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Are Property Owners Liable for Fall Injuries Caused by Leaves?Many people love autumn in part because of the changing colors of the falling leaves. Leaves are usually not an obstacle for walkers but can sometimes be responsible for slip, trip, and fall injuries. Wet leaves can be slick, and a layer of dry leaves may hide obstacles or wet surfaces. When it comes to personal injury compensation, fall injuries are usually a premises liability issue. Whether you receive compensation from a property owner or their insurer depends on whether the property owner had a duty to protect you in the situation leading to your injury.

Clearing Leaves

There is an Illinois Snow and Ice Removal Act that covers premises liability when someone is injured due to winter accumulations on a property. There is not an equivalent act for leaves. If the same principles apply to leaves as snow, then property owners are not required to clear leaves from walkways on their property. If they do clear the leaves, they are responsible for doing so in a way that does not create a hazard for pedestrians.

If a court applies the Illinois Premises Liability Act, property owners may have a greater obligation to clear leaves from their property. The act states that property owners must make a reasonable effort to protect people from or warn people about hazards on their property. If the property owner had a reasonable amount of time to clear the leaves from public walkways near their property, they may be liable if those leaves became wet and created a slipping hazard due to their negligence. Liability would be more certain if a property owner left an object, such as a rake, hidden under a pile of leaves on the sidewalk.

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How an Uninsured Motorist Affects Your Personal Injury CaseA personal injury case involving a vehicle accident will start with filing an insurance claim before you decide whether to pursue a personal injury lawsuit. While you have two years in Illinois to file a personal injury lawsuit, the insurance claim process will start almost immediately. If the other driver was at fault for your injuries, their insurance will likely be responsible for compensating you. However, what happens if the driver at fault does not have auto insurance? In Illinois, your uninsured motorist coverage will pay you instead.

How Does It Work?

Illinois requires auto insurance providers to include uninsured motorist coverage in all insurance plans, whereas other states may only require that insurers offer it. Your insurance will compensate you if you are injured in an accident with an uninsured driver, including if:

  • You were driving another vehicle;
  • You were a passenger in the uninsured driver’s vehicle; or
  • You were a cyclist or pedestrian.

Your insurance policy will also compensate you if the liable driver is underinsured. In that instance, your insurer would pay the difference between what the other insurance company pays you and your medical expenses, up to the limit of your policy. However, your insurance might not cover property damage caused by an uninsured party, depending on the type of policy you have.

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When Are Schools Liable for Children’s Injuries?Parents send their children to school with the expectation that they will be safe, but accidents occur that may result in a child being injured. When the injury requires extensive medical treatment, you should investigate whether you have a strong case for filing a personal injury lawsuit against the school. School districts in Illinois are required to carry insurance in case they are found liable for a student’s injury. In many situations, Illinois law protects school districts against parents filing personal injury lawsuits unless they can prove willful or wanton conduct by the district or its employees.

Plaintiff’s Burden

Illinois’ Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act creates a high burden of proof when plaintiffs file personal injury lawsuits against public entities, such as public school districts. Student injuries are most likely to occur during recess periods, physical education classes and extracurricular athletics. The law states that a school district is not liable for injuries that occur on properties that are meant for recreational activities unless the injury was caused by willful or wanton conduct, which is:

  • Intent to cause harm; or
  • Conscious disregard for safety.

Willful or wanton conduct is a stricter burden of proof than negligence because it requires proving the defendant’s intent. It is unlikely that a school or its employees would intend to injure a student. Showing that the school was ambivalent towards its students’ safety is more likely but still difficult.

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Compensation for Third Parties Injured During Police ChasesWhen a police officer pursues a driver who is attempting to flee, they do so knowing that the chase could put other drivers and pedestrians at risk of injury or death. If you are injured during a police chase, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against both parties. The party being chased is clearly liable if they directly caused your injury by colliding with you. They may still be liable if the police vehicle collided with you because they were the proximate cause of the chase. It is more difficult to prove that a police officer is liable for your injury. State law grants tort immunity to police officers for most actions in the line of duty. If you file a personal injury lawsuit against a police department, it will likely ask the court for summary judgment to dismiss the lawsuit. However, you should contest a summary judgment if the police officer’s actions were reckless.

Police Policy

Police departments have policies about when officers should initiate and terminate a high-speed chase. For instance, the city of Chicago’s policy states that officers need to balance the necessity of catching a fleeing party against the danger it could create for bystanders. Officers must consider factors such as whether:

  • They are in an area with a high volume of vehicles or pedestrians;
  • The chase requires driving at a speed that is unsafe for the area;
  • The weather or road conditions will make the pursuit more dangerous;
  • The suspect has already caused property damage; or
  • The suspect has been identified, allowing the officer to apprehend them later.

Chicago’s policy prohibits officers from chasing a subject who is suspected of a non-hazardous traffic offense. Violating these policies does not make a police department automatically liable for personal injuries, but it is evidence in determining whether the officer was willfully or wantonly reckless.

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Posted on in Personal Injury

How to Avoid Dog Bite InjuriesApproximately 4.5 million people in the U.S. are bitten by dogs each year. In 2018, insurers paid $675 million in homeowner liability claims for dog bites. Illinois had the fourth-most dog bite claims of any state in 2018. There were 822 claims that received a total of $29.2 million, which is an average of $35,553 per claim. All of these statistics show that dog bite injuries are common and often result in the owner being liable for medical expenses. Illinois law states that dog owners are liable for any injuries that their dog causes, as long as the victim was not trespassing and did not provoke the dog. You want to avoid a dog bite if possible for the sake of yourself and the owner. There are several practices that reduce the chances of a dog attack:

  1. Talk to the Owner First: Before you approach an unfamiliar dog, you should ask the owner for permission. You do not know how aggressive the dog is and how it reacts to strangers. It is best to leave some dogs alone for your own safety.
  2. Proceed Slowly: After receiving permission to approach the dog, do not immediately start with petting or playing. Calmly walk up to it and offer your hand for it to sniff. If the dog accepts the gesture and seems happy or calm, you can proceed by gently petting it. Do not force the dog to greet you if it seems disinterested or scared.
  3. No Surprises: Do not interrupt a dog when it is eating, sleeping or otherwise occupied. Do not approach the dog from behind to pet it. Startling a dog could cause it to react defensively, such as biting.
  4. Play Nice: You may be used to playing aggressively with your dog. Do not assume that someone else’s dog is familiar with that kind of play. What seems playful to you may be aggravating to the dog.
  5. Watch Your Children: You need to remind your children of all of these rules before they meet an unfamiliar dog. They may not realize that someone else’s dog can behave differently than their own dog. Children are more likely than adults to be seriously injured by a dog because they are less capable of defending themselves.

Contact a McHenry County Personal Injury Lawyer

A dog bite can cause a serious wound and possibly carry a disease. It is common to experience trauma from the incident. Though you may not blame the owner, you may need compensation if your injury requires expensive medical treatment. A Crystal Lake, Illinois, personal injury attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can help you determine how much compensation you need for your dog bite injury. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838.

Source:

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Illinois State Bar Association State Bar of Wisconsin Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce Illinois Trial Lawyers Association McHenry County Bar Association
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