We are lawyers who will talk to you for free and give you a referral to the best attorney for your situation. Call us any time at 312-346-5320 to discuss your case. 

When you are hurt on the job in Illinois, and your doctor takes you off work (or gives you restrictions that your job can’t accommodate), you are entitled to temporary total disability benefits or TTD.  This is 2/3 of your average weekly wage, tax-free.  This is of course very important because this money allows you to survive while you focus on getting healthy.

Sadly, many injured workers in Illinois have to deal with shady insurance companies. They are looking for a way to not pay you your owed benefits and sometimes do it in an illegal manner.  So what do you do when your check is constantly late or stops showing up without any reason?

The first thing to know is that you are not alone. This is a common insurance company tactic when it comes to IL work comp benefits. They want to frustrate you so you’ll go against your doctor’s advice and return to work before it’s safe to do so. They know that many people live paycheck to paycheck and if they squeeze you just enough that you’ll do things against your best interests. It’s a real scummy thing for them to do, but to them, it’s just business.

The way to solve this problem is for a lawyer to file what is called a 19(b) petition for an immediate hearing.  It’s essentially a trial motion that says benefits are being improperly denied and allows you to jump ahead of other cases that want a trial and get before an arbitrator. While not every case needs a lawyer, when your benefits are delayed, you certainly do.  And having an attorney on the case before a problem happens not only acts as a deterrent to bad behavior by the insurance company but also gets you into court faster.

When the insurance company is really acting in bad faith, we can also file what is called a petition for penalties and fees. You’ve probably heard the term “punitive damages.” This isn’t that, but it’s similar in that the insurance company can be forced to pay you extra money and your lawyer fees for acting so inappropriately.

The point is that when an insurance company is being aggressive to you, you need a lawyer in your corner who will be aggressive back. A good Illinois work injury law firm uses the law to make sure their clients don’t get taken advantage of. In fact, even just the filing of these motions is often enough to get the insurance company to back down. If they don’t, they know they’ll lose and also waste a lot of money on a defense attorney to fight a case they have no defense against.

Beyond that, when your checks are late, experienced attorneys who deal with the same insurance companies and insurance adjusters all of the time, often have relationships where an email or phone call can get results.

In sum, if your TTD checks are late, don’t panic, but also look out for yourself. There are solutions to these problems that can work for you.

I hope this helps. If you have any questions or want to speak to a lawyer, get in touch with us any time.  We cover all of Illinois.

We are experienced Illinois attorneys who since 2001 have helped tens of thousands of people with their cases. If you would like to speak to a lawyer for free to see if you have a case, call us any time at 312-346-5320.

There is nothing more exciting in life than seeing your child be born. It comes with hopes, fears, a bit of nervousness, and a lot of joy.  Most births go smoothly, but occasionally there are problems. Some are unavoidable due to genetics. Others happen from hospital errors and at times this leads to a birth injury lawsuit.

One rare, but very serious birth injury involves something called kernicterus.  To understand that though, you must know about jaundice first.

What is Jaundice?

Most people have heard the term “jaundice” in relation to newborn babies. Jaundice occurs when a chemical called bilirubin builds up in the baby’s blood. Bilirubin is a yellow substance your body creates when red blood cells break down.

When the mother is pregnant, her liver gets rid of the bilirubin for the baby; however, once the baby is born, his/her own liver has to remove the bilirubin. In some babies, particularly premature ones, the liver might not be developed enough to effectively get rid of the bilirubin. In these cases, the baby’s skin and whites of their eyes may appear yellow. Jaundice refers to this yellow discoloration.

Signs and Symptoms of Jaundice

Jaundice is common. About 60% of all babies have it. The main sign of infant jaundice, the yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes, usually appears between the third and fifth day after birth. Jaundice typically appears on the face of the infant first, then it moves to the chest, belly, arms, and legs as the bilirubin levels increase. Jaundice can be harder to see in babies with darker skin color.

Symptoms of jaundice, aside from the change in coloring, include the baby:

  • being hard to wake up, or conversely, not sleeping at all
  • not breastfeeding or sucking from a bottle well
  • being very fussy, having high-pitched cries
  • not having enough wet or dirty diapers.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Jaundice

The baby’s doctor or nurse can check how much bilirubin is in the baby’s blood by using a light meter that is put on the baby’s head. If the level is high, the doctor or nurse will likely order a blood test. Typically, a small blood sample from the baby’s heel is taken to obtain a total serum bilirubin level.

Jaundice is easily treated. The baby will be undressed and put under special lights that do not hurt the baby. This can be done in a hospital or even at home. The baby’s milk intake may also need to be increased. In cases of very high bilirubin levels, a blood transfusion may be needed.

What is Kernicterus?

No baby should develop brain damage from untreated jaundice. However, this is sadly not always the case. When severe jaundice goes untreated for too long, it can cause a type of brain damage called kernicterus.  Affected infants may experience respiratory distress, muscle spasms (including those in which the head and heels are bent backward and the body bows forward), and diminished muscle tone.

As infants with kernicterus get older (about the age of 3 or 4), other symptoms may develop, including:

  • delayed motor development or abnormal motions
  • convulsions or seizures
  • muscle rigidity resulting in muscle spasms
  • slow, involuntary, writhing movements of the limbs or entire body
  • hearing loss
  • problems with vision
  • difficulty speaking

What Should I Do If I Suspect My Baby Has Kernicterus?

If your child has been diagnosed with kernicterus, or if you suspect that they might have kernicterus, you need to get with a top pediatrician right away. They will test for bilirubin levels and try to reduce them before brain damage becomes permanent in your child.  This is also done with light therapy.  It’s really important that the baby be treated quickly.  You can’t reverse the damage that has been done, but you can stop it from getting worse.

Finally, if your child does have kernicterus, you should speak to an experienced birth injury attorney. It’s possible the doctors or their staff dropped the ball and failed to prevent this often treatable problem from getting worse. Depending on whether or not any Federally funded doctors were involved, you may have as little as two years from the birth to file a lawsuit (up to eight years in other cases) so time is of the essence.

If you would like to speak to a lawyer for free to see if you might have a case, please contact us any time. All calls are confidential and require no commitment on your part.

Approximately 700,000 knee replacement procedures are performed each year in the United States. The most common reason for knee replacement surgery is to relieve severe pain caused by osteoarthritis. People who have trouble walking, going up and down stairs, and getting in and out of chairs are candidates for the surgery.

Knee replacement surgery entails cutting away damaged bone and cartilage from your thighbone, shinbone, and kneecap and replacing it with a medical device/prosthesis. Those devices are made of metal alloys, high-grade plastics, and polymers.

Knee replacement surgery goes well for most patients, but like any surgery, there are risks. So if you had a knee replacement, and the surgery did not go well, you could only sue the doctor if they clearly did something wrong. In other words, you would have to prove they were negligent and that you suffered damages as a result.

However, sometimes the surgery goes just fine, but as time goes on, the device breaks down. There is a need for additional corrective surgery, also known as revision surgery. It could turn out that the doctor did nothing wrong, but there still was some negligence.

Exactech, a company that makes knee and ankle replacement devices, has been in the news recently because they recalled over 140,000 of their devices. The concern is that improper packaging failed to protect their devices from early exposure to oxygen, which can begin oxidation. Exactech says that this oxidation can “severely degrade” the components of the device and can “lead to both accelerated wear debris production and bone loss, and/or component fatigue cracking/fracture, all leading to corrective revision surgery.”

In other words, if you had a knee replacement with an Exactech device, and you had or need revision surgery earlier than expected, you may have a legal case against Exactech.  It’s not a medical malpractice lawsuit, but a product liability lawsuit. Damages can potentially work in a similar manner to medical malpractice lawsuits including compensation for future medical care and pain and suffering.

Exactech has recalled about 147,000 devices, all manufactured since 2004. The following devices are included in the recall: OPTETRAK, OPTETRAK Logic, TRULIANT, and VANTAGE. Just because you had one of those devices implanted doesn’t mean that you have a case.  What it does mean is that you have a case worth looking in to. Time is of the essence. If you wait too long, you will lose your rights to bring a case. If you would like to speak with an experienced attorney for free to see if you might have a lawsuit, please call us any time at 312-346-5320.

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

At first glance, workers’ compensation seems like a straightforward concept. If an employee gets hurt at work, they should get money to pay for their medical care and time off of work. But in reality, it is quite often not that clear cut. Workers’ compensation claims in Illinois can be very complex. The specifics regarding the accident, injury, and resulting medical care are critical. Details matter.

We get calls, chats and emails every day from people asking, “Do I have a workers’ compensation case?” Here are some of the questions we ask to determine if they do or don’t have a case.

Where were you injured? We need to know the exact location. In what city and state did the injury occur? We are Illinois lawyers, so we need to verify that the injury occurred in the state of Illinois. However, if you were traveling for work in a location outside of Illinois, but your employer is based in Illinois, you might still have a case. Another reason why we need to know the city/county is because the best attorney for a workers’ compensation case in the city of Chicago might not be the best attorney for a workers’ compensation case in Decatur or Belleville.  Things have changed a bit with online hearings due to Covid, but we still take in to account how many cases a lawyer has in your area before recommending them.

How were you hurt at work? What is your injury?We always ask for the details of the injury. Tell us exactly what happened. Was it a repetitive motion injury (e.g., carpal tunnel syndrome)? Or was it a singular accident (e.g., strained back while lifting a box, slip and fall, incident involving machinery or a vehicle)? Falls at work have to usually be the result of some risk such as a wet floor, running to a meeting, etc.  A pre-existing condition doesn’t bar you from bringing a case, but could be a possible defense. Facts matter.

When did the accident occur?There are statutes of limitations for workers’ compensation claims in Illinois:  three years from the accident date or two years from the last payment of compensation, whichever is longer. If you don’t formally file a case in time, it will be barred.

Have you reported the injury to your boss/employer?This is critical and seems like a no-brainer. But some people say, “I like my boss and company. I didn’t report it because I don’t want to sue them.” A workers’ compensation case is a claim against your employer’s insurance, you wouldn’t be suing them. You have to report your injury on a timely basis. If not done within 45 days of when you knew or should have known you sustained a work injury, you can lose your rights.

Have you gotten medical care?A big piece of a workers’ compensation claim is proving that you are, indeed, injured. The way to do that is to see a doctor, explain what happened and proceed with the care/treatment plan that they recommend.

The bottom line is, day in and day out, we communicate with people who have work injuries. Since 2001, we have helped tens of thousands of people with workers comp questions. We can tell you rather quickly whether or not you have a case worth pursuing and recommend the best lawyer for your case.. If you would like to talk to an attorney for free about a possible case, please call us any time at 312-346-5320 or fill out our contact form and we will call you.

Recently I had two calls from people looking for lawyers in Illinois that were different yet very similar.

Call number one was from a guy who had been convicted of theft. He chose to represent himself and lost his case after his argument to the Judge failed.  His argument was based on something he read on the internet that if he refused to acknowledge the court had authority over him, they couldn’t convict him.

The second case was sadder.  A woman called me after she had gone to court in a family law case. She too represented herself. Her ex wanted visitation, and it was granted.  The problem with that is that he’s a pedophile. The Judge would not listen to her when she tried to bring that up.

Both of these people want to get a lawyer now and essentially have a do-over.  The problem is that it’s too late.

While they can hire lawyers, they can only do so for an appeal (if it’s not too late) or if new evidence has developed since the court hearing. Learning that your internet arguments aren’t real or wanting to get the Judge to listen to you isn’t a new development.  The pedophile did his gross acts years ago, not since the visitation ruling.

While it would be nice if courts worked in a way that made it easier for people to represent themselves, the hard truth is that it doesn’t.  A lawyer for the guy charged would theft would have explained that their argument was not a real one. They also would likely have gotten him supervision which ultimately would be a dismissal of the case. Now this too smart for his own good guy is going to spend some time in jail.

The woman who lost her visitation case would have been way better with an attorney.  They would know how to properly present evidence of pedophilia including how to properly bring in witnesses and experts that could testify about the danger to the kids. That didn’t happen and she lost and unfortunately, the kids are at risk. The worst-case scenario with a lawyer likely would have been supervised visitation.

I get that lawyers can be expensive. And it’s certainly possible to represent yourself and get a good result.  But you must remember that you only get one chance at this, and if things don’t work out, there won’t be a do-over.  So the safest thing is always going to be to have an attorney, especially if the stakes are high.  The time to not get a lawyer is when it would cost more than the case is worth. But when prison time or safety are at stake, or if you’ve been injured in an accident, you have too much to lose by going at it alone.

My common statement when people ask me if they can represent themselves is that if your stomach hurts, you can get a knife and remove your own appendix, but the smarter thing is to have a doctor who has done it 1,000 times handle it.  It’s not much different when it comes to hiring a lawyer in Illinois.

If you would like to speak to an experienced Illinois attorney for free, contact us at 312-346-5320.  We cover all of Illinois.

I consider myself lucky in that even after 24+ years, I still enjoy being a lawyer in Illinois. I believe it’s due to the fact that I’ve carved out a niche doing something I love and every day is different for me. Sure some days are better than others, but I can’t imagine doing anything else. Some attorneys aren’t so lucky.

I read an article that said of all the lawyers who passed the bar in the year 2000, almost 25% of them were no longer practicing attorneys within 12 years.  A lot of these attorneys bust their butts to become partners at a law firm, make partner, and then realize life isn’t getting any better.  The old joke is that it’s like winning a pie-eating contest where the prize is more pie.

Most of the lawyers who quit seem to go on to careers that have nothing to do with the law. I’ve seen some become fitness instructors, restaurant owners, nurses, teachers, and even a stand-up comedian.  Yes, a law degree can be valuable in other industries, but a lot of lawyers are running away from the law altogether.

So why should this matter to you?

While many of the lawyers who are quitting come from huge firms that only represent giant corporations, there are plenty of attorneys who represent consumers in areas like divorce, car accidents, civil litigation, etc that are getting burned out too. You want to make sure that you don’t hire one of these lawyers and if you do, recognize some of the signs of burnout so you can switch firms before it’s too late.  Some of these include:

  • They don’t return your phone calls or e-mails in a timely manner.
  • They don’t follow through on things they say they are going to do or you have to bother them to do it.
  • They are different than when you worked with them in the past.
  • At times they appear disheveled.
  • They seem unprepared or forget basic facts about your case.
  • You discover they are spending a lot of time away from Illinois.
  • You can only get a hold of their secretary or paralegal.
  • They are rude or short-tempered in their interactions with you.
  • They are talking about a lot of things unrelated to your case when you speak.
  • Their bills aren’t sent on a regular basis and have generic entries.

Sometimes lawyers like this are just bad business people, but in my opinion, attorneys who love their jobs and want to help clients don’t do these things.  They are all red flags to me.  I remember being a young lawyer and seeing lots of miserable old attorneys who seemed stuck in their jobs. Things have only gotten worse since then.

The good news is that in most cases you can switch law firms without cost or problem as long as you don’t wait too long. In other words, you need to be your own biggest advocate and not stand for bad customer service and fire your attorney if things don’t get better.  I also recommend asking questions to the lawyer about how they work before you hire them.

If you have any questions about hiring or firing an Illinois attorney or anything else, please call us any time at 312-346-5320 for a free, confidential consultation.

 

 

In movies or on TV people like to say, “I will call my lawyer.” Or, “You will hear from my lawyer!” In some cases, you see that lawyer handling all sorts of legal situations for their friend/client. That of course is not real life.

In real life, I talk to many people who want to have access to an attorney in case something should come up. At least once a month I get a call from someone with no pressing legal need who wants to have a lawyer “just in case the need arises.”

The reality is that life is not like TV or the movies and especially in a bigger city like Chicago that has over 30,000 attorneys, there is almost never a need to have a lawyer on retainer.

The reason I say that is if you need a lawyer, you want the best one for your situation. If you think you might get arrested or the police want to talk to you, you need a criminal defense attorney. But even then the best one depends on what the charges will be, which courthouse you will go to and the timing. If you are a business, you probably want a different lawyer if you are sued for a wage claim than if you are sued by a customer over product disputes.

In real life, in almost any case, you can get a good lawyer when your problem arises instead of paying money out of your pocket in case something comes up.  It’s one reason I’m against the concept of pre-paid legal plans.  I’d bet I’ve had more than 1,000 calls from their clients who go to one of the “plan attorneys” for help when a legal situation came up only to discover that attorney isn’t the right fit for the problem.

A big part of this is that in most cases, while having a pressing legal matter can be a stressor to you, the legal system takes time which affords you time.  If your spouse files for divorce, you most likely won’t be due in court for 30 days, and in most cases, nothing of substance will happen on that first court date. If your company is sued it will likely even be longer before you have to show up in court and many months before anything of substance takes place. Even in criminal cases, if the police want to talk to you, you can almost always tell them that you want a lawyer and then go search for one.

So do yourself a favor and don’t make legal decisions based on what you see in the movies. And if you feel an urgent need to talk to a lawyer, you can call us for free and in confidence any time at 312-346-5320.

There is a saying in many businesses that is also mostly true in law. “It’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know.”

When it comes to hiring a criminal defense attorney, what they know is very important. In other words, you don’t want an inexperienced attorney on your case if you have serious charges. If you are charged with retail theft, UUW, domestic battery or anything else that can put you in jail, the best lawyer for you will have handled similar cases hundreds of times. In fact, the attorneys we recommend pretty much do nothing but criminal defense all day, every day.

So what they know is important, but it’s also important who they know. By that I mean you want a lawyer who regularly is before the Judges at the courthouse you will be going to and deals with the prosecutors there on a regular basis. Those relationships can be just as important as anything else in your case when it comes to winning and losing.  While the prosecutors change on a regular basis, the Judges are often there for a long time.

Take the Markham courthouse for example.  This south suburban Cook County court location hears a lot of criminal and traffic cases.  There are 12 Judges there for those hearings.  While a lawyer can’t be expected to have a great relationship with all of them, they should know them. They should know their tendencies, their moods, their courtroom clerks.  All of those things play to your advantage.

It can be as simple as knowing that the Judge likes to get out early on Fridays so they can play golf. It can also be more technical such as knowing the types of arguments they favor or frown upon.  In some cases it helps if your lawyer knows the attitude of a Judge on first time offenders versus repeat offenders. While none of this guarantees a result for you, all of these little pieces can be the difference between a good result and a bad one.

The Judges at the Markham courthouse have different personalities and look for different things. So if you have a case there and you hire a lawyer who isn’t there on a regular basis, you are not likely giving yourself the best chance for a successful case result.

And to be clear, a good result might not mean having the charges dropped. It could be probation instead of jail time or six months in jail instead of three years.  What’s crazy is you will see similar people on the same day with similar charges get different results. Who their lawyer is can often be the reason why one person does better than another.

This is one of those facts about law that people think shouldn’t be true.  They are probably right. If justice was blind, who you know wouldn’t matter.  But we deal in reality and the reality is that if you want the best result possible, getting an experienced attorney who goes to the courthouse you will be going to on a regular basis means a lot. If you have questions or would like an attorney referral, call us for free at 312-346-5320.

We are Illinois attorneys who since 2001 have been providing free guidance and attorney referrals to anyone who reaches out to us, including for workers compensation claims, where we have helped tens of thousands of people. Call us for FREE at 312-346-5320 or fill out our contact form and we will call you.

Usually the most straight forward Illinois work comp cases are ones that happen in a single instance. For example, you are walking down the hallway at work and slip on a wet floor.  You put your arm out to catch yourself and break your wrist when you hit the ground. That is a hard case for the insurance company to fight (not that they won’t look for reasons to deny your case. They will).

Not every case is like that of course. Quite often the bodies of injured workers break down due to repetitive work over time.  You can lift something once and throw out your back, but more often it’s the act of lifting heavy stuff day after day that causes an injury.  In general, when an employer has you doing the same thing over and over, especially if it can put stress on a body part, this puts you at risk.

This is really common for factory workers in Illinois. When you are an assembler, unless you have a smart and caring employer, you are often doing the same activity thousands of times.  Over a period of months or years, it’s not uncommon at all to have a serious injury from those job duties.

In a recent case decided at the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, an assembler had to regularly lift, carry, push and pull up to 50 pounds as well as handle and grip tools to assemble products. He developed elbow and wrist pain that he thought was due to repetitive lifting, twisting and turning at work. He sought medical care and was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome and elbow arthritis.

The insurance company fought this case because there wasn’t a specific injury.  It’s typical insurance company BS.  The Arbitrator found in his favor because he had consistently done the same work of large valve assembly for seven years.

The lesson to learn from this and other cases is that your case will likely be fought, but it’s winnable. The way this worker one was through medical evidence and credible, detailed testimony. He didn’t just say that he was an assembler at a factory. He gave a very detailed description of what his job duties were both to the Arbitrator and his doctors.  This knowledge made the opinion of the treating doctor that the injuries were work related much more credible.  He then backed it up by having a senior supervisor testify as to what the job duties were. Essentially he created irrefutable evidence.

The bottom line is that you need a trial attorney who is experienced and has a track record to win these cases. They will prepare you and put you in a position to win. In this case, getting the right attorney was literally worth tens of thousands of dollars.

If you have questions about Illinois workers’ compensation law or want an attorney recommendation, please contact us at any time.

We are Chicago attorneys who will talk to anyone for free about any Illinois legal matter. Call us at 312-346-5320 or fill out our contact form and we will call or email you.

We are unique in that since 2001 we have talked to anyone interested about whatever Illinois legal matters they have. We get a lot of great questions and some of them inspire blog posts. Others are great, but don’t require a big post. Here is a collection of some good ones we’ve had in recent months:

My mom is in a nursing home.  She’s a fall risk so her bed rails are supposed to be up. They weren’t and she fell out on her hip. She’s not injured, but shouldn’t they be held responsible for not following rules?
There isn’t much a nursing home abuse lawyer can do in that situation, but I would highly recommend that you report the facility to the Illinois Department on Aging. They could potentially hold them responsible.
Will a cease and desist letter from a lawyer stop my ex from talking bad about me?
It could, but generally speaking you can’t stop crazy people from acting crazy.  A cease and desist letter doesn’t have real enforcement power. It can scare some people and cause them to change their behavior. In others it causes them to dig in and act worse. Bottom line is that it might work, but it’s certainly not guaranteed to and you could end up paying an attorney a few hundred dollars for nothing.
Are you a civil lawyer?
A lot of the calls we get start off this way.  Any court case other than criminal matters and arguably family law is technically a civil matter. Suing for medical malpractice is civil. Suing a neighbor for destroying your property is civil. A lawsuit against a contractor for bad work is civil. One business suing another is civil even though the area of law is called commercial litigation.  It’s a very generic term. You are better off by asking the attorney if they have experience with the type of case you are dealing with and telling them the facts.
Can you help me if someone owes me $400?
Honestly, other than answering questions, there’s not much we can do. That’s because it would cost you more money to hire an attorney that what it’s worth.  While theoretically some collections attorney might take that case on a contingency basis, you are likely better off just filing a small claims lawsuit.
What is the difference between a lawyer and an attorney?
Technically a lawyer is someone who graduated law school and an attorney is a lawyer who passed the bar exam.  So an attorney is a lawyer, but a lawyer might not be an attorney. In reality though, those terms are interchangeable and synonyms based on how people use them in the real world.
I hope these answers were helpful. We will publish another one of these in a few months. And as always, if you want to speak to a Chicago attorney for free, please contact us any time.