Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury Matters - Texting = Distracted Driving!

Distracted driving is a killer. Please don't text and drive!

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Safety Administration ("NHTSA") in a study here found that:

  • 71% of teens and young people say they have composed/sent SMS messages while driving
  • 78% of teens and young adults say they have read an SMS message while driving

According to the "Official U.S. Government Website for Distracted Driving":

Distracted driving is a dangerous epidemic on America's roadways. In 2012 alone, 3,328 were killed in distracted driving crashes.

Police officers give tickets for texting and driving for a reason. Punitive damages may be available for you if you or a loved one was injured and it can be proven that the person who hit you was texting at the time of impact/shortly before impact. An experienced attorney can assist in attempting to prove this after a thorough investigation by subpoena of phone records and billing and other evidentiary / investigatory tools. It is not an easy fact to prove due to timing of police reports and witness statements, etc. 

You can contact me here 24/7/365 (and I really mean that as I will answer my phone) if you have any questions about potential distracted driving after an accident and to learn how I may be able to help you or your loved one who may need, or simply want, a second opinion - in particular, you will find that I listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages--BUT NOT WHILE DRIVING!!). I would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury Matters - Dangerous Roads = No Excuse!

The roads have been treacherous lately. Drive slower. Drive safer.

The U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Safety Administration ("NHTSA") did an investigation of the long term effects of anti-lock brake systems in 2009 here. Interestingly - and logically - ABS systems are not fool proof for slippery roads. You should not rely on them - and slow down. 

In fact, based on that study by NHTSA in 2009, electronic stability control helps more:

Statistical analyses based on data for calendar years 1995 to 2007 from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and the General Estimates System (GES) of the National Automotive Sampling System (NASS) estimate the long-term effectiveness of antilock brake systems (ABS) for passenger cars and LTVs (light trucks and vans) subsequent to the 1995 launch of public information programs on how to use ABS correctly. ABS has close to a zero net effect on fatal crash involvements. Fatal run-off-road crashes of passenger cars increased by a statistically significant 9 percent (90% confidence bounds: 3% to 15% increase), offset by a significant 13-percent reduction in fatal collisions with pedestrians (confidence bounds: 5% to 20%) and a significant 12-percent reduction in collisions with other vehicles on wet roads (confidence bounds: 3% to 20%). ABS is quite effective in nonfatal crashes, reducing the overall crash- involvement rate by 6 percent in passenger cars (confidence bounds: 4% to 8%) and by 8 percent in LTVs (confidence bounds: 3% to 11%). The combination of electronic stability control (ESC) and ABS will prevent a large proportion of fatal and nonfatal crashes. 

Bottom line, unless you are driving a very new model car with electronic stability control (or an older one that already incorporated it), don't rely on the ABS plus such system when it's icy and slippery. Drive slower and be more alert - and put your phone down! Get home in one piece and help others do that as well.

You can contact me here 24/7/365 (and I really mean that as I will answer my phone) if you have any questions about medical bills and their complexities after an accident and to learn how I may be able to help you or your loved one who may need, or simply want, a second opinion - in particular, you will find that I listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages--BUT NOT WHILE DRIVING!!). I would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

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Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation - Is Your Lawyer "Driven" to Pursue Excellence? Second Opinion?

Whether I take on a personal injury matter - accident, nursing home, dog bite, workers compensation or the like - or business matter (plaintiff or defense), there is one thing that NEVER goes missing: pursuit of excellence in representing my client(s). 

While attorneys cannot ethically guarantee any particular result or that they can win - one way or another - they can promise to work hard, with "drive", with passion, and in constant pursuit of excellence.

  • Is your attorney "paying attention" to the details?
  • Is your attorney investigating, researching, asking questions not only of others but of you?
  • Do you have their cell phone number to ask a question when it "pops into your mind" on a Saturday, Sunday, at night, in the early morning?
  • Does your attorney return your phone calls?
  • Maybe it's time for a second opinion?

Many clients are under the impression that small firms or solo practitioners cannot handle large matters. Perhaps not a billion-dollar worldwide "Enron-type" case - true. But large or small - what matters is collaborative approaches, dedication and persistence. Little do some clients know but I often work in teams with other lawyers, "baby-sit" other lawyers, am part of focus groups and networks for team approaches to multi-disciplined, complex commercial cases. In personal injury, I am part of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association that work in a collegial atmosphere to aim for more thorough approaches to injury matters. We talk on a daily basis amongst each other. We work together. We read - extensively. We review new law - on a daily basis.

All of this is what you get when you retain someone such as myself. On the flip side, there are many lawyers who do not continue the daily pursuit of excellence. It is a life mission. The thought does not cross my mind to do less. When you place your legal problems in my hands - you can trust the situation, angles, and development of paths toward resolution never leave my mind. 

You can contact me here 24/7/365 (and I really mean that as I will answer my phone) if you have any questions and to learn how I may be able to help you or your loved one or a company analyze any potential legal situation - injury or business - and "map out" a strategy in relation to same or simply provide you a second opinion to help you fight every inch of the way from start to finish - in particular, you will find that I listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages--BUT NOT WHILE DRIVING!!). I would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation - Medical Bills After a Car Crash? Second Opinion?

Many of my clients are often surprised to learn how medical bills are handled - and paid (or not) - in relation to an auto accident (and when it is not their fault!).

Even if you have health insurance, there is a possibility that your health insurance company may deny coverage and payment.The hospital or doctor may refuse to bill your health insurance and attempt to "bill" the other party's car insurance directly (which usually doesn't "work"). 

Bottom line, medical bills are your responsibility - you signed on the "dotted line" when you (a) got into the ambulance (b) signed in at the hospital and/or (c) signed in at the doctor's office!

The key question is - how do I pay them? Or how do I "make" the other person (who hit me) pay? That is where lawyers come into the picture. It's actually not so easy to "make" the other person pay - and, worse, it can take a very long time and, in the meantime, you are still responsible to pay the bills. Otherwise, your credit can be ruined - and that can take years to "fix". 

The complexities of how to get these bills paid, when, by whom exactly and the amounts that should be paid depend upon numerous factors. You may also have what is called "medical payments coverage" or "med pay" or "MPC" in your own insurance policy. However, that can be a "race to the money" by a hospital, ambulance company or doctor. A lawyer can help "control" that race if possible to keep you in control of your medical bills as much as possible.

Next time you talk to your lawyer, ask him or her - how will you address my medical bills? Ask careful questions. I invite them from my clients. I want to educate my clients. Make sure you make the right decision at that fork in the road - or get a second opinion.

You can contact me here 24/7/365 (and I really mean that as I will answer my phone) if you have any questions about medical bills and their complexities after an accident and to learn how I may be able to help you or your loved one who may need, or simply want, a second opinion - in particular, you will find that I listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages--BUT NOT WHILE DRIVING!!). I would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small. 

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation - Nursing Home Slow Death

I have been handling nursing home cases for well over a decade. My own dear grandmother suffered indescribably from a decubitus ulcer while in care of others. Morphine was her earthly savior from the pain she seemed larger than life to have endured as I was told.

An article I came across today by a mortician (found here) recalled those memories. The mortician described her most memorable, first death "experience" from a woman who came in with a bed sore the size of a football.

Those mortician's words (found here) were powerful - even for me who has become at least a little "thick-skinned" after so many death and injury matters so I can focus on the legal issues and facts. These words shaved off what little thick skin I did develop and made me pause:

There are many ways for a corpse to be disturbing. Decapitated bodies are fairly gruesome, as are those dredged from the water after several days afloat, their green skin sloughing off in strips. But the decubitus ulcer presents a unique psychological horror. The word "decubitus" comes from the Latin decumbere, to lie down. As a rule, bedridden patients have to be moved every few hours, flipped like pancakes to ensure that the weight of their own bodies doesn't press their bones into the tissue and skin, cutting off blood circulation. Without blood flow, tissue begins decay. The ulcers occur when a patient is left lying in bed for an extended period, as often happens in understaffed nursing homes.

Without some movement, patients will literally begin to decompose while they are still living, eaten alive by their own necrotic tissue. One particular body that came into the preparation room at Westwind, the crematory in Oakland that was my first job in the death industry, I will remember for the rest of my life. She was a 90-year-old African American woman, brought in from a poorly equipped nursing home, where the patients who weren't bedridden were kept in cheerless holding pens, staring blankly at the walls. As I turned her over to wash her back, I received the ghastly surprise of a gaping, raw wound the size of a football festering on her lower back. It was akin to the gaping mouth of hell. You can almost gaze through such a wound into our dystopian future.

"Eaten alive by their own necrotic tissue" - a death toll, a slow death. Unnecessary. Simple turning and positioning and proper prevention is all that is necessary. Care. Make sure your loved one does not suffer what my own grandmother and others have. Make sure your loved one's nursing home is not simply putting him or her into a "cheerless holding pen" without compassion and human dignity. It is easy to mistake sun-filled rooms and quiet for same.

You can contact me here 24/7/365 (and I really mean that as I will answer my phone) if you have any questions and to learn how I may be able to help you or your loved one who may desire to discuss these difficult and sensitive nursing home care matters - in particular, you will find that I listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages--BUT NOT WHILE DRIVING!!). I would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation - Nursing Home Care

Maybe it's time for you to hold their hand? Symbolic or literally - your loved one must be vigilantly cared for when they can no longer care for themselves. Nursing homes are required by law to provide non-negligent care. Is your loved one being properly cared for?

Federal law is quite clear on the "big picture" of required care by nursing homes:

Each resident must receive and the facility must provide the necessary care and services to attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being, in accordance with the comprehensive assessment and plan of care. 

42 C.F.R. 483.25 (emphasis added).

I have highlighted several important words in the above law. Note first that the word "must" appears twice in fact and then the next "absolute-type" word of "highest". These words were not chosen accidentally. The first two words clearly "direct" a nursing home with "commands" - to provide quality care to your loved one. The next word is only what you would want for your loved one - the "highest" state your loved one can attain or maintain. 

As a parent, you want nothing more than quality care for your child. As a child, you should expect nothing less for your parent. Roles are reversed as you age and become responsible for the "watch" of your parent(s). Take their hand and make sure the nursing home watches as you would would watch.

You can contact me here 24/7/365 (and I really mean that as I will answer my phone) if you have any questions and to learn how I may be able to help you or your loved one who may desire to discuss these difficult and sensitive nursing home care matters - in particular, you will find that I listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages--BUT NOT WHILE DRIVING!!). I would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation - Trucking Accidents & Invalid Licenses

New data released in October 2014 (for the year 2012 - most recent) by the U.S. Dept. of Transportation shows "large trucks" involved in 3,753 fatal crashes also involved 115 "invalid" licenses.

Invalid license has been defined as:

Those who had either no license or did not have a valid license or proper endorsement for the class of vehicle they were driving were considered to have invalid licenses.

"Large trucks" are required to have drivers with commercial driver licenses ("CDL's"). One of the first items investigated is just that - a valid and "proper" license.

It is critical to preserve such evidence. Make sure to speak with a lawyer immediately following a trucking accident to begin the proper investigation.

You can contact me here 24/7/365 (and I really mean that as I will answer my phone) if you have any questions and to learn how I may be able to help you or your loved one who has been a victim of a trucking crash or negligence - in particular, you will find that I listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages--BUT NOT WHILE DRIVING!!). I would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small. 

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation - Decubitus Ulcers & Treatment

Proper initial assessment, follow-up and treatment of pressure sores (a.k.a. "bed sores" or "decubitus ulcers") is critical in the nursing home environment. First, the proper "stage" should be noted at assessment:

Generally, pressure sores can be classified into four (4) "stages" as noted in this picture or "unstageable" (although "unstageable" can be questionable if there is an improper assessment). 

Stage III and Stage IV pressure sores are clearly the worst and can result in "debridement" or surgical repair. Depending upon a physician's recommendation, the surgery can go deeper or be minimally invasive. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services describes the various treatments (at length) in its "Pressure ulcer prevention and treatment protocol" guideline which can be found here.

Bottom line, pressure sores should not even develop, much less attain a "Stage III" or "Stage IV" rating. Simple care, turning and positioning can be powerful means to avoid them altogether. Make sure your loved one has been given a proper skin assessment immediately upon admission to a nursing home, that there is follow up assessments (as in plural) and that you constantly ask your loved one if any areas of their skin are sore - especially the heels, hips, tailbone (coccyx), and back of their head. Look yourself and ask questions of the staff. Get involved.

If you find any bed sore on your loved one, take immediate action so it does not get worse and demand answers. Then contact a lawyer to assess whether there can be legal action taken. Nursing homes need to understand that they cannot simply collect their fees, ignore their responsibilities to residents and - worst - allow your loved one to unnecessarily suffer.

You can contact me here 24/7/365 (and I really mean that as I will answer my phone) if you have any questions and to learn how I may be able to help you or your loved one who may desire to discuss these difficult and sensitive nursing home care matters - in particular, you will find that I listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages--BUT NOT WHILE DRIVING!!). I would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation - Pressure Sores = Unacceptable

Pressure sores or bed sores a.k.a. "decubitus ulcers" are simply unacceptable to arise in the nursing home and hospital context. Worse, they should not go so untreated that they become septic resulting in potential premature - or wrongful - death.

In fact, one part of Federal Law requires that quality care be provided nursing home residents:

Each resident must receive and the facility must provide the necessary care and services to attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being, in accordance with the comprehensive assessment and plan of care. 

Further, Federal Law specifically requires that pressure sores be addressed as follows:

(c) Pressure sores. Based on the comprehensive assessment of a resident, the facility must ensure that—

(1) A resident who enters the facility without pressure sores does not develop pressure sores unless the individual’s clinical condition demonstrates that they were unavoidable; and

(2) A resident having pressure sores receives necessary treatment and services to promote healing, prevent infection and prevent new sores from developing.

See generally 42 C.F.R. 483.25

Simple preventative care like air mattresses specifically to relieve pressure "spots" and "turning and positioning" a resident (from lying in one place too long) can avoid the pressure sores altogether. Make sure your loved one is getting this simple care because once a pressure sore starts, it is quite difficult to reverse, especially in older generations. 

You can contact me here 24/7/365 (and I really mean that as I will answer my phone) if you have any questions and to learn how I may be able to help you or your loved one who may desire to discuss these difficult and sensitive nursing home care matters - in particular, you will find that I listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages--BUT NOT WHILE DRIVING!!). I would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation - Police Officer Testimony

Police play important roles in security and, sometimes, as witnesses. I am often asked about police coming to the scene and the tickets issued (or not) and what it all means in the civil context (as opposed to criminal) case.

My clients are often surprised about the ticket issued. I have written on that extensively before. However, what an officer may offer to a case from other angles can be critical: 

- potential black box investigation 

- statements taken after arrival at the scene

- impressions by the police officer of the drivers involved (for example, was someone drinking, did one driver seem to be telling the truth in a "close call" or did the officer notice skid marks or other physical indications of fault?)

- observations of the weather and traffic conditions

Illinois has a specific rule on listing a witness such as a police officer in a case. It is Illinois Supreme Court Rule 213 and spells out the required disclosures. That rule states in pertinent part at sub-paragraph (f):

(f) Identity and Testimony of Witnesses. Upon written interrogatory, a party must furnish the identities and addresses of witnesses who will testify at trial and must provide the following information:

   (1) Lay Witnesses. A "lay witness" is a person giving only fact or lay opinion testimony. For each lay witness, the party must identify the subjects on which the witness will testify. An answer is sufficient if it gives reasonable notice of the testimony, taking into account the limitations on the party's knowledge of the facts known by and opinions held by the witness.

   (2) Independent Expert Witnesses. An "independent expert witness" is a person giving expert testimony who is not the party, the party's current employee, or the party's retained expert. For each independent expert witness, the party must identify the subjects on which the witness will testify and the opinions the party expects to elicit. An answer is sufficient if it gives reasonable notice of the testimony, taking into account the limitations on the party's knowledge of the facts known by and opinions held by the witness.

   (3) Controlled Expert Witnesses. A "controlled expert witness" is a person giving expert testimony who is the party, the party's current employee, or the party's retained expert. For each controlled expert witness, the party must identify: (i) the subject matter on which the witness will testify; (ii) the conclusions and opinions of the witness and the bases therefor; (iii) the qualifications of the witness; and (iv) any reports prepared by the witness about the case.

It is important that your lawyer not only list a police officer who may be helpful but also all other witnesses. Make sure your lawyer is doing just that - making a proper list. If not, get a second opinion! These details matter.

You can contact me here 24/7/365 (and I really mean that as I will answer my phone) if you have any questions and to learn how I may be able to help you or your loved one who may need, or simply want, a second opinion - in particular, you will find that I listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages--BUT NOT WHILE DRIVING!!). I would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.