The usage of biometrics has merged into our everyday lives and the collection of biometric data is on the rise.  Biometric data refers to unique, measurable human biological or behavioral characteristics that can be used for identification. Biometric identifiers include fingerprints, voiceprint, retina or iris scans, and scans of hand or face geometry.

Companies are gradually incorporating biometric identifiers into their everyday practices with their employees and consumer transactions. This has the potential to make authentication dramatically faster, easier and more secure than traditional passwords, but companies need to be careful about the biometric data they collect.

In many states, biometric data is considered protected information, just like your name or social security number. Biometric data, like a retinal scan or a fingerprint, is also considered protected information under certain data protection statutes.

In 2008, Illinois became the first state to regulate the collection of biometric data passing the Biometric Information Privacy Act, or BIPA. The Illinois Legislature implemented this act to protect individual privacy after public concerns of heightened risks of identity theft became associated with biometric information. BIPA stands as the strongest biometric privacy law in the U.S.

There are several requirements adopted by the BIPA requiring companies in Illinois to comply with when it comes to biometrics. Employers must obtain written consent from individuals if there are any intentions to collect or disclose any employees’ personal biometric identifiers, they must destroy biometric identifiers in a timely manner and they must securely store biometric identifiers. Additionally, employers may not disclose biometric information except in limited circumstances. Employers may not sell, lease, trade or otherwise profit from any individual’s biometric information.

This statute flew under the radar until recently when Facebook agreed to a $550 million settlement of a class-action lawsuit. Facebook was accused of violating the rights of millions of Illinois users by accumulating their biometric data without permission. Many more class-action lawsuits have surfaced, taking aim at smaller employers in Illinois. Understandably so when the penalties associated with BIPA range from $1000 to $5000 per violation. It should be noted that the BIPA is also the only law that allows for private individuals to file a lawsuit stemming from a biometric violation.

As biometric technology advances, so do the lawsuits. According to the Cook County Record, the parent companies of Mariano’s supermarkets and the Intercontinental Hotel Group have both been hit with class action lawsuits in IL regarding employee’s biometric data. They’re not alone though. Several lawsuits have surfaced in state court involving NorthShore University Health System & L.A. Tan Enterprises, Inc. Additionally, federal courts have seen similar lawsuits against Facebook, Shutterfly, Google, and Six Flags.

Biometric privacy issues are likely to continue growing as more and more companies begin to implement biometric technology.

As this is a newer law, firms that can claim real experience with these cases are few and far between.  We know which lawyers have had success with these cases.  If you would like a recommendation or just have questions, please call us at 312-346-5320.

One of the common tactics big employers use in the state of Illinois when a worker gets injured on the job is to send them to a “company clinic.”

These are legit medical facilities, but in my experience, they tend to favor the employer.  It’s not that they will ignore injuries, although that has happened.  It’s more so that their treatment plan seems to often be VERY conservative.

You may have heard of Concentra as that is a big company clinic with over 500 locations across the US. There are others too.  A recent caller to my office was injured in the Illinois and got sent to Concentra.  Every detail of how he describes his injury sounds like he has a herniated disc in his neck.  He has burning pain that shoots down his arm and also has numbness and tingling in his fingers.  Despite these complaints, he’s not been sent for a MRI or referred to an orthopedic doctor even though he’s been off work for over a month.

The biggest problem I have with these company clinics is that often the employer makes their workers feel like this is the only place they are allowed to receive medical care.  That’s simply not true.  Employers want their workers at these clinics because it saves them money and often the care is very conservative.  That’s well and good, but has nothing to do with looking out for your health or best interests.

The best advice we can give you is that if you have been injured on the job in Illinois and are in pain after seeing a company clinic, go see a doctor of your own choosing.  If that pain continues, ask that doctor for a referral to a specialist.  Get to that specialist and let them tell you what is wrong with you and what treatment you need.  A company clinic doctor may be great, but they are not the best person to take care of a serious injury.  They are more like an urgent care for a first diagnosis.

And if you get any push back from your employer or just have questions or concerns, you should get with an attorney. If you’d like to speak with a lawyer for free about Illinois workers’ compensation law, contact us at any time.

With the caveat that all of the information I get is from disgruntled patients or their family members along with from malpractice attorneys in Chicago, and just my opinion, I have to wonder how is St. Bernard Hospital in Chicago still in business.

In the last month I’ve had six different people call me looking to sue them for medical malpractice.  Not every one of them had a case, but they all had nightmare stories of how they were treated and allegations of terrible medical care.

It would be one thing if this was atypical, but the truth is I get more calls from people looking to sue them than any other hospital.  This is true month after month.

St. Bernard is an important hospital because it serves a lower income area.  Not every doctor or nurse is willing to work there.  It’s a grind and they are allegedly over worked and under staffed.

All that said, I once had a prominent Chicago medical malpractice attorney tell me that he wouldn’t take his dog there.  This is not a guy that blurts that type of stuff out willy nilly.

When we think about social justice or social equality, it is clear that health care has a long way to go in terms of catching up.  The reality is that the behavior that is acceptable by staff at Saint Bernard would not fly just a little down the road at University of Chicago hospital or at a place like Highland Park Hospital.

This is a little bit of a rant.  Medical malpractice will happen.  It’s inevitable.  At any hospital.  The problems that I hear about St. Bernard are that it’s a rather outdated facility.  It’s dirty. The security guards, per online reviews and people that have called, and some of the staff, are rude and will look at you like you are a criminal.    I’ve been told many times about terrible bedside manner, that exams are rushed.  Twice in the last month I’ve had a call from someone who was told by a different hospital that if they hadn’t sought a second opinion after being discharged by St. Bernard, they would have died.

I’ve heard complaints about almost every hospital in the Chicago area. The number at this one is staggering though. In my opinion, if you have the ability to go somewhere else, you should.  And if you go there and don’t think you got the best treatment, get a second opinion right away.  If your experience is like that of some of my callers, it could literally save your life.

I kind of hate writing posts like this because they seem insensitive.  That is not my intention at all, and I almost never do it if it happens in Illinois as I don’t want to be seen as trying to fish for a case.

That said, I do find that events like the tragic helicopter accident that killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others, can be very educational to people who are curious about wrongful death law.  It can also be instructive if you have a family member or friend in this situation. You don’t want their grief to prevent them from having a chance at justice.

While I don’t know anyone involved with this case, I would bet anything that within hours of this terrible crash happening, there were experienced personal injury lawyers and their investigators on the scene.

There are not a ton of major helicopter, airplane or trucking deaths per year in the United States.  When those accidents do happen, they are usually investigated by the Federal Government.  While I expect that in a high profile case like this they will do a thorough and clean investigation, it isn’t always the case. Like many government agencies, they can be under-staffed and over worked.

The families of the victims, if they bring a lawsuit, will need to prove negligence. While it appears that this is a case of a pilot making an error to fly in fog – other helicopters in the area were reportedly grounded due to weather – the pilot was very experienced. It’s possible that there was mechanical failure or some other reason the chopper went down.

Attorneys and their investigators can’t interfere with the official investigation, but they can also make sure that no potential defendant is interfering either.  If they see something like that, they can go to court to make it stop.  In one case we were involved in, the lawyers on the scene actually video taped the potential defendant removing debris from the scene of the accident.  That quick thinking likely saved the case.

Lawyers would also want to go around to anyone who may have heard or seen what happened. Documenting this type of information, especially when it’s fresh in someone’s mind, is very important.  Investigators can also share information with and learn information from the government workers.

I wouldn’t expect that any of the husbands/wives/parents of the deceased are thinking about any of this right now, but I’d bet at least one had a family member or friend step up and make sure that this happened.  It may not seem like it, but it’s really the best way you can support someone when they lose someone so suddenly and tragically. At first they will be just grieving but at some point they will want answers and justice to prevent it from happening to anyone else.  Getting an early investigation is the best chance to make that happen.

I usually post blogs based on good questions I get from callers.  Some questions aren’t long enough for a post, but are still worth discussing.  Here are some of the best ones I haven’t written about.

I got divorced and my attorney called me a couple weeks after the case was done to say I owe him a court filing fee.  He said if I don’t pay it he can cancel my divorce.  Is that true?

It’s not true and what a scummy lawyer.  They could sue you, but they would be committing malpractice if they undid the work you’ve already paid for and that was in your best interests.

How do I find a free criminal defense attorney?

The free option for people who can’t afford a criminal lawyer are the public defenders who get appointed by the Judge.  You don’t “hire” them, they are appointed.  Because of this, we don’t know any private attorneys who do free work for criminal defendants.

Can you handle my divorce on a contingency basis?

That is against the law in Illinois.

Am I able to sue a nursing home for not putting up rail guards?  My mom fell of the bed and broke her hip.

This is certainly a case that needs to be investigated.  It sounds like a case, but we’d be able to tell based on a review of the medical records.

How many employees have to be in a company in order to file for workers’ compensation?

Just one.

Is a younger attorney going to be more hungry to help me on my case?

They might be more interested in doing a good job that an attorney who’s burned out by their job, but a lawyer with just a year or two of experience being in charge of your case also runs a ton of risks, especially if they don’t have a lot of supervision.  Their lack of experience could harm you.

I live in Wisconsin, but was injured in a car accident in Illinois, where should I get a lawyer.

Illinois because if a lawsuit has to be filed it would likely be here since the accident happened here.

Can my employer make me use a sick day when I am workers’ compensation?

Not when your doctor has you authorized off of work.

Is it a conflict of interest for a criminal defense attorney to have been a prosecutor?

Not usually.  In fact it’s often a sign of an experienced lawyer who knows how to defend a case.

If you have any question you want to ask at no cost, fill out our contact form or give us a call.

With a history dating back to 1842, Illinois railroads easily are the nation’s most important in terms of the region they serve and the volume of traffic which is handled. Chicago, where the East meets the West, has been coined as the nation’s railroad capitol.

Illinois proudly ranks second in the country with the greatest number of railroads, with total rail miles, and employing over 300,000 railroad employees. But unfortunately, railroad workers have a higher risk of injury than people in most other occupations. Considering the railroad industry is relatively small, the risk of injury is statistically very high. While railroad workers are not covered by workers compensation, they do have other legal options to help recover damages incurred by accidents at work.

Before workers’ compensation, there was the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA). Put in place by the United States Congress in 1908, FELA provides compensation for work injuries to railroad workers. As a railroad employee, you are not entitled to state worker compensation benefits. FELA is your only right to compensation as a railroad employee.

FELA was born out of a need to protect railroad workers and force carriers to improve their safety standards for both their employees, patrons and property and become more accountable to their employees for any injuries they caused. Both programs, FELA and workers’ compensation were founded with the common goals of promoting a safe working environment and compensating workers following work-related illnesses and on-the-job injuries.

When compared to workers’ compensation however, FELA is considerably different in laws and process. The most important of these is the difference in proving the role of negligence. In a standard workers’ compensation claim, there is not always a need to prove employer negligence in order to claim benefits for medical expenses and lost wages. For FELA, an injured railroad worker must always prove the railroad was negligent in order to obtain compensation for their injury.

To add insult to injury, pun intended, every railroad retains skilled claim agents and attorneys whose sole job is to immediately investigate injuries of employees, focusing primarily on how to protect the interests of the railroads, not the injured.

The United States Supreme Court recognized the unfairness of this and as a counter action authorized a designated counsel familiar with FELA to represent injured railroad workers. It is in the best interest of the injured to hire an experienced and aggressive counsel to fight for their rights for several reasons.

While FELA provides an employee up to three years from the date of injury to file a claim, an injured railroad worker should seek counsel and advice at the earliest opportunity if they feel they have a potential FELA case against a railroad. This includes before submitting an injury report or talking to a claim agent. The people representing the railroad are trained and skilled at ‘manipulating’ the situation in the railroads favor. The wording, complaints and answers in an accident injury report can mean the difference between winning and losing a case and having an experienced FELA attorney is your right.

Another difference between workers compensation and FELA is filing claims. Workers’ compensation requires an injured employee to file a claim with the insurance company providing the workers’ compensation benefits. Under FELA, injured railroad workers can file claims in state or federal court and also mandates that the injured party is entitled to a jury trial.

Most FELA claims will end up in court as the railroads save money litigating every FELA claim. Here is just another reason an experienced attorney is best interest of the injured. If an attorney is not experienced and familiar with FELA, they may be unwilling to go to battle against the railroads in court and often times setting less than fair value.

Railroad employees are not in the social security system, but rather in the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) pension system. In an injury there can be a decreased earning capacity and a decrease work life expectancy, even if an employee is able to return to work. Even retirement annuity can be negatively impacted as it is determined by the employee’s earnings and length of service. Just another reason an experienced attorney is needed. They should properly investigate and quantify any loss from the (RRB) pension system and retirement annuity for the injured.

FELA can be a complicated claim. Many railroad employees are uncertain of their rights and their employer’s liability requirements under FELA and find answers with the help of an experienced FELA lawyer in Illinois.  If you would like our recommendation as to a great lawyer for your case or if you just have questions, call us for free any time at (800) 517-1614.

A very nice woman called me recently after getting in to a car accident in Chicago.  She has a pretty big injury, and the other car that hit her is clearly at fault.

Her concern was that she had just hired a personal injury lawyer in Chicago who advertises a lot. By a lot, I mean you have all seen the terrible commercials. He was charging her a fee of 40% based on whatever recovery they get for her.  She had talked to some friends after hiring them and was told that their fee seemed high.  Her question was, is a 40% fee normal for a Chicago car accident lawyer?

The answer is that while there are a lot of attorneys who charge that much, it’s not normal.  Most accident lawyers we know, certainly the best car accident lawyers we know, typically charge 1/3 of what they recover.  In big cases that can be the difference of tens of thousands of dollars in your pocket in the end.

So why does this firm and some others charge more?

It’s not because they do a better job. The biggest reason they do it is because they think they can get away with it.  They’d charge a client 50% if they thought they could line their pockets more.  Attorneys like this, in my opinion, don’t care as much about their clients as they do about their own bottom line.

Another reason they do it is because they have huge overhead.  All of that TV, radio, internet and billboard advertising isn’t cheap.  So they have to recoup as much of the costs as they can.

What’s crazy about this one particular firm is that car accident cases aren’t really what they do and certainly not what their main lawyer has done for most of his career. Of course their clients don’t realize that.  They also don’t understand that many of their cases are handled by very young lawyers.

The reality is that most of the prestigious law firms in Chicago would never do this and in many cases they will cut their fee to 28-30% depending on the facts of your case.

You can get a great lawyer on your case and at the same time not get ripped off by that attorney.  If you have any questions about law firm fees in Illinois car accident cases or simply want to speak with a lawyer for free, call us at 312-346-5320 or fill out our contact form and we will call you ASAP.

I’ve been involved in a nightmare with UPS over a lost package.  It reminds me of a phone call I had from someone once who wanted to sue them over a lost package.

That caller, like me, wasn’t as mad at the package going missing as they were at the response by UPS.  Their terrible treatment of their customers makes you want to sue.

I had a very important package shipped to me on December 26th from my office in Chicago to San Diego where I was located that week.  I paid extra for two-day shipping which, due to the weekend, meant it was to arrive on December 30th.  On December 29th in the morning, the package arrived in Ontario, CA, about two hours away.  It hasn’t been located since.

UPS ships thousands of packages and I get it that they can get lost.  It’s their response that has me fuming.  The first thing that happened was that I called four times and got four different answers.

On December 30th, I called because the package was still in Ontario at noon, which based on my history of shipping made no sense. On call #1 I was told that they would look in to it, and someone would call me within an hour.  That was lie #1.

After a little over two hours and no call back, I called again.  That person told me that despite what the online tracking said, my package was on a truck and would be for sure delivered by the end of the day.  That was lie #2.

Two hours later I called again because I needed to leave my house.  That operator said the package is definitely not on a truck which was true.  She also told me that if it didn’t arrive on the 30th, it would show up on the 31st.  That was lie #3 as they weren’t delivering that day for some reason.

The final call was at the end of the day.  That operator said the package did appear lost, but told me that it had to be missing for 72 hours before they could do an investigation. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it’s absurd if it is.  What was a lie is that she told me the delay was because my office messed up on the shipping weight.  The package wasn’t lost, just delayed.  Lie #4.

I started the investigation on January 2nd and now 11 days after sending my package via two day delivery it’s still missing.  No investigation appears to have taken place yet and I’m told it could take up to eight business days.  They told me I’d get a call from an investigator and that never happened.  Lie #5.

There is no way to call the Ontario location.  I emailed the customer service address I found online for UPS and it sent an auto response that said it’s not monitored.  In subsequent phone calls when I made clear how urgent it was to get this package ASAP I was essentially told that it’s too bad.

I understand that a package can get lost despite their tracking system.  But if my business screwed something up, I’d do whatever it takes to make it right.  It’s like going to a busy restaurant where everyone but one person at the table gets their entree.  The waiter doesn’t say “too bad, we are busy.”  They act like they care about you and try to make it right.

This hasn’t been my experience with FedEx or Amazon or even the USPS.  United Parcel Service is in the business of shipping packages and when they lose one they act like it’s no big deal.  They said I can make a claim to replace the contents of the package as if they assume I was shipping X-mas gifts instead of legal documents and checks that can’t be replaced.

It’s their flippant response and lack of effort that has me fuming.  It’s the same feeling my caller had when they wanted to sue them.  The reality is that the only way to get back at them is to take my company’s business elsewhere.  Every shipment has a contract that is certainly written in their favor.  Just like you can’t sue a restaurant for a rude waiter, there’s not much the average consumer can do about a company that doesn’t care about their customers. At least not in a court room.

So I will be pissed and keep calling until they find my package.  And I will take great joy the next time I have a case against them for an injured worker or one of their trucks hitting someone.  It doesn’t get me the delivery I desperately need, but it’s all I realistically have.

We are Chicago attorneys who help people, for free, with legal guidance and/or lawyer referrals on any Illinois legal matter.  Call us at (312) 346-5320 for a free consultation or fill out our contact form and we will call you.

A recent caller to my office thought they had a good medical malpractice lawsuit, but didn’t want to proceed because they didn’t think they could afford a lawyer to bring the case.

This is a common concern people have.  This isn’t a concern most people should have.  The short explanation is that every lawyer who handles medical malpractice cases in Illinois works on a contingency basis. That means they can’t charge an hourly fee and only get paid if they win the case.  As a result, attorneys in Illinois who handle these cases are very selective in which matters they get involved in.

There is a longer explanation though.  Some callers are worried about the case expenses.  Most contracts to hire a medical malpractice attorney state that the attorney will advance the costs of the case, but get paid back by the client.  These cases often cost more than $100,000.00 to take fully to trial.  Many callers are worried that the attorney will sue them if they lose the case. That is why they don’t think they can afford the risk of hiring a lawyer.

The truth is that if the case is successful, the attorney will be reimbursed their costs.  If it’s not successful, some contracts state that the client will have to pay the lawyer back. I’ve NEVER seen this happen with the attorneys that I know and recommend. I do think it’s happened with smaller firms that can’t afford to advance these costs.

My advice to anyone who is hiring a malpractice attorney in Illinois is to discuss this issue with the lawyer before you hire them.  The ones that I know will change their contracts to state that you’ll never have to pay them back a penny if they don’t make a recovery.  If you have a good case they will be happy to do this.  It’s a risk for them for sure as most cases, even the ones that seem good at first, don’t result in a recovery. But firms that really crush it in this area of law have the ability to take that type of risk.

Bonus tip.  There are some smaller firms who will ask their clients to contribute to some of the costs of the case. Unless there are really odd circumstances (like asking an attorney to file a last minute lawsuit) I don’t suggest you do that.  While any firm can take on a malpractice lawsuit, the truth is that most of the top results are handled by around ten different law firms, all in the Chicago area.  You don’t want to get a lesser firm on your case that would ask you to pay the costs.  You also don’t want to get a firm that skimps on costs, ultimately costing you a win or resulting in you not recovering as much as you deserve.

As always, if you have any questions or want an attorney referral, please contact us at any time.

I’ve been a lawyer since 1997 and started this company in 2001. When I did, I came in with two major values about how I’d run this service. First, I try to talk like a real person.  I don’t always succeed, but it’s gross when attorneys try to talk all fancy with legal jargon to show you how smart they are.  Second, I decided that if I’m going to give advice, I’m going to be blunt and honest.  I hate when people are wishy washy or beat around the bush.  You may not like what I’m going to tell you, but I’ll always tell the truth.

This brings me to a harsh reality that comes up in a lot of my phone calls.  For lawyers who own a law firm – in other words, not the ones who work for the Government, a non-profit, a corporation, etc. – there is one main reason they are doing what they do.

Lawyers are in it for the money.

That doesn’t mean that they don’t like he area of law they practice in. They might be passionate about helping people.  Deep down they are hopefully good guys.  We hopefully are spending some of our work time helping people who can’t afford legal help.

At the end of the day though, they are running a business.  You can feel empathy for someone who is struggling in life, but also choose not to give them tens of hours of free or discounted service in their custody case.  A lawyer can recognize that a doctor treated you poorly, but choose not to file a case that they think isn’t worth the money they’d have to spend to bring a lawsuit.

“Don’t you care about justice?” is something I hear a lot. So is “So they can just get away with it?!?!”  The truth is lawyers do care about justice, but not always to the extent that they will spend their work time fighting for it or for what you believe is just.  The truth is also that some bad people get away with acting bad because our legal system is too expensive to do anything about it.

If a scammer rips you off of $1,500.00 and the police won’t help you, your realistic choices are to sue them yourself in small claims court or walk away angry.  It would cost too much to hire a lawyer. In a worse example, if a loved one is in jail and can’t afford an attorney, you are likely stuck with the Public Defender even if they are doing a terrible job.  Attorneys don’t typically offer free help to those who have an option, even if that option is terrible.

With injury cases, dishonest attorneys who don’t think they can make money off of you will say something like, “I think you have a great case, but I’m too busy to take it.”  It’s the biggest bunch of b.s. around.  No injury attorney is too busy to take on a “great” case and if they were, they’d refer you to a buddy and make a referral fee. The truth is that they think your case sucks, or that they don’t think they’d make enough money off it to make it worth their time.  If a lawyer ever tells you they are too busy, call them the next day and tell them that a loved one was just killed by a semi truck driver who was drunk.  Their schedule will magically become open, and you can call them out on their lies.

There are of course exceptions to this rule.  In general though attorneys at law firms are like any other business. They are trying to keep the lights on and put money in their pockets.  It’s a sign of problems within the legal system itself and a product of capitalism.  It’s not nice to say or easy to hear, but it simply is the truth.