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Our Personal Injury Lawyers Answer Commonly Asked Questions

At the Dennis L. Callahan Attorney at Law law firm, we have more than four decades of experience helping clients secure financial recovery for damages resulting from personal injuries. We understand the physical and emotional trauma these accidents can cause and are proud to provide our clients with exceptional legal representation at a reasonable price. We support clients in Missouri and Illinois through each step of the process with personalized attention and make ourselves available to answer questions as they arise.

Following are some of the common questions we hear:

If someone is bitten by a dog, is the owner responsible for the medical bills?

In most cases, the owner of an animal is liable for any injuries inflicted by the animal. While some jurisdictions only require the plaintiff prove the owner was negligent, others require evidence that the owner knew, or should have known, the animal was prone to biting. This can be a difficult to prove if there is not a history of the animal attacking others. Both Missouri and Illinois have “dog bite” statutes that say an owner is liable for injuries caused by their pet if the animal attacked without provocation. Provocation could be proven if an adult interacted with an animal after they were warned the animal should not be approached. This defense cannot be used if the victim is a child. Once liability has been established, the plaintiff can recover compensation for pain and suffering, the cost of treatment, lost wages and any permanent disability caused by the attack.

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What do the legal terms assault and battery mean?

Although assault and battery are commonly heard together, these are two different legal terms with their own definitions. Assault is an attempt or imminent threat to physically harm someone. While physical contact isn’t required for an assault charge, a battery charge indicates that the defendant intentionally touched someone in a harmful or offensive manner without the victim’s consent.

In order to prove an assault has occurred, it must be shown that the plaintiff had a reasonable response of apprehension to the defendant’s actions. If the threat of force is imminent, and it’s reasonable to believe they could and would carry out the threat, it is likely the plaintiff can prove that an assault has taken place.

Often battery occurs after assault. An individual threatens someone; then, that threat is carried out. The victim does not need to suffer an injury battery to occur. The physical contact simply needs to be unpermitted. Bumping into someone accidentally is not battery; however, grabbing someone’s coat as they walk away, could be.

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Is a property owner liable for injuries suffered by others on their property?

It is the legal responsibility of a property owner to ensure their property is reasonably safe for others to visit. This responsibility can fall on nonowner residents, such as renters. This includes businesses and private residents. If an individual is injured on someone’s property, they must prove that the owner failed to meet their duty to maintain a safe environment. This can be complex because the determination depends on variables of the situation and the jurisdiction of the case.

The plaintiff must show that a dangerous condition existed and that the owner or occupant in control of the premises was either aware or should have been aware that the condition existed. They must also prove that the defendant failed to remedy the dangerous condition or warn guests and visitors of the danger. Injured parties can collect damages for things such as pain and suffering, medical bills and lost wages.

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How can a slip-and-fall action be proven?

When someone is injured after falling on someone else’s property, they may be able to bring a slip-and-fall lawsuit against the property owner or the individual occupying the property. In a slip-and-fall action, the plaintiff is typically responsible for presenting evidence that the owner was aware of or should have been aware of the dangerous condition that resulted in the injury and failed to eliminate the danger or properly warn the individual injured.

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Does a property owner have the right to use deadly force to defend their property?

While having an intruder on your premises can be a terrifying situation, it does not entitle a property owner to use deadly force to defend their property. You may use reasonable force to stop an intruder from coming onto your property or from removing an item they are taking without consent. It is important that the actions taken under these circumstances not be done with the intent of causing great body harm or death but are intended only to stop the act of intrusion or theft. If, however, your personal safety is at risk in addition to the intrusion or theft, the use of deadly force may be considered an act of self-defense. For example, if an intruder enters your home with a weapon such as a gun or knife, and the intruder is killed as a result of your reasonable fear of great bodily harm or death, the actions will likely be considered justified homicide. Many states require the individual defending themselves first attempt to remove themselves from the situation if possible before resorting to deadly force. Ultimately, deadly force should be a last resort that should only be employed if you truly fear for your own life.

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What constitutes defamation?

There are two categories of defamation – slander and libel. If false statement that damages someone’s reputation is spoken, it is slander. Libel occurs when false and damaging statements are expressed through writing or images such as pictures or signs. These statements must be made to a third party such as a coworker. A plaintiff may even have a case if they had to repeat the defamatory statement. An example of this is if they have to explain a false statement made about them by a previous manager or coworker to a prospective employer.

If the statement in question is true, regardless of how upsetting it might be, it is not libel or slander. Therefore, the plaintiff must show that the damaging statement is false. The burden of proving a slander or libel case can be quite difficult if the plaintiff is a public figure, such as a politician or a well-known entertainer. In addition to proving the statement is false, they must prove that defendant knew what they said was untrue or had no regard for the truthfulness of the statement before they made it.

Typically, in defamation cases, damages can only be recovered if the plaintiff proves economic hard resulted from the false statement. However, in cases where the statements are exceptionally damaging, such as false statements of sexual misconduct or criminal behavior, the plaintiff is not required to show that the statement negatively impacted them financially.

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As an average member of the public, what are my privacy rights?

With our continued reliance on technology, our personal information has never been more accessible to others. Because technology is in a constant state of evolution, many of the federal statutes and state laws protecting the privacy of your personal information are also evolving. The following actions may open someone up to a lawsuit:

  • Unlawful appropriation of someone’s image such as using their picture for an advertisement without consent
  • Intrusion of someone’s solitude or private life in a manner that is reasonably considered highly offense such as taking photos of someone in their home or watching them undress through their window without their permission
  • Disclosure of private information that is not of public concern and that is reasonably offensive such as disclosing someone’s sexual orientation on a blog or website without their permission
  • Making an untrue statement publicly about someone that publicly places them in a false light, which, unlike defamation, does not need to be defamatory but is reasonably highly offensive

While enforcing privacy rights can be complex, you are entitled to the protection of your privacy. No one has a right to invade your seclusion, use your image without your consent, disclose private information in a public forum or share untruths publicly that place you in a false light.

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How does a railroad worker file a workers’ compensation claim?

When a railroad worker is injured on the job, they are required to file a claim under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA), rather than filing a state workers compensation claim as most other industries require. While most state systems do not assess if the injury was caused by negligence, FELA only applies to the railroad industry and requires the injured employee to prove their injury resulted from the negligence of their employer.

FELA was passed as a response to the high number of deaths that occurred in the industry when railroads became a primary mode of transportation for goods and individuals during the late 1800s and early 1900s. The railroad industry is highly regulated with laws and rules intended to protect the physical safety of employees. A railroad must make sure they take the necessary steps to ensure their workers are safe and are fully aware of any unsafe or hazardous conditions. When a railroad worker proves negligence, they are entitled to full compensation or their injuries.

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Who can bring a wrongful death claim?

The individuals allowed to bring wrongful death claims vary by state. Many states stipulate that only a decedent’s primary beneficiaries, in most cases their spouse or children, can bring a wrongful death claim. In others, the decedents parents are included in the list of potential plaintiffs. Still other states cast a wider net, allowing anyone who depended economically on the deceased individual to file a claim, regardless of how closely related that are. How the proceeds of a claim are distributed also vary by state, and in some cases, distant relatives may be entitled to a portion of the recovery if they are lawful heirs.

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More About Personal Injury Claims

If you have been injured due to the negligent actions of others, you have suffered a personal injury. Personal injury claims can be made for both physical and emotional injury. Whatever injury you’ve endured, in order to obtain damages, you must present evidence that the defendant is legally responsible for your injury, either through their actions or through a lack of action that resulted in your pain and suffering. At the law firm of Dennis L. Callahan Attorney at Law, we understand how to thoroughly investigate and prepare your case to ensure that legal causation is established.

Typically, personal injury claims can be made in instances when an individual intended to harm another person or when harm was caused by their negligence. Other personal injury actions arise from cases of strict liability in which fault does not need to be established.

There are instances when injuries occur, yet the plaintiff is not entitled to recovery because their own actions indicated that they put themselves in a hazardous situation in which they should have logically assumed they were at risk of being hurt. It is also important to note that some personal injury cases require the plaintiff’s complaint be judged by an objective known as a “reasonable person” standard. This is often applied to cases involving privacy rights.

There are a variety of situations that a personal injury claim might stem from. Some include:

  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Animal bites
  • Assault and battery
  • Premises liability
  • Slip-and-falls
  • Defamation and violation of privacy rights
  • Workers’ compensation claims
  • Medical malpractice
  • Wrongful death

This is by no means a comprehensive list. If you think you may have a personal injury case, it’s important to discuss your options with an experience personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Contact the legal team at Dennis L. Callahan Attorney at Law by calling (314)-764-4500 or complete our online form.

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DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.