Sunday is St. Patrick’s Day which is celebrated through out the world, but is like New Years and the 4th of July rolled in to one in Chicago.  There are tons of parades, parties and bar specials this weekend.  When you add in college basketball, the occasional warm weather and Opening Day around the corner, it’s a really big party.

With big parties come criminal activities.  I’m in my 22nd year as a lawyer so I’ve seen a lot of St. Patty’s day arrests.  Here are the top five reasons people will get arrested in Chicago this weekend:

1. Fighting – There will be guys who can’t handle their booze.  Women who can’t handle their booze.  Some lunatics who get too pissed off because they got bumped in a bar or a beer was spilled on them.  Someone who will throw a beer thinking they are funny.  Way too handsy guys.  All of these things can lead to punches being thrown which means a lot of battery arrests this weekend.  If you are at a bar you can bet that the bouncers will call the cops and blame everyone involved.

2. Disorderly conduct – If you are drunk in the street or just annoying the police or if they are just arresting everyone on b.s. charges, this is the fallback option. It’s a very vague charge, but unfortunately it happens all the time and is a misdemeanor which can be punishable by up to a year in jail.

3. Public intoxication – This one is a no brainer.  There is so much drinking going on this weekend and often it’s amateur night.  When you add in the spring breakers from college it gets out of control.

4. Public urination Sadly, this weekend, the streets of Chicago will become a toilet.  It sometimes is combined with disorderly conduct or a charge unto itself.  And if you reveal too much of yourself and there are kids around you might accidentally get really serious charges.

5. Domestic battery – It’s shocking to me that any man would hit a woman, but this weekend especially there will be a lot of drunk boyfriends and husbands.  This leads to some of them getting too physical when their significant other is too flirty with others.  And some women will hit men when they can’t handle their alcohol too.

If you or someone you gets arrested this (or any other) weekend it’s really important go get a lawyer in your corner who does nothing but criminal defense all day every day. If you have questions or want a referral please call us at 312-346-5320.

Many Illinois employers are looking to “game the system” or find what they think are creative ways to avoid taxes.  Sometimes they do this by paying cash under the table.  Other times they do it by calling an employee an independent contractor.

While their main goal is usually to avoid payroll taxes, if you get hurt while working for them they will try to deny you benefits by saying that you didn’t really work for them.  The question is will they get away with it.

There are many factors the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission looks at to determine if you are in fact an employee or not.  If you are, no matter what they call you, you will be entitled to workers comp benefits.

The number one factor they look at is called right of control.  Does the company have control over you?  Can you turn down assignments and still get future work?  Can you do the same work for someone else including a competitor? Do you set your own schedule or do they dictate one for you?  If you are driving a truck can you set your own route? The more control they have the more likely it is you will be classified as an employee.

Other factors include:

  • Do you provide your own tools or equipment?
  • Is there a contract that sets out the term and scope of work for them?
  • Is there a uniform they make you wear?
  • Are you working at their premises day in and day out?
  • Are taxes taken out of your pay check?

All of these things are relevant. The more in your favor, the greater the chance you will prove you are really an employee and be able to win work comp benefits.  It’s REALLY important that if your case is denied because you are being called an independent contractor that you hire an attorney who has a track record of handling these cases and taking them to trial.  Experience is hugely important in these claims.

Bonus tip.  Some employers make you sign a document that states you agree you are an independent contractor.  That’s another factor, but doesn’t kill your case.  You can’t be made to waive your rights to work comp benefits and if they have control over you, you will still win.

If you have any questions or want to talk to an attorney for free, fill out our contact form or call us at 312-346-5320.  We cover all of Illinois.

We have been running our service since 2001.  We are lawyers in Chicago who will talk to you for free about any Illinois legal matter.  We will answer questions and if you need a referral and we know someone for you, we will recommend the best lawyer we know for your situation.

The attorneys we recommend are lawyers we have gotten to know and respect.  Nobody pays us to recommend them.  For most lawyers we recommend they have the following qualities:

  • At least ten years experience, usually more.
  • At the same time they aren’t too old.  They are active in their practice and hungry.
  • They care about their clients.
  • They aren’t general practice lawyers.  Most attorneys we recommend are narrowly focuses on one area of law.
  • They deliver great customer service.

We don’t guarantee a result, but do promise that we won’t recommend an attorney to you that we wouldn’t refer to a family member or friend.

While we will talk to you for free, we are not a place to find a free lawyer.  That said, for some areas of law attorneys only get paid if they win. Bottom line is that we will suggest what we think is best for you and if the lawyer does charge by the hour, we will suggest the lowest cost one we know of that does a good job.

If you would like to speak with an attorney, call us at 312-346-5320 or fill out our contact form, describe your situation and we will call you.

Recently I was contacted  by  a nice guy who had been in a car accident in Chicago.  He had found what seemed like a great car accident law firm to represent him, but had questions about their fees.

He first asked me what a standard fee is for a personal injury lawyer. I answered honestly that in most cases it’s 1/3 of what is recovered.  Occasionally this goes higher or lower, but 1/3 is pretty standard.

That made sense to him. What didn’t make sense is that the firm he was thinking about hiring wanted to charge him 40% of what is recovered if the case goes to trial and 50% of what is recovered if the case gets appealed.

Now I’m not saying that this never happens or that there aren’t circumstances that call for it, but none of the firms I work with do this (that I’m aware of) because 33% is a lot to begin with and when you are talking 40-50%, the lawyer tends to end up with more than the client and that’s not right.

When you hire an attorney, they must be thinking the case could go to trial.  That’s their job.  So for them to get an extra 7% for the “inconvenience” is absurd.  They aren’t taking less money if they settle the case quickly, why should they get more money if the case takes a longer time?

The reality is that some law firms will just charge what they think they can get.  In most cases there are a handful of firms that can do a good job for you.  So to me, there is no reason to hire one for 40-50% when an equally good one will do it for 33%.  And quite honestly, to me it says something negative about the character of a lawyer that tries to take that much from a client.

Bonus tip.  Under Illinois law, the maximum fee for a medical malpractice case is 33% and for workers’ compensation cases it’s 20%.  If you come across a lawyer who is asking for more than that they are likely breaking the law.

Bottom line is that you shouldn’t be afraid to ask these types of questions and if you aren’t happy with a fee and have a good alternative, don’t sign up.

If you have any questions or want a referral to an experienced personal injury lawyer, call us for free any time at 312-346-5320.

We are experienced Chicago attorneys who offer free legal guidance and lawyer referrals to the best law firms in Illinois.  We have helped more than 300,000 people in 20+ years.  If you have questions or would like a referral, call to speak to one of our lawyers at 312-346-5320.

Pretty much everyone has either had cancer or knows someone who has.  If you get it, you will have lots of questions: How did I get this? What type of cancer do I have? Will it spread? What are my treatment options? What happens next? So many questions, but the only reasonable and natural thing to do is to put your trust in your doctor.

A recent study discovered that the most common form of medical malpractice claims is the failure to diagnose, or misdiagnose, diseases and illnesses. Of these claims, the most frequently missed were cancer, particularly breast, colon, prostate, melanoma and lung cancers.

No one can predict or even prevent who gets cancer and who does not. Cancer is a very aggressive condition that tends to spread quickly and is out of anyone’s control, but the key to surviving cancer is early detection, diagnosis and treatment. When a doctor fails to diagnose cancer, the patient often misses a critical time frame for effective treatment and it often can mean the difference between life and death.

Cancer, such as colon, breast and prostate cancer are very treatable in the early stages. Once cancer has spread to the blood or other organs, or has metastasized, treatment options and chances of survival are greatly reduced. Often, treatment for later cancer stages is typically more aggressive, resulting in additional pain, discomfort and loss of quality of life for the cancer patient.

But, not every misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis is grounds for malpractice. The type of cancer, the stage of cancer, the symptoms and the actions taken by the doctors all are factors to consider when looking at medical malpractice. Failure to diagnose may be unavoidable, depending on the nature of a patient’s case. It is common for cancer to not exhibit clear signs or symptoms that are reasonably identifiable by medical professionals until the advanced stages. Sometimes, cancer symptoms may not even show at all.

So how do you know if you have a case?

In general, to have a case worth looking in to you need to show that a doctor should have looked for or diagnosed cancer and the time from when it should have been caught until it was caught was six months or more.  When the delay is that long or longer you can often show that your cancer got much worse than it would have been had it been caught right away.  This doesn’t guarantee a win if there is a lawsuit, but in Illinois if the delay is that long the case is worth investigating by a malpractice law firm.

The next logical question is how do you know if a doctor should have caught the cancer?

There’s no slam dunk to this either, but if the patient exhibited visible cancer signs and symptoms and no scans or blood tests were ordered, that is likely malpractice.  If they misread an x-ray or CT scan or failed to perform a biopsy, that could be a case. Not recommending any follow up when there are warning signs is a problem too.

It’s important to know that for most cases you have two years from when you knew or should have known malpractice occurred to file a lawsuit, but no more than four years from when it happened.  Bottom line is that if you think you might have a case you should act fast.

Malpractice lawsuits in Illinois do take time, but there are a handful of experienced law firms with an incredible track record of success.  We would recommend you to one that has experience winning cases with the type of cancer you or a loved one are dealing with. Call us any time you’d like to discuss a case. It’s always free and none of the attorneys we recommend charge a penny unless they win the case.

A couple of weeks back I got a call from someone who had been injured in a car accident. They wanted me to give them a list of the best five car accident attorneys in Chicago.  When I told them that didn’t exist they didn’t give me a chance to explain why and hung up. So for them or anyone else who is looking for the “top” or “best” attorney for their case, let me tell you why it’s not that simple.

Let’s say that you are driving down the highway and you hit the breaks because traffic has come to a crawl.  Ten seconds later a semi truck slams in to your car, killing two of your family members and shattering your leg, pelvis and arm.  Physically it will take you years to recover and emotionally you likely never will. While it sounds like a slam dunk case, the reality is that there are only a handful of law firms qualified to handle that case.  Trucking cases require a high level of experience as many truck owners create shell companies to disguise the true owner of their truck and make it appear there is only limited insurance available to make a recovery against.

In a case like that I’d say there are maybe ten Chicago law firms at most with a real track record of success in those cases. Hiring the “best” one in that case might be the difference of millions of dollars as you really have to know how to handle these cases to get the most money.

So while those firms are great, if you told me that you were sitting at a stop light and rear-ended by a person with a GEICO insurance policy for $100,000.00 and sustained a back injury, I would not tell you to hire them.  It’s not that they couldn’t do the job, it’s that there is no way a lawyer who deals with truck death cases is going to spend the time needed on a smaller case like this.  They’d likely assign a very young, inexperienced associate to handle the case.  The “best” car accident attorney for you in that case is a smaller firm that handles these types of cases all day.  You’ll pay the same fee, but have an attorney with 20 years of experience in your corner.

There are many other issues that make who is best for your unique case an issue.  Maybe the defendant has what is known as a sub-standard insurance company which means to get the best recovery you need a lawyer who is willing to go to trial.  Believe it or not, not all firms will do that.  Perhaps you have a unique injury.  In that case getting someone in your corner who has won a similar case and understands the medicine is important. Maybe you are calling for a family member who does not speak English. To be successful the case might require someone who speaks their language.

I could go on, but the bottom line is that the top attorney for you might not be the top for someone else.  Every case is different. If you want to talk with a lawyer for free, call us any time at 312-346-5320 for a free consult.

Nobody wants to get divorced or split up and have a child custody or support issue, but it happens.  It’s nice when things can be amicable, but the reality is that is not always the case even when things start off friendly.  Lots of times games are played.  Tell me if any of the following sounds familiar:

– You agreed on a child support amount but now your ex isn’t making payments.

– It’s your turn to have the kids and now your ex is making excuses about why you can’t have them or is asking for something in return even though that has nothing to do with your agreement.

– Your ex now has another kid with a different person and wants to lower child support because of their new expenses.

– You have a new significant other and your ex is jealous and taking it out on you by trying to not allow visitation or making false allegations.

– It’s time for your kid to come home and your ex says they are keeping them.

A lot of times this happens after verbal agreements.  I get why people do that.  You don’t want a battle and lawyers and court can be expensive.  So you make a verbal agreement. The problem with that is that those agreements are not enforceable in court.  So you really are rolling the dice if you don’t make an agreement official by the approval of a Judge.

Even sometimes when there is a court order, feelings get hurt or games get played and one party to the case doesn’t follow the court order. When that does happen though, it’s much easier to solve your problem.  For example, if the custody order says your child is to be home by 5 p.m. and it’s 6 p.m., the police will help you retrieve your child. If your ex has decided they no longer want to pay child support, not only can you go back to court and have them held in contempt, it’s likely that the Judge will order them to pay your attorney fees too.

The bottom line on all of this is that the best and really only way to stop someone who is playing games is to make sure that your court orders are crystal clear.  It doesn’t hurt either to have an attorney who will fight for you in your corner.  A lot of ex’s can be bullies and we have a good track record of stopping people from playing games.  We can’t promise a case result, but do promise no family law attorney we recommend will get intimidated or pushed around.

If you have questions or would like to discuss a case, please call us any time at 312-346-5320 for a free consultation.

 

There are no words that can describe the pain and suffering for a family after the loss of a loved one. If that loss was due to a wrongful death, it can be especially painful to think and imagine the horrors your loved one faced. Filing a wrongful death lawsuit won’t fix the damage that’s been done, but you can be the voice of the deceased and force the defendant to acknowledge their wrongdoing and and make right by it and hopefully prevent it from happening to someone else in the future.

A loved one dying suddenly can be stressful and carry an uncertainty of what to do next. This is especially true if you do feel that your loved one died due to negligence or malicious behavior. The best step you can take, especially when thinking of taking legal action, is you must demand an autopsy immediately. Aside from that, you will want to start the legal process sooner than later.

An autopsy is not always required to prove wrongful death, but is crucial as it can help prove with certainty what caused the individuals death. With an array of circumstances resulting in wrongful death cases, the most common are by automobile accidents and medical malpractice. Autopsies are generally a good idea when the cause of death is unknown or if you suspect you know why someone passed, but can’t say for sure.

In other words, when there is a car accident that causes a death, an autopsy is helpful, but it won’t end the case most likely if you don’t have one. On the other hand, if someone goes to the hospital with stomach pain and dies the next day, an autopsy is likely the only way to prove that the hospital was negligent.

Any evaluation to a wrongful death claim begins with one simple question: What was the cause of death? When a sudden death occurs and is believed to be done by negligence or malicious behavior of a medical professional or another individual playing a role, an autopsy can help answer that.

Once the cause of death is determined, a lawyer can help determine whether the death was preventable or not. This is where the real issue lies: was the defendant negligent and did their negligence cause your loved ones death. This information is crucial to your case.  While it may be the last thing you want to do, not having an autopsy could cause you to have problems finding a lawyer and/or cause you to lose the case when it goes to trial.

You may be lead to believe that an autopsy is unnecessary by a healthcare provider, as the death seems clear and obvious. The truth is there are many times when a health care provider/facility may not want to perform an autopsy since it could reveal they could be partially liable for the death.

We recognize how devastating the sudden loss of a loved one can be and how the decision to have an autopsy performed can be equally emotional. But it is important to remember that an autopsy is extremely valuable to a wrongful death case. Grieving can be very different and difficult for anyone. We are here to be the voice to families affected by wrongful death. Give us a call for any questions or guidance in your wrongful death case.  We can be reached at 312-346-5320 for a free consultation any time.

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.