Slip And Fall Injury Lawyer Mount Prospect

If you’ve found this page, you may be looking for a Mount Prospect slip and fall lawyer. Our office is in

slip and fall

Northbrook, Illinois, but we handle slip and fall cases throughout the state of Illinois. Call us today for a free consultation at 312-848-9783.

According to the National Floor Safety Institute, slip and fall accidents account for over one million emergency room visits a year and they are the leading cause of all “on the job” injuries or workers’ compensation claims.

If you’re injured and need to speak with a slip and fall accident lawyer in Mount Prospect, contact our office at 312-848-9783. If you are injured in a slip and fall accident, you may want to bring a claim against the property owner for compensation for your damages. However, all accidents are not equal. Just because you fell does not mean you automatically have a claim – in fact, in many and maybe even most cases, you may not have a claim

The General Rule

So, what are the elements of a slip and fall case. They vary by state – though generally speaking the rule is that the property owner must act “reasonably” or maintain its property in reasonably safe condition. This is true in the state of Illinois, which is governed by the Illinois Premises Liability Act.

Crack in the sidewalk

Have you ever been walking on a public sidewalk or driveway and noticed a large crack in it? Or maybe you notice that two of the pads of concrete are not level. These types of cracks cause lots of accidents every year.

So can you file a claim for compensation in this type of case? The simple answer is, “yes” you can always file a claim, but you may not win.

State Laws

Every state has its own laws about how large or dangerous a crack has to be before someone can bring a claim. Some states have a “bright line test” which means that a crack in a sidewalk has to be at least a certain size, for example, 2 or 3 inches, in order to bring a claim against the property owner.

Other states may look at the totality of the situation to determine whether a property owner should be responsible for the accident.

In these types of cases, Illinois has followed the de minimis rule. In other jurisdictions it might be called the “trivial defect” rule. In short, the crack cannot be de minimis, or so small that it shouldn’t create a dangerous condition and as such, a municipality does not have a duty to repair the crack.

In the past in Illinois, the rule was that a crack had to be a solid two inches to be actionable. I think you’ll find that is not entirely accurate any longer, though it still can serve as a guide. Rather, recent court decisions seem to look at the totality of the circumstances to determine whether a property owner should be liable for this type of accident.

Who Do You Sue?

So, who do you file a claim against in this situation? It depends on who owns the property but often the defendant in cases like these is the city or town that maintains the sidewalk you tripped on.

This complicates things.  First, you need to know that if you’re bringing a claim against a governmental entity, it’s possible that the city or town has what’s called, “immunity”, which basically means that it is protected from liability for your injuries.

Also, the time limit to file a claim against the government entity, known as a statute of limitations, is likely much shorter than if you brought a claim against a normal property owner.  So, if you’re involved in a case like this, don’t wait to act.

The World is Full of Cracks

Why is it so hard to bring and win a case in this type of situation? The world is not flat! It’s full of cracks. Take a look at any parking lot or sidewalk. There are probably hundreds or thousands of cracks all over it.  If every property owner was responsible for fixing every single crack it would cost a fortune.

This is unfair to the property owner, not economically realistic, and it would be really tough on cities and towns as they are responsible for hundreds of miles of sidewalks

If you are injured in an accident like this, act quickly, do your research, possibly talk to an attorney so that you can figure out whether you have a viable claim. And remember – don’t delay or you may lose your right to recover for your damages.

If you want to speak with a Mount Prospect, Illinois slip and fall lawyer about your slip and fall accident, feel free to contact us at 312-848-9783 for a free consultation.

Do I have to pay my health insurance company back?

I often get asked, “if I am in an auto accident, do I have to pay my health insurance company back for the medicalNorthbrook lawyer  bills they paid on my behalf?” For an answer to this and other questions on health insurance liens, contact Northbrook lawyer Barry Zlotowicz at 312-848-9783 for a free consultation.

Do I have to pay my health insurance back?

Most of our clients are surprised to hear that when they settle their case that they have to pay their health insurance company back for medical bills it paid on their behalf. It doesn’t make a lot of sense. You paid health insurance premiums for this very purpose – to pay for your medical treatment if you get injured.

It is a matter of contract law. When you purchased your health insurance plan, there was a clause in the contract where you promised to pay back Blue Cross Blue Shield or Aetna if you incur medical bills in an accident caused by someone else (a third party). This applies to Medicare and Medicaid too.

Shortly after your accident, you will receive a questionnaire from your health insurance company asking whether your injuries were caused by a third party. You have to fill this form out (or send it to your attorney if you have one) and send it back. Otherwise, payment of your medical bills may be delayed.

Then your health insurance company will send you a “subrogation” letter or lien putting you on notice that you are required to pay them back upon settlement of your case. For a broader discussion of this topic see my blog article on liens.

Problems that arise from health insurance liens

This causes many problems because it often happens that your health insurance lien is for more than you recover in settlement. How does this happen? In Illinois, the minimum insurance required is $25,000.00. Many if not most people have this amount and a significant number of people are uninsured altogether.

What happens if there is only $25,000.00 to recover and you have $50,000.00 in bills? Do you have to pay back your insurance company out of your own pocket?

Generally speaking, no you do not. The State of Illinois has enacted a law that governs this situation. It is called the Healthcare Services Lien Act (770 ILCS 23/). It states that there are two situations where your health insurance must reduce their health insurance lien:

  1. When their insured (you) is partially at fault for the accident.

In the State of Illinois, you can still recover for your injuries even if you are partially at fault for your accident. See my article on comparative negligence.

If that occurs, your ability to recover is diminished by how much you contributed to the accident. For example, if your injury is worth $100,000.00 but you are 50% at fault for the accident, you can only recover $50,000.00. Let’s say in this situation, you had $30,000.00 in medical bills. In this case, under the Lien Act, your health insurance company could only recover 50% of your bills or $15,000.00.

  1. When the auto insurance proceeds are insufficient to adequately compensate the victim (you) for his or her injuries

What does this mean? Let’s say that your injury is worth $50,000.00. However, there is only $25,000.00 in auto insurance available and you have $30,000.00 in medical bills. What do you do?

In this case, per the Lien Act, you are being inadequately compensated for your injuries – by 50%. As such, your insurance company shall only recover 50% of their medical lien or $15,000.00.

Attorneys’ Fees

The Lien Act goes on to say, that if either of the above two situations apply, your health insurance must pay a pro rata (fair share) of your attorney’s fees. Why? Because your lawyer essentially helped them recover money that they probably would not have recovered otherwise.

Irony of the Lien Law

In both scenarios above, your lawyer has a thin line to walk. In the first scenario, he or she must argue that you were partially at fault for your accident. And, the more at fault you are, the larger the reduction off the medical lien you will receive. In scenario number two, your lawyer will argue that you were inadequately compensated for your injuries. And, he/she may argue both – that you were partially at fault for your accident and you were inadequately compensated for your injuries.

Other Issues

One issue which arises from the law is how do you establish how much (what percentage) at fault you were for your accident? This will dictate how much of a reduction should you get.

Whatever percentage you agree to with the defendant’s insurance company regarding fault (for example, 50/50), is not binding on your health insurance company. In other words, just because you agree with Allstate insurance that you were 50 percent at fault, does not mean that Blue Cross Blue Shield is required to accept payment of 50 percent of their lien.

However, it’s been the experience of this Northbrook lawyer that most health insurance companies are fairly open to negotiation with you on this issue. They also don’t want to hire attorneys to represent them in court in front of a judge to come to a determination as to a percentage of fault.

The trickier issue is establishing an estimated value of how much your case would have been worth had there been adequate insurance. However, in the end, in most cases it behooves the parties to come to an agreement on this as well to avoid the expense of litigation.

Conclusion

If you received a letter from your health insurance company asking you if the injuries you received treatment for were caused by a third party, contact Northbrook lawyer Barry Zlotowicz for a free consultation at 312-848-9783.

Glenview Attorney

Glenview Attorney
Glenview Lawyer

My name is Barry Zlotowicz and I’m a Glenview lawyer. I often hear jokes about lawyers. I’m a personal injury lawyer and as such, have often been called an “ambulance chaser.” I take no offense to these jokes. But what I do object to are outrageous claims made by attorneys to convince an accident victim to hire them. This gives all lawyers a bad name. If you want a fair assessment of your case, call us at 312-848-9783.

The Million Dollar Case

A couple months ago I received a call from a woman who was injured in an auto accident. She was climbing into the back seat of a co-worker’s car when suddenly the co-worker started to drive away. The victim was dragged behind the car for approximately twenty feet. In the process, she re-aggravated a pre-existing knee condition.

She started calling lawyers to obtain information. One lawyer she spoke to immediately told her that she had a “million-dollar case.” Most people when they hear that would get pretty excited. Who doesn’t want a million dollars? But she was a bit suspicious and called our office for another opinion.

“A million dollars” she told me. “Really,” I said. I asked her about her injuries and determined that there might be a case, depending on the severity of her injury. I asked her how much insurance the driver of the vehicle had and how much underinsured (UIM) insurance she had. She didn’t know.

Politely I told her, “if the defendant only has a $25,000.00 insurance policy, where is the other $975,000.00 coming from?”

Illinois Insurance Policy Requirements

In the State of Illinois, all drivers are required to have a minimum of $25,000.00 in liability coverage. Very often, that is all the money there is to recover for your medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering.

As such, it is critical that you have enough uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage – a minimum of $100,000.00, if you can afford it. You cannot control how much insurance the other guy has but you can take steps to protect yourself.

Personal Injury Settlements

The reason so many people fall for exaggerated evaluations – like the million-dollar case – is that huge verdicts are the only verdicts we hear about in the news media. It’s not sexy to report on the simple auto accident which resulted in a fractured arm and settled for $50,000.00. The media would rather tell you about the million-dollar Liebeck vs. McDonalds Restaurants hot coffee case.

Yet $25,000.00 and $50,000.00 recoveries are far more common and represent what most personal injury settlements look like. Sure, there occasionally are multi-million-dollar cases, but they are few and far between.

Fair and Honest Assessment

When attempting to determine how much your case is worth, you have to take into account a variety of factors. This includes the amount of your medical bills, the severity of your injury, what insurance company you are dealing with, and more.

If you contact our office, one thing we can guarantee is that we will give you fair and honest assessment of your case. We will help you establish reasonable expectations so that there are no surprises when the insurance company makes its’ first offer. We believe this is a good policy all around. It helps us meet our obligation to be honest with our clients and also gives our clients accurate information upon which to make decisions about how to proceed.

Small Claims Court

For many cases, you may not even need a Glenview lawyer. If your case is worth less than $10,000.00, which many soft tissue cases are (often those cases involving minor contusions, sprains and strains), you can even represent yourself by filing a lawsuit in small claims court. If we feel this is your best option, we will tell you.

Don’t fall for exaggerated claims. Call our office for a free consultation. We will take the time to discuss your case with you. You will talk to a Glenview lawyer, not just an admin person. Call us today at 312-848-9783

Illinois Healthcare Liens – Northbrook Lawyer

Illinois Personal Injury Attorney
Illinois healthcare lien

Illinois Healthcare liens arise in nearly every Illinois personal injury case. If you are injured in an automobile or other accident and the injury was caused by someone else (a third party), it is critical to know whether a “lien” was served/mailed to you. If it was, there may be a legal obligation to pay the lienholder back out of the proceeds of your

settlement/recovery. If you’ve been served with a lien, call us for a free consultation at 312-848-9783.

What is a Lien?

In the context of an Illinois personal injury case, a “lien” refers to the right a healthcare provider has to obtain reimbursement out of your settlement/recovery for the medical services they provided you for your injuries.

This issue is specifically addressed in the Illinois Health Care Services Lien Act. The Act determines in detail how much the lienholder can recover, the requirements to establish a valid lien, and what to do if the settlement/recovery is insufficient to pay the lien.

Hypothetical Situation

You are injured in an auto accident and are taken by ambulance to the emergency room. You are diagnosed with a fractured arm which is casted. After you return home, you receive notification that there are three liens totaling $50,000.00. The automobile insurance company for the defendant offers you $100,000.00 to settle your case and you accept. What happens now?

You and your Northbrook lawyer have a legal obligation to pay the hospital liens back. But how much do you have to pay back? Per the Lien Act there are two types of health care services providers:

  1. Healthcare professionals: Doctors, etc.
  2. Healthcare providers: Hospitals, etc.

Per the statute, all healthcare liens (liens, not bills) cannot amount to more than forty percent (40%) of your total recovery. As such, in our scenario, before you get paid, you are required to pay $40,000.00 to the lien holders.

That does not mean that you are relieved from paying the additional $10,000.00 that you you’re your healthcare providers can still come after you for the remaining $10,000.00. However, payment of the forty percent means that you are not prevented from settling your case and distributing the proceeds of the settlement.

This is where having an experienced Northbrook lawyer is important. In most cases, we can negotiate with your Illinois healthcare lien with your medical providers to resolve the entire balance owed. If not, the Lien Act provides the means for obtaining Court adjudication of the rights of the parties.

Lien Perfection

For a lien to be valid and enforceable, there are certain requirements that must be met, including:

  1. The lien must include a written notice containing the name and address of the injured person, the date of the injury, the name and address of the health care professional or health care provider, and the name of the party alleged to be liable to make compensation to the injured person for the injuries received.
  2. The lien must be served on both the injured person and the party against whom the claim or right of action exists.
  3. The letter/lien must be sent by registered or certified mail or delivered in person.

Paying Illinois healthcare liens and medical bills are a large part of what our office does for our clients. Once a case settles, we will call your medical providers and confirm whether there are any outstanding balances owed for medical bills and/or liens. We will then attempt to negotiate the bills and liens down as low possible. Money negotiated goes directly into your pocket so it is in your best interest to patiently await negotiation of your bills.

We’ve had success negotiating with most medical providers. Some are notoriously difficult to work with such as ambulance companies who rarely reduce their bills.

Note that negotiating liens and medical bills is different than negotiating with your health insurance company, Medicaid or Medicare. They also expect to be paid back out of the proceeds of your settlement. This is also addressed by the Healthcare Services Lien Act but is a discussion for another article.

If you would like a free consultation with a Northbrook lawyer to discuss your Illinois healthcare liens, contact us today at 312-848-9783.

Is It Bad To Represent Yourself In Court In Niles?

Should You Represent Yourself in Court?
Should You Represent Yourself in Court?

If you are searching for an injury attorney in Niles, call our office at 847-305-4105. We are a local Northbrook based personal injury law firm. We offer free consultations and can even come to your home to meet with you.

Thinking about representing yourself?

There has been a significant rise in the number of “pro-se” plaintiffs – people who represent themselves in court or against insurance companies. So much so that the Illinois State Bar Association just released an article about it in the October 2017, edition of the Illinois Bar Journal.

And on the Illinois Courts website, there is a section called “Access to Justice” dedicated to the pro-se plaintiff. On it you can find access to standardized forms for use in court and many of the forms are translated into Spanish, Polish, Arabic, Chinese, Russian and Korean.

That does not mean the courts view pro se claimants favorably. Judge Richard Posner recently retired from the bench. One of his reasons for retiring was that his efforts to help pro-se plaintiffs put him at odds with his colleagues. Posner was quoted as saying “The basic thing is that most judges regard these people as kind of trash not worth the time of a federal judge.” That’s a very odd comment and hopefully not an accurate portrayal of federal judges’ opinions of people who represent themselves.

Why is it happening?

What has fueled the rise of people representing themselves in legal matters? According to the Bar, it is primarily financially-related. People cannot afford to hire an attorney to represent them. I agree that this is one factor. Our office has received countless calls from people who are defendants in actions and cannot afford to spend the $300 or more per hour to hire an attorney to defend themselves.

The other side of the financial coin, however, is that lawyers are turning away cases more now than before. We receive calls from all over the place from people who were injured. Many of the calls are medical malpractice cases from Wisconsin. Wisconsin has caps on how much an injured person can recover. As such, most lawyers we deal with won’t even talk to a Wisconsin medical malpractice victim unless the malpractice resulted in a catastrophic injury or death.

The situation is similar to auto accidents. It is harder and harder to get money out of an insurance company for “soft-tissue” injuries such as sprains and strains. They simply are not paying anymore. Most lawyers are not going to file a lawsuit for these types of injuries as the cost of doing so is too high. As such, many lawyers I talk to are turning away these types of cases, which results in victims having to fight the insurance company on their own.

The result of people representing themselves is that they get taken advantage of. Insurance companies are playing a different game than the victims filing claims against them. They have the know how and the resources to defend their insureds to the end if need be. Most claimants (and many attorneys) simply cannot afford to fight an insurance company for long. Consequently, people make mistakes such as giving a recorded statement to the insurance company immediately after the collision.

Our Office Accepts Soft Tissue Cases

Our office still takes many soft tissue cases. As such, if you want to speak with a personal injury lawyer in Niles, call me at 312-848-9783 for a free consultation.  In a personal injury case, you do not pay your attorney an hourly rate. Rather personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis.

If you can find an attorney to work on your case, we strongly recommend that you do so. When you first get injured, the insurance adjuster will work with you. He or she will be nice and let you know that you will be compensated for your injuries. However, when it’s time to settle, I assure you, they will “low-ball” you. It is their goal to pay as little as they can for your claim.

In almost all situations, you will recover more if you have an attorney represent you against an insurance company than if you represent yourself.

The Internet

I think that another reason people are representing themselves is because of the abundance of information you can find on the internet. There are thousands of websites dedicated to providing legal information including www.findlaw.com, www.lawyers.com, www.avvo.com, and www.youtube.com. These sources are fairly reliable. However, there are thousands of other sources that should not be trusted. You could be following the instructions of a novice who just decided to post legal information.

Another source of information is Illinois Legal Aid.  There you can find countless forms and legal information to guide you through many different legal areas including: divorce, bankruptcy, immigration, criminal law and more.

Unlike many law firms, we are happy to provide you a free consultation to discuss your legal issue. If you are looking for a good lawyer in Niles, feel free to call us at 847-305-4105 and we will try to provide you the best guidance we can.

Slip and Fall Accident Attorney in Niles

slip and fall lawyer niles

If you were injured in a slip and fall on ice in the village of Niles or anywhere in Illinois, call us today at 847-305-4105 for a free consultation. It happens all the time, we slip and fall on ice during Illinois winters. It’s a fact of life. It doesn’t matter how careful you are, it can happen to you. This begs the question, if you slip and fall on ice or snow and suffer n injury, who is responsible?

Generally speaking, in the State of Illinois, a property “owner” does not have an obligation to clean the sidewalk in front of his or her property of snow or ice.

However, cities and states often make laws based on a “public policy” basis. Meaning, they want to encourage or discourage people from doing certain things. In Illinois, the state government created a law called the Snow and Ice Removal Act. In it, the State determined that it was the “public policy” of the State of Illinois to encourage residents to clean the sidewalks in front of their homes of snow and ice.

As such, anyone who makes a good faith effort to clean their sidewalk is not responsible for slip and fall injuries that occur on their sidewalks.

When is a property owner liable for a snow or ice related slip and fall accident?

The owner will be liable when there is an “unnatural accumulation” of snow or ice that causes an accident. An unnatural accumulation could be caused, for example, by a down spout that was improperly placed and resulted in a puddle of water to freeze, thereby causing an accident. Or, a drain might have been placed in a high traffic walkway and regularly freezes thereby causing an injury.

What if a property owner shovels snow which then results in an unnatural accumulation of ice that causes an injury? Pursuant to a recent Illinois Supreme Court decision, if a property owner shovels the snow or ice, and his or her efforts results in an “unnatural accumulation” of snow or ice that causes an injury, the property owner is still immune from liability.

Property owners may still have liability for other reasons. For example, if the property was poorly maintained and resulted in an unnatural accumulation. Or, if the property was improperly designed, for example, an unsafe slope was created in the concrete when it was poured which resulted in an unnatural accumulation.

Tracked-in Water

You would think that if someone owns a store and customers track water into the store, that the store owner would be liable if someone walked into the store, falls down and suffers an injury. This would appear to constitute an unnatural accumulation. However, generally speaking, the store owner will not be liable in this situation.

One exception might be where the floor was unusually wet due to some action by the store owner. For example, if the floor was polished with an unusually slippery substance and that substance contributed to the accident. Then the store owner might be liable. But that is the exception and not the rule.

City Specific Ordinances

Cities like Niles, Illinois, have their own city ordinance about snow removal. However, the Niles ordinance relates primarily to what streets will be plowed first rather than who is responsible for shoveling sidewalks.

The city of Chicago has its own ordinance about snow removal. Chicago requires its citizens to remove snow in front of their homes or businesses. The penalty for failure to shovel snow is a fine that ranges from $50.00 to $500.00 per day. However, that does not alter the civil liability for injuries that occur on the property.

If you were injured in a slip and fall on snow or ice in Niles, Illinois, call our office at 847-305-4105 for a free consultation. It takes an experienced slip and fall accident lawyer to research the law to determine if you have a viable claim. In addition, if your claim is against a governmental entity, the time limit in which you have to file a claim may be shorter so call today.

Personal Injury Settlement Amount

Personal Injury Settlement Amount
Personal injury settlement amount

My clients who were injured in an automobile or other motor vehicle accident often ask: how much is a reasonable personal injury settlement amount? That is a very difficult question to answer and in typical attorney form, I can only answer “it depends.”

For a broader discussion of the value of a case, see my recent blog article entitled “How Much is my Case Worth?”. In short, it depends on several factors such as the severity of your injury, the amount of insurance there is, and what insurance company you are dealing with, among other factors.

Included in many personal injury settlement amounts are compensation for:

  • Property damage – your vehicle but also your damaged cell phone, clothing etc.
  • Pain and suffering – but how do you measure your pain and suffering?
  • Lost wages – we will contact your employer to verify the amount of money you lost
  • Mileage and other expenses – keep a mileage log for example
  • Medical bills – In Illinois, you can recover for the total cost of your medical bills
  • Loss of enjoyment – you lost time playing catch with your son or daughter due to your injury
  • And more

In my practice, the primary reason my clients are limited in the amount they recover is that the person who caused the accident has a small insurance policy. In the state of Illinois, the minimum policy is $25,000.00 and most people have just that. In addition, not all but many of my clients, unfortunately, don’t have enough uninsured or underinsured (UM/UIM) insurance to protect themselves.

So how does that affect your settlement? Let’s look at two cases my office recently settled. In the first case, our client was able to tap into multiple policies and thus obtain an adequate recovery. In the second case, our client did not have a sufficient UIM policy and her recovery was thus limited.

  1. Bicycle accident settlement $93,000.00+

Our client was riding his bicycle when he was hit from behind. He went down and suffered a fractured wrist, transverse process fractures, and lacerations, abrasions and contusions. The driver of the car that hit him only had a minimum insurance policy. However, our client had a large underinsured motorist policy. As such, we were able to recover against his own policy and obtain appropriate compensation for his injuries.

  1. Motorcycle accident settlement $100,000.00

Our client was the passenger on the back of her husband’s motorcycle. A car cut them off and they went down. Our client suffered a fractured wrist and an aggravation of a pre-existing injury – a spinal stimulator that was placed in her back was damaged and had to be replaced through surgery. The defendant had a $100,000.00 policy. However, based on the severity of an injury, her pain and suffering and her medical bills, this case could have garnered a much larger settlement. However, our client did not have enough underinsured motorist protection. As such, our client was limited to the $100,000.00. Fortunately, we were able to negotiate down her medical bills in order to net enough to compensate her.

$100,000.00 sounds like an adequate personal injury settlement amount. However, medical bills and attorneys’ fees and costs are paid out of the settlement. As such, the net recovery is much smaller.

Often, when a defendant has a small insurance policy, clients want to sue the defendant personally for their injuries. That is an option, however, in most cases, it is not practicable. Most people who have assets have insurance to protect those assets. If the defendant has a small auto insurance policy, he/she probably doesn’t have many assets to protect.

Practical scenario:

You are injured in an auto accident and you file a lawsuit against the defendant. The defendant has a $50,000.00 auto insurance policy. You win a judgment of $100,000.00. The insurance company writes you a check for $50,000.00 and you try to collect against the defendant for the balance of $50,000.00. The defendant determines he cannot pay you. So, what does he/she do? File for bankruptcy. Practically speaking, that ends your case.

Consequently, in most cases, our clients are limited in their recovery to the amount of the defendant’s insurance policy.

In sum, it is difficult to determine what is a reasonable personal injury settlement amount. That determination is made on a case by case basis. Just because a friend or relative recovered a certain amount in his or her case, does not mean you will have the same experience.

If you need help determining what to demand in a Glenview auto accident case, contact Barry Zlotowicz at 312-848-9783 for a free consultation.

Illinois Dog Bite

Victims of Illinois dog bite cases have a much easier road to recovery than those in other states like New York for example. The legislature of the State of Illinois passed legislation which states that:

“If a dog or other animal, without provocation, attacks, attempts to attack, or injures any person who is peaceablyIllinois Dog Bite Lawyer conducting himself or herself 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

In short, this means that if you were doing nothing wrong and you were lawfully on a premises you can recover for damages caused by a dog, even if the dog has never attacked anyone else before. This is different than New York and other states that follow a “one-bite rule” which means that a dog basically has a “free bite” before the dog owner is liable for the dog’s actions. I recently had a case in a one-bite state where a dog bit someone and as a result, the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance policy specifically excluded the dog from coverage. Then, months later, the dog bit someone else. So, the one bite rule was satisfied, but the dog was now excluded from coverage and as such, there were no insurance proceeds to go after.

Even if you are bitten by a dog, there are several factors that need to be considered to determine if you have a viable case, beyond those set in the statute:

  • Severity of injury: are the injuries scrapes and bruises or was there a puncture of the skin that required stitches and may result in scarring? Were there fractures or any other severe injury? If the only injuries were scratches, it’s probably not a case most attorneys would get involved in.
  • Is there homeowners’ insurance? If not, your best option is to sue the dog owner individually in small claims court. In Illinois, small claims court is for cases with damages less than $10,000.00. Most people represent themselves in small claims court. The Cook County website has forms and additional information about how to file suit there.
  • Did the accident occur within the 2 year statute of limitations in which to file a lawsuit?

If you do get bitten by a dog (or any other animal for that matter), make sure you:

  • Take photographs of all evidence – the dog, your injuries, time at the hospital, etc.
  • Call the police to document the situation
  • Get the dog owner’s homeowners’ insurance information. Often the police will do this for you

Hopefully you will never be faced with this situation, but if you are, I strongly suggest that you call a personal injury lawyer in Glenview, Illinois, at 312-848-9783 as soon as possible. The insurance company is not your friend! I receive calls all the time from people who tried to negotiate with an insurance company on their own, only to find out after six months of negotiation that they got low-balled.

How much is my case worth?

Glenview Injury Attorney

If you’re a Glenview injury attorney, the one question you hear from clients repeatedly is: how much is my case worth? The simple answer usually is – “it depends.”

In short, how much your case is worth depends on a variety of factors including:

  • Severity of injury
  • The type of medical treatment you underwent
  • The permanency (or lack thereof) of your injuries
  • The amount of your medical bills
  • The amount of your lost wages
  • How much insurance there is
  • What insurance company you are dealing with

Severity of injury: This is the tough one in that everyone who has been in a collision believes their case is worth $1M dollars – and a lot of attorneys will tell you that your case is (see below). The truth of the matter is that how much you recover is really a “sliding scale” with soft tissue injuries like sprains and strains or minor concussions on the left of the scale and catastrophic injuries like death on the right.

Type of medical treatment: If you undergo surgery, from an open reduction internal fixation (ORIF) to a minor arthroscopic procedure, your case will be worth significantly more than someone who had a single trip to an emergency room and some physical therapy.

Permanency: If you have a permanent disfigurement, for example, scarring from road rash, a bone that never healed right and sticks out or you will forever walk with a limp, your case may be valuable.

Amount of medical bills: In the 1990’s, you could count on getting 3 times your medical bills in a soft tissue crash. That model does NOT apply any longer regardless of what you find on the internet. But, significant medical bills can be and often are an indicator of severity of injury and in the state of Illinois you are entitled to recover for all your medical bills regardless whether your insurance company had a contract with the provider that required them to pay less than face price.

Amount of lost wages: you are entitled to recover for your verifiable lost wages. This is standard but again, must be verified for an insurance company to compensate you for them.

How much insurance there is: Fifteen percent of all drivers are uninsured, countless more are UNDERinsured meaning they have the minimum insurance policy limits of $25,000.00. If that’s all the insurance there is, then unfortunately, that may be all you can recover against the defendant regardless how severe your injuries are. I was recently contacted by a woman who had a potential exacerbation of a prior leg injury. The first lawyer she spoke to said she had a $1 million dollar case. I asked her, if the defendant only has a $25,000.00 policy, where is the other $975,000.00 coming from?

What insurance company you’re dealing with: If you’re dealing with Allstate, Esurance or State Farm, be prepared to be low-balled. Conversely, commercial policies often pay more for a standard claim

It’s difficult to determine how much your case is worth. If you want a consultation from a Glenview injury attorney, call Barry at 312-848-9783 for a free consultation.

Increase in Cyclists Injured in Chicago by Car Doors

There were over 300 cases of cyclists injured in Chicago by crashing right into open car doors in the year 2015, which is almost a 50% increase from 2014.

The Illinois Department of Transportation stated the 302 dooring cases that were reported that year rose from 270 in 2013 and 203 in 2014 butChicago Bicycle Accident Lawyer dipped from the reported 336 in 2011 and 334 in 2012.

Reasons for Cyclists Injured in Chicago and Improving Safety

The growing number of cyclists in the Windy City should be concerned about the number of people getting hit by doors of parked cars. A bike rider and president of the online networking site for cyclists in Chicago, Chainlink, Yasmeen Schuller, said that all cyclists actively worry about getting doored by people exiting their parked cars and keep an eye out.

She said that she has had to ride closer to traffic in order to avoid open car doors, adding that while it is not the safest feeling to ride so close to traffic, it is still better than getting doored and potentially suffering a serious injury.

Bicycling Magazine gave Chicago the name of “America’s Best Bike City” for 2016 in September, citing the city’s investment in infrastructure that is specifically designed for improved cyclist safety and its bike accessibility initiatives like the bike-sharing membership plan meant for low-income residents rolled out by Divvy.

However, with the growing number of cyclists injured in Chicago, the city has launched a plan called Vision Zero Action Plan in an effort to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries. The plan’s focus is on education, infrastructure, and enforcement.

Recently, according to the Chicago Department of Transportation, the Windy City distributed flyers to ride-hailing and taxi companies and at bike safety events with information on pedestrian and bike laws as well as tips for motorists on the different ways to avoid collisions with bikes.

These tips include opening the door on the driver’s side by reaching for the handle with the right hand so that the driver is forced to turn and look behind to see if there are any oncoming bicycles, cyclists passing parked cars at a safe distance of a minimum of 3 to 5 feet and avoiding driving or parking in bike lanes.

The main problem lies in the fact that dooring crashes haven’t been integrated with main crash data. However, a number of measures are being taken to reduce these accidents. Since 2011, Chicago has added more than 100 miles of bike lanes that are protected with barriers like bollards and concrete curbs, or extra space that provides a buffer between the parked cars and bike pathway.

Additionally, the Windy City provides window decals to taxis so that passengers are reminded to check the road before exiting the cabs. The fine for opening a vehicle door in a cyclist’s path has been increased to $1,000.

Cyclists in the city say that they think Chicago is doing a great job when it comes to getting more bike lanes out, providing more protection on bike lanes, and putting down bike paint. Despite all the bad things you hear about Chicago these days (high taxes, city financial issues, extreme violence), this is a much needed bright spot! And the Cubs won the World Series!

However, they say that the city should do more in educating both cyclists and motorists on how to share the road. With the rise in cyclists injured in Chicago due to dooring, it is certainly vital to spread more awareness about safety on the road for drivers and cyclists.