Under Illinois workers’ compensation law, if you are injured on the job and unable to work per your doctor, you are entitled to be compensated for your time off. This is called temporary total disability benefits or TTD and should be 2/3 of your average weekly wage.

So if you tear your ACL on the job and make $900.00 a week, you should received $600.00 tax free per week until you are back at work or they have work for you within the restrictions your doctor gives you.  This sounds pretty straight forward, right?

It should be, but unfortunately some companies don’t follow the law.  We see a lot of cases where an injured worker gets hurt on the job and they will obviously be off for a couple of months.  While the company is taking their time to report the accident, they take the two weeks of vacation pay you are owed and tell you that the first two weeks will be paid that way.

The problem is that this is illegal. You don’t have to use PTO, vacation pay or whatever it’s called. The insurance company doesn’t get to take their sweet time before they start issuing you a check to compensate you for your time off work.  As a famous commercial says, that’s not how any of this works.

I’ve seen some cases where workers had banked more than two months of vacation time and were forced to use it.

The good news is that assuming you can prove you were hurt on the job, it’s not hard for us to get the vacation time reinstated.  Essentially we make it so the work comp insurance company reimburses your employer and your time off benefits are reinstated.

Some companies do this innocently, others do it kind of maliciously. The idea of someone getting hurt on their job and being paid while they get better somehow offends them. Unfortunately for them, that’s not what the law is and they can’t decide to take away rights you have earned.  And they can’t violate Illinois work comp law, at least not unless you let them.

You should be allowed to focus on nothing other than getting better so you can get back to work. These kinds of stressors can make an injury worse and delay your recovery. A good attorney can take those worries off your shoulder and help solve that problem. And in almost every case it costs you nothing to make that happen.

If you’d like to speak with a lawyer for free to see what options you have, contact us any time at 312-346-5320.

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

All medical professionals in Illinois are licensed by the Illinois Department of Professional and Financial Regulations, IDFPR.  That organization also handles any disciplinary procedures.

I think most people love nurses more than any other medical provider.  Not that there aren’t some great doctors, but nurses are known for their kindness, empathy and doing most of the work, while many doctors are seen as arrogant or aloof. Unfortunately, most of the disciplinary complaints by IDFPR also fall on nurses.

If you are hit with a complaint, it makes sense you’d be nervous and have a lot of questions such as:

  • Do these claims have any merit?
  • What are my rights?
  • What can I say?
  • Is my career over?
  • Who can I trust for legal answers on my next steps?

Nurses get accused of all sorts of things such as stealing drugs, failing a drug test, bad patient care, failure to report a criminal conviction and unprofessional conduct.

If you get a notice from IDFPR, early representation is key to mounting a good defense and getting a good result in the end. You don’t want to talk to them directly as anything you say can and will be used against you.

Unlike traffic, personal injury, divorce, etc., there aren’t hundreds of lawyers in Illinois who have great experience with these cases. That’s because there aren’t tens of thousands of cases a year so it’s hard to make nurse license defense your main practice area if you are a lawyer.  In fact, I’d estimate that there are only 3-5 law firms in the entire state who only take on these types of cases.

The good news is that we know who the best lawyers are for these cases and who really fights for their clients and has a track record of success.  This doesn’t guarantee anything, but gives you the best chance of getting a good result. Going with an attorney who doesn’t focus on these cases every day is a huge risk to your career.

All of the attorneys we know who do these cases and do them well are in Chicago because that is where the hearings take place. So even if you are a RN in southern Illinois or a CNA in Peoria, to protect yourself, you’d want to work with one of these firms.  The good news is that you won’t have to travel to work with them.

If you would like a recommendation of a lawyer who can protect you or just have questions, please contact us for free any time to talk to an attorney.  All inquiries are confidential.  We have relatives who are medical professionals and we promise to give you the same advice and guidance that we would give them.

An interesting case is making its way through the courts, and the employer tried to use the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act to get out of their alleged bad behavior.

In a nutshell, here’s what happened. An Enterprise Rent-A-Car facility in Cook Country used a fingerprint timekeeping system for its employees. When employees arrived at the beginning of their shift, the system scanned their fingerprints and they clocked in. The same process was repeated at the end of their shift to clock out.

A former employee at this facility, Dawon Wordlaw, brought a lawsuit against Enterprise Leasing Co. of Chicago and its parent company Enterprise Holdings Inc. under the Biometric Information Privacy Act, or BIPA. BIPA is an Illinois law requiring employers to get informed consent from workers before collecting biometric data, such as fingerprints.  It’s a newer law and companies are screwing up with it all the time.

Ms. Wordlaw alleges that Enterprise used its timekeeping system to collect, keep, and share her fingerprints without her informed consent.

She claims that Enterprise: 1) didn’t tell her that her biometric information was being collected and why it was being collected; 2) didn’t get her written release to allow the company to collect and store the info; 3) didn’t create a publicly available policy that included a schedule for retaining biometric information and guidelines for destroying that info; and 4) shared her biometric data without her permission. Wordlaw maintains that Enterprise gave access to her biometric data to its subsidiaries, data storage vendors and payroll service providers.

In response, Enterprise sought to dismiss Wordlaw’s lawsuit, arguing that she should not sue them for negligence, and that the matter would be covered under the Workers’ Compensation Act.  That Act bars employees for suing their companies for accidents in exchange for getting work comp benefits.

After reviewing the arguments, a federal judge rejected Enterprise’s argument. The judge explained that an accident under the Workers’ Compensation Act is “anything that happens without design or an event which is unforeseen by the person to whom it happens.” He continued, and wrote that the BIPA violations, “were no accident.”

This goes to show that not every issue between an employer and employee falls under the Workers’ Compensation umbrella. And quite honestly, the defense they raised sounds ridiculous to me. If you believe that your employer is gathering your biometric data without your consent, feel free to contact us to speak with a lawyer for free. It’s not always a cut-and-dried matter, and we’d be happy to be a sounding board for you.

Nobody wants to spend money on a lawyer if they don’t have to. I certainly don’t and I understand the value that a good one can bring.  If you do have to pay for a lawyer out of pocket – as opposed to a pay if you win case like a work injury or car accident – you want to know that you aren’t going to be wasting your money.

As a result and especially since these are tougher economic times, we’ve seen an uptick in people wanting to know the odds of winning their case.  Others want a guarantee before they hire an attorney.

It’s a logical question and there are plenty of lawyers in Illinois who will answer that question.  The problem is that in many cases those attorneys are lying to you just so you will sign up with them. They tell you what you want to hear and take it from there.

The reason I say that is in most cases after speaking with you we won’t have enough information to say how it’s going to go. For example, if you want to get custody of your kids, you can tell us all the positives about you and the problems with the other parent, but until we hear their side of the story, we don’t have a way of knowing for sure what will happen.

Or let’s say you want to sue someone who owes you $50,000.  You’ve got a written agreement along with text messages saying they owe you and will pay you.  I can’t give you the odds of winning your case because if they file for bankruptcy, your debt will likely go away.

What we can do is say that if certain things are true then it’s likely you will prevail. But real odds of winning are usually not known until you are in to the case a bit. We’ve seen times when it seemed obvious a defendant broke the law only to discover their actions were legal.  Even someone rear-ended at a stop light could lose their case although those cases are often a slam dunk.  If it was really dark and your lights were off, you might not win.

We are customer service focused so we and other honest lawyers will try to make educated guesses.  That is usually alright to do. What you really want to avoid though is an attorney who guarantees a certain big result.  They aren’t the Judge and they certainly have no honest way of telling you what’s going to happen. They can tell you about similar cases and how they were successful in those. But if they promise a result they are full of it and you should look elsewhere for help.

 

We are Illinois experienced Illinois attorneys who will talk to you for free about your legal matter. Call us at 800-517-1614 for a free consultation.

Life insurance is a really useful product for people when it’s done ethically.  If you pass away, you want to leave money for your loved ones whether it be for funeral expenses or to support them in their daily acts of living.

Unfortunately, not all life insurance companies act honestly in processing these claims.  They lose money every time that they pay out a claim, so if they think they can deny a payout, they will.  They’ll even do it when they know they can’t get away with it if you sue them over it.  In their minds, they have nothing to lose, because if you sue they’ll just have to pay out what they owed anyway.  As a result, often these lawsuits get filed and settled very quickly.

One common reason for a denial is when coverage has lapsed or the insured person missed a payment.  If you are hit by a car or dealing with a severe illness and in the hospital, it makes sense that you won’t be paying your bills in a timely manner.  A lot of life insurance policies have clauses written in them that say something like, “the policy will be terminated if it is not paid within 31 days of the due date.”  So you can spend thousands of dollars over many years and then lose everything.

The good news is that Illinois law is looking out for this type of situation.  Section 234(1) of the Illinois Insurance Code says: a life insurance company can declare a policy has lapsed only if a premium payment is at least six months overdue or the company notified the insured party beforehand that “the policy and all payments thereon will become forfeited and void” if a premium is not paid on time.

This scenario actually happened in a recent Illinois court case.  A man had paid over $23,000 in premiums toward a $250,000 policy.  He got sick with a very serious form of cancer and eventually passed away from it. He missed payments and although the insurance company sent a payment termination notice. He died four days after the grace period ended.  The Judge in the case ruled that the termination notice provided didn’t specifically state what would happen if a payment wasn’t made on time. In the ends the kids won and collected their money.

We’ve seen similar denials on cases where someone missed a payment and then caught up with their payments. The life insurance company accepted the check and then had the nerve to later say the policy was terminated because payments were late.  It’s really gross behavior.  While you shouldn’t miss a payment if you can help it and you should catch up if you do, there are laws that address how these situations should be handled.

The bottom line is that we’ve had great success with these cases and it costs nothing to bring a case unless we are successful. If you would like to discuss a life insurance benefits lawsuit for free, call us any time.

I recently had a call from a nice woman who broke her leg at her parents house.  She walked in to use the bathroom and slipped on a wet floor. It turns out there was a hole in the roof that had been there for a while and led to the leak.

If she was at a friend’s house when this happened it would be a slam dunk case. But her question was, can she sue her parents for negligence?

The answer to that question mostly depends on if you live in the house.  If you are living there, you would essentially be suing yourself as the residents of a dwelling can all be held responsible for errors in the property.  Beyond that, there is a concern that if you could sue your parents when you are living with them, many people would try to run scams to make a fraudulent recovery.

In this case, the woman doesn’t live with her parents, but was just visiting.  She had no way to know the roof was leaky and it was negligent of her parents not to warn her, fix the problem or otherwise protect her.  So in my opinion she has a great case against them.

The reality is that she’s not suing her parents, she’s making a claim against their insurance company. While theoretically she could also go after their individual assets, that almost never happens.  That’s true whether you are suing your parents or anyone else when there is adequate insurance.

These cases do get fought more than your average case because even when you don’t live with your parents, the insurance companies are suspicious as to why you got hurt and if you are trying to pull a fast one. That’s not a problem if you have good, honest facts and a lawyer in your corner who knows that they are doing.

The flip side of this is that parents can also sue their kids under the same scenarios. We helped a Dad who was injured in the house that he rented from his son.  We’ve helped grandparents who were injured while visiting their grand kids.

Bottom line is that when there is negligence and an injury, you should always talk to an attorney and see if there is a case no matter who the defendant might be. We are interested in truth and the unique facts of your case. After hearing that we offer an experienced, honest opinion as to if there is a case or not. If you would like to speak with a lawyer for free, call us at 312-346-5320 or fill out our contact form and we will call you.

This past week was the 20 year anniversary since I started my Illinois lawyer referral and legal guidance website. In that time I’ve talked to over 500,000 people and hopefully helped most of them.  I’ve also learned a lot about being an attorney, what clients think and about the legal system in general.  A lot has changed since the first call I got on April 2, 2001, but a lot hasn’t.  Here, in no particular order, are some interesting things I’ve learned.

  • Everyone is on the internet.  On multiple occasions I’ve had calls the same day from people in prison, executives at Fortune 500 companies and people over 80. The world has come a long way from when you tried to find a lawyer through the Yellow Pages.
  • Very few people want to bring a frivolous lawsuit. I get a lot of calls from people who have terrible cases, but they don’t know it. They want to tell the facts of what happened and see if there is a case or not.
  • Attorneys in Illinois can be terrible at customer service.  Law schools don’t teach much if at all about how to run a business. I’ve come across some great court room attorneys who don’t do well because they don’t call back people in a timely manner, yell at the clients, lie, etc.
  • People are doing a lot of legal research as they should, but still take the time to ask questions.
  • My philosophy is to be very direct and honest. Most people appreciate that, some do not.
  • The scummy feeling TV ads that some lawyers do work because they get a lot of business.  I usually hear about them from unhappy clients who realized they hired the wrong firm and are hopeful we can point them in the right direction.
  • Some people are comfortable being racist/prejudiced over the phone.  Still shocks me when it happens.
  • One thing that is very clear is that just because someone was a great attorney 20 years ago, does not mean they are now.
  • Sadly I’ve never found a consistently great resource for people who aren’t able to afford a lawyer.
  • That said, I’m still surprised at how many people don’t know that it costs nothing up front to hire an attorney for an injury case.
  • We call as soon as they contact us.  It’s a lesson I learned from day one when I eagerly called the first person who reached out to us.  I’ve learned that this doesn’t happen at very many places because inevitably the person I call is stunned we got in touch so fast.
  • A lot of people will tell you what they think you want to hear. We aren’t looking for perfect stories. We just want the truth.
  • The law is constantly changing. It’s even more important than I thought in the beginning to get a law firm that really has a focus on the type of case you have.
  • While lawyers aren’t as arrogant as doctors, I didn’t expect how cocky some of the “best”attorneys would be.  I don’t think they realize how it hurts their practice.
  • Most people are good.  We can be a divided country and life can be frustrating.  But most people I come across are good even if they’ve screwed up.  It’s really uplifting to me.
  • You never know what a call might be about.

We appreciate the chance to help so many people and hope we are able to do it for a long time. Cheers!

We are experienced Illinois attorneys who will talk to you for free.  Call us at 800-517-1614 or fill out our contact form and we will call you.

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

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

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

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

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

Can my employer fire me for testing positive for marijuana?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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