In Illinois, the Fourth District Court recently issued an opinion in a plaintiff’s appeal of a trial court’s judgment ruling involving the voluntary undertaking doctrine. The plaintiff, the decedent’s father, filed a lawsuit against his son’s employer following a traumatic brain injury his son suffered after leaving the defendant’s bar. The decedent was invited to an event at the defendant’s bar and was ejected from the premises after becoming increasingly intoxicated. As the decedent left the premises, he fell and suffered fatal injuries from a traumatic brain injury. Amongst, other claims, the plaintiff argued that the defendant was liable because he owed him a duty of care under Illinois’ voluntary undertaking theory.

In response to the plaintiff’s complaint, the defendant filed a demand requesting detailed information including the specific information regarding the time and location of the fall, the exact manner of the injury, how the injury resulted in the death, and the time and location of the decedent’s death. The court denied the defendant’s motion but ultimately dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint.

On appeal, the court parsed out Illinois’ voluntary undertaking doctrine. Under the doctrine, courts recognize an affirmative duty of care when a plaintiff proves that the other party took a voluntary undertaking. For example, this applies when a defendant undertook a duty to assist and did so with negligence. The law applies when a party renders services for the protection of another, gratuitously or for consideration, will be liable for physical harm resulting from their failure to exercise reasonable care. The doctrine limits the defendant’s liability to the extent of their undertaking.

Recent allegations of sexual misconduct in the Chicago Park District resulted in the previous Superintendent stepping down. According to a recent news report, in April of 2020, an investigation was opened into complaints of sexual harassment, abuse, assault and other misconduct against dozens of employees in the Aquatics Department. Evidently, there was a pattern of sexual abuse being committed against lifeguards, many of which were underage girls.

While the Superintendent is not accused of any wrongdoing himself, some point the finger of blame, claiming that he is “guilty of deceit and failing to take critical steps to promote the zero-tolerance standards that must replace this frat boy culture that has been allowed to flourish here for too long.”

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot told reporters that she received information—which she couldn’t divulge—leading her to seek the removal of the superintendent. Later that week, Mayor Lightfoot publicly called for the superintendent’s resignation. He resigned mere hours later.

After a person has been hurt in a Chicago accident, they often put off filing a personal injury lawsuit—whether because of commitments, family obligations, or other reasons. However, many people do not realize that there is a time limit for bringing a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party. This time limit is called the statute of limitations. Because states differ in their statute of limitations, it is important for people to be aware of the time limits they are facing—especially if they are relying on the financial compensation that comes from the lawsuit.

Recently in Chicago, a woman was killed while trying to pass the street after two cars crashed into each other. According to a local news report, the driver of the first vehicle was headed north when it slammed into another car coming from the opposite direction. The pedestrian was in the crosswalk when this occurred, and she was hit. She was pronounced dead at the scene, and people in the second vehicle were taken to the hospital to be treated for their injuries. If either the victim’s family or the injured people were to bring a lawsuit against the responsible driver in the above case, they would have to file the case within a certain timeframe to ensure they are not barred by the statute of limitations.

What is a Statute of Limitations?

Following a Chicago car accident, most people know that they are legally obligated to exchange insurance and contact information before heading their separate ways. Sometimes, however, car accidents take place where the at-fault party collides with another vehicle and flees the scene. If the at-fault party is unable to be located, it could leave the driver who was hit with little recourse against that hit-and-run driver for any physical injuries or property damage resulting from the accident.

In this situation, an injury lawyer will look to pursue an uninsured motorist claim against the accident victim’s own auto insurance policy. The carrier will essentially step into the shoes of the driver that fled the scene and pay on the claim.

According to a recent news report, a local hit-and-run accident left a local man dead and a woman severely injured. The crash took place when a Jeep traveling southbound ran a red light at an intersection and T-boned another vehicle heading east. That vehicle then crashed into another car heading north. The driver of the first vehicle hit by the Jeep died on the scene, and the vehicle’s passenger was sent to the hospital for treatment of critical injuries. The driver and passenger of the second car struck were not hurt. Local authorities suspect that the at-fault driver fled the scene on foot after the accident but were confident they would be able to locate the individual in question.

The Illinois Supreme Court issued a recent opinion in an Illinois truck accident case, addressing whether Cook County was the proper venue for the plaintiff’s lawsuit. The plaintiff was driving a tractor-trailer when another tractor-trailer slammed into his truck. The plaintiff suffered serious injuries requiring amputation of both legs. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the truck driver for the negligent operation of a vehicle and his employer under the agency theory of liability. The plaintiff filed the lawsuit in Cook County, arguing that the venue was proper because one of the defendant’s employees maintained a “home office” in Cook County. In the alternative, the plaintiff claimed that the defendant was “doing business” in the county. The defendant moved to transfer venue, and the circuit court denied their motion.

Illinois has long held that the purpose of the venue statute is to ensure that “that the action will be brought either in a location convenient to the defendant, by providing for venue in the county of residence, or convenient to potential witnesses, by allowing for venue where the cause of action arose.” Venue choice is a defendant’s privilege and reflects the idea that defendants should not have to defend a lawsuit in a county where they do not conduct business, maintain an office, or where no part of the incident occurred. Where venue is in dispute, the defendant bears the burden of establishing that the venue is improper. The law distinguishes between improper venue and forum non conveniens. The latter asks the court to move the claim from one proper venue to another. Unlike forum non conveniens, improper venue issues are strictly statutory and do not concern public or private interests.

In this case, the accident occurred in Ohio, and no part of the action occurred in Cook County. In determining whether the defendant had an office in Cook County, it had to establish whether the defendant’s home office was an office “of” the defendant. In this case, the court reasoned that the defendant did not “purposely select” Cook County to carry on its business activities. Instead, it chose the employee to provide customer service to clients. They did not choose the employee based on his location, and it did not play a role in his hiring. Further, the defendant did not own, pay, or lease any expenses associated with the employee’s home office. Ultimately, the court found that the fact that the employee did work for the defendant from his office is insufficient to bolster the plaintiff’s claim that the home office was the defendant’s “other office”.

Under the Local Government and Governmental Employee Tort Immunity Act (the Act), public institutions such as Illinois government agencies, city governments, and recreational districts are immune from lawsuits. Historically, the purpose of the Act was to help the government operate efficiently without burdensome lawsuits. Generally, the Act protects public and government agencies from lawsuits stemming from negligence related to their operations.

However, several exceptions exist that waive the government’s immunity. Some exceptions are straight forward; however, some situations do not fall squarely within the enumerated exceptions. Moreover, the law imposes enhanced procedural requirements and damage caps on plaintiffs who file claims against the government in certain cases. Injury victims who wish to recover against a negligent city government agency or their employee must thoroughly and effectively gather and present evidence to support their lawsuits.

Lawsuits against the government often stem from injuries that the victim suffered on public property. Public property includes places such as city parking lots, city parks, public playgrounds, city buildings, public intersections, and city buses. In most cases, the law requires that the city does not act negligently; however, depending on the type of accident, the city may only have a duty not to act recklessly. Some common reasons people file lawsuits against the city stem from injuries related to city car and bus accidents, construction accidents, damages stemming from poorly lit streets or damaged sidewalks, and accidents at dangerous intersections.

Being injured on the job can often be traumatic and life-changing. However, it can be even more difficult to recuperate if the insurance company argues the accident is not covered under the insurance policy. In a recent Illinois Supreme Court case, the court was tasked with deciding whether an auto policy exclusion was ambiguous – and thus, whether the insurance company was required to cover the plaintiff’s injuries from the accident. Ultimately, the court decided the exclusion was not ambiguous and the insurance company did not need to provide coverage for the accident.

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was injured on a farm after backing up a grain truck to an auger – a drilling device for making holes in the ground – when attempting to get more leverage to open the truck’s gate. In doing so, he stepped onto the auger and his foot was exposed to the turning shaft of the auger. The plaintiff wound up losing his leg below the knee. The insurance company that covered the grain truck argued they did not need to provide coverage because the injury was caused by an auger, not the truck. Since the auger is a mechanical device, coverage was therefore precluded under the policy’s mechanical device exclusion. The trial court agreed with the insurance company, ruling the mechanical device exclusion was unambiguous and thus ruled in their favor.

Courts have previously ruled that if a policy exclusion is ambiguous, it must be construed in favor of coverage. According to the court, ambiguity only exists where the policy language is susceptible to more than one reasonable interpretation. If the policy can be reasonably interpreted under its plain or popular meaning, the provision should be applied as written.

For most dog owners, our furry friends are important members of our families. A dog owner’s worst nightmare, however, is if or when their dog gets into a violent encounter with a person. Worse than that, however, is being on the other end of a Chicago dog bite attack. When a dog attacks, the injured party can pursue a claim against the animal’s owner.

In a recent opinion, a plaintiff sued seeking recovery for injuries she sustained after the defendants’ dog bit her. According to the court’s opinion, while the defendants were out of town, a friend kept an eye on their dog and invited the plaintiff and others to the defendants’ home. The defendants gave their friend instructions to care for their dog, and their friend had watched the dog on several occasions in the past. Before the incident, the dog had never bitten anyone or exhibited aggressive behavior and did not typically jump on visitors. The defendants testified that the dog would often growl at strangers from the window or car, or would bark at other dogs, and once got into a fight with another dog at the park. In addition, the defendants had owned the dog for seven years and did not generally keep the dog away from guests. The lower court ruled in favor of the defendants, and the plaintiff appealed.

On appeal, the plaintiff argued that the lower court erred in ruling in favor of the defendants because they knew or had reason to know about the dog’s aggressive propensities. The court disagreed, reasoning that fights between dogs are not indicative of attacks on humans and that there was no case law indicating that an owner of a dog that growls at people is on notice that the dog poses a threat to humans. In addition, the court held that owners were not in a position to control the dog or prevent injury because they were out of town, so they could not be held liable. Because the defendants had relinquished care to their friend to watch the dog, they had no reason to believe their dog would be a danger to the friend’s guests. Thus, the court affirmed the lower court’s decision and ruled in favor of the defendants.

Slip and fall accidents often cause injuries

Slip and falls are common accidents that occur on another person’s premises. Some slip and falls do not lead to much of an injury, and others can be fatal. People are often too embarrassed to report such an accident, and many blame themselves for any injuries that may have occurred. However, people who are hurt in a slip and fall can pursue a Chicago personal injury case against the responsible parties.

In a recent Illinois appellate court case, the court was tasked with determining whether the defendant, a brewery, was liable for the plaintiff’s injuries even though the plaintiff was unable to prove the defendant knew about the dangerous condition.

We have all experienced the flashing lights and blaring siren as an ambulance speeds past us. However, no one plans to be involved in a car accident with one. Unfortunately, Chicago ambulance accidents regularly occur, and when they do, an ambulance driver may be liable for any resulting injuries.

In a recent Illinois Supreme Court opinion, the plaintiff suffered bodily injuries when a private ambulance ran a red light at an intersection and crashed into the plaintiff’s vehicle. The plaintiff claimed that at the time of the accident, the driver was not operating the ambulance with his siren and lights engaged. Further, the plaintiff argued that the defendant was not proceeding in response to an emergency and that no passengers were in the process of providing emergency or non-emergency medical services at the time of the collision. The plaintiff sued the company that owned the ambulance, as well as the driver.

The defendant ambulance company and driver moved to dismiss the claims based on the immunity provision of the Emergency Medical Systems (EMS) Act. Because the driver was operating the ambulance and providing non-emergency medical services at the time of the accident, the defendants argued they were immune from all civil liability unless the driver’s actions constituted willful misconduct. The plaintiff responded by arguing that the immunity provision of the EMS Act does not apply unless the ambulance is engaged in providing medical services to a patient. The mere use of the vehicle to pick up a patient for non-emergency transport, the plaintiff asserted, was not covered under the statute.

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