I recently read an article in Forbes about contesting a will.  It gave five “tips” from a lawyer, but if you read it, two of them are about how expensive this can be, one is how it’s emotional and the other one is that most cases settle. That’s not really great information in my opinion because it really is advice that could be true for most areas of law. So I thought I’d put together a real list of what you should know about contesting a will in Illinois.

1. Let’s start with cost.  Yes it can be expensive, but if the estate is worth enough money and the facts are on your side, we know lawyers who will take the case on a contingency basis which means that they only get paid if they win.  Their fee is typically 1/3 of what they recover.  So how much does an estate have to be worth?  It depends on the case and what your share would be, but in general the lawyers we know who work on a contingency want the eventual payout to them if they win to be at least in the high five figures.  So that would usually mean the estate is worth at least $500,000.00.  The bigger the potential payout, the more likely you are to find a contingency lawyer.

2. Generally speaking, to contest a will you have six months from the date the will is filed with the Court to do so or you can lose your rights to ever contest it.  So you need to act fast and if your relative that you are having a dispute with tells you that they will take care of everything, beware that this could just be a delaying tactic.

3. You can’t contest a will in Illinois because you don’t like that you were left out of it or you were told verbally that you were going to get something that isn’t in the will.  The best claim to a will not being valid is you being able to prove some sort of fraud or that the person who died didn’t know what they were doing when they signed the will.  The classic example is a will that is signed shortly before a death while the person is on medication or showing that they had severe dementia when the will was created and could not have had a lucid moment when they knew what they were doing.

4. If you are successful in getting a will thrown out, the previous valid will replaces it.  If none is available then Illinois intestate laws apply.  In cases of a parent death with no spouse that usually means that everything will get divided up among the children.

5. Contesting a trust is a little different because nothing has to be filed with the Court, but the same principle exists that if you believe the trust was fraudulently created, you have to act fast.

Hopefully this is more relevant to you than the Forbes article. If you have any questions or would like an attorney referral, call us at 312-346-5320 for a free consultation any time.

We are Chicago attorneys who help people find the right lawyer for their case and provide free legal guidance.  Call us at 800-517-1614 for a free consultation.

The false claims act is a federal law that is also sometimes called the “Lincoln Law.” This is the law that sets liability for those who defraud governmental programs. This law has been around and active on the books since the Civil War. It was originally started to help stop fraud against the government potentially caused by suppliers to the Union Army. However, in 1986 there were several mishaps by the department of defense contracting industry that brought on new amendments. Since those amendments, in the last three decades, over $48 billion dollars has been recovered on behalf of the government. With nearly half of the total recovered as a direct result of health care related cases.

Whistleblower and Qui Tam are provisions within the false claims law that allows others to file legal action for the government, even if they may be a party in the suit. The “others” that are allowed to file suit on behalf of the Government are not part of the government, and they are called realtors. These provisions were put into place due to the simple fact that our government doesn’t have the capacity to investigate all of the fraud and false claims that are submitted. Instead, private citizens have the ability to file suit on behalf of the government, submit evidence of fraud, and also receive monetary rewards sometimes up to 25% of any money that is retrieved from the suit.

Medicare and other healthcare fraud has taken over as a majority of these types of cases. While many Americans use privately held insurance, millions of Americans rely 100% on governmental programs and assistance such as Medicare. Due to the abundance of people using these programs, sometimes it is very hard to detect the fraud that is occurring. The fraud occurs when doctors or Medicare providers and facilities engage in behavior such as billing for services not rendered, billing for patients that were never seen, using billing codes that represent a more expensive treatment than which was actually preformed, billing for individual testing procedures instead of bundling them into one fee, and even billing for unnecessary medical tests and treatments.

Another form of suit that is becoming prominent is based on shareholders civil lawsuits filed Qui Tam, against their companies on behalf of the government. In one case like this, a software company that supplies it’s product to the government, did not disclose deep discounts and incentives given to private and commercial companies, while charging the federal government premiums that were highly inflated. The fraud was uncovered when a former senior executive filed a whistleblower action. In this case, the allegations were settled. The company agreed to pay $199.5 million dollars back to the government, less the $40 million that went directly to the former executive as a monetary reward for exposing the fraud.

If you would like to file a claim, or a whistleblower lawsuit, several very specific procedures must be filed for you to in fact receive the reward. The majority of the case will rely on evidence or proof you have of your claim. Facts on paper, emails, sales receipts, etc. anything that is solid evidence that your company was committing the crime will be submitted as evidence. If you have evidence of such fraud, you should contact a Qui Tam attorney immediately. They will review your documents, and determine if there was fraud, and if it falls within the statute of limitation to bring a case. Next they will draft what is called the Relator’s statement. This statement will serve as a complaint that explains to the government what exactly you are accusing or blowing the whistle on. This document gets filed first under seal with the attorney general and the US Attorney, then later is filed under seal with the US District Courts. Once that has been completed, the government will do their own investigation and determine if they would like to join the suit. For you to receive any benefit or award settlement, the government must join. After that, the case will either be litigated and decided upon by a judge, or settled out of court. Either way, once the case is “won” you will receive an award for coming forward.

Some recent Whistleblower’s Act claims that were litigated and won include a lawsuit against Respironics, a company that sells masks for people with sleep apnea. This lawsuit yielded a 34.8 million dollar gross to be paid, 5.38 million of which was rewarded to the Doctor that originally brought the suit. EV3 is a medical device company that allegedly convinced several hospitals to admit patients for a procedure prior had only been an outpatient procedure. In this suit, 1.25 million dollars was recovered. Another medical device company settled their case for $6 million dollars after being accused of participating in cash kickbacks to the doctors who referred patients to use its devices. One of the former product managers for the company came forward in her Qui Tam suit, and her recovery amount is not yet determined.

These cases are very complicated from the legal standpoint, but if you have proof that your employer or some other business is defrauding the government, an attorney will make the process easy on you. As well, there are anti-whistleblowers laws in place now that will protect you from any sort of retaliation.  Call or e-mail us at any time to ask questions or for help in finding the right type of lawyer for the fraud you want to expose.

Zinbryta (daclizumab) is a medication used to treat adults with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS). Multiple sclerosis is a neurological disease that scars nerve tissue and causes a range of symptoms, including pain, vision loss, impaired coordination and paralysis. MS affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide.

Zinbryta is not a cure for MS, but helps prevent the immune system from attacking the nerves in the brain and spinal cord. Doctors generally prescribe Zinbryta to patients who have tried two or more other MS medications and not experienced positive results. It is injected under the skin, typically once a month.

Why was Zinbryta withdrawn?
Biogen and AbbVie, the makers of Zinbryta, announced a voluntary withdrawal of the drug from the market on March 2, 2018, and they halted clinical studies. The move was in response to the European Medicines Agency call for an “urgent review” of the drug after twelve cases of serious brain inflammation were reported. The inflammatory brain disorders experienced included encephalitis and/or meningoencephalitis.

The European Medicines Agency stated that, “Zinbryta may also be linked to severe immune reactions affecting several other organs.”
Complications in addition to encephalitis and meingoencephalitis include:

• Liver failure and other serious liver injuries
• Serious skin reactions including Stevens Johnson Syndrome and Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis

Zinbryta was available in the European Union, Switzerland, Canada, Australia and the United States. Over 8,000 patients around the world have received Zinbryta according to the European Medicines Agency.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stated that it was aware of the 12 reports of brain inflammation and is conducting its own review. The FDA acknowledged the “complex safety profile” of Zimbryta since its approval.

Legal Action

If you or a loved one was diagnosed with encephalitis, liver failure, Stevens Johnson Syndrome (SJS), Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TEN) or another severe reaction/disorder after taking Zinbryta, please contact us immediately. You may have a legal claim.  We will talk to you about an individual claim, not a class action lawsuit.  Your individual claim will focus on what happened to you and will work to compensate you or your loved ones.  Beware of attorneys that want you to be a part of a class action and do not give you individual attention.  Call us at 800-517-1614 for a free consultation.

There is a basic premise under Illinois employment law that you can be filed at any time, for any reason, as long as it doesn’t violate a contract (e.g. you are in a union) or an illegal reason such as your race, religion, gender, age, etc.  So you can be fired for an unfair reason, a false reason or anything that isn’t illegal.  This includes being let go because you make too much money.

Say for example, a man has been at a construction job for 25 years. He is now 50 years old. He has always received excellent feedback from his supervisors and has moved up the chain of command as far as possible due to his work ethic and commitment to the company. Along with those steps up in the chain of command have come pay raises. Then on his 26th yearly review, he is given horrible feedback, and denied an annual raise. He later hears from his co-worker that they are starting to scale back the higher wage earners who happen to be mostly old-timers because they cost the company too much in benefits and salary. Giving poor employee reviews is simply the first step in trying to get rid of the people who make more than the younger people coming on board new with the company.

While it may seem like a no brainer that this is age discrimination, unless you have actual proof there is no case for legal action. Unfortunately, there’s no case at all unless it can be proven discrimination which is easy to suspect, but harder to actually prove. There are no laws about a company that lies to its employees during evaluation. There are no laws that guarantee you must be treated nicely or that everything that happens on a daily basis will be fair. There are laws and Court rulings that say a higher rate of pay and age are not correlated. Therefore, it isn’t a no brainer at all. In the above scenario, there is no evidence of age discrimination available without a statement that they are getting rid of you because you are too old or something else that actually proves what you suspect is actually true.

If you DO have actual evidence that you were terminated due to your age, race, gender or religion, please contact us to review the facts of your case. We can put you in touch with a qualified attorney in your area to help put your best interests first.  And if you just have questions, call us too. It’s always free to speak with one of our lawyers.

Most people are happy with their lawyer or at least not so unhappy that they want to sue them.  But when you lose a case you should win or pay a bunch of money and get no result, it’s not uncommon to want to sue.

The best reason to sue a lawyer and the one most likely to result in you getting money from a lawsuit is if the attorney failed to file a lawsuit in time. So if you hire them because you were rear-ended at a stoplight and they have two years to file a suit for you, if they don’t do it then you’d have a case against them.

That’s not the top reason people sue lawyers though. According to the ABA’s most recent Profile of Legal Malpractice Claims, “Failure to Know/Properly Apply Law,” was the most commonly alleged error committed by attorneys. Based on the data, this type of error accounted for more than 15% of all alleged errors. Basically it’s lawyers working on cases they don’t have a lot experience with or giving advice on things they know nothing about.

A lot of lawyers get calls for personal injury cases and think two things: 1. This will make me a bunch of money. 2. This will be a slam dunk.  So instead of referring the case to someone competent they try to handle it on their own.  They get in to it, are dealing with an experienced insurance adjuster and defense attorney and soon realize that they are in over their heads.

As a potential client you can minimize the chances of hiring a bad lawyer by choosing a law firm that has a narrow practice focus and can show a track record of some success.  Other red flags to look out for:

  • Is there high staff or attorney turnover?  If that happens it means someone who is inexperienced could end up with your file or they’d have to pick up the pieces well in to the case.  Ask who will be primarily handling your case, how many other lawyers there are and how long they’ve been there.
  • Are you working with a young lawyer who is given too much free reign by their boss.? Law school teaches you legal principles. It doesn’t teach you how to handle a case.  That comes from a good mentor or trial and error.  Don’t become the error in their trial.  I almost never recommend working with someone who has less than five years experience.
  • Do they not return phone calls or generally act rudely to you? If that’s happening at the get go, why would you want to be with them.  It’s a bad sign.
  • Are they really old?  I salute someone who is still practicing in their 70’s if they really love what they are doing, but more likely than not they are spending a ton of time in Florida or Arizona and if they are away your case will get neglected.

There are plenty of other red flags too, but these are the biggies to me.  Hopefully you never have to sue a lawyer and the best way to make that happen is by hiring the right one to begin with.

I hear a lot of stories that make me sad and some that piss me off.  There are a lot of people who contact me looking to get a lawyer referral who have gotten a raw deal by the justice system and want to sue over it.

In the last year or so I’ve had a ton of calls from people who want to sue for a wrongful arrest.  Unfortunately most of these cases go nowhere.

To get arrested in Illinois and charged with a crime there just needs to be probable cause.  That can be as simple as some random person saying they saw you rob a store or that you hit them.  It’s a really low threshold. And as a result innocent people get arrested all of the time in Illinois.

To convict you the State has to prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. That is of course a much higher burden and allows some guilty people to go free so more innocent people won’t get convicted.

The problem is that if you are charged with a crime and can’t post bail, you can sit in prison for a long time.  That of course prevents you from working, being with your family and having any life.  It’s also very dangerous and can harm your health.  Even if you can post bail, being arrested can damage relationships and ruin your reputation.

So of course when you beat the charges whether winning at a trial or getting a good attorney who can get them dismissed, it’s natural that you’d want to sue.  Unfortunately it’s usually not a good case.

The people you could theoretically sue are the police and State’s Attorney. But if they have probable cause to bring charges, that is usually enough for them to avoid any liability for a lawsuit even if you think it should be obvious that you had nothing to do with the crime.

It’s typically only cases where you can prove a cop planted evidence or that the State’s Attorney hid evidence that would show you are innocent or something like that which would lead to a case. For example, in one case a guy was dating the ex-girlfriend of a police officer.  That officer was jealous and planted evidence on him to make him look guilty.  It was the intentional falsifying of the report that allowed there to be a case.

The better cases are the ones you wouldn’t want anything to do with and those are when people spend years or decades in jail after being wrongfully convicted.  Usually those cases are winners because DNA evidence shows that the police must have been lying about what they said happened and spending years in jail is a clear harm.

Either way, we are happy to talk to you for free if you think you might have a case or just want to know if you do.  We don’t promise a result, but do promise to always tell you the truth.

Debt collection, when has it gone too far? For one debt collector, a fax to the debtor’s employer was the line. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act was put in place to protect people who are being hounded by debt collection agencies. In the past, these collection agencies would not just call the person who owes them money, but also call friends, family members, neighbors and even the employers just as a tactic to shame the debtor into making a payment arrangement or simply trying to collect on the debt.

In this case, a fax was sent to the employer of a debtor after he disputed the debt. The collection agency sent a job verification form via fax, asking for salary and other financial information about  the debtor to his employer, several times. The judge ruled in the debtor’s favor allowing him to sue the debt collector for unfair practices.

According to the FDCPA, debt collectors may not engage in harassing or abusive conduct including communication with a third party other than the credit bureaus concerning collection of the debt. A collection agency must follow several rules or they open themselves up to lawsuits in violation of the FDCPA. These rules include verification of the debt, proper handling of disputes of the debt, and the way they handle themselves on each call. They may not harass or belittle a person who owes money, and threats of legal action cannot be made by anyone but law enforcement officials.

Have you been harassed by a debt collector? Have they called you names or threatened you with jail time or other unreasonable threats? If so, please contact us. We will help you find an attorney in your area who will look out for your best interest. What’s interesting about these cases and great for consumers is that it costs nothing up front to get an attorney to take on your case. All the lawyers we recommend handle these matters on a contingency basis.  If they win the case the Judge will order the debt collector to pay your lawyer fees.

There is a difference between favoritism and harassment in the workplace. Many people don’t understand that simply because their boss is downright mean or offensive, that doesn’t mean you have been a victim of work harassment, or that you would have the ability to bring suit against that employer.

Harassment in the workplace is unbearable. Anyone who has experienced it is aware how hard it is to continue wanting to go to work every day. Harassment in the workplace that is able to be litigated would stem from an instance where a worker was treated differently based solely on his or her race, gender, or age. For instance, if a woman was able to prove that she was not given a promotion because she refused when her boss came on to her, she might have a case. However, if the same boss called the woman a bad name or hurt her feelings in any way, she probably would not have a case.

Favoritism in the workplace is also very difficult to deal with. Everyone has that one person who the boss absolutely loves, regardless of what he or she does. It can make the workplace uncomfortable, but unless it is able to be proven, again based on race, gender, or age, there is little to nothing that can be done about it.

If there is favoritism happening in your office, one resource maybe your employee handbook. If the rules for promotion and pay raises are addressed in the handbook, you may be able to speak to your supervisor about the issue at hand. If your supervisor still breaks the rules in your employee handbook, you may be able to bring a breach of contract case against the employer. These cases are very difficult to prove, but in some situations, they have been successfully tried.

If your boss has made sexist, or racist comments, or has denied you a promotion or raise due to your age, you might have a case to pursue. Discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace is 100% illegal.

If you are unable to distinguish if what you are experiencing is harassment and illegal or favoritism, give us a call for a free consultation to go over the specifics of your case.

You can be sued for negligence if you get into a car accident while driving your own children; IF the circumstances all line up and a judge agrees. One father found this out the hard way. He was driving the children back from what was supposed to be a Boy Scouts of America camping trip. When bad weather came about, the trip was cancelled. Many in the group hunkered down for the night through the storm, and left in the early morning after cleaning the camping site.

In this circumstance, an unregistered volunteer of the Boy Scouts of America drove only his own children back to the location and guidelines the group had in place. Along the way, he drove of the side of the road, and his Buick flipped. His two children were injured. His younger son thankfully walked away with only lacerations. His older son however was not as lucky. He suffered a severe spinal cord injury and a broken ankle. He will have motor and sensory effects for the rest of his life due to the accident.

To make this case even more heart wrenching, the person who filed the lawsuit is not only the children’s mother, but also the wife of the driver. She chose to blame the father for the accident, believing it was driving while fatigued that caused the accident. She also chose to blame Boy Scouts of America, its local affiliate, the Three Fires Council, and Naperville Presbyterian Church. She sued and the negligence suit was later settled out of court for $11 million dollars. One attorney involved in the case stated that the leadership of the entire event had a responsibility to ensure no one left the site in a fatigued state. That responsibility was not upheld.

The guilt involved in any accident involving your own child is unbearable, but to then have to go through the horrors of court with the finger of negligence pointing at you in unimaginable. Needless to say, the wife has since divorced her tired driving husband, and has taken the children with her. Both children are now doing well, the oldest son is looking forward to graduation.

The reality of this case is that although the husband was named as a defendant, it was only because the Boy Scouts and the Church were the real lawsuit targets. So don’t expect to see a lot of similar kid vs. parent type cases in the future without a big defendant to be a part of the case too. In general a kid can’t sue a parent for this type of accident, but this case was an exception to the rule.

I was involved in a case that stemmed from a terrible act of negligence by a doctor. It was obvious when the case started that the doctor screwed up and there was no apparent defense. The family of the patient lost a great person who was loved by many. They weren’t looking for a lottery ticket, but wanted compensation for their loss and to ensure that measures were put in to place to prevent this from happening to anyone else.

The case took almost four years and right before the trial was about to start, the first settlement offer was made. Previously the insurance company said that no offer would be made. The first offer wasn’t good enough, neither was the second. But after a little back and forth the parties settled for a fair sum. Each side spent thousands of hours and hundreds of thousands in legal costs to get to this point. Nothing really changed from day one and the amount that was settled for was basically the bottom line from when this tragic accident happened.

So why do so many cases settle right before trial?

There are actually a lot of reasons. In no particular order:
– While the insurance company/defendant may know they are at fault, they don’t know who will be suing them. By making you give a deposition, they may learn that you’d make a terrible witness at trial or that your loved one was a terrible person. Maybe they’ll learn that you didn’t have much of a relationship with them or that you are a drug addict or convicted child molester. Most of these things aren’t probable, but before you give away millions, you want to find out.
– You or whoever is bringing the lawsuit could die. That would potentially reduce the value of the case. If a man dies and leaves behind a wife, but no kids, if she passes away, the impact of the loss isn’t as great. Sounds morbid, but this is how insurance companies think.
– They earn interest on the money they aren’t paying you.
– New facts could emerge that make what seems like a slam dunk case turn in to just a so-so case. They are looking for any reason to deny your claim and if they don’t go through the discovery process they’ll never know what defense they could have had. We were involved with a case of a woman who was rear-ended by a semi truck driver. Seems like a sure thing, right? Well their expert alleged that her break lights weren’t working and since this happened at night, it created a possible defense.
– People who are scared of trial might jump at a low ball offer. If your case is worth $10 million and they offer you $4 million a year before trial, you won’t feel as anxious because there is plenty of time to negotiate. On the other hand, if opening statements are tomorrow morning and then you have to testify, you might want that sure thing and avoid the agony of being on a witness stand. At least that’s their theory.
– The insurance company doesn’t want people to think these cases are easy. If they don’t make the plaintiff’s attorneys spend their own money and have something at risk then they will bring every possible lawsuit that they can.

Of course there are plenty of other reasons too and not every case takes this long. Just know that if it happens to you, you are not alone or experiencing anything unique. To you it’s rightfully a serious matter. To the insurance people it’s a game or about risk analysis.