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!

We are experienced Illinois 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.

Every few months I do a blog post about some of the interesting questions we’ve received. Here are some from the last few months.

I was let go without a warning for misconduct.  Isn’t it true there’s a three strikes law that requires my job to give me three chances?

This is not true.  Illinois, unless you have a contract, is an at will employment state. That means they can let you go whenever, except for illegal reasons.  This is true even if you are treated unfairly or they made a mistake about the reason they fired you.

The police called me and said I was being investigated for a crime and want me to deposit money in to a bank account as part of restitution. I didn’t do anything, but I’m scared and they say I will go to jail if I don’t pay. What should I do?

Nothing.  This is a scam.  This is no how police work. They might even spoof the number of a courthouse.  If there’s no case number that can be looked up on an official website, there’s no case.

Can my employer fire me for testing positive for marijuana?

Yes.  Even though it’s legal to do it, they could still let you go.  An exception might be if there are medical reasons for taking it.

My work comp attorney never calls me back.  Can I switch or is it a waste of time?

It’s not a waste of time when your lawyer isn’t communicating with you.  It costs nothing to switch firms so you should at least have a consultation with a different attorney and make a decision from there.

I’m trying to get a gun license in Texas where I live now, but have a drug case from 20 years ago in Chicago that resulted in 410 probation. Will that prevent me from getting the license?

I have no idea because it’s a question for a TX attorney. That said, 410 probation isn’t a conviction so it’s a good sign.

I just had a child and signed the birth certificate. Now my best friend told me he thinks he’s the father. Am I stuck with paying child support?

This is one reason we tell people never to sign the birth certificate.  That said, if you contest it within 75 days of signing, you can have it reversed.  You need to act fast.

My mom always told me I’d be taken care of in her will.  She passed away and the only copy of the will we can find is from 20 years ago and I’m not in it. Am I out of luck?

Verbal promises aren’t enforceable in this situation. Your likely only shot is to find a more recent will that mentions you or somehow prove that the original will was fraudulent. Both are likely long shots.

 

That’s it for this month.  If you have any questions, even if you don’t want to hire a lawyer, contact us for free any time.

We are experienced lawyers in Chicago who will talk to you for free. Since 2001 we have helped people who need a lawyer referral or just advice. Call us at 800-517-1614 any time to speak with an attorney in confidence or fill out our contact form and we will call you.

The best thing an attorney can do is take the emotion out of a situation and focus on facts.  That doesn’t mean your lawyer shouldn’t have empathy or care about you.  They should.  It’s just that when push comes to shove we can really help you by telling you like it is.

This is true when it comes to answering the question, “Do I have a lawsuit for failure to diagnose cancer?” People call us because they want to know if there might be a case, will then win and how much it might be worth.

We can never answer for sure without seeing your medical records, but there are questions successful lawyers ask to weed out good cases from bad.

The first question will likely be, how long is the delay?  Generally speaking, you need at least a six month delay from when you first reported symptoms until you were properly diagnosed.  Not that a three to four month delay is ideal, but in most cases that isn’t enough to show that a proper diagnosis would have changed your ultimate outcome.  The cases we’ve been most successful on have more than a one year delay, but six months is almost always the minimum for winning. Otherwise the case becomes defendable.

The other key question we want to know is what was your health before this?  Sadly, doctors can get away with negligence when a person is very sick already and likely did not have a long life expectancy. In those cases it can cost more to bring a lawsuit than you can recover.  On the other hand, if you are a relatively healthy person and go to your doctor with a lump in your breast and they say it’s nothing, if a year later it turns out you have stage four breast cancer, that’s definitely a case worth investigating.

The last question is what do your medical records show?  If your doctor suggested a course of action and you ignore it, that can end your case. If they don’t say what you say happened, it can end your case.  No medical malpractice lawyer can say if there is for sure a good case or not without seeing your records.

We’ve been involved in pursuing lawsuits for all sorts of failures to diagnose cancer.  That said, the most common errors are for skin cancer (melanoma), breast cancer, colon, prostate, lung, and cervical cancer.

We are happy to speak to you for free to see if there is a case worth investigating. Every attorney we recommend has a great track record of success and does not charge a penny unless they win the case.

Most speeding tickets in Illinois are a nuisance, but not that big of a deal legally speaking.  If you are over 21 and have a clean driving record, you almost never need a lawyer for a ticket that’s something like 73 in a 55.  You can do traffic school and get the ticket off your record which means your insurance won’t go up and unless you have a CDL, your license won’t be affected.  There is no point in getting an attorney when it would cost you as much as it would just paying off the ticket.  This is true when the ticket doesn’t harm you.

In some cases though, a speeding ticket could lead to jail time. In those instances, you definitely need a lawyer.  If you are charged with going 26 miles per hour over the limit or more this is known as aggravated speeding or excessive speeding.  At a minimum this is a misdemeanor charge in Illinois which means it’s a criminal case.  As a result, you can spend up to six months in jail for tickets that are 26-34 miles over the limit and 12 months in jail for a conviction 35 mph and up.  On top of that, you can get fined up to $2,500.00.  Beyond all of that, because this is a crime, the conviction would show up on a background check. Clearly this is a big deal.

On top of all of that, you can have your license suspended which of course could create a significant hardship for you.

Anyone charged with aggravated speeding should have an attorney.  Unlike minor traffic offenses, the consequences are too severe not to have one. In fact, most Judges will tell you to come back with an attorney if you show up to your first court date without one. That’s because they don’t want to sentence you to jail without proper representation.

The good news is that in most cases, when you do have an experienced lawyer, they are able to negotiate with the prosecutors a lesser charge and have the speeding ticket reduced to a 25 mph violation.  You still will have a fine, but it won’t be $2,500 and you won’t lose your license or go to jail.  There is no guarantee of course, but in almost every case we’ve been involved in with aggravated speeding, the attorney has been able to get a favorable outcome.

If you are looking for an attorney to defend you, we are happy to help.  We have had great success for clients in Cook County, Will County, DuPage County, Kane County and Lake County. To speak with a lawyer for free, call us at 312-346-5320 to discuss your case.

One of the things about being a lawyer that most people don’t think about is that most law schools don’t actually prepare you how to run a law firm or talk to people.  You see this a lot with some really excellent attorneys when it comes to going to court or being an “expert” on a certain area of law.  They are the leaders in their field but can’t carry a conversation.

As a result of some attorneys not being trained on how to work with customers or not having common sense, you will find that many law firm leaders act like what they think an attorney is supposed to act like. So men and women who in their own social circles are relatively normal will start using big, fancy legal jargon that nobody understands when a client is in the office because they think that is what they are supposed to do.  Quite honestly the best training I got to run a law firm was from waiting tables and bar-tending for four years.  Talking to people is often an acquired skill.

Another way that many attorneys screw up is by acting like they are an expert on everything.  Too many are afraid to look dumb if a client asks a question and they aren’t sure the answer.  They have internalized a belief that since they went to law school and passed the bar, they should have all the answers.

This brings me to the best three words an attorney can say to you: “I don’t know.”

When a lawyer says that they don’t know an answer, it’s often a great sign. It means they aren’t trying to put on a front.  It means they are being honest with you.  It shows they are humble.  These are all great qualities. If an attorney has been trained to handle medical malpractice lawsuits, they shouldn’t feel embarrassed if they don’t know what’s going to happen to their cousin who got arrested for retail theft.  Why should they know that answer? It revolves around something that they never deal with.

And even if the client question is an the area of law the attorney focuses on, they can’t know everything.  The reality is that unique issues come up all the time.  Rather than act like a know it all, a good attorney will tell the client that they aren’t 100% sure and ask for time to do some research.

Another phenomenon that happens to me based on running a service that tries to connect people with the right lawyer for their case is the ability to recognize the client knows something you do not.  While I can properly vet most accident, criminal and family law cases, there are a ton of laws on the books I know nothing about.  I recently got a call from someone with questions on Medicare Supplement Insurance law in Illinois.  It’s nothing I had ever looked at and they quite honestly educated me.  I handle a lot of contested life insurance cases now, but my first education in to that was from a consumer who had been through the ringer with that stuff.

Of course at some point you want to get with an attorney who does have the answers.  But if they act like an expert on everything, to me that is a sign of a very insecure person who will let their insecurity take over and will offer advice even if they are just talking out their back side.  That’s not good for you and the type of attorney and person you should avoid.

The Illinois Sales Representative Act governs commission payment law in Illinois. The Act covers three main areas. 1. When commissions come due to the employee. 2. How employers should handle commissions owed to a terminated employee. 3.The penalties that can apply to employers if they fail to comply with the Act.

When you get paid your commission depends on if there is a contract or not. If there is, generally speaking that contract will control. This can include limiting your right to a commission if it hasn’t been fully earned yet or if you are no longer employed.  If there is no contract, the law instructs us to look at how the employer has typically handled paying commissions in the past. For example, if you are a salesman who usually receives payment within seven days of a client paying their bill, that is how you should be treated if there is no contract.  If you are a new hire with no payment history, we look to see how the company has treated other employees and hold them to that standard.

If a commission based worker is terminated, Illinois law says they should receive payment within 13 days of their termination.  If more commissions become owed at a later date, they too should be paid within 13 days after they come due.  Under Illinois law, an employee can’t waive their right to collect this owed money.  Any agreement that says it’s waived can’t be enforced.

If your employer doesn’t pay commissions, you can sue them. The law in this area is very favorable to Illinois workers. It allows you to collect up to three times what you are owed.  In addition, your employer may be forced to pay your lawyer fees and all of your court costs. The longer it drags out, the more it can cost them. So if they don’t have a good defense there is usually strong motivation to settle.

The attorneys we know who handle these cases usually work on a contingency basis. That means they only get paid if they win and there are no costs to you up front. This is really important because if you have been screwed out of money that you are owed and need to live on, the last thing you can do is pay a lawyer.  Even better, the attorney if they win your case doesn’t take money from your recovery but instead their fee is a separate case issue.  So if you are owed $10,000, you can end up with $30,000 and your lawyer will get whatever their bill is.

If you feel you’ve been wrongly denied commissions or just have questions, call us any time to speak with a lawyer for free.

 

We are Illinois lawyers who will talk to you for free. Fill out our contact form or call us at 312-346-5320. We cover all of Illinois.

Illinois workers’ compensation laws are designed to provide medical treatment and payment for time off work for injured workers.  To receive that, you need to show that you sustained an injury that arose out of and in the course of your employment. In other words, you were hurt doing your job duties due to a risk of your job.  It’s a no fault law which means that you don’t have to prove negligence and making a claim for benefits isn’t a lawsuit.

Insurance companies for your employer can’t deny your case and refuse to pay benefits unless they have a good reason.  Despite that, we see insurance companies all the time telling injured workers that they don’t have a case and the claim is denied.

They do this because insurance companies aren’t about your health, but instead about their bottom line.  If they wrongly turn down your claim and you accept that, it saves them money.  It’s a strategy that works because most of these insurance companies make billions.

The good news is that if you know the law, they won’t get away with it.  And beyond that, Illinois workers’ compensation laws can actually punish them or their bad behavior.  This was shown in a recent court case.

In that claim, a grocery store worker at Jewel Foods was collecting carts when he was struck by a car.  He fell, hit his head and received treatment at the scene. The next day he was found slumped over and it was determined he had a brain injury.  Emergency surgery took place.

Despite the obvious nature of his injury being related to the job accident, Jewel did not pay his time off or bills.  The worker got a lawyer and went to arbitration. Not only was all of his time off awarded and the bills paid, the Arbitrator awarded penalties and fees due to the unreasonable denial of benefits  The employer had surveillance video that showed how the accident happened and presented no medical evidence that the problems were anything other than the work place injury.  They simply denied the case without explanation or reason.

When that happens, the insurance company/employer can get punished which includes extra payments for time off work, extra money to the worker for the unpaid bills and payment of lawyer fees.

The problem is that only the best Illinois work comp attorneys pursue this strategy on a regular basis. Too many lawyers let insurance companies get away with this nonsense.

The good news is that the law is on your side. It can be very frustrating when cases are denied for no reason.  We know experienced, aggressive work injury lawyers who will fight for you. If you want a recommendation or just have questions, contact us at any time.

They say that the best things in life are free. I don’t know if talking to an attorney should be classified as one of the best things in life, but it exists.

We are Chicago lawyers, who since 2001, have been talking to people for FREE about their Illinois legal matters.  There is no catch or hidden agenda. You can call us at 312-346-5320 any time.  Usually, a lawyer will answer and your free consultation will begin.  It will last as long as it needs for us to answer your questions and give advice.  If you call and a lawyer doesn’t answer, the call will go to our answering service who will immediately message us and we almost always then call you back right away.

We want to help people and like to help people.  We don’t promise you will like what we have to say, but do promise it will be honest, even if that means saying you don’t have a case. And of course if you do have a case we will guide you as best we can as to who the right lawyer is to hire.

We started www.illinoislawyers.com because the way people typically find lawyers doesn’t always work.  Many people can’t read through the b.s. or rely on a friend who may not know the best lawyer to talk to for your case. Other people don’t want to pay any money just to ask a simple question.  Some people know they have a great case but can’t figure which attorney is the best for them.

Whatever your situation is, we are happy to talk to you.  Here’s how it works:

  1. You call or fill out our contact form.
  2. We listen to what you have to say, ask you questions if we need to and tell you what we honestly think and what we would tell a family member or friend if they were in the same situation.

That’s it.  If we don’t know anyone for you, we’ll say it. If we feel strongly about what you should do, we’ll say it. If you need to know your options we’ll tell you what they are so you can make an educated decision.

And again, this is all free.  We cover all of Illinois and while we can’t promise a result, we do promise to tell it to you straight.  Call or email us any time.