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July 2013 Archives

Is Your Home Red Cross Ready? Can You Spot a Scammer after a Disaster? Important Info

Create a survival kit, make a plan and be informed before disaster strikes with extensive interactive resources from the American Red Cross. Don't miss these emergency mobile apps for lifesaving tips. Monitor All Hazardous Weather Conditions Look up conditions anywhere in the United States and learn the facts about weather-related hazards in your area at NOAAWatch from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Avoid Scam Artists After a Disaster There are criminals who prey on the survivors of natural disasters by offering fraudulent services. Learn how to spot and report fraud via the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

When Do you Need Small Claims Court? The ISBA Offers Info

Question: When do people typically use small claims court to settle their legal disputes? Answer: An individual or corporation doing business in Illinois can sue or be sued in small claims court. Small claims court may be used for only certain types of cases, such as breach of contract, property damage, or personal injury; evictions, repossessions of property, and garnishment of wages to enforce court-ordered judgments. The maximum judgment allowed in small claims court is $10,000 plus costs. For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.comIf you have a legal question, send it to Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit

Severe Weather Across The Country - Some Interesting Stats

By the numbers/ 528 Deaths:  Severe weather tallied 528 fatalities and more than $38 billion in combined property and crop damage in 2012. The 10-year average is 640 deaths per year. Source: Summary of Natural Hazard Statistics (download), National Weather Service   14 Minutes:  The average lead time from warning siren tornado is now 14 minutes. An 8-foot by 8-foot safe room averages $6,600 to $8,700 in new construction. Source: Tornado Preparedness Saves Lives, USA Today   6 Inches:  Flash flooding is the number one cause of death from thunderstorms. Just 2 feet of water can float most vehicles, and 6 inches can sweep you off your feet. Source: Severe Weather, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Storm Damage to Your Home? The Illinois State Bar Offers Some Information on Wading Through Insurance Claims

Question: My home was damaged by the recent storms, and I need assistance wading through the complexities of insurance claims and home repair contracts. Where can I go for help? Answer: The Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) can refer you to a practicing lawyer in your area who has agreed to provide an initial half-hour consultation for a fee not to exceed $25. There is no obligation to hire the lawyer. Call 877-622-3845 or visit Among the services that an ISBA lawyer may provide are assistance with insurance claims, home repair contracts and consumer protection matters; counsel on landlord-tenant, mortgage foreclosure or other housing issues; replacement of important legal documents which may have been destroyed; and assistance in connecting people with agencies that might be able to help. For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.comIf you have a legal question, send it to Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit

Prepare for Severe Weather Before Disaster Strikes

Even with advanced weather science to better predict storm conditions, Mother Nature still holds all the cards. The massive tornado that obliterated Moore, Okla., on May 20 struck just 16 minutes after the first siren was sounded. And while violent storms grab all the headlines, more common severe weather like heat waves, heavy rain and lightning cause considerable casualties. While there are no guarantees, you should know how to prepare for the worst and increase your chances of survival during any type of severe weather. Tips to Survive a Natural Disaster What started as a mild spring took a nasty turn for the worse in May as tornadoes, severe storms and flash floods raked the nation's midsection. Tornadoes alone are blamed for 31 deaths - 23 in Moore, Okla., and six in Texas - and nearly $6 billion in damages, according to the National Weather Service. Add in nationwide storm activity and we appear well on our way to matching 2012 severe weather statistics: 2,651 injuries, 528 deaths and more than $38 billion in property and crop damage combined. Be Ready Before Disaster Strikes What you do long before a natural disaster strikes can tip the balance between life and death. Start at NOAAWatch to monitor and learn more about everything from air quality, droughts and earthquakes to heat waves, hurricanes, tornadoes and even volcanoes! Next, visit the American Red Cross home and family page to find directions on how to assemble an emergency kit with the critical supplies you might need during and after an emergency. Then use the interactive checklists so your family is "Red Cross Ready" with a customized disaster plan. Depending on where you live, you might also consider purchasing a tornado-safe room for your home. According to Builder magazine, premade safe rooms start at around $3,000. Or download this booklet from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and build your own. Financial assistance is available in some areas to help pay for construction. Be Warned When Disaster Strikes Even with all the latest in prediction technologies, there is no one system that guarantees you will have plenty of warning before severe weather strikes. For example, the average lead time between the first warning siren and a tornado is just 14 minutes! -Experts agree that your best bet is NOAA's weather radio, a nationwide network of radio stations broadcasting continuous weather information directly from the nearest National Weather Service (NWS) office. Specially designed radios (priced from $20 to $200) will tune in local NWS frequencies. Look for receivers that also include an alarm for severe weather alerts and battery backup in case there is a power outage. Here is more information and a list of suggested manufacturers. There are also dozens of smartphone apps that link into NOAA weather radio while providing an amazing array of weather data, including live radar images (see recommendations here and here). Depending on the phone you own, you can enable alarms for severe weather alerts in your notification settings. The American Red Cross also offers free emergency apps for tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, first aid and finding shelter. And don't forget those warning sirens, which were designed to alert people outdoors. Because sirens are owned by individual cities and counties, they are activated for different reasons in different parts of the country. For example, a county might blow its sirens for thunderstorms and tornadoes while a city may warn only for tornadoes. There are even small towns that sound the sirens for lunchtime! Best policy - be safe and assume sirens mean severe weather is imminent or already occurring. Take cover immediately, then seek additional information from weather radio, smartphones, etc. Be Wary After Disaster Strikes While disasters often bring out the very best in people, there are criminals and scam artists out there who prey on disaster survivors by offering fraudulent services. To help people avoid and report scams after a disaster, FEMA published this list of consumer safety tips. You should also take steps to protect your rights and ensure that your insurance claims are paid. As a start, download this handy guide from the American Association for Justice. Knowing what your policy covers, documenting everything in writing and with photographs, and staying on top of all communications with your insurance company are among their recommendations.

The Need for a Real Estate Attorney; the ISBA Speaks

Question: Do I really need the services of a real estate attorney when selling or buying a home? Answer: Most people hire an attorney to protect their interests when buying and selling a home. A seller's lawyer can help him or her understand how to evaluate complicated offers from potential buyers, provide guidance with respect to the purchase agreement and brokerage form, explain the tax consequences related to the sale, assist with any title issues that arise, and handle the real estate closing. For more information, visit here. For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.comIf you have a legal question, send it to Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit

Bob Clifford Speaks to DePaul Law School Dean on Mentoring New Attorneys

Robert A. Clifford, senior partner at Clifford Law Offices, recently was interviewed by Dean Gregory Mark of DePaul University College of Law. In the wide-ranging Q and A, Clifford spoke on a number of topics, reflecting on his 30 years since graduating from DePaul Law School.  "Tort reform," Clifford's recently being named Person of the Year by Chicago Lawyer magazine and his nearly two decades of sponsoring a two-day symposium at the law school were topics as well as mentoring those who decide to enter the profession. To view the entire interview that appeared in the Spring 2013 issue of Dialogue, the alumni publication of the school, please click here.

Bicycle Laws in Illinois; the Illinois State Bar Warns You of Important Laws

Question: My friends and I plan to do a great deal of bicycle riding across Illinois. What bicycle laws should we be aware of? Answer: When riding a bicycle on Illinois roads, you must obey the same traffic laws, signs and signals as motorists. You should ride in the direction of traffic; riding against traffic is unlawful. If you ride at night, your bike must have a front light visible from at least 500 feet and a rear red reflector visible from up to 600 feet. It is also important to know Illinois' right-of-way laws. For other Illinois bicycle riding safety tips and information, visit here. For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.comIf you have a legal question, send it to Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit

Four-Sided Fences Decrease Pool Drownings by 83 Percent! And Other Important Statistics

By the numbers/ 218,851 Injured Kids:  Between 2001 and 2008, an average of 218,851 preschool and elementary-aged children were treated at emergency rooms for playground equipment injuries. Source: Injury Research, National Program for Playground Safety   Four-sided Fence:  Four-sided fencing around pools decreases the risk of childhood drowning by 83 percent, as opposed to a three-sided fence with the fourth side formed by the home. Source: Unintentional Drowning: Fact Sheet, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention   Every Two Minutes:  Every two minutes, a child is treated in an emergency department for an unintentional cycle-related injury. Source: Bicycle, Skate and Skateboard Safety Fact Sheet, Safe Kids USA

Child Support Payments Needed from a Boyfriend? The ISBA Tells You Way to Prove He is Biological Father

Question: How can I prove that my boyfriend is the biological father of my child so that I can collect child support payments? Answer: A DNA test is typically used to confirm that an alleged father is legally the biological father. If you know the identity of the father, you may obtain a court order to make him take the test. If results prove that he is the biological father, you may want to consult with a lawyer about initiating a paternity suit. You should be aware that establishing paternity gives the father certain rights, such as visitation, as well as financial responsibilities and obligations. For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.comIf you have a legal question, send it to Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit

Nine Tips on Kid Safety and the Big Three of Summertime Injuries

Summer is in full swing and kids are everywhere, wringing out every glorious minute of summer vacation before it's back to school. And you know what that means: a whole new round of bumps and bruises! Injuries Spike During Summer Summertime fun shouldn't be derailed by a trip to the hospital. But unfortunately, more than 3 million kids in America under 14 will be rushed to the emergency room with serious injuries this summer, and 2,000 will die. Here are some steps you can take to ensure that the children in your life enjoy their favorite summertime activities safely: Secure the Pool 1) Install a four-sided fence: Drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death for children between one and four years of age, and many of those tragedies occur when children wander away from parental supervision. Install a four-sided fence around your pool instead of a three-sided fence with the house forming the fourth side. Also note that pool covers are often hard to see through and can conceal a drowning child. 2) Stock rescue equipment: Keep a shepherd's crook -- a long pole with a hook on the end -- and life preservers by the pool at all times. An important note: Water floaties are NOT a suitable alternative to life jackets or life preservers. Instead, use life jackets and exercise arm's-length parental supervision. In addition, designate a "water watcher" during any pool event at home. Download a water watcher card and other teaching resources from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). 3) Encourage swimming lessons: Studies have shown that swimming lessons for children one to four years of age drastically reduces the risk of drowning -- by up to 88 percent. Follow the Two-Wheeled Rules of the Road 1) Properly fit helmets: Wearing a helmet is a no-brainer, but many children don't properly adjust theirs. See this guide from the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration on how to properly fit and adjust a bike helmet for kids.   2) Adjust bike seats: There are obvious dangers involved in riding a bike, like traffic or potholes, but crashes often happen because of a poorly maintained bike. Adjust a child's bike seat so it's two to four inches above the top bar. This guarantees that the child's legs never fully straighten out and lock in the down-pedal motion. Also check the tires and brakes before sending a child out on a ride. 3) Brush up on traffic laws: In most states, bikes are expected to follow the same basic traffic laws as automobiles. Educate your kids on the basics of bike traffic laws. Click here for more tips on bike safety for kids. Limit the Risk of Monkey Bar Mayhem 1) Use age-appropriate equipment: Some equipment is only meant for older kids, but most playgrounds don't differentiate between separate play areas for tots and tweens. Supervise children to make sure they are using equipment appropriate to their age group. 2) Look for soft ground: It can be hazardous when soft playground turf deteriorates and isn't replaced promptly. A fresh layer of wood chips, rubber, sand or other shock-absorbing material can dramatically decrease the risk of injury due to a fall from the equipment. 3) Find a certified playground inspector: The National Recreation and Park Association has launched a major initiative to train local citizens on playground equipment inspection and standards. To find a trained certified playground safety inspector in your area, search the CPSI registry.

Unsafe Playgrounds & Spotting The Hazards

The summer months are a great time for children to enjoy their time off from school and play on playground equipment. The only issue is that there are quite a few unsafe playgrounds. Knowing more about playground safety and what that means can better ensure that children continue having fun and parents can worry less. What exactly ensures the greatest playground safety? Playground Safety Checklist The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has a checklist of what to look for when around a public playground. Here are some of the important factors to take into consideration when looking for unsafe playgrounds: 1. Make sure there are no sharp edges or hardware (bolts, hooks or the like) that are exposed and pose a safety hazard. 2. Check for wood chips, pea gravel, sand, mulch, or mats made of rubber around the play equipment. 3. Are play structures above 30 inches spaced more than 9 feet apart? 4. Check for guardrails on equipment that help children with their balance while playing. 5. Look for tripping hazards like exposed roots or tree stumps and also check for gaps in the equipment in which children could be trapped. Using the above directions, while also keeping a close watch over children on the playground, can better ensure playground safety and help avoid the dangers of unsafe playgrounds. Have you or someone you know been affected by unsafe playgrounds? Clifford Law Offices handles a variety of personal injury cases including faulty equipment.

Resources for Motorcycle Riders -- Drive Safely!

Agencies Provide Extensive Motorcycle Safety Resources Check out Motorcycle Safety at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for background information, the motorcycle safety guide and state-by-state fact sheets. Also visit Motorcycles at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for the studies, free brochures and the latest public safety campaign material. Motorcycle Safety Foundation Encourages Rider Courses The Motorcycle Safety Foundation offers a wide range of training courses for motorcyclists of all skill and experience levels. Review the course list, or take the interactive Motorcycle Challenge. Make Sure You Are Adequately Insured All 50 states require minimum insurance coverage to operate a motorcycle. Be aware, however, that the minimums may not adequately protect you in a serious accident. Read this overview from the Insurance Information Institute, and review this state-by-state listing of minimum requirements.  

When Can You Operate a Motorboat? The Illinois State Bar Association Provides Legal Info

Question: What is the legal age a person may operate a motorboat? Answer: In Illinois, no one under age 10 may operate a motorboat. Children age 12 and above may legally operate a motorboat alone if they have taken a boat safety course.  It is not necessary for a person between the age of 10 and 17, to complete a safety course in boat operation if that person is accompanied by a parent or guardian. The owner or person in control of a motorboat is forbidden by law to allow someone who does not meet the age or boating education requirements to operate the vessel. For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.comIf you have a legal question, send it to Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit

Do The Seats You Choose Affect Your Safety While Flying?

When flying, many passengers opt to sit as close as possible to the front of the plane, usually for the added convenience of leaving the aircraft first. Still others choose to sit over the wings of a plane with the mindset that this is one of the safest places to sit in the event of a plane crash. Where is, in fact, the safest to sit? Boeing is sure to reinforce the idea that, "One seat's as safe as another," as quoted from the Boeing website. Through further study, it becomes apparent that there is somewhat of a correlation between where passengers sit and their expected survival should their plane crash. What The Numbers Say In July of 2007, Popular Mechanics published results from a study they conducted that included all of the plane crashes in the United States since 1971 that had both fatalities and survivors. It was shown time and again that passengers seated near the rear of the plane were most likely to survive in a plane crash. Of the 20 crashes studied (chosen because seating charts were available for reference), 11 of the crashes showed better survival rates for those in the back of the plane. If broken into quarters, a 37-row airplane has the following survival rates during a plane crash: the first quarter has a 49% survival rate, the middle two quarters have a 56% survival rate, and the final quarter has a 69% survival rate. There is, however, a noteworthy exception: the three fatalities that occurred during Asiana Airlines Flight 214 in San Francisco this month. We have several articles on the crash, which can be found here. In Conclusion It's shown from the above research that sitting near the back is helpful in certain instances. Robert Clifford, in an article by My Fox Chicago, indicated that it doesn't, in fact, matter where passengers sit in a plane during a plane crash. It seems that the best passengers can do is make sure to understand the safety procedures of their plane before take-off in case of an emergency. How do you choose your seats when you fly?  

Some Important Statistics on Motorcycle Accidents -- They May Surprise You

By the Numbers/ 8 Million Riders:  Motorcycle ridership is at an all-time high in the United States with more than 8 million registered motorcycles on the roads in 2010. Source: State Motor-Vehicle Registrations, U.S. Department of Transportation   1,829 Lives Saved:  Motorcycle helmets saved 1,829 lives in 2008. An estimated 823 lives could have been saved if all motorcyclists had been wearing helmets. Source: Motorcycle Facts (download), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration     25 Times Cars:  Per vehicle mile traveled in 2009, motorcyclists were 25 times more likely to die in a crash than the occupant of an automobile. Source: Motorcycle Q&A, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Discharging Fireworks in Illinois; the Illinois State Bar Has Some Info

Question: Is it illegal to discharge fireworks in Illinois? Answer: The Illinois Fireworks Use Act states that only licensed pyrotechnic operators who obtain permits can organize public fireworks displays. Private citizens should consult the local ordinance in the village or municipality of their residence before discharging fireworks.  Consumer fireworks, which include such items as fountains, repeaters and parachutes, are only permitted in villages, municipalities and counties which have passed ordinances allowing their use. Many popular forms of fireworks, such as firecrackers, bottle rockets and Roman candles, are not allowed in Illinois. Novelty fireworks, such as snakes, sparklers, and party-poppers, are not regulated by the state, although municipalities have the authority to enact ordinances prohibiting the sale and use of sparklers on public property. Sparklers, which are especially popular with children, present a danger because of the high temperature of the wire during and after their use. Therefore, children playing with sparklers should be closely supervised by adults. For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.comIf you have a legal question, send it to Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit

America - Home of the Free and Land of the Motorcycle

Americans love motorcycles: the wide-open road, the sense of freedom, the "Born to Be Wild" spirit of adventure. As summer nears and warm weather beckons, you too might be thinking about a biking adventure. You won't be alone. According to numerous government and industry sources, motorcycle ridership in the United States is at an all-time high. But while crash fatalities involving cars and light trucks are at an all-time low, motorcycle deaths nearly doubled from 1998 to 2010. No doubt motorcycling is exhilarating, but before climbing aboard you should know more about motorcycle safety. Injuries, Insurance and Prevention Motorcycle Riders Face Special Challenges. Common sense tells us that motorcycling is simply more dangerous than driving a car. Aside from four wheels over two, cars are equipped with numerous safety features including seat belts, air bags and a surrounding structure that protects occupants in a crash. Motorcycles are also less visible to other drivers, and require more mental and physical skill to operate safely. Finally, motorcyclists are more vulnerable to bad weather and hazardous road conditions. Not surprisingly with motorcycle ownership at an all-time high, injuries and deaths are also on the rise. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), fatalities nearly doubled from 2,294 in 1998 to 4,502 in 2010. Injuries also shot up from 49,000 in 1998 to 90,000 in 2009. Yet, deaths in auto and light truck accidents are at an all-time low. Aside from the inherent dangers of motorcycling, riding without a helmet, while intoxicated or speeding are often cited as contributing factors as well. Insurance May Not Cover Personal Injury After strapping on your helmet, the next best protection you can have in case of a motorcycle accident is insurance. While all 50 states require minimum insurance coverage to operate a motorcycle, be aware that the minimums may not adequately protect you in a serious accident. Like any type of insurance, how much you'll need will depend on many different factors including the type of bike you own, how often you ride, your marital status, your personal assets and your budget. Liability covers bodily injury and property damage that you may cause to others involved in an accident. Other coverages include uninsured or underinsured motorists, which covers personal injury and damages caused by the driver of another vehicle who either does not have insurance or does not have sufficient coverage; collision, which covers physical damage to the motorcycle involved in a crash with an object, tree or another vehicle; comprehensive, which covers a loss from non-collision sources like theft, vandalism, fire or hail; and medical payments or personal injury protection (PIP), which covers physical injuries to the rider and passenger. Beyond liability, your first priority should be the coverages that pay you - and your passenger - for medical treatment, lost wages and other damages. These include uninsured/underinsured and PIP. Note, however, that the risks associated with motorcycling often make it very expensive to increase these coverages. In some cases, for example, PIP may not even be available or be so expensive that it is out of reach for most individuals. As with purchasing any type of insurance, seek the advice of a qualified advisor and carefully review policies from several different insurers.

Legal Protections for Illinois Homeowners to Assist in Avoiding Foreclosures; the Illinois State Bar Provides Information

Question: What legal protection is afforded to Illinois homeowners to assist them in avoiding foreclosure? Answer: The Homeowners Protection Act gives Illinois homeowners who are behind in their mortgage payments a grace period of up to 90 days during which the lender is precluded from initiating foreclosure proceedings. Homeowners are strongly advised to use the additional time to consult with a lawyer or qualified housing counselor to work out a payment plan with their lender. For information about foreclosure prevention counseling, visit here. For more information about Illinois law, visit If you have a legal question, send it to Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit

Families of Buffalo Crash Asking NTSB to Re-Open Investigation

The Buffalo News is reporting that the families of those who lost loved ones in the crash of Continental Connection Flight 3407 on Feb. 12, 2009, are asking for the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to reopen its investigation as to the cause of that crash. Jerry Zremski, Washington, D.C. Bureau Chief for the newspaper, wrote in a July 13, 2013 story that any new details could "have implications for the 12 wrongful death lawsuits that remain unsettled in the wake of the crash, but it could also have wider impact." Clifford Law Offices represents a number of those families who await trial next year in this matter. Any new details unearthed could also have an impact on air travel in general regarding regional planes, as Zremski reported. The NTSB reportedly has sent copies of the request to all parties involved in the crash. The Buffalo News reported that one of the things to be further examined is testimony of Dan Morgan, the former vice president of safety and compliance at Colgan that operated the flight that crashed in 2009, claiming 50 lives. Statements that Morgan made to media and in his 2009 testimony before the NTSB on the culture of safety at Colgan and if it was promoting safety as well as the safety problems in the regional airlines industry should be examined for any discrepancies, the Buffalo News reported.

Bob Clifford Speaks to USA Today on FAA's Inaction on Cockpit Alarms for Low Airspeed Warnings

Robert A. Clifford, senior partner at Clifford Law Offices, was quoted in a front-page story in USA Today (July 12, 2013) on the inaction of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) regarding the urgent need for aural warnings to pilots when they are flying too slowly. Aviation investigators have told reporters that low air speed is one of the major problems in the crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 Saturday that killed three young girls and sent at least 168 to area hospitals. In its story, USA Today reporters William M. Welch and Bart Jansen wrote that "An FAA statement Thursday said an advisory panel is examining possible enhancements for low-speed conditions in large commercial aircraft." Clifford has been behind enhancing aural low airspeed alerting for years during his work on crashes involving this problem. His sincere hope is that the FAA is taking a very close look at making pilots more aware of this very serious problem so that a future tragedy can be avoided. To read the entire USA Today story, click here.

Flying Wired: Will It Impact Flight Safety?

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has long forbid the use of most electronics while in flight; however, that may be changing. The agency's recent announcement on in-flight cell phone use has some questioning the impact on flight safety. Changes in Restrictions The FAA announced last year that it was in the process of reevaluating its restrictions on in-flight electronic usage. And while potentially more electronics will be allowed, it has been made clear that full use of cellphones will still most likely be restricted. The approval process for consumer electronics is being carefully considered; the FAA understands that electronics use could have an impact on overall flight safety. For this very reason, the FAA is not currently considering relaxing restrictions on cell phones. Approval Process for Electronics Unfortunately for those wishing to board with new electronics, the FAA testing process is rather inconvenient and time-intensive. Each new version of a phone or other electronic device must be tested with each type of plane, without any passengers on board, before being approved for use. Those who want to learn more about aviation law can visit Clifford Law Offices' site. Clifford Law Offices is one of the premier law firms in Chicago and the nation having gained acclaim for its aviation accident attorneys working towards improved flight safety and its landmark cases in other areas of practice.

Robert Clifford Speaks out in San Francisco Chronicle Opinion Piece

For some 10 years, aviation safety advocates have been asking the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to equip all commercial aircraft with low air speed alerts, a technology that warns pilots with a loud oral warning that the speed of the plane is too slow. The FAA has not acted, despite the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) making that recommendation. Senior partner at Clifford Law Offices, Robert A. Clifford, also made the FAA aware of this need through his work in representing many families who lost loved ones on a Continental Connection flight to Buffalo, New York. The issue is raised once again in the crash of Asiana Flight 214 at San Francisco International Airport and Clifford wrote about it in an op-ed piece that was published in the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper on July 12, 2013. To read the article in its entirety, click here.

Did the Asiana Airlines plane crash correlate to pilot flight hours?

After many news reports and a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) video focusing on the July 6, 2013 plane crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214, we now know that the pilot who was landing the Boeing 777 logged only 43 hours on that particular aircraft. We also know that the pilot was still considered "in training" on the 777. The question remains, does the amount of pilot flight hours relate in any way to an increased likelihood of a plane crash? This, along with other factors, is what the NTSB continues to investigate this week at the plane crash site located at San Francisco International Airport.   Asiana Airlines, based in Seoul, Korea, says it requires pilots to log 60 hours of training in order to man the Boeing 777. More information on the Asiana aviation accident will be available in the days and weeks to come. If you have questions about plane crashes or would like to discuss potential aviation litigation, please contact an experienced aviation accident lawyer at Clifford Law Offices. Our plane crash attorneys have represented victims in every major commercial airline accident in the last 30 years.  

Da Vinci Surgical Robots Face Other Product Liability Lawsuits

Despite the May 2013 ruling in which a Washington State jury reached a 10-2 verdict in favor of Intuitive Surgical Inc. (ISI), manufacturer of the Da Vinci surgical robots, other problems with the devices are prompting other product liability lawsuits. In mid-May of 2013, ISI issued an urgent medical device notification stating that particular versions of its 2009 and 2010 cautery monopolar curved scissors may develop microscopic cracks. If cracked, the scissors could then leak electrical energy and burn patient tissue. While not a part of all product liability lawsuits, this alleged defect is the focus of a number of cases. Interestingly, the manufacturer did not recall the crack-prone scissors; instead, it said that it would soon provide replacements. The FDA is reviewing the issues with the monopolar curved scissors, in addition to adverse event reports (AER) associated with the Da Vinci robotic surgical systems. In all, ISI has been named in 26 product liability lawsuits, according to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) 2013 first-quarter financial statement. If you feel that you have been injured or affected by a defective medical product, contact a medical malpractice attorney at Clifford Law Offices. Our experience in product liability cases includes the recalled Sulzer hip devices and a $5 million partial settlement for a woman who was injured after a medical manufacturer failed to provide information to the surgeon about the appropriate use of its medical devices.  

Canada, Chicago and Maine Are Potential Venues for Quebec Rail Explosion Lawsuits

As rescue workers and investigators continue to sift through the catastrophic wreckage of 72 tanker cars that derailed in the town of Lac-Megantic, Quebec, questions continue to be asked concerning potential legal actions that may result from this derailment and explosion. In the wake of the terrible tragedy that has claimed the lives of up to 60 people, Clifford Law Offices has been asked what laws and what courts will be available to those who seek justice against this U.S. railway company. "The tragedy occurred in Canada, but one of the companies involved, Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway Inc., is based in Maine with what has been reported as a parent company, Rail World Inc., which is based in the Chicago area," said Robert A. Clifford, senior partner at Clifford Law Offices in Chicago, which has handled many rail and transportation crash cases across the country. "All potential venues must be examined to determine the forum in which injured victims and those who lost their loves ones can seek justice for this horrific explosion that appears to have been avoidable." Canadian investigators, law enforcement officials and company executives are on the scene of the explosion, sifting through the rubble following the derailment. Edward Burkhardt, CEO of the Chicago-based Rail World Inc. and Chairman of the Board of Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway, reportedly suspended without pay the engineer who was operating the train as a result of this catastrophe. At this time, it is unclear where his training took place. " Ultimately, the courts will decide what law applies" Clifford said, "but it cannot be ignored that the best venue for a lawsuit may, in fact, be in America. We are looking into all of appropriate venues based upon some inquiry calls we have already received." Clifford Law Offices has extensive experience in rail crash litigation and explosion cases. The firm just received one of the highest verdicts in the U.S. in 2012 for a grain bin explosion case in downstate Illinois. The firm also has successfully worked on cases involving Amtrak, Metra and various train lines crisscrossing the continent. The attorneys at Clifford Law Offices are available to speak on this issue. 

Illinois Child Safety Seat Events: Keeping Kids Safe in Car Accidents

Did you know that car accidents are the leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 12 in the United States? Or that 80 percent of child safety seats in Illinois are installed incorrectly? (Source: National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, NHTSA) Combined, those two statistics are a recipe for deadly consequences in the event of a car accident. Fortunately, the Illinois Tollway and Illinois State Police District 15 (Downers Grove, IL) recognized this danger in 2012 and started an event that helped reduce the risk of injury from car accidents through free child safety seat checks. The event is known as Kids Identification and Safety Seat (K.I.S.S.). So successful were last year's events that the two organizations are teaming up again this summer to offer more safety seat events throughout Northern Illinois: Saturday, July 13: Discovery Center Museum, Rockford 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, July 18: Jewel-Osco, Glendale Heights 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, July 27: DuPage Children's Museum, Naperville 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, August 3: IKEA Schaumburg 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, September 21: Tollway Family Safety Fair, Downers Grove 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Not only are child safety seats an important way to protect kids in a car accident; they are also required in the state of Illinois.

Quebec Rail Explosion Death Toll Climbs to as High as 50

Officials in Canada are now saying that in addition to the 20 people confirmed killed in the rail explosion Sunday in Quebec, the 30 missing people are presumed dead in the inferno. As distraught families frantically try to find their loved ones, rescue teams reportedly have found it difficult to go through the rubble because of the intensity of the blast. Among those to blame experts are saying is U.S based rail company, Montreal Maine & Atlantic Inc, with the company's parent offices in the Chicago area of Rail World Inc.  The CEO of Rail World, Edward Burkhardt, flew to the devastation from his home in the Chicago area to address the issues in Canada regarding the tragic explosion. About a third of the 6,000 residents of Lac-Megantic in Quebec were evacuated following the explosion Saturday when 72 tanker rail cars carrying crude oil derailed, at least five of them exploding. The hearts of all go out to those tragically impacted by this terrible explosion.  The sorrowful scenes from that devastation are but a glimpse of what Canadians must be going through at this time.

Product Liability Claim: Time Limits on Filing

In a defective product liability claim, it's important to understand filing deadlines. In the state of Illinois, as in all other states, there are time limits on how long you have to file a defective product liability claim. These limits are referred to as the statute of limitations. What is the statute of limitations in Illinois? In the state of Illinois, you can file a claim for product liability within two years of the discovery rule. This means that from the very moment you discover you have a claim you have exactly two years to file the product liability claim in the state of Illinois. Of course, there may be other factors the court will consider, such as when you actually bought the product, the actual date of discovery, and the warranty on the product. Clifford Law Offices is an experienced product liability firm with attorneys who have proven success in these types of cases. For example, a product liability lawyer from the firm reached a $3.1 million settlement on behalf of a client who died from severe burn injuries caused by a faulty barbeque lighter.  

Bob Clifford Speaks to New York Times and San Francisco Chronicle

Robert A. Clifford, senior partner at Clifford Law Offices, has been out in front on the issue of low air speed alerters, a "focus of contention" now in light of the tragic Asiana Airlines crash in San Francisco. As reported by San Francisco Chronicle reporter Demian Bulwa in a front-page story today (July 10, 2013), Clifford spoke about how the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has been recommending systems on planes that would both visually and audibly warn pilots of big drops in airspeed.  The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which has the authority to change these rules, has not yet acted.  Tragically, a system like that in place may have prevented the fatal crash in San Francisco, aviation experts say. Clifford told the Chronicle reporter that "a tone would not be enough and that the Asiana crew should have been warned by voice commands that their speed was falling off," the story reports.  Clifford has been asking the FAA to implement this change since the crash of a Colgan jet in Buffalo, New York, that claimed the lives of 49 people on board and one person on the ground in 2009.  To read the entire story, click here: Clifford Law Offices represents four families of those who lost loved ones aboard that aircraft. Bob Clifford also spoke to New York Times reporter Matthew L. Wald on the Asiana crash in a story that appeared today.          In that story, Clifford pointed out that Chicago-based Boeing, the maker of the plane, may be responsible if mechanical failure is determined to play a part in the crash.  "If the plane was unsafe, he said, the manufacturer could face suits," the story reported.  

Fire Rescue Truck Runs Over One of Victims

Rescue Truck Runs Over One of Victims Ejected from Asiana Airlines Plane Crash; Two Pilots in Training on Tragic Saturday Flight to San Francisco in Control Clifford Law Offices has learned that one of the Chinese girls ejected from the plane in the crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 who died was run over by a fire truck during the ensuing rescue efforts on the ground at San Francisco International Airport Saturday.  The coroner is still working on the autopsy, senior partner Robert Clifford has learned from aviation experts. Another disturbing fact has been revealed that two of the captains in the cockpit were undergoing training and had no previous experience landing a Boeing 777 at SFO prior to Saturday's tragic crash that left two Chinese teenage girls dead and dozens more injured, some of them very seriously.  Two experienced pilots were in the jump seats during the landing, sources have told Clifford. Clifford has learned that the two captains, including the captain commandeering the aircraft in the Initial Operating Experience (left seat) had never flown that type of aircraft into SFO prior to this flight.  The autopilot was disengaged and the pilots were executing the descent that included pulling the throttle back into the flight idle mode; there was discussion in the cockpit about being slow upon approach and the pilots tried to correct it, but it was too late, Clifford has learned. The Boeing 777 aircraft does not have an aural low-airspeed alert for pilots, something that was recommended by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).  Boeing added aural low-airspeed alerting to its 737 cockpit options after the fatal 2009 Turkish Airlines crash but has yet to do so for its 777 fleet.  Clifford Law Offices' aviation attorneys have been leading counsel in both of these air crashes on behalf of victims and their families. Attorneys at Clifford Law Offices have a great deal of experience with plane crashes involving the Boeing, particularly upon landing, and are available to speak to the press regarding pertinent issues regarding Saturday's crash of Asiana Airlines in San Francisco. To speak with one of the partners, please call Clifford Law Offices' Pamela Menaker at 847-251-4877 or 847-721-0909 or 312-899-9090 or  


Bob Clifford Answers Questions of Sacramento Bee Reporter

Robert A. Clifford, senior partner at Clifford Law Offices, was interviewed Sunday by reporter, Stephen Magagnini, of the popular California newspaper, The Sacramento Bee, on the possible causes of the Asiana Airlines crash. In a wide-ranging interview on Saturday's tragic crash that left two young girls dead and dozens more injured, discussed issues from a plausible scenario that could have occurred to the Boeing 777 aircraft that crashed at San Francisco International Airport. His entire interview can be viewed here:

Latest Update on Asiana Airlines Flight 214 Crash from Clifford Law Offices

Lawyers at Clifford Law Offices Have Handled Many National and International Crashes Involving Boeing Aircraft - Available to Speak on Pertinent Issues Regarding Safe Landings, Pilot Training and Systems Failures. The crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 in San Francisco brings up numerous legal issues involving the safety of the Boeing aircraft as well as what goes on in the cockpit during the very critical phase of landing. There have been problems in the past that have been sorted out through litigation in the courts.

Asiana Airlines Sets Up Hotline for Passengers' Families

Asiana Airlines has set up a hotline for passengers' families to call after the crash of Flight 214 at San Francisco's airport this morning. The number is +82-226-694-221. The plane was coming from Seoul, South Korea. The pictures coming from the scene have been called "amazing." Click here to view a  video of the scene .  

Montreal Convention Impacts Asiana Airlines Flight 214 Crash -- Getting Answers

Personal injury and wrongful death claims stemming from international plane crashes like Asiana Airlines Flight 214 are governed by an international treaty known as the Montreal Convention. That treaty was signed in 1999 but the United States did not ratify it until 2003. It replaced a previous treaty known as the Warsaw Convention and was designed to be more pro-passenger than its predecessor. For instance, one of the main changes was the elimination of the Warsaw Convention's cap on the amount of damages the passenger or her family could recover. Under the Warsaw Convention (and a private agreement signed by most major air carriers known as the Montreal Agreement of 1966), the most an injured passenger or the family of a deceased passenger could recover was $75,000. That cap could only be avoided if the passenger or her family could prove that the crash had occurred due to the airline's gross negligence, which was a difficult burden to meet. Under the Montreal Convention, an air carrier like Asiana Airlines, is strictly liable for the first $138,000 of damages. The airline can avoid paying for claims beyond that limit only if it can prove that the crash was either not due to its negligence or that a third party, i.e., Boeing, was solely responsible for the crash. Because that can be difficult to do, the practical reality has been that the airline cannot limit its liability like it was able to under the Warsaw Convention. Another important change was where the passenger or her family could file the lawsuit. Under the Warsaw Convention, that lawsuit was normally filed in the airline's home state or the flight's final destination. The Montreal Convention added another potential jurisdiction: the home state of the passenger as long as the airline does business there. The Warsaw Convention, which was signed in 1929, had been designed to protect Then-fledgling international airline industry. But, by 1999, that industry was no longer in need of such protection. Those changes noted above and others were made to make the resolution of claims from crashes of international flights more fair to the injured passenger or the family of a deceased passenger.

All Persons On Board Asiana Flight 214 Accounted For, MSNBC Reporting

Despite all of the chaos, fire and tragedy, officials are now reporting that all 307 people aboard Asiana Flight 214 that was scheduled to land this morning at the San Francisco airport from Seoul, Korea, are accounted for. San Francisco International Airport Fire Chief has confirmed, though, that two people tragically died when the Boeing 777 crash landed on one of the four runways. In addition, dozens were taken to area hospitals, some being admitted. Miraculously, nearly 125 did not require medical treatment. Clifford Law Offices has had a great deal of experience with Boeing aircraft crashes. Check out the firm's website, for details on numerous crashes over the past 30 years, including representing many people in the Alaska Airlines Flight 261 crash in the Pacific Ocean in 2000 where Clifford Law Offices' partner Kevin Durkin served as a member of the Plaintiffs' Steering Committee as well as the Administrative Management Committee. Lawyers at the firm also are working on behalf of several passengers and their families who were injured or killed in the crash of Turkish Airlines Flight 1951 at Schiphol Airport in The Netherlands. In that crash, a radio altimeter malfunctioned, causing the auto-throttle to disengage on the Boeing 737, which reduced the throttle level position to flight-idle, thereby allowing the airspeed to decrease. Flight 1951 lost control and crashed into a muddy field about a mile north of the runway. In the Asiana Airlines crash of Flight 214, experts are trying to find the cause of the crash landing at the San Francisco airport. Experts are speculating that among the problems could be radio altimeters, alone or in combination with other factors.

Experts Try to Find Cause of Crash of Asiana Airlines Crash; Clifford Law Offices Experienced in Boeing Aircraft

The Boeing 777 aircraft crashed on the runway and led a trail of debris that investigators will find useful in their determining the cause of the crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 on a clear Saturday in San Francisco. The first flight of this particular aircraft was Feb. 25, 2006. A team of investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will begin unearthing what caused the deadly crash after its expected arrival at midnight Saturday. The Boeing 777 aircraft involved in the crash is known for having a relatively high thrust-to-weight ratio which would, if all of the systems are working properly, typically allow a pilot to quickly correct for any low glide path problems, according to attorneys at Clifford Law Offices, highly experienced in this aircraft. The airplane also has redundant flight control and safety systems that, if working properly, should have allowed a pilot to recognize any glide path or airspeed problems given adequate warnings to help prevent such a tragedy, aviation attorneys at Clifford Law Offices note. If you would like to speak to an aviation attorney at the firm, call 312-899-9090 or 847-721-0909 or contact Clifford Law Offices' Communications Partner Pamela Menaker at

Passengers Retell Harrowing Experience Aboard Tragic Asiana Airlines Flight 214

Passengers who survived the crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 at San Francisco's airport are telling the media and the world through social media of the harrowing experience. Some passengers are recalling how everyone's head hit the ceiling of the plane during the turbulent crash landing. Those on the plane also are saying that many evacuated themselves, which could have been the reason for their survival because of the fire that soon engulfed the aircraft. CNN is reporting that the two people who died held Chinese passports who were found on the runway, but it's not sure if they were ejected or were able to exit the plane and then died. Among the others aboard included 141 Chinese nationals, 77 South Korean nationals, one Japanese person and 61 U.S. citizens. Just why the plane was so low when it landed and the position of the plane are among the issues being examined by National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators as well as aviation experts.

Crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 Moves into Investigation Stage

A team of investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will be looking at the black boxes aboard the Asiana Airlines Flight 214 that crash landed at San Francisco's airport Saturday. Media outlets, such as CNN, are attempting to recreate what occurred and it appears that the tail of the Boeing 777 aircraft impacted the rock seawall at the edge of the runway. In not clearing that seawall, the plane left a large debris trail from the water's edge to the wreckage. The tail section of the plane was in several pieces on the runway. The short landing, according to experts, could be the result of a number of factors, alone or in combination including: 1) failure to maintain appropriate airplane glide path to the desired touchdown point due to inappropriate flight control inputs including those for engine thrust, pitch attitude and airspeed; 2) airplane systems failures including engines, engine control systems, flight control systems, radio altimeters and other systems, leading to factor #1; 3) pilot performance failures, including inadequate management of engine thrust, pitch attitude and airspeed, as well as dealing with any systems failures, leading to factor #1; 4) distractions from possible late runway changes due to air traffic control instructions, leading to factors #1 and #3 above. Attorneys at Clifford Law Offices have a great deal of experience with issues involving Boeing aircraft, including the crash of a Boeing 737 at Schiphol Airport of Turkish Airlines Flight 634 as well as the crash of Alaska Airlines Flight 261 into the Pacific Ocean in 2000.   If you have questions regarding the crash, contact Clifford Law Offices at 312-899-9090 or 847-251-4877.

777 Boeing plane crashes in San Francisco

Victims of a Boeing 777 plane crash at San Francisco's airport are reportedly being taken to area hospitals. The Asiana Airlines flight from Seoul, Korea, crash landed on runway 28L after being in flight more than 10 hours. Pictures and video from the scene show smoke billowing from the plane and the tail separated from the fuselage. Gaping holes also are apparent in the roof of the aircraft that has been blackened by fire. The plane was a 777 Boeing the carries hundreds of people. KCBS Radio is reporting 291 people were aboard this ill-fated flight. The weather was reported to be clear at the time of the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reportedly has a team of investigators on its way. Robert Clifford and Kevin Durkin, partners at the firm, served as lead counsel in the last major commercial flight that crashed on the west coast, Alaska Air Flight 261 that crashed in the Pacific Ocean in 2000. They served on the Plaintiffs' Steering Committee and the Administrative/Management Committee.

Talking with Shannon McNulty

Shannon McNulty, a recent partner at the firm, speaks eloquently about the decision to become a lawyer.  The most fulfilling part of the legal profession is “to give a voice to the client,” she says.  Listen here for Shannon’s viewpoint of the profession, including the person who has had the greatest impact on her professional life.

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