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In OctDog1-224x300ober 2015, a 45-pound dog named Chelsea bit a mailman. “Walking” in a normal dog’s paws, the Illinois Appellate Court determined that the mailman’s action could have provoked Chelsea to bite him, and therefore the mailman could not recover damages from Chelsea’s owners for the dog bite.

The mailman, Mr. Claffey, was delivering the mail in Glencoe, Illinois, when his job brought him to the Huntleys’ home. The Huntleys’ front door had a mail slot and two flaps, one on the outside and one on the inside of the door. A spring kept the inside flap shut. Trying to ensure that the inside flat will not damage the mail, Mr. Claffey stuck his right hand through the mail slot, lifted the inner flap, and used the left hand to insert the mail.

In addition to a mailbox with two flaps, the Huntleys had two dogs, one of which was Chelsea. Prior to sticking his hand through the mail slot, Mr. Claffey knew that the home had dogs, and heard dogs barking before he placed his hand in the mail slot. The mailman’s mailbox activity caught Chelsea’s attention, and the dog sprung into action, and bit the mailman’s right hand. Mr. Claffey managed to pull his hand away from Chelsea’s jaws, but the top of his hand was ripped and painful. Mr. Claffey sued the Huntleys for the dog bite for damages under the Illinois Animal Control Act.

The Illinois Animal Control imposes liability on animal owners if the injured person demonstrates that he or she (1) suffered injuries from the animal; (2) was at a place where he or she had the lawful right to be; (3) conducted himself or herself peaceably; (4) and the attack was without provocation.  The statute reads as follows:

If a dog or other animal, without provocation, attacks, attempts to attack, or injures any person who is peaceably conducting himself in any place where he or she may lawfully be, the owner of such dog or other animal is liable in civil damages to such person for the full amount of the injury proximately caused thereby.

510 ILCS 5/16. Continue reading

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The moment that felt forever in the future has finally arrived: some semblance of normality in Chicago. We are over the bridge1 and back on somewhat solid land, with the City entering phase five and doing away with municipally-dictated capacity limits.2 Individual restaurants and venues may now determine their own Covid-related rules, which will likely mean a general loosening of restrictions. This does not mean we are stepping into a time machine and returning to the innocent days of pre-March 2020, however. Many businesses will continue to enforce capacity limits, modified mask mandates, and altered hours in order to ensure the safety of their patrons. Nevertheless, the move to phase five demonstrates that vaccination and social distancing efforts have paid off, and Chicagoans will be able to enjoy a more open city as a result.

As we all know, less restrictions means more people out and about; fuller roads and bike paths; and likely less caution as Covid-paranoia fades into the background and people enjoy their newly reclaimed freedom. This is a ripe time for accidents, which means we must remain vigilant and use our own discretion this summer, just as individual businesses are using theirs in re-opening. Rest assured, we are not here to throw a lawyerly wet blanket on your fun; by all means, roam the neighborhoods, cruise the lakefront trail, sip at rooftop bars, enjoy a 70mm film at the Music Box. But be careful out there and should anything happen in these heady post-Covid days, the injury lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C., are here to help.

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Cyclist deaths are always tragic, but for fans of School of Rock the passing of Kevin Clark holds a special poignancy. Clark, who played drummer Freddy “Spazzy McGee” Jones in the 2003 film, was killed after being hit by a car at the intersection of Logan Boulevard and Western Avenue on May 26.1 The intersection is widely viewed as one of the most dangerous among the cycling community, a sentiment bolstered by the fact that it was the scene of another cyclist death in 2008 when a 22-year-old was also struck by a car.2 Clark’s passing has renewed calls to install protected bike lanes at the intersection and to grant more consideration to Chicago’s cyclists more broadly.

The city is not necessarily hostile to bike-riders, despite accidents like the above. Indeed, according to a recent study by LawnStarter, Chicago comes in at number 30 out of 200 for best biking cities in the U.S.3 Notable amounts of bike lanes, rental options like Divvy, and miles of lake front trail all help make it an attractive place for cyclists. Nonetheless, what accidents do show is just how fragile cyclists’ lives are and how important it is to continue making the streets safer for all occupants. One bad intersection, one large pothole, or one apoplectic road-rager is all it takes to put someone in harm’s way‑-something that should be kept in mind by drivers and planners alike.

In a general sense, what Clark’s death demonstrates is that accidents can strike at any time. Murphy’s Law is always looming on the sidelines, waiting to make its presence felt. We at Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C., are acutely aware of this, and we are always ready to help when things go wrong. Give us a call if you are ever in need of a personal injury attorney, and if you would like to pay homage to Mr. Clark, give School of Rock a rewatch or imagine Spazzy McGee banging on a celestial drumkit somewhere out there in the cosmos.

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The Navy Pier Flyover in Chicago is finally open after 7 years and a cost of $64 million dollars.  The flyover is 1,750 foot long  and 16 foot wide.  It starts from Ohio Street Beach and continues to the south side of the Chicago River.  Peter Zneimer, of the injury lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. notes after riding his bike on the flyover that even with the addition width and space the flyover is still very congested with pedestrians, cycle rickshaws, skaters, baby carriages of people who are from Chicago and tourists visiting from out of town.  Given the nature of the area one would think that bicyclists would proceed slowly and with caution in this area.  While most bicyclists recognize the high potential for crashes and injury and proceed with due care and caution, there are a fair number of bicyclist who blast through the area at full speed, weaving in and out around pedestrians and and other bicyclists.  This type of behavior is a recipe for disaster. Serious injury to pedestrians and bicyclist are certain to be the result of such reckless behavior.  The city of Chicago could do more to be pro-active in getting bicyclists to slow down such as posting more signs to slow down and having traffic monitors to tell dare devil bikers to be more responsible.

 

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Driver inattentiveness is one of the main reasons for car crashes in Chicago and elsewhere.  Distracted driving leads to personal injuries to drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists.  When people mention distracted driving, most people envision a driver texting on the phone.  However, texting while driving is not the only risky behavior causing injuries.  Distraction occurs with any activity that causes a driver to stop paying attention to the driving.  Drivers take their eyes away from the road and away from driving for actions like eating, looking for songs, adjusting radio stations, or climate controls.  According to the CDC ,  there are three types of distractions: Visual – taking your eyes off the road; Manual – taking your hands off the wheel, and Cognitive– taking your mind off driving.  Sometimes all it takes is a second away from the road to cause a car crash.  The younger the driver, the more prone to distractions while driving.  Continue reading

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The long-awaited Navy Pier Flyover project is still in the offing, but a portion of one of the most hazardous areas of the Lakefront trail has gotten a face-lift. In February, the Chicago Department of Transportation announced that the path on the East side of the lower Lake Shore Drive bridge will now be expanded. This new path will accommodate northbound cyclists and pedestrians, and portions of it will run through the bridge houses.

Prior to this expansion, the trail narrowed to a small, poorly marked lane under the bridge. All trail-users precariously shared this space, with cars whizzing closely by, but the additions will allow people to pass over the river more safely on their rides or runs. Indeed, the whole Flyover project is intended to avoid such problem areas and should make for a much more enjoyable, trail experience when it is finished.

Improvements like this reduce the risk of collision and injury, but no matter how wide the lane, or well-designed the path, it always remains a possibility. Make sure to exercise caution when walking, running, or cycling, especially now that warmer weather is finally upon us and more people are out shaking off their quarantine cobwebs.    The injury lawyers of  Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C.  encourage bicyclists to be extra careful as go out for a ride. Enjoy the new-and-improved bridge path, but still wear your helmet and stay aware of your surroundings.

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Bicyclists in Chicago face a lot of perils as they navigate the city streets.  Despite Chicago’s claim that it supports biking, the city does not do enough to protect bicyclists from danger.  Even on painted bicycle paths, bicyclists face many threats.  Squeezing in between parked and moving cars, cars turning right and left, car doors opening in bicyclists’ faces, meandering around various-sized potholes –  are all risks facing bicyclists in Chicago.  The Chicago personal injury law office of Zneimer & Zneimer helps many injured bicyclists each year.

Chicago boasts a Lakefront Trail, a shared path with pedestrians, roller skaters, and bicyclists along the lake. Biking there is not free from hazards.  Bicyclists face the dangers of colliding with other bikers, roller skaters, or pedestrians or falling because of cracks and potholes.

Injuries on the Lakefront Trail happen.  If a person suffers injuries there, the question is who pays for the medical bills, lost time from work, and any permanent damage that the injured biker may suffer.  Unlike a car-vs-bicycle collision where a car must have liability insurance, people using the shared path do not have to have insurance.   When a bicyclist gets injured because the path has a crack or a pothole, injured bicyclists can sue the Chicago Park District that maintains the path.  However, plaintiffs have a heavy standard to meet and show that the Chicago Park District was willful and wanton in its failure to maintain the path.

In a case involving the Lakefront Trail, a bicyclist got caught in a crack in the pavement and he fell.  The plaintiff sued the Chicago Park District, alleging that it had acted willfully and wantonly in failing to maintain the path in filling the crack right away. Therefore, the plaintiff alleged, the Chicago Park District was responsible for his injuries resulting from his fall. Continue reading

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Chicago is now issuing motorists tickets for getting caught on a speed camera for going 6 miles per hour over the speed limit.  The tickets are issued through the mail along with a photo of the speeder’s vehicle.  The City of Chicago asserts that the change was necessary to encourage drivers to slow down, noting that traffic fatalities rose 45 percent in 2020.   A total of 139 people died in traffic crashes in Chicago in 2020.

Alderman Anthony Beale and other critics are skeptical that safety was the major motivation in the change and suspect that the additional ticketing was implemented to raise revenue.  The City currently has 88 active speed cameras located around schools and parks to churn out tickets to a motorist going over 6 MPH over the speed limit.  One anomaly of the system is that 50 speed locations have cameras that are only facing one direction.  As a result, at these locations only vehicles with front license plates will get a ticket.  It was noted that Chicago’s top 15 speed cameras locations, 83,000 speeding vehicles were not ticketed because they did not have front plates.

The personal injury lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. take note of the rise of traffic fatalities in the city of Chicago in 2020 and encourage the City to take action and implement improvements that will slow traffic down and will make the streets and crossings safer for pedestrians and bicyclists.  Such changes could include dedicated bike lanes, pedestrian islands, and “bump-outs” that extend the sidewalk into the intersection. Additionally, restricting right turn on red would also help prevent pedestrian injuries.

 

 

 

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The weather brought us a lot of snow in Chicago, first sparkly and puffy, and now soggy and icy.  Walking in snow is a risky business, as every step carries the peril of slip and fall.  The ruts and the mounds of shoveled snow amplify the hazard.  The accidental step in a rut or step on a transparent ice formation from melted snow mound nearby can lead to very serious injuries.  Every winter brings along with the cold and snow, many injuries as a result of snow related hazards to both pedestrians and car drivers.  Paying attention, driving carefully, and minimizing winter driving can decrease the chance of a snow-related car crash.

For pedestrians: wearing proper shoes, walking carefully, and watching out for ice, can decrease the risk of slip and fall.   As personal injury attorneys we field a lot of calls from injured people as a result of ice and snow, and can help in some cases.   The law is not kind to people who slip and fall.

Under the common law, a property owner has no general duty to clear natural accumulations of ice or snow because it is unrealistic to keep all pathways clear from snow during winter.  An injured person in a slip and fall case must prove that the ice or snow is (i) an unnatural accumulation, and that (ii) the property owner knew or should have known of the condition.  In addition, the injured victim must establish that the specific unnatural condition caused the slip and fall. Continue reading

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Helsinki, Finland has made strides in pedestrian safety with zero pedestrian fatalities in 2019. Despite designing crosswalks with the safety of pedestrians in mind, 500 people in America are killed each year using them according to a Smart Cities World article. Though America is larger than Helsinki and more populated, 500 is disturbingly high for a country that has pledged to decrease that number. Perhaps, the commitment and the fervor for pedestrian safety needs to be restored?

Locally, the city of Chicago has rallied for crosswalk safety for the pedestrians who are the most vulnerable when road safety is not prioritized or overlooked. Areas considered high crash corridors such as Milwaukee Avenue in Logan Square would benefit in the formation of more protected bike lanes, bus boarding islands, a reduction of parking spots. Personal injury attorneys at Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C., believe the installation of more crosswalks in these areas would help save lives and prevent lessen accidents. Milwaukee from Western to Sacramento saw 446 crashes from 2014 to 2018. Zneimer& Zneimer PC see the need for an empathetic street design that will prioritize car-free modes, hence the implementation of adequate infrastructures like protected bike lanes and crosswalks. Dongho Chang of Curbed argues that, “More people feeling comfortable crossing will encourage more use and meet the federal guidelines for additional treatments like crosswalks and stop control.

Intelligent transportation infrastructure technology provider, Applied Information, is introducing a configurable Pedestrian Crossing Safety System (PCSS) to improve safety at midblock crossings, which if utilized might just help reduce the fatalities and crashes drastically in half or more for the entire nation. This technology, coupled with public awareness and the addition of more improvements such as bump outs and crosswalks make the streets and public spaces in general, more inviting and safer for pedestrians, cyclist and drivers, as well. Even as the pandemic rages, and people are suffering, it is essential not to lose sight of efforts to make our streets safer and aim for zero fatalities as  our European counterparts in Finland.

 

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