Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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

Pit bulls are considered one of the most dangerous dog breeds across the country. We hear stories every day about a pit bull or similar breed attacking a person and causing serious personal injuries. For more information on the most dangerous dog breeds, visit our page on dog bites and animal attacks HERE and our previous blog HERE.

To combat the dog attacks by pit bulls and similar dangerous dog breeds, many cities across the country have enacted breed-specific legislation, banning dangerous breeds, including many cities in Illinois. In Barry, Illinois, the local city ordinance completely bans pit bulls within the city limits.  The ordinance defines a “pit bull dog” as any (1) bull terrier breed, (2) Staffordshire bull terrier, (3) American pit bull terrier, (4) American Staffordshire terrier, and (5) any dog mixed with the listed breeds. Under the ordinance, a person found possessing a pit bull within the city limits is subjected to a fine of up to $750.00.

Similarly, the Village of Buffalo Grove “restricts” two dangerous breeds – pit bulls and rottweilers in its local city ordinance. Under the ordinance, the owner of a pit bull or rottweiler must install a “special enclosure” and keep the dog in the enclosure at all times the dog is not inside the owner’s residence. Furthermore, the owner must display signage on their property warning the public of the dog’s presence. Continue reading

In the last couple of years car accidents involving pedestrians have steadily increased. A report by the National Public Radio (NPR) released in 2017, stated that pedestrian fatalities had increased by over 11 percent in a single year, putting the number of fatalities to nearly 6,000 deaths. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated 5,376 pedestrians were killed in 2015 and 4,884 pedestrians were killed in 2014. Based on those numbers, NHTSA estimates that on average, a pedestrian was killed every two hours and injured every seven minutes in traffic crashes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pedestrians are 1.5 times more likely than passenger vehicle occupants to be killed in a car accident.

The CDC states that high vehicle speeds increase both the likelihood of a pedestrian being struck by a car and the severity of the pedestrian’s injury. In NPR’s report, the deputy executive director of the Active Transportation Alliance, interviewed by NPR, stated that, “If a pedestrian is struck at 20 miles an hour, they have a 10 percent chance of dying. If they are struck at 40 miles an hour, they have an 80 percent chance of dying.” Continue reading

Part Two: What is a Dangerous or Vicious Dog?

If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog, it is imperative to know your rights as a dog bite victim. For more information on the overall process of declaring a dog dangerous or vicious, visit Part One of our series on dangerous and vicious dogs HERE and visit our page on dog bites and animal attacks HERE. Part Two of our series on dangerous and vicious dogs, below, focuses on the factors used in determining whether a dog is dangerous or vicious.

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What is a Lien?

In personal injury cases, a lien is a right of a creditor to get paid from a personal injury settlement. A lien allows the injured party to not have to worry about paying their medical bills until the case has settled. Once the personal injury case has been settled, the creditor will be paid from the personal injury settlement. In order for a lien to be valid, the creditor (called the lienholder) must notify both the injured person and the at-fault person (call the tortfeasor) of the lien. The lien must contain the name and address of the injured person, the date of injury, the name and address of the lienholder, and the name of the tortfeasor. 770 ILCS 23/10(b).

There are several types of liens that can be placed against a personal injury claim. The first type of lien is a healthcare lien, governed by the Health Care Services Act. 770 ILCS 23/1. Under the Act, a hospital, doctor, or physical therapist that has provided services to the injured person may place a lien against that person’s personal injury claim. For more information on how healthcare liens work, see our previous blog HERE. Continue reading

Last week, the Illinois Supreme Court issued an opinion in the case of Antonicelli v. Rodriguez, a personal injury car accident case involving multiple defendants. In the case, the plaintiff, Angela Antonicelli, was a passenger in a car traveling on Interstate 88. Antonicelli v. Rodriguez, 2018 IL 121943, ¶ 3.  Defendant Karl Browder was operating a semi-truck directly behind the vehicle Ms. Antonicelli was a passenger in. Id. Defendant Daniel Juan Rodriguez, while under the influence of cocaine, made an improper U-turn and struck Ms. Antonicelli’s vehicle. Id. at ¶ 4. Mr. Browder’s vehicle then slammed into Ms. Antonicelli’s vehicle. Id. As a result of the multiple collisions, Ms. Antonicelli suffered severe permanent injuries. Id.

Ms. Antonicelli brought a lawsuit against both Mr. Rodriguez and Mr. Browder (as well as Mr. Browder’s employers) to recover medical expenses and damages for her injuries. Id. at ¶ 6. Prior to the case going to trial, Ms. Antonicelli and Mr. Rodriguez entered into a settlement agreement for $20,000, the policy limits of Mr. Rodriguez’s insurance policy. Id. Mr. Browder then filed a counterclaim against Mr. Rodriguez for contribution, alleging that Mr. Rodriguez’s intentional conduct was the causation of Ms. Antonicelli’s injuries. Id. at ¶ 7. Continue reading

Part One: The Process

If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog, you will need to know your rights in having that dog declared dangerous or vicious. Determining whether a dog is deemed dangerous or vicious is governed by both the Animal Control Act and by local city and county ordinances. For more information about the Animal Control Act, visit our previous blog HERE. In DuPage County, Chapter 5 of the DuPage County Code of Ordinances governs dog bite investigations.

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