We are experienced Chicago malpractice attorneys with over 25 years of experience helping people who have birth injury claims. Call us any time at 312-346-5320 to speak with attorney for free and in confidence.

Fetal Distress

In simple terms, fetal distress is a sign that your baby is not well or having problems. Fetal distress occurs when the baby is not getting enough oxygen. Fetal distress can sometimes happen during pregnancy, but it is more common during labor. Most healthcare providers have replaced the term fetal distress with non-reassuring fetal status (NRFS), but we will use fetal distress in this article.

Causes of Fetal Distress
Fetal distress occurs when the baby doesn’t receive enough oxygen because of problems with the placenta (e.g., placental abruption or placental insufficiency) or problems with the umbilical cord (e.g., cord prolapse).

Fetal distress is more common if the mother:
• Is past her due date
• Has a multiple pregnancy
• Has pregnancy complications such as high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia
• Has contractions that are too strong or too close together
• Is obese
• Has a chronic disease such as diabetes, kidney disease or heart disease
Signs of Fetal Distress

The most common signs of fetal distress are:
• Changes in the baby’s heart rate (lower or higher than normal)
• Less movement from the baby for an extended period of time
• Low amniotic fluid, or meconium in the amniotic fluid
• Excessive bleeding during labor

Detecting and Addressing Fetal Distress
Health care professionals trained in obstetrics and labor and delivery should recognize the signs of fetal distress during late pregnancy and childbirth and take quick action to manage it and prevent harm. Often a Caesarian may be necessary. Failure to act in a timely manner can sadly lead to brain damage and possibly death of the baby. The damages could be in the tens of millions of dollars in the worst case scenario.

What to Do If Your Baby Has Suffered
Doctors and hospitals are expected to look for signs of problems with your pregnancy. Items like fetal monitoring strips exist to prevent otherwise healthy babies from suffering a catastrophic injury that could lead to a greatly diminished life and a lot of suffering for your family. When they screw up you may have a lawsuit.

If fetal distress led to a death or permanent disabilities, there is a possibility that your doctor, nurses, or the hospital or birthing center is at fault. At the very least, they should be investigated. We understand that this may be an emotional time, but time is often of the essence. We can investigate what happened and hold those responsible accountable if they were negligent.

For a free consultation to speak with an experienced attorney, please call us any time at 312-346-5320.

The only thing worse than losing a loved one, is doing so when it wasn’t their time. Often this is the result of the negligence or intentional act of someone. When that happens, you may have a wrongful death lawsuit.

In Illinois, there are time limits for suing over a death. It is all covered in the Illinois Wrongful Death Act. The Act states that whenever a death happens, you can sue the party responsible for damages, sometimes including punitive damages. Generally speaking, these lawsuits have to be filed within two years of the death. There are two big exceptions to that which I’ll discuss, but I’d say 99% of calls we get have the two year time limit apply.

In considering a lawsuit, you should know that there aren’t loopholes to this time limit. About once a month someone will call me who lost a loved one more than two years ago. When I ask why they didn’t call sooner I usually hear that they were grieving and not ready to process it. That makes sense and is a normal emotional reaction. Unfortunately it doesn’t get you around the time limits. The same holds true for people who tell me they hadn’t contacted a lawyer because they’ve been busy, sick, moving, thought someone else was doing it or just about anything else.

Time limits are in place to make the process fair to all parties and because over time, witnesses disappear and memories fade. It’s not seen as fair to a defendant to make them try to fight a case that they didn’t know was coming for over two years.

There are, as I said, two really big exceptions.

The first has to do with criminal cases. Let me quote the statute for you:

An action may be brought within 5 years after the date of the death if the death is the result of violent intentional conduct or within one year after the final disposition of the criminal case if the defendant is charged with:
(1) first degree murder under Section 9-1 of the
    Criminal Code of 2012;
(2) intentional homicide of an unborn child under
    Section 9-1.2 of the Criminal Code of 2012;
(3) second degree murder under Section 9-2 of the
    Criminal Code of 2012;
(4) voluntary manslaughter of an unborn child under
    Section 9-2.1 of the Criminal Code of 2012;
(5) involuntary manslaughter or reckless homicide
    under Section 9-3 of the Criminal Code of 2012;
(6) involuntary manslaughter or reckless homicide of
    an unborn child under Section 9-3.2 of the Criminal Code of 2012; or
(7) drug-induced homicide under Section 9-3.3 of the
    Criminal Code of 2012.

Basically you may have up to five years if the death is from violent intentional conduct or up to one year after criminal charges have been resolved. That said, it’s playing with fire to wait too long and we always encourage people to act sooner rather than later so their rights aren’t lost. And note, that this extension only applies to suing and recovering from the criminal defendant, nobody else.

The other exception has to do with children who had a right to bring the lawsuit. In their case, it can be brought within two years of them turning 18. Again, we strongly advise you to bring a lawsuit or at least consult with an attorney ASAP so you don’t lose your rights.

These are tough situations, but a great Illinois wrongful death attorney can take the emotion out of the situation and help you determine if there’s even a case at all. If you’d like to speak with an attorney for free, please call us any time at 312-346-5320.

Sexual abuse can be rape, fondling, unwanted touching or kissing or other forced acts. Sexual abuse often occurs when a person has some type of status or power over the victim. Nearly all of us are aware of the high-profile sexual abuse scandals involving the clergy with their parishioners and teachers with their students. But another relationship between abuser and victim is that of doctor and patient.

We are raised to respect and trust doctors. They have the education and expertise about health and our bodies. We assume they will do no harm. We assume that they have our best interests at heart. We assume that whatever they ask us to do during an exam is a necessary part of our health care. Sadly, this is not always the case. Sometimes doctors sexually assault their patients.

This abuse is often physical touching that isn’t consented to, but what seems like consensual sex can also be sexual abuse. That occurs when someone like a psychologist convinces a patient to engage in a sexual relationship. Generally speaking, it’s never appropriate for a doctor to sleep with a patient.

The emotional after-effects of the sexual abuse can last for many years or even a lifetime. Victims may want to repress what they experienced and never acknowledge or speak of it. They worry that their word may not be believed against the word of the doctor. However, if they choose to pursue legal action against their abuser, the process of seeking justice may be incredibly healing for them. In addition to the emotional benefits of getting justice and peace, a financial settlement can pay for therapy and other treatments and compensate you for the harm suffered.

Illinois used to have a 20-year statute of limitations for bringing these lawsuits. Now there is no time limit for claims after 2013. However, time is of the essence to bring these cases as you want to bring the lawsuit while evidence is fresh and more reliable. A sexual abuse lawsuit may be filed against the doctor, the abuser. In many cases though, the practice or hospital behind the doctor may be liable as well.

Sexual assault cases are very sensitive and emotional. You can speak with us confidentially and we can point you in the right direction. The attorneys we work with on these cases have a track record of success and are only paid if they are successful for you.

I was contacted by a woman who was curious about Illinois medical malpractice laws. The father of her two children had died from what may have been a medical malpractice situation and she was hoping to talk about the process.

Before we could get going though, she told me something I hear a lot. She said:

I don’t even know if I want to do this. My kids are grieving and I’m not sure I want to put them through this.

That is a common thought process and makes sense. This is a great mom who is trying to protect her kids.

All of that said, she is over analyzing things right now. Illinois medical malpractice lawsuits are very hard cases to win. Talking to a lawyer about a possible case doesn’t mean you are going to sue. It means you are having a discussion about having someone investigate a case.

Unlike a car accident where we can usually tell you from your own statements and/or a police report if you have a case, nobody can tell you that you definitely have a medical malpractice case over the phone.

To determine if you have a case not only requires to hear your version of events, but much more importantly, requires us to review the relevant medical records of the person who was harmed. That is an involved process that often requires a review of thousands of pages of medical records.

These reviews are first done internally and then if it appears there might be something wrong, an experienced medical malpractice lawyer will contact an expert in the relevant field to arrange to send the records to them for their review and opinion. In some cases multiple physicians need to be involved.

The whole investigation process commonly take 6-12 months. So by contacting a lawyer, even while grieving, you are not committing to anything other than the chance to find out if you might have a case. If the answer is yes, then you can decide if you want the attorney to file a lawsuit or not.

Even once the lawsuit has been filed, it doesn’t mean that your family will have to go through a trial. While that is definitely a possibility, many cases settle long before that has to happen.

All of these situations come down to case facts. Just know that time is of the essence. Usually once two years has passed it’s too late (there are exceptions, call us any time to discuss your time limits). So know that if you are really “just thinking about it” that means you should have an attorney review the case with you and go from there.

In an ideal world, Illinois law would change so that every marriage would require a pre-nuptial agreement that would dictate the terms of divorce if a marriage doesn’t work out. It would save people a lot of money and heartache. Of course, that’s not the world we live in.

As a result, a lot of divorces in Illinois are nasty and contentious. That makes sense because when a relationship is ending, there are often a lot of bad feelings. Often people treat their husband/wife poorly because their feelings are hurt. One way we commonly see this is when one person makes a lot more money than the other or has control of the money.

The most typical way this happens is when one person works and the other stays at home to raise the kids. This was the scenario of a woman who called me recently and didn’t think she could afford a lawyer. She stayed at home while her husband worked a good union job making about $150,000.00 a year. He had emptied out their bank account and his 401k. She felt helpless.

The good news is that Illinois divorce law is written in a way that anticipates this type of power imbalance scenario. When one spouse makes significantly more than the other, you can file a motion that will ask the Judge to order them to pay your lawyer fees. It is usually filed right away and is commonly granted.

So you likely don’t have to worry about paying for a lawyer. It’s more likely that you’ll have to find a way to come up with an initial retainer fee and that’s it. After that, your spouse would be responsible for your attorney’s bill.

And if your spouse does something shady like emptying out a bank account or 401k, you can likely get that money back through a court order too. Judges do not look kindly on that type of behavior and they don’t usually reward people who are acting like bullies.

This is not to say that the divorce will be easy or stressful. It’s often not when you are dealing with someone who is mentally abusive. But we have found that when someone realizes they are going to have to pay for two lawyers, they realize they need to stop playing games or otherwise they will go broke.

The bottom line is that Illinois divorce law is mostly common sense and is designed to protect people who are not making the same money their soon to be ex is. So take a deep breath and know that options likely exist for you. And if you want a free consultation with an experienced lawyer, call us any time at 312-346-5320.

We are experienced Chicago lawyers who help people with tough cases throughout Illinois. Call us any time for a free, confidential consultation at 312-346-5320.

One area we’ve been able to help a lot of people is with sexual abuse lawsuits against Illinois group homes and rehab centers. These tragic cases occur in a variety of forms.

The most common and probably the worst is when residents are sexually abused by people who have power over them. I’m talking about instances where a supervisor uses their position of power to make someone do something they don’t want to do. Or in cases of minors, have them do something they can’t legally consent to.

We also have helped in a lot of cases where staff members take advantage of access to kids or residents. In a recent case we got involved with, a non verbal adult was raped by a janitor in a bathroom. The group home she was in should never have let the janitor be alone with her in the first place. This is a sadly common problem as many of these facilities are sorely understaffed. When that happens it creates opportunity and sometimes bad people take advantage of that.

You trust these facilities with your loved ones and expect that they will have rules and safety measures in place to protect them. Even when a facility is understaffed there are things that can be done to make sure that abuse doesn’t occur such as having cameras, restricting access to certain areas, etc. When these facilities fail in their obligations, they can and should be sued.

And sometimes they are negligent for failing to supervise their residents and/or putting them in a dangerous situation. We are helping in one case against a rehab facility where a boy was raped by his roommate. There was a large age and size disparity between the two of them.

The saddest cases we’ve been involved with probably involve the developmentally disabled. They might not even know they are being abused and in many cases can’t actually give consent. They deserve a group home that provides protection, security and comfort and should be free from any type of sexual or physical abuse.

We encourage family members to be the biggest advocates possible for their loves ones. Studies show that many of these abuses are preventable.

The Illinois Department of Human Services is responsible for regulating group homes. If you suspect something has happened you should call them and call the police. And if you want to discuss a lawsuit against one of these facilities, contact us any time. All cases are handled on a contingency basis which means that there is no fee if the lawsuit isn’t successful.

With the caveat that there are exceptions to this, generally speaking in life, if you want to have an enforceable agreement with someone, you get it in writing and you both sign off on it. So if someone says they’ll sell you their car for $5,000 and you say sure, it’s not really an agreement. If push came to shove and they wanted to back out, they could, as could you.

A written contract shows a meeting of the minds. A well-written contract makes clear the rights and responsibilities of each party. It’s why so many housing contracts are really long.

When hiring an attorney, you can’t know for sure you’ve hired them or what they are getting paid without a written contract. In law terms, this is called a retainer agreement. No smart attorney would take on a client without one because it protects them and you. It will lay out what they are going to do for you and what they aren’t going to do for you. Most importantly it will make clear what their fees are. If it’s a contingency case it will tell you what percentage they will receive. If it’s an hourly fee, it should make clear what they can bill for, what it will cost if staff is doing the work, how often you will pay them, etc. It should also outline how expenses will be covered and reimbursed. For example, in Illinois medical malpractice lawsuits, costs can be in the six figures. You need to know upfront if you’ll be asked to pay for it if the case doesn’t succeed.

When agreements with a lawyer are only verbal, it leaves open to interpretation what the charges will be or what you are getting from them. In fact, it leaves open to whether they are even your lawyer at all. If an attorney won’t give you a fee agreement, it really would make me question if they know what they are doing or if they are the right fit for you.

These agreements, unlike housing contracts, don’t have to be long. Most are 1-3 pages and essentially the same no matter who the client is with just names and dates changed. In areas of law like workers’ compensation, the State of Illinois has actually created the agreements that every attorney must use.

One strange thing is that most lawyers aren’t taught how to create retainer agreements in law school. So if you are working with a young lawyer (or really anyone) you’d be wise to make sure it discusses fees or anything important to you.

Bonus tip. I know of one law firm in Chicago that implies in their retainer agreements that they can’t be fired. That is simply illegal and not enforceable. A retainer agreement is a contract, but I’ve never seen one that legally requires you to stick with your attorney if you think they are doing a bad job. And in the same way, a lawyer can also fire a client if they choose. Retainer agreements are contracts, but they only detail what will happen when each party wants to work together. It doesn’t bind you together forever.

Second bonus tip. Many lawyers say that if it’s not in writing, it didn’t happen. Having a retainer agreement should give you peace of mind and you should insist on one.

Generally speaking, police in Illinois do not have an obligation to do much. To “protect and serve” is a motto, but not usually a requirement. There are some exceptions to that and that includes victims of domestic violence. This is covered in the Illinois Domestic Violence Act.

Under that law, police officers in Illinois have a duty to protect victims of domestic abuse from their abusers. They are required to use all reasonable means to provide this protection. Whenever a law enforcement has reason to believe that a person has been abused, neglected, or exploited by a family or household member, the law requires them to: make an arrest if appropriate, discuss orders of protection, refer the victim to a social service agency and offer to take the victim to a shelter, among other things.

In a recent case, it was ruled that the Chicago Police failed in their duty when a 49 year old mother of five was killed by her abuser. Her estate was awarded $3 Million in damages.

In this case, the cops showed up and saw the abuser holding a Samurai sword and appearing to make Molotov cocktails. Officers took the man, who had been hearing voices and trying to start grease fires in the apartment to a hospital where they strapped him to a bed and then left him there.

He was released the next morning and ended up strangling the woman to death. The court found that “the officers’ failure to fulfill their duties under the (state’s Domestic Violence) Act was a substantial factor in bringing about the death.” They further stated that the police showed utter disregard for her safety.

Some of the steps they could have taken to protect her but didn’t include: informing her about orders of protection, referring her to a social service agency and taking her to a nearby domestic shelter. The Judge also faulted the officers for not ensuring the medical staff understood the dangerous behavior Thomas exhibited, which could have factored into the doctor’s decision to civilly commit him. They also didn’t arrest him despite her having a black eye and him resisting efforts to restrain him.

Worst of all, the Court suspected that the officers failed to act because they were at the end of their shifts. In other words, they couldn’t be bothered.

While these cases are rare, it’s not an isolated incident. In fact, the Village of Maywood was also successfully sued under a similar fact pattern. The cops can’t simply drop off an abuser at the hospital and then decide it’s not their problem any more.

If you or a loved one was a victim of domestic abuse and the police did not protect you/them in a way that led to your abuser coming back and doing worse, our lawyers would love to talk to you for free. Call us any time for help anywhere in Illinois.

Being an Illinois medical malpractice attorney, it’s easy to assume that the general public knows things that we assume are basic. This is our mistake and something we shouldn’t do.

One that comes to mind which I hear a lot from people who contact us has to do with legal terms. It’s not uncommon for a caller to say something like, “I’m looking for a lawyer to sue a doctor. I don’t know if it would be for malpractice or for negligence. Can you tell me the difference?” Or others when we say that we don’t think they have a good medical malpractice case that they’d like to sue for negligence then.

The reality is that these are essentially the same things. Medical malpractice is negligence by a health care provider. So when we file a medical malpractice lawsuit, we are suing them for being negligent.

The confusion comes in because people hear the term negligence a lot and don’t understand it. Most injury lawsuits are negligence lawsuits. It could be medical negligence, product liability negligence, car accident negligence, etc.

Negligence means “failure to take proper care when doing something.” So when we say a doctor is negligent, it means they didn’t follow the proper standards of care. That is the same definition as medical malpractice.

The other one we hear a lot is that people want to sue for medical malpractice or wrongful death? A medical error that leads to a death is a wrongful death lawsuit, but is filed under medical malpractice laws. In other words, it’s again essentially the same thing. You can have wrongful death lawsuits from car accidents, a product malfunctioning or other reasons. But the laws and the standards needed to bring and win a case don’t change.

I hope that this brings some clarification. My advice to people is to not get caught up in legal mumbo jumbo and worry about the goal which is to find out if you might have a case and if so, how to bring it and which is the best law firm to hire for your case. That is our goal when we speak to you and what we’ve done for over a half a million people since 2001.

If you’d like to talk with an attorney for free, we are happy to speak with you any time at 312-346-5320. All calls are free and confidential and we cover all of Illinois.

I’ve been a lawyer since 1997. There are some medical malpractice injuries that I’ve seen every week since then like death, failure to diagnose cancer, or surgical errors. While they may occur in different ways, it’s no surprise when a caller tells us that is what’s what happened. Other injuries are more unique or only now understood. One such potential medical malpractice lawsuit is purple glove syndrome.

Purple glove syndrome (PGS) is a minimally understood and uncommon skin disease where a patient’s limbs become discolored, painful, and swollen. PGS is most commonly reported among patients who have received intravenous (IV) doses of the drug phenytoin. It’s an anti-seizure medication also known as Dilantin. Phenytoin is only administered through an IV in emergency situations where the patient is having active seizures and is unable to receive medications orally.

Physicians believe that there are a few reasons for why PGS occurs, one being that a chemical irritation forms due to the high alkalinity of phenytoin and propylene glycol being administered. Further, they think that the mixing of alkaline solution and a neutral pH may led to a vascular and IV catheter obstruction. They also believe that the IV insertion may cause a microtear in the vessel wall that allows phenytoin to infiltrate the tissue without a way to exit. Microtears are more commonly seen in elderly patients which is why physician believe PGS is more common among their demographic.

PGS is characterized by a blueish-purple discoloration around the IV site accompanied with severe swelling and pain. The symptoms typically form within two to twelve hours of administration. Progression of PGS occurs in between twelve and sixteen hours where discoloration and swelling continues to spread throughout the whole limb.

There can be very mild and very severe cases of PGS. In the mild cases, physicians quickly recognize the symptoms and immediately discontinue the phenytoin IV, elevate the limb and/or apply heat/cold applications. Eventually the symptoms will subside, and the patient is healthy. In worst case scenarios, PGS can lead to necrosis, ischemia or vascular compression, any of which could lead to a need for amputation.

There are a few methods to reduce the likelihood of PGS which include education on various procedures. Phenytoin should not be administered at a rate greater than 50mg/min. Phenytoin, if diluted, should not be mixed immediately prior to administration. Dextrose solutions and lactated ringers’ solution cannot be used with a phenytoin IV. Avoid smaller veins especially in the hands. 20-guage catheters should be utilized, and arguably the most important, there should be careful and diligent monitoring of the IV site.

This is certainly not the most common case out there, but there are cases where patients are given this medication and not properly monitored. If you have purple glove syndrome and want to know if you may have a malpractice lawsuit, please contact us any time.