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Toro recently recalled snowblowers that were sold between November 2020 and January 2021 due to a risk of amputation. The recalled snowblowers, also called snowthrowers, were sold nationwide and online at Home Depot, Ace Hardware, and Toro-authorized dealers. According to Toro, the auger (the rotating corkscrew device) may fail to disengage when the control lever is released. Several reports made to the company have indicated that the auger did not stop spinning when the control lever was released. To date, no injuries have been reported, but a high risk of injury and amputation can occur with continued use of the recalled snowblowers.

Defective products, like the Toro snowblowers, can cause serious injuries. According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, snow blower operators suffer more than 500 amputations and more than 5,000 emergency room visits annually. Since 1992, there have been 19 deaths involving snow blowers. Most of the injuries suffered by slow blower operators occur when trying to clear snow and ice from either the auger or the discharge chute. The likelihood of a clogged auger or discharge chute increases based on several factors, including heavy, wet snow, temperatures higher than 28 degrees, and snow accumulation greater than six inches. Continue reading

Mopeds and motor scooters have become an increasing favorite among many urban commuters. The gas efficiency, coupled with their compact size, makes it the most efficient and economic choice for those living in congested areas. However, just like its faster motorcycle counterparts, motor scooters leave riders vulnerable to injury during an accident.

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According to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) and State Farm, the largest writer of homeowners’ insurance in the United States, dog bites and other dog-related injuries accounted for nearly one third of all homeowners’ liability claim dollars paid out in 2018, costing $675 million. The State of Illinois topped the list at #2 for the most State Farm dog bite claims in 2018 with 288 claims, costing $10.3 million.

Illinois has enacted laws designed to protect the rights of those who have suffered an injury due to an animal attack. The Illinois Animal Control Act provides a civil remedy for dog bite victims and all other injuries caused by an individual’s pet or farm animal. For more information about the Animal Control Act, visit our previous blog HERE.  As of 2019, Illinois lawmakers have created a new provision within the Animal Control Act regarding “reckless dog owners,” also known as the “Justice for Buddy Act.” The new law, which took effect on January 1, 2019, aims to protect individuals and companion animals from dangerous dogs and their negligent owners.

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A 17-month-old Aurora girl was fatally mauled over the July 4th weekend while attending a house party in the 1800 block of Cumberland Drive in Joliet, Illinois. Marley Wilander was sleeping in an upstairs playpen while her parents attended a party downstairs. At some point in the evening, the homeowner’s two pitbull mix dogs escaped from the basement where they had been secured. The homeowner went upstairs to investigate a noise and found one of the dogs actively biting the child. According to the Joliet Police Department, the homeowner was able to separate the dog from the child and then called 911.

At approximately 1:30 am, an ambulance transported the unresponsive child to AMITA Health St. Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, where she succumbed to her injuries at approximately 3:30 am. Will County Coroner’s Office officials reported the autopsy performed the following day showed the child sustained “multiple bite marks throughout her body.” The preliminary report indicated she died from her injuries.

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Around 6:30 a.m. on the morning of Friday, June 12, 2020, 17-year-old David Aguilar and 17-year-old Jorge Acosta-Flores were riding in a blue Infiniti G37X in the westbound lanes of North Avenue in Carol Stream, Illinois, when they struck the back of a red Freightliner box truck. The Infiniti got pinned under the rear of the truck and caught on fire. Acosta-Flores was driving the car, and he was presumed to have died immediately upon impact with the box truck. Aguilar was sitting in the passenger seat, and he was pronounced dead after being transferred to Central DuPage Hospital to receive emergency medical care following the accident. Both boys were about to begin their senior year at Wheaton North High School in Wheaton, Illinois.

A Carol Stream police officer witnessed the car crash. Immediately after the car accident, the officer used a fire extinguisher to put out the fire that was caused by the impact. Photographs of the scene show the front of the Infiniti was completely destroyed. The windshield shattered and the roof caved into the interior of the vehicle. Additionally, the driver of the box truck is reportedly not injured, but there is still an ongoing investigation into what exactly happened to cause this fatal accident. Continue reading

Getting one’s driver’s license is a rite of passage for most teenagers. It’s a day that most look forward to and is an important milestone in terms of growing up and entering the world. However, the road can be a very dangerous place, and parents often worry about whether their teenagers are following the rules of the road and utilizing safe driving practices.  Parents’ worries about their children driving alone for the first several years are justifiable, given the alarming statistics about teen drivers.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the rate of death (per mile driven) is nearly four times greater for teenagers, than it is for all other age groups combined. New drivers at age 16 have the highest death rates, with one and a half times the deaths of those just slightly older at ages 18 and 19. Continue reading

There are several nuances to personal injury cases involving school districts. One of the nuances to suing a school district is the standard required by Illinois courts. In many cases, school districts are immune from mere negligence, and plaintiffs must plead a higher standard. Under Section 3-106 of the Tort Immunity Act, a local public entity, such as a school district, may [only] be liable for injuries caused by willful and wanton conduct.  745 ILCS 10/3-106 (West 2017).  For more information about school district and municipal liability, visit our page HERE.

What is the Willful and Wanton Standard?

Under the Tort Immunity Act, willful and wanton conduct is “a course of action which shows an actual or deliberate intention to cause harm or which, if not intentional, shows an utter indifference to or conscious disregard for the safety of others or their property.”  745 ILCS 10/1-210 (West 2017).  Willful and wanton conduct “includes a range of mental states from actual or deliberate intent to cause harm, to utter indifference for the safety or property of others, to conscious disregard for the safety of others or their property.”  Murray v. Chicago Youth Center, 224 Ill.2d 213, 236 (2007). “Willful and wanton conduct is a hybrid between negligent acts and intentionally tortious behavior.  Under the facts of one case, willful and wanton misconduct may be only degrees more than ordinary negligence, while under the facts of another case, willful and wanton acts may be only degrees less than intentional wrongdoing.” Kurczak v. Cornwell, 359 Ill. App. 3d 1051, 1060 (2d Dist. 2005).  (Internal quotation marks omitted). Continue reading

A couple months ago, a California man was arrested for posing as a rideshare driver and raping seven women in a 15 month period.  One of the man’s victims stated that she got into the man’s car because she believed his car was the Uber she ordered.

Similar instances involving drivers of taxi cabs and ridesharing services, such as Uber and Lyft, are on the rise across the country. Earlier this month, an Uber driver in Ohio pulled a knife on his passengers after one of them said that his vehicle smelled like smoke. In February 2017, a woman was raped by an Uber driver in Texas. According to a lawsuit recently filed by the victim, she ordered an Uber to take her to her aunt’s house after leaving a bar. The Uber driver picked the woman up at the bar, drove to his house, took the woman inside, and raped her. The woman was charged by the Uber app over $200 for the trip, even though it was clear that the Uber driver had taken a significant detour from the requested route. Continue reading

Recently, there have been numerous lawsuits in the news involving defamation. So, what exactly is defamation and how does a defamation lawsuit work?

An Overview of Defamation

Defamation is an untrue statement about a person that harms that person’s reputation. There are two categories of defamation: libel and slander. Libel is written defamation and slander is spoken defamation. Throughout history, libel has been treated more seriously than slander because it had the ability to reach a large population in a short period of time. A traditional example of libel is a newspaper advertisement saying that a politician is corrupt.

Historically, it has been extremely hard for plaintiffs to prevail in defamatory actions for both libel and slander because of the right to free speech under the First Amendment. A defamation case will only be successful if it correctly balances the state’s interest in providing a remedy to the plaintiff and the government’s interest in providing free speech. Continue reading

What is the Open and Obvious Defense?

In a premises case, such as a slip and fall, there is a framework for establishing whether a defendant, usually the landowner, is liable to the plaintiff for injuries the plaintiff sustained on the defendant’s land. The landowner is liable to the plaintiff for the condition on his/her land that caused the injury if s/he: (1) knows or in the exercise of reasonable care would discover the condition and should realize that the condition involves an unreasonable risk of harm, and (2) should expect that such persons will not discover or realize the danger or will fail to protect themselves against it, or (3) fails to exercise reasonable care to protect the plaintiff. Genaust v. Ill. Power Co., 62 Ill.2d 456 (1976).

However, a defendant can defeat the plaintiff’s case using several defenses. One of the defenses a defendant can use is the open and obvious defense. Under the open and obvious defense, a defendant will not be liable for the plaintiff’s injury if the item causing the injury was “open and obvious.” A defendant will be liable to the plaintiff for the plaintiff’s injuries if the condition on the defendant’s property was hidden or otherwise undiscoverable by the plaintiff. Examples of open and obvious conditions given in Illinois’ Pattern Jury Instructions include bodies of water (Bucheleres v. Chi Park Dist., 171 Ill.2d 435 (1996)), electricity (Genaust v. Ill. Power Co,, 62 Ill.2d 456 (1976)), and trucks poised on an inclined ramp (Sepesy v. Arch Daniels Midland Co., 97 Ill. App. 3d 868 (4th Dist. 1981)). Continue reading

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