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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.

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New Law Ends Statute of Limitations on Sexual AssaultIllinois has amended its criminal code in order to remove the statute of limitations on prosecutors filing sexual assault charges. The law previously required that prosecutors commence sexual assault charges within 10 years of the alleged offense. Now, the law simply states that sexual assault charges may be commenced at any time. Advocates for the new law argue that sexual assault victims may have personal reasons why they wait years to tell authorities about their assault. Illinois made a similar law change in 2017 for sexual assault cases involving minors. Those accused of committing sexual assault should understand that this new law does not change the prosecution’s burden to prove the crime.

Definition and Defenses

Illinois defines criminal sexual assault as any non-consensual sexual contact or penetration with a victim. If the party does not actively rebuke the sexual contact, they may still be unable to consent if they are incapacitated, inebriated, underage, mentally disabled, or facing the threat of violence. A first-time conviction for sexual assault is a class 1 felony, punishable by four to 15 years in prison. Defendants can use several arguments to contest the charge:

  • The sexual assault did not occur or the defendant was not involved;
  • The alleged victim’s testimony is inaccurate or unreliable;
  • The sexual contact was consensual; or
  • The defendant has or had a mental condition that makes them not responsible for their actions.

DNA evidence of sexual intercourse can strengthen the prosecution’s case but may not be the deciding factor. The believability of each side’s story and testimony from witnesses will help a court determine whether it is likely that a sexual assault occurred.

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Divorce Can Hinder Retirement ReadinessPeople who have divorced are more likely to be financially unprepared for their retirements, according to a 2018 study by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. The study uses the National Retirement Risk Index, which estimated what percentage of households will be unable to maintain their pre-retirement standard of living. According to the study, households with an adult who has divorced are seven percentage points more likely to be at risk than households that have not experienced divorce. To put the number in context, the Great Recession increased the overall NRRI by nine percentage points. Understanding how divorce affects retirement may help divorcees adjust their retirement plans.

Reasons for Risk

Divorce is often associated with short-term costs, such as legal fees and assets lost in the division of property. However, there are several ways that divorce can hinder your ability to save towards retirement:

  • You must include your retirement plan in the division of property, whether you divide it or give your spouse other assets;
  • You will need more of your income for your daily living expenses, which takes away from the money you save for retirement;
  • Paying child support or spousal maintenance also takes away from your savings;
  • If you earned a majority of your household’s income, you may be in the same tax bracket but without the savings of filing your income taxes as married;
  • Becoming single may limit your credit; and
  • You may not receive full value from selling a property such as your home, depending on market conditions.

These costs of divorce can be a setback in your retirement savings plan. The younger you are when you divorce, the more time you will have to adjust your retirement plan.

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The Opioid Risk for Workers’ Compensation PatientsManaging pain is one of the immediate concerns after a workplace injury. The patient may have intense pain after suffering a traumatic injury or chronic pain from an injury that developed over several years. Physicians sometimes prescribe opioid painkillers as a means of immediate pain relief. However, the public is learning more about the dangers of opioid addiction. Workers’ compensation insurers are taking action against the pharmaceutical companies and physicians who have pushed opioid use, in part because opioid addiction can increase the cost of workers’ compensation. For instance, an Illinois workers’ compensation insurance organization has filed a lawsuit against the makers and distributors of opioids, alleging that they are responsible for an increase in opioid addictions amongst claimants. Injured workers must be careful when using opioids during their injury recovery and should consider alternative methods of pain relief.

Dangers of Opioids

Opioid painkillers are safest when used for a short period. Patients who take opioids for a prolonged period can develop a dependence or addiction to the drug. How quickly the dependence develops depends on the patient and whether they take more than is recommended. Studies suggest that some patients can become dependent in a matter of days. People with opioid addictions may crave increased doses of the drug as their bodies become resistant to it. This increases the risk of overdose and death.

Effect on Workers’ Compensation

According to the National Safety Council, workers who received opioids for more than a week or had more than one opioid prescription are more likely to be on disability a year later. Workers who become dependent on opioids also:

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How Businesses Can Be Liable for Personal InjuriesFiling a personal injury lawsuit against a large business can be more challenging than when an individual is a defendant. Corporations are often familiar with being the subject of lawsuits and have attorneys who are prepared to respond to litigation. The corporation has the resources to afford a protracted legal battle if it believes it is in the right or that its reputation is at risk. On the other hand, a corporation may be more willing than an individual to offer you a settlement if it believes a court battle is not worth the expense. A personal injury attorney can review your case to determine the benefits and risks of filing a lawsuit against a corporation.

Premises Liability

Businesses can be liable for the safety of guests on their properties. Stores are the most common example of these properties, though the public could also visit an office location. To prove a premises liability case, you must show that:

  • A condition on the business premises caused your injury;
  • The business failed to identify the dangerous condition in a timely manner or did not properly warn you of the danger; and
  • You could not have reasonably foreseen or avoided the injury.

It is more difficult to prove that a business is liable for a dangerous condition that suddenly developed than a condition that is the result of a lack of maintenance. For instance, you could slip and fall after someone spilled a drink on a tile floor. Depending on how recently the spill occurred, employees may not have had a chance to clean it up and put out a “wet floor” sign. If an automatic door malfunctions and crushes your arm, the business would be liable if it was aware of the danger and had done nothing to fix it or warn you.

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