Dog Bites & Animal Attacks

Dog Bites Need a Dog Court!

The South Chicago Injury Attorneys have represented the victims of dog bites in Chicago and surrounding suburbs for over 25 years. We have found that injuries can be particularly traumatic and disfiguring to the young and often the result of poor control by the pet owner.

As lovers of animals and the advocates of the victims of animal attacks, we are always searching for ways in which the interests of the pet owners and the safety of potential dog bite victims can be balanced and protected.

This month marks the first anniversary of “pet court” which convenes Friday mornings as part of the municipal court system in San Antonio, Texas. This new and innovative court focuses on enforcement of the city’s animal control laws, including failure to register or vaccinate pets and allowing pets to roam unleashed. Many cases involve dog bite victims and pets that are accused of being a public nuisance.

There are now 78.2 million dogs in the United States, a goodly portion of which are free roaming strays. The judge in San Antonio has focused less on generating revenue for the city and more on the education of pet owners and the welfare of the animals, themselves. The enforcement of control laws and education of the pet owning public are important tools in the prevention of animal attacks and health issues due to more pet maintenance or improper handling of pet waste.

Grazian and Volpe applaud the court in San Antonio for its enlightened and altruistic tenor and hope that existing and future “Pet Courts” adopt the same progressive attitude.

Are pit bulls a public health threat in Chicago?

Any dog can become dangerous if it is not properly treated and well trained. When a dog that is large and strong is mistreated, there is a significant risk that the dog will attack someone, causing serious injuries. Unfortunately, a great number of pit bulls are abused and mishandled in the Chicago area.

The Chicago Tribune recently reported that about 40 percent of the dogs admitted by the city’s Animal Care and Control are pit bulls. The shelters cannot house them all, and many are not suitable for adoption, so about two-thirds of them are euthanized.

“Pit bull” is actually not a breed, but rather a category that encompasses a number of breeds. American Staffordshire terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers, and American pit bull terriers are all considered to be pit bulls. They are recognized by their large, strong jaws, and brawny builds.

The vast majority of reported dog attacks and dog bites in Chicago involve pit bull mixes.

While many people argue that pit bulls are aggressive and dangerous by nature, others say that there are simply a large number of pit bull owners who fail to vaccinate, train and take good care of their dogs, leading the dogs to attack or bite others. Some people also say that irresponsible pit bull breeders create dangerous, nervous dogs that will be prone to bite.

Part of the problem in Illinois is that pit bulls are over bred, according to the recent Chicago Tribune report. There is more supply than demand, and a number of people who adopt pit bulls later find that they have taken on too much and they then simply stop caring for the dogs or bring them to shelters. Although Chicago has not done so, many cities are banning pit bulls in order to protect public safety and avoid overcrowding in animal shelters.

It is important that Illinois residents are encouraged to be responsible dog owners. Under state law, dog owners can be held accountable if their dogs attack someone. Victims of dog bites have the right to pursue compensation from dog owners for their medical bills, lost wages, emotional distress, and more.

Source: Chicago Tribune, “Pit bull overload floods shelters, strains rescuers,” Robert McCoppin, Dec. 5, 2013

Boy’s family sues after child is bitten by monkey in Illinois park

Under Illinois state law, people are generally responsible for any harm that their pets cause to others. Whether a person has a dog, cat or a less conventional type of pet, he or she can be held legally accountable if that animal bites or attacks another person. This is true as long as the victim was in a place that he or she had a right to be and was acting peacefully at the time of the incident.

In a fairly recent case that took place in Godfrey, Illinois, a pet monkey bit a young child on the arm. The 6-year-old boy did recover from his injuries, and the pet’s owner is being held accountable.

The boy was bitten by the animal in a park in June 2012. According to a news report, the monkey was actually walking a dog in a park shortly before attacking the child. The boy tried to pet the dog, and the monkey then bit the child.

The owner of both the monkey and the dog later told a sheriff’s sergeant that the monkey had bitten her several times in the past..

Late last month, a Madison County Circuit Court ruled that the monkey had to be turned over to the state under Illinois’ Dangerous Animals Act. The St. Louis Zoo is apparently going to assist in transporting the monkey to a facility.

In addition to this consequence, the pet owner is up against a personal injury lawsuit from the injured boy’s parents. When people are bitten by pets in Illinois, it is often possible to hold the pet’s owner accountable for medical expenses, pain and suffering and any other damages.

While this case is somewhat unusual, it shares similarities with very typical dog bite cases. Children are the most common victims of dog bites, and they are often attacked when they are trying to pet dogs that are unknown to them. Parents should discourage their children from petting strange dogs, but it is often ultimately up to dog owners to control their pets and ensure that anyone who encounters them will be safe. When people are injured by dog bites or animal attacks, they generally have the right to pursue compensation.

Source: Herald Review, “State takes control of monkey that bit 6-year-old,” Paul Hampel, July 1, 2013

Premises Liability: Your Landlord Should Protect Your Safety

Your Chicago and Cicero Premises Liability Lawyers at Grazian and Volpe want you to know that your Landlord Should Protect Your Safety! Common law mandates that the owner of a building has a duty to take reasonable measures to maintain that property in a safe condition. This means that a building owner is required to take minimal precautions to protect it tenants, and other persons on its premises from foreseeable harm, i.e., personal injury which not only encompasses issues of safe habitability (safe stairways, electrical, plumbing, etc) but also the duty of the owner to protect tenants from the foreseeable criminal conduct of a third person. Minimal precautions have included the requirement that a landlord install working doors and door locks as well as sufficient lighting and visibility at points of ingress, egress and travel. This is a duty conferred upon the building owner because he or she is in the best position to install the safety devices, locks and lighting which would serve to protect its tenants from foreseeable criminal activity.

Tenants may have a claim for personal injuries against the property owner, the manager or the security company in the event that they are attacked and assaulted in their apartment building or where they work.

As a tenant of or worker in a building it is important that you notify the property owner, manager or security company of any issues related to the safety of the building such as faulty door locks, lighting or security systems. If you are assaulted or attacked and it is established that these parties were aware of the security issues, liability will be a slam dunk and you can be assured of compensation for your personal injuries.

The Chicago and South Chicago Premises Liability Lawyers at Grazian and Volpe have obtained just compensation awards for their clients on numerous premises liability claims  and are staunch advocates for tenants and their right to be protected in their own residence or workplace. In fact, Grazian and Volpe has even been successful in obtaining compensation for tenants who are bitten by their apartment neighbor’s dog!

Premises Liability and the Negligent Landlord

Grazian and Volpe has practiced premises liability in Chicago for over 30 years.  It has been disheartening to witness the disregard for human safety practiced by a few but a very harmful number of landlords. If fact, landlord should be used as the title used for responsible and caring persons who take care for the safety and well-being of their tenants. The others are simply “slumlords”. We find them primarily operating in distressed areas taking advantage of Section 8 housing regulations and the financial weakness of tenants. In our accident law practice we have advocated on behalf of hundreds of client/tenants personally injured through criminal activity and unsafe conditions engendered by the careless disregard or extreme negligence of these slumlords. Historically, Illinois courts have not proven as responsive to these complaints. However a recent verdict for $1 million will hopefully draw attention to the cruel and dangerous plight of tenants forced to rent from these negligent landlord. In this particular condo complex, multiple armed robberies, shootings and thefts were committed over a three year period; largely attributable to the property which had fallen into disrepair and lacked proper door locks and light fixtures. A tenant was shot and killed while walking to his car. He was survived by two adult sons who brought a wrongful death lawsuit against the landlord. They alleged that the landlord provided inadequate security. In addition, the wrongful death complaint stated that the landlord had hired an incompetent property manager with a criminal background. The case settled for $1 million. Grazian and Volpe knows this settlement will serve as a positive influence in premises liability law and help to convince courts and insurance carriers to treat slumlords and negligent property managers with an iron fist  sending a firm message to those who do not treat the safety and welfare of their occupants and tenants with the same regard they would show for their own families.

Tenants are advised to be pro-active in finding and documenting safety and security issues with their landlords. Hopefully, the landlord is responsive and the tenants concerns are solved. If the landlord ignores the tenants request the tenant has documented the problems. This documentation will be useful if the tenant or others sustain a personal injury caused by the issues documented.

Remember, it is always better to stay safe and avoid personal injury.  If you can’t stay safe-stay with Grazian and Volpe, Chicagoland’s Injury Lawyers for over 30 years.

Dog Bites Need a Dog Court!

The South Chicago Injury Attorneys have represented the victims of dog bites in Chicago and surrounding suburbs for over 25 years. We have found that injuries can be particularly traumatic and disfiguring to the young and often the result of poor control by the pet owner.

As lovers of animals and the advocates of the victims of animal attacks, we are always searching for ways in which the interests of the pet owners and the safety of potential dog bite victims can be balanced and protected.

This month marks the first anniversary of “pet court” which convenes Friday mornings as part of the municipal court system in San Antonio, Texas. This new and innovative court focuses on enforcement of the city’s animal control laws, including failure to register or vaccinate pets and allowing pets to roam unleashed. Many cases involve dog bite victims and pets that are accused of being a public nuisance.

There are now 78.2 million dogs in the United States, a goodly portion of which are free roaming strays. The judge in San Antonio has focused less on generating revenue for the city and more on the education of pet owners and the welfare of the animals, themselves. The enforcement of control laws and education of the pet owning public are important tools in the prevention of animal attacks and health issues due to more pet maintenance or improper handling of pet waste.

Grazian and Volpe applaud the court in San Antonio for its enlightened and altruistic tenor and hope that existing and future “Pet Courts” adopt the same progressive attitude.

Premises Liability on Public Property: This Case is a Stretch

The Chicago and South Chicago Premises Liability Lawyers at Grazian and Volpe have generally advised that premises liability for a personal injury sustained on public property is not subject to compensation for the victim under the Section 3-106 of the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act (Act) (745 ILCS 10/3-106 (West 2008) ). This Section carves an immunity for public entities from the common-law duty to exercise ordinary care to maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition. Case law established in Bubb v. Springfield School District 186 held that “neither a local public entity nor a public employee is liable for an injury where the liability is based upon the existence of a condition of any public property intended or permitted to be used for recreational purposes, ***unless such local entity or public employee is guilty of willful and wanton conduct proximately causing such injury.” 745 ILCS 10/2-106

Recently, in Grundy v. Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago Park District et al, the Supreme Court found confirmed the appellate court decision to extend the immunity to “moveable” and even “misplaced moveable” items. In the Grundy case, the plaintiff tripped over the leg of a sign at a cafe located at the zoo. In its reasoning the court cites a case where immunity was upheld where a plaintiff “tripped on a misplaced, concrete car stop” Rexroad, 207 Ill 2d at 41.

I live in Chicago and personally travel through the area of Lincoln Park Zoo on my morning “constitutional” having many occasion to view the moveable signs that are of question in Grundy. These signs are very light, blend in with the pavement and are brought in at close and re-placed in the morning. They are not consistently placed but for their direct obstruction of high traffic areas (ostensibly so the pedestrian cannot miss them and will be enticed to eat at the cafe, although the cafe building looms above).

While there is common sense policy behind the Tort Immunity Act, I have to question the applicability of reasoning and case law to Grundy. This sign was for the purpose of advertising a concession and as such was purposefully placed in an area where a pedestrian “could not miss it”- physically. However the light weight of this sign and bland color means its visibility is low and therefore a tripping hazard. Coupled with the fact it is in a high traffic area and not consistently placed leads me to believe the court may have stretched in granting immunity in this particular case.

Plaintiffs and lawyers alike should be aware of this case and what it means for personal injury liability in a public setting. The only thing it makes clear is the need for lawyers to be very careful in pleading this types of causes of action.

The Chicago and Cicero Premises Liability Lawyers at Grazian and Volpe know that premises liability issues are of special interest to the public and we have many occasion to field calls from viewers of WCUI, You and Me in the Morning. We also post many articles involving premises liability issues on our website at myaccidentlaw.com and grazianandvolpe.com. Questions and consultations are always free and we love to talk law-so if you can’t stay safe stay with Grazian and Volpe.