Although Illinois has a reputation as a plaintiff friendly state, the reality is that suing the State of Illinois for negligence has been very difficult.  That is because in 1971 a cap was put on lawsuits against the State that limited your recovery to $100,000.00.  The cap has not gone up for inflation or any other reason since 1971.  So a drunk Illinois State police officer in his work car could rear end you and kill your family and the value of the case would be $100,000.00.

The State also made it so you can’t sue in regular court, but instead have to sue in a State run court with State appointed judges called the Court of Claims. Essentially the defendant in these cases gets to pick the Judge.  And the process itself isn’t easy.  So what ended up happening is that a lot of good cases never got filed so justice was not served.  Attorneys would tell potential clients that they had a good case, but that the time involved and limited recovery made it not worth it.

In 2015 a bunch of Veterans at a Veteran’s home in Quincy were exposed to toxic bacteria and died of Legionnaire’s disease.  Thirteen heroes died and another 60 became ill from it.  Legionnaire’s is a severe form of pneumonia that inflames the lungs caused by bacteria spread through water droplets in the air.

The maximum value for these cases of clear cut negligence, because of the old law, was $100,000.00.  Fortunately the law has finally changed.  Senate Bill 2481 was passed last month that immediately and retroactively to cases filed since July of 2015 raised the cap on payouts to $2,000,000.00 which was a compromise after an initial proposal called for eliminating the cap altogether.

While I feel that there shouldn’t be a cap at all, these Veterans and anyone else harmed by negligence from the State of Illinois deserved a day in court and a chance for some form of meaningful compensation. There are many states less restrictive than us, but unlike the old law, the new cap at least gives victims and their families the chance to get in to court and have their story heard. These cases will still be a challenge, but now lawyers have a reason to take the cases and victims have the ability to get compensation that can come close to being considered just.

Suing the State of Illinois is tricky.  If you’d like to discuss a case with an experienced attorney for free, call us any time at 800-517-1614.

Divorce is not only a very trying and exhausting time; it can also create a financial burden for many families. Undoubtedly, child support can be the biggest of financial burdens. Child support is something that many parents are forced to pay following a divorce. It’s not something many parents want, or are able, to pay, but it is important and crucial to the welfare and safety of the child that payments are made in the correct amount and on time.

Child support is taken very seriously in the state of Illinois. Here, unlike other states, Illinois has a predetermined guideline in place that will determine how much a parent is due for child support.  It is based on how many kids you have, how much parenting time you have and what each of you earn.

When a parent fails to pay or falls behind on payments, the parent can face some pretty hefty consequences. Issuing of a warrant, resulting in high fines and possibly jail time, is the most severe punishment. Other consequences include driver’s license revoked, unable to receive government benefits or tax refunds, passports denied and fines with higher charges.

There are instances when the court may feel it necessary that child support payments garnished from the non-custodial parent’s wages. Sounds like a simple system. The court creates the order, gives it to the employer who garnishes wages and pays for the non-custodian’s child support. It doesn’t seem like it could get any simpler than that.

However, what happens if the employer garnishes from an employee’s check, but is not sending the child support as ordered?

This seems incredibly far-fetched, but it actually happens more than you might think. One Illinois mother found herself in this exact situation and was able to file a lawsuit against her ex-spouses employer for failure to deliver the child support payments. In many situations, this can turn into an illegal and expensive situation for the employer.

In Illinois, if an employer doesn’t pay the child support order, they will be fined up to $100 per day as a late fee for any payments not received within seven (7) days by the Illinois State Disbursement Unit, as well as owe the original amount. A late payment could be because of a glitch in the system, a turnover in admin, or just an outright refusal. It doesn’t matter the reason and can become very costly for a business.

Non-custodial parents can become very disgruntled for several reasons when it comes to paying child support. We get that. But, when it is because an employer ignores a court order that is unacceptable. It costs them nothing to comply with these orders and they should be held accountable for it.

If you have found yourself in a situation where your employer or your ex’s employer is not paying the court ordered child support, please call us now. We can refer you to an attorney that will fight for your case.

If you have a work-related injury in Illinois, you may consider seeking out legal help. First thing, you should consider what kind of attorney would best fit your criteria and interview them. This first meeting is an initial consultation and is your chance to really dig in and ask some important questions, make observations and evaluate to determine if they would be a good fit for you and your case.

You’ll want to have a list of questions in mind to ask relating to the lawyer’s expertise, experience, fees, special knowledge and management of the case. Listed here are seven questions to help guide you in your consultation.

Q: Will you be handling my case personally? Who will be doing the bulk of the work?
A: It is common for lawyers to delegate appropriate tasks to associates and/or paralegals. One Chicago work comp firm is famous for hiring really young lawyers and giving them tons of cases without much training or supervision. Chances are you spent some time finding this experienced workers compensation lawyer, and the last thing you’d want is for him/her to pass off your case to another attorney. You will want to make sure your hired lawyer is the one overseeing everything in your case and doing the high-level work involved.

Q: How much of your practice is devoted to workers’ compensation?
A: You are looking for a specialist in workers’ compensation, so ideally the lawyer should devote a significant portion of his/her practice to representing injured workers, if not 100%.  Most of the attorneys we recommend only handle work comp cases.  If they are doing any non-injury related cases it’s a bad sign.

Q: What are your fees and how is litigation costs handled?
A: This is obviously an important question to ask upfront. It is important to understand all fees associated with your case before retaining their services. All workers’ compensation attorneys work on a contingency basis, meaning they receive a percentage of your settlement. By State law, the fees are capped at 20% of what they recover for you.  But there will be expenses and if they ask you to give them money to cover that you should walk away.

Q: How will I know how my case is doing?
A: Communication is the key when working with a lawyer and this question should give you some insight into the attorney’s communication style. Ask the lawyer how often and under what circumstances you can expect to hear from him/her and to be sure you would be receiving periodic status updates. Also, find out if you can expect to hear from them via phone or email.

Q: How many cases have you represented that were similar to mine?
A. Experience matters, so now is the time to make sure they have experience in producing results in similar cases. Feel free to ask about their record of accomplishment, such as the number of cases won or settled. You can even go a step further and ask for references.  It’s not always enough that they only do work comp. You want them to understand your injury too if it’s unique.

Q: What is the best strategy for my case?

A. Once you have explained your situation to them, you should get a better idea of how the lawyer values your case and the steps he/she can take in favor of your case. No attorney can ever guarantee a recovery; but an experienced attorney should be able to give you a general assessment of your case, including strategy and possible outcomes.

Q: Is there anything I can do that can help my case?
A: For any successful case, you and your attorney should work as a team. An experienced attorney will understand this and will appreciate your willingness as a resource You may be asked to help answer questions on your case, gather medical records and documents, and to explain details of your injury. Make sure your conversation is thorough and that you know what may be expected of you moving forward.

We’ve all heard and probably even used the expression “possession is 9/10th of the law.” So, by this mentality, what I physically have in my possession is mine? Great! The $20 I just saw drop out of the man’s wallet in front of me at Starbucks is now mine. The car my friend just let me borrow for the week, I’ll go ahead and keep that. What else do I have in my possession that I want to claim?

Okay, so let’s hope common sense tells us all this isn’t how it works. Yet, time and time again people have taken this idiom, yes that’s all it is, to mean fully what it implies. Let’s set the record straight: just because you have possession, doesn’t mean you have ownership. Possession isn’t 9/10th of the law.

A few common examples of cases implying possession is 9/10th of the law are pet ownership, engagement rings, and stolen property to name a few. A more recent example was a call received into the office where a woman had moved in with her boyfriend. Fast forward to when they broke up and he moved out, she decided she wanted to keep the furniture he had brought into the relationship. She felt entitled to it all because she had possession and her ex-boyfriend had no keys in to get it. Because, to her, “possession is 9/10ths of the law”, she felt she was in the right.

This old adage has been around for centuries and has been interpreted in many ways. The phrase “possession is 9/10th of the law” simply means that at law, ownership might be easier to maintain if one has possession of something and can be difficult to prove otherwise if not. This is where the remaining 1/10th comes into play. The person who is not in possession of the items is the one who has to prove his right to them. The challenging party has the burden of proof, giving the one who has physical control or possession over the property a slight advantage.

This is where replevin law comes into play. Replevin, also known as claim and delivery, is a law that allows people to recover personal property that they are the legal owner to. Replevin can apply to a variety of situations, including situations where property was lawfully withheld but should be released to the owner was not, like our previous example. It may also apply in situations where two parties have rights to possession of property, but one party may have greater rights to the property, such as an engagement ring.

Back to our original example, the ex-boyfriend will need to file a replevin lawsuit to recover his furniture. Unlike most other forms of legal action, replevin is seeking the return of a tangible possession, as opposed to recovering money damages.

Be sure not to get replevin confused with repossession. Repossession does not require a lawsuit and property can simply be taken back into possession without having to pursue a lawsuit first. This is most common with cars as a vendee broke the contract by failing to pay for the car as agreed.

Replevin law can seem confusing and tiring. If you think you have a valid claim, contact an attorney now to preserve your rights.

The director of public affairs for Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, Kate Ellis, said in a statement “The safety and security of our patients and team members is our top priority.” However, after a Cook County jury awarded more than $10 million to former AIMMC employees this week for two (2) separate incidents in a 2014 lawsuit, it seems doubtful they are truly concerned for anyone’s safety and security.

Dr. Caroline Ryan, a former anesthesiologist at AIMMC, and six (6) former nurses, brought a lawsuit against Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in the Illinois Circuit Court for two (2) separate incidents of misconduct.

The first incident gives allowance for a culture of tolerating misconduct. Dr. Stephen Laga has been accused of physically attacking Dr. Ryan. When Ryan immediately reported the incident to Advocate’s vice president of medical staff management, she was encouraged to drop her report “for the sake of the hospital.” According to the complaint, Laga had a long and documented history of violent conduct that the hospital has chosen to ignore continuously.

Workers have the right, among other rights, to working conditions that do not pose a risk of serious harm. Yet workers in hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare settings face significant risks of workplace violence. Violent incidents can come from a variety of sources with many going unreported. Doctors are more often protected as they bring in a considerable amount of profit to their healthcare organization. Clearly, this just isn’t right or legal.

At trial, Advocate claimed the hospital leadership had discretion when handling doctor misconduct and they acted reasonably in this instance. The jury disagreed and awarded Ryan $50,000 in compensatory damages and $7 million in punitive damages. It’s clear the jury was sending a message that just because doctors do generate significant revenues for hospitals, the culture of tolerating misconduct by them is not okay.

The second incident, occurring less than a year later, involved a prominent eye surgeon secretly videotaping women at the hospital and a medical clinic. Robert Weiss was an eye doctor at the Chicago Eye Institute at the 3000 block of Milwaukee Avenue. It was here that another employee found a camera inside a toilet in the women’s facilities. Recordings on the memory card showed Weiss in the recordings as well as other illegal and secret recordings in the locker room at Chicago Eye Institute maintained at AIMMC, where Weiss also held employment.

Weiss was arrested when the secret camera was discovered in April 2014 and charged with felony criminal conduct. Yet, this wasn’t Weiss’ first offense. Advocate knew or should have known that Weiss had a history of similar inappropriate conduct while working for the hospital. One instance includes complaints of him using his mobile phone to photograph female clients and employees without their consent. What is further bothersome is that Advocate delayed in his suspension, despite the history and criminal charges.

Filming someone in a private place without the consent of those present is illegal. To compensate the plaintiffs for the invasion of their privacy, the jury awarded each of the women amounts ranging from $50,000 to $275,000, totaling $1.175 million. In addition, the jury awarded $2 million in punitive damages. These awards made against Weiss and the jury found Advocate liable for the invasion of privacy, but did not hold Advocate accountable when asked if Weiss misconduct was reasonably foreseeable.

That may have relieved the hospital of further liability for now, but it seems apparent that the hospital is failing to act when violations of its own written policies are being reported.

We have a lot of experience helping people who have been abused by doctors both physically and through invasion of privacy.  If you would like our help please call us at 312-346-5320 for a free consultation.

Workers’ Compensation claims can difficult, exhausting and just plain complicated. If you’ve found yourself suffering from a work injury, here is a list of our favorite 33 tid-bits that you might find helpful.

1. With the exception of Federal workers, Chicago cops/firemen, some farm workers, and truly independent contractors, all employees, including employees through a temp-agency, are covered under the Illinois Workers Compensation Act.
2. If you don’t have health insurance this doesn’t stop you from making a claim if injured. Workers compensation is there to pay you for all of your related medical bills.
3. All businesses, including non-profits, are required to have workers compensation Insurance. It’s a felony not to have it.
4. In Illinois alone, there are more than 40,000 work comp claims filed every year.
5. Workers hired in Illinois, but injured while working in another state are still covered under the Illinois Workers Compensation Act.
6. There is a Statute of Limitations to file for any work injury. You have the longer of two years from the last payment of compensation from your job, or three years from the date of your injury.
7. From the moment you begin work, you’re covered under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. This includes during training.
8. Pre-existing conditions will not exclude you from receiving benefits.
9. Filing a case isn’t a lawsuit. They are claims for entitled benefits.
10. All injury claims are processed through the Illinois Workers Compensation Commission. Every case starts with filing an Application for an Adjustment of Claim.
11. Once you have an active case, no doctor or hospital can legally send your bills to collections or report negatively to your credit report.
12. If you are injured while on company property before clocking in, you still may have grounds for a case. The same goes if you are injured after clocking out and leaving the office or are on company grounds for company business.
13. In a case where you may be injured and unable to go back to work, the insurance company will pay you for your retraining or for you to go back to school. This is known as vocational rehabilitation.
14. Pain medication has been known to cause addiction. When this occurs because of a work inury, drug rehabilitation to stop the addiction could be covered.
15. Mental stress will also be considered for workers compensation if the stress occurs from a shocking situation, such as being robbed at gunpoint, or from a physical situation, such as back surgery causing depression from the pain.
16. Cancer can come from extreme exposure to radiation on the job. Workers compensation may cover this.
17. If found necessary by your doctor, victims of catastrophic injuries may be entitled to benefits such as modified vehicles and home repairs.
18. It is typically not a good idea to quit your job in the middle of a case. Be sure to talk to your lawyer before taking any such actions.
19. If you are pursuing a claim, your company cannot fire you for doing so.
20. If you have a work accident that causes you to miss work, your employer can’t force you to use your sick or vacation days.
21. The insurance company has every legal right to hire a surveillance company to follow and film you as part of their investigation into your claim.
22. Be mindful about your social media. Your posts may negatively affect your case. Never post about your case, but it is also best to keep your profiles private and do not accept unknown friend requests.
23. The cause of a work related accident is never assigned to a fault, unless you were engaging in horseplay or taking unnecessary risks. Work comp will cover medical costs related to the job injury, regardless of who caused the accident.
24. While almost every case has a settlement value, there is no set value for what any one case is ‘worth’ because every case has different circumstances.
25. The money you can receive for a settlement is tax-free.
26. If a work accident causes you to be unable to work your second job, wages for both jobs are typically considered when calculating benefits.
27. When filing a claim for a work injury, pain and suffering is not considered in the recovered amount.
28. The amount of medical care and attention you need determines the time it takes for a case to settle. Some cases are settled in weeks, months or even years. On average, most cases are resolved within 12 – 18 months.
29. Insurance companies are not mandated to make a settlement offer, but you can ensure a settlement by formally filing a case and getting ready for trial.
30. Illinois workers compensation laws change constantly due to law interpretation by judges. This is why it is your best interest to hire a lawyer for your claim.
31. Switching attorneys is allowed.
32. Workman compensation lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, meaning there is no fee unless your case wins.
33. The best chance for success with your case is to hire an attorney who only handles work injury cases.

If you have any questions or want a referral to a top work comp attorney in Illinois, call us at 312-346-5320.

Even if you’ve never been in a car accident, you’re probably familiar with police reports. But, do you really know what these reports are and what they entail? Basically, a responding officer to a scene of a car accident generates these police reports. It is a summary of information regarding motor vehicle collisions, including your personal information.

Okay, so now let’s say you have been in a car accident. You may be in a delicate situation, physically, mentally, emotionally and then shortly after out of the blue you receive a mailer or a call from an attorney’s office soliciting their services. You’d probably wonder: How did this attorney even get my information and so quickly?

In a situation like this, chances are you were a part of a pretty sleazy and gross practice adopted by law firms. These offices ‘chase’ people who are injured for profits. They will pay off police officers, paramedics, hospital staff and nurses to obtain any and all information regarding your situation. They obtain the accident report, how the accident happened, your personal information and they will solicit you, whether you wanted them to or not.

For example: Just a couple of months ago, an owner of an attorney referral service in suburban Chicago has been accused of bribery for paying two (2) Chicago police officers for reports on vehicle crashes before they were available to the public and then using the information to solicit accident victims as clients for lawyers.

The thing is traffic crash reports aren’t made public until after a processing period that ranges from a day to several weeks. Only then, once made public, can the public request these records for a fee. Officers can access these reports before being publicized, but only for law enforcement purposes. This is a classless and illegal way to get clients!

Paying for reports happens too often. Call them what you want: “ambulance chasers,” “cappers,” “steerers,” or “case runners,” they are the bottom feeders of the legal profession. Their job is to swoop into some tragic situation to find victims, survivors and their families and to sign them up for legal representation. It is sleazy work preying on the people in shock and not in a position to make a rational decision when deciding on legal representation.

This type of attorney conduct violates the law, impairs victim rights and harasses those suffering from the shock and pain of an auto collision, giving the public another reason to look with skepticism at the legal profession.

Most good lawyers who have good reputations don’t need to do this type of activity to get cases or clients. This type of ‘marketing’ is intrusive, inappropriate, unethical and makes good lawyers look bad. So, ask yourself; how did you find your attorney? If your attorney’s office contacted you without your request, you might want to reconsider who you have representing you.

If you have any questions about a case, call us any time for a free consult at 800-517-1614.

Divorce can be messy.  And if you are in an abusive relationship or were in the past, you rightfully wouldn’t want to have to see or talk to your soon to be ex.

I’ve noticed an uptick in people who want a divorce, but don’t want to tell their spouse about it. Many of these people have been lead to believe that they can get divorced by placing an ad in the local newspaper.  They are not correct.

In Illinois you can get divorced by publication, but only after a Judge grants you permission to do so. To do that you must first file for divorce and then show up to court.  At that point you have to convince the Judge that you have no idea where your spouse is or how to contact them.  You have to show the Judge all of the efforts you have made to contact your spouse.

These efforts include sending notice to their last known address, texting them, calling them, seeking out contact information from their relatives and friends, contacting their last known employer, etc.

In other words, you can’t pretend like you don’t know how to find them.  If their name is James Smith and you haven’t seen them in ten years, it’s one thing, but if it’s a unique name then finding them on social media is likely possible.  The Judge wants to see a good faith effort and proof that you’ve been diligent in trying to serve them with notice of the divorce.

So if you’ve done all of these things and a Judge really believes you can’t find them then they will grant you permission to get divorced by publication.  Even that takes time and costs money.  You have to publish three straight weeks in a newspaper local to the county where the case is taking place.

Even with all of that, while you can get a divorce, a Judge is not going to make final rulings on child custody, support or division of property.  So while you may be divorced, you really aren’t done.

To me, the best thing to do in a case like this is to get an experienced divorce lawyer to help you find and serve your spouse so you can be divorced and through with them for good.  If you would like a recommendation to a top family law attorney for Illinois, call us at 312-346-5320 any time.  We are attorneys who recommend lawyers independent of our firm that we think are best for you based on what you tell us about your case.

Have you been injured at work in Illinois and been waiting for a settlement offer?  I have potentially good news for you. There is no better time of year than right now to get an offer.

While there’s no law that requires an insurance company to make an offer when you are hurt in Illinois and if you don’t have a lawyer there is a much higher chance that they’ll never make an offer or will low ball you, insurance companies are looking to settle this time of year.

Most insurance companies work on a calendar year and adjusters and supervisors are paid bonuses based on how many files they close.  So if they can get your case settled, approved and paid by the end of the year, it could result in a bonus to them.

In fact, many insurance adjusters will call up law firms and ask to have “settlement days” where they can meet about a lot of cases and get as many resolved as possible.

It’s a big advantage you have as an injured worker.  The person making the decision on your case isn’t worried about what’s in their company’s best interests as much as they are their own.  So you might get more than your case is worth and certainly more than what you can get in January by being aggressive now.

So if you have a lawyer for your work injury and your case is ready to settle, call them now and tell them to be aggressive.  If you don’t have a lawyer but want to speak to one for free, fill out our contact form or call us at 800-517-1614 and we will talk to you for free.

In general it takes 30-45 days to get a settlement processed, so the sooner you act the better it is for your case. Once Thanksgiving passes it’s not impossible to settle, but some of the motivation the insurance adjuster has disappears as every day passes.  In fact I’ve seen cases where offers were made and the adjuster said they’d only do it if the lawyer would guarantee to get it done before December 15th so they had time to pay out and close the file.

If you want help we are here for you when you are ready.

Lawyers can be known for many things, and many times these things aren’t always good. There are the attorneys that have a know-it-all arrogant vibe. Or the attorneys that come off as unethical, money hungry sharks. Others just seem to slimy or dishonest.

For Personal Injury Lawyers, the worst kind of a reputation to have is that of an ambulance chaser. These types of lawyers are mostly known for their unethical practices in obtaining clients. Okay, so maybe they don’t chase down your ambulance and show up in your hospital room, as the name implies, but if they make an unsolicited call to you or a family member offering legal counsel: that’s illegal.

Ambulance chasing is considered to be one of the oldest and most unethical practices and some attorneys still engage in it. Sure, lawyers need to stay competitive to get good cases, but preying upon victims of accidents is unlawful and makes honest lawyers look bad.

Undoubtedly, ambulance chasing still occurs. Every week calls come in from confused clients telling me they were in a car accident. Whether it was a big or small accident, police report was filed or not, or if injuries were sustained or not, victims find themselves receiving numerous calls, texts, emails and visits by lawyers and their investigators offering their services.

The Illinois Supreme Court forbids soliciting in this way, and that includes using a third party. These third-party investigators, or “case runners”, often will pay off cops, paramedics, hospital staff, nurses and others to provide contact information from the injury victim. Sometimes, these case runners will make the initial contact with the victims, confusing the situation even more.

Countless firms are still engaging in this illegal practice, knowing that they can be disbarred for it. So why do they do it? It doesn’t make much sense, but it seems most prevalent in two types of law firms.

First, you have the young, aggressive, go-getter law firms who seem to lack any moral foundation and are just after the quick buck. Their motivation is strictly the dollar sign. Pushing clients into unnecessary claims or settling when there is a serious case needing honest representation.

Secondly, is quite the opposite: It’s the older attorneys, in their 60’s and 70’s, engaging in ambulance chasing. Surely, they know better, but their way of marketing has long gone with the Yellow Pages as everyone relies on the internet. Their unwillingness or inability to adapt and learn with internet marketing has ambulance chasing the only way they feel comfortable obtaining clients. Ethically speaking, if they were to be caught and lose their license to practice, no harm since they were likely going to retire soon anyways.

The ARDC is in place to promote and protect the integrity of the legal profession as well as investigating and prosecuting unlawful practices. Overall, they do a great job, but ambulance chasing is still a problem and will continue to be unless action is taken.

Ambulance chasing is a disservice to the public and honest lawyers. Ask yourself, if your lawyer would break the law just to represent you, what other illegal activities would s/he do with your case and settlement?