The Chicago Bicycle Accident Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. take note of a concerning problem amongst bicyclists—biking while under the influence. Navigating our busy streets can be highly dangerous, even for a sober biker. Add in alcohol or drugs, and you have an equation for disaster. Bicycling under the influence is more common than you may think. According to an October 2014 report released by the Governors Highways Safety Association (GHSA), which examined recent trends in fatal bicycle accidents, in 2012 “28 percent of riders age 16 and older had blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) of .08 percent or higher.”

Bicycling under the influence is nothing of a new phenomenon, and in fact has been linked to fatal bicycle accidents for more than 30 years. What is perhaps most troubling with this issue, though, as noted in the GHSA report, “is that the percentage of fatally injured bicyclists with high BACs has remained relatively constant since the early 1980s and did not mirror the sharp drop in alcohol-impaired driving that occurred among passenger vehicle drivers in the 1980s and early 1990s.”

Certainly, much of the reductions in motorist impairment can be attributed to drunk driving laws, increased enforcement efforts, and growing public awareness of the issue, brought about by safety campaigns and advocacy groups, as well as the increase in media outlets to spread the word over the dangers of drunk driving. Unfortunately, very little attention has been given to the issue of drunk bicycling, which is likely why alcohol-impaired bicycling fatality rates have remained consistent since the early 1980s.

As bicycling accident lawyers, we can’t help but think that something needs to be done to address this ongoing, and often overlooked safety issue. As it stands now, biking under the influence is not a punishable DUI offense. This is because a bicycle is not considered a vehicle, as was established nearly twenty years ago in People v. Schaefer. The irony in the ruling, is that Illinois law does provide that bicyclists are subject to the same laws as motorists. However, DUI is an offense that applies to the control a vehicle, and therefore is precluded from being applied to bicyclists.

While many other states have enacted legislation to make drunk biking unlawful, it does not appear that Illinois intends to pursue the inclusion of bicycles within its DUI statute. Consequently, until lawmakers are willing to amend the current DUI statute, or make bicycling under the influence a separate offense, the only alternative in the meantime is to promote awareness of the issue, in hopes that word will spread, and that bicyclists will begin to heed to the warnings of the risk of fatality.

Whether you travel by bike, car, or foot, it is important for us all to remain mindful of potential dangers, both to ourselves, as well to others with whom we share our roadways with. If you were injured in an accident that occurred in Chicago, or a surrounding suburb, contact the Accident Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C., at 773-516-4100, and allow us to evaluate your case, explain your rights, and discuss your legal options.

The Chicago Car Accident Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. take note of a recent auto wreck that took the life of two Aurora teens earlier this month. Though utterly tragic, the circumstances surrounding this incident can hopefully alert parents to the dangers that accompany newly licensed, teen and/or inexperienced drivers.

The facts of this devastating accident, as reported by the Tribune, are as follows: A 17-year-old driver of an SUV, along with his 5 passengers, traveling from Aurora to Rochelle during foggy conditions, ran a red-light and collided with a semi-truck that was attempting to turn left on Illinois Highway 38. Tragically, two of the passengers, both 16-years of age, died as a result of the crash.

The public outcry and discussions brought about by this tragedy have been tremendous. This accident, quite simply, speaks of the dangers of teen drivers, and the sheer number of factors that may have potentially played a role cannot be ignored. Although we can only speculate as to the extent to which a particular factor contributed to the cause of this crash, we hope that doing so will promote awareness by encouraging continued discussion on this important safety issue.

Take, for example, the age of the driver—only 17 years old—at this age no motorist can be considered an experienced driver. The maneuvering capabilities; problem solving and reaction skills; as well as knowledge of traffic laws, are simply not at the level of a motorist that has been driving for several years. Consider the driver’s inexperience given the weather conditions—heavy fog. Even a skilled driver can have difficulty navigating a vehicle whenever the weather conditions cause a reduction in visibility. In light of the fact that the driver ran a red light, it seems the fog was certainly a contributing factor to this crash.

The number of passengers in the SUV is also concerning—the 17-year-old was transporting 5 passengers—6 including himself. The issue over teens and passenger-occupancy has been highly debated over the years, eventually leading to legislation that imposed restrictions upon newly-licensed teen drivers. It is unnecessary to delve into the numerous studies identifying the correlation between the number of passengers that a teen driver has, and the increased risk for accident—it is a well-established fact—passengers + teen drivers = distraction.

In addition to passenger-related distractions, teen driving an accident causation has been commonly linked to the use of mobile devices. Texting and driving in particular has become a growing epidemic in our nation, and is unlawful in many states, Illinois included. Texting while driving is a dangerous practice for any motorist, however it is far more risky for an inexperienced driver. While it is unknown as to whether the teen was distracted in some manner, whether due to passengers, mobile device use, or something else—distractions are common factors in many teen accidents. Parents should encourage teens to keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel at all times.

The use of seatbelts in this crash, is another consideration. The second-row passenger of the SUV was not wearing a seatbelt—sadly, he was one of the two victims to suffer fatality. Teen-drivers, and the use of seatbelts, is concerning—and for two primary reasons. Studies have shown that (1) many teen drivers do not require their passengers to wear a seatbelt; and (2) a significant number of teen drivers fail to use seatbelts themselves.

As a final thought, this devastating accident brings us to consider the issue of teens driving long distances and/or to areas that they are unfamiliar with. The trip from Aurora to Rochelle was approximately 45 minutes—a far distance for a 17-year-old high school student by many parents’ standards. Familiarity with a specific route is gained through repetition—something a 17-year-old driver, traveling nearly an hour away, is unlikely to have acquired during the short period he held a license.

As Accident Attorneys, Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. hopes that any parent reading this that has a teen driver, or soon-to-be teen driver, can take something away from this devastating crash.

If you were injured, or a loved one was killed as a result of a car accident, contact our Chicago injury lawyers at 773-516-4100 to schedule your FREE case evaluation, and allow us to fight for the compensation that you and your family deserves.

As technology has advances, so have the resources available to individuals—the result of which has reduced reliance on others, and allowed for the increased capability for self-help. While there are many situations in which one can effectively resolve matters on their own, having a ‘do-it-yourself’ mindset is rarely a practical approach to take when it comes to personal injury. Before attempting to take matters into your own hands following an accident or injury, the Chicago attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. urge you to consider the following…

First, the vast majority of personal injury matters involve claims against insurance companies. In some cases it is the victim’s own insurance provider, and in others it is a policy held by another person. When it comes to your own coverage, policyholders often believe that their own provider will handle their claim in a manner that best serves their interests—after all, you are the customer, and are paying a premium for insurance coverage you selected under a particular policy, right? Well, yes and no. You are indeed a paying customer, but this does not mean that you should assume that the insurance company is on your side. Beyond the duty to act in good faith, insurers owe little more to claimants when it comes to dealing with claims—even those submitted by their own policyholders. In sum, regardless of whose policy a claim is being submitted to, it is crucial to keep in mind that insurance companies are in the business of maximizing profits, and minimizing payouts.

Second, whether you want to believe it or not, insurance companies can and do treat claimants that are self-represented differently than those represented by counsel. When an insurance carrier knows that a claimant is not represented by an attorney, they tend to take advantage of this by coercing victims into accepting settlement offers which, often time, are grossly inadequate in terms of providing compensation for injuries, damages, or loss. On the other hand however, when an insurance company learns that a claimant has secured representation, they tend to take such claims more seriously, in part, because they know that your attorney has a pre-determined figure in mind as to what amount of compensation they believe their client deserves.

Third, obtaining a case evaluation from a personal injury attorney will cost you nothing but your time—and you are under no obligation to utilize that attorney’s services simply because you met with them to discuss your case. Taking advantage of a free consultation following an accident or injury is worthwhile. In the very least you will have gained better overall understanding of your case in terms of the validity of your claim, the persons or entities to direct liability towards, as well as the applicable law.

To schedule a cost-free, obligation-free consult, contact the Chicago Personal Injury Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C., at 773-516-4100—we are here to help.

Multi-tasking is nothing new, and nowadays, the busier our lives become, the more we try to squeeze into a day. Unfortunately, many view driving as a time where they can get from point A to point B, while also performing a task and/or checking an item off their ‘to-do’ list. Few would dispute that driving while distracted, and they accidents caused by such behavior, is certainly on the rise.

Cosmetic application; personal hygiene; searching for lost items; fidgeting with control devices in your car; eating, and sometimes while attempting to use condiments or cleaning a food-related spill or mess—we’ve all seen it or may even be guilty of it ourselves. Distracted driving has been around as long as automobiles have. Add in technology, though, now we have an equation for disaster. How many times have you seen a motorist engaging in a distracting activity WHILE ALSO utilizing a mobile device? Undoubtedly, most have witnessed such behaviors in the past, if not on a regular basis.

The fact of the matter is that any activity, performed while operating a motor vehicle, OTHER than the task of driving, is considered to be distracted driving. Sadly, many of us don’t fully consider the impact of driving while distracted until it hits home—either by their own involvement in an accident, or that of a loved one.

What has become increasingly concerning is the combination of pre-existing distractions, with technological advances that have led to a need to remain in contact with others. You’d have to live under a rock to not notice the growing use of mobile devices to connect to others, whether directly or through social media outlets. Both the use of internet-accessible devices, as well as social media, have been identified as being habit-forming. The problem for many, though, is that this habit often continues even while operating a motor vehicle.

While some might be quick to allocate the consequences of distracted driving to our younger generation, namely newly licensed teen drivers, you might be surprised to find that statistics show otherwise. For example, when it comes to texting while driving, it is adults between the ages of 25 to 39 that are more likely engage in such distraction.

Some tips to avoid mobile device related distractions….

If you are alone and feel you can’t resist the urge, turnoff the device while in transit. If you absolutely need to keep answer a call or text, pull of the road. If you have someone in the car, ask them to be a ‘designated texted.’ We encourage motorists to try this for a week, or even for a day, and you might very well find that you are far more distracted than you ever thought you actually were.

If you or a loved one were injured in an Automobile Collision that you suspect was caused by the negligence of another, contact Zneimer & Zneimer P.C., and allow our attorneys to explain your legal rights and options to obtaining the compensation you deserve.

The Chicago Car Accident Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. know that being involved in an auto wreck is stressful enough, in and of itself. For many victims, understanding legal rights, entitlement to financial compensation, and the claims process in general, can caused added anxiety during a period that is difficult. Similarly nerve-wracking can be the process of selecting a lawyer—and not just any lawyer—but one that has the legal know-how to maximize your financial recovery, while also providing you with the personal attention you need to have peace of mind. Our firm offers both.

For those reading this following an auto accident-related injury or death, you probably already know the benefits of pursuing your claim through an attorney-represented approach. Arriving at this conclusion is the easy part—however choosing a car accident attorney in one of the largest cities in the U.S.— this can be challenging. However, by knowing what to look for, particularly with regard to attorney advertising techniques that may be potentially deceptive, misleading or illusive, selecting legal representation can become less of a challenge, and more of a process of elimination. Just a few things to take into consideration are:

Guaranteed Results. Any law firm or attorney that guarantees specific results in a particular case or type of case raises cause for concern. Pre-determining the outcome in legal proceedings goes against principles of justice and the very purpose of having a judicial system. In fact, making promises or guarantees regarding the outcome of a case (i.e. assignment of fault or the precise amount of financial recovery that you will obtain) is a violation of the professional code of conduct. However, what an attorney can do is evaluate your case based upon their legal knowledge and actual practice experience, discuss your legal rights, options available, and the potential results based upon the facts of your case, the applicable law, and the legal approach to be taken.

Firm Size. While you me drawn to selecting a large firm that has numerous attorneys, it is important to keep in mind that bigger is not always better, and quantity of attorneys does not always mean quality of representation. Larger firms tend to have much higher caseloads, which can cause delays in the claims process and/or encumber their ability to provide you with the one-on-one attention you deserve. In addition, cases that are perceived as less valuable to a large firm may be assigned to a lower-level and/or less-experienced attorney, as opposed to firm partners or seasoned veteran attorneys. It is helpful to consider the advantages that small firms have to offer – knowing ahead of time which attorney will be handling your matter, and having peace of mind in knowing that you will receive personal attention, as well as effective and efficient management of your case.

Experience. Selecting representation with an experienced firm is certainly a critical consideration, but it is important to understand precisely what a particular firm means in statements made regarding extent of experience. Experience is often advertised in terms of the combined experience of all the attorneys to the firm. Consequently, it is necessary to consider experience in conjunction with firm size. Take, for example a firm that advertises over 100+ years of experience, but that has over a dozen attorneys—here, evaluating experience can be difficult, especially if you do not know which attorney will handle your case. At Zneimer & Zneimer P.C., the name of our firm represents precisely what you will get in regard to both experience, as well as the actual attorney(s) that will represent you. Attorney Peter Zneimer has been practicing since 1991—that’s 24+ years of experience—combined with Attorney Sofia Zneimer’s 11 years—that’s over 35 years of combined practice experience that you can expect to receive by selecting our firm.

Over our decades in practice, the Chicago Personal Injury attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. have taken note of many unwarranted, and often peculiar defenses asserted by defendants, both in the criminal and civil setting. While our firm’s primary focus resides in providing representation to clients in civil proceedings, it is not uncommon for a civil matter to be closely connected to a criminal matter. Consider an auto accidents involving an impaired driver; nursing home abuse involving a sexual offender; or an attack by a dog that was trained or known to be vicious, to name a few.

Here, we limit our discussion to the topic of hit-and-run collisions, in which a driver flees the scene, but then later claims that they didn’t know they hit someone. The possibility that a law-abiding motorist could collide with an individual, and not be aware, seems highly improbable. Although unawareness of striking a victim is conceivable, these incidents are far and few between, and limited to exceptional circumstances. Let’s explore the ‘I didn’t know,’ or ‘ignorance of incident’ defense in regards to both criminal culpability and civil liability.

In criminal proceedings extending from a hit-and-run crash, the defendant’s assertion of ‘unawareness’ as a defense is, more often than not, an attempt to evade responsibility for their actions. Faced with the prospect of criminal conviction, morality often takes a backseat to the need for an accused to avoid prosecution or, in the alternative, limit punishment. Whether through a web search, the ‘suggestion’ of an attorney, or one’s own thought-process, hit-and-run motorists often develop the ‘ignorance of incident’ defense post-accident. Seldom does this approach, when provided as the defendant’s sole defense, result in complete evasion of criminal liability; however it has limited criminal penalties imposed in some.

Fortunately, the standard of proof in criminal trials and civil trials vary greatly from one another. In understanding this, consider where criminal defendant is found not-guilty in a vehicular manslaughter case, and the family later pursues civil damages for wrongful death. In the criminal setting, the standard is whether the defendant is guilty ‘beyond a reasonable doubt,’ however, in the civil setting, the standard is based upon the ‘preponderance of evidence.’ Hence, in civil trials, the standard is much lower, in that it only requires the plaintiff to provide evidence sufficient to show that it was ‘more probable than not’ that the defendant caused the harm complained of.

Now, let’s explore the ‘I didn’t know,’ or ‘ignorance of incident’ defense in personal injury actions involving a defendant that fled the scene of the accident. Consider the nonsensical approach of a hit-and-run motorist that asserted ‘unawareness’ as a defense, and then later tries to defend civil liability based upon contributory fault. In Illinois, a plaintiff is not barred from recovering damages, so long as they were not more than 50% at fault. However, proving that that a victim contributed to his or her own injuries or damages requires evidence. Consequently, absent witness testimony to show otherwise (the credibility of which is an issue for the jury to examine), the defendant’s ability to show that they were both unware of the collision AND that the plaintiff contributed to the accident is doubtful.

In the cases where a hit-and-run driver is located, and was insured at the time of the incident, the defendant-tortfeasor then typically becomes synonymous with the defendant-insurance company. Insurance companies have a duty to act in good faith in resolving valid claims. However, often time the defense efforts of an insurance company does little more than hinder/delay the judicial process, and in some cases, amounts to bad faith—a violation of insurance code which is compensable in and of itself.

The ‘ignorance of incident defense’ can also play a role in hit-and-run cases in which an injured victim is requesting punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages. In Illinois, obtaining an award for punitive damages requires proving that the defendant’s actions were ‘intentional’; ‘willful and wanton’; or ‘fraudulent.’ Here, the defendant may attempt to negate liability through asserting that they could not have intentionally or willfully caused harm because they were unaware of the accident (‘ignorance of incident’). Consequently, having an attorney with actual trial experience to effectively advocate on your behalf can profoundly impact the plaintiff’s ability to prove entitlement to punitive damages.

In sum, as Personal Injury Attorneys, we find the assertion of ‘ignorance of incident’ following a hit-and-run crash, is generally a defendant’s attempt to avoid criminal culpability or limit civil liability through deception, as opposed to a factual account of the incident. Regardless of this contention, it is important for victims of hit and run crashes to understand that establishing a defendant’s guilt in a criminal proceeding, is NOT a prerequisite to establishing liability and obtaining financial compensation in a civil action.

With more than three decades of experience, our Chicago Auto Accident Attorneys have attained justice on behalf of numerous victims involved in hit and run incidents, and would like to do the same for you. Contact Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. at 773-516-4100, and allow us to evaluate your case, during a no-cost/no-obligation consultation.

The Personal Injury Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. take note of the alarming number of accidents involving pedestrians that have taken place throughout the Chicago Metropolitan area this month. Nearly every one of the victims in these incidents suffered fatal injuries, demonstrating the high risk of death for a victim that is struck by a vehicle in a pedestrian accident. Even more disturbing, is that many of these crashes involved motorists that made the callous and heartless decision to flee the scene, and leave their victim to die, rather than stopping to render assistance.

Below are just a few of the motor vehicle-versus-pedestrian collisions that have occurred in and around the Chicago area since the first of the year:

  • On January 1st, a 56- year-old man, James C. Marlowe, was struck and killed by a Ford Escort while attempting to cross Illinois Route 59 in Warrenville. According to reports, the victim was not in a crosswalk at the time of the collision.
  • On January 2nd, a 53-year-old Chicago Heights man, Albert Valdez, was struck while crossing 26th Street near Ash Street, in South Suburban Park Forest. The victim died two days later as a result of his injuries.
  • On January 7th, a 19-year-old woman, Anna Mkreja, was struck by a Cadillac while crossing a busy street in Oak Lawn, just north of a crosswalk. The victim was died a short time later.
  • On January 12th, an 86-year-old Morton Grove man, Richard A. Mikulec, was struck in a hit-and-run crash, while walking near Shermer Road, north of Harlem Avenue, in Morton Grove. He was transported in serious condition, where he later died.
  • Also on January 12th, a 27-year-old woman was struck by a hit-and-run driver while performing her duties as a school crossing guard in an intersection on the Far South Side. The victim survived, but was taken to the hospital in serious condition.
  • On January 14th, a 12-year-old Elgin boy, Gerardo Simental, was struck by a motorist while crossing Route 20, apparently on the way to visit his grandmother’s. Tragically, the boy died a short time later. An account has been set up to help the family with funeral and other expenses.
  • On January 15th, a 95-year-old, Lilah DePaul, was walking with her 88-year-old brother in the Des Plaines Market Place Shopping Center, when she was struck by a dump truck that was traveling westbound through the parking lot.
  • On January 16th, a 58-year-old woman, Maria Hernandez, was struck while crossing in a crosswalk on West Addison Street on the Northwest Side. The victim was transported to the hospital in critical condition, but sadly was pronounced dead the following morning.
  • On January 17th, two men, Ramon Cruz and Pablo Esquivel-Vega, were struck and killed while crossing North Avenue at Kildare in Chicago’s Northwest Side. The 24-year-old woman responsible for the crash fled the scene, but was later taken into custody after she collided with three parked vehicles.

The Pedestrian Accident Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. send our sincerest condolences to the family members and friends of each victim. While death is never an easy thing to deal with, losing a loved one in such a tragic and unexpected way, can be all the more difficult to handle. Particularly unsettling, are those incidents in which a motorist, after striking the victim, simply fled the scene of the accident. We find the actions of hit-and-run drivers to be purely inexcusable, and hope that these individuals will be criminally prosecuted to the fullest extent possible.

In addition, we hope that justice for the victims of pedestrian accidents, can be found through civil proceedings as well. While our attorneys recognize that the thought of commencing an action for wrongful death may be hard to consider following a loss, we also know that if your loved one was here to seek justice on their own behalf, they probably would.

If you were injured, or a family was killed by the negligent, reckless, and/or unlawful actions of a motorist, it is important to understand your options, rights, and entitlement to financial compensation. The attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer have 35+ years of practice experience in representing victims in injury and death proceedings extending from pedestrian accidents. Contact us at 773-516-4100 to schedule your no-cost, no-obligation, comprehensive case evaluation today.

The Chicago Trucking Accident attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. take note of a recent incident between a semi-tractor trailer and a passenger vehicle. According to reports, a minivan became embedded behind a semi-truck, and was subsequently dragged for miles, apparently due to the trucker’s complete and utter obliviousness of the fact that a collision had occurred.

As depicted in a highly disturbing 911 call, a minivan struck the rear-end of a semi-truck, as both vehicles northbound in white-out conditions, along I-75 in Michigan. In the van was a family of four—the husband-driver, his wife, and their two small children. In calls to 911, the wife states “We ran into the back of a semi-truck and he’s not stoppin’, and our car is embedded underneath of it,” followed by the husband stating “If the van breaks out from underneath him, I don’t have any control of this thing.”

Fortunately police located the interlocked vehicles, and were able to get the semi to pull into a rest area. However, this was after the minivan was dragged a shocking 16 miles, unbeknownst to the truck driver. Although no one was injured, this incident certainly could have resulted in disaster.

From the perspective of skilled legal professionals, this close-call event, brings forth several concerns. First, as truck collision attorneys, we are inclined to take into consideration each driver’s potential culpability in causing this horrific incident. In example, was the truck driver fatigued, distracted, or impaired? Did the van not stop in time—or—did the truck stop too quickly—or—was it a combination of both given the weather conditions?

Second, this incident shows how accidents involving a truck can vary greatly from others. Regardless of weather conditions, the visibility area around a semi is much more limited than with a passenger car, and while this incident was certainly unusual, this sort of event could perceivably occur in normal conditions as well. In addition, consider the truck’s massive size, and the driver’s (purported) unawareness that a vehicle had struck him. Again, depending in the size/type of passenger car, one could perceive how this type of incident could potentially occur again in the future.

Third, this event demonstrates how harm can be inflicted upon a victim despite actual bodily injury. Imagine how frightening this incident must have been for the couple and their family. Consider being dragged for 16 miles by a tractor trailer—and with your children in the car. It is not difficult to imagine the mental, emotional, and/or psychological distress that an experience of this nature could cause.

The Trucking Accident attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. hope that motorists will keep this incident in mind when traveling along roadways shared with large trucks, particularly during periods of inclement weather.

If you or a family member were involved in an accident with a large truck or semi, contact the Chicago Personal Injury Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. at 773-516-4100 to discuss your legal rights and entitlement to financial compensation.

As Dog Bite Attorneys, Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. recognizes that breed-specific legislation has been a highly debated topic in the Illinois, specifically in regards to pit bull and rottweilers. However, the state has continued to reject the necessity, effectiveness and constitutionality of statewide breed-specific legislation (BSL) for more than a decade, stating “it’s the deed, not the breed.” While local municipalities have the authority, granted through ‘home rules,’ to enact ordinances to regulate the residents within the boundaries of their jurisdiction, there are currently only a handful of cities and villages in Illinois that have BSL in place. While this may change in the future, questions remain regarding the benefit of polices that completely restrict a particular breed, which many equate to the efficacy that gun-control and drug laws have had on thwarting the actions of persons that engage in unlawful drug or gun related activities.

Some argue that the more worthwhile focus is to focus on responsible pet ownership, as opposed to public policy changes based largely upon breed-related fatality data. Some remain adamant in their stance that outright breed-based bans or restrictions will aide in the prevention of injuries and fatalities. Others say that dog-specific behavioral-based ordinances (i.e. restricting dogs deemed as dangerous or vicious) are the best approach in preventing fatal attacks. Many have views that fall somewhere in between, as do ours.

From the personal injury perspective, banning certain breeds will prevent at least some attacks, however, this is wholly dependent on the dog owner’s compliance with the law. Further, banning certain breeds will not eliminate the presence of thousands of dogs, owned prior to enactment of ban laws. Therefore, if the legislative goal is the prevention of dog-bite related injuries and fatalities, the immediate impact of outright restrictions would be minimal at best. Perhaps more practical is a less-restrictive approach, such as legislation that imposes liability insurance; increased licensing fees; and/or enclosure, signage, restraint or muzzle requirements, whether breed-based or dog-specific, as opposed to outright bans on specific breeds.

In particular, an insurance based legislative approach seems to offer more benefits. Firstly, in terms of practicality (i.e. affordability), requiring liability insurance does not place an undue burden on pet owners, given that most renter’s and home owner’s policies offer the inclusion of pet liability coverage for a nominal fee. Further, imposing insurance requirements seems to be the more humane approach, as opposed to requiring otherwise non-aggressive dogs to be muzzled, restrained by a short or leash, or confined to the boundaries of their owner’s property. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, liability coverage offers a means of legal recourse, by providing dog bite attack victims a source from which to obtain compensation directly from an insured dog owner, and in some cases even from landlords that knowingly permit an uninsured dog/dog owner to remain on the property they control.

Although we do recognize that not every dog owner required to carry liability insurance will adhere to the law, BSL that is centered on insurance may be the most pragmatic solution, in comparison to alternatives that completely ban or excessively restrict certain breeds. In short, some dog owners will break the law and dog bite attacks will continue to occur—regardless of what restrictions or bans are in place. Consequently, while incident prevention is certainly important in terms of public safety, at the same time we must also consider the value of legislative efforts in providing victims with compensation sources as well.

Additional considerations include which breeds would banned, the data/research/manner that might be used to determine banned breeds, as well as classification methods for cross and mix breed dogs. In ‘Dogs with a Fatal Bite,’ we discussed a CDC study which summarized human dog-bite related fatalities in the U.S over a 20-year period. We find this report especially compelling, given its recognition of the complexities involved in enacting BSL, stating that:

“Although fatal attacks on humans appear to be a breed-specific problem (pit bull-type dogs and Rottweilers), other breeds may bite and cause fatalities at higher rates. Because of difficulties inherent in determining a dog’s breed with certainty, enforcement of breed-specific ordinances raises constitutional and practical issues. Fatal attacks represent a small proportion of dog bite injuries to humans and, therefore, should not be the primary factor driving public policy concerning dangerous dogs. Many practical alternatives to breed-specific ordinances exist and hold promise for prevention of dog bites.”

Provided with the foregoing, it would seem unfair to impose a ban on dogs based solely upon breed, which essentially places a restriction on where the owners of specific breeds can lawfully reside with their dog, and offers little in terms of both long-term and short-term benefits.

Consider the immediate impact that newly implemented breed-specific legislation would have on preventing injuries and fatalities, given the sheer quantity of Chicago residents that already own breeds most likely to be restricted (pit bulls and rottweilers)—at best, it provides means of compensation only to victims that were attacked by the type of breed required to carry insurance, and the dog’s owner adheres to the law and actually secures a liability policy.

Further, the long-term effect of breed bans may actually serve to limit compensatory sources that were previously available to dog bite attack victims, given that restricted breeds that are ‘grandfathered’ in will eventually die, thereby essentially limiting the availability for victim to obtain compensation through pet liability insurance to (1) owners of dogs that have been previously deemed to be aggressive, dangerous and/or vicious through formal proceedings, and who actually obtain the required insurance; and (2) dog owners that voluntarily choose to carry pet liability insurance.

As a final contention, and stated from the position as both attorneys and animal-lovers—the prevention of dog bite fatalities does not seem to reside within an outright ban. Despite Pit-bull, Rottweiler, German Shepard (and mixed breeds of each) accounting for a significant portion of dog bite injuries and fatalities—would a full-ban on such breeds really be fair to responsible dog owners, and to what extent would such policy implications provide legal recourse to victims in the long run?

If you were bitten or attacked by a dog or other animal, contact the Chicago Dog Bite Injury Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. at 773-516-4100, to discuss your legal rights and options, as well as entitlement to compensation.

The potential for an auto accident during the winter season is concerning no matter where you live. However, the Automobile Collision Attorneys, of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C., feel that the large quantity of streets, roads, and highways, as well as sheer volume of traffic in the Chicagoland area, present unique concerns over the risk for collision associated with winter weather conditions. By taking the proper safety precautions, we can all aide in the reduction and prevention of injuries and fatalities caused in weather-related motor vehicle crashes this winter.

 Recently addressed by our Chicago Injury team were the issues of a motorist’s traveling speed in weather-related crashes, as well as winter season tire safety, and the impact that each can have on the prevention of auto collisions. And while speed and tire-related issues are certainly necessary considerations when driving in any type of inclement weather, there are a number of additional factors, which motorists should be aware of when dealing with snow, ice, sleet, and/or slush.

First and foremost, drivers should check weather reports and roadway conditions prior to ever attempting to operate a motor vehicle in inclement winter weather. In Illinois, there are several online sources that provide motorists with up-to-date information regarding roadway conditions in specific areas. For example, ‘Getting Around Illinois,’ is an IDOT-affiliated source, which “is a web-based interactive mapping site that provides the ability to search and display several sources of transportation data. You can find information on winter road conditions, annual average daily traffic, road construction, trucking routes, and planned road projects.”

In addition to common-sense driving tips, such as accelerating and decelerating slowly, avoiding over-steering and/or quick maneuvering, as well as maintaining a safe distance between vehicle, drivers should also be aware of some often over-looked safety tips. For example, cruise-control should not be used when operating a vehicle on slippery surfaces. Further, consider the benefit of maintaining a staggered position between vehicles traveling in the same direction in nearby lanes—doing so can allow a motorist sufficient time to react in the event another driver loses control.

Knowing the braking system that your vehicle is equipped with is critical, because if you find your vehicle is skidding, the manner of braking will depend on whether you have anti-lock brakes (ABS) or non anti-lock brakes. If your vehicle has ABS, drivers should step on the brake pedal, stay on it, and steer around any obstacles. For non-ABS vehicles, drivers should pump the brakes, while keeping their heel on the floor; failure to keep your heel to the floor can cause the brakes to lock up. Most vehicles equipped with ABS will identify this equipment directly on the dashboard of the car, but if you’re unsure check your owner’s manual, or with the vehicle manufacturer.

Newly licensed teen drivers should avoid driving in inclement weather, unless absolutely necessary. Studies have identified several factors linked to winter-weather auto accidents involving novice drivers, such as (1) driver distraction; (2) risk-taking/overconfidence; (3) poor hazard detection/inability to identify potential hazard; (4) low risk perception/underestimation of degree of potential hazard/failure to react properly when presented with hazardous situation; and (5) overall lack of skill/inexperience. Parents are encouraged to educate their teen driver on the dangers of driving in adverse conditions, including the effect of reduced visibility and traction; proper steering and braking habits; use of lights; and assessing traveling speed given the weather conditions. Cyber Drive Illinois offers a Parent-Teen Driving Guide to assist parents in instructing and observing their teen driver.

The combination of fatigued or impaired driving and winter weather can have deadly consequences as well. Illinois crash data shows the increase in car accidents over the holiday season. While many of these collisions are attributed to a motorist becoming fatigued after failing to stop when traveling a significant distance, in some cases, long-distance travel can result in a motorist encountering increasingly inclement weather. Even more concerning is the increase in alcohol-impaired driving collisions that occur in adverse weather conditions, particularly over the holiday season. Alcohol and driving is never a good mix, but impaired driving and bad roadway conditions is an equation for disaster.

The attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. encourage all drivers to practice safe driving habits, take necessary precautions, and when in doubt simply stay off the roadway if possible, this winter season. Doing so can save your life.

 If you were injured in an automobile crash, or a loved one was killed in a fatal accident, contact the Chicago Automobile Collision Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. at 773-516-4100, and allow us to evaluate your case to determine your entitlement to compensation.