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A very nice woman contacted me about a possible medical malpractice lawsuit.  She had a previous breast implant surgery and was now in a lot of pain due to scar tissue building up.  She told me that she believed the doctor would settle quickly because he had insurance and wouldn’t want anything bad to happen to his reputation.

I get similar calls for people who want to sue huge companies like Amazon, McDonalds, etc.  They will tell me that the company will settle because they are worth billions.

In the words of that famous commercial which I think is for car insurance, “That’s not how any of this works!”

Insurance companies and big corporations don’t just give money away.  Might they pay someone $1,500 to make a headache go away?  At times, sure.  But if you are looking for real money, you need the facts on your side.

When it comes to settling a medical malpractice lawsuit in Illinois, there are typically two things you need in your favor: 1. Provable negligence. 2. Major injuries.

When it comes to provable negligence, that’s not just showing that you were harmed by a doctor or they messed up, but also showing that their mistake was against the standard of care and caused you a harm that you wouldn’t have otherwise suffered.  By that I mean, if your doctor nicks your colon in a colonoscopy, that is a mistake, but it’s a risk of that procedure.  If they tell you on October 1 that you don’t have cancer, but you learn on October 10th that you have stage four cancer, it’s a screw up, but not one that will make a difference in your ultimate outcome. In other words, that ten day delay won’t change anything.

As for major injuries, let’s say you go to a hospital with chest pain and they send you home saying you are fine.  That night you have more pain and go to a different hospital where they discover an aneurysm that is about to burst. Emergency surgery saves your life.  That first hospital was negligent, but their error didn’t cause a major injury.  Even if you have a surgical error that causes you to miss three months of work, the value of that case isn’t much.  No matter the case, it costs a lot to bring a lawsuit because you have to pay for experts.  A lot of cases cost $100,000.00 or more to go to trial.  Insurance companies of course know this, so generally they don’t pay much for minor injuries because they know that no lawyer is going to spend 100k in hopes of recovering 150k for a client.

This doesn’t mean there are never five and low six figure malpractice settlements in Illinois.  What it does mean though is finding an attorney to take on a case like this can be challenging. When push comes to shove, doctors win more than 80% of cases that go to trial.  So most lawyers we know are very selective in the cases they take on.

Cases that do settle tend to be ones that have very big injuries.  Death, brain damage, permanent disability, etc.  Those aren’t guaranteed wins, but you have a better chance of getting an insurance company to offer money if they think you can also prove negligence.

I don’t write any of this to discourage you, but rather to be honest about how most cases seem to go.  Please call us any time for a free consultation to see if you have a case.  There is never a fee to pursue a claim unless a recovery is made for you.

Before I talk about workers’ compensation law and Coronavirus, I want to talk about work comp law and marijuana.  Long story short, if you get hurt at work and test positive for marijuana, it creates a “rebuttable presumption” that you were high when you got hurt and allows the insurance company to deny your case.  This is of course ridiculous as marijuana stays in your system for a while.  The good news is that you can through your testimony and/or witnesses show that you weren’t high when you got hurt and win your case.

Why do I bring this up?  Because with Coronavirus, this same philosophy has been made law, but in this case it’s for the benefit of workers in Illinois.

From March 9, 2020 through December 31, 2020 (and it may be extended if we don’t get out of this mess), if you get Covid and work in certain jobs, a law was put in to place that creates a “rebuttable presumption” that if you have Covid, you got it from work.

So if you are a healthcare worker or front line worker and get Covid, it’s presumed that you got it from work although the insurance company has a chance to argue otherwise.  That means 100% of your medical bills will be paid with no co-pays or out of pocket expenses.  This is huge as there have been many reports of people hospitalized with Coronavirus having bills in the six or seven figures.  It also means that you will get compensated for your time off of work which is great because it doesn’t put pressure on you financially to rush back to work when your doctor feels you should be at home.  And it also means  that you will be entitled to a settlement for how this will affect you in the future.

It’s obvious what healthcare workers are, but what is a front line worker?  That means law enforcement officers and anyone employed by a company that was deemed an essential business.  This includes people who work at grocery stores, banks, pharmacies, convenience stores, hardware stores, transportation providers, schools, restaurants and many other businesses.  The only exception is if you don’t come in to contact with the general public as part of your job.

The presumption that Covid came from work may be rebutted by evidence including that the employee was working from home or on leave for a period of 14 or more consecutive days immediately prior to getting diagnosed, showing that the employer was following current public health guidelines for two weeks prior to when the employee claims they contracted COVID-19 or that the employee was exposed to COVID-19 by an another source.

The bottom line is that if you have or had Covid, you should contact a lawyer to discuss whether or  not you have a workers’ compensation case.  Feel free to call us any time at 312-346-5320.

We are experienced Illinois attorneys who will talk to you for free.  Our lawyers answer questions and/or refer you to the best lawyer for your case.  We treat you like a family member or a friend. If you would like our help, fill out our contact form or call us at 312-346-5320. We cover all of Illinois.

Did you know your skin is actually an organ? In fact, it is the largest organ in your body. And just like every other organ in the body, the skin also has a set of very specialized functions. For starters, the skin is responsible for protecting our inner organs and it also carries out a number of bodily functions that help us to maintain a healthy life. Changes in the skin can reveal a lot about your health and can be a sign that something is wrong.

When there is pressure on the skin it reduces blood flow to that area. Without enough blood, the skin can die and an ulcer may form. Skin ulcers are open wounds that develop on the skin as a result of injury, poor circulation, constant friction or unrelieved pressure.

There are several types of skin ulcers, but one that continues to be a growing problem in medical facilities are decubitus ulcers. Doesn’t sound familiar? How about a pressure sore or bed sore? These terms are often used interchangeable in the medical community.

These usually occur on bony areas of the body such as the lower back/tailbone, hips, shoulder blades, heels and ankles. They can occur quickly and are difficult to treat, but are actually rather easy to prevent. The risk is increased if you are bedridden, in a wheelchair, or limited in your ability to maneuver, such as a limb in a cast. Prevention is as easy as moving position every couple of hours, using pillows and other products to relieve pressure and keeping skin clean and dry.

But if one cannot easily move themselves because of paralysis, illness, old age, or frailty many depend on caretakers to help them do so. Still, pressure sores can occur to anyone of all ages and those who do not appear to be at risk. Pressure sores may be preventable, but they’re nothing more than a breach of care by healthcare providers and are subject to a lawsuit. Plain and simple, nursing homes, hospitals, rehab facilities, etc have a duty to prevent these sores from happening.

Pressure sores develop in stages based upon the depth of skin damage, ranging from the least severe (stage 1) to the most sever (stage 4).

  • Stage 1 Pressure Ulcer: redness of the skin and may be itchy
  • Stage 2 Pressure Ulcer: The skin may have a painful open sore or blister, with discolored skin around it.
  • Stage 3 Pressure Ulcer: A crater-like appearance develops, due to tissue damage below the skin’s surface.
  • Stage 4 Pressure Ulcer: Severe damage to skin and tissue, possibly with infection. Muscles, bones and tenons may be visible.

Treating pressure ulcers is not always easy.  Open wounds are unlikely to heal rapidly, but even when there is healing it may inconsistent because of the damage to the skin and other tissues and can spread elsewhere in the body causing other medical complications. Serious wounds may even need surgery. Less severe pressure ulcers often heal within a few weeks with proper treatment.

There is no cost to hire an attorney to bring a case against these facilities if they are negligent and you develop a decubitus ulcer.  If you would like our help in finding the right lawyer for your case, please contact us any time.

The Covid world is new for all of us and constantly changing. I, along with just about every attorney I know, supported the closing of the courthouses while we got things under control.  Cook County was extra cautious and kept the courts mostly closed until this week.  Some emergency hearings took place, some Zoom status calls happened, but most cases were just simply continued.

Now in Will County, DuPage and every place else things are getting back to normal.  If you had a case scheduled for trial, it can happen.  There are precautions in place and Zoom and other remote access services are being used for great benefit.

But in Cook County, Judge Evans has declared that every case set for trial is automatically continued until 2021.  There is no way we can have the mass of usual people in the Daley Center and smaller courthouses right now.  But there certainly is a way to make sure plaintiffs have access to justice.  Currently if a defendant demands a jury trial, justice is not possible.  It’s being abused by insurance companies to pressure injured people to take terrible settlement offers.  When you have no leverage there isn’t much you can do.

Unusual times call for creative thinkers.  In just downtown Chicago alone, there are scores of hotels within walking distance of the Daley Center. How easy would it be to use a ballroom or meeting room for a jury trial? You could easily social distance everyone while giving all parties their fair day in court.  I’m not talking about cases that got filed yesterday, I’m referring to cases that have been waiting for trial and didn’t proceed because of Covid.

Delaying these cases does nothing but overwhelm the court system and force good people in to unfair situations while insurance companies and bad actors get away with not being held accountable.

McCormick Place is another option that would seem to work. It’s huge, has security in place and I can’t imagine it’s in high demand these days.

If you want to have a hearing outdoors I’d bet places in Grant Park could work or even some rooftop deck areas.

The point is that doing something is better than doing nothing.  We could even do a trial run of smaller cases on Zoom to see how that goes.

Why we are trying nothing boggles my mind.  I’d think most people would even be in favor of trials at the Daley Center if we limited cases to parties directly involved in the case which would greatly reduce foot traffic.

I’m not optimistic because it’s Cook County, but here’s hoping that we get back to a true level playing field for all parties and that our legal system can get back on track. Doing nothing is going to have ripple effects for years.

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.