My Aunt Brenda was one of my all-time favorite people. She was generous, wise, incredibly funny, and always encouraging. For years she worked as a school lunch lady. She always watched for the kids who came to school without a coat when it got colder. She remembered them, shopped for them, and discreetly pulled countless kids aside to give them winter coats. In her fond memory, I purchased about 100 coats for kids in need at Sheridan Elementary School in Bloomington. I’m grateful to my cousin Jill (Brenda’s daughter) and her daughter Avery, who helped me pick out coats for the kids. I also appreciate the principal and assistant principal from Sheridan who helped pick out coats and gloves, and their team of volunteers who helped distribute the coats.
Safety Tips for Dogs at the Holidays
Holidays can be stressful for everyone, even family dogs, and it’s important to be extra careful about dog bites, particularly if you’re a dog owner or the parent of a young child:
Tips for Dog Owners:
- Closely monitor your dog around children, taking care to keep your dog away from their faces.
- Keep visitors away from a sleeping dog, an eating dog (this includes its food dish), or a mother with new puppies. These dogs are more likely to get aggressive if they perceive that a high-value resource, whether a comfy sleeping spot or a favorite rawhide, is at risk of being taken away.
- Consider separating your dog from visitors or even boarding the dog if it is a new member of your household, in poor health, elderly, or has ever shown signs of aggression such as growling or biting.
Tips for Parents:
- Remember, any dog can bite.
- It is generally best to prevent or limit a child’s interaction with an unfamiliar dog and closely supervise all interactions even with familiar dogs, particularly when it comes to young children.
- Discourage your child from hugging kissing a dog, or putting their face into a dog’s.
- Teach kids never to tease a dog or approach a dog that is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.
- Trust your instincts. If a relative’s dog seems aggressive or if your kid is being particularly wild and you’re concerned about the dog, consider asking your relative if they’d be willing to put the dog up for a little while. Take any necessary steps to get your child out of a potentially dangerous situation.
A recent article in the Journal of Pediatrics, Dog Bites in Children Surge during Coronavirus Disease-2019: A Case for Enhanced Prevention, discusses a spike in child-related dog bites during the COVID-19 pandemic. This trend is not at all surprising, with children spending much more time at home with their dogs. Most of us are feeling added stress and anxiety, as the pandemic creates all sorts of new pressures on families, as the article notes:
“Families with children and dogs are undergoing unique challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. Caregivers have the additional tension of children staying at home
24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for weeks and now months on end; little to no reprieve afforded by out-of-home activities such as school, playdates, parks, or libraries exist.”
The authors suggest that dogs may experience “emotional contagion” or mirror the stress and anxiety in their owners. This may also be a factor.
We certainly feel these challenges in our family. Pre-COVID, almost every day, our son would enjoy the zoo, the local children’s museum, or a rotation of parks to run and play and burn off energy. We also worked in as many playdates with friends as we could manage. Our local zoo just reopened, but we have not made it back as keeping a mask on a toddler is almost impossible. We have no idea when, or if, the children’s museum will reopen, which is a major bummer headed into the fall and winter, where weather will limit playing in parks. So like so many other families, most of our son’s time is now spent at home.
Caregivers more distracted, balancing responsibilities.
On top of the substantially increased interaction between children and their pets, parents and caregivers are spread far too thin, with many trying to work from home while managing their children, and now also assuming the burdens of in-home education, resulting in more of the interactions between children and their pets being unsupervised or, at minimum, less supervised due to distraction.
Noteworthy facts on child-related dog bites
I was surprised by the extent of the spike in cases. The authors report a 3-fold increase in visits to the pediatric ED due to dog bites at their children’s hospital since a statewide “stay-at-home” order was instituted.
Here are a few other noteworthy facts from the article:
- There are currently 82 million children and 77 million pet dogs living in the US
- Of nearly 340,000 ED visits for dog bites, 900 per day, 40% of the victims are children and adolescents.
- Children ages 5-9 have the highest incidence of dog bites
- Infants and younger children have a higher likelihood of bites to the head and neck.
- Most bites are by a family dog or another known dog
- Dogs are more likely to bite when resource guarding (toys, food, etc.) or when ill, excited, or frightened.
The article closes with the following helpful prevention tips:
- Always supervise an infant or child who is near a dog (even your own or another known dog).
- Any dog can bite!
- Do not disturb any dog who is caring for puppies, eating, or sleeping.
- Never reach through or over a fence to pet a dog.
- Do not run past or from a dog.
- Teach children to move slowly around dogs.
- Do not encourage aggressive or rough play with any dog.
- Always ask permission from a dog’s owner before petting a dog.
- Always let the dog sniff your hand before petting a dog.
- Never approach any unfamiliar dog. If an unfamiliar dog approaches, stand still with your arms to the side.
- Keep your dog healthy and provide routine veterinary care.
- Socialize and train your dog.
Unfortunately, most of the dog bite injuries we see involving children involve bites to the face and disfiguring scarring. In many of the cases, it is a known dog, either a family member’s dog, a friend’s dog, or a neighbor’s dog. In most of the cases I’ve handled, it was the first time a dog has bit someone, which is a reminder that any dog can bite, even a very good and gentle dog can be startled, stressed, or sick.
I found this article to be a helpful reminder to be vigilant in supervising and closely monitoring my own child’s interactions with our little dogs. Even a little dog can cause a significant injury.
I recently had the pleasure of joining my friends Derek and Grant of Shelbyville Insurance Services for an episode of the D&G Show, where they interview local professionals to share practical tips and advice with their audience. We covered several topics related to insurance claims, car accidents, personal injury law, and insurance coverage.
Here is a clip from the interview explaining Uninsured and Underinsured Insurance Coverage:
When I’m asked “What is Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage”, my favorite answer is: “It is the most important coverage you can have to protect yourself and your family from other drivers.”
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage, often abbreviated as “UM/UIM” in insurance policies, is coverage you can carry on your own automobile insurance coverage to provide benefits for you if you are injured in an accident with a vehicle that is either uninsured or that has inadequate insurance coverage to fully compensate you for your damages.
It is very important to carry as much UM/UIM as you can reasonably afford, as many of the at fault drivers we see in Decatur car accidents and Bloomington car accidents have either no insurance or the state minimum insurance of $25,000. Unfortunately, with rising medical costs, if a person is seriously or even moderately injured, the minimum coverage will be inadequate. All too often we see the most reckless behavior and most serious injuries caused by people who are driving illegally, often distracted, drunk or on drugs, while having no insurance.
The single most important insurance coverage to protect you and your family from economic devastation caused by another driver is to purchase adequate UM/UIM coverage, and often that coverage is surprisingly affordable.
If you have questions about your insurance coverage, or if you’re reading this blog, I highly encourage you to take a few minutes to review your own insurance policy and make sure you are comfortable with the amount of coverage you have on your policy. Consider what would happen if another driver’s negligence prevented you from being able to work for 6 months. Does it still seem like you have enough coverage? I’d recommend getting a quote from an agent and increase your coverage. This is even more important if you are self-employed.
And as always, remember that your choice of a car insurance company matters. Consider asking around to make sure that if you actually have a claim that you are insured by a company that pays claims honorably. There is a big difference in how claims are handled by different insurance companies.
If you’d like to discuss any of these issues, call anytime.
Considering purchasing a “No Soliciting” sign for your home and for the home of any relatives or loved ones who may have higher risk factors for COVID-19.
Last Thursday, our evening was interrupted by the doorbell, our three little dogs sounded the alarm, and we found a salesman at our door. He wasn’t wearing a mask, despite stopping at almost every house on our street (and who knows how many streets before and after ours).
Moments after he left, I purchased a “No Soliciting” sign for about six bucks. While I felt a little like an angry old man shouting at neighbors to stay off my lawn when I installed the sign (and by installed, I mean peeled off the adhesive tape on the back and stuck it to above my doorbell), a sign is a good idea, at least for now. Door-to-door sales is an awfully bad idea during a global pandemic.
While door-to-door solicitation is generally protected by the First Amendment, local ordinances may impose certain time, place, and manner restrictions. Many municipalities require a license for door-to-door soliciting, and some, including Normal Illinois, where I live, suspended solicitation licenses during the shelter-in-place order.
Despite the First Amendment rights of door-to-door salespeople, residents also have certain rights and can post a “No Soliciting” or “No Trespassing” sign. Most municipalities prohibit door-to-door salesmen from soliciting upon a property with a posted sign.
While a “No Soliciting” sign will not work in all cases, and police probably aren’t going to rush to you house with lights and sirens if a salesperson or missionary intent on saving your soul ignores your sign, it will serve as an effective deterrent, and may help you or a loved one avoid contracting COVID-19.
A “No Soliciting” sign is also a wise idea for aging relatives, even in the absence of the coronavirus pandemic, as there is a high correlation between door-to-door sales and high-pressure tactics and con artists who prey on the elderly.
Congratulations to the 2020 Winners of the Mary Rohrscheib Teaching Scholarship!
The 2020 winners of the Mary Rohrscheib Teaching Scholarship are Tyra Austin, Olivia Earl, and Adriana Rosales.
Tyra Austin of Decatur
Tyra Austin submitted an essay about the many ways her high school English teacher Ron Lybarger inspired and encouraged her. She wrote, “When a student experiences an educator who not only believes in them, but pushes them, and assists them in becoming the best versions of themselves, it impacts their lives for the better.” She observed that for Mr. Lybarger, “the classroom is a sacred place.”
Olivia Earl of Clinton
Olivia Earl shared memories of her fourth-grade teacher at Clinton Elementary School Celeste Flanagan: “Mrs. Flanagan was radiant with positivity and kindness. She always gave her students her full attention and worked tirelessly to make sure they felt comfortable in the classroom.” She remembered how special Mrs. Flanagan made her feel and how it made Olivia want to make others feel special too, “By her example, I realized that through love, patience, and understanding, I could make a positive difference in the lives of people around me.” She concluded, “Teachers impact students by giving them hope for a future bigger than themselves and a heart capable of changing the world.”
Adriana Rosales of Bloomington
Adriana Rosales submitted an essay celebrating the many ways she was inspired by Guille Delgado, her first and third grade teacher at Bent Elementary School. She wrote: “I have had many amazing teachers in the past, but Mrs. Delgado has definitely had a huge impact on my life. Not only did she show me that fighting for your beliefs takes you far in life, but she has also taught me to stay true to my roots and that putting my future students first, could make me play an important part in their lives. I hope that one day I can have a student that can get emotional from my emails such as I do from Mrs. Delgado’s, and that I can make her proud. Mrs. Delgado believed that her students could accomplish anything and here I am on my track to becoming a teacher thanks to her. I will forever be grateful.”
A Note of Thanks
I’d like to thank Ron Lybarger, EHS Principal Amy Zahm, Celeste Flanagan, and Guille Delgado, for joining me to present the checks and congratulate the winners. Their former students were delighted to see them again.
I’d also like to thank Ali Valdez for helping promote the scholarship, Barb Janes (a dear friend of grandma’s who taught with her) for her help in reading the essays and selecting winners, Anneke Godlewski for suggesting the essay prompt and help putting this together, my friends at Decatur Digital Solutions for setting up the web form to make applying easy, and all of the very impressive students who applied. It was encouraging to read such thoughtful essays from students in our community who are so passionate about becoming teachers.
I keep an emergency kit in my car for my own safety and for the safety of my family and my passengers. It’s a good idea to put a small backpack together to keep in your trunk with basic items you might need if you were to break down for an extended period of time, particularly in poor conditions or in circumstances where help may not be readily available.
Below is a list of items to consider including in your emergency kit:
- Jumper cables and/or battery jump pack.
- Flares, reflectors, and a reflective vest.
- Blanket (or space blanket), warm clothes, poncho
- Flashlight with extra batteries, or crank flashlight
- Basic tool kit, multi-tool, and duct tape
- First aid kit, prescriptions, sanitary items, paper towels
- Food & Water. Granola bars / energy bars
- Ice scraper and a small shovel
- Additional misc. supplies if traveling with babies, children, or pets
What is the link between Mesothelioma and Asbestos Exposure? Asbestos use was widespread for decades and millions of people were exposed to it at work or secondhand. Some have developed serious disease as a result of their exposure. Often, companies knew about the dangers, but did not adequately warn or protect people from exposure. If you or a loved one suffered injury or death from an asbestos related illness, such as asbestosis or mesothelioma, you should talk to an asbestos lawyer without delay. An asbestosis or mesothelioma lawyer can help you through the legal process to recover the compensation you deserve.
Mesothelioma and Asbestos Exposure Basics
“Asbestos” refers to a family of naturally occurring minerals that can be separated into thin, tiny, flexible threads. These fibers are soft but highly durable, resistant to heat and chemicals, and don’t conduct electricity. As a result, asbestos was commonly used for many years as an insulating material in many commercial and industrial settings and products. Unfortunately, it is also highly toxic. Though this was known as early as the 1950s, it continued to be used without proper warning or safety precautions and millions have been exposed.
Asbestos Related Disease
Whenever an asbestos containing material is disturbed, the tiny fibers can become airborne and be inhaled or ingested. They can spread widely through the body where they get trapped and can cause irritation, inflammation, scarring, and even cancer. A number of disabling and life-threatening diseases can result from the exposure, often after many years — as long as 10-50 years later. The diseases are usually due to recurring exposure on the job, but secondhand (in family members) and environmental exposures also happen. Mesothelioma and Asbestos Exposure-related diseases include:
- Asbestosis (scarring of the lung)
- Mesothelioma (a type of cancer)
- Pleural effusion (water around the lungs)
- Pleural thickening and plaques (scarring of the lining of the chest cavity)
- Other cancers: lung cancer, throat cancers, and ovarian cancer
Asbestos fibers trapped inside the lungs can result in inflammation and eventual scarring of the lung tissue. When it becomes severe, it can interfere with proper lung function, leading to coughing, shortness of breath, and disability. The amount of time between inhalation and diagnosis of asbestosis can be as long as 25 to 40 years. There is no cure and it can get progressively worse even after the exposure to asbestos is long stopped.
Mesothelioma is a relatively rare cancer that affects mesothelium (the thin linings that surround many body cavities and internal organs). There is clear evidence that asbestos causes mesothelioma, with at least 80% of mesothelioma patients having a known history of asbestos exposure (and the rest possibly being exposed without their knowledge). Although rare, it’s the most common form of cancer associated with asbestos. It’s a very dangerous and aggressive cancer, difficult to treat and often fatal. Asbestos is the only known cause of this deadly cancer. There are different types of Mesothelioma and Asbestos Exposure, depending on what part of the body is affected:
- Pleural mesothelioma — occurs in pleura, the lining of the chest cavity, surrounding the lungs; this is the most common, accounting for 80-85% of cases
- Peritoneal mesothelioma — occurs in the lining of the abdominal cavity
- Pericardial mesothelioma — occurs in the lining surrounding the heart, and is the rarest form
Asbestos has been classified as a known human carcinogen (a substance that causes cancer). There is evidence that asbestos exposure is linked to increased risk of cancers of the lung, throat, ovary, stomach, and bowel.
Frequently Asked Questions About Asbestos Claims
Who’s at risk for an asbestos-related disease?
People who become ill from asbestos usually were exposed to it on a regular basis, most often on the job, where they worked directly with the material, or through substantial environmental contact (such as near mines or shipping facilities). However, there is evidence that family members of workers heavily exposed to asbestos face a second-hand increased risk, as a result of exposure to asbestos fibers brought into the home on the shoes, clothing, skin, and hair of workers.
Where was asbestos used?
Asbestos has been used in many industries. Building and construction industries used it for strengthening cement and plastics, as well as for insulation, roofing, fireproofing, and sound absorption. The shipbuilding industry used it to insulate boilers, steam pipes, and hot water pipes. The automotive industry used it in brake shoes and clutch pads. It was used in many old buildings and household appliances. In short, it has been used in many products, including:
- Pipe coverings
- Fire proofing
- Insulating cements
- Caulking material
- Drywall taping compounds
- Ductwork connectors
- Joint compounds
- Elevator brake shoes
- Flooring backing
- Old appliances
- Fireproof textiles
- Chalk boards
- Some talc products
- Brake pads
What jobs and workplaces are potential locations for asbestos exposure?
Workers and workplaces involved in the manufacture, installation, use, demolition or removal of any asbestos containing products may have been exposed to asbestos. That obviously includes a lot of people, including:
- Military personnel (especially Navy)
- Auto workers
- Drywall workers
- Factory workers
- Railroad workers
- Pipefitters & Steamfitters
- Carpenters and Masons
- Textile workers
- Construction workers
- Demolition workers
Remember though, that, in some years, the second most common occupation among those dying of Mesothelioma and Asbestos Exposure has been “homemaker/housewife”. This reminds us that families of workers are also extremely vulnerable to inadvertent asbestos exposure.
What about asbestos exposure in Illinois?
Over the years, the state of Illinois has had a wide range of industries in which asbestos was used. These have included manufacturing, power generation, petroleum processing, and a lot of facilities that received shipments of asbestos contaminated materials from other states. Many buildings throughout Illinois had asbestos used in their construction. Illinois has ranked in the top 10 states for asbestos related diseases resulting in fatalities.
What kinds of companies might be legally responsible for my asbestos injury?
- Manufacturers of products
- Asbestos contractors
- Bankrupt former companies
- Raw asbestos fiber companies
- Building owners
- Mining companies
- Asbestos products suppliers
- Designers or engineers
- Employers in rare cases
How can I get compensation for asbestos-related disease and injury?
There are a number of ways to receive compensation or recover damages from those responsible for the consequences of this dangerous product. The best approach will vary from case to case and sound recommendations can be made only after careful evaluation with a lawyer. Some of the possibilities include:
- A personal injury claim — compensation is sought from responsible parties for the personal suffering and pain associated with the illness, which can occur from direct or secondhand exposure. Damages can also be sought for medical expenses, lost wages (including future income), travel expenses for treatment, etc.
- A wrongful death claim — the goal of this type of claim is to compensate the survivors and beneficiaries for their loss after a loved one’s asbestos related death. Damages can be sought for medical bills, funeral expenses, lost income, counseling related to the death, legal advice, personal costs, other illness related services, and, in the case of spouses, for the loss of emotional support and comfort from the death of their spouse.
- Asbestos Bankruptcy Trust Funds — over the years, a number of companies that manufactured, distributed, sold, or used asbestos products and materials have either gone out of business, merged with other companies, or gone bankrupt, often directly related to the liability from their use of asbestos. Even though such companies no longer exist, it may still be possible to receive compensation from “asbestos trusts” that they were required to establish. There are over 60 such trusts with over $30 billion in funds that can be dispersed to those who meet the established criteria for compensation from the fund.
- Compensation for Veterans — retired military (especially those who served in the Navy, Merchant Marine, Coast Guard, and U.S. Army transport service) make up one of largest populations of people who were exposed to asbestos. As a result, the VA has designated Mesothelioma and Asbestos Exposure as one of several diseases that qualify for disability benefits. Of course, availability of benefits is dependent on meeting certain criteria.
- Workers’ Compensation — this is tricky in Illinois, since most disease doesn’t show up for a long time after exposure. Under Illinois law, there are restrictions and limitations on claims against employers outside of the workers compensation process, and there are also strict time limitations on when these claims can be made. Under rare circumstances, workers’ compensation can be obtained. And, the restrictions apply only to the employer. Legal claims against all other parties, such as manufacturers, suppliers, etc. are permitted.
It’s important to know that most legal claims related to asbestos never go to court. Over 90% are rapidly settled before ever going to trial. This can save you from a stressful and costly process and a result in more rapid compensation.
When do I have to make a claim?
Of course, the sooner you start the legal process, the sooner you may receive compensation to help with medical bills and other expenses. Also, legal actions against responsible parties must be made within a limited time frame allowed by law (known as the statute of limitations). It’s possible to lose legal rights by waiting too long to submit your claim. In Illinois, personal injury and wrongful death claims must be made within two years. However, because of the long period of time between exposure and when asbestos caused diseases appear, courts have recognized that this two-year period generally starts when your diagnosis was made or at the death of your loved one, and when you “also know or reasonably should know that the injury was caused by the wrongful acts of another.”
How much can I recover for my asbestos claim?
Of course, every claim is different and no result can be guaranteed. Each case has to be evaluated individually and the amounts of damages will depend on a wide variety of factors. Suffice it to say that asbestos-related disease is often devastating and so the compensation can be substantial.
How much will the legal process cost?
These cases can be complicated and costly. However, most attorneys will accept the case based on a contingency fee. Payment of fees is contingent on the outcome of the case. This means you pay no legal fees unless compensation is recovered in your case. My initial consultation for these cases is always free.
Get Help Now
You can see that these cases can be complicated and the issues complex. A lot depends on the evaluation of your situation and the facts of your case. I’ll meet with you and carefully listen so that I can understand your concerns and what happened to you or your loved one. I’ll work to have your claim evaluated and clearly explain the options and answer any questions you might have. I can help get the information we need to consider all your options and make the right choices for your case.
If you are in the Decatur, IL or Bloomington, IL or anywhere in Central Illinois, and you feel you might need an attorney because you or a loved one have a claim related to Mesothelioma and Asbestos Exposure, please contact me for more information.
Financial exploitation of the elderly or a person with a disability
Illinois law protects victims of financial exploitation of the elderly.
“A person commits financial exploitation of an elderly person or a person with a disability when he or she stands in a position of trust or confidence with the elderly person or a person with a disability and he or she knowingly and by deception or intimidation obtains control over the property of an elderly person or a person with a disability or illegally uses the assets or resources of an elderly person or a person with a disability.” 720 ILCS 5/17-56(a)
Illinois law allows victims to recover three times the amount of their loss
“A person against whom a civil judgment has been entered for financial exploitation of an elderly person or person with a disability shall be liable to the victim or to the estate of the victim in damages of treble the amount of the value of the property obtained, plus reasonable attorney fees and court costs.” 720 ILCS 5/17-56(g).
Who can bring a claim?
Any person over 60 can bring a claim for financial exploitation of the elderly.
What defendants are covered by the act?
A person stands in a position of trust and confidence with an elderly person or person with a disability when he (i) is a parent, spouse, adult child or other relative by blood or marriage of the elderly person or person with a disability, (ii) is a joint tenant or tenant in common with the elderly person or person with a disability, (iii) has a legal or fiduciary relationship with the elderly person or person with a disability, (iv) is a financial planning or investment professional, or (v) is a paid or unpaid caregiver for the elderly person or person with a disability.
Other potential claims
Victims of financial exploitation should also consider claims for:
- Breach of Fiduciary Duty
- Breach of Contract
- Common Law Fraud
- Tortious Interference with Expectancy
- Petition to Set Aside Fraudulent Transfers
- Appointment of Guardian
- Action for an Accounting
- Recovery of approximately 80 acres of farmland and $62,500 in breach of fiduciary duty case for an elderly client.
- Judgment for $565,000 plus recovery of $250,000 in real estate for a disabled man.
So you are involved in an auto accident. What should you do at the scene? First, take a deep breath and get control of your emotions. Whether immediately or in the days after, be careful not to act or speak out of anger, confusion, panic or fear. Many insurance companies provide a simple form or guide to assist you in recording details in the immediate aftermath of the accident. It’s a good idea to keep one of these with your insurance information in the glove compartment. Follow these recommendations to:
- Notify police and get proper medical attention for everyone involved immediately. Make the scene as safe as possible while waiting for their arrival.
- Be polite, but never make unnecessary comments or statements — certainly do not admit liability. Don’t discuss your accident with anyone except the police or a known representative of your insurance company.
- Don’t assume or state you’re uninjured if you’re not sure. That little bump on the head, minor headache, brief loss of consciousness or period of being dazed and confused, little bruise or swelling, or “crick” in the neck maybe more significant than you think and may be much more severe the next day. Don’t hesitate to get it properly evaluated.
- Write down the names and driver’s license numbers and contact information of any persons involved as vehicle operators or owners. Get their insurance information if possible. Get names, contact information, and a brief description of the nature of injuries for any injured party.
- Briefly describe the vehicles involved and write down their license numbers
- Be sure to write down the names and contact information of any witnesses.
- Write down the name and badge numbers of any police officers investigating the accident and find out how you can obtain a copy of the police report.
- Take advantage of today’s technologies, like your cell phone, to photograph damages, injuries, or accident scene details.
- Don’t rely on memory. As soon as practical, jot down notes about what happened. Even make a simple sketch to illustrate the movements and directions of the vehicles involved.
- Finally, you should contact your insurance agent or company as soon as possible. And, especially if you feel another driver was at fault, you should probably get independent experienced legal advice.
Need representation for your auto accident case? Please contact me for a free case evaluation today.