Latest Reports/Firm News
Rick Turner Featured in Leading Lawyers Publication
Rick recently was featured in a profile in Law and Lawyers in Kane, DeKalb and Kendall Counties, a magazine distributed in September throughout the three counties. If you missed it:
Our Firm Seeing Increase in Trucking Collision Cases
In the last several years we at Turner Law Offices have seen an increase in the number of fatal and significant injury cases coming in to our office as a result of trucking collisions where drivers of large rigs (straight trucks and tractor/trailer combinations) have negligently caused these collisions. While the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reports a decrease in the incidence of trucking collision cases nationally from 2008 to 2009 on their website, it also appears that the federal government recognizes that the restrictions imposed a few years ago on hours of service, restricting the hours that overly fatigued truck drivers may log before being required to go out of service, were not enough. A proposal is afoot to further tighten the HOS (hours of service) regulations.
Professional drivers have been taxed economically over the last 10 years, and their employers and the shippers they work for have been more demanding, focusing in many instances more on profits than on the safety of the other members of the public on our roadways. Time deadlines, lack of professional training and experience, trucks overloaded with communication equipment, including laptops, screens, cell phones and CBs, all contribute to driver fatique and multi-tasking overload in the name of those profits. Drive defensively, even when near the professional driver, and do not make assumptions about what that driver in a big rig may see or do.
If you are unfortunate enough to have suffered as a result of a collision involving a large truck, do not delay in seeking legal help. Many of these rigs now contain ECM ("black box") data or other computer generated information that may be lost by delay in investigation. In addition, for interstate carriers, the logs required to be kept by the federal regulations are subject to time expiration dates. Failure to promptly investigate these claims may hamper the ability to obtain justice for the injured individual or the family who has suffered loss as a result of driver negligence.
Legal News of General Interest
Recent Legislative Proposals in Illinois for Workers' Comp Reform Not Necessary
You may have been reading in the papers, or seeing either on-line or in telecasts, of proposals afoot to change the system of workers' compensation benefits in Illinois. The proposals are based upon myths and untruths that are being spread by large employers, insurers and the Chamber of Commerce. Isolated incidents of potential abuse of the system now being investigated by federal prosecutors and Menard Correctional Center, and the alleged misbehavrior of a couple of downstate arbitrators in the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission, are being used as a springboard by these groups to attempt to make major changes for the worse for injured workers and for the doctors and medical personnel who treat them. It is simply not true that there is widespread fraud or abuse of the system on the part of injured workers who rely on the benefits provided to them under the law, which do not completely replace their incomes while on temporary disability nor completely and fairly compensate them for their injuries as it is.
The number of claims pending in the State system has been dropping dramatically, from a peak of 119,000 cases at the end of FY95 to 96,000 cases at the end of FY09, the latest report date. Claims filed have also dropped significantly over the last 15 years. The workers' compensation insurance industry is "healthy and highly competitive" according to the latest Annual Report from the Workers' Compensation Commission in Illinois, and more insurance companies sell policies in Illinois than in 48 other states. In addition, according to the same report, the residual market is smaller than average, meaning employers are able to purchase insurance with relative ease in Illinois.
What is driving the legislative efforts then? Probably the same self-interest that is driving these same groups in other states to attack organized labor, food and safety regulations, the court system and the attorneys who represent the people who suffer as a result of workplace injury, safety lapses or failure to enforce regulations. It is more of a systemic political class warfare engaged in by large entities with a lot of money and lobbying power seeking to impose their will on our State Legislature. There simply is no basis for claiming there is a need for major reform in the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission -- recent efforts in the last 10 years to fine tune the system by imposing a medical fee schedule and providing for better qualified arbitrators and commissioners have borne fruit. Any need for further fine tuning should be done throught the agreed bill process that resulted in these changes, if there is indeed a need for further fine tuning.