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Dog Bite Injury Claim: Boy Attacked by a Rottweiler

Case Summary:

This is a review of a dog bite injury claim. The plaintiff in this case was a father whose young son was attacked by a neighbor’s Rottweiler. During the incident, the neighbor had tried to control the dog, but the leash he was using broke when the animal lunged at the boy.

The father attempted to negotiate a settlement with the neighbor to recover some of the costs of the boy’s extensive medical treatments.

The neighbor, in turn, denied liability in the dog bite injury claim, saying that the leash he used was defective. The father responded by filing a lawsuit asking for damages and an award for the boy’s future medical bills, which were expected to be substantial.

Statement of Facts…

On the afternoon of January 11th, 2011, Kimberly Tanner was out walking his eight-month-old Rottweiler around his neighborhood. Tanner believed he had his dog securely leashed when he approached the yard of his neighbor Ken Mack.

In Mack’s yard was his 12-year-old son Dickey Mack. When Tanner got to within 50 feet of the younger Mack, the Rottweiler began to bark at the boy. As the dog barked, it also lunged towards the child. Tanner tried to pull his dog back, but its leash snapped, and instead the dog was set loose. Once free, Tanner’s Rottweiler proceeded to charge Dicky Mack, knock him down, and then bite him.

The dog’s attack left the boy with deep lacerations to both his throat and his chin. Paramedics were called to the scene, and after being stabilized, the boy was taken by ambulance to the local emergency room. The boy remained hospitalized for three weeks while pediatricians and plastic surgeons treated his injuries.

After Dicky’s release, doctors informed his father that Dicky would require several more corrective surgeries to completely repair the damage to his face. Already facing large medical bills from his son’s hospital stay, Ken Mack filed a dog bite injury claim and sought a settlement from the neighbor to cover Dicky’s medical bills.

When no settlement was reached with the neighbor’s homeowners insurance company, Ken Mack filed suit.

The Lawsuit…

As part of the work leading up to the trial for Mack’s dog bite injury claim, Mack’s attorneys deposed Kimberly Tanner. Tanner testified his dog was about 8 months old when it bit the younger Mack.

He went on to say he purchased the dog from a private owner when it was 12 weeks old. At that time, he said, the dog weighed about 25 pounds and he weighed the dog every month or so after he purchased it.

By Tanner’s own estimation, the dog weighed 80 pounds at the time of the attack.

Mack’s attorneys also got a subpoena for the leash the Rottweiler was on at the time of the attack. For reasons still unknown, Tanner didn’t throw the leash away. During his deposition Mack’s attorneys asked Tanner to identify the leash. Tanner testified it was the same leash he used to walk his Rottweiler on the day of the attack. Mack’s attorneys asked Tanner to take a pen and initial and date each piece of the broken leash.

During trial, Mack’s attorneys produced a leash identical to the brand color and strength of the leash Tanner produced at his earlier deposition. Over the objections of Tanner’s attorneys, and with a promise to the Court to tie the admission of the leash to a relevant question, the Court admitted the new leash and the Rottweiler’s broken leash into evidence.

Mack’s attorneys called Tanner to the witness stand. They asked him to identify the broken leash. Tanner testified it looked like the one he used to walk his Rottweiler the day of attack. Mack’s attorneys asked Tanner to look closer at the broken leash and then asked if those were his initials and date marked on both pieces of the broken leash.

Upon closer examination, Tanner admitted those were the initials and date mark he placed on the pieces of the broken leash during his sworn deposition.

Mack’s attorneys asked Tanner to read aloud to the Court the instructions on the label attached to the new and otherwise identical leash. Tanner read the following:

This leash is appropriate for an animal weighing no more than 47 pounds. Using the leash on an animal weighing more than 47 pounds may result in rapid deterioration, breakage or separation.

Mack’s attorneys rested their case. Before they called Tanner to the stand, they had called three different witnesses all of who testified that they had heard Tanner boast about how aggressive and strong his dog was. The attorneys had also called Ken Mack himself who testified that Kimberly Tanner had boasted to him that the dog “could tear the head off someone.”

Tanner’s attorneys attempted to refute or at least balance out this testimony. They called two of Tanner’s neighbors to testify on Tanner’s and the dog’s behalf.

The first neighbor said although the dog often growled and barked, it never “snapped at” her, or attempted to bite her. The second neighbor testified she often babysat for Tanner’s two children prior to the dog bite injury claim, and she never saw the dog penned in a confined area, or in any way taunted or abused.

Tanner’s attorney also called Tanner to the stand. Tanner’s testimony about the peaceful and non-aggressive nature of his Rottweiler was similar to the preceding witnesses. On the question about the leash manufacturer’s explicit warnings, Tanner testified he had been using that leash for several months, and was unaware of its published limitations.

Tanner further testified the leash was given to him by the people who originally sold the Rottweiler to him. At that time the leash did not have a label, or any other markings which would have put him on notice about the leash’s poundage limitations.

He said if he saw any deterioration of the leash, or had any prior knowledge of its limitations, he would have discarded it and purchased another more appropriate leash.

Outcome…

After hearing the testimony, reviewing the evidence and listening to the arguments of counsel, the Court ruled as follows:

“We have previously held the owner of a domestic animal will be held liable for harm caused by that animal if the owner knew or should have known of that animal’s vicious propensities.

In this case although we considered the defendant’s testimony to be credible, we cannot permit his purported lack of knowledge of the maximum leash poundage limitations to relieve him of responsibility for the injuries his animal caused.

A reasonable and prudent person would have known when a dog’s weight increases from 25 to 80 pounds a leash should normally be changed to accommodate the weight increase. The defendant failed to do so.

We therefore hold in favor of the plaintiff and against the defendant.”

Important Points…

The owner of an animal may be held liable for an injury caused by that animal where although not apparently vicious, the dog’s aggressive tendencies were known, or should have been known to the owner.

In a dog bite injury claim, the fact that the dog in question hasn’t injured anyone before the plaintiff does not mean the defendant is not liable. The propensity of an animal to cause harm to an individual should, in almost every case be a foreseeable harm.

It is the owner’s duty to be aware of his animal’s “proclivity for aggressive behavior” whether that animal has evidenced aggressive behavior in the past or not.

Because of the likelihood of serious bodily injury or death which may result from an animal’s attack, the Courts will seldom permit an animal owner to wait until that animal injures someone before it will assign liability.


Information from Injury Claim Coach
Disclaimer: This information is not a substitute for legal advice.  Laws change from time to time, so if you are injured, protect your rights and call today at 1-800-598-2440 or contact the Womick Law Firm online.

 

Dog Bite Cases: The Basics

Dog attacks account for over one-third of all homeowners insurance claims filed every year. Many end in lawsuits seeking damages.

There is no nationwide law for dog bite cases. This sometimes leads to confusion as there can be multiple competing layers of ordinances.

Liability must be proven in a dog attack case. This starts with the victim identifying the attacking dog and the dog’s owner or responsible party.

Most cities and counties require dogs to have identification tags with the owner’s contact information.

There is always a case to be made if a dog owner violates confinement laws or knowingly harbors a dangerous animal.

Most dog bite lawsuits are settled by insurance companies out of court (these cases are often handled through the dog owner’s homeowners policy). If you do need to file suit, finding an attorney with a track record in dog attack cases can significantly help, even if the case never makes it to court.

Some states maintain a dog owner has strict liability. This means the owner is liable for any attack regardless of whether or not the owner knew the dog was dangerous. In states without this standard, it has to be proven that the owner knew the dog was dangerous.

Contributory negligence is also a factor. A person who climbs over the fence into a dog pen and gets bitten obviously contributed to the incident. They may have partial (or even full) liability for their own dog bite injury. Provoking the animal can also be a contributing factor.


Information from Injury Claim Coach
Disclaimer: This information is not a substitute for legal advice.  Laws change from time to time, so if you are injured, protect your rights and call today at 1-800-598-2440 or contact the Womick Law Firm online.

Workers’ Compensation Benefits: Slip and Fall Accident

An employee who contributed to the cause of his workplace injury is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Just as it isn’t necessary to prove the employer was negligent, workers’ comp laws do not bar the employee from coverage if the slip and fall accident is entirely his fault.

There are a few exceptions. If actions that result in an injury are intentional (actions that have a high probability of causing injury, or exhibit a wanton disregard of probable consequences), a work accident claim may be denied. While each case is unique, questions of coverage denial normally arise in fraud cases, or when a worker purposely does something he knows is unsafe.

Example: Waiter disregards Wet Floor sign
Alex worked as a server at a local restaurant. His duties included taking customers’ orders, transferring them to the kitchen, and serving food to the customers. Alex was working his way through college and used his tip money to pay his expenses. He knew that he could increase his tips by serving more customers, so he worked as fast as possible.

The restaurant was very busy one evening when another server unintentionally dropped a tray, spilling water and soda on the floor. The supervisor had a kitchen worker promptly mop up the spill, but the area was still slick. The supervisor also placed several “Caution” signs in the area. Workers had been instructed during training never to walk through an area where a Wet Floor sign was posted.

The slick area blocked Alex’s quickest path to his designated serving area. He had to walk entirely around the restaurant to get to his tables. Alex decided getting to his customers was more important than the risk the slick area posed. Ignoring the signs and his training, Alex hurried through the slick area, fell and broke his right leg.

Despite disregarding his training, the signs, and his common sense, Alex was still entitled to full workers’ compensation benefits. His actions did not rise to a level necessary to deny him coverage. Alex’s intention was to get to his customers, not to slip and fall. Alex didn’t believe he would slip, or he wouldn’t have disregarded the signs and walked through the area.

If Alex’s intention was to disregard the signs knowing he would be injured, or if he deliberately took advantage of the spill and purposely slipped and fell so he could collect benefits, his work accident claim would likely be denied.


Information from Injury Claim Coach
Disclaimer: This information is not a substitute for legal advice.  Laws change from time to time, so if you are injured, protect your rights and call today at 1-800-598-2440 or contact the Womick Law Firm online.

Landlord Liability and The Law

The law requires landlords of apartments, townhomes, rented homes, and duplexes to meet a very strict legal duty to keep their property habitable and free of dangerous conditions. When a landlord fails to carry out regular inspections and make timely repairs of his property, he’s negligent.


When his negligence results in injuries, the landlord breaches (violates) his legal duty of care (obligation). As a result he becomes responsible, or liable, for damages. Damages include the injured person’s medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses for medications, crutches, etc., lost wages, and pain and suffering.

The question then becomes how to prove the landlord was negligent and therefore liable for your damages. To succeed in your apartment building insurance claim, the law says you have a legal burden of proof. To prove your landlord was negligent requires evidence.

You have to show:

1. Your landlord was aware, or should have been aware of the dangerous condition existing in your apartment, townhome, duplex, or in the common area of the complex.
2. A prudent (careful) landlord knows, or should know, the dangerous condition could result in injuries to you, your family members, or visitors.
3. The landlord failed to take reasonable steps to correct the dangerous condition or to prevent you and others from exposure to it. This is true even during the time repairs are underway.
4. The landlord’s negligence in failing to inspect and correct the dangerous condition was the direct and proximate (legally acceptable) cause of your injuries.

Regular Inspections

Your landlord has an implied obligation to make regular inspections of your apartment complex common area. You don’t have a legal duty to formally notify the landlord of the dangerous condition. It’s not your responsibility to make inspections of the property and send written notices to the landlord every time you find a dangerous condition.
The law doesn’t require you to act as a property inspector, making sure the grounds are safe. The law says the negligence is attributable to the landlord if he fails to make regular inspections of his property to guard against dangerous conditions.

Example: Failing to Repair a Water Leak
It’s the middle of winter. A sprinkler head in your complex broke weeks ago. Each day, water leaks all over the sidewalk, making it dangerously icy. While coming home one evening, you slipped and fell, breaking your arm.

In this case, that you never notified the landlord about the broken sprinkler head doesn’t matter. The landlord was negligent in not inspecting the sprinkler heads regularly.

Example: Neglecting to Repair a Dangerous Shower Door
The shower door in your rented townhome broke a while ago. It tends to swing open when you get in and out of the shower. It won’t stay closed because the latch is broken. On several occasions, while drying yourself, the shower door has smacked into your leg, scraping it.
The landlord knew of the broken shower door latch because you called him several times, sent him several emails, and wrote several letters asking him to make the necessary repairs. All your requests to repair the latch went unanswered. One day the shower door swung open. This time the lower portion of the shower door cut into your leg causing a gaping wound.

Although your landlord had a duty to make regular inspections of the property, it didn’t include entering your apartment on a regular basis to inspect for dangerous conditions. That’s impractical and an invasion of your privacy. For the law to find the landlord negligent, and therefore liable for your injuries, you must have expressly notified him of the danger your broken shower door posed.

In this case, the landlord was clearly aware of the shower door because you called him several times, sent him several emails, and wrote several letters to him. Your letters, emails, etc. established express notice to the landlord of the dangerous condition inside your apartment. You also gave the landlord a reasonable amount of time to make repairs.
The landlord’s negligence in failing to repair your shower door was a breach of his duty of care to you. The faulty shower door was the direct and proximate cause of your injury. Therefore the landlord is liable for your damages.

Have you been injured on a rented property in Southern Illinois?  You may have a case.  Call Womick Law Firm today to find out more about landlord liability and what we can do for you!


Information from Injury Claim Coach
http://www.injuryclaimcoach.com/apartment-building-insurance.html

Disclaimer: This information is not a substitute for legal advice.  Laws change from time to time, so if you are injured, protect your rights and call today at 1-800-598-2440 or contact the Womick Law Firm online.

Personal Injury Case Study: Rear-End Car Accident

Personal Injury

by Judge Anthony P. Calisi (ret.)
The following car accident story illustrates several important legal issues regarding rear-end collisions. It reviews the accident, demonstrates liability, injuries, settlement negotiations, and the final personal injury case resolution.


The Accident…

 

A family of four was driving westbound down a busy four lane intersection in a sizeable sport utility vehicle (Vehicle One) traveling at a speed of 10-15 miles per hour during a light rain. The traffic was congested since there was a holiday sale taking place at the mall about 1/4 of a mile ahead. As they drove, they noticed a dancing reindeer holding a sign advertising a sale.

The father was driving and his attention was drawn to the dancing reindeer as he looked away from the road for no more than 10 seconds. When he looked back, the traffic immediately in front of him was completely stopped.

The father, unable to brake in time and due to the slick roadway, slammed into the car in front of him, a compact mini-car (Vehicle Two) in which an elderly man and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Retired were traveling. The rear-end collision started a chain reaction causing the mini to slam into a motorcycle (Vehicle Three) driven by a 19-year old male with an 18 year old female passenger who was not wearing a helmet.

 

Liability…

 

The vehicle code in almost every jurisdiction in the U.S. requires drivers to allow a comfortable distance between themselves and the vehicle in front of them. It also requires a degree of care particularly when the road conditions are less than ideal (i.e. in this car accident story the light rain raised existing oils on the road surface making the roadway particularly slick).
Furthermore, the driver is required to keep their eyes on the road avoiding distractions such as a dancing reindeer on the side of the road. In this car accident story, when the driver of the SUV slammed into the mini he was at fault for failing to observe those basic rules of the road.

Some states will hold the initial driver responsible for the chain reaction and the subsequent damage and injury to the motorcyclist. However, other states may hold the driver of the mini partially liable under a contributory negligence theory – for “contributing to” the accident by also failing to allow a comfortable distance.

 

Injuries…

 

Vehicle One: In this vehicle, we have four passengers. Since the two children and two adults were seat belted, the injuries were no more severe than mild whiplash. (This occurs when the body is restrained by a seat belt but the neck is not. When the car jerks to a stop due to a collision, the head moves forward then backward in a whip like motion which can cause symptoms such as head aches, back pain and sometimes tingling sensations in the legs.)

Vehicle Two: In this vehicle, we have two elderly parties. Even though Mr. and Mrs. Retired are more fragile due to their age, the driver of vehicle one is still responsible for their injuries because most jurisdictions hold that we take the plaintiff as they come – even with pre-existing conditions or fragile sensibilities.
They experienced whiplash, neck and back pain due to the rear-end collision. However due to the size differences of each vehicle, the SUV caused extensive property damage and the impact would be more severe causing more significant injury.

Vehicle Three: These two were the most seriously injured because they did not have the protection of a vehicle. Both experience road rash from falling on the pavement and the female passenger experienced a concussion from failing to wear a helmet.

 

Negotiations…

 

In a rear-end collision such as this, the police will usually respond and make a Traffic Incident Report. Therein, any vehicle code violations would be noted as well aswitness statements, injuries and over-all cause of the accident. When this occurs, it makes settlement negotiations quite easy because there is no real dispute as to what happened and re-telling your car accident story is not an issue.

Mr. and Mrs. Retired each went to their family chiropractor and incurred $3,500 in chiropractic care as well as $150 in out-of-pocket expenses. They each submitted a claim for $14,150.00 to the adjuster which represents their medical bills multiplied by four plus their out-of-pocket expenses attributed to prescriptions.

The adjuster responded with a settlement offer of $3,800 which is slightly more than themedical expenses. This is common, however Mr. and Mrs. Retired counter-offered at $12,500 letting the adjuster know that they were serious about their settlement.

The driver of the motorcycle had to be taken to urgent care where he incurred $5,800 in medical bills. He needed to participate in 3 months of physical therapy for another $3,600 and he missed 4 weeks of work as a courier where he makes $12 per hour part-time. He demanded $38,560 or 4 times his medical bills plus his lost wages. The adjuster countered at $19,000.
His female passenger incurred $7,300 in medical bills in the emergency room and was transported there by ambulance which cost $1,200. She participated in 6 months of chiropractic for another $9,000. She demanded $70,000. The adjuster challenged the duration of treatment arguing that her chiropractic was excessive and offered $11,000.

 

Final Settlement…

 

The total insurance policy was only $50,000, therefore each of the four injured parties only had this sum to share. The final settlement was $8,000 each to Mr. and Mrs. Retired, $20,000 to the motorcycle driver and $14,000 to his passenger.

 

Important Points…

 

It is always a good idea to summon the police when you are in an auto collision. The police are charged with getting witness statements when all parties are present and when the car accident story is freshest in everyone’s mind.

Seatbelts and helmets are never to be ignored. Many jurisdictions’ laws now make wearing seatbelts and helmets mandatory.

The driver who rear-ends the car in front is almost always at fault. Most states’ vehicle codes require that a driver leave a comfortable distance between his vehicle and the vehicle in front. Particlar care is required in hazardous conditions.

If you are injured in a car accident that wasn’t your fault and your medical bills exceed the insurance limits of the at-fault driver, you can pursue the driver personally for compensation. If there is more than one party at fault you can pursue both parties.

Have you been injured in a car accident that wasn’t your fault?  Call Womick Law Firm today to see what we can do for you!


Information from Injury Claim Coach
Disclaimer: This information is not a substitute for legal advice.  Laws change from time to time, so if you are injured, protect your rights and call today at 1-800-598-2440 or contact the Womick Law Firm online.

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