We spoke to over 15,000 people this year via phone, email and live chat and heard a lot of great questions. Here are some of the best ones. As always, if you’d like to speak with an experienced Illinois attorney for free, call us at 312-346-5320.

I’m getting divorced. I discovered my wife spent way more over the years than I knew about. Can I get that money back?

Likely no. Money earned during the marriage is a marital asset. Each spouse has the same right to use it during the marriage. What you do have a right to is possibly recovering some of the items. While you can’t recover money spent on trips, dinners, gambling, etc. (with some exceptions), if they bought fancy items that can be resold, that may be one way to get some money back.

I’ve done everything needed to earn a commission on my job. Our handbook says if we quit or get fired before the commission pay day, we don’t get paid. Is that allowed?

No, that is not enforceable. You get paid. The Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act (“IWPCA”) regulations specifically anticipate that scenario.

My wife was in a car accident and the police report says no injury because she didn’t feel pain at the time. Two days later she woke up with terrible back pain. Is she able to get medical treatment that the insurance company will have to pay for?

Yes. When you get into a car accident, your body will release adrenaline. That can often mask pain and make it so you don’t realize you are injured. It’s very common that within a day or two that pain will start to appear. Our recommendation is that you get to a doctor ASAP (as in today), tell them about the accident and go from there with whatever their advice is.

I was scammed out of $5000 for a stock purchase through someone I met on Facebook. Is there any way to get my money back?

Honestly, probably not, at least not through a lawyer. Odds are that the scammer isn’t even in the US and finding them would be a real challenge. Best bet is to work through your bank which may be a long shot too. This sadly happens to a lot of people.

Can a store ban me? I was accused of stealing but showed them a receipt. They called the cops anyways and said I can’t come back for 90 days.

It may be unfair, but yes a business can restrict people from entering as long as it’s not for an illegal reason. Even though the store made a mistake, what they are doing is unfair, but also legal.

I hired a lawyer and then changed my mind. He said the retainer fee is not refundable. Is that legal? 

No and the ARDC just made that crystal clear with new rules in 2023. The attorney has to return any money not earned which in this case sounds like all of it.

We look forward to answering more great questions in 2024!

We talk to hundreds of people a week about all sorts of Illinois legal issues. While the cases may be different, it’s not uncommon for someone to start off the call by saying something like:

I want to know if I even have a case at all.

To get answer to that question there is one really important factor involved. You have to be willing to accept that you might not have a case. Now it sounds like that would be easy to do when you are just inquiring, but in reality that is not always the case.

Going through a legal issue can be really personal and emotional. You always want to believe there is hope. You want justice if you feel you’ve been wronged. The truth though is that you might have been wronged, somebody might be at fault and there still might not be a case. Or something may be unfair or unjust, but also not a case.

For example, you could go to a doctor’s office with complaints of chest pain and be told it’s just anxiety. Later that day you could have continued pain and go to the ER who diagnosis you with a heart attack and performs surgery on you.

While that sounds like malpractice, it’s possibly and likely just a case of a bad doctor. But because you were smart enough to get a second opinion, you prevented yourself from having damages that you wouldn’t have had otherwise. In other words, the heart surgery was likely to happen anyway. So the first doctor’s negligence didn’t cause any harm. You cant’ sue because something bad could have happened.

That example is in many ways a reflection of the bad health care system we have in the USA. But there are other examples too. You could be let go from your job because your boss wants to hire their friend or relative. That’s totally unfair, but also very legal in most cases. So if you tell me “that isn’t right” I would agree with you, but also tell you there’s nothing we can do.

The benefit of a good lawyer is that we can take the emotion out of a situation and look at it objectively. We are motivated for you to actually have a case as it could make us money. But we don’t lie to people to give them false hope or to make them momentarily feel good. We view it as our job to tell you the blunt truth, even if you don’t want to hear it or believe it can be true.

I encourage you to always seek a second opinion as we are not the Judge and we of course can be wrong. But I also encourage you not to drive yourself crazy doing so. If you talk to multiple lawyers who all tell you the same thing, there’s likely a good reason for that. At some point you have to accept that nothing can be done even if that makes you mad to think about.

I was sent a link by someone who stumbled upon some “men’s rights” podcast that was discussing divorce. It was from some group that is trying to get rid of no-fault divorce. That’s just a fancy way of saying that they want to control their wives or leverage the divorce to avoid paying their spouse any money. It’s gross, but it’s not why I am writing this.

As happens a lot on podcasts or other online content, the speaker talked very authoritatively as if everything they were saying is correct. It’s a feature of a lot of these guys that allows them to lie in a way that politicians do.

The first thing this guy said that was wrong is that pre-nuptial agreements almost never get enforced. That’s totally not true. If it’s done correctly, the pre-nup is a valid contract. There are guidelines in Illinois such as it shouldn’t be completed in the days before the wedding and each side should have an opportunity to review it with a lawyer. But to say they never get enforced is total nonsense.

The second lie was that men never receive child support or custody. Again this is total bullshit. Custody is based on the best interests of the child. Traditionally men worked and women stayed at home so women had a better chance of getting custody since they would be around. Times have changed and both men and women have careers. People also work from home which has changed the ability to take care of children. If the man gets custody, which happens all the time, they will get child support.

This same podcaster also said that women never pay alimony. In Illinois it’s called maintenance and it’s not a gender based law. If a husband stayed at home or had a low paying job while the wife made great money, she’d have to pay maintenance to him. Again, it hasn’t traditionally happened, but times are changing and it does happen. Saying “never” is to try and piss off people who follow him.

This guy went to throw out fabricated stats that are easily searchable such as saying that men make up 97% of child support payors or that men get custody less than 2% of the time (it’s actually over 20% nation wide and over 30% in many states). These trends will only continue to increase and become more even as they have been doing every year.

This podcaster isn’t a lawyer and shouldn’t be giving out legal advice. Maybe he had a bad experience. More likely it’s just part of a grift to help him make money. Whatever the situation, your case is unique and if you want to know where you stand, talk to a lawyer. You can do that for free with us any time.

A lot of people will contact us looking for an Illinois attorney. When we ask them about the case they will tell us that they want punitive damages. It’s a really misunderstood term. Punitive damages aren’t something you actually see in most Illinois lawsuits, but they do happen. I thought it would be helpful to explain how it works.

Before we talk about punitive damages, it’s important to know what damages actually mean in a lawsuit. Damages are compensation or money due to a person (plaintiff) for misconduct that leads to injury or loss. There are two key types of damages: compensatory and punitive.

Compensatory damages are for economic or financial losses. Medical bills and the earnings the plaintiff has lost out on (and will lose out on in the future) are examples of financial losses. Compensatory damages are also for non-economic factors such as pain and suffering, scarring, and emotional distress. Compensatory damages tend to be calculated in a precise manner when it comes to financial losses. It’s much more subjective when it comes to stuff like pain and suffering.

Punitive damages are not based on the injured person’s losses. They are a penalty the defendant must pay for bad behavior. Punitive damages are used to punish intentional, evil conduct and deter the defendant and others from ever doing it again. When the conduct of the wrongdoer is so reckless that it is done with malice or an intent to harm, punitive damages may be awarded. Unlike compensatory damages, punitive damages can vary widely. Arriving at a figure is not based on any set calculations.

That decision as to whether or not to award punitive damages is left to the jury. The jury awards punitive damages if they believe the defendant’s actions were “fraudulent and intentional” and caused injury to the plaintiff, and if they believe that “justice and the public good require it.”

In determining whether to award punitive damages and how much to give, a jury looks at things including:

  1. The harm the defendant’s conduct caused to the plaintiff.
  2. How evil or reprehensible the defendant’s conduct was.
  3. How long that evil conduct lasted (duration).
  4. How often that evil conduct occurred (frequency).
  5. If the defendant tried to cover up the misconduct.
  6. The appropriate amount of money to punish the defendant and deter others from misconduct in the future.

Punitive damages aren’t available in every type of case, but you do see them in bodily injury cases (e.g. if someone drives drunk), some property damage cases, product liability (when a company knows someone could be harmed, but allows a danger to happen anyway), employment law and others.

The most famous punitive damages case ever is one of the most misunderstood legal cases ever. In the case where McDonalds got sued for a severe hot coffee burn, punitive damages were awarded because internal documents showed that McDonalds knew their coffee was brewed at too hot of a level and would likely cause harm, but ignored those warnings as the hotter coffee saved them money.

In some cases you can’t get punitive damages by law. The most common where it’s not allowed are workers’ compensation and medical malpractice cases. That said, in my experience, when the malpractice is egregious, juries tend to award more for pain and suffering. It ends up having an effect similar to punitive damages.

If you have questions about punitive damages or anything related to Illinois law, please contact us any time at 312-346-5320 to speak with an experienced attorney for free.

A lot of people are hyped about AI and how artificial intelligence can change the way business works and make things cheaper and more efficient. I’m a bit skeptical as I was when people were all excited about NFT’s.

I get that AI can have some value, but there appears to be a lot of danger in it as well as the kinks are being worked out and people figure out what applications it is best for. I think sometimes people get excited and don’t want to be left behind a trend that they don’t always think things through or look for flaws.

This is certainly true with companies that are using AI as part of their hiring process. This happened with an online tutoring company that used an AI platform to help evaluate candidates. The software they used was screening out candidates over 55 years of age. That is illegal as you can’t discriminate based on age if someone is over 40.

As a result a claim was filed against this company and they had to pay a large settlement to a class of over 200 workers who were denied consideration for employment solely based on their age. It was a China based company that violated the law. It’s certainly possible that they were not aware of the law or didn’t have someone in place to make sure that the use of AI wouldn’t backfire in any way.

This isn’t a one off case and is being pursued against many companies and will continue to happen as time goes on. A computer, at least for now, does not have the ability to tell an employer that they are breaking the law. And if you put your trust in the computer to do part of the work for your company, you are liable for any mistakes that computer makes.

For you as a potential employee, you may not know that AI is being used in these hiring decisions, but if you find out that it is and that you may have lost an opportunity due to an illegal reason (such as your age, race, gender, religion, etc) then you very well may have a lawsuit.

We work with a bunch of law firms who handle employment related discrimination lawsuits and would be happy to discuss a potential case with you. Please call us any time at 800-517-1614 to speak with an attorney for free. All calls are confidential.

When someone calls our office looking for free Illinois legal guidance, the first thing we typically say is “How can I help you?” We want to hear what you are looking for in your own words and we’ll ask questions as needed.

Sometimes people tell us they have no idea what type of lawyer they need. Other times they know exactly what they want but just want to know who’s best for their case. And other times they think they know what they are looking for, but are actually looking for the wrong thing. That’s most common when people say their case involves family law.

When some people hear the words family law, they think it means cases involving their family. About once a week I get a call from someone who says they want a family law attorney, but upon further talking we realize what they really meant was guardianship or probate or orders of protection or even just regular civil litigation.

The reality is that family law doesn’t mean legal situations that involve your family. Suing your brother for taking something that belongs to you has nothing to do with family law.

What family law is in the legal world is anything related to divorce, custody, child support, QDRO’s etc. These are cases that are handled in a specific courtroom called family law court. So it’s usually a marriage or a situation where the issue involves a child between you and a now or soon to be ex.

So if someone says they are a family law attorney, it’s really just another way to say that they are a divorce attorney. If you go to the over issues relating to someone’s death or property or suing a family member, they might take your case, but it doesn’t mean that they are the best choice to do that. If your case involves the asset of a deceased family member for example, you’d be better served by hiring a lawyer who handles probate and estate related matters on a daily basis.

This isn’t the only area of law that confuses people by its name. Workers’ compensation has to do with job injuries, not employee pay. That’s another one we get a lot of confused calls about.

All of this is one reason we started this website way back in 2001. We wanted to provide a service that could educate the public and answer any questions at no cost and hopefully in a “plain English” way. If you have any questions you can call us any time at 312-346-5320.

Business owners have the duty and privilege to mitigate their losses. This means that you could and should attempt minimize the potential losses you may incur. Mitigating your losses includes protecting your property from further loss or at the least being proactive at protecting against a current loss.

This can include taking or having taken out a business interruption insurance policy on your business. These policies are meant to reimburse businesses for financial losses they incurred due to unforeseen circumstances that prevent normal operation of business.

Business interruption insurance can cover anything from payroll to mortgage payments to relocation costs. The amount of insurance needed, and the cost of that amount depends on a business’s gross earnings and estimation projections of lost future profits as well as risk of loss.

Your policy should kick in between 48 to 72 hours once it is activated. However, it is important to check your ‘restoration period’ which is the length of time when your policy with assist with lost revenue as everyone’s different.

A common problem amongst business owners – COVID losses
A common recovery problem that businesses are currently having are COVID losses. One would think that a global pandemic would be considered an unforeseen circumstance therefore, insurance companies would cover businesses’ lost income during the pandemic.

Unfortunately, it has been found to be the opposite. There are a few policies that do cover COVID loss, but insurance companies have quickly denied them and have launched a campaign to discourage businesses from pursing the claims. An extensive number of businesses have filed lawsuits after being denied coverage from their insurance companies, and all were lost.

Despite the past failed lawsuits, there are circumstances that make a ‘good case.’ The easiest circumstance to be in is that your coverage does not exclude pandemics or infectious disease. Courts have found many clauses to be ambiguous and often decide against the insurer.

Another circumstance is proving that your business satisfies the “physical loss” requirement. This doesn’t always have to include damage to buildings or equipment. It could include safety threats or prohibiting access to use of your property. Another good circumstance to have experienced is that, specifically, the government prohibited access to your business by social distancing, occupation limits, etc. as it satisfies the Civil Authority Clause.

If this sounds like your situation at hand, your next step would be to file a lawsuit. This is a complicated process on its own without insurance companies actively working towards tricking business owners out of viable lawsuits. Insurance companies are known to be dishonest and greedy. They are currently taking advantage of the undefined aspects of COVID cases at the expense of their policy holders.

These cases can be worth hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars.
It is highly recommended that your next step is to contact an attorney. Attorneys are pricey but it is important to note that your claim would be contingency based. That means your lawyer shares the risk of a payout with you. They won’t get paid unless you do, and they get paid more only if you do. You can call us for a free consultation with any questions at 312-346-5320.

Most of us drivers out on the roads of Illinois drive a bit over the speed limit from time to time. We occasionally even feel that sense of dread when we see those blue and red police car lights flash behind us. We pull over, preparing to receive a ticket or hope that it’s not us that they are going after.

People often ask us, “Do I need to hire a traffic attorney for my speeding ticket?” Well, that all depends on the answer to this question: How many miles above the speed limit were you going?

Let’s take a look at the speeding laws in Illinois:
• 1 to 25 miles per hour over the speed limit – Usually pay a fine and get court supervision. Often you can get this result without an attorney.
• 26 to 34 miles per hour over the speed limit – known as aggravated speeding. It is a criminal offense, a Class B misdemeanor. It carries up to six months in jail and a maximum of $1,500 in fines.
• 35 or more miles per hour over the speed limit – known as reckless driving. It is a criminal offense, a Class A misdemeanor. It carries up to one year in jail and a maximum of $2,500 in fines.
• It is also possible that with aggravated speeding or reckless driving, you will lose your license.

Loss of your drivers license, a huge fine, and possible jail time? That’s a scenario you obviously want to avoid. We do recommend to almost everyone who contacts us and has been charged with aggravated speeding or reckless driving to hire an attorney to represent them. Judges respect and listen to attorneys who know the rules and procedures of a courtroom. It is common for a good attorney to get the criminal charges knocked down to regular speeding. That means it would be like a traffic ticket where you would pay a smaller fine and get court supervision. You would avoid jail time and avoid losing your drivers license.

We know reputable, experienced traffic attorneys who get good results for their clients. You can contact us any time at 312-346-5320 to get a recommendation of an attorney. The lawyers we recommend have a track record of success and have successfully had these serious charges lowered or dismissed outright in the past.

We are Illinois lawyers who since 2001 have helped people find the right lawyer for their case and as a resource for people who want to ask an attorney questions for free. Please call us at 312-346-5320 to speak with a lawyer any time.

A caller to our office was upset because she had called a bunch of different law firms and nobody wanted to take her medical malpractice lawsuit. Rather than discuss what was wrong with her case, I thought it would be helpful to tell you what attorneys are typically looking for in order to take on a medical malpractice lawsuit. Note that despite public perception, these are very hard cases to bring and win so the best firms are very selective when it comes to taking on clients.

  1. Is it clear that you are a victim of negligence? Having a bad result with a doctor, nurse, etc. is not enough to bring a lawsuit. You have to show that they violated the acceptable standard of care and that what happened to you wasn’t just a risk of your situation. For example, getting an infection after surgery is usually a risk of a medical procedure. Not monitoring the heart rate of a baby about to be delivered is usually negligence.
  2. What is the long term outcome? A sad but true fact is that a doctor can screw up badly, but if you are going to make a great recovery or nothing bad actually happens to you, there likely isn’t a case. This is because a key factor in Illinois medical malpractice lawsuits is what are your damages? It’s very expensive to bring a lawsuit (often $200,000.00 or more) so if you don’t have life altering injuries such as death, paralysis, brain damage, permanent disability, etc., then it can cost more to take the case on than it’s worth. Lawyers also look for things like long term economic loss because you can’t work any more or cost for having to receive significant future medical care or help.
  3. Do you have any co-morbidities? A common defense to malpractice lawsuits is that the person was so sick that this was an expected outcome or their poor health increased the chances of a bad result. It may not sound nice, but it’s true. For example, if you weigh 550 pounds and have blood flow issues that you feel a doctor didn’t diagnose, the insurance company for the doctor will argue that they couldn’t have done much to change your outcome. If you have stage 4 cancer with a six-month life expectancy, if a doctor doesn’t properly diagnose a blood clot your damages would likely be limited due to your short life expectancy.
  4. What is your age? The honest truth is that the older you are, the harder it is to get a lawyer to take on a medical malpractice lawsuit. It’s not impossible, but very hard to find. You could be the healthiest 85 year old in the world, but even then your life expectancy is very short. That limits what any case could be worth. So as with the other examples, if the lawyer thinks they might spend more than they can win, they won’t take the case on.
  5. How much time do you have left to sue? Generally speaking, the closer you are to the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit, the harder it will be to find an attorney. It takes six months to a year to pull most cases together. If a law firm takes on a case right before the deadline to file, they risk not identifying the right defendants and exposing themselves to legal malpractice.
  6. Have other reputable law firms reviewed the case and declined to take it? We’ve taken and won cases that other lawyers have rejected, but if a really good law firm has reviewed your case and declined to get involved, most law firms would be hesitant to get involved. It’s expensive to have these cases reviewed which again makes lawyers very selective.

Remember of course that every case is different and not every law firm has the same standards. In other words, it doesn’t hurt to ask. If you’d like to speak to an attorney for free, please contact us any time.

We are passionate about advocating for the rights of everyone. Why anyone would care who you want to sleep with or what gender you identify with is beyond me. And fortunately the laws of Illinois agree and offer protections for people who are discriminated against based on things such as their sexual orientation.

Most discrimination lawsuits happen from bad behavior in the workplace. That makes sense because you are at the job probably more than any other location you go to. So there is a lot more time and opportunity for bad behavior to occur. That said, discrimination also happens at places of business that you go to such as restaurants, stores, etc.

The key point in these cases is to know that you can treat someone poorly who is LGBTQ, you just can’t treat them poorly because they are LGBTQ. Does that makes sense? Let me give you a good example.

A lesbian woman contacted us some time ago for legal guidance. She wanted to sue a bar that she felt discriminated against her because of her sexual orientation. When I asked what happened, it turned out that the first time she went into the bar, she recognized one of the workers as someone she had a bad Tinder date with. They ended up blocking each other on that app.

As the story went further, it turns out that this caller confronted that bad date and also shared the story with some of her co-workers at the bar. The next time she came in, a manager asked her to leave and told her she was barred from the establishment because she was making the employees feel uncomfortable.

The caller felt that the employees were uncomfortable because she was a lesbian. Objectively it felt like they were uncomfortable because of her personality and behavior, not her sexual partner preference.

The situation would have been way different if she was in the bar on a date with another woman and they kissed and got asked to leave. It would also be way different if the bar manager or anyone else said anything negative about her sexual preference.

You need actual evidence to win these cases, not a feeling. You can always file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights or if in Chicago, the Commission on Human Relations. But to get a lawyer involved, you have to have objectively strong facts.

If you feel you were discriminated against and want our opinion on that, please call us any time at 312-346-5320 to talk to a lawyer for free and in confidence.