera house’s liability insurance carrier) in a premises liability claim. The victim is blind in one eye. According to her complaint, she was attempting to take her seat in the opera house, fell, and was injured. She argues in her complaint that the defendants failed to provide adequate lighting for patrons taking their seats. She is seeking over $50,000 in damages.

Under premises liability law, when an accident or injury occurs on another’s property, the owner may be legally liable if it was their negligence that led to the injury. A plaintiff must prove that property owners failed to maintain the property or created unsafe conditions which caused injury. This is what the victim at issue is attempting to prove by arguing that lack of adequate lighting by the seats led to her fall and injury. Here, the victim will need to prove that but for the lack of light, she would not have fallen and suffered injuries and that her injuries were preventable by the opera house had they provided the needed light. If successful, she may be able to recover costs for her injuries, medical bills, etc.

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Our attorneys have previously discussed premises liability lawsuits involving injuries suffered on commercial property, such as slip and falls at grocery stores or in parking lots. However, you may not know that premises liability law also extends to protecting individuals inside residential property, such as apartment buildings. Landlords and building owners have a legal duty of care to provide safe premises and fix known dangers to prevent injury and death to tenants and visitors to the property.

According to a recent article by the Cook County Record, two Chicago property owners have been named as defendants in an injury lawsuit. The plaintiff filed suit after being injured on a sidewalk on the defendant’s property. The victim filed suit in the Cook County Circuit Court with a claim of negligence and premises liability. In her complaint, the victim, a tenant of the Chicago property, was walking along the sidewalk of the building entrance when she tripped on uneven, detached, and cracked sidewalk. She is seeking damages over $30,000.

Our lawyers have successfully advocated for injured victims and the families of those wrongfully killed as a result of unsafe living conditions in Chicago apartments and have obtained fair and just verdicts and settlements for clients in these cases. In the case A.R. and A.R. and M.R. v. Marshway Limited Partnership, Marshway, L.L.C. and Cig Management L.L.C., our attorneys obtained a $6 million settlement for the families of 6 children who died in an apartment fire on Chicago’s north side. In this case, we proved that the landlords failed to have proper working smoke detectors, which was in violation of the Chicago Municipal Code. As a result of this negligence, the children were not able to escape the building in time. Furthermore, in L.S. v. Chicago Housing Authority, our lawyers obtained a $2.3 million settlement for a Chicago fire injury. In this case, two boys were severely burned in an apartment fire.

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When you visit a commercial space or building, whether it be a super market, department store, or entertainment venue, as a paying customer (known as an invitee under legal tort theory) you have the right to expect the building and land to be free from dangers and to be able to have a safe visit under the law of premises liability. Because your visit is providing the landowner or manager with business, you have the legal right to the utmost care under the law to be both made aware of and protected from known or obvious dangers. This means that managers must consistently and regularly check the premises and immediately remedy any hazards. Common examples of this include salting and shoveling grocery store parking lots in winter or mopping up accumulations of water at entrances. However, dangers are not just limited to instances of natures but dangers that lie in the building themselves and that should be remedied by the owners or managers of the commercial building.

A Chicago concert venue has been at issue for premises liability as of recently for personal injuries that several concert-goers suffered after the roof collapsed during a show at a Logan Square theater, known as the Concord Club. Reports by the Chicago Tribune say that the loud music and bass contributed to the collapse of the ceiling that left three people with neck and head injuries. Building owners have closed Concord Club until further notice, and city officials will be investigating this incident. A structural engineer conducted a preliminary investigation determined that music vibrations contributed to collapse of the ceiling.

What you probably, and rightly so, notice as strange here is that loud music should be no surprise to a concert hall. In fact, loud music is a regular occurrence at such a venue. Because that is so, an invitee to a concert hall should expect that the venue should be properly maintained for such conditions, such as high volume and bass because music is the purpose of the establishment and to be expected. These deductions go to the heart of premises liability theory. Because a concert hall has experience hosting shows with loud music, owners and managers ought to know what music can do to infrastructure, have the proper infrastructure installed, and routinely check on the premises to ensure that are no hazards to invitees. Where a commercial building owner or manager fails to do so, they have breached their legal duty to care for those who visit the venue.

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Tragedy struck early Wednesday morning in Chicago at a Lincoln Park apartment building. The accident, which transpired roughly around 9:45 a.m., occurred when a water tank plummeted off a 9-story apartment complex – ultimately collapsing onto several unsuspecting witnesses below. Two of the injured parties were in the process of moving out of the building next door when the water tank crashed down on top of their vehicle.

As a result, a man was swept up by the water and dragged across the concrete, all the while, his girlfriend was carried by the surge of water into a nearby stairwell. The woman, who was the most critically injured in this accident, was subsequently struck by debris from the water tank. Lakeview Patch reports that upon the arrival of the paramedics, the woman was not moving and unresponsive. She is currently listed in critical condition at an area hospital.

The third injured party in this devastating accident was an employee at a nearby daycare. The woman was taking out the trash in the alleyway when she was swept away upon the collapse of the water tank. Fortunately her injuries were less severe and she was released from the hospital later that day.

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Many Chicagoans likely remember the E2 nightclub tragedy that resulted in the crushing and asphyxiation deaths of 21 people. As a refresher, on February 17, 2003 fights broke out at the club and the club’s security guards began using pepper spray to break up the brawls, causing a panic that resulted in a stampede down the front stairwell to the ground-floor exit. Sadly, the club was dangerously overcrowded and the exits were insufficient for such a rush of people, causing a huge bottleneck at the bottom of the stairs where the 21 people were either trampled or suffocated at death at the bottom. The witnesses stated that the stack of bodies was nearly six feet high. After this tragedy, there was a considerable amount of outrage in the Chicago community. Authorities determined that the crowd was over 1,150 people however the club should have only had 240 people in it.

There are several wrongful death lawsuits still pending ten years later and many of the families of victims are still looking for closure to this horrifying ordeal. The City of Chicago is also continuing to pursue a case against the club’s co-owners despite the fact that the pair has been cleared of wrongdoing twice already. The two men were sentenced to two years in jail in 2009 when they were found guilty of disobeying a city housing court order not to occupy the second floor of the building where the nightclub was located. However they never served this time because an appellate court later overturned the verdict finding that the court order was ambiguous. The case was appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court and has yet to be ruled upon.

Victims’ families unsuccessfully sued the city of Chicago in 2008 for botching the rescue effort and failing to enforce the egregious building code violations which ultimately resulted in the overcrowded club and insufficient exits. Despite this setback, many families continue to sue Clear Channel Communications, the entity that employed the DJ who was working the party that night at the E2 nightclub. Many witnesses claim that it was the DJ who instructed the security guard to begin pepper spraying the crowd, which caused the stampede and resulting deaths.