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How safe are Pitbull and Pitbull Mixed-Breeds as a family pet?

How safe are Pitbull and Pitbull Mixed-Breeds as a family pet?

mean pitbullThe mention of Pitbull-breed dogs stirs up strong feelings. Some people swear to their gentleness, while others are uncomfortable being near them. Most Pittbull owners will tell you that their temperament is much more docile than what the stereotypes would have you believe. This may be the case when the canine in question is in the right environment. In fact, Pitbull breeds may show no signs of aggression around humans, including young children, but humans may not be the ones in immediate danger.

Pitbull Genetics Can Favor Aggression Toward Animals, Including Other Dogs

The Pitbull breed was created for strength and fearlessness in the face of large predator animals like bears, wolves and wild boars. To this day, Pitbulls and related breeds like the Dog O Argentina serve as the boar hunting dogs of choice. It is no wonder then that Pitbull canines have become a symbol associated with groups looking to portray a tough, loyal and powerful image.

There are several variations of the Pitbull breed, including the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, American Bully, and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. The name Staffordshire comes from the geographic origin of the breed: a landlocked county in the West Midlands of England where the dogs were believed to be originally bred for use in various blood sports.

Animals Might Be Most At-Risk from Pitbull Aggression

The lineage of these breeds points to potential dangers to other animals, even domestic pets. Pitbull breeds constitute the majority of dogs used for illegal dogfighting in the United States. In this unlawful and cruel activity, the dogs are bred and selected for animal aggression. They can make the news for attacks such as an incident where a Boykin Spaniel was mauled by a Pitbull running loose in a Virginia Beach neighborhood. In another incident a Pitbull pulled away from its owner and began attacking a neighbor’s dog in Athens, GA, as noted in an Athens-Clark County Police Department report. As a result, the dog bit and injured a child.

An alarming number of Pitbulls and Pitbull mixes find their way into animal shelters. Many can pass safety evaluations, which primarily screen them for aggression toward humans (one typical test involves taking a food bowl away from an animal and seeing if it bites). A dog approved for adoption can indeed be very sweet to its new family, who may be taken by surprise when their new dog attacks a neighbor’s animal without provocation. Training can certainly help in most cases.

pitbull attack victimIn my experience as a dog bite personal injury lawyer, I have seen countless incidents where a dog owner rushes to protect their pet when a dog fight breaks out, only to get attacked by the aggressive dog while trying to intervene. When pit mix charges my dog, I immediately scoop my dog up and loudly yell at the aggressive dog, which often responds obediently to a stern human voice.

Understanding breed behavioral tendencies of Pitbulls and mixes means appreciating that such dogs can be docile and loyal to humans, but can still be provoked to the point of aggression by other animals. Whether it was a Pitbull or another breed, if you have experienced personal injury from a dog bite, call an experienced law firm like Atkinson Law at 757-648-8579 or use the online contact form today to get the help you need.

 

Pitbull Attacks and Dog Bites are something that should be taken very seriously. If you are looking for a partner to help you tackle this unfortunate situation, lean on the Dog Bites Attorneys at Atkinson Law today. We can be reached at 757-648-8579.

Nursing Home Ownership, Neglect and Elder Abuse

A recent investigation by NBC News reveals a pattern of neglect and criminality at nursing homes and elder care facilities owned and operated by Skyline Healthcare.  While the report is deeply disturbing, it reveals what nursing home negligence attorneys and victims know all too well: corporate cost cutting and low government oversight translate into systematic elder abuse and neglect.

Skyline Healthcare, owned by New Jersey investor and former insurance salesman Joseph Schwartz, came to manage over 100 nursing homes across 11 states.  The company gobbled up extended care facilities as fast as possible and, in each case, slashed costs to the bone.  Former employees reported to NBC that Skyline Healthcare ran up huge bills with vendors and would simply switch providers when the bills came due.

One former nursing home employee told NBC that she called a state agency to report that the water was about to be shut off at one facility.  Other persons interviewed reported nursing home residents with horrible injuries and neglect.  One had an open wound showing gangrene and even maggot infestation.  In another incident, a resident with dementia walked out of her nursing home through broken automatic doors, collapsing in an ice-covered parking lot, naked and frost-bitten.

Most people would be horrified about these situations and would insist that nursing home chains be subject to oversight.  At present, the federal authorities are understaffed and have trouble keeping up with changes in the industry.  One of the only effective means for holding elder care facilities and corporate owners responsible is the civil lawsuit.  An elder neglect or abuse lawsuit can force a nursing home to pay compensation.  When this happens, it can motivate the company to change its negligent care practices to avoid further financial consequences.

 

 

 

 

$47,500 settlement in pit bull attack personal injury claim

Norfolk personal injury lawyer Ed Atkinson negotiated a  $47,500 settlement for a young man attacked at work by his boss’ pit bull in Chesapeake, Virginia.  The owner had the pit bull on a leash and said it was friendly.  When the young man went to pet the dog, however, it made a vicious lunge toward him and bit him, latching onto his face.  The attack left scars on the young man’s lip and chin.

Negotiating the dog bite injury settlement took time.  The dog owner’s insurance company, based in Florida, was not very familiar with Virginia dog bite law.  Through some patient explaining and tense discussions, the home owner’s insurance company decided to substantially increase their offer.  The company argued that the dog bite victim provoked the dog and assumed the risk by petting it.  They also argued that there was no prior bite, which, as dog bite attorney Ed Atkinson explained, Virginia law doesn’t say will make or break an animal attack case.

This is case features yet another “rehabilitated” pit bull.  That is, the owner under whose care the dog attacked someone adopted the dog without extensive knowledge of its history.  A certain trend has emerged where charities encourage people to adopt pit bulls, with assurances that they are very gentle animals.  In the first place, pit bulls may in fact be gentle toward people, true, but they tend to show aggression to other animals, which can trigger an attack on a person who is only trying to keep two animals from fighting one another.  Second, unlike some other breeds, pit bulls pose a problem for adoption because their original owners in many cases wanted an aggressive dog.  Some may have even mistreated the animals.  All of this can happen without the adopting family knowing about it.

Norfolk personal injury lawyer

“On the cover of the Rollin’ Stone!” – Atkinson Law in the news

I am pleased to report that Atkinson Law settled two cases in December with a combined value of $1.15 million, and it earned an article in Virginia Lawyers Weekly, a statewide trade publication.  It all arose out of a serious car accident on the eastern shore.  My clients were making a left turn with a green arrow and a driver coming from the other direction ran a red light at a high speed.

The mother-daughter pair were some of the nicest people I have ever met.  After mediation concluded, I asked the mother what she would use her settlement money for.  She answered that she needed some new church clothes.  Nothing wrong with that!

One thing this case taught me was the importance of seeking an attorney early if you are injured in a car accident.  When relatives contacted me, I went to the hospital to meet the daughter in Newport News.  With me was another great personal injury lawyer, Bill O’Mara, who did a huge amount of work in this matter.  Attorney John Cooper was a force to be reckoned with in negotiations.  I was glad he was on our side!

This personal injury case marks a milestone in Atkinson Law’s growth and success.  Thanks to all my clients, family, friends and colleagues who helped get us to this point.  On to the next one!

Norfolk Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

Norfolk Motorcycle Crash Case Settles for $61,000

It’s the time of year when I like to review some of the more interesting cases I’ve handled and assess the results.  One of my better cases this year concerned a young Navy medical corpsman.  One evening a large SUV (sport utility vehicle, in this case a Cadillac Escalade) pulled out in front of him when he was driving home on his motorcycle.  He tried to avoid a collision, but struck the rear of the Escalade.  The driver of the Escalade admitted fault at the scene and received a ticket for failure to yield right of way.

My client was immediately hospitalized.  He suffered a number of injuries, including multiple transverse fractures of the upper spinal vertebrae.  He stayed at a local Sentara Hospital for seven days.  Even after discharge, he had extreme limitations in his activities.  He ultimately made a full recovery after lots of physical therapy.

Many interesting points can be made about this case.  From the personal injury attorney’s point of view, perhaps the most significant was the issue of liability insurance coverage limits.  My client was allowed to “stack” two policies: the liability coverage from the negligent driver’s policy, and the underinsured coverage from the client’s significantly larger automobile liability policy.  Even though the client’s automobile policy was not a motorcycle policy (he had a motorcycle policy that was much smaller) he was allowed to use it under Virginia law for underinsurance purposes.

Citing Virginia Code section 38.2-2206, I first convinced the negligent driver’s insurance company to tender the limits of the entire insurance policy.  Then I approached my client’s own insurance company and pointed out that they would be responsible for attorney fees if the case went to trial, and sure enough, we got a settlement that my client was happy with.

I think this case show that even when there is clear-cut negligence accompanied by serious bodily injuries, one should always contact an attorney in order to maximize recovery.  To most people, the concepts and laws behind underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage are not familiar.  I would advise every driver to have as much liability insurance as possible and to contact a lawyer if they are injured by another’s negligence in an automobile accident.

Disclaimer: every personal injury case is different; no specific dollar value or results are guaranteed.

Adopted Pit Bull Mauls and Kills Elderly Owner

On June 1st, just hours after being adopted, a pit bull attacked and killed its 90-year-old owner at her Virginia Beach, Virginia home.  The deceased’s daughter told WAVY that she witnessed the pit bull, “Blue” kill her mother in a vicious and unprovoked attack.

Notably, the daughter said she was playing with the dog outside and heard her mother cry for help because she had fallen down.  The door was locked, so she broke a glass pane with a hammer to let herself in.  When she did so, the dog rushed inside and started biting the victim on her neck and shoulders, shaking her violently.  Emergency medical care included an arm amputation.

Without wading into the discussion about pit bulls as a breed, I think that this dog probably had been trained to be aggressive or at least protective of its home before it was given to Forever Home Rehabilitation Center, where the victim obtained it.  One limitation of this sort of “rehabilitation” is that the facility may not know about prior aggression training with any given dog.  With pit bulls, so many are kept as poorly trained “protection dogs” that I am not surprised that this sort of fatal accident can result.

I have a case presently where one such “rehabilitated” dog attacked a client of mine.  If you or a loved one needs legal representation regarding a dog bite or wrongful death in Virginia, feel free to review my free information on dog bite cases on this site and contact me.

How much is my personal injury case worth?

In my years of practicing accident injury law, two questions come up the most: how long will my personal injury case take and how much money will I get?

Major factors shaping the value of your personal injury case include the nature of the injury, whether it is permanent, your health insurance and/or car insurance carrier, the amount of your medical bills, and whether or not the issue of liability is clear.  Soft tissue injuries such as whiplash may involve an emergency room visit with x-rays or CT scans and physical therapy or chiropractic treatment. If the injury heals in a few weeks or months, a very rough estimate of the claim’s value is the total of the medical bills multiplied by two or three.  To reiterate, this is a very rough guideline, not a guarantee, and the other factors mentioned above can change this equation drastically.

For permanent injuries the rough formula of medical bills times two or three is usually too low.  More factors come into play, such as loss of earning capacity, loss of quality of life, and future medical expenses.

In both types of injury, the permanent and non-permanent, liability, or the issue of who was at fault, serves as a potential limitation of claim value.  Where both the personal injury plaintiff and the defendant were driving vehicles and both claimed to have had a green light at an intersection, the chance of an outright loss for the plaintiff can significantly discount the value of the claim.

One factor that contributes to the value of your injury claim is the lawyer and law firm representing you. This factor is often overlooked or misunderstood.  Personal injury firms in Hampton Roads and Virginia may boast about having a great reputation or the resources to pursue your claim aggressively.  As in so many other aspects of life, the bark and the bite are not coextensive, that is, loudness and quality of representation do not directly correlate.   A law firm’s name or lawyer’s name means little to a juror, and can even be harmful.

There is no such thing as a personal injury settlement calculator.  Every case is unique and will have its own strengths as well as challenges.  In the final analysis, an injury claim is worth whatever the jury says.  Having a skilled car accident attorney will maximize your claim’s value, whether it settles out of court or goes before a judge and jury.

Norfolk Attorney Settles Knee Injury Case for $62,600

Norfolk-car-accident-attorneyI am pleased to report that one of my all-time favorite clients accepted a settlement offer in her personal injury claim against a driver who rear ended her small car back in December 2014 in Virginia Beach.  My client is not a rich lady.  She is in her early sixties and works at a local pet supply store.  She is on her feet for much of the work day.

Immediately after the accident, she knew something was wrong.  Initial treatment at the hospital was followed by a course of physical therapy, stem cell injections and eventually, a surgery called a partial meniscectomy (the meniscus is a part of the knee joint often susceptible to traumatic injury).  In the end, my client finds that her remaining pain is managed through injections to the knee itself every few months or so.

One of the things that made this personal injury claim more complicated is that fact that my client already had arthritis in her knee.  If the case had gone to trial, lawyers for the insurance company would have argued that the knee was bad to start with and was going to worse regardless of the accident.  Skeptical jurors might have concluded that car accident in question had little to do with the permanent knee injury.  Fortunately, we were able to negotiate an excellent personal injury settlement with the insurance carrier.

With the financial compensation for her pain and suffering, my client plans to support her daughter and her grandchildren with life’s many expenses, and to save for her retirement.  I will still see her when I stock up on dog food and shampoo.

Disclaimer: every personal injury claim is different and settlement values depend on many factors.  No particular results are guaranteed.

Attorney wins $25,000 in car accident case | Norfolk General District Court

Norfolk personal injury car accident lawyerIt has been too long since I last posted on the Norfolk Personal Injury Lawyer blog, but I have been very busy taking car accident cases to trial, settling other personal injury matters, and moving into my new office location in downtown Norfolk, right across from the new courts building.  Now that I have settled in a bit, I am pleased to report an excellent trial result yesterday in Norfolk General District Court.  I represented a young working class man, a mechanic for the military who works on large guns.

One day last April he was headed to work, leaving his home on Oceanview Avenue.  As he was slowing down to make a left turn, he felt a massive impact from behind him that pushed him forward into oncoming traffic.  He hit another vehicle head on, causing him to lurch violently inside his vehicle, a compact pickup truck, and hit his head on the window.  In addition to this head injury, my client injured his neck, left wrist, left leg and his chest, the last one probably from the tightening of his seatbelt upon impact.

At trial, we proved that a driver of a large SUV was immediately behind my client, but the judge did not find that this driver caused the accident.  Rather, she was also an innocent victim of a third driver, who negligently crashed her smaller car into the rear of the SUV with enough force that the SUV in turn struck my client’s pickup, crushing the bed of the truck like an accordion.  After causing this pile up, the third driver told my client, “I can’t stay here” before she fled the scene.  She did return to pick up her car’s bumper, which fell off due to the impact.

My client’s trusty girlfriend came to the scene and drove him to DePaul Medical Center, where triage nurses placed him in a C-collar to protect his spine from trauma.  He was dizzy and in pain.  There were cuts on his head and leg.  Hospital staff took CT scans of his head and neck.  Thankfully there was no brain injury or spinal trauma.  His chest was x-rayed and an EKG was taken of his heart.  Again, thank goodness, the young man suffered no permanent injuries to the head, neck or chest.  He and his girlfriend did get to spend the day at DePaul while he underwent various evaluations and was filled with all sorts of medicines, from strong painkillers like Morphine and Percocet to the anti-nausea drug Zofran and the muscle relaxer Flexeril.

For several weeks following the accident, my client suffered from left wrist pain.  It interfered with his job and his day-to-day life, from maintaining military hardware to driving to simply opening doors.  Everything that involved twisting the wrist caused pain.

The woman who caused the accident and fled the scene had no insurance coverage — wouldn’t you know it!  Therefore, my client was forced to name his own insurance company as a defendant in the lawsuit, and an attorney from that company defended the case.  He argued that this young man should not be entitled to much money for his pain and suffering.  He did not get any additional medical treatment and did not miss time from work.  Also, he did not use a splint for his wrist…

Whatever that means.  I argued that my client should not be penalized for toughing it out at work, and fighting through the pain so he could get his work done.  And so what if he did not get additional medical treatment?  Was the lady who caused the accident and fled the scene offering to give him a ride to the doctor?  No!  Was she in any position to say how the accident affected him?  Nope.  She was more interested in picking up her bumper that she left at the scene than she was in anyone else’s safety or quality of life.  Not to mention, the whole situation of being slammed in a multi car motor vehicle accident and taken to the ER was no day at the beach.

Guess who the judge agreed with?  See above!  We won the jurisdictional maximum of $25,000 plus 6% interest from last April.

On to the next one…

Disclaimer: case values vary depending on many factors and results are not guaranteed

Virginia: Dogs that bit five-year-old child were Belgian malinois

WAVY 10 news reported this Sunday that a dog attack in Chesapeake, Virginia left a five-year-old girl with a bite on her neck that required an airlift to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.  The girl later underwent surgery at CHKD.  According to WAVY, the child and her mother were visiting with friends at the home where the bite happened.  The girl was playing with the dogs prior to the attack.

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