Most Illinois attorneys would love to get a good medical malpractice case.  If they are successful, they can be worth millions, and the lawyer will get paid very well for all of their hard work.

Just because a lawyer wants a case doesn’t mean they are the best choice for you.  Simply put, there are about 7-10 firms in Illinois that have a real track record of success. Medical malpractice cases are worth more in their hands than they are with others that are less experienced or don’t have the same track record of having handled hundreds of these cases successfully.

The medical malpractice law firms we know and recommend don’t win every case, but they give you the best chance of success.  When cases go to trial in Chicago for malpractice, doctors win about 80% of the time.  That means most law firms have a losing record.  But if you look at that elite list of 7-10 firms, their success rate at trial will be between 70-90%.  So not only are cases worth more in their hands, going with them can be the difference between winning and losing.

A recent caller to my office asked me my opinion about two firms that he had spoken to.  One of them was an elite firm and would be a great choice as they really have a track record and if you look at their website, you will see how many great results they have. The other one though on their “record of success” page only listed one medical malpractice result and that was for less than a million dollars.  Every other case they discuss is a car accident.

It’s not to say that the second lawyer couldn’t do a good job.  They might.  But when comparing the two, there is no comparison.  The first firm has over 50-million-dollar malpractice results.  They have doctors and nurses on their staff.  They won’t be learning on the job.

These are things that people don’t think about sometimes. Even with some firms that look like they have a great track record, there are things that you should know.  Some firms that look really good on their website might not be doing things in a way that’s best for you.  Here are some examples:

  1. They list a bunch of great results, but the reality is that they came at their old law firm and they weren’t the main reason they happened.  Yes, they got good experience assisting their boss, but the reality is that their involvement didn’t really make a difference in the end result.
  2. The law firm lists a bunch of attorneys and the firm name lists a bunch of people.  You think you are hiring some big group, but in reality, each lawyer works for themselves and they are motivated to not collaborate with their partners because if they do they have to split their fee with them. You want a lawyer who puts your best interests above all else.
  3. The big-name attorney you talk to when you sign up isn’t going to be there every step of the way.  There are a couple of malpractice law firms in Chicago that have achieved some amazing results.  When you talk to them, the main partner will be on the call and will meet with you.  They will also be the one in court if the case goes to trial.  Sounds good, right?  The problem is that they won’t be the one working up the case.  They won’t do the investigation.  They won’t be taking depositions.  They won’t be the one you talk to as the years go on.  That to me is a problem. There is nothing wrong with having an associate or partner help you.  But if it’s my case, I want the best lawyer at the firm involved every step of the way.
  4. The big-name partner handles everything, but they are older.  Does the firm have a succession plan in place if something happens to them? If that person dies will all the lawyers go their own way and start new firms or will the firm continue? You don’t want to have one lawyer handling your case and then have someone who knows nothing about it take over two years later.

Those are things that aren’t going to be on their website, but are questions you should be asking before you hire a firm.  If you want our guidance or have any questions, you can call us for free to speak with a lawyer any time at 312-346-5320.

Testifying in court is nothing like what you see from law dramas on TV.   There is rarely a gotcha type moment.  Wall lawyers love to hit home runs with the results of the testimony they take, the reality is that most of it is really just helping paint a picture.  The best case usually is a single, not a homer.

Despite this, having to testify in court can cause people anxiety.  That makes sense.  Perception is often your reality. It’s not until after testimony is over that most people realize it isn’t that big of a deal.

While of course being honest is incredibly important, there is one tip I give to everyone that I think is the most important thing to think about when testifying. That tip is only answer the question that is asked.

Let’s say you are suing someone for a car accident that happened on your way home from work and the case goes to trial. Your lawyer asks you where you were heading to when you were rear-ended at a stop light.

The person who has been properly prepped by their lawyer to only answer the question asked would say:

I was heading home.

That’s a simple, straight forward, honest answer that starts to paint a picture and will lead the attorney in to the next question they want to ask so the jury can understand what happened that day.

The person who wasn’t prepped or is too anxious or thinks they have to “help” their case with their testimony might say something like:

I had just left work. I remember it because I was so mad at George for saying I didn’t finish my work when I did. It really pissed me off and it was all I could think about while I was driving home and then boom out of nowhere a car slams in to the back of me and my neck started to hurt. I realized I wouldn’t get home in time.

That’s a really problematic answer.  First off  it makes you seem like a crazy person which will be a turnoff to the jury. Second it’s very confusing. Third it creates a possible defense because you admit you were distracted.  And most of all it didn’t answer the question that was asked. That doesn’t mean you will lose your case, but it certainly won’t help your case.

Jurors want a clear picture. Jurors and Judges don’t want to be there longer than they need to be.  That rambling answer would be followed up with a question like, “We’ll get to that, but all I want to know is where were you headed that day?”  That’s a bad way to start testimony.

I see this a lot when people call us for legal advice. I get that they are nervous and we may be the first attorney they’ve spoken to. But we’ll ask one question and get five answers.  It makes it hard to help someone.

So the best you can, if you have to testify, answer only the question asked. Don’t anticipate what they want to hear or say what you think would sound good. Any experienced attorney will tell you this before trial and even do a run through of questions, but unfortunately too many fail to take this simple step.

 

I’ve heard my fair share of lawyer jokes over the years. The premise of most of those jokes is that the lawyer is dishonest or unethical. In reality, lawyers are like people of any other profession—teachers, accountants, doctors. The vast majority are good people who take pride in their work and try to do the right thing. But I will admit that there are a few bad eggs out there. How can you tell if an attorney is one to avoid hiring? Look out for this:

  • They promise that you will win. There is no way for an attorney to know with 100% certainty that your case will be a winner. There is unpredictability in law. There isn’t a single attorney out there (who has a few years of experience) with a “perfect” record.
  • They say they specialize in what your case is about. That may be true, but do a little digging. Do they list 5 or 7 or 10 areas of law on their website that they “specialize” in? If a lawyer tells you they specialize in personal injury cases, have a friend call them up about a DUI case and see if they say they specialize in that too.
  • They claim to be the “best” lawyer in their field. It’s a little suspect when a lawyer brags and makes a claim like this. The attorney that may be best for one person and their unique case, may not be the best for another person.
  • They tell you with confidence what your case is worth from the very beginning. This tactic is to get their potential clients to see dollar signs and quickly sign up with the attorney. The attorney just can’t know the value of a case until they see your medical records and fully understand the details of the incident. What will the defense argue? On an initial call or at the first meeting, It is just too early for the lawyer to pinpoint what your case will be worth.
  • They brand themselves as a “father’s rights” or “mother’s rights” lawyer in a custody case. Fathers and mothers have exactly the same rights in a custody case, with very few exceptions. One parent doesn’t start off with more rights than the other. So those terms are basically a marketing strategy. The law firm wants you to believe that they have some special advantage when fighting for fathers or mothers, when in actuality, they start on a level playing field for their clients, like all other lawyers.

There are many, many more reputable, great attorneys out there than bad apples. For over 20 years, we have helped thousands of people find the right attorney for their situation and avoid the tactics listed above. Feel free to call us at 800-517-1614 to speak with an Illinois lawyer for free.

Under Illinois workers’ compensation law, if you are injured on the job and unable to work per your doctor, you are entitled to be compensated for your time off. This is called temporary total disability benefits or TTD and should be 2/3 of your average weekly wage.

So if you tear your ACL on the job and make $900.00 a week, you should received $600.00 tax free per week until you are back at work or they have work for you within the restrictions your doctor gives you.  This sounds pretty straight forward, right?

It should be, but unfortunately some companies don’t follow the law.  We see a lot of cases where an injured worker gets hurt on the job and they will obviously be off for a couple of months.  While the company is taking their time to report the accident, they take the two weeks of vacation pay you are owed and tell you that the first two weeks will be paid that way.

The problem is that this is illegal. You don’t have to use PTO, vacation pay or whatever it’s called. The insurance company doesn’t get to take their sweet time before they start issuing you a check to compensate you for your time off work.  As a famous commercial says, that’s not how any of this works.

I’ve seen some cases where workers had banked more than two months of vacation time and were forced to use it.

The good news is that assuming you can prove you were hurt on the job, it’s not hard for us to get the vacation time reinstated.  Essentially we make it so the work comp insurance company reimburses your employer and your time off benefits are reinstated.

Some companies do this innocently, others do it kind of maliciously. The idea of someone getting hurt on their job and being paid while they get better somehow offends them. Unfortunately for them, that’s not what the law is and they can’t decide to take away rights you have earned.  And they can’t violate Illinois work comp law, at least not unless you let them.

You should be allowed to focus on nothing other than getting better so you can get back to work. These kinds of stressors can make an injury worse and delay your recovery. A good attorney can take those worries off your shoulder and help solve that problem. And in almost every case it costs you nothing to make that happen.

If you’d like to speak with a lawyer for free to see what options you have, contact us any time at 312-346-5320.

We are experienced attorneys who will talk to you for free.  Call us at 800-517-1614 or fill out our contact form and we will call you.

All medical professionals in Illinois are licensed by the Illinois Department of Professional and Financial Regulations, IDFPR.  That organization also handles any disciplinary procedures.

I think most people love nurses more than any other medical provider.  Not that there aren’t some great doctors, but nurses are known for their kindness, empathy and doing most of the work, while many doctors are seen as arrogant or aloof. Unfortunately, most of the disciplinary complaints by IDFPR also fall on nurses.

If you are hit with a complaint, it makes sense you’d be nervous and have a lot of questions such as:

  • Do these claims have any merit?
  • What are my rights?
  • What can I say?
  • Is my career over?
  • Who can I trust for legal answers on my next steps?

Nurses get accused of all sorts of things such as stealing drugs, failing a drug test, bad patient care, failure to report a criminal conviction and unprofessional conduct.

If you get a notice from IDFPR, early representation is key to mounting a good defense and getting a good result in the end. You don’t want to talk to them directly as anything you say can and will be used against you.

Unlike traffic, personal injury, divorce, etc., there aren’t hundreds of lawyers in Illinois who have great experience with these cases. That’s because there aren’t tens of thousands of cases a year so it’s hard to make nurse license defense your main practice area if you are a lawyer.  In fact, I’d estimate that there are only 3-5 law firms in the entire state who only take on these types of cases.

The good news is that we know who the best lawyers are for these cases and who really fights for their clients and has a track record of success.  This doesn’t guarantee anything, but gives you the best chance of getting a good result. Going with an attorney who doesn’t focus on these cases every day is a huge risk to your career.

All of the attorneys we know who do these cases and do them well are in Chicago because that is where the hearings take place. So even if you are a RN in southern Illinois or a CNA in Peoria, to protect yourself, you’d want to work with one of these firms.  The good news is that you won’t have to travel to work with them.

If you would like a recommendation of a lawyer who can protect you or just have questions, please contact us for free any time to talk to an attorney.  All inquiries are confidential.  We have relatives who are medical professionals and we promise to give you the same advice and guidance that we would give them.

An interesting case is making its way through the courts, and the employer tried to use the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act to get out of their alleged bad behavior.

In a nutshell, here’s what happened. An Enterprise Rent-A-Car facility in Cook Country used a fingerprint timekeeping system for its employees. When employees arrived at the beginning of their shift, the system scanned their fingerprints and they clocked in. The same process was repeated at the end of their shift to clock out.

A former employee at this facility, Dawon Wordlaw, brought a lawsuit against Enterprise Leasing Co. of Chicago and its parent company Enterprise Holdings Inc. under the Biometric Information Privacy Act, or BIPA. BIPA is an Illinois law requiring employers to get informed consent from workers before collecting biometric data, such as fingerprints.  It’s a newer law and companies are screwing up with it all the time.

Ms. Wordlaw alleges that Enterprise used its timekeeping system to collect, keep, and share her fingerprints without her informed consent.

She claims that Enterprise: 1) didn’t tell her that her biometric information was being collected and why it was being collected; 2) didn’t get her written release to allow the company to collect and store the info; 3) didn’t create a publicly available policy that included a schedule for retaining biometric information and guidelines for destroying that info; and 4) shared her biometric data without her permission. Wordlaw maintains that Enterprise gave access to her biometric data to its subsidiaries, data storage vendors and payroll service providers.

In response, Enterprise sought to dismiss Wordlaw’s lawsuit, arguing that she should not sue them for negligence, and that the matter would be covered under the Workers’ Compensation Act.  That Act bars employees for suing their companies for accidents in exchange for getting work comp benefits.

After reviewing the arguments, a federal judge rejected Enterprise’s argument. The judge explained that an accident under the Workers’ Compensation Act is “anything that happens without design or an event which is unforeseen by the person to whom it happens.” He continued, and wrote that the BIPA violations, “were no accident.”

This goes to show that not every issue between an employer and employee falls under the Workers’ Compensation umbrella. And quite honestly, the defense they raised sounds ridiculous to me. If you believe that your employer is gathering your biometric data without your consent, feel free to contact us to speak with a lawyer for free. It’s not always a cut-and-dried matter, and we’d be happy to be a sounding board for you.

Nobody wants to spend money on a lawyer if they don’t have to. I certainly don’t and I understand the value that a good one can bring.  If you do have to pay for a lawyer out of pocket – as opposed to a pay if you win case like a work injury or car accident – you want to know that you aren’t going to be wasting your money.

As a result and especially since these are tougher economic times, we’ve seen an uptick in people wanting to know the odds of winning their case.  Others want a guarantee before they hire an attorney.

It’s a logical question and there are plenty of lawyers in Illinois who will answer that question.  The problem is that in many cases those attorneys are lying to you just so you will sign up with them. They tell you what you want to hear and take it from there.

The reason I say that is in most cases after speaking with you we won’t have enough information to say how it’s going to go. For example, if you want to get custody of your kids, you can tell us all the positives about you and the problems with the other parent, but until we hear their side of the story, we don’t have a way of knowing for sure what will happen.

Or let’s say you want to sue someone who owes you $50,000.  You’ve got a written agreement along with text messages saying they owe you and will pay you.  I can’t give you the odds of winning your case because if they file for bankruptcy, your debt will likely go away.

What we can do is say that if certain things are true then it’s likely you will prevail. But real odds of winning are usually not known until you are in to the case a bit. We’ve seen times when it seemed obvious a defendant broke the law only to discover their actions were legal.  Even someone rear-ended at a stop light could lose their case although those cases are often a slam dunk.  If it was really dark and your lights were off, you might not win.

We are customer service focused so we and other honest lawyers will try to make educated guesses.  That is usually alright to do. What you really want to avoid though is an attorney who guarantees a certain big result.  They aren’t the Judge and they certainly have no honest way of telling you what’s going to happen. They can tell you about similar cases and how they were successful in those. But if they promise a result they are full of it and you should look elsewhere for help.

 

We are Illinois experienced Illinois attorneys who will talk to you for free about your legal matter. Call us at 800-517-1614 for a free consultation.

Life insurance is a really useful product for people when it’s done ethically.  If you pass away, you want to leave money for your loved ones whether it be for funeral expenses or to support them in their daily acts of living.

Unfortunately, not all life insurance companies act honestly in processing these claims.  They lose money every time that they pay out a claim, so if they think they can deny a payout, they will.  They’ll even do it when they know they can’t get away with it if you sue them over it.  In their minds, they have nothing to lose, because if you sue they’ll just have to pay out what they owed anyway.  As a result, often these lawsuits get filed and settled very quickly.

One common reason for a denial is when coverage has lapsed or the insured person missed a payment.  If you are hit by a car or dealing with a severe illness and in the hospital, it makes sense that you won’t be paying your bills in a timely manner.  A lot of life insurance policies have clauses written in them that say something like, “the policy will be terminated if it is not paid within 31 days of the due date.”  So you can spend thousands of dollars over many years and then lose everything.

The good news is that Illinois law is looking out for this type of situation.  Section 234(1) of the Illinois Insurance Code says: a life insurance company can declare a policy has lapsed only if a premium payment is at least six months overdue or the company notified the insured party beforehand that “the policy and all payments thereon will become forfeited and void” if a premium is not paid on time.

This scenario actually happened in a recent Illinois court case.  A man had paid over $23,000 in premiums toward a $250,000 policy.  He got sick with a very serious form of cancer and eventually passed away from it. He missed payments and although the insurance company sent a payment termination notice. He died four days after the grace period ended.  The Judge in the case ruled that the termination notice provided didn’t specifically state what would happen if a payment wasn’t made on time. In the ends the kids won and collected their money.

We’ve seen similar denials on cases where someone missed a payment and then caught up with their payments. The life insurance company accepted the check and then had the nerve to later say the policy was terminated because payments were late.  It’s really gross behavior.  While you shouldn’t miss a payment if you can help it and you should catch up if you do, there are laws that address how these situations should be handled.

The bottom line is that we’ve had great success with these cases and it costs nothing to bring a case unless we are successful. If you would like to discuss a life insurance benefits lawsuit for free, call us any time.

I recently had a call from a nice woman who broke her leg at her parents house.  She walked in to use the bathroom and slipped on a wet floor. It turns out there was a hole in the roof that had been there for a while and led to the leak.

If she was at a friend’s house when this happened it would be a slam dunk case. But her question was, can she sue her parents for negligence?

The answer to that question mostly depends on if you live in the house.  If you are living there, you would essentially be suing yourself as the residents of a dwelling can all be held responsible for errors in the property.  Beyond that, there is a concern that if you could sue your parents when you are living with them, many people would try to run scams to make a fraudulent recovery.

In this case, the woman doesn’t live with her parents, but was just visiting.  She had no way to know the roof was leaky and it was negligent of her parents not to warn her, fix the problem or otherwise protect her.  So in my opinion she has a great case against them.

The reality is that she’s not suing her parents, she’s making a claim against their insurance company. While theoretically she could also go after their individual assets, that almost never happens.  That’s true whether you are suing your parents or anyone else when there is adequate insurance.

These cases do get fought more than your average case because even when you don’t live with your parents, the insurance companies are suspicious as to why you got hurt and if you are trying to pull a fast one. That’s not a problem if you have good, honest facts and a lawyer in your corner who knows that they are doing.

The flip side of this is that parents can also sue their kids under the same scenarios. We helped a Dad who was injured in the house that he rented from his son.  We’ve helped grandparents who were injured while visiting their grand kids.

Bottom line is that when there is negligence and an injury, you should always talk to an attorney and see if there is a case no matter who the defendant might be. We are interested in truth and the unique facts of your case. After hearing that we offer an experienced, honest opinion as to if there is a case or not. If you would like to speak with a lawyer for free, call us at 312-346-5320 or fill out our contact form and we will call you.

This past week was the 20 year anniversary since I started my Illinois lawyer referral and legal guidance website. In that time I’ve talked to over 500,000 people and hopefully helped most of them.  I’ve also learned a lot about being an attorney, what clients think and about the legal system in general.  A lot has changed since the first call I got on April 2, 2001, but a lot hasn’t.  Here, in no particular order, are some interesting things I’ve learned.

  • Everyone is on the internet.  On multiple occasions I’ve had calls the same day from people in prison, executives at Fortune 500 companies and people over 80. The world has come a long way from when you tried to find a lawyer through the Yellow Pages.
  • Very few people want to bring a frivolous lawsuit. I get a lot of calls from people who have terrible cases, but they don’t know it. They want to tell the facts of what happened and see if there is a case or not.
  • Attorneys in Illinois can be terrible at customer service.  Law schools don’t teach much if at all about how to run a business. I’ve come across some great court room attorneys who don’t do well because they don’t call back people in a timely manner, yell at the clients, lie, etc.
  • People are doing a lot of legal research as they should, but still take the time to ask questions.
  • My philosophy is to be very direct and honest. Most people appreciate that, some do not.
  • The scummy feeling TV ads that some lawyers do work because they get a lot of business.  I usually hear about them from unhappy clients who realized they hired the wrong firm and are hopeful we can point them in the right direction.
  • Some people are comfortable being racist/prejudiced over the phone.  Still shocks me when it happens.
  • One thing that is very clear is that just because someone was a great attorney 20 years ago, does not mean they are now.
  • Sadly I’ve never found a consistently great resource for people who aren’t able to afford a lawyer.
  • That said, I’m still surprised at how many people don’t know that it costs nothing up front to hire an attorney for an injury case.
  • We call as soon as they contact us.  It’s a lesson I learned from day one when I eagerly called the first person who reached out to us.  I’ve learned that this doesn’t happen at very many places because inevitably the person I call is stunned we got in touch so fast.
  • A lot of people will tell you what they think you want to hear. We aren’t looking for perfect stories. We just want the truth.
  • The law is constantly changing. It’s even more important than I thought in the beginning to get a law firm that really has a focus on the type of case you have.
  • While lawyers aren’t as arrogant as doctors, I didn’t expect how cocky some of the “best”attorneys would be.  I don’t think they realize how it hurts their practice.
  • Most people are good.  We can be a divided country and life can be frustrating.  But most people I come across are good even if they’ve screwed up.  It’s really uplifting to me.
  • You never know what a call might be about.

We appreciate the chance to help so many people and hope we are able to do it for a long time. Cheers!