We get a lot of calls about social security laws and benefits so we thought it would make sense to provide some information.

The differences between Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income

If you’ve suffered a severe injury or are suffering from an illness or disability that is keeping you from being able to work and earn a living, you may want to consider help. But, where does one start?
Thankfully, The Social Security Administration (SSA) oversees and manages two disability benefits programs to those suffering from disabilities who are unable to work or unable to perform substantial gainful activity (SGA). The SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) and SSI (Supplemental Security Income) are two different and separate governmental programs. With similar initials and only one letter away from similarity, it’s easy to confuse the two.

We’re going to jump in at the individual differences and requirements of each benefit program, but first, let’s quickly look at the few similarities between SSDI and SSI. Again, both SSDI and SSI are disability programs set by the SSA. To be eligible, they both evaluate the severity of your medical condition using the same criteria to show that your disability is enough that you are unable to work. A person cannot be earning or have the capacity to earn above the set substantial gainful activity (SGA) level (differs by program and state). Lastly, they provide monthly cash benefits and provide access to health care benefits, but are distributed differently.

The most notable difference between the SSDI and SSI is how benefit eligibility is determined. Specifically, SSI is based on need whereas SSDI is based on work records. Aside from this major difference, each program has its own qualifications and application procedures.

Social Security Disability Insurance

SSDI is a taxpayer-funded program for those with a either physical or psychological disability as well as blind persons. This cash payment is paid out early from the Social Security trust fund and is available to those who are ‘insured’ or have worked, and paid FICA taxes, for a required number of years.

The SSA does have a list of impairments that automatically qualify for SSDI benefits and should be an easy approval if one is able to show documents on the impairment, how and why they suffer.
Otherwise, it is not easy to obtain SSDI benefit as the rules, regulations, and guidelines can be rigid and overwhelming to applicants. However, the applications process is easier and the approval rates for SSDI are higher on average than they are for SSI. SSDI is based on work records, so benefits can vary dramatically.

There are two main qualifications the SSA look at: documentation of the disability and the evaluation of ones work history. Once deemed disabled, SSA will look at the recent and total duration of ones work history to determine their average indexed monthly earnings (AIME). Depending on the age one becomes disabled will depend on the amount of history records needed to qualify. Payment will then be based on the individual’s average covered earnings over this period.

There are times when a disabled individual is still able to work. Federal law states that any individual earning in excess of $1,000/month are able to meet the “substantial gainful activity” and, by definition, are not disable. The earned income for the blind is slightly higher.

Once approved, there is a five-month waiting period for benefits pay out. SSDI beneficiaries are also eligible to receive Medicare two years after deemed eligible for SSDI benefits. The amount of your monthly disability benefits will be based on your Social Security income record. Lastly, under SSDI, spouses and dependents, under the age of 18, are eligible to receive partial benefits.

Social Security Income

The SSI program is a need-base welfare cash benefit to low-income individuals over 64, blind, or disabled who have limited income and resources. This program is called a “means-tested program” and has nothing to do with one’s work history, as is completely a financial need. The fund does not come from Social Security Trust Fund as SSDI does, but by The Federal Government from general tax revenues.

SSI is not only qualified on the bases of income, but also based on ones resources. If an individual’s personal possessions were worth more than $2,000 (individual) or $3,000 (couple), they would be considered ineligible. (SSDI has no asset limits to personal property).

To be entitled to SSI benefits, an individual must be a U.S. citizen that can provide medical evidence that a disability will last for at least a year. If working, the total countable income should also be below listed Supplemental Security Income levels. This amount differs from state to state and can be pretty complicated.

Unlike SSDI, SSI has no waiting period for benefits and will start payout the same month as applied. Because the program is solely based on need, SSI pays out a standard benefit, Federal Benefit Rate or FBR, for everyone and then subtracts any countable income. In Illinois for 2018, an individual can receive up to $750 a month in federal SSI payments. In most cases, a person qualified for SSI immediately qualifies for Medicaid benefits. However, with SSI, there is no dependent coverage.

Clearly, SSDI and SSI benefits can be confusing and strict. Understanding the qualifications process will best be done by speaking to an experienced and knowledgeable attorney. If you’d like a referral please call us at 312-346-5320 any time.

We are Chicago based lawyers who cover all of Illinois and have experience with serious injury cases. Fill out our contact form or call us at 312-346-5320 if you’d like to discuss a case for free and in confidence.

Many Americans are highly concerned with access to affordable and quality health care. And rightfully so with the price of premiums rising as they are. What many American’s don’t realize is that even if you can afford insurance, your access to quality health care can be restricted by insurance company tactics that limit coverage for certain prescriptions and procedures.

That’s right. The doctor that you seek out when you’re sick, share your health with, and trust: They may not have full reign when working for you, as the patient. The medical middleman has come between doctors and patients. As healthcare costs have risen, insurance companies have increasingly used their power as payers to alter doctors’ prescriptions and override patients’ treatment decisions.

The Doctor-Patient Rights Project (DPRP) recently did a study that showed the health of nearly one in four insured patients, that’s almost 53 million Americans, treating a chronic or persistent illness may be in jeopardy by insurance providers to denied coverage. One-third of these patients cannot afford the out-of-pocket costs and may be forced to put off or forgo treatment altogether.

Of course the power should be in the hands of the doctors not insurance companies. The good news is that there is a way to fight back.

In many cases insurance companies are essentially practicing medicine when they deny commonly accepted treatments as “experimental” or refuse without good cause to approve a surgery at all.  In a recent case a family won more than $25 million in a lawsuit against Aetna for not approving care.  A law firm we work with is pursuing a case currently against United Health Care for something similar.

In that case it’s alleged that a sick person called the toll free line for the insurance company and spoke to a “nurse” who allegedly assured him that despite shortness of breath and difficulty breathing he was fine.  The reality is that the proper advice would have been to tell them to hang up the phone and rush to an ER or call 911.  This has resulted in a wrongful death lawsuit against the health insurance company.

This was the insurance company allegedly practicing medicine and giving bad advice.  With some insurance companies approvals and denials are made by people with limited to no medical training.

Doctors should have the power to make treatment decisions without interference from insurers and if you call an insurer they should always err on the side of your health and not their bottom line. This isn’t the case as recently we’ve seen a cancer patient denied specialized treatment, a diabetic denied vascular surgery, a child with a brain tumor denied specialized marrow transplantation and/or chemotherapy, a man with brain cancer denied testosterone.

 

When this type of insurance company malpractice happens, you may have a lawsuit.  Contact us any time for free if you’d like to discuss your options.

Your baby is born and it is the most rewarding experience for your family and one that you’ve been anticipating for a long time. But, what if, what should be one of the brightest and happiest moments in your life, has turned to one of the darkest moments.

Such is the case for a mother in Cook County who just won a medical negligence against her obstetrician. In 2008, Evanthia Georgas had a seemingly normal delivery. After only two hours of labor, the doctor decided to use a birth-assisting tool, the vacuum-extractor. At birth, her newborn son showed signs of bruising above his left ear. A CT scan showed hemorrhages between the skull and scalp on the right side. Because of the medical errors made, her son had suffered from traumatic brain injury and a stroke leaving him, at the age of 10, to have left-side paralysis, cerebral palsy and frequent seizures.

Birth-assisting tools, such as the vacuum extractor, can be very beneficial during a difficult delivery, but can also lead to serious birth injuries and permanent medical issues if used improperly.
A vacuum-extractor is typically used when a difficult labor takes too long or the mother is too exhausted to continue pushing. During a contraction, the doctor will apply a soft cup to the top and back of the baby’s head that will help pull the baby out, using a light suction.

Birth injuries vary depending on how the vacuum extractor was misused. However, because a vacuum extraction does relate to the brain and most injuries are head or brain related one very surprising injury for a newborn can lead to a stroke.

The reality that a baby can have a stroke is shocking. Surprisingly, pediatric strokes are common and even have the same chances of experiencing a stroke as an older person. They usually occur in the first month of life in roughly one in every 4,000 births (whether premature or full-term) and are one of the top 10 killers of children.

You might be asking how strokes can even occur in a newborn. Eighty percent of strokes in babies are by clots, which are when a blood vessel carrying oxygen and nutrients to brain eithers bursts or are blocked.

A clot is actually a common risk during delivery. Childbirth is already a tremendous strain on the baby’s head and can often form a clot. Adding a vacuum-extractor can add more stress on the arteries and veins in the baby’s head potentially leading to a clot formation and therefore a stroke.

Several other birth injuries occur from the misuse of the vacuum-extractor. These can include skull fractures, retinal hemorrhages, brachial plexus injuries (also known as shoulder dystocia, Erb’s palsy or Klumpke’s Palsy), brain hemorrhages, nerve damage, neonatal jaundice and cerebral palsy. Untreated, some of these conditions can lead to paralysis, intellectual disability and other life-long conditions or even death.

I sincerely hope that you don’t have to go through this with your child, but if you do, it’s important to know that there are only a handful of law firms that have the experience to protect your family and child and to right this wrong legally speaking. It won’t fix what’s happened, but will provide significant compensation and hopefully prevent it from happening to anyone else again. If you’d like to talk with one of our lawyers about a case, call us for free any time at 312-346-5320 or fill out our contact form and we’ll call you.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, or at least the most wonderful if you don’t fall and get hurt.

Already it’s been a brutal and crazy winter in Chicago.  With lots of snow, ice and slush you can count on one thing happening: lots of slip and fall injuries.

This time of year we get a ton of calls for people looking for help with a slip and fall lawsuit. There are a lot of misconceptions out there.

The biggest myth is that if you fall and get hurt on someone else’s property, they are liable and you have a case.  Sadly that is not true in Illinois.  Property owners are not in general required to salt and shovel and they do not get punished for not having someone clearing walkways 24/7.  With some of the days we’ve been having it would be literally impossible to prevent a surface from being slick.

So how do you ever have a case?

Under Illinois law you can sue for a slip and fall if the snow or ice you fell on does not develop naturally.  What does that mean in plain English?  If there is a gutter or awning or roof or other “un-natural” object that is causing snow or ice to develop and you fall on that area, you might have a case.  So if you are at a store and fall in the parking lot, you probably don’t have case.  But if in front of the store there is a sheet of ice because of a gutter draining in to a certain spot, if you fall you likely have a case.

The same rules hold true for individual home owners.  We see a lot of falls on steps at apartment buildings in Chicago.  A good attorney will investigate if the snow naturally blew on to the steps or if something about the building caused it to happen.

A lot of falls actually occur inside of businesses due to wet floors.  These are tough cases as well. Under Illinois law, if you slip on water that has been dragged in from people’s shoes, you probably don’t have a case. Essentially stores are not required to make their whole floor carpet or mop all day.  On the other hand if you fall on a wet floor from a leaky freezer or something else within the store’s control, you’d likely have a case if injured.

These laws can be very confusing.  Stay safe and if you have any questions about this area of law, call us any time for a free consultation at 312-346-5320.

The idea of spending a few days in bed may seem like heaven on earth to some, but the reality is there are many patients who are bedridden or confined to a wheelchair for extended periods. It can be very difficult for many patients to adjust to and often very painful. Those patients rely on nurses and rehab facilities to take care of them. When those people fail it is negligence and can lead to a lawsuit.

Due to a lack of activity for long periods, bedridden and wheelchair patients, become vulnerable to various health complications such as circulation and respiratory problems, depression and contractures. One of the most unfortunate and common health risks for bedridden patients is pressure ulcers or bedsores as they are most commonly known.

Unfortunately, bedsores are generally a sign of neglect and are a common sight in nursing homes, rehabilitation centers and hospitals. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), as many as 1 out of 10 residents in an in-patient treatment center currently suffer from bedsores. Staff in these centers needs to remain aware that patients, of all ages and health, are at risk for bedsores and need to be diligent with preventive care.

Bedsores are injuries to the skin and underlying tissue resulting from prolonged pressure on the skin. Most of us have full mobility to rotate our bodies, which keeps the blood flowing normally avoiding any risk of bedsores. However, those with limited mobility are usually unable to rotate their bodies easily and therefore have poor blood circulation. Sitting or lying in the same position for long periods on areas of decreased blood supply adds pressure causing the bedsores. Over time, the decreased blood supply causes the flesh in these areas to die and form sores that can become very deep and can even become infected causing further complications, categorized into 4 stages.

Pressure on skin and tissues that cover bony areas of the body are at the biggest risk for breaking down and causing bedsores. Heels, ankles, hips, shoulders and tailbones are the most common areas and patients immobilized with medical conditions such as joint replacements, hip, pelvis or leg fractures, paralysis or coma are most at risk.

The severity of bedsores is based on how deep the sores are and the accompanying symptoms. As previously mentioned, there are essentially 4 stages to pressure sores. The stage number reflects the severity of the bedsore damage, with four being the greatest level of damage. As a bedsore progresses in severity, it becomes increasingly more difficult to correct.
Here are the four stages of bedsores to be aware of as well as treatment options:

Stage 1 Bedsore
Stage 1 is the beginning stage for a bedsore and only affects the upper layer of skin. Symptoms can include pain, burning or itching. The first and most important thing to do is to stop the pressure by changing position or using foam pads, pillows or mattresses. Washing the area with mild soap and dry gently. Eating a diet high in protein, vitamin A & C and Iron and Zinc are all helpful to your skins condition.

Stage 2 Bedsore
Once a sore has become an open wound, the bedsore has reached stage 2. This becomes very painful, as the skin is broken, swollen and tender. Sometimes this stage looks like a blister filled with clear pus. Skin also becomes damaged beyond repair in this stage. For treatment, you would follow the same steps as in stage 1, but also be sure to keep the sore covered with a see through dressing or moist gauze.

Stage 3 Bedsore
Here, the sore has deepened into a serious wound, forming a small crater. This indicates permanently destroyed tissue. Bad odor, red and yellow infected edges and drainage are all signs of infection. Stage 3 will need more care and your doctor may need to remove any dead tissue and prescribe antibiotics to fight any infections.

Stage 4 Bedsore
Stage 4 bedsores are the most serious and at the most advanced stage. The sores destroy muscle, bone and even tendons and joints and can often be lethal. It is imperative to tell your doctor right away as stage 4 can require surgery.

In stages 3 and 4 there is often excruciating pain due to significant tissue damage. Serious complications, such as infections to the bone or blood can also occur.
Pressure injuries can also be “unstageable,” meaning that the doctor cannot see the base of the sore to determine the stage. In some cases, a deep pressure injury is suspected but cannot be confirmed. These are DTI, or deep tissue injuries. This occurs when there isn’t an open wound, but the tissues beneath the surface have been damaged.

Those with bedsores can experience discomfort, great pain, depression and a reduced quality of life. If you have been a victim of medical neglect, contact an experienced attorney right away to get the help you deserve.  If you would like our help, fill out our contact form or call us at 800-517-1614 for a free consultation with a lawyer.

Although Illinois has a reputation as a plaintiff friendly state, the reality is that suing the State of Illinois for negligence has been very difficult.  That is because in 1971 a cap was put on lawsuits against the State that limited your recovery to $100,000.00.  The cap has not gone up for inflation or any other reason since 1971.  So a drunk Illinois State police officer in his work car could rear end you and kill your family and the value of the case would be $100,000.00.

The State also made it so you can’t sue in regular court, but instead have to sue in a State run court with State appointed judges called the Court of Claims. Essentially the defendant in these cases gets to pick the Judge.  And the process itself isn’t easy.  So what ended up happening is that a lot of good cases never got filed so justice was not served.  Attorneys would tell potential clients that they had a good case, but that the time involved and limited recovery made it not worth it.

In 2015 a bunch of Veterans at a Veteran’s home in Quincy were exposed to toxic bacteria and died of Legionnaire’s disease.  Thirteen heroes died and another 60 became ill from it.  Legionnaire’s is a severe form of pneumonia that inflames the lungs caused by bacteria spread through water droplets in the air.

The maximum value for these cases of clear cut negligence, because of the old law, was $100,000.00.  Fortunately the law has finally changed.  Senate Bill 2481 was passed last month that immediately and retroactively to cases filed since July of 2015 raised the cap on payouts to $2,000,000.00 which was a compromise after an initial proposal called for eliminating the cap altogether.

While I feel that there shouldn’t be a cap at all, these Veterans and anyone else harmed by negligence from the State of Illinois deserved a day in court and a chance for some form of meaningful compensation. There are many states less restrictive than us, but unlike the old law, the new cap at least gives victims and their families the chance to get in to court and have their story heard. These cases will still be a challenge, but now lawyers have a reason to take the cases and victims have the ability to get compensation that can come close to being considered just.

Suing the State of Illinois is tricky.  If you’d like to discuss a case with an experienced attorney for free, call us any time at 800-517-1614.

Divorce is not only a very trying and exhausting time; it can also create a financial burden for many families. Undoubtedly, child support can be the biggest of financial burdens. Child support is something that many parents are forced to pay following a divorce. It’s not something many parents want, or are able, to pay, but it is important and crucial to the welfare and safety of the child that payments are made in the correct amount and on time.

Child support is taken very seriously in the state of Illinois. Here, unlike other states, Illinois has a predetermined guideline in place that will determine how much a parent is due for child support.  It is based on how many kids you have, how much parenting time you have and what each of you earn.

When a parent fails to pay or falls behind on payments, the parent can face some pretty hefty consequences. Issuing of a warrant, resulting in high fines and possibly jail time, is the most severe punishment. Other consequences include driver’s license revoked, unable to receive government benefits or tax refunds, passports denied and fines with higher charges.

There are instances when the court may feel it necessary that child support payments garnished from the non-custodial parent’s wages. Sounds like a simple system. The court creates the order, gives it to the employer who garnishes wages and pays for the non-custodian’s child support. It doesn’t seem like it could get any simpler than that.

However, what happens if the employer garnishes from an employee’s check, but is not sending the child support as ordered?

This seems incredibly far-fetched, but it actually happens more than you might think. One Illinois mother found herself in this exact situation and was able to file a lawsuit against her ex-spouses employer for failure to deliver the child support payments. In many situations, this can turn into an illegal and expensive situation for the employer.

In Illinois, if an employer doesn’t pay the child support order, they will be fined up to $100 per day as a late fee for any payments not received within seven (7) days by the Illinois State Disbursement Unit, as well as owe the original amount. A late payment could be because of a glitch in the system, a turnover in admin, or just an outright refusal. It doesn’t matter the reason and can become very costly for a business.

Non-custodial parents can become very disgruntled for several reasons when it comes to paying child support. We get that. But, when it is because an employer ignores a court order that is unacceptable. It costs them nothing to comply with these orders and they should be held accountable for it.

If you have found yourself in a situation where your employer or your ex’s employer is not paying the court ordered child support, please call us now. We can refer you to an attorney that will fight for your case.

If you have a work-related injury in Illinois, you may consider seeking out legal help. First thing, you should consider what kind of attorney would best fit your criteria and interview them. This first meeting is an initial consultation and is your chance to really dig in and ask some important questions, make observations and evaluate to determine if they would be a good fit for you and your case.

You’ll want to have a list of questions in mind to ask relating to the lawyer’s expertise, experience, fees, special knowledge and management of the case. Listed here are seven questions to help guide you in your consultation.

Q: Will you be handling my case personally? Who will be doing the bulk of the work?
A: It is common for lawyers to delegate appropriate tasks to associates and/or paralegals. One Chicago work comp firm is famous for hiring really young lawyers and giving them tons of cases without much training or supervision. Chances are you spent some time finding this experienced workers compensation lawyer, and the last thing you’d want is for him/her to pass off your case to another attorney. You will want to make sure your hired lawyer is the one overseeing everything in your case and doing the high-level work involved.

Q: How much of your practice is devoted to workers’ compensation?
A: You are looking for a specialist in workers’ compensation, so ideally the lawyer should devote a significant portion of his/her practice to representing injured workers, if not 100%.  Most of the attorneys we recommend only handle work comp cases.  If they are doing any non-injury related cases it’s a bad sign.

Q: What are your fees and how is litigation costs handled?
A: This is obviously an important question to ask upfront. It is important to understand all fees associated with your case before retaining their services. All workers’ compensation attorneys work on a contingency basis, meaning they receive a percentage of your settlement. By State law, the fees are capped at 20% of what they recover for you.  But there will be expenses and if they ask you to give them money to cover that you should walk away.

Q: How will I know how my case is doing?
A: Communication is the key when working with a lawyer and this question should give you some insight into the attorney’s communication style. Ask the lawyer how often and under what circumstances you can expect to hear from him/her and to be sure you would be receiving periodic status updates. Also, find out if you can expect to hear from them via phone or email.

Q: How many cases have you represented that were similar to mine?
A. Experience matters, so now is the time to make sure they have experience in producing results in similar cases. Feel free to ask about their record of accomplishment, such as the number of cases won or settled. You can even go a step further and ask for references.  It’s not always enough that they only do work comp. You want them to understand your injury too if it’s unique.

Q: What is the best strategy for my case?

A. Once you have explained your situation to them, you should get a better idea of how the lawyer values your case and the steps he/she can take in favor of your case. No attorney can ever guarantee a recovery; but an experienced attorney should be able to give you a general assessment of your case, including strategy and possible outcomes.

Q: Is there anything I can do that can help my case?
A: For any successful case, you and your attorney should work as a team. An experienced attorney will understand this and will appreciate your willingness as a resource You may be asked to help answer questions on your case, gather medical records and documents, and to explain details of your injury. Make sure your conversation is thorough and that you know what may be expected of you moving forward.

We’ve all heard and probably even used the expression “possession is 9/10th of the law.” So, by this mentality, what I physically have in my possession is mine? Great! The $20 I just saw drop out of the man’s wallet in front of me at Starbucks is now mine. The car my friend just let me borrow for the week, I’ll go ahead and keep that. What else do I have in my possession that I want to claim?

Okay, so let’s hope common sense tells us all this isn’t how it works. Yet, time and time again people have taken this idiom, yes that’s all it is, to mean fully what it implies. Let’s set the record straight: just because you have possession, doesn’t mean you have ownership. Possession isn’t 9/10th of the law.

A few common examples of cases implying possession is 9/10th of the law are pet ownership, engagement rings, and stolen property to name a few. A more recent example was a call received into the office where a woman had moved in with her boyfriend. Fast forward to when they broke up and he moved out, she decided she wanted to keep the furniture he had brought into the relationship. She felt entitled to it all because she had possession and her ex-boyfriend had no keys in to get it. Because, to her, “possession is 9/10ths of the law”, she felt she was in the right.

This old adage has been around for centuries and has been interpreted in many ways. The phrase “possession is 9/10th of the law” simply means that at law, ownership might be easier to maintain if one has possession of something and can be difficult to prove otherwise if not. This is where the remaining 1/10th comes into play. The person who is not in possession of the items is the one who has to prove his right to them. The challenging party has the burden of proof, giving the one who has physical control or possession over the property a slight advantage.

This is where replevin law comes into play. Replevin, also known as claim and delivery, is a law that allows people to recover personal property that they are the legal owner to. Replevin can apply to a variety of situations, including situations where property was lawfully withheld but should be released to the owner was not, like our previous example. It may also apply in situations where two parties have rights to possession of property, but one party may have greater rights to the property, such as an engagement ring.

Back to our original example, the ex-boyfriend will need to file a replevin lawsuit to recover his furniture. Unlike most other forms of legal action, replevin is seeking the return of a tangible possession, as opposed to recovering money damages.

Be sure not to get replevin confused with repossession. Repossession does not require a lawsuit and property can simply be taken back into possession without having to pursue a lawsuit first. This is most common with cars as a vendee broke the contract by failing to pay for the car as agreed.

Replevin law can seem confusing and tiring. If you think you have a valid claim, contact an attorney now to preserve your rights.

The director of public affairs for Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, Kate Ellis, said in a statement “The safety and security of our patients and team members is our top priority.” However, after a Cook County jury awarded more than $10 million to former AIMMC employees this week for two (2) separate incidents in a 2014 lawsuit, it seems doubtful they are truly concerned for anyone’s safety and security.

Dr. Caroline Ryan, a former anesthesiologist at AIMMC, and six (6) former nurses, brought a lawsuit against Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in the Illinois Circuit Court for two (2) separate incidents of misconduct.

The first incident gives allowance for a culture of tolerating misconduct. Dr. Stephen Laga has been accused of physically attacking Dr. Ryan. When Ryan immediately reported the incident to Advocate’s vice president of medical staff management, she was encouraged to drop her report “for the sake of the hospital.” According to the complaint, Laga had a long and documented history of violent conduct that the hospital has chosen to ignore continuously.

Workers have the right, among other rights, to working conditions that do not pose a risk of serious harm. Yet workers in hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare settings face significant risks of workplace violence. Violent incidents can come from a variety of sources with many going unreported. Doctors are more often protected as they bring in a considerable amount of profit to their healthcare organization. Clearly, this just isn’t right or legal.

At trial, Advocate claimed the hospital leadership had discretion when handling doctor misconduct and they acted reasonably in this instance. The jury disagreed and awarded Ryan $50,000 in compensatory damages and $7 million in punitive damages. It’s clear the jury was sending a message that just because doctors do generate significant revenues for hospitals, the culture of tolerating misconduct by them is not okay.

The second incident, occurring less than a year later, involved a prominent eye surgeon secretly videotaping women at the hospital and a medical clinic. Robert Weiss was an eye doctor at the Chicago Eye Institute at the 3000 block of Milwaukee Avenue. It was here that another employee found a camera inside a toilet in the women’s facilities. Recordings on the memory card showed Weiss in the recordings as well as other illegal and secret recordings in the locker room at Chicago Eye Institute maintained at AIMMC, where Weiss also held employment.

Weiss was arrested when the secret camera was discovered in April 2014 and charged with felony criminal conduct. Yet, this wasn’t Weiss’ first offense. Advocate knew or should have known that Weiss had a history of similar inappropriate conduct while working for the hospital. One instance includes complaints of him using his mobile phone to photograph female clients and employees without their consent. What is further bothersome is that Advocate delayed in his suspension, despite the history and criminal charges.

Filming someone in a private place without the consent of those present is illegal. To compensate the plaintiffs for the invasion of their privacy, the jury awarded each of the women amounts ranging from $50,000 to $275,000, totaling $1.175 million. In addition, the jury awarded $2 million in punitive damages. These awards made against Weiss and the jury found Advocate liable for the invasion of privacy, but did not hold Advocate accountable when asked if Weiss misconduct was reasonably foreseeable.

That may have relieved the hospital of further liability for now, but it seems apparent that the hospital is failing to act when violations of its own written policies are being reported.

We have a lot of experience helping people who have been abused by doctors both physically and through invasion of privacy.  If you would like our help please call us at 312-346-5320 for a free consultation.