If you have a suffered a work injury in Illinois, the best-case scenario is to receive excellent medical care and recover well enough to return to work without restrictions. Unfortunately, the process of a Worker’s Compensation claim can often be long, arduous, exhausting and just plain complicated. The capstone to the process often ends with a Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE).

So what is a Functional Capacity Evaluation? The FCE is a series of tests used to evaluate your work-related physical abilities. If one has been ordered for you, it usually means that you are coming to an end of your treatment and the doctor is ready to send you back to work, with or without, restrictions depending on the FCE report.

An FCE is prescribed by a doctor.  You have the right to choose the facility where it takes place. Careful to assess injuries without causing any further damage, the evaluator will test a variety of physical performances critical to an employee’s job including:

  • Push and pull strength
  • Overall strength
  • Lifting ability
  • Flexibility
  • Stamina
  • Range of motion
  • Ability to carry objects
  • Any abilities related to the employees job

For example, if an employee’s job requires heavy labor, the evaluator will be sure to administer tests specific to their ability to lifting and carrying heavy objects, push and pull strength and range of motion.

It is very important for the employee undergoing the FCE to be very honest, consistent and specific about what he/she is able to do and what hurts. The FCE’s are only as good as the data that received.  In addition, the FCE could hurt an employee’s case if they try to exaggerate their symptoms. This could be a costly mistake as the FCE has been designed to avoid any fraud.

Following the FCE, a report will be generated. A successful FCE test report will address an employee’s functional limitations, any additional rehabilitation needed, the employee’s ability to return to work and if so what tasks they will be able/unable to perform. This report provided by your doctor will ultimately determine the next course of action.

If your injury is serious enough that a FCE is needed, you would be nuts not to have an experienced attorney in your corner.  If you would like our recommendation as to which attorney is best for your case, please complete our contact form or call us at 800-517-1614 to speak with an attorney for free.

Back in 2013, a really nice woman called us with what seemed like a relatively minor Illinois workers compensation case.  She had hit her elbow on something on the job and originally it seemed like a relatively small bone bruise.  I didn’t expect that the case would take six years to resolve.  I also didn’t expect that she’d end up getting a major bout of RSD.

RSD or reflex sympathetic dystrophy is a chronic condition that causes burning, swelling, stiffness and/or skin sensitivity to whatever body part is affected by it. Nobody knows what exactly causes it, but it’s thought to be a malfunction of the nervous system. As happened in this case, it often occurs following some sort of trauma.

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is a synonym for RSD and they both don’t have a cure. Some physical or pain management therapy can make the pain tolerable.

Because you can’t see RSD and since treating it is expensive, insurance companies often dispute these cases.  That’s what happened to this nice woman.  Insurance companies have doctors for hire who will say that you weren’t really injured on the job or don’t have CRPS.

This woman was so severely affected by this issue that she is no longer able to work.  It took years but eventually the attorney we referred her to was able to get her a settlement for around $550,000.00.  This settlement included almost $200,000.00 for her future medical care.

What is scary about this case is that an inexperienced lawyer could have easily settled it right away.  If your attorney doesn’t understand the medicine behind CRPS, they can not truly advocate for you as well as someone who has handled many of those cases.

Fortunately we know many lawyers who have had success with RSD cases and were able to connect her with one of them.  This attorney told me that it was one of the most medically complex cases he had seen.  Getting the right lawyer likely put hundreds of thousands more in her pocket than she would have received without it.

In any work comp case that is beyond a minor injury, it’s really important to get an attorney who handles these cases all day, every day.  We see many firms who try to do workmans comp but also criminal law, divorce and other unrelated practice areas.  It’s not that those law firms couldn’t do a good job. It’s that they don’t give you the best chance for success. And since all Illinois work comp attorneys get paid the same amount, why wouldn’t you want the best firm you can get?

As always, if you need help with a case or just have questions, please call us any time at 800-517-1614 or fill out our contact form and we will call you.

 

 

In the 18 plus years we’ve run this website, we’ve helped about 400,000 people.  The most rewarding thing that can happen when we help someone find an Illinois lawyer is that we greatly improve their life.  Every now and then though we help someone and change the law

That happened recently on a case we referred to an Illinois probate attorney.  The caller had a relative who was stealing from their parent.  This is financial abuse.  In this case, they did it by essentially trying to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Our case lead to the passage of a new law, 755 ILCS 5/2-6.2.   In a nutshell, this law states that if you are criminally convicted of financial exploitation, abuse or neglect of an elderly person, you can not inherit anything from them even if that’s what their will says.  It goes on to say that if you are sued in a civil court and found by a “preponderance of the evidence” to have financially exploited someone, you can’t inherit from them either.

This is a game changer.  In the past, a will or trust was controlling.  So if you were a terrible person who stole from or abused the elderly, if their will gave everything to you, you’d still inherit.

Now you can’t get away with it.  The law in challenging a will or trust in Illinois has been greatly strengthened.  Bad people won’t get away with bad things as easily as they used to. In our case, a neighbor reported the abuse and the person was charged with four felonies. They ended up pleading guilty to a misdemeanor.  Under the old law they still would have inherited, but not anymore.

Of course it’s not enough just to say someone is abusing or exploiting an elderly person.  You have to file criminal charges or sue them civilly in order to prove that they are. If you do and you win the case, they will be barred from inheriting.

If this does happen, their share of the proceeds will go to anyone else who is mentioned in the will or trust. If there is nobody else mentioned it will likely be distributed based on Illinois intestate law.

Will and trust challenges are some of our favorite cases to work on.  We also know lawyers who take those cases on a contingency basis which means that they only get paid if they win.

If you would like to talk to an attorney who has had success with this new law, please call our office for a free consultation any time at 312-346-5320.

When someone refers to family law, most would think divorce. Sure, this is probably one of the more widely used services of a family law attorney, but there is so much more to family law. Family lawyers are experts in a variety of practice areas. A family lawyer covers every legal matter from marriage through divorce, and can also cover other familial issues such as adoption, domestic violence, child advocacy and other related issues.

Family law can be a complex and a subjective area of the law. Hiring a Family law attorney is a smart move. They give expertise advice, help reduce stress, and work to avoid mistakes and delays.

Unfortunately, a relationship between an attorney and client doesn’t always work due to a variety of reasons for a breakdown. What are the options when a client loses their trust or confidence? For one, you certainly have the right to switch attorneys in the middle of you case.

Again, there is a variety of reasons for wanting to switch attorneys’ mid-case. The most typical reason is poor “customer service”. Your attorney becomes hard to reach, or non-responsive in communication. Their files seem disarray and are asking for repetitive information from you. Or maybe you notice the attorney is failing to vigorously investigate all aspects of your case or fail to meet crucial filing deadlines.

Maybe you discover your attorney lacks sufficient knowledge within the dealings of your case. This could actually be as a result of the type of attorney you first hired. Many mistakenly hire a general practitioner, a lawyer that focuses on all areas of Illinois law, and not a specific family law lawyer prepared and capable of handling the complexities of family-law related issues.

Whatever your reason, firing a lawyer is your right but it is a major decision and can become costly in both time and money. It’s important to not act hastily. We always encourage clients to try and first work their issues out with their current attorney. Changing your attorney mid-case should only be a last resort when things cannot be resolved.  That said, if you know you hired the wrong person, switching before it’s too late is a smart idea.

Before you do anything, you will need to consider a few things:

First to consider is timing. The further along in a case you are the harder it can be to hire a new attorney. More events have occurred with new facts coming to light. This can be a timely and costly process for a new attorney to catch up on.

Secondly, it is important to consider additional costs. Your previous lawyer is entitled to be paid for their work already done. Any unearned money should be returned, but a new attorney will still require a separate and new retainer fee and possibly additional costs to expediate your case as needed.

We do suggest that you don’t fire one lawyer before you have another one in place to hire. Consider setting up consultations with potential lawyers. Do your homework. Be prepared and bring a list of concerns and questions. Your goal is to find out how they can best approach and handle your case with the most possible successful outcome.

If you do your due diligence you can find a family law lawyer that will work for you. Besides for the obvious reasons, it is also important to find a compatible attorney for you as you want to avoid switching lawyers’ multiple times. Not only is it a poor use of time and money it can cause further delay and confusion within the court system.

Family law related issues are stressful in nature. Be sure you find an attorney that helps alleviate the stress and truly works for you. Contact us for any questions or referral needs.

We are Chicago lawyers who help people find the right attorney for their case.  If you would like to speak to one our lawyers for free to get a referral or some advice, please call us any time at 312-346-5320.

A big part of any community is those who are dedicated to serving and protecting it. First responders are an important part of society and they put their lives on the lines to save others. Their jobs can be dangerous in many ways and sadly roadway safety is becoming one of them.

This year alone, there has been 26 total number of traffic crashes involving an Illinois State Trooper. In the history of the Illinois State Police, this has been the deadliest year on record, with four troopers having died in the line of duty. All 26 crashes and three of the deaths were traffic-related. A majority of these senseless accidents were a direct result of another motorist failing to use caution and mover over while a trooper was parked along the side of the road with emergency lights on.

While moving over for emergency vehicles may seem like common courtesy, it is actually the law. “Failure to yield to an emergency vehicle”, The Move Over Law or Scott’s Law, as best known, is an Illinois statue enacted in 2002 after the tragic death of an active Chicago firefighter in 2000.

With this law motorists are required to slow down, move over and proceed with caution. Initially this law only applied for law enforcement and first responders but an update to Scott’s Law in 2017 now governs emergency stopped commercial trucks and cars, such as licensed tow trucks, emergency management vehicles, vehicles from federal agencies and even some buses.

Just recently, In July 2019, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a legislation that will enhance penalties for who do not obey Scott’s Law.

First time violators will now have to pay a minimum of $250 in fines and a second offense could cost violators $750. Fines for violations can go as high as $10,000 and motorists could even have their license suspended. Jail time can be a penalty too if there is a result of harm to others.

In response to the increase of crashes resulting in injuries, Illinois law enforcement is extremely motivated to enforce Scott’s law this more than ever. Citations issued by the Illinois State Police has more than doubled this year compared to last year. Through November of this year, there has been a little under 6,000 citations issued from Scott’s Law compared to the same time period in 2018, issuing less than 750 citation.

Also signed into the law this year is the creation of the ‘move over’ task force. The objective of this work force is to study Scott’s Law violations in an effort to continually improve protection to law enforcement, first responders and civilians. With the help of social media, law enforcement is set on educating the public with the importance and changes in Scott’s Law.

We are attorneys who help people find the right law firm for their case.  We have over 20 years of experience and will talk to you for free and in confidence. If you want our help please call us at (800) 517-1614 or fill out our contact form and we will call you.

The number one question Illinois personal injury attorneys get asked is, “What is my case worth?”  What they don’t get asked enough is, “How do I handle all of the money I am going to receive?”

Most cases aren’t worth millions or even anywhere in the six figures.  To have a higher value case you need to have a really catastrophic result like death, brain damage, permanent disability, major injuries, etc.  So while most cases aren’t like that, some are and the money that you receive can be life changing.

For purposes of this post, I’m going to give five tips on what you should do if you do receive millions in a settlement from an injury case.

1. Don’t tell anyone.  Whether the funds are for you or because you lost a loved one, the funds are for you alone.  Telling your neighbor or cousin or whoever is a bad idea, even if you don’t think they will bug you about it or try and take advantage of you.

2. Don’t give any money to anyone, even if it’s in a loan.  You’d be surprised how quickly this money can go away.  It’s not much different than lottery winners.  Doing something nice for yourself for what you’ve been through is a good idea.  Doing it for a ton of other people, even if they seem like they have good intentions, is a bad idea.

3. Talk to a financial adviser from a reputable company.  Actually talk to at least three.  How do you know if they are reputable?  Well, just like lawyers you can never know for sure, but in general you’d want to look for someone who is affiliated with a big company, check out their client reviews and in cases like this, make sure that they are being conservative with their recommendations. Anyone who’d recommend a high risk venture or try to get you to invest with one of their clients is not someone I’d go with.

4. Don’t make any crazy big purchases within the first year.  Taking a vacation is a good idea.  Buying a car might not be a bad idea.  Spending 150k on a car or buying a seven figure home right away is probably a bad decision.

5. Could the money last you the rest of your life?  If so, make a plan as to how that will happen and stick to it.  If you have cleared five million from a case and expect to live another 35 years, you can spend approximately $140,000 a year (although it could be more if your money is earning interest or being properly invested). You have to really think about how you want to spend your days.  Will you continue to work if you are able to? Will you have health insurance? How much do you spend a year on food, clothes, travel, etc.?

None of this is legal advice, but is based on our experiences and from talking to attorneys whose clients have been through this process.  If you have any questions please contact us at any time.

With the holiday season upon us most people are thinking of Thanksgiving Dinners, Christmas shopping and spending time with loved ones. As families and friends prepare for the holiday season, workers compensation adjusters prepare for the increased potential of year-end insurance settlements, which also means a potential increase in their bonuses.

But for those injured on the job, this can be played out to your advantage. If there was ever a right time to settle a worker’s compensation case the time would be now, assuming you have reached maximum medical improvement. This means you and your doctor have a good idea of how your injury will affect you in future and what future medical treatment you may need.

You see, most insurance companies are businesses and they operate for-profit like other businesses do. They are in business to make money. Period. So, the more open cases there are, the more payments are still being made for medical bills and visits, disability benefits, lawyer fees, case managers and investigators. To make the most money, insurance companies want to pay out as little as possible on work injuries in settlement.

When someone is injured at work, insurance companies try to predict how much that injury will likely to cost them in the future. Adjusters jobs are to reasonably predict what an injury suffered is likely to cost them in benefits. This is called a reserve. If an adjuster reasonably stays below the reserve, they can seek towards a settlement.

But unfortunately, many adjusters aren’t paid out by their good performance, but rather a bonus based on how many settlements they can close. The more costs for the insurance company, the less money for the adjusters. And since upper-management work for bonuses too, there is pressure from upper-management to close out as many cases as possible.

So, come the end of the year many adjusters are anxious to close as many open cases as possible by to get that year-end bonus. The more settlements they close by the end of the year, the more money in their pocket for the holidays, gifts, trips or whatever. So they are more likely to offer the highest amount they are able to in order to get your case resolved.  The caveat for them is that they want it closed and paid before the end of the year, so you could have money in hand by Christmas.

Come spring time, insurance companies will not be as anxious to settle. If it makes sense to them, sure they will consider settle. But during this time of the year, it’s a give-away that they will want to settle. Take this to your advantage and if settlement is an option, consider now the time.

If you have any questions about Illinois workers’ compensation law and want to speak with an attorney for free, call us any time or fill out our contact form and we will call you.

Because Illinois, and more specifically Chicago, has millions of people, there are many out-of-state attorneys who see our state as a potential cash cow.

So what ends up happening is that law firms from places like Nevada, Florida and other places rent an office in Chicago, place an attorney there and then start to do a ton of advertising.  Nothing in their billboards, TV commercials or radio ads make it clear that most of their law firm isn’t in Illinois, that they don’t have a long track record of success in Illinois and in some cases, that the attorneys that are all over the ad aren’t even licensed to practice law in Illinois.

These law firms, in my opinion, don’t care about their clients in Illinois, they care about making money.  Our rule of thumb is that we only recommend to you attorneys that we’d recommend to a family member or friend.  For us, the client’s best interests come first.  For many of these out of state firms it’s about making money and nothing else.

I was reminded of this recently when a woman who was badly injured in a car accident called us.  She had hired a law firm that advertises a lot here, but a quick look at their website shows that most of their attorneys are in Florida, not Illinois.  She told me her attorney hadn’t answered her questions and wasn’t returning phone calls.  I connected her with a Chicago car accident lawyer who has an incredible track record.

This firm, showing that they only look out for themselves, pulled a slimy move when the new attorney called to say they were being let go.  They had never received medical records or bills for the client and didn’t know where she was in the recovery process or if the case was ready to settle.  But to try to make a quick buck they sent a demand letter to the insurance company, without her permission, offering to settle the case for $300,000.  It’s incredibly unethical in my opinion.

The bad news is that more of these firms are on their way.  Nothing says that a lawyer can’t have offices in multiple states.  But if they are essentially franchising themselves, it’s a red flag and a true sign that they aren’t the best firm for your case.

Beware these firms and make sure you are looking at the website of the lawyer you are hiring before you hire anyone. If you would like our recommendation as to which Illinois personal injury law firms are reputable, care about their clients and get great results, please call us at 312-346-5320 any time to speak with an attorney for free.

We are Chicago attorneys who have since 2001 been helping people find the right law firm for their case. If you would like our help, please call us at 312-346-5320.

What is one thing you do more than anything else in your life? It is more than you eat, more than you drink and is the one thing, other than your heartbeat, that continues to happen even when you’re not thinking about it: You breathe.

Naturally, clean air is a basic requirement for human health. Air pollution can cause and worsen many health conditions. And unfortunately, traces of chemicals known to cause human cancer lurk in the air everywhere. None know better than residents in Willowbrook, IL where 40+ lawsuits have been filed to seek damages from chemical emissions by the Sterigenics plant.

Sterigenics is a plant in Willowbrook that sterilizes primarily medical instruments as well as pharmaceutical drugs and food. The company uses high doses of ethylene oxide, a colorless and odorless gas that has been linked to cancer, to sterilize the medical equipment.

The U.S. EPA regularly assesses cancer risks from air pollution with a National Air Toxics Assessment. The assessment sends red flags to areas where there is an impact from air toxins. Officials began investigating Sterigenics last year when surrounding communities were showing red flags on this assessment. The recent study found that people living or working within a mile of the plant in Willowbrook face some of the nation’s highest cancer risks, and in some areas more than nine times the national average.

Sterigenics primarily uses ethylene oxide, a gas known to cause cancer, the most common being lymphoma and leukemia, but stomach, blood and breast cancers can also be linked with ethylene oxide exposure. Can this be a coincidence? The residents of Cook County don’t think so and neither does our law office.

Backlash against the company has been brewing for months since residents learned of the dangers last year. The company has maintained their stance that these emissions have been within legal limits, but still the plant was ordered to be temporarily shut down in February 2018 by the Illinois Attorney General. Upon closing, ethylene oxide air pollution in the area plummeted by nearly 90%.

After 34 years of the plant being in production too much damage has already been done. Too many residents find too many similar stories and health issues to not fault the company that stole their good health and ruined their lives.

A woman, who has no family history of cancer, was diagnosed with breast cancer and has been dealing with the horrors of it for over 6 years. Another man, whose wife recently died of cancer, is now standing by while doctors treat his daughter who has Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancer. A daughter, who since second grade has had violent coughing fits causing sever sickness. They are not alone. Families all over the area have been plagued with several health problems.

The plant did reopen in July of 2018, but was permanently closed by September 2019 for reasons unrelated to the cases against it.

When a family member requires more care then their relatives can provide, many families consider a nursing home. They are an amazing way to ensure that your loved one is being cared for and getting the treatment and care they deserve.

Many of these elders are well-cared for but sadly some are the victims of abuse. Abuse continues to be more prevalent than most people wish to believe and over 3/4th of the cases of nursing home abuse are perpetrated by caregivers.

Abusive treatment is nothing new at nursing homes. Workers have been accused of sexual harassment, improper treatment or sedation, neglecting to clean or rotate as need or even dropping patients.

And now enters the newest form of elder abuse: Social media. It is redefining the way we interpret privacy, free speech and employee rights. While it can be a fun and enjoyable way of sharing photos, videos and memories with others, social media is now one of the biggest dangers to nursing home residents.

Since 2012, at least 65 instances have been reported nationwide in which workers at nursing homes have shared inappropriate photos or videos of residents being bathed, fully or partially naked, and some even deceased. At least 16 of these cases involved Snapchat, a social media service in which photos appear only for a few seconds and disappear without record.

Take for example an Illinois nursing home being sued after videos emerged on social media of caregivers taunting an elderly woman. The two staff completely exploited this elderly woman’s privacy and dignity. The nursing home is also being accused of failing to properly implement their abuse prevention policy. The hope from this lawsuit is to help prevent abuse like this happening to other individuals all across the state.  What kind of scumbag would taunt an elderly patient they are supposed to be caring for?

The numerous incidents illustrate the emerging threat that social media poses to patient privacy as well as the potential for capturing transgressions that might have otherwise gone unrecorded.

Illinois law requires certain professionals, including those in the medical field and adult care, to make reports of suspected abuse of adults age 60 or older who are unable, due to dysfunction, to report for themselves. Yet, the reported nursing homes rarely found these controversial media postings themselves. Most came from concerned members of the community whom saw the posts, posted privately or publicly.

The irresponsible use of social media has created a number of potential ethical and legal challenges. Federal agencies are now asking state officials to help enforce rules that prohibit nursing home staff from taking demeaning photos and videos of residents.

Making the decision to put a loved one in the care of others in a nursing home is an emotional and stressful situation for many families. Factoring in the risk of social media abuse should not have to be one of the concerns. If this has happened to someone you love, please call us at (312) 346-5320 for a free consultation with a lawyer to discuss what options you may have.