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Dog bites are unexpected, devastating, and sometimes deadly. As increasing numbers of Americans welcome canines into their homes, it is crucial to be educated about breeds and aware of the risks that may come with ownership. Pit bulls in particular have a longstanding reputation as an aggressive breed, dominating headlines about dog bite injuries that happen across the U.S.

The latest statistical information compiled by DogsBite.org reveal the grim reality behind the most fatal attacks. Between 2005 and 2018, pit bulls killed 311 people. In 2018 alone, pit bulls accounted for 72% of deaths caused by dogs in the United States. Put another way, pit bulls were the cause of 26 out of 36 total dog bite deaths.  Both adults and children are at risk for injury, with 42% of victims being children and 58% adults. Of the 26 attacks, 22 happened on the dog owner’s property. This illustrates the risks of not only owning pit bulls, but even visiting those who own them.   The lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. note that the vast majority of their dog bite cases involve pit bulls.

The costs of a dog bite does not end with medical treatment, either. Complications like infection can arise from the injuries. Facial and reconstructive surgery, not to mention therapy, can quickly add up as additional expenses. The American Society for Plastic Surgeons reported over 28,000 reconstructive procedures done for dog bites in 2015. The Animal Control Act in Illinois places full liability on the owner of the dog; However, reaching a settlement can take months or years, depending on the severity of the injuries.

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While biking along Chicago’s lake front bicycle path near Diversey Harbor, personal injury attorney, Peter Zneimer of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. observed much confusion regarding which lanes were to be used by bikers and which lanes were to used by pedestrians.  Some bikers were riding on the pedestrian path while some joggers and walkers were in the bike lanes.  A number of near miss collisions ensued even during the short observation period.  There were no markings on the pavement that would give some instruction to bikers, joggers and walkers as to which lane they were supposed to be in.

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However, farther north near Montrose Harbor, the confusion was alleviated by clear pavement markings that designate that bikers use the two lanes to the west while pedestrians use the two lanes to the east, closer to the lake.  Lawyer, Peter Zneimer strongly urges that these simple and seemingly inexpensive lane markers be painted on the lanes south of Montrose Harbor, near Belmont Harbor and Diversey Harbor and farther south to avoid serious collisions which most certainly will occur without these lane markers.  It is hard to understand why the lanes are not marked with painted designations given the amount of traffic on the path and how cheap it would be to paint them.

 

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The Chicago attorneys at Zneimer & Zneimer handle numerous dog bite cases, and have seen many cases where the bite was  not solely the dog’s fault.   Dogs are living beings who can feel startled, stressed, or in a threatening situation and can try to defend themselves by barking or biting.  Dogs have loved ones and may try to protect their puppies.  Illinois law recognizes that dogs are feeling, living creatures, and puts the burden on the dog bite victim to show that he or she was conducting himself or herself peacefully and did not provoke the dog.  The Illinois Animal Control Act provides that the dog owner is “liable in civil damages” to the victim if the dog “without provocation, attacks, attempts to attack, or injures any person who is peaceably conducting himself or herself in any place where he or she may lawfully be…”  (510 ILCS 5/16).

The Animal Control Act does define what is “provocation”.  Because the statute does not define the term, the courts give the term its ordinary and popularly understood meaning within the purpose and objective of the statute. The purpose and objectives of the Animal Control Act are to “encourage tight control of animals in order to protect the public from harm. . ..” Wilcoxen v. Paige, 174 Ill. App. 3d 541, 543 (3d Dist. 1988).  Because the law applies to all dogs, it measures the provocation from the perspective of a fictional normal dog, and not from the vantage point of any one specific dog. Provocation is a question of whether the victim’s conduct would upset a normal dog to react the way the specific dog reacted.  Such fictional dog is average and “neither unusually aggressive nor unusually docile.” Kirkham v. Will, 311 Ill. App. 3d 787, 794 (5th Dist. 2000). A normal dog may react to violent conduct, and in reacting a normal dog would act proportionally. Continue reading

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The Governors Highway Safety Association has recently reported that pedestrians killed in the United States have hit the highest level in 28 years.  Data compiled from the states show that there were 6,227 pedestrian deaths in the United States in 2018 which represents a rise of 4% over 2017 and a rise of 35% since 2008.  The Association pointed to the fact there are more distracted drivers on the road and more people walking to work as possible culprits.  Another likely reason that there are more pedestrian deaths is the fact that there are more SUV’s on the road and studies have shown that SUV/pedestrian crashes are more likely to result in the pedestrian being killed than a smaller size automobile hitting a pedestrian.

The personal injury lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. note that pedestrian deaths in Chicago have also been steadily rising over the last five years.  Chicago Department of Transportation reported 46 pedestrian fatalities in 2017 compared to 27 fatalities in 2013.   Attorney, Peter Zneimer believes that pedestrian safety is an issue that deserves more attention that it is currently receiving in the city of Chicago.  Police need to enforce the traffic laws that are designed help keep pedestrians safer such as traffic laws requiring drivers to stop when pedestrians are in a cross walk and traffic laws prohibiting drivers from texting while driving.

 

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The Chicago firm of Zneimer & Zneimer PC is prosecuting cases involving exposure to ethylene oxide, the poisonous gas released by Willowbrook-based company Sterigenics.  The Illinois EPA recently sealed Sterigenics-operated facilities because it detected high level of ethylene oxide, a carcinogen that is connected with breast cancer, leukemia, lymphoma and a score of other cancers, that the facilities be sealed.

The two buildings operated by Sterigenics are located at 7775 South Quincy Street and the other at 830 Midway Street.  Sterigenics conducted sterilization operations, using ethylene oxide, which Sterigenics released into the atmosphere.  Since 1990 the US EPA has listed ethylene oxide as a hazardous air pollutant as defined in Section 112(b)(l) of the Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. 7412(b)(1), and considers ethylene oxide as carcinogenic to humans, causing increased incidence o f mortality of breast and lymphohematopoietic system cancers observed in workers who were exposed ethylene oxide.

According to the CDC, exposer to 2.1 micrograms of ethylene oxide can cause cancer in six out of every one thousand people exposed to the chemical.  The detected concentration in Willobrook was 14.2 micrograms, which is toxic concentration.  The Illinois EPA ordered the Willowbrook facility to shut down due to the unacceptably high toxic concentrations.  According to the government agencies, EPA and CDC, there is enough evidence to establish a causal relationship between ethylene oxide exposure and breast cancer in women.  Ethylene oxide causes cancer by damaging DNA in cell, and the damaged DNA then duplicates when the cells divide.  Exposure to the chemical increases the cancer risk because DNA damage may take place with each exposure which is then passed as cells divide, increasing the number of damaged mutating cells.  Continue reading

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Chicagoans who take the eco-friendly approach to transportation by bicycling face daily dangers on busy downtown roads. Cyclists must be especially wary of drivers who suddenly open their doors after parking, without properly checking the oncoming traffic. Beginning January 2019, Illinois has taken a major step into preventing such door crashes by implementing the Dutch Reach into law. It is the 2nd state in the U.S. to implement the method, in hopes of raising awareness of cyclists on shared roads, and reducing door crashes.

The Dutch Reach, so called because of the practice’s origins in the Netherlands, is the method for drivers and passengers to open their car doors using their far hand. By moving your arm across your body, it forces you to twist and face the road behind you, making you vigilant to oncoming traffic.

The passed legislation adds the Dutch Reach to the Rules of the Road handbook that is issued to students and drivers in Illinois. RideIllinois, a nonprofit organization that advocates for cyclists in Illinois, has worked with the Secretary of State to include questions about the Dutch Reach in the driver’s license test. New drivers, along with those renewing their licenses and other adults getting their licenses for the first time, will have to study up on the method in order to pass both the written test and driving test.

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The last four years have seen a marked decline in mass transit nationwide. This is not surprising but nonetheless alarming. With the increasing popularity of ride-share services, lack of investments and a rise in car ownership, it is no wonder that rapidly growing areas such as Austin, for instance, suffered a double-digit decline in ridership this year at 19.5 percent.  The real shame about this data published by the Federal Transit Administration is that as more people commute with automobiles, the more they put themselves at risk for auto-crash related fatalities. Entire communities may well see a spike of auto accidents due to less public transit patronage.

The Victoria Transport Policy Institute conducted a study called The Hidden Traffic Safety Solution: Public Transportation stressing the significant connection between public transit ridership to traffic fatalities. The study shows that a person can reduce his or her chance of being in an accident by more than 90 percent simply by taking public transit and transit oriented communities are safer than automobile oriented communities. It also outlines the many incentives of taking the train or the bus as opposed to driving and how pro-transit policies can pave the way for pedestrian and cycling improvements, more efficient parking management, smarter street designs and more services to different routes. Why then does the CTA see a steady decline of ridership, especially, in their fleet of buses? Uber, Lyft and Via have taken a large chunk of the market while cheap gasoline prices have made car ownership attractive. Late night weekends in the entertainment districts of Chicago are when these apps tend to dominate over the CTA. It has lost 20% of riders in this period over the last two years according to a Chicago Business Article.

Much of the focus on road safety during the last decade or so has been devoted to automobiles and enhanced features within the car itself such as mounted cameras, emergency brakes etc., instead of investment in public transit. But owning a Ventra pass is truly one of the most effective life-saving tool there is and personal injury attorney, Peter Zneimer, agrees that public transportation investment is among the most cost effective ways to enhance traffic safety for a community.  The lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer encourage everyone to use public transportation where available.

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The city of Chicago has been touted as one of the most bike-friendly cities in the United States. Actual cyclists do not always share the same view. There is still tension and resentment between motorists and cyclists which does not directly result in a crash but is definitely a contributing factor in how biking as a socio-economic activity is being perceived in the city and the nation as a whole.  On stretches of busy streets such as Milwaukee Avenue, you will find cyclists and motorists warily sharing the road with each other as best they can.

Chicago Tribune reported during this summer, that cyclists’ deaths have increased by 34.8 percent—a disconcerting number considering the efforts the city and Vision Zero have put in to make biking safer for many who choose to do so.  Many bikeway paths downtown are sacrificed in the name of congestion and heavy construction, making them smaller than ever and more dangerous for bikers to traverse. August of this year, a 39 year old woman on her bike was pronounced dead after being struck by a truck in the West Loop on Halsted and Madison. In light of this recent tragedy, personal injury attorney, Peter Zneimer, notes that the city of Chicago still has a long way to go in protecting its vulnerable roadway user.

The personal injury lawyers of  Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. have represented numerous cyclists who have experienced the perils of biking first hand and have incurred harrowing injuries as a result. Nevertheless, avid cyclists and many cycling organizations in the country are relentless in their pursuit of safer bikeway conditions. For one, a Harvard study is delving into a smarter and more sophisticated design to safely separate cyclists, pedestrians and vehicles from each other. Cities around the world have started building barrier-protected bicycle-exclusive cycle tracks between the sidewalk and the street and if successfully implemented, this will increase levels of biking while improving safety.

Working as a truck driver is difficult and dangerous job.  The Bureau of Labor Statistic’s National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries reveals that between 2015 and 2016 all fatal work injuries in the United States jumped by 7%.  Reviewing the Census, the Chicago truck accident attorneys at Zneimer & Zneimer noted that driving a truck is a dangerous jobs, with increasing numbers of fatal injuries.  In 2016, for example, in transportation and material moving occupations fatalities increased by 7 percent from the year before.  The 2016 count is highest since 2007 and accounts for more than one-quarter of all work-related fatalities in the United States.  There were 24.7 fatal injuries per 100,000 workers in 2016.  The industry employs approximately 3 million drivers, the most jobs in this very dangerous field.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s research a number of factors contribute  to  fatal  highway  crashes  of truckdrivers, including:  the type of truck, whether it was maintained, the time of day, and the weather conditions.  According to the DOL, two-thirds of truck driver fatalities involved a driver behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer truck.  Incidents involved brake failure, road, and weather conditions.

Important factor contributing to truck driver fatalities is driver fatigue.  Data shows that approximately one-third of the fatalities occurred between 12 a.m. and 8 a.m. when the body naturally wants to rest, and almost half occurred during standard work hours, between 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.  On average approximately 200 truckdrivers were fatally struck by vehicles while out of their trucks; half of these occurred during hours of twilight or darkness, 4 p.m. to  8  a.m., but  almost  half  were  fatally  struck  during  the day.

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The number of bicyclists Chicago has increased and will continue to grow over the next few years as more people view biking as a healthier, earth-friendly alternative as opposed to driving to work and dealing with surging fuel prices and parking fees. Cycling, however, comes with its own set of hazards. Every cyclists out on the street are more vulnerable than motorists and while many factors pose as dangerous conditions for cyclists such as  bad street designs or reckless drivers, bike-related crashes come down to one important but slightly overlooked issue – visibility.  With the increase of bicyclists, attorney Peter Zneimer of Zneimer and Zneimer P.C. has noticed more bicycle crash cases involving serious injuries.

Many drivers gripe about not seeing cyclists from a distance resulting in crashes. For many behind the wheel, the bikers seem to appear out of nowhere. While Chicago personal injury lawyer, Peter Zneimer, of Zneimer and Zneimer P.C. believes drivers should pay close attention while driving, bikers can do their part in preventing accidents by simply wearing the right clothing so as to be more conspicuous on the road. Dr. Tyrell of Clemson University conducted an experiment demonstrating the effects of different styles of clothing on a cyclist. For instance, a cyclist wearing fluorescent leggings was discernible from three times farther away than average compared to the cyclist garbed in solid black leggings. Another potent and inexpensive tool to maximize visibility are flashing taillights. The same study found that from a distance of 200 meters, flashing taillights are more effective at catching observers’ eyes than an always-on taillight.

Bike-share bikes usually have the proper equipment installed such as Laserlight which is more visible to drivers during daytime. This is especially powerful because even when there is significant reduction of visibility during nighttime, 60% of crashes occur during daytime. It is projected that the likelihood of bike-related accidents are bound to decrease with the rise of ridership but safety is something that cyclists can claim for themselves, starting with the right gear.  Appropriate gear can mean the difference between life and death or life and life-altering injuries.