I was contacted by a woman who was curious about Illinois medical malpractice laws. The father of her two children had died from what may have been a medical malpractice situation and she was hoping to talk about the process.

Before we could get going though, she told me something I hear a lot. She said:

I don’t even know if I want to do this. My kids are grieving and I’m not sure I want to put them through this.

That is a common thought process and makes sense. This is a great mom who is trying to protect her kids.

All of that said, she is over analyzing things right now. Illinois medical malpractice lawsuits are very hard cases to win. Talking to a lawyer about a possible case doesn’t mean you are going to sue. It means you are having a discussion about having someone investigate a case.

Unlike a car accident where we can usually tell you from your own statements and/or a police report if you have a case, nobody can tell you that you definitely have a medical malpractice case over the phone.

To determine if you have a case not only requires to hear your version of events, but much more importantly, requires us to review the relevant medical records of the person who was harmed. That is an involved process that often requires a review of thousands of pages of medical records.

These reviews are first done internally and then if it appears there might be something wrong, an experienced medical malpractice lawyer will contact an expert in the relevant field to arrange to send the records to them for their review and opinion. In some cases multiple physicians need to be involved.

The whole investigation process commonly take 6-12 months. So by contacting a lawyer, even while grieving, you are not committing to anything other than the chance to find out if you might have a case. If the answer is yes, then you can decide if you want the attorney to file a lawsuit or not.

Even once the lawsuit has been filed, it doesn’t mean that your family will have to go through a trial. While that is definitely a possibility, many cases settle long before that has to happen.

All of these situations come down to case facts. Just know that time is of the essence. Usually once two years has passed it’s too late (there are exceptions, call us any time to discuss your time limits). So know that if you are really “just thinking about it” that means you should have an attorney review the case with you and go from there.

In an ideal world, Illinois law would change so that every marriage would require a pre-nuptial agreement that would dictate the terms of divorce if a marriage doesn’t work out. It would save people a lot of money and heartache. Of course, that’s not the world we live in.

As a result, a lot of divorces in Illinois are nasty and contentious. That makes sense because when a relationship is ending, there are often a lot of bad feelings. Often people treat their husband/wife poorly because their feelings are hurt. One way we commonly see this is when one person makes a lot more money than the other or has control of the money.

The most typical way this happens is when one person works and the other stays at home to raise the kids. This was the scenario of a woman who called me recently and didn’t think she could afford a lawyer. She stayed at home while her husband worked a good union job making about $150,000.00 a year. He had emptied out their bank account and his 401k. She felt helpless.

The good news is that Illinois divorce law is written in a way that anticipates this type of power imbalance scenario. When one spouse makes significantly more than the other, you can file a motion that will ask the Judge to order them to pay your lawyer fees. It is usually filed right away and is commonly granted.

So you likely don’t have to worry about paying for a lawyer. It’s more likely that you’ll have to find a way to come up with an initial retainer fee and that’s it. After that, your spouse would be responsible for your attorney’s bill.

And if your spouse does something shady like emptying out a bank account or 401k, you can likely get that money back through a court order too. Judges do not look kindly on that type of behavior and they don’t usually reward people who are acting like bullies.

This is not to say that the divorce will be easy or stressful. It’s often not when you are dealing with someone who is mentally abusive. But we have found that when someone realizes they are going to have to pay for two lawyers, they realize they need to stop playing games or otherwise they will go broke.

The bottom line is that Illinois divorce law is mostly common sense and is designed to protect people who are not making the same money their soon to be ex is. So take a deep breath and know that options likely exist for you. And if you want a free consultation with an experienced lawyer, call us any time at 312-346-5320.

We are experienced Chicago lawyers who help people with tough cases throughout Illinois. Call us any time for a free, confidential consultation at 312-346-5320.

One area we’ve been able to help a lot of people is with sexual abuse lawsuits against Illinois group homes and rehab centers. These tragic cases occur in a variety of forms.

The most common and probably the worst is when residents are sexually abused by people who have power over them. I’m talking about instances where a supervisor uses their position of power to make someone do something they don’t want to do. Or in cases of minors, have them do something they can’t legally consent to.

We also have helped in a lot of cases where staff members take advantage of access to kids or residents. In a recent case we got involved with, a non verbal adult was raped by a janitor in a bathroom. The group home she was in should never have let the janitor be alone with her in the first place. This is a sadly common problem as many of these facilities are sorely understaffed. When that happens it creates opportunity and sometimes bad people take advantage of that.

You trust these facilities with your loved ones and expect that they will have rules and safety measures in place to protect them. Even when a facility is understaffed there are things that can be done to make sure that abuse doesn’t occur such as having cameras, restricting access to certain areas, etc. When these facilities fail in their obligations, they can and should be sued.

And sometimes they are negligent for failing to supervise their residents and/or putting them in a dangerous situation. We are helping in one case against a rehab facility where a boy was raped by his roommate. There was a large age and size disparity between the two of them.

The saddest cases we’ve been involved with probably involve the developmentally disabled. They might not even know they are being abused and in many cases can’t actually give consent. They deserve a group home that provides protection, security and comfort and should be free from any type of sexual or physical abuse.

We encourage family members to be the biggest advocates possible for their loves ones. Studies show that many of these abuses are preventable.

The Illinois Department of Human Services is responsible for regulating group homes. If you suspect something has happened you should call them and call the police. And if you want to discuss a lawsuit against one of these facilities, contact us any time. All cases are handled on a contingency basis which means that there is no fee if the lawsuit isn’t successful.

With the caveat that there are exceptions to this, generally speaking in life, if you want to have an enforceable agreement with someone, you get it in writing and you both sign off on it. So if someone says they’ll sell you their car for $5,000 and you say sure, it’s not really an agreement. If push came to shove and they wanted to back out, they could, as could you.

A written contract shows a meeting of the minds. A well-written contract makes clear the rights and responsibilities of each party. It’s why so many housing contracts are really long.

When hiring an attorney, you can’t know for sure you’ve hired them or what they are getting paid without a written contract. In law terms, this is called a retainer agreement. No smart attorney would take on a client without one because it protects them and you. It will lay out what they are going to do for you and what they aren’t going to do for you. Most importantly it will make clear what their fees are. If it’s a contingency case it will tell you what percentage they will receive. If it’s an hourly fee, it should make clear what they can bill for, what it will cost if staff is doing the work, how often you will pay them, etc. It should also outline how expenses will be covered and reimbursed. For example, in Illinois medical malpractice lawsuits, costs can be in the six figures. You need to know upfront if you’ll be asked to pay for it if the case doesn’t succeed.

When agreements with a lawyer are only verbal, it leaves open to interpretation what the charges will be or what you are getting from them. In fact, it leaves open to whether they are even your lawyer at all. If an attorney won’t give you a fee agreement, it really would make me question if they know what they are doing or if they are the right fit for you.

These agreements, unlike housing contracts, don’t have to be long. Most are 1-3 pages and essentially the same no matter who the client is with just names and dates changed. In areas of law like workers’ compensation, the State of Illinois has actually created the agreements that every attorney must use.

One strange thing is that most lawyers aren’t taught how to create retainer agreements in law school. So if you are working with a young lawyer (or really anyone) you’d be wise to make sure it discusses fees or anything important to you.

Bonus tip. I know of one law firm in Chicago that implies in their retainer agreements that they can’t be fired. That is simply illegal and not enforceable. A retainer agreement is a contract, but I’ve never seen one that legally requires you to stick with your attorney if you think they are doing a bad job. And in the same way, a lawyer can also fire a client if they choose. Retainer agreements are contracts, but they only detail what will happen when each party wants to work together. It doesn’t bind you together forever.

Second bonus tip. Many lawyers say that if it’s not in writing, it didn’t happen. Having a retainer agreement should give you peace of mind and you should insist on one.

Generally speaking, police in Illinois do not have an obligation to do much. To “protect and serve” is a motto, but not usually a requirement. There are some exceptions to that and that includes victims of domestic violence. This is covered in the Illinois Domestic Violence Act.

Under that law, police officers in Illinois have a duty to protect victims of domestic abuse from their abusers. They are required to use all reasonable means to provide this protection. Whenever a law enforcement has reason to believe that a person has been abused, neglected, or exploited by a family or household member, the law requires them to: make an arrest if appropriate, discuss orders of protection, refer the victim to a social service agency and offer to take the victim to a shelter, among other things.

In a recent case, it was ruled that the Chicago Police failed in their duty when a 49 year old mother of five was killed by her abuser. Her estate was awarded $3 Million in damages.

In this case, the cops showed up and saw the abuser holding a Samurai sword and appearing to make Molotov cocktails. Officers took the man, who had been hearing voices and trying to start grease fires in the apartment to a hospital where they strapped him to a bed and then left him there.

He was released the next morning and ended up strangling the woman to death. The court found that “the officers’ failure to fulfill their duties under the (state’s Domestic Violence) Act was a substantial factor in bringing about the death.” They further stated that the police showed utter disregard for her safety.

Some of the steps they could have taken to protect her but didn’t include: informing her about orders of protection, referring her to a social service agency and taking her to a nearby domestic shelter. The Judge also faulted the officers for not ensuring the medical staff understood the dangerous behavior Thomas exhibited, which could have factored into the doctor’s decision to civilly commit him. They also didn’t arrest him despite her having a black eye and him resisting efforts to restrain him.

Worst of all, the Court suspected that the officers failed to act because they were at the end of their shifts. In other words, they couldn’t be bothered.

While these cases are rare, it’s not an isolated incident. In fact, the Village of Maywood was also successfully sued under a similar fact pattern. The cops can’t simply drop off an abuser at the hospital and then decide it’s not their problem any more.

If you or a loved one was a victim of domestic abuse and the police did not protect you/them in a way that led to your abuser coming back and doing worse, our lawyers would love to talk to you for free. Call us any time for help anywhere in Illinois.

Being an Illinois medical malpractice attorney, it’s easy to assume that the general public knows things that we assume are basic. This is our mistake and something we shouldn’t do.

One that comes to mind which I hear a lot from people who contact us has to do with legal terms. It’s not uncommon for a caller to say something like, “I’m looking for a lawyer to sue a doctor. I don’t know if it would be for malpractice or for negligence. Can you tell me the difference?” Or others when we say that we don’t think they have a good medical malpractice case that they’d like to sue for negligence then.

The reality is that these are essentially the same things. Medical malpractice is negligence by a health care provider. So when we file a medical malpractice lawsuit, we are suing them for being negligent.

The confusion comes in because people hear the term negligence a lot and don’t understand it. Most injury lawsuits are negligence lawsuits. It could be medical negligence, product liability negligence, car accident negligence, etc.

Negligence means “failure to take proper care when doing something.” So when we say a doctor is negligent, it means they didn’t follow the proper standards of care. That is the same definition as medical malpractice.

The other one we hear a lot is that people want to sue for medical malpractice or wrongful death? A medical error that leads to a death is a wrongful death lawsuit, but is filed under medical malpractice laws. In other words, it’s again essentially the same thing. You can have wrongful death lawsuits from car accidents, a product malfunctioning or other reasons. But the laws and the standards needed to bring and win a case don’t change.

I hope that this brings some clarification. My advice to people is to not get caught up in legal mumbo jumbo and worry about the goal which is to find out if you might have a case and if so, how to bring it and which is the best law firm to hire for your case. That is our goal when we speak to you and what we’ve done for over a half a million people since 2001.

If you’d like to talk with an attorney for free, we are happy to speak with you any time at 312-346-5320. All calls are free and confidential and we cover all of Illinois.

I’ve been a lawyer since 1997. There are some medical malpractice injuries that I’ve seen every week since then like death, failure to diagnose cancer, or surgical errors. While they may occur in different ways, it’s no surprise when a caller tells us that is what’s what happened. Other injuries are more unique or only now understood. One such potential medical malpractice lawsuit is purple glove syndrome.

Purple glove syndrome (PGS) is a minimally understood and uncommon skin disease where a patient’s limbs become discolored, painful, and swollen. PGS is most commonly reported among patients who have received intravenous (IV) doses of the drug phenytoin. It’s an anti-seizure medication also known as Dilantin. Phenytoin is only administered through an IV in emergency situations where the patient is having active seizures and is unable to receive medications orally.

Physicians believe that there are a few reasons for why PGS occurs, one being that a chemical irritation forms due to the high alkalinity of phenytoin and propylene glycol being administered. Further, they think that the mixing of alkaline solution and a neutral pH may led to a vascular and IV catheter obstruction. They also believe that the IV insertion may cause a microtear in the vessel wall that allows phenytoin to infiltrate the tissue without a way to exit. Microtears are more commonly seen in elderly patients which is why physician believe PGS is more common among their demographic.

PGS is characterized by a blueish-purple discoloration around the IV site accompanied with severe swelling and pain. The symptoms typically form within two to twelve hours of administration. Progression of PGS occurs in between twelve and sixteen hours where discoloration and swelling continues to spread throughout the whole limb.

There can be very mild and very severe cases of PGS. In the mild cases, physicians quickly recognize the symptoms and immediately discontinue the phenytoin IV, elevate the limb and/or apply heat/cold applications. Eventually the symptoms will subside, and the patient is healthy. In worst case scenarios, PGS can lead to necrosis, ischemia or vascular compression, any of which could lead to a need for amputation.

There are a few methods to reduce the likelihood of PGS which include education on various procedures. Phenytoin should not be administered at a rate greater than 50mg/min. Phenytoin, if diluted, should not be mixed immediately prior to administration. Dextrose solutions and lactated ringers’ solution cannot be used with a phenytoin IV. Avoid smaller veins especially in the hands. 20-guage catheters should be utilized, and arguably the most important, there should be careful and diligent monitoring of the IV site.

This is certainly not the most common case out there, but there are cases where patients are given this medication and not properly monitored. If you have purple glove syndrome and want to know if you may have a malpractice lawsuit, please contact us any time.

When you hire an attorney in Illinois, you will pay them in one of three ways:

  • Flat fee – Typically traffic or misdemeanor criminal cases
  • Hourly – Divorces, most civil law suits, commercial litigation
  • Contingency – Paid if they win on injury cases, suing for owed life insurance money, class actions, some employment wage cases

It’s up to you and the law firm to agree on what type of fee arrangement to enter in to. No matter what you agree on, your contract with them will likely have a clause that says that they get reimbursed for their expenses. For example, if they have to issue a subpoena for your medical records or take a deposition as they prepare for trial, those things cost money.

Typically the law firm will front the expenses and get reimbursed by you. On contingency cases that happens when the case settles. On hourly cases that would be when you get your (hopefully monthly) bill. There aren’t usually expenses on flat fee cases, but if there were the attorney would have to ask for them since there wouldn’t be a bill.

While being able to get reimbursed for expenses is standard, some law firms in Chicago are doing something that is not standard lately. They are asking for interest on the expenses they pay out on your case. In other words, if they advance $50,000 in costs, which is not unusual for something like a medical malpractice case, they want to get 8% or so interest back on that money.

In the end, that could mean an extra $10,000 or more in their pocket depending on how long the case lasts. To me, while it is allowed, it’s really just a money grabbing exercise and a bit greedy. Fronting expenses is the risk of being an attorney and taking on a case. To try and get interest on those expenses is comparable to “resort fees” at hotels or “convenience charges” by Ticketmaster. It’s just taking more money because you think you can get away with it.

Unlike with the hotel and Ticketmaster, you do have a choice here. You can object and ask that this clause be removed. You can also hire one of the many great firms that don’t do these things to their clients. Whether or not they are allowed to do it isn’t the issue. The issue is should they charge interest and to me the answer is clearly no.

Beyond all of that, I really question how accurate the interest charges are. It’s not like they spend all the expense money at once. It happens over time and they aren’t allowed to charge interest on money that isn’t spent yet. Unless you’ve got a CPA on staff that has years of experience with this, I’d be worried about mistakes in calculating interest.

Finally, some of these firms are not only charging interest, but they are also claiming as expenses petty things like postage stamps, photo copying charges (even when it’s just a couple of pages), gas money, etc. To me those things are the cost of doing business and clearly separate from items like deposition fees, subpoena fees, expert witness pay, etc.

We highly encourage you to read and question any other items in whatever legal document you are given before signing it. If you have any questions about this you can call us any time to speak with a lawyer, at no cost, at 312-346-5320.

There are some areas of law that have thousands of attorneys who handle those types of cases. For example, if you need an attorney for a divorce, DUI or personal injury case, you will see a lot of profiles out there of various firms and attorneys. And finding these lawyers is not hard even if you are in a more remote area.

Other areas of law are more niche and there are many parts of Illinois where finding an attorney who has experience and is local to you is impossible. This is really true for cases before the Illinois Department of Professional and Financial Regulations (IDFPR).

The IDFPR licenses most professionals in Illinois including nurses, doctors, real estate agents, accountants, barbers and many others. If you get a notice from them of a possible violation your career and livelihood is on the line. So getting an experienced attorney is not only smart, it’s a must.

You will find that the best and most experienced IDFPR lawyers are in Chicago. That is because the IDFPR itself is in Chicago and that is where hearings take place. So if you are an attorney who is going to handle defending these cases, it would make sense that you’d be in Chicago.

In other words, if you are a nurse in southern Illinois or a realtor in Rockford, the best attorney for your IDFPR case is not going to be a law firm up the street. The good news is that you won’t have to travel to Chicago to hire one of these law firms. Every attorney we know who handles these cases is happy to talk to you by phone and/or Zoom. And everyone we recommend offers a free consultation.

It’s also important to note that even in Chicago, there are maybe 5-6 attorneys who make IDFPR defense just about 100% of their daily legal work activity. There are a lot of other attorneys who dabble in it, but mainly focus on other areas of law. In other words, you don’t have a lot of qualified, experienced choices. The good news is that we’ve met the ones who do this work all day every day and have seen them obtain incredible results for their clients, even those who were in dire circumstances and feared losing their license.

If you would like a free consultation to get the best IDFPR attorney for your case or just to see what your options are, you can call us any time at 312-346-5320. You will speak with an experienced lawyer right away and all calls are confidential.

What is your life expectancy? What is your health history and health outlook? Do you have a spouse or family member who can care for you if needed?

No one can predict how long they will live or exactly what condition their body and mind will be in as they age. And the cost of long-term care can be staggering. Therefore, many people invest in long-term care insurance.

People pay premiums to have a long-term care insurance policy that will cover their care in a facility that is not an acute-care hospital. That includes nursing homes, residential care facilities, assisted living facilities, and skilled nursing facilities. It also includes home care including home health care, adult day care, hospice services, or respite care.

But the sad reality is that when people need long-term care, and they file claims for long-term care benefits, there is a lot of red tape and the claims are sometimes delayed or denied by the insurer. Insurance companies are looking to make money, and adjusters will scrutinize the claims, trying to find reasons to not pay out the benefits to the policyholder.

Here are some of the common reasons insurance companies use to delay and deny claims:

  1. Ineligible Care Provider. If the insured person needs a nursing home or assisted living facility, make sure it meets the criteria of that person’s policy. The policy might state that the facility must have a specific license and the appropriate personnel and care.
  2. No Prior Hospitalization. Sometimes called “the gatekeeper provision,” this often appears in older policies. It requires that a policyholder have a hospitalization, a nursing home stay, or both before claims would be paid. Most states though have outlawed these provisions for many years.
  3. No Benefits for Personal Care. Insurance companies may say they won’t pay benefits for personal care like light housekeeping or running errands for the policyholder.
  4. Failure to Pay Claims Due to Cognitive Impairment. A policyholder may have some cognitive/memory issues and forget to pay their policy premiums for a little while. But in most states, you have a grace period of up to 5 months before a policy can lapse because premiums weren’t paid. If you can get a physician to state that during that time, the policyholder was impaired, the insurer will reinstate the policy.

Those a just a few of the reasons given by insurance companies. If you or a loved one has been denied long-term care benefits, please reach out to us. The cases we get involved with are when their are medical bills in the six figures that aren’t being covered. We can help you sort through the red tape, show the insurance company that you mean business, and fight for your rightful benefits.

You do not pay anything upfront. The experienced, reputable attorneys that handle these cases only take a fee if they win a settlement for you. Contact us at 312-346-5320 if you want to discuss a case.