January 2018

Labor in America
Friday, January 26th, 2018

Labor in Illinois has always been an ever changing and fluid topic in the legislature. Under Governor Rauner, there is no doubt that the common working men and women have been overlooked and underappreciated. In fact, our own state legislature held worker rights hostage by trying to force changes to the workers' compensation act which would have affected the Petitioner's right to recover instead of passing the budget. So how do we prevent these types of hostage situations from occurring in the future in our state?

Voting. Your upcoming votes are essential to the future outcomes for working people in Illinois. Given the information and candidate speeches I heard on Saturday, I can tell you from my own viewpoint, I think that most of these candidates are absolutely incredible, dedicated, and are passionate about the job position they are applying for. I truly believe that they will work for you rather than for the party they are running under. I believe them when they say they care about worker rights. Most of them have had the opportunity to show their commitment to you, and I think they have prevailed in representing to the public that they are following the wishes of the public that they serve.

I guess more than anything this blog is a simple plea for you to research all of the potential candidates running for office. Make sure that they are voting for you. Make sure they are someone who will vote and work in your best interests. Identify the platforms for each candidate that matter to you, and make your decision based upon their past political history, if applicable, as well as their current campaign promises. Look at their past job history. See what makes them uniquely qualified to represent you, and then vote based upon which candidate accurately represents your household. While it's important to vote for someone who ideologically represents your major policy issues like religion or abortion policies or procedures, it is also important to vote for someone who can best represent your economic interests and can vote in a way that will protect your family and your economic future. I encourage you to get out and meet your candidates. Go to events where they are speaking, and take five minutes to shake their hand and find out who they are as a person. Find out if you truly believe they will vote in your best interests after they are elected to office, and then make your vote based upon all of the information you have gathered thus far. I believe Illinois has a bright future for workers if we allow it to. Join me in getting out to vote for the local candidates who really have the power to influence your life and livelihood in this upcoming election. The President functions on a national scale. The President doesn't know you, and he doesn't have to care about your specific family. Your local representatives do. Let's bring politics back where they belong- home.

- Alexis P. Ferracuti, Attorney


RULES ARE NOT MEANT TO BE BROKEN
Friday, January 19th, 2018

Illinois has created an administrative agency known as the Workers' compensation Commission, tasked with adjudicating claims involving workers who are injured on the job.

Cases initially are heard and decided by arbitrators, but the law allows for appeals, and if a party is not satisfied with the decision eventually they can appeal to the Circuit Court.

Appeals are governed by procedural rules that must be followed in order for an appeal to be heard. Failure to follow those procedural rules can have dire consequences as a local employer recently learned.

After a trial the employer appealed the decision and eventually the case made its way to the Third District Appellate Court which sits here in Ottawa, where the court determined that the rules of procedure had not been followed, stating "...on appeal from a decision of the Commission, the circuit court obtains subject-matter jurisdiction only if the appellant complies with the statutorily mandated procedures set forth in the Act."

The Appellate Court determined that the rules had not been followed and it was error for the LaSalle County Court to have heard the appeal as the Court did not have jurisdiction to do so.

The decision was favorable to the employee as it allowed the award of benefits to stand, thus requiring the employer to pay.

The Law Offices of Peter F. Ferracuti has been fighting to protect the rights of injured employees and making employers pay for more than 50 years.

If you are injured at work or in an auto or other accident, our firm offers free initial consultations, and we'd be happy to set up an appointment through our toll free number at 888-488-4LAW or via email.

- Dennis Both, Attorney


Slips and Falls on Snow and Ice
Saturday, January 13th, 2018

The weather in Illinois is unpredictable. Today, I walked outside to a 55-degree January day. However, in a short couple of hours, the weather has predicted rain, ice and sleet to cause hazardous conditions. Ice and snow can cause all sorts of issues especially when it comes to traveling and having to enter and exit your vehicle or walk into a store or building. In Illinois, slip and fall on snow and ice cases are common especially during the winter months. Every winter, our law firm receives dozens of calls and inquiries from people who have slipped and fallen on ice and snow. Many of the people who call in have been seriously injured, some even resulting in surgery. However, we are unable to take some cases based on the law in Illinois in regard to slips and falls on snow and ice. I am going to go over how to determine liability after you slip and fall on ice in Illinois.

To determine liability for slips and falls on snow and ice, Illinois follows the unnatural accumulation of snow and ice rule. This means that in order for there to be liability for fall on ice or snow, the ice or snow that made you fall must be an unnatural accumulation of ice or snow. If it is a natural accumulation of ice or snow, then there is no liability.

The snow and ice are considered a natural accumulation if it is the result of natural weather conditions. This means that if the basis of your case is that the snow or ice was not shoveled or salted, there is no liability to the property owner. The law even considers ice which has been formed by snow being tamped down by pedestrian or vehicle traffic to be a natural accumulatio nor snow and ice. The law also considers puddles of waters inside of buildings resulting from pedestrians tracking in the snow or ice that melted to be a natural accumulation of snow. There are exceptions to the natural accumulation of snow and ice rule. One important exception is if there is something in the lease for property where the management company and/or landlord agrees to remove snow and ice.

An example of unnatural accumulation of snow or ice which would result in liability for falling on snow or nice is if there is a feature or defect in the property which causes ice or snow to accumulate in a specific location. Such as, a downspout dumps water onto a sidewalk where it freezes and becomes ice. Another example of unnatural accumulation of snow or ice is if actions on the part of the property owner which cause ice or snow to accumulate in a particular location. Such as, where the property owner piles snow in front of a door.

The line between what is considered a natural accumulation of snow and ice and what is considered an unnatural accumulation of snow or ice is a blurry one, which is why our office can help you with your case. Cases involving falls on snow or ice require a thorough analysis of the facts before it can be determined if there is liability for the fall on ice or snow. Our office is always happy to discuss your case.

If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of slipping and falling on snow or ice, the Law Offices of Peter F. Ferracuti would be happy to set up an appointment for a free consultation through our toll-free number at 888-488-4LAW or via email.

- Kendall E. Hodges, Attorney


Spectator Sport Injuries: A Topic for All Seasons
Friday, January 5th, 2018

During these coldest of winter months, a reminder that injuries and the litigation that accompanies them can last well beyond the seasons where they occur: On December 15, 2017 The Chicago Cubs and Major League Baseball filed motions seeking the dismissal of a negligence claim filed by a fan who was blinded by a foul ball in Wrigley Field at a game on August 29th. They argue that the suit, brought by John "Jay" Loos, is blocked by Illinois Baseball Facility Liability Act (IBFLA), which provides immunity from these types of injuries in the course of watching a game of America's pastime except in cases where the venues engaged in willfully or wantonly dangerous conduct or their netting was defective or insufficient.

The dangers of foul balls in baseball are fairly straightforward, but for the most part the legislative presumption is that someone who is watching a baseball game is aware of and accepting of the risk. The provision regarding required netting exists, however, to ensure that levels of protection are given to the most egregiously dangerous locations, such as the areas directly behind the batter. Mr. Loos was sitting on the first baseline, and his suit tries to avoid the immunity afforded by the law by arguing that the current netting at Wrigley Field is insufficient and should be extended further up the baseline.

Somewhat ironically, the MLB seems to have gotten hooked into this suit in the first place on the basis of its making a recommendation in 2015 for this very thing: more extensive netting at the fields. Loos argues that this letter constituted the MLB undertaking a legal duty to the fans at the fields where this recommendation was directed: a proposition that the MLB obviously denies. Now it is up to a judge to decide if the MLB can get out of the case for lack of duty, and whether the existing netting was reasonable enough to save the Cubs under the IBFLA.

Of course, the existence of the IBFLA itself is a bit of a puzzler. Why single out a particular sport for blanket legal protections regarding liability at their properties? While only four states have similar laws, it turns out that similar "Baseball Rules" are good caselaw in a majority of jurisdictions in the country. Illinois just felt the need to enshrine it in a statute: perhaps that's why we have two professional baseball teams (I know, I know, but Busch Stadium is on the other side of the border). And if you want something that is perhaps a bit more seasonal, I would note that there is also a Hockey Facility Liability Act. I might be talking about puck injury suits when summer roles around.

- Travis J. Dunn, Attorney