Everyone wants to hire the “best” lawyer for your case. The reality is that there is no such thing as the best attorney for every case. This is especially true in car accident lawsuits in Illinois. The right lawyer if you are hit by a CTA bus or other commercial vehicle and have a major injury isn’t the right one if you are hit be a teenager with limited insurance and suffer a back strain. The right attorney if you are hit by someone with a $1 million policy may not be the right one if you are hit by someone with no insurance at all. And if you need someone that speaks a foreign language, or is patient with older people or can do a home visit, etc. that may change who is “best” for you.

One way to end up with the best one is knowing who the worst ones are. Attorneys that have been licensed for less than five years will usually not have the experience needed to get the greatest result possible for you. Not to say that they couldn’t, but your chances of success with someone who has 20 or more years under their belt is higher.

Another “worst” attorney to look out or is one that won’t take cases to trial. I was recently talking to a top Chicago personal injury lawyer who wanted me to refer him cases. I asked about his other referral sources and he told me that 1/3 of his case load comes from a lawyer who only settles cases. That means that the attorney will sign up your case and never file a lawsuit. They will try to settle it and if they can’t, at the last minute they’ll refer your case out. So you end up actually being forced to hire some attorney you don’t know and never intended to work with.

This is despicable in my opinion. Quite often in these cases, the best strategy for the client is to file a lawsuit right away. With new rules in Cook County that governs how long a case has to go to trial, filing sooner versus later can create a lot of leverage for you. Some attorneys would rather wait until the two year time limit for suing is almost up. That’s in their best interests, not yours.

So in the end, their clients end up with a new lawyer. That lawyer isn’t going to be up to speed on your case. They won’t know about conversations you’ve had with the firs lawyer on the case. They won’t have been with you every step of the way. It’s not impossible to succeed in that situation but it’s far from ideal.

My suggestion is before you hire a lawyer, ask them how many cases they’ve taken to trial or arbitration in the last five years. Also ask them when they’d file a lawsuit on your case and confirm that they’d do it themselves and not punt you to someone else. If they don’t have a history of trying cases and won’t file the lawsuit, they aren’t the firm you should hire. There is a much better lawyer out there for you and it shouldn’t be hard to find.

If you’d like the input of an attorney as to which lawyer is best for you, you can call us for free any time at 312-346-5320.

We are experienced Illinois attorneys who have helped hundreds of thousands of people with their legal issues. If you’d like to speak with an attorney for free, you can contact us any time at 312-346-5320.

We started our legal guidance and lawyer referral service way back in 2001. A big motivation for it was seeing so many cases where clients hired the wrong attorney for their case. We saw divorce lawyers handling car accident cases because they thought they could make a quick buck. We saw inexperienced attorneys taking on traffic and criminal cases. Not every one of these scenarios went bad, but it was our belief that if we could get people with the right kind of attorney for their case, more cases would end up with clients getting the result they deserve.

In one of our first calls, we heard a question that we still get multiple times a week. It’s a variation of this:

I know I need a lawyer, but I don’t know which type I need. Can you help me figure that out?

The answer is yes and it’s one reason why we still exist almost 22 years later. We don’t know an attorney for every situation, but we can tell you what type you should be looking for and clarify what different practice areas actually mean.

The most common clarification we give is when people say that the need a civil attorney. What most don’t understand is that every lawsuit is a civil lawsuit, so by definition, pretty much every attorney who goes to court in non criminal cases is a civil lawyer.

What we advise people to do is find a lawyer who has handled many similar cases to what you are going through. If your spouse’s life insurance policy isn’t getting paid upon their death, you want an attorney who has handled those cases hundreds of times. If you are trying to get commissions from your old job, you need a labor lawyer with a real track record of success. If you want to sue your neighbor because they damaged your property, there are not lawyers who “specialize” in that, but plenty who do what we call general civil litigation.

The general civil litigation attorneys can handle all sorts of cases, but are usually best for odd litigation that doesn’t happen all of the time.

Our strength is that we constantly network and try to identify great lawyers who do a great job for their clients. That doesn’t guarantee you a result, but it does, in our opinion, increase your chances of success.

Some other advice we can give is not to hire the first attorney you can get on the phone, but really think if they are the best for your case. It’s worth waiting to get someone who really can show a winning history with similar situations to what you are going through.

The bottom line is that you shouldn’t try to guess who you should hire. We would be happy to help you figure out your choices and make an educated decision. Please contact us any time if you’d like to discuss your case in confidence.

We are experienced Illinois medical malpractice lawyers who have helped thousands of people since 2001. If you’d like to speak with a lawyer for free, please contact us at 312-346-5320. We cover all of Illinois and will give you a plain English, honest consultation about your case.

Sadly, there are a number of traumatic birth injuries that afflict newborns. While most people are familiar with cerebral palsy, many have not heard or Klumpke’s palsy, or Klumpke paralysis. Klumpke’s palsy is caused by a birth injury to the baby’s brachial plexus, which is a network of nerves coming out of the spinal cord that starts in the back of the neck and extends to the armpit.

Most types of brachial plexus injuries impact the shoulder and upper arm, and the resulting paralysis affects the movement of the lower arm and hand. Babies with Klumpke’s palsy have difficulty moving their arm, wrist, and hand. Other symptoms include a lack of muscle control so movements are uncoordinated, and a loss of feeling in those areas as if they are “asleep.” In addition, some babies have a droopy eyelid on the opposite side of their face.

The brachial plexus injury and the resulting Klumpke’s palsy can result from a difficult delivery and trauma during childbirth. When a baby is in a typical head down position before birth, but he/she has an arm positioned above the head, the doctor sometimes pulls the baby by the arm from the birth canal. This puts a big strain on the neck and shoulder (and nerves) of the newborn. These brachial plexus injuries are more commonly seen with petite women whose babies have higher birth weights as it is more difficult for the baby to move through a relatively small birth canal. Conversely, it is quite uncommon for an infant delivered by cesarean section to experience Klumpke paralysis.

Klumpke’s palsy is diagnosed at birth after a physical exam. Doctors may conduct x-rays and other tests to determine the extent of the nerve damage. Some babies will have mild symptoms and recover within months. Some will need surgery. Others will unfortunately have some permanent nerve damage.

If you believe that the doctor who delivered your infant (or the infant of a loved one) was negligent and made poor medical decisions that led to a brachial plexus injury and Klumpke’s palsy, please contact us at 312-346-5320. You can tell us the details of what happened, and we can refer you to an experienced attorney.  If the injury was a result of negligence during the delivery, your child can be compensated for their medical bills, pain and suffering, loss of future income and need for future care.

We are lawyers who will help you find the best attorney for your case or just answer any questions you have. If you want to speak to a lawyer for free, call us any time at 312-346-5320.

We get a lot of great questions about whistleblower laws in Illinois. Here is a a summary of some questions that we have received over the years.

I have heard the term “whistleblower,” but what exactly does that mean? 

A simple definition of a whistleblower is someone who comes forward with information on improper conduct that a person or organization is trying to keep secret. Often a whistleblower works inside of the organization where the wrongdoing is happening, but that is not always the case.

What makes a person step forward and “blow the whistle?”

A whistleblower is usually stepping forward to right a wrong and/or protect people. They have witnessed or are aware of abuse, corruption, fraud, waste or dangers to public health and safety. In most cases, the whistleblower is courageous in speaking up and doing the right thing.

I’ve heard about whistleblower situations involving the government. Are there situations outside of that?

Yes, most definitely. There are many whistleblower cases involving employees in private businesses and organizations.

Can you give me an example of a situation involving a whistleblower at a company? What was the outcome? 

Sure. Recently, Biogen Inc., a biotech company, agreed to a $900 million dollar deal to resolve a whistleblower lawsuit (brought by a former employee) which accused the company of paying doctors kickbacks to prescribe their multiple sclerosis (MS) drugs. The kickbacks included fake speaker programs and consulting deals, extravagant dinners and other entertainment. There is only a small number of medications approved to treat MS, and these drugs are pricey. Paying doctors kickbacks allowed Biogen to boost sales of their drugs and compete in this small market. If you are a patient with MS, do you want your doctor prescribing the best drug for you? Or prescribing the one that will get them a fancy dinner and some extra cash in their pocket?

I heard the phrase Qui Tam. What is that?

Qui tam literally means “n the name of the king. Under the False Claims Act, qui tam allows persons and entities with evidence of fraud against federal programs or contracts to sue the wrongdoer on behalf of the United States Government. Typically the US Attorney has to be given the chance to bring the case first.

What are the risks involved with being a whistleblower? Are there laws to protect the whistleblower?

Under the Department of Labor’s whistleblower protection laws, an employer cannot retaliate against the whistleblower, meaning the employer cannot fire, lay off, or demote him/her. The employer cannot deny overtime or a promotion, or reduce the whistleblower’s pay or hours. That said, it is best to consult with an attorney who specializes in these cases to fully understand one’s rights and to get a game plan together.

What are the benefits of being a whistleblower?

Aside from stopping often illegal and at best shady behavior, most successful whistleblower lawsuits lead to large financial payouts to the person who blew the whistle. Quite often this means many millions of dollars.

What if I know of some corporate wrongdoing and want to blow the whistle?

As we mentioned, it is critical to speak with a lawyer who knows the laws backwards and forwards and has handled these cases successfully many times. Contact us any time to explain your situation confidentially and learn your options.

Over 30 companies in the Fortune 100 sponsor cash balance retirement plans for their employees. It is similar to a 401(k) in that each employee has an account, but it differs in that the employer decides not only the contribution to the account (for example, 4% of wages) but also specifies the annual return on the investment. I had not heard of cash balance retirement plans until my friend who worked for a time at PricewaterhouseCoopers told me about it, but more on that later.

The employer can decide that the annual investment return will be, for example, 6 percent, a Treasury rate, or a corporate bond rate. Companies have found that cash balance retirement plans attract prospective employees for the following reasons:

1. They provide a larger benefit to employees than traditional pension plans
2. Many employees value the account balance better than the promise of a pension at retirement
3. Generally, employees do not have to make a contribution
4. The employer, not the employee, takes on the risk of the stock market falling

Cash balance retirement plans are relatively new, and how existing pension laws are applied to these plans is not entirely clear. People have differing opinions on what pension laws say employees should get when they quit.

Most employees believe they should get their account balance in cash, and generally, that’s what they get. However, if the employer is generous and offers an investment return greater than the 30-year Treasury rate, some people claim employees should get more than their account balance. They apply a “whipsaw calculation” to determine that amount.

This whipsaw calculation is complex, but in general terms, it calculates the additional interest that the employee might have earned after their quit date and up to their normal retirement age.

One real-life class action lawsuit regarding cash balance retirement plans and the whipsaw calculation was recently settled. Pricewaterhouse Coopers LLP (PwC), a professional services and Big 4 accounting firm, settled a lawsuit by agreeing to pay $267 million to former participants of the PwC plan. The settlement deal is expected to pay an average of about $11,000 to each of the retirees.

Specifically, the lawsuit claims that PwC shorted the former plan participants’ benefits by using faulty interest rates and normal retirement dates when performing the whipsaw calculations.

Cash balance retirement plans and whipsaw calculations can be very complex and confusing. The good news is that we know attorneys who know how to handle these complex cases and have a track record of success in ERISA, compensation and securities related litigation. Best of all, there is no fee to hire them and they only get paid if they make a recovery for you.

If you believe that you may have been shorted by your employer’s  pension plan and would like to speak with a lawyer, please contact us at 800-517-1614.  All calls are free and confidential.

We are experienced personal injury lawyers in Illinois. We can help you find the best attorney for your case. We also offer free guidance including on issues related to what a personal injury lawsuit is worth. If you’d like our help, please call us at 312-346-5320.

Around July of this year, I started making notes of really significant personal injury lawsuit settlements and trial results. By significant, I mean ones that are in the seven figures. A lot of people think that these types of cases happen a lot. The reality is that they don’t, and when they do, nobody has “won the lottery” but instead they are dead or their lives are terribly altered. In almost no case would you switch places with them in order to have the money they got.

I thought it would be helpful for people to see what types of cases lead to multi-million dollar results. Note that one thing these cases have in common aside from catastrophic injuries is that there is a lot of insurance money to pay the award. In other words, you could end up paralyzed after a car accident, but if there’s only $100,000.00 in insurance money, you likely won’t get more than that. It’s an unfair, but true part of our legal system.

In no particular order, here are some the biggest personal injury cases from 2022:

-A man who broke his neck when a sheet of plywood fell on him at a construction site in Deer Park accepted a $6.7 million settlement before trial in the Cook County Circuit Court.

-A former Metals USA machine operator who had part of his leg amputated in a workplace accident received $6.57 million in a settlement.

-A Cook County jury awarded $45.3 million to a man left with permanent brain damage after a failed intubation when he arrived at the emergency room after he fell off a balcony.
– A Cook County jury awarded $7.27 million to an elderly couple who alleged a car accident caused one of them a traumatic brain injury. One of the two can no longer walk without assistance.
-A Cook County jury awarded $6 million to the family of a 19-year-old man who died after going into cardiac arrest while playing basketball, an activity that his doctor didn’t restrict even though the teen allegedly had prior health issues.
-A $4.42 million settlement for a man injured while working as an elevator mechanic apprentice in 2016 at age 36. A cement board struck his right wrist and forearm, and he sustained major injuries to his shoulders and neck.
-A Cook County jury awarded $42.4 million to the family of a quadriplegic man who died at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville after falling into a coma from respiratory arrest and hypoxia while awaiting surgery.

-A Cook County jury awarded $363 million Monday to a woman who alleged that emissions from medical device sterilization company Sterigenics caused her to develop cancer, in the first lawsuit of more than 700 set to go to trial against the company. This is an outlier type of case given the large result and possibly has a lot to do with the defendant’s behavior as much as the injury. They were accused of knowingly emitting cancer causing gas in to the community. The total included $38 million in compensatory and $325 million in punitive damages.

-A man who injured his back when he fell down a stair scaffolding tower on a construction job site accepted a $6 million settlement mid-trial in Cook County Circuit Court. A temporary stair scaffolding tower was being used to allow the workers to access the site.  As a result of the incident, he underwent spinal fusion surgery and is unable to return to work as a union carpenter.

-The family of a 61-year-old woman who died of septic shock at Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox accepted an $8 million settlement.

-The families of two women killed in a car accident settled their case for $6.9 million against the estate of the driver who was operating a company vehicle.

-$10 million to a man who was hit by a car. He remains in a nursing home facility, cannot walk independently and requires specialized care.

-The family of a 17-year-old boy who was shot to death by a Chicago police officer in 2019 accepted a $5 million settlement.

This isn’t every big case result from 2022, but a lot of them. They all are tragic cases that we wouldn’t wish upon anyone. If you have any questions or want to speak with an attorney for free, please contact us any time.

 

We are lawyers who will talk to you for free if you’ve received a civil demand letter from a store and offer advice on how to handle it. If you would like to talk to an attorney, you can call us anytime at 800-517-1614.

A common scenario that happens to a lot of people is that a store accuses them of stealing something when they didn’t. There are a lot of reasons that happens. Sometimes it’s racism. Sometimes they just suspect teens are doing things they aren’t. Other times it’s a mistake.

Not everyone in this situation gets charged with retail theft. A lot of stores will just say they are going to ban you from the store or give you a harsh verbal warning. Whether you are innocent or not, what often happens next is odd and possibly illegal.

A couple weeks or months go by (or in one case we were contacted about, years) and you get a civil demand letter from a representative of the store, usually a law firm. What is a civil demand letter?

It’s when a store sends you a letter that asks them to pay them a certain amount – $400.00 seems to be a common figure – to compensate them for any losses they might have occurred from your alleged retail theft. They send these letters even when nothing was taken or damaged and they have no losses at all. They send these letters at times even when they made a mistake in accusing you. Sometimes they say it’s for paying a loss prevention person for having to deal with the situation. Other times they will call it a “re-stocking fee” as if it costs a few hundred dollars to put a sweater back on a shelf. It’s almost always nonsense.

Over the years we’ve seen letters like this come from Target, Walmart, Menards, Macy’s and many others. Why do they do this when they are asking for what is relatively little money for them and they’ve suffered no harm? The answer is because people will pay it. It’s estimated that stores get hundreds of millions a year in payments from people who are scared or think they have to pay this.

Quite often the letters imply that if you don’t pay that charges could be pressed still or that they will sue you and ask for thousands. Should you pay it? The answer depends, but often we tell people no. In fact, sometimes these letters could actually lead to you having a lawsuit against the company and/or the law firm who sent the letter.

If you do pay it and don’t make clear that you dispute the allegation, you could be handing them evidence that could be used against you in a criminal trial. The only reason to pay is if you are worried they will actually sue, but even then it’s best to try to negotiate down to a lower amount and make sure that they can’t go after you for anything else.

We can’t guarantee they won’t sue you if you don’t pay, but often they don’t because the dollar amounts are too small or they know that you did nothing wrong. We are happy to discuss with you for free and in confidence what you should do and also go over whether or not you may have a lawsuit against them.

We are experienced Illinois lawyers who will talk to you for free. You can fill out our contact form or call us at 312-346-5320 any time. We cover all of Illinois and promise to give respectful, direct and honest guidance.

Illinois probably has the best laws in the nation when it comes to protecting the rights of injured workers. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation is mostly common sense and worker friendly while still keeping insurance costs down.  In almost every case you are entitled to a settlement at the end of your care. The insurance company doesn’t have to offer one, but a lawyer can usually make it happen or get an award for you at a quick arbitration.

There are other things to know about settling an Illinois work comp case. In no particular order, here are things that you should be thinking about.

– Any settlement is tax free.

– Once you settle your case, you typically close out your rights related to the injury/accident forever. So if you end up missing more work or need more treatment, the work comp insurance wouldn’t have to pay for it.

– Because of that, you should never consider settling your case until you are as good as you are going to get health wise which is known as maximum medical improvement. That doesn’t necessarily mean you are good as new, but that you aren’t going to get any better.  It’s possible that you could need future care down the road or might have to keep taking medication. Those costs should be considered in any settlement that you make. Quite often a side arrangement called a Medicare Set Aside is put in place.

– A Medicare Set Aside happens when it’s anticipated you will need more care down the line for your injury. The insurance company funds an account that should be used to pay for this care. It’s designed to protect the interests of Medicare so they don’t make payments that they shouldn’t. You can control this account and spend it how you choose, but should know that if you don’t use it for your medical bills, you might not have anyone to pay for treatment at a later date if needed.

– We typically recommend that you be back to work and able to do your job without problems for at least a month or two before considering any settlement. The value of your case is in part based on your ability to do your normal work.

– If you can’t return to your old job due to permanent physical restrictions, you can continue to get paid while looking for work within those restrictions. If the only jobs you can find pay much less than what you’d make in your prior job, you could be entitled to wage differential benefits. That is 2/3 of what you would be making in the old job versus what you can make now. For example, if in your old job you made $1,800 a week, but now can only make $1,200 a week, you are entitled to weekly payments of 2/3 of the $600 difference or $400 per week. That is tax free and will continue until you reach 65 or five years, whichever is longer. It also can result in a lump sum settlement for your future wage loss.

– The amount you get for any settlement depends on a lot of things including your wage, the injury you sustained, the treatment you had, your age, the job you can return to, whether or not you have restrictions due to the injury, prior health problems and any defenses the insurance company might have.

– You almost never get the “best offer” with the first offer.

– A settlement can only happen if each side signs contracts and they are approved by an Arbitrator at the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission.

– Once a settlement is approved, you typically get paid within 30 days.

– Attorney fees are capped at 20% of the settlement. You almost always will get more with a lawyer than without one. If a settlement offer is made before you hire a lawyer, it can be difficult to get an attorney to take the case and you might get stuck having to take a low value settlement.

– If you don’t like the settlement you can always go to trial and get compensated that way. Trial of course has some risks too but that depends on the strength of your case.

– The bigger the injury, the more important it is to have legal representation. Not only can a good Illinois work comp lawyer prevent problems from occurring during the case, but in the end, having an attorney could literally put hundreds of thousands more in to your pocket.

There’s more to think about, but this is a good start. If you have questions and want a free, confidential consultation, please call us any time.

We are attorneys who will talk to anyone for free and answer questions about Illinois law. We got a lot of great questions and some of them are not enough for a full blog post, but still interesting. Here are some of the best ones from this year. If you have any questions and want to talk with a lawyer for free, call us any time at 312-346-5320. In no particular order.

Can a husband get alimony from a wife?

Yes. It’s called maintenance in Illinois and if one spouse makes a lot more than the other, the lighter earner could get it. And that’s true whether you are a husband or a wife.

My Chicago personal injury lawyer said I have to go to the doctor he wants to send me to. Is that true?
That is not true and in my opinion, only scummy personal injury lawyers in Chicago or elsewhere try to make you do this. There’s nothing wrong with them getting you in to a doctor if you don’t have one. But if it’s a requirement it’s gross and probably a sign that they are getting something in return from that doctor. I would never recommend you hire a lawyer that pushes that.
My mom passed away and her house is under water and she has a lot of other debt. Can they come after me for that?
If you didn’t co-sign on the mortgage or anything else, it’s not your responsibility. Beware of them sending you a document that tries to make it your problem. Nothing requires you to open up an estate after a parent passes. If you do, the estate would have to pay the debts most likely, but not you as an individual.
Been in my rental for seven years. Now on a month to month lease. Great tenant, never missed a payment. Landlord wants to rehab the place and sell it. Can they kick me out after all this time?
Unfortunately they can. If you don’t have a lease it gives you the flexibility to leave when you want and for them to get you out. If you don’t leave you’ll likely get evicted.
I fell at work inside the office and they said since I wasn’t at my work station on a factory line they aren’t covering anything. I hit so hard that I knocked out five teeth. Do I have a case?
Yes, depending on what caused you to fall. But if you were in your place of employment and slipped on water or tripped on a loose carpet or something like that, it’s a case and you are entitled to full Illinois work comp benefits.
My mom took out a life insurance policy out on me and my kids. We haven’t talked for years. Is it legal for her to do that?
Yes. It’s up to the insurance company to agree to create a life insurance policy. While usually they want a physical exam, if they are dumb enough to write a policy for people that they can’t interview, that’s their business. There is nothing you can do to stop this..
How do I revoke a power of attorney I gave to someone?
The best way is to do it in writing. There are many Illinois Power Of Attorney Revocation Forms available for free online if you do a quick search for that. You should then serve a copy on all parties who had your old power of attorney form such as the actual POA, doctors, etc.
I got Covid so my roommate moved out while I recovered. He’s now saying I owe him $500 for expenses that he had to pay while gone. Do I owe that money to him?
No. This is ridiculous. I get why someone moved out, but nothing in the law requires you to pay them anything for doing that.
I hope that this helps. We look forward to some great questions in 2023. As always, please contact us any time if we can help you in any way.

A few months back, there was a legal “expert” column in the Wall Street Journal about Twitter suing Elon Musk for trying to bail on their deal. I can you that I know nothing about securities law or mergers and acquisitions law, but multiple attorneys online said that this article got just about everything wrong. Those people were lawyers in the industry who have dealt with similar cases before who outlines why the WSJ article was likely wrong.

Now maybe that author is really an expert and maybe he’s right on this one. Or maybe he usually gets things right, but got this one wrong. I’m not sure, but I can tell you that just because someone is in the paper or on TV, don’t assume they know what they are talking about.

I know this from personal experience. I was recently contacted and asked to appear on a morning news show to discuss a class action lawsuit versus Uber. I was called by some producer the night before the segment was to air. What was my main qualification? I think it’s that I was available and they saw an article I had written about suing Uber. Of course the article I wrote had nothing to do with the case they wanted me to speak about, but that didn’t seem to bother them. I declined to participate.

I have on other occasions given “expert” quotes to newspapers.  Many of those were fake it until you make it situations where they asked me questions about a case and I googled that case while we were talking in order to form an opinion based on what seemed correct to me. I think I was right, but who knows?

Since then, I’ve noticed many other lawyers offering their opinions on matters they really know nothing about beyond understanding general legal principles. It’s just like guys who predict what’s going to happen to the stock market or in politics. If you act like you know what you are talking about, people believe you. And if you end up predicting things that are totally wrong, nobody is going to go back and call you out on it.

I don’t believe in the concept of “fake news.” I generally think that most papers and TV stations try to get it right beyond the ones that are so obviously partisan. But I do believe that news reporters are lazy and careless and with cuts to budgets as well as a desire to be first, not necessarily right, mistakes happen. This includes giving platforms to people who have no idea what they are talking about which is sometime me.