One of the dumbest things we do is punish the poor financially for not having money to pay fines.  That leads to a downward cycle that affects them in a bad way. It’s how it has been in Illinois forever when it comes to parking tickets.  If you get too many tickets and don’t pay them you will get your driver’s license suspended.  When your license is suspended it means you can’t legally drive to work to make money.  That means of course you can’t make money to pay off these tickets or are forced to choose between important life expenses like medicine versus giving the Government your money.

Fortunately Governor Pritzker and the legislature are giving new hope to 55,000+ people.  Effective today based on a law that was passed in January, if your license is suspended for unpaid parking tickets, toll violations or other non-moving violations you are eligible to get your license back under The License To Work Act.

The State should have contacted you if you are eligible, but if they didn’t and you think you might be, you should contact them. It’s possible they don’t have up to date address information for you or made another error.

Prior to this, many drivers were filing for bankruptcy to get out of their tickets and ruining their credit.  That shouldn’t happen anymore. Best of all, you shouldn’t have to hire a lawyer to get your license back.  This isn’t a matter of judgment and you don’t need to get a restricted driving permit like before.  You should have your full privileges reinstated.

I will rag on politicians as much as anyone, but this is a great thing that was done and they deserve kudos for it.  It could probably go further, especially when it comes to child support, but it’s a great first step.

If you have any questions about this process, I highly recommend you go in to your local Secretary of State office.

 

I got a call from a very nice young woman who was injured in a car accident.  She was looking to sue her doctor for not diagnosing her injury, but it became clear pretty quickly that she did not have a malpractice case.

I asked her if she had a lawyer for the car accident case and she said she didn’t because she couldn’t.  I wanted to know what she meant and she let me know that she was the passenger in the car and her boyfriend was driving and at fault for the crash.  She told me that she couldn’t sue him.

I’ve heard similar statements from people many times over the years. Some callers don’t think they have a right to sue because of the dating relationship.  Others just would never do it.

If a lawsuit was filed, technically it would say her vs. him.  In reality though, the case is her vs. his insurance company.  In other words, we would never go after him personally if the client didn’t want us to.  If the driver has $100,000 in insurance, that’s all that we would go for even if the case might be worth more.

What happened in this case is that the insurance company knew their client was at fault, but picked up on the fact that the girlfriend wouldn’t do anything so they blew her off.  Fortunately we were able to help her understand that even if his insurance goes up, it wouldn’t go up that much and it would certainly be offset by what she is owed for medical bills and pain and suffering.

While it didn’t apply in this case, in some claims we’ve been involved with, passengers could have actually gone after the driver of the other vehicle, but didn’t want to bring their significant other in to the case. That is almost never an actual concern.

You must remember that you are the client and whoever your attorney is, they can’t go against your interests. All they can do is advise you of your rights to help you make an educated decision.  So if you are a passenger in a car accident in Illinois and don’t want the driver to have to pay out of pocket, your wishes should be followed.

The bottom line is that no matter what happens, you should make sure you speak to an attorney before it’s too late (in most cases you have two years to sue) and learn your options to make an educated decision. Our attorneys are always happy to talk with you for free.  Call us at 312-346-5320 any time. We help everywhere in Illinois.

Nobody goes in to a marriage wanting to get a divorce.  Most people don’t come out of a divorce saying that it was a great experience.  The best result is usually knowing that you are now on to the next chapter of your life.

If you are thinking about getting a divorce in Illinois, and it’s surely popular right now after everything that has gone on this year, we recommend you try and get a game plan together.  Every divorce is different, but here are some basic things to think about. You should create your own check list from talking to an attorney. If you would like a free consultation with us, call us any time at 312-346-5320.

1. Is your spouse wanting a divorce too? – If you are going to spring this on them, you want to do it in a way that is safe.  You don’t have to do it until you are ready. Often that means you’ve already talked to an attorney. If you are worried about abuse or an emotional response, you might want to plan for somewhere else to stay for a night or two.

2. What are your goals related to the kids? –If you have kids you will be thinking about child support, a primary residence, custody and visitation.  What decisions do you want to make as a couple (e.g. religion, healthcare, education) and what do you want to be able to make on your own.

3. Do either of you own a business? – If you do and the business has value and was started during the marriage then it’s a marital asset.  Whether you are a part of the business or not you have a right to some of it.  It’s important to speak with a lawyer who understands forensic accounting so you are protected.  Even if you want nothing to do with the business, it is a negotiable issue that may help you with other items.  Often the books get cooked so to speak so to the extent you can, document what the actual revenue and expenses are.

4. Where do you want to live? – You might want to stay in the marital home.  If you can afford it you might want to move out.  Generally speaking you can move anywhere in Illinois that you want. If you want to take the kids out of state though you may need the permission of the court. Don’t just think about where you want to live now, think about where you want to be in a year, five years and ten years.

5. Get your own bank account – If your money is in a joint account, while technically you can take it, we don’t suggest in most cases that you take more than half.  But if you have a paycheck deposited in to that account or other money coming in, you can and likely should set up a new account.  Eventually you will want to close out all joint accounts, but might not want to do that when you are in the planning stages.

6. Personal items – It might not be #1 on the list, but if you’ve been married a while, you’ve likely acquired some property together. Which car is yours?  Is just your name on the title? How about jewelry, furniture, TV’s?  Make a list of these items as they will need to be discussed.

7. Is it amicable? – I always suggest that you at least consult with an attorney, but the best divorce is an amicable one. If that’s your situation and you are educated on your rights, mediation might be a quicker and cheaper way to resolve everything.

8. Retirement accounts- Usually handled by a process called a qualified domestic relief order or QDRO, if there is a 401k, pension or other account for retirement, the part accumulated during the marriage is a marital asset.  I’m blown away by how many lawyers don’t handle this issue which forces their clients to hire a new lawyer when the divorce is done.  Before you hire a lawyer, make sure that they will real with these accounts.  It’s really surprising how many don’t.

9. Make a list of debts- Just like any assets that are acquired in the marriage, marital debts have to be dealt with.  Make a list of your credit cards, mortgage payments and other expenses so they can be divided up.

10. Open up a credit card in your name only – It’s good for building your credit and if somehow you get cut off financially due to a vengeful spouse, it can get you by until you can get a court order that gives you access to funds.

Hopefully that list is a good start for you.  Some bonus tips would be to make sure to take some personal time for yourself and not to hash out your grievances on social media.  If you pick the right lawyer they will get you on the right path and make sure you are thinking about what is important based on the unique case you are going through.

 

Full disclosure.  I asked my assistant who is an avid motorcycle rider to contribute to this. She goes across country on her bike every summer and has taught me a lot that is relevant to helping people injured in a motorcycle accident in Illinois. If you would like a free consultation, please call us at 312-346-5320.

If you ask a group of motorcyclists why they ride, you would get a variety of answers. Some love to ride for the speed, others the camaraderie and others say they just love the freedom of the open road. Motorcycling is a popular and favored pastime however, motorcycling riding is not without its risks.

Although they do not occur as frequently as car accidents, it should no surprise that motorcycles are more dangerous than a passenger car. Motorcyclists are generally more exposed to serious life-threatening injuries. The number of fatalities and serious injuries in motorcycle accidents close to double when compared to passenger vehicle accidents.

With little protection from the force of an impact, bikers and their passengers may sustain life changing injuries including brain injuries, spinal cord injury, broken bones, amputated limbs, lacerations, road rash or even death. Even accidents at low speeds can be the cause of these life altering or ending injuries. Motorcycle accident cases range from hit and runs, rear-end crashes, failure to yield, limited visibility collisions, stop sign accidents, left hand turns, lane splitting and more. Not all motorcycle accidents end in death yet, these accidents cause deaths thirty times more than other motor crashes.

In 2008, in the U.S. alone, over 100,000 motorcyclists were injured in traffic accidents. An additional 5,000 were killed. Motorcycle crashes are dangerous and devastating. And motorcyclists routinely get blamed for accidents they did not cause. Additional studies have demonstrated that in a vast majority of motorcycle crashes, the driver of the passenger car is either at fault or at more at fault than the motorcyclists. Despite continuous studies and statistics, insurance companies are quick to point the finger at the motorcyclists.

Managing the aftermath of an accident can be difficult, especially when you have better things to worry about like your recovery. But keep in mind in Illinois you usually have two years to file a lawsuit against an at-fault driver if you are hurt in a motorcycle accident and in some cases it’s just one year.

Motorcycle accidents with injuries are considered personal injury cases and the attorney you choose to represent you in an accident can have a significant impact on the outcome of your case. From injuries, lost wages, medical bills, permanent disabilities, rehabilitation and more motorcycle accidents can be costly. And every case is different. The length of the case and the time that it takes to settle all depend on the severity of the injury, the amount of treatment needed and the type of recovery that the person has.

Hospitals, medical providers, and insurance companies fight to make a profit from one of the worst days of your life. Without the right lawyer on your side your fight can only be harder.  If you have any questions or want our help in finding an experienced, tough motorcycle injury lawyer who will fight for you, call us at any time.

If you have attended a protest or march in Chicago in the last week, odds are that you have been peaceful.  Despite that, we are seeing scores of people getting arrested and/or being victims of police brutality.

Police do not have a right to physically harm peaceful protesters.  They do not have a right to arrest someone for no reason or make up a charge against you. They do not have the right to use excessive force.

I’m not talking about the looters.  Whoever is doing that should get arrested. I’m talking about people who are marching for black lives, fighting to end racist policies and policing, working for justice, etc.  If that’s you and you have been wronged by the authorities, we can likely help.  And even if you were looting or suspected of it, the police don’t have the right to abuse you and should not use excessive force against you.

While we can’t guarantee you a result, we do promise you can speak with a lawyer for free who will listen to what happened to you. We are lawyers who help people find the right attorney for their case and can connect you with a civil rights attorney who will fight for you.

I’m talking about things happening like in this video in the link posted below.  Police don’t have the right to violate the constitution or your civil rights.

It’s beyond baffling to me that the police are responding to protests about abuse with even more abuse.  This is going to cost the City millions of dollars, but hopefully all of the lawsuits that are going to come will lead to some positive changes.

I encourage everyone to continue to be peaceful, protect themselves and record what is happening whenever they can.

To speak with a lawyer for free any time, call us at 312-346-5320.  All calls are free and confidential.

Police brutality compilation

 

I’m a lawyer and even I wouldn’t want to hire a lawyer if I didn’t have to. I’ve paid for an attorney for real estate closings and for a will, but fortunately have never been in a situation where I personally had to shell out thousands for an attorney.

Most people don’t want to pay a lawyer if they don’t have to.  Some simply can’t afford it. I get it. Hiring a lawyer can be expensive.  In some cases you can get a lawyer who only gets paid if they win the case.  This is called working on a contingency. A lot of people call us wanting this type of lawyer.  Here are six ways you can make it happen.

  1. Have an injury case.  Just about every injury case should be done this way.  It’s most common for malpractice, workers comp and car accidents where you aren’t at fault. Sadly, if someone hits your car, but you aren’t injured, getting a contingency attorney to help get the car fixed will be near impossible.  On the other hand, if you have an injury and property damage, the attorneys we know will handle the whole case on a contingency.
  2. Have a case that has value.  I would never tell someone to see the doctor if they aren’t injured.  That said, an injury case has more value if you receive medical treatment. So if you are truly hurt, go to the doctor.
  3. Don’t be a defendant. It’s impossible to defend someone on a contingency basis. That’s because you aren’t recovering anything.
  4. Don’t be going through a divorce or criminal case. It’s against Illinois law to handle either of these cases on a pay if you win basis.  There is no recovery in criminal cases and it would be immoral to do it that way in a divorce.  Plus you can’t take a percentage of child custody.
  5. Have a wage case that is worth at least $10,000.00 or a consumer fraud case. In both of these situations it can be possible to make the defendant pay the lawyer fees.  If so, no attorney is going to ask you for any money up front.
  6. Get your facts organized in a clear and concise way.  Any lawyer can understand a story of being rear-ended at a red light.  But if you want to sue for something like a fraudulent will and don’t want to pay for it up front, an outline of what happened makes it more likely that the attorney will take your case. Keep out the emotion and stick to the facts.  By that I mean something like: “On July 10, my sister took my mom, who had Alzheimers, to her lawyer friend to sign a new will.”  That is relevant and to the point. Adding how frustrated that made you doesn’t tell the story no matter how wrong everything is.

I hope this helps. If you have any questions or want a referral to a contingency attorney, call us at 312-346-5320 at any time.

Most divorces are something like “Marriage Story” where there is cheating or a breakdown of communication or a couple seems to fall out of love. It’s painful, but one of you usually files for divorce and the process goes from there.  The good news is that over time most people feel better and find themselves in a happier place in life.

Some people though get married, separate from their spouse and don’t talk to them for years.  For whatever reason, neither of them files for divorce.  Usually it’s because it’s too expensive, but some people just don’t get around to it.  It may sound odd, but it’s really no different than people who know they need a will but keep putting it off.  At some point when you’ve divided everything up and have your own place, you feel like you’ve moved on. That’s enough for some.

Eventually though it does seem that one of the spouses wants to make the breakup official.  Often it’s because they are in a new relationship, possibly heading to a new marriage.  Other times it’s because they are buying a house and want to make sure there are no issues with that.  For some, they make a New Year’s resolution and just get it done.

When you do file after a long separation, the process itself isn’t much different than any other divorce.  The good is that there won’t be a battle, most likely, over assets and debts as well as child custody or support.  Usually it’s just a matter of making everything official.

The biggest issue we see in these cases is that a caller doesn’t know where their spouse is.  In those cases you still file for divorce like normal, but tell the Judge that you can’t locate your ex.  If you can prove to the Court that you’ve used your best efforts to find them, they will likely grant you permission to get divorced by publication.  This essentially means that you place an ad notifying the public about the divorce filing in local papers.  I’ve never heard of anyone actually discovering about a case that way, but it’s the law.  Prior to that time though you’d need to show the Judge that you called relatives, searched the internet, tried old phone numbers or emails, etc.

In the end this is almost like pulling off a band-aid.  You just have to just do it and when it’s done you’ll be glad you did.

There is a terrible trend in today’s celebrity and social media driven world where the loudest person can claim to be an expert on something. Dr. Drew made his fame by giving relationship advice.  He then went on to make money by giving substance abuse advice.  He recently made terribly wrong predictions about Coronavirus.  People don’t want to stay in their lane when there is money to be made.

Although no longer a licensed doctor, Dr. Phil also likes to give medical advice about things he’s not trained in. Talking loud or confidently is not a substitute for real expertise.  Instead of saying, “I’m not an expert on this issue, this is who we should listen to,” these TV docs just spout off opinions.

It’s bad enough when they do it with something related to medicine.  It’s even worse when they act like an expert in other things.

A good friend of mine sent me a video of Dr. Phil saying that if juries can’t hear cases, Judges could dismiss thousands of cases.

Technically anything “could” happen.  But there is no realistic way that thousands or even hundreds of cases are going to get tossed out because juries are not available.  Your right to speedy trial isn’t violated when the courts can’t open due to a pandemic. Might some people get temporary release from jail why they await trial?  Yes, and that should happen in many instances.  But they eventually will have their day in court if they want one.

Similarly, civil cases, which make up the great majority of jury trials, aren’t going to be thrown out because of a long delay.  That would unfairly harm plaintiffs and the reality is that it’s not uncommon for some civil cases to take years. I had a trial on a case I’m involved with that was supposed to start last week.  At the earliest it will go to trial in the fall and if not then next year some time.  That sucks for us and the client, but it’s just the way it is.

I love Oprah and even got to appear on stage at one of her shows once.  But her propping up carnival barkers like Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz and others is really a stain on her legacy.

Bottom line is that when you want to form an opinion on something you don’t know about, listen to an expert in that field.  And if someone thinks they have the answer for just about everything, they should be ignored and/or ridiculed.

With some exceptions for emergency situations and some criminal cases, you can’t have your day in court in Illinois right now. Chief Judge Evans of Cook County announced the other day that the courts will be closed through at least May 31st.  I’d quite honestly expect it to go on longer than that.

It’s very frustrating for people who don’t feel that they have access to justice when it comes to our civil courts.  I have a case that I’m a part of that was set to go to trial this week after four years of preparation and now it’s postponed until November at the earliest.  It sucks for the clients and everyone involved, but of course it makes sense and it’s a good thing we are doing this.

The reality is that some people are going to temporarily get away with nonsense and innocent people are going to suffer.  But that doesn’t mean you can’t act.  While you aren’t going to be able to appear in court this month, you can still file a lawsuit.

Filing a lawsuit does a lot of things to eventually get you justice.  First and foremost it lets the other person know that you are serious.  Second, while you won’t get in to court right away, you will get a court date.  There are certainly a lot of cases that have backed up the system, but getting in line now is really to your advantage. When courts do open back up, the other party will be on the clock of having to respond and that will also put real pressure on them. We also have seen that when someone is sued, if they don’t get a lawyer the first thing they do is call your lawyer.  Often you can get a result without ever even having to go to court.

It’s my opinion that when the Illinois courts do open up, there is going to be a flood of new cases filed.  We expect it a lot for divorce, but certainly for other areas too, like evictions.  My best advice is to get ahead of the game if you need to, and act now.  Nobody wants to have to sue someone or go to court, but waiting too long will likely make getting a good result even harder.

And as always, if you have questions or want to speak with a lawyer for free, call us any time at 312-346-5320.

The last couple of weeks have been draining for everyone.  I’ve tried to focus on all of the good that will come out of this like an improved climate.  That said, there is a lot of bad that is coming from Coronavirus.  I’m not just talking about the deaths, but also the terrible movies that will surely be made that try to show a COVID -19 subplot. Grab your popcorn because here is my guess as to the plot of 11 movies that will be shoved down our throats in the next two years.

1. Three teenage boys make a pact to lose their virginity by the end of the school year.  How will they do it if classes are cancelled and a quarantine is in place?

2. She’s a social media star who suddenly finds her source of revenue dried up when she can no longer promote her special diet drink. They’ve gone out of business because everyone is eating like a maniac.  What will happen when she has to get a job at the grocery store because she has so many bills?

3. Georgia opens up their state and the hospitals are overrun.  Coming this fall, The Purge 5, this time you make the rules.

4. The race.  50 movie studios try to get their Joe Exotic pic made but struggle to do so while being forced to stay six feet apart.

5. A high school couple (half of these terrible movies will be teen rom-coms, you just know it) had planned for that special night at prom.  Her parents won’t let her leave the house, his parents are busy partying.  Prom is cancelled until John Krasinski steps in with his “Good News” prom. Can it save the day?

6. There will probably be ten movies about girls who had to become strippers or escorts because they lost their jobs.  Wait until you see the shenanigans they pull on their customers. Hilarious.

7. The Mask.  Move over Jim Carrey.  This mask is a foreign romance smash about a man and a woman who fall in love from six feet away.  Will that all change when she has to remove her mask and reveals a terrible secret?

8. He was a dweeb when the school quarantine went in to effect.  She had bad skin, braces and (don’t be alarmed) glasses.  Nine months have passed since they’ve seen anyone and now everyone thinks there are two new hot kids at school.  See what happens in “Chad and The Swan.”

9. Jake just loves sports so much. ESPN is all reruns but he’s still watching. One late night they put on a random show that reveals pogo sticking is a big sport in New Zealand. You won’t believe it, but Jakes becomes the best pogoer in the world and an overnight sensation to the Kiwis.

10. We can expect tons of sadly based on a true story movies of people marketing fake vaccine cures.  Coming this spring, “Keeping Up With The Alex Jones’s.”

11. John is a CEO of a hospital system trying to get personal protection equipment.  Every time they order the Feds seize their purchase.  Nobody knows what the Fed is doing with this PPE.  John’s doctors and nurses need the gear so they can stop trying to protect themselves with bandanas and garbage bags.  Based on a true story, John the CEO turns in to John Rambo to smuggle in N95 masks and gowns from China only to discover they were originally shipped to Chine from the United States.

We have all suffered enough.  We can only beg Hollywood to never make any of these films or hope that the apocalypse comes before then.