On July 1st, Illinois radically changed its child support laws to become more aligned with other states that consider the incomes and parenting times of both parents when determining child support.

Under the new law, how much support you pay depends on how much time you and your ex have with the kids as well as how much you each make.  The State of Illinois has created a table (see: https://www.illinois.gov/hfs/SiteCollectionDocuments/IncomeSharesScheduleBasedonNetIncome.pdf) that tells you how much you’d have to contribute for support based on your monthly net income and the number of kids you have.  The key term is net as in after taxes and mandatory deductions for items like healthcare.

Under scenario #1 of the new law, you and your ex split custody of the kids 50/50.  If that happens you find your monthly income number on the table and theirs as well.  You multiply each by 150% and then subtract the lower one from the higher one.  Whoever earns more will pay that difference to the other person.  While there will surely be arguments about what each person truly makes per month, this is a relatively simple calculation.

Under scenario #2, if you have your kids less than half the time, but more than 40% of the time (146 overnights) then you will be paying child support, but under a different formula.   It’s a bigger calculation.  You take the joint monthly income of both parents, multiply it by 150% and then multiply it by the income percentage the paying parent earns and then by their soon to be ex’s parent percentage time. Does that sound confusing?  Let’s break it down.  If you and your ex combine to make $12,000 a month and you make $8,000 of that, but have the kids 42% of the time, you’d take the child support number on the table I linked to for $12,000, multiply it by 1.5 and then by .667 (your income percentage) and then by .58 (your ex’s parenting time).

Scenario #3 is a little simpler. When one parent has the kids less than 40% of the time (again this means overnights), you take the combined net income of both parents and find that number on the table.  You then multiply that number by the income percentage of the parent who will be paying.  So if a couple makes eight grand combined a month and the paying father/mother makes 75% of that amount, the number on the table is multiplied by .75.

There are a few things to know about this new law.  The biggest is that you can’t go in and get your old child support order changed just because the law is different.  You have to show a change in your circumstances such as making more or less money.  Also, Judges have some discretion in how to apply this law so if you try and get more custody of your kids just to pay less and they see through that, you’ll still end up paying.

The courts in Illinois are already getting flooded with cases and you can bet that will continue.  If you have questions or want help on a case, call us at (800) 517-1614 to speak with one of our Chicago based attorneys for free.

It’s an Uber rider’s nightmare; sitting in the back seat, when an accident occurs due to the driver being distracted. In many cases, ride share drivers will work for both Uber and Lyft. With both of these companies relying on cell phone technology, some drivers will use two phones at once and others are new to town and have no idea how to navigate without the help of their phones. So, what happens if you are that dreaded rider in the back when an accident occurs?

I was once in an Uber in Chicago, with a driver that didn’t know how to get from the Loop to Wrigley Field. Constant eye contact on his phone/GPS trying to figure his way around a new city instead of safely delivering me to my destination. Often, people will relocate to a new city and sign on to be an Uber or Lyft driver because it is an easy way for them to make quick money. The problem of course is they are completely unaware of their surroundings when they are so reliant on the app or GPS to get them where they are going or to pick up their next fare. There have been cases in other cities of pedestrians hit by Uber and Lyft drivers because the driver was too busy looking for another fare, to look up and see the pedestrian crossing the street. One accident left a man sitting in the back of an Uber with a broken leg after the driver ran a red light. Another left a woman with a broken collarbone after a Lyft driver was struck by another driver, who ran a red light.

Both Uber and Lyft have similar minimum insurance coverage of $1 million dollars in coverage for death, personal injury, and property damage. If you are the rider in an Uber or Lyft accident, the coverage can establish a claim against the other driver involved in an accident if they were at fault. This coverage will cover not only a passenger injured while in an Uber or Lyft, and will also cover damages if an Uber or Lyft driver causes damages or injury to your car. If you have been involved in an accident as a passenger,  pedestrian, or another vehicle struck by an Uber or Lyft driver, give us a call at (312) 346-5320. We will put you in touch with an attorney in your area who will make sure your medical bills are covered as well as any additional compensation you may be due including lost time from work.

We’ve all heard the expression, “like a pressure cooker ready to explode.” But what happens when a pressure cooker actually explodes and injures the person just trying to cook or jar their foods?
Pressure cookers have been used for decades in the kitchen for various meals. Personally, my mom used her pressure cooker all summer long. She would prepare strawberry rhubarb jam, rhubarb based butter, apple and pear sauce and of course any of the vegetables from the garden and can them in mason jars in the pressure cooker. I know other people whose favorite recipe for black and pinto beans include only using a pressure cooker.

However, not everyone has a fond memory of a pressure cooker. One woman had severe burns covering her chest and arms after a pressure cooker exploded in her kitchen. A simple malfunction, the cooker’s lid came off before the pressure was released. When the lid flew off it was a virtual explosion of scalding hot soup, hot enough to leave her skin burnt and blistered. She was in the hospital for over a week while doctors tended to her wounds.

One pressure cooker manufacturer, Tristar, has been hit with lawsuits over what customers are calling defective products. Their product allegedly explodes without warning. Two cases have already been settled, and at least one more has been filed. Consumer reports have raised serious safety concerns about other pressure cookers, including models manufactured by Fagor America, Tabletops Unlimited and Maxi-Matic.

What’s crazy is that in many of the injuries, the explosions have happened when directions on the box are properly followed or even after the product is done cooking the food and has been unplugged.  You wouldn’t think a machine just sitting there could cause harm, but it can.

The issue in these cases is often that the safety mechanisms designed to stop explosions have failed.  The beauty of these products is that they can cook meals in a fraction of the time.  They are supposed to be safe, but when they are defective it can cause a major injury. If you were injured when your pressure cooker exploded, contact us after seeking medical attention. We will put you in contact with an attorney in your area who has experience with these cases.

It’s always free to call us and speak with one of our lawyers.  We can be reached any time at (800) 517-1614.  You will usually speak to a lawyer right away and always within a few minutes.

Debt collection, when has it gone too far? For one debt collector, a fax to the debtor’s employer was the line. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act was put in place to protect people who are being hounded by debt collection agencies. In the past, these collection agencies would not just call the person who owes them money, but also call friends, family members, neighbors and even the employers just as a tactic to shame the debtor into making a payment arrangement or simply trying to collect on the debt.

In this case, a fax was sent to the employer of a debtor after he disputed the debt. The collection agency sent a job verification form via fax, asking for salary and other financial information about  the debtor to his employer, several times. The judge ruled in the debtor’s favor allowing him to sue the debt collector for unfair practices.

According to the FDCPA, debt collectors may not engage in harassing or abusive conduct including communication with a third party other than the credit bureaus concerning collection of the debt. A collection agency must follow several rules or they open themselves up to lawsuits in violation of the FDCPA. These rules include verification of the debt, proper handling of disputes of the debt, and the way they handle themselves on each call. They may not harass or belittle a person who owes money, and threats of legal action cannot be made by anyone but law enforcement officials.

Have you been harassed by a debt collector? Have they called you names or threatened you with jail time or other unreasonable threats? If so, please contact us. We will help you find an attorney in your area who will look out for your best interest. What’s interesting about these cases and great for consumers is that it costs nothing up front to get an attorney to take on your case. All the lawyers we recommend handle these matters on a contingency basis.  If they win the case the Judge will order the debt collector to pay your lawyer fees.

Most people come to us looking for an Illinois attorney referral. We also offer free legal guidance from our attorneys and will talk to you about just any legal matter.

One recent called was meeting with an attorney she had found on her own and was very nervous about it.  She had never met with an attorney before and wanted advice on what would happen, what to bring, what to expect, etc.

Unless the attorney you are meeting is arrogant or a scumbag (in which case you should look elsewhere), going to meet with an attorney shouldn’t be much different than meeting with a teacher or going to the dentist.  The goals are different, but most attorneys are nice people and won’t try to intimidate you.  We are in the customer service business or at least we should be.

In that first meeting or phone call the lawyer will be trying to determine what you want to accomplish if you hire them.  You might not know what’s reasonable or not, but should tell your story so they can understand your situation and ask questions.  I wouldn’t ask yes/no questions, but instead ask questions that require a response. Don’t say, “Have you handled similar cases?”  Do say, “Can you tell me about some of the similar cases you’ve handled?”

As for what you should bring, that will be different in every case.  In most cases it’s nothing.  If it’s a medical malpractice case for example, it would be great if you had the relevant medical records, but it’s more important for them to learn the facts as you know them.

This whole time is a chance for you to evaluate the lawyer and determine if you want to hire them.  Also know that they will be evaluating you.  Are you truthful?  Do you seem cooperative? Can you afford them?  Are you nice to the staff?

If it’s a case you will be paying money for up front, you should get a reasonable fee estimate for the whole case and a written agreement to hire them no matter the type of case.

They don’t have to take you on as a client and you don’t have to hire them.  You probably shouldn’t meet with ten attorneys, but talking to a couple is never a bad idea, at least until you find one that you are comfortable with.

I got a call from someone the other day who was upset that her attorney hadn’t called her back since she signed up with him.  She gave me his name and I looked him up. It turns out this person isn’t a lawyer.  I referred her to a top Chicago car accident lawyer and the case is on the right path.

The real story is that the guy who she hired was someone that got a hold of the police report following her accident and called her out of the blue.  This is called being an ambulance chaser and it’s illegal as well as unethical and just plain scummy.  He works for a law firm and likely gets paid per lead.

It’s a big scam as his firm does a ton of TV advertising and he uses that as his pitch when he calls these victims.  That firm doesn’t even handle the cases, but instead refers them to another firm.  This woman and presumably most of their clients have no idea what’s going on.  When she fired them, this scumbag threatened her and then threatened her new attorney.  It’s all being reported to the proper authorities and hopefully these guys get busted.

I hate ambulance chasers.  They prey upon victims of accidents and lie to them. They break the law.  They make honest lawyers look bad.

It’s competitive to get good cases, but that is no excuse for breaking the law.  If someone is going to call you out of the blue to try and get you to hire them, they know what they are doing is wrong.  They may justify it in their head some way, but facts are facts, it’s illegal.  If they’d break the law to get your case, they’d just as easily sell you out.

The good news is that their are tons of honest lawyers out there who will truly fight for you and do it the right way. They won’t make false promises about how much they are going to get for you and they won’t show up at your door step or hospital bed.  In the long run, an ethical, experienced attorney who gets cases the right way will get more money for you and do a better job.

Railroad injuries are handled entirely differently than other on the job injuries in Illinois, starting with who handles them. Typically, with on the job injuries, workers compensation will kick in to cover the employees medical and other expenses after an injury. However, railroad workers are covered under FELA. The Federal Employers Liability Act, also known as FELA was established to serve those who have been injured while working on the railroads. FELA protects not only those who work on the trains, but also those whose employer is a railroad company.

FELA is unlike workers comp in the way claims are handled. In a normal workers compensation case, fault of the employer’s negligence doesn’t need to be established. However in FELA claims, it does. This means an employee of a railroad company must show neglect which resulted in the injury.

There are several types of injuries which could be covered by FELA, from broken bones to carpel tunnel syndrome to obstructive pulmonary diseases all could be addressed as on the job injuries. FELA will provide compensation to an injured worker in the form of both future and past loss wages, any and all medical treatment involved with the injury, and past and future pain and suffering to include mental distress depending on the circumstances.

Unlike regular workers’ compensation claims, FELA cases are often worth hundreds of thousands of dollars or potentially millions.  That all of course depends on the severity of the injury, but often railroad workers are catastrophically injured.

FELA imposes a 3 year statute of limitations for lawsuits. However a competent attorney will be able to calculate these dates for you and help you along in the process to make sure you get the highest compensation possible.  Many attorneys dabble in this area, but very few have an amazing track record.  We know who those lawyers are and are happy to connect you with them. Please contact us to help you find an attorney in your area.  We are Chicago based attorneys who cover all of Illinois and can be reached at (800) 517-1614.  Our service is free and every call is confidential.

Recording a police officer is illegal, right? Not anymore. According to an amended Illinois law 720 ILCS 5/14-1, citizens now have the right to record any police officer without their consent. Apparently this amendment is a step in a good direction, however there are some areas that citizens need to be aware of before they decide to video tape that traffic stop.

One of the exceptions to the legality of recording a police interaction is called the surreptitious exception. This means you may not secretly record the interaction. The issue with this exception is that typically if someone is aware you are recording them, they will probably change their behavior.

The other exception is called the reasonable expectation of privacy. This is hard to prove for the simple reason that it is very hard to imagine a police officer would expect privacy during any interactions with a citizen.

One of the steps backwards with this amendment is that it allows for officials to be able to eavesdrop on private conversations and use them without a warrant. One of the steps forward is citizens who are found guilty of recording a police officer will now have less of a penalty.

Before you decide to record any police interaction under this newly amended law, make sure you are aware exactly what your rights are and what the penalties may be. This will save you from being the guinea pig in legal action that has not yet come under the scrutiny of the courts.

I had a pretty sad call the other day. It was from a woman who was looking for help with a divorce. She’s been married for 40 years and loves her husband dearly. He loves her too.

She doesn’t want a divorce and neither does he. Unfortunately she works and he is very ill. They applied for aid from the State of Illinois and were denied because she makes too much money. Essentially her income is being held against him.

So they are facing a choice. Get divorced and lose their best friend or stay married and watch your best friend suffer.

They were thinking about a divorce, but not a real divorce. They thought that they could get the benefits he needs, get a divorce and keep living together as they have for the last 40 blissful years.

Unfortunately, as I advised them, this would be considered a sham divorce and against the law. When you say you are getting divorced and go through with it only to obtain public aid benefits, you are essentially defrauding the Government.

This call was heart breaking because these are not criminals and they want to do the right thing. They did not realize that a divorce would mean selling the house or one spouse buying out the other. Didn’t realize they’d have to have separate bank accounts. They didn’t realize that they couldn’t live together as a husband and wife do.

Most of all they didn’t know this was a crime that theoretically could result in jail time and almost certainly, if they got caught, would require them to pay back all of the benefits plus a fine. In other words they could lose their home.

They appreciated our candor and directness which is how we talk to everyone who calls us. As we left it they were weighing their options, but the wife was leaning toward a real divorce because it pains her more than anything to see her husband suffer, even if that means being apart.

I would NEVER encourage a caller or client to break the law and didn’t here either. But it is a tragedy that they have to consider this option at all. If they stay together there is no guarantee they will get caught and if they did it would likely be from a nosy neighbor or a state aid worker who checked up on them. Either way they’d have to essentially be looking over their shoulders at all times. That’s not a way to live.

If there ever was a law or rule that needs to be changed, this is it. As lawyers we don’t make laws, we just deal with what they are and try to fight as hard as we can for our clients. There’s no fight in this case, just the hope that good people with an amazing marriage don’t get screwed over by our Government.

It’s a question most clients ask when they are in the beginning stages of deciding whether to file a medical malpractice lawsuit in Chicago. How easy will it be to win the case? The answer is simple, it is not easy at all. Cook County, Illinois has a reputation of being Plaintiff friendly, which means the person filing the case, would be predisposed to winning. However, the doctors who are being sued win 80% of the cases that make it to trial.

Don’t get us wrong. We investigate over 100 cases every month and LOVE to help people who have been injured due to medical negligence. We’d love to help you and we have a great track record of success. We are also honest and want to be clear that these cases are not easy.

Bringing a medical malpractice lawsuit to trial is a very expensive undertaking. In most situations, if an attorney decides to take on a case he or she will incur all of the costs during the trial, and receive payment from an award given to the patient. Some cases cost over $100 thousand dollars to litigate after investigators and specialists prove the malpractice. Hundreds of hours of work go into the beginning stages of any medical malpractice case and attorneys typically don’t work for free.

Other big issues in winning medical malpractice cases are sometimes people confuse a customer service issue with a malpractice issue, and sometimes the end result is simply a risk taken for medical services. For instance, if someone is in an emergency situation and needs to be intubated on the spot, one risk is damage to the vocal cords. The person may have permanent damage, or may just have difficulties talking for the next few days. This person typically would not have a case for medical malpractice simply because the doctor intubated him or her because of the basic risks of the procedure. If a doctor is unkind during an exam with regards to prescription meds, and refuses to refill the prescription typically the patient would not have a medical malpractice case because no catastrophic and life changing effects would come from not refilling the prescription.

The burden of proof falls into the standard of care given to the patient. Sometimes people feel as though the doctor could have done more, or should have known circumstances; that doesn’t mean the standard of care was less than acceptable.

The other burden of proof is catastrophic injury or even death. What could of happened doesn’t count in a medical malpractice case. Take for instance a patient who went in to have her gall bladder removed. The surgeon missed a few gallstones that passed into the bile duct and later blocked the bile duct. This can cause extreme pain, and could even be life threatening. If the doctor caught the issue and treated it, and she made a full and complete recovery, there is no catastrophic damage – there is no medical malpractice case.

Attorneys will take great care in assessing your personal situation before taking on any medical malpractice case for all of these reasons. No one wants a patient to be injured or things made to be worse than they are in any medical situation, no one wants to have the consequences needed to be successful with a medical malpractice lawsuit.
For more information on medical malpractice and your personal situation, please call us for a free consultation.