Dog Bites

Every year, thousands of Americans are bitten by animals – most often dogs. In many cases, a person bitten by an animal may have a legal right to recover damages from the animal’s owner or another responsible party. This past winter in Connecticut, an unsuspecting woman working as a home health aide was brutally attacked by two to four dogs while she was visiting a patient, suffering severe injuries to her face, chest, arms and legs.
There currently are 83.3 million dogs in the USA, which are kept by 56.7 million households. See, American Pet Products Association, 2013-2014 APPA National Pet Owners Survey Statistics: Pet Ownership & Annual Expenses. According to the most recent survey data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2001, 2002 and 2003 there were 4.5 million American dog bite victims per year, accounting for 1.5% of the entire population. Of those bitten, nearly one in five or about 885,000, suffer injuries requiring medical attention and half of these are children.
According to the CDC, children ages 5 to 9 years are at the greatest risk for dog bites, followed by adult males. Children are also more likely to receive medical attention for dog bites than adults. Dog bites send nearly 368,000 victims to hospital emergency departments per year or a staggering 1,008 per day!
In 2012, more than 27,000 people underwent reconstructive surgery as a result of being bitten by dogs.

What do I do if an Animal Bites Me or a Loved One?
The first thing you should do is seek medical attention if you or a loved one ia bitten by an animal. If the dog bite victim is not properly treated, an animal bite can cause serious injury, infection and even death if the animal was diseased. After receiving medical evaluation and treatment, you should consider consulting with an attorney experienced in handling animal bite cases. At CT-Injury Law Center, one of our experienced attorneys will be able to tell you whether you have a legal claim and what damages you might be able to recover. Call us today at 866-217-8995.
An attorney will ask you detailed questions concerning the circumstances of the animal bite. Be prepared to provide the name and contact information for the animal’s owner, if you know it, as well as the names and contact information of any witnesses. Neighbors and witnesses might help you track down an owner who is not known to you.

What Damages Can You Recover?
Depending on the seriousness of injuries resulting from an animal attack, you may be entitled to recover for:
• Medical expenses
• Lost wages
• Pain and suffering
• Property damage.
In some cases, a dog bite victim might be entitled to punitive damages, which are awarded to punish someone for his or her behavior. Punitive damages are those damages exceeding simple compensation and awarded to punish the wrongdoer. To justify an award of punitive damages, the offender’s conduct typically must transcend mere negligence, such as reckless or intentional conduct. For example, if a dog owner knew his dog was ferocious, yet repeatedly allowed the dog to run free near a playground, and the dog eventually attacked a child, an award of punitive damages could be appropriate.
Getting Help
If an animal has bitten you or a loved one, you may be entitled to recover damages for any injuries that resulted. Determining your legal rights can be complicated, and it may be unclear who to bring a claim against, and to what sort of damages you are entitled. To ensure that you receive just compensation, you should consider contacting an attorney with experience handling dog/animal bite cases. Call CT-Injury Law Center today at 866-217-8995 to set up a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.

A Model is Worth a Million Words

In March 1911, newspaper editor Arthur Brisbane reportedly told the Syracuse Advertising Men’s Club: “Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words.”  Advance one hundred years and the advice advances a thousand-fold.

We live in a world where 3-D printing is becoming cheaper and more commonplace.  In short, a three dimensional computer model sends information to a 3-D printer, building an object out of metal, plastic, or other materials from the ground up.  There are many recreational and industrial uses for the process, such as creating pieces to enable Lego to connect to Tinkertoys.  But, there are also uses for victims of personal injuries.

Let’s say you slip, fall, and break a bone.  Sure, you could show the x-rays to a jury.  But what if you could take those x-rays and make a replica of the broken bone?  The increased impact is a thousand-fold.

Let’s say there’s a concern that a surgeon did X when she should have done Y to remove a tumor.  Only the surgeon in the operating room saw the tumor.  But what if you could take the pre-surgery MRI and make a replica of the tumor and its surrounds to show how there was another, better, surgical option?

Let’s say the physical layout of a building is important to understand where people were located, or where a defect existed, or how a fire spread, or how water runoff caused damage.  You could use pictures, a video, architectural renderings, or just talk about it.  But what if you could take a video of the building and make a scaled down replica?

There are many circumstances such as these when it might be appropriate to the prosecution of a personal injury claim for a 3D model to be made.  It won’t always be known, however, at the outset.  This is why planning and foresight are crucial.  If going for a medical imaging study, ask for the raw, high quality, unedited DICOM file and bring a blank DVD with you; or, if you went already, ask the medical staff for the DICOM file as is, not just a copy of the radiology report.  Take lots of pictures and video from all angles of the scene of an injury, the machine/device that injured you, and damage to object (e.g. vehicle damage), if you do not otherwise need emergency medical care.  If you do require emergency care, ask someone for help capturing the images.

Most cases won’t likely require the building of a 3-D model, but experienced personal injury counsel can work with you and help you decide whether such a model can or should be made.



Two Vehicle v. Pedestrian Accidents in less than one week.

On Saturday, June 28th a 71-year-old woman was struck by an SUV in Middletown at the intersection of Main Street and Dr. Martin Luther King Way while crossing the street.  She later passed away from her injuries.  See further details here.  Less than one week later, on July 2nd, another pedestrian was walking on Route 40 near East Street in Vernon when she was struck by a car .  She was pronounced dead at the scene.  Additional information can be found here.

Carnival Ride Injuries

This past weekend, eighteen people, including twelve children, were injured at the Norwalk Oyster Festival when a carnival ride apparently malfunctioned.  In this case, it was a swing ride that seems to have had its machinery suddenly freeze up, causing the riders to crash into each other and the ride itself.    Basically, the type of ride at issue, the Zumur, consists of seats connected to rigid poles affixed to a rotating mechanism, the type of ride that is common at many amusement parks and carnivals.  According to Connecticut State Police, the owner did not have a history of safety violations.

A study, US Pediatric Injuries Involving Amusement Rides, 1990-2010, by Thompson, et al., was published in the journal Clinical Pediatrics in May 2013.  The study found that over 90,000 children were injured by rides over a twenty year period.  One third of injuries occurred at fixed locations (theme parks/amusement parks) and 29% at temporary locations (e.g., carnivals and festivals).    However, even if more are injured at amusement parks than carnivals, that might not mean carnival rides are safer if there is a significantly higher volume of riders at amusement parks.

The first thing, of course, when injured is to obtain immediate medical attention.  To the extent possible, a victim should try to obtain witness identities and photographs/video of the ride, including inspecting the area for security camera and news cameras.  Accidents do happen, but sometimes there is fault.  If the owner fails to properly maintain the ride, it may be liable.  If the operator fails to pay attention for potential hazards, there may be liability.  If a machine was poorly made, designed, or repaired, there may be liability.

Hiring competent, experienced personal injury attorneys who can help navigate the maze of federal and state regulators will help a victim be made whole for any error that may have occurred.

Duty to Inspect Dangerous Trees: Who is Liable When a Tree Falls and Causes Injury?

Almost every private home, town street or park contains beautiful trees which, when properly cared for, improve property values, provide shade and allow people to enjoy outdoor spaces. Connecticut is especially known for its tree lined streets, parks and state forests. While trees provide a clear benefit to homeowners and people enjoying the outdoors, if not properly cared for, they can become a hazard and a potential legal liability. An accident over Memorial Day weekend underscores the potential for injury from falling tree limbs.

Private landowners, the State and municipalities can be liable to persons injured or killed by a falling tree limb. Under the law of premises liability, property owners have a duty to guard against probable dangers. There exists an affirmative obligation to keep in a safe condition that property over which they have control. 8137136139_6527f02b85_b

The location of a tree is extremely important in determining whether a landowner or municipality has a duty to inspect and remedy a potentially dangerous tree. Owners of roadside property have a duty to inspect and monitor roadside trees which pose a threat to cars or pedestrians. In some instances, this responsibility can fall on the town or State. It is obviously not possible for a rural landowner to inspect every tree on their property to make sure it is not in danger of falling down. But when a tree is in a highly trafficked area and falls into a street or sidewalk the landowner or town can be liable.

Courts in Connecticut have applied the ordinary rules of negligence as well as the law of public nuisance to limbs falling off trees and causing personal injury. It is therefore a question of the nature of the tree’s location, the seriousness of the danger and the ease with which it may be prevented that determines the liability for a falling tree limb. If you become aware of a tree that poses a danger it is important to put the owner of the property on notice of the danger before the situation becomes perilous. If you have been injured by a falling tree or branch you should consult with an experienced attorney.

What to do If Your Child is Injured at School

Every day, we trust the Connecticut Public Schools with the welfare and safety of our children.  Unfortunately, injuries can happen.  Knowing what to do in response to a school injury and what you can expect is key.

First, make sure your child receives all appropriate medical attention.  Recovery from the injury is of the utmost concern to any parent and the CT Injury Law Center wants to make sure your child makes a speedy recovery to return to school and activities.

In addition, you should document the injury.  Make sure an appropriate accident report is filed with the school. Gather all medical records, bills, and insurance statements.  Save a copy of any incident report, but do not sign any document from the school other than one just acknowledging receipt of an incident report.  Make a list of witnesses and statements you have heard.  Take photographs of any defective conditions.

Talk to a lawyer who understands school injuries.  Bringing a claim against a school district and public school employees can be difficult.  Recently, in Haynes v. Middletown  the Connecticut Court of Appeals ruled against a student who was injured eight years ago in a locker room, cut by a locker with a jagged and exposed edge.  The ruling, and the law, is counterintuitive–because the dangerous condition had been that way for months, the school was not liable.

Normally, in a premises liability case, the longer a defective condition exists, the more the property owner is deemed to have had sufficient time to learn about the situation and fix it.  However, when suing a public school, it is important to recall that because the government makes the rules and is ultimately responsible to the entire citizenry, not just the injured person, it is not always legally responsible in the same way as a private actor.  If a school employee has a low level job and is just charged with performing specific tasks in a specific way, then liability can attach for negligent performance of ministerial tasks.  But, if someone has to make a decision about what to do, when to do it, how to do it, etc., then they are generally immune from suit for exercising their discretion; they are politically accountable to the public for bad decisions, but they are not legally liable.  There is an exception, which was the crux of the Haynes case.

In Haynes, the who, what, where, when and how of fixing the locker involved decision making, i.e., a discretionary function.  The government is not immune from suit when the identifiable person/imminent harm test is satisfied.  As noted by the court,”To prevail on that exception, the plaintiffs had to prove imminent harm, an identifiable victim, and a public official to whom it was apparent that his or her conduct is likely to subject the victim to that harm.”  It is meant to require a government employee to take immediate action when it knows someone is about to get hurt.  The Haynes family lost on the “imminent harm” question.  The jagged edge had been that way for months.  The school made a choice, purposely or by ignoring it, not to get it fixed right away, whether due to budget, or availability of repairmen, or need to keep the room in use, or otherwise.  The harm was not imminent.

Speaking to a knowledgeable attorney is important.  They can help you strategize how best to proceed with any claims that can be made, including a determination of who, other than a school employee, may be responsible, or help find a path to closure that does not take eight years.

Liability for Train Accidents in Connecticut

800px-Vykolejeni_EC_107_v_Praze_5On Friday, May 17, 2013, seventy two people were injured  when two Metro-North trains collided just after 6:00 p.m.  The attorneys and staff of the CT Injury Law Center were saddened to learn of this news.  Apparently, a train heading east derailed between the Bridgeport and Fairfield stations, and it was then struck by a westbound train.  Investigators are looking into whether a broken section of rail was responsible for the derailment or whether it simply broke during the collision.

In addition to the potentially devastating injuries that can occur when a train is involved in a collision, whether with a car, pedestrian, or other train, special considerations need to be taken into account when seeking to hold the responsible parties accountable.  For example, the Metro-North Commuter Railroad is run by the Metropolitan Transit Authority, an agency of the State of New York, in cooperation with the Connecticut Department of Transportation.  Pursuant to NY CLS Pub A sec. 1276, Connecticut residents may be required to first make a written demand for settlement and then only have one year from the date of injury to file suit (one year and 90 days for injuries after June 15, 2013).  Alternately, claims might be needed to be presented to the Connecticut Claims Commissioner within one year, prior to suit being authorized, should the Connecticut Department of Transportation be liable.  See, CGS sec. 4-141, et seq.   Claims for Amtrak or other train line injuries may have other requirements, especially where they are operated by governmental entities.

If you are injured in a Connecticut train accident, you should speak with an attorney familiar with presentment requirements.