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 - 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 - 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. 

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation - Will Your Lawyer Fight Every Inch of the Way?

Multiple "levels" of rules exist in law - from the Constitution all the way down to administrative rules and then the cases interpreting all of them. Skilled and experienced lawyers know how to employ them on your behalf - or in your defense every inch of the way throughout your case if necessary and possible. Is your lawyer doing that?

In fact, I often file motions when Defense Attorneys seem to want to start to "testify" for their own clients or file insufficient knowledge answers. Such is clearly not allowed:

 

Every allegation not explicitly admitted is denied. 735 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. 5/2-610(b) (Lexis 2014).

In fact, the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure requires that a defendant’s answer contain an explicit “admission” or “denial” of each allegation in the complaint with one important exception: for situations where the defendant lacks knowledge to admit or deny the allegation, provided that the defendant (not the defendant's attorney) attaches an affidavit stating that s/he lacks the necessary knowledge. However, if the defendant does not attach an affidavit, the allegations may be deemed admitted. Bank of Ravenswood v. Domino’s Pizza, 269 Ill. App. 3d 714, 723-24 (1st Dist. 1995).

Allegations in a complaint should be deemed admitted when not specifically admitted or denied - or when an attorney, in essence, attempts to "testify for" his or her client. See Bank of Ravenswood, 269 Ill. App. 3d at 723-24.

The law also makes it clear that Defendants cannot demand “strict proof” and in fact even the federal courts have criticized this practice. See e.g. Sun Life Assurance Co. of Can. v. Great Lakes Bus. Credit, L.L.C., 968 F. Supp.2d 898, 904 (N.D. Ill. 2013); Gilbert v. Johnston, 127 FRD 145 (N.D. Ill. 1989) (noting that neither the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure nor the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure provides for demands for strict proof).

Will your lawyer watch out for such incorrect admissions or denials every step of the way? Will your lawyer explain to the Judge and Court that such is not allowed? Raise your hand and ask your lawyer. Get a second opinion if you are not getting a straight or thorough answer. 

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 or want to know how to fight every inch of the way as these cases are battles unfortunately - 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 - Will Your Lawyer Actually File Suit? Second Opinion?

Will your lawyer actually take that step to file a lawsuit if necessary? Or will your attorney do what I call "short settle" and never step foot in court? 

There are times to settle outside of Court and before ever filing suit - and often. However, I see too many lawyers taking the first offer or what I call "short settling" a case - any type of case. Good lawyers "work up" cases to settle every time and often cases can be settled without ever filing suit - the key is: has your case been "worked up"? 

Many of my clients mistakenly believe that the insurance companies will have to spend thousands on legal fees to defend a case if a lawsuit is simply filed and demand that a lawsuit be filed immediately no matter what. This mistaken belief is often not true many times at all! In fact, the "way it works" in the real world is that many insurance companies - especially with respect to auto accident insurance companies - have lawyers essentially "on staff" and at a "fixed cost" without a need to pay their lawyers by the hour. On the flip side, sometimes the defense lawyers hired by the insurance company are, in fact, paid by the hour - but for a reason.

Filing a lawsuit could be one of the worst things you could possibly do depending upon the circumstances and every case is different. Again, the key is - has your case been "worked up" and analyzed to determine whether it's time to file or time to settle.

Big companies "skew" my clients' mistaken beliefs in the "system". In fact, a very recent Summer 2014 letter put out by the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association ("ITLA" and of which I am a proud member!), has established the true facts on how the system is working in relation to lawsuit filings:

The fact is the filing of civil lawsuits in Illinois has steadily declined since 2007 – the number is down nearly 25 percent – but making note of that does not support [big business'] objective. Nor do statistics showing injury lawsuits make up just 6 percent of all civil cases filed in state courts. Indeed, businesses and insurance company supporters initiate most civil litigation; nearly 70 percent of civil cases involve businesses suing other businesses or individuals for money. 

Next time you talk to your lawyer, ask him or her - did you work up my case before you suggested I take that first offer? Ask careful questions. I invite them from my clients. I want to educate my clients about the pros and cons of settling - or filing a lawsuit. 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 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 - Trucking Accidents

Trucking accidents can be the most deadly. It is obvious and goes without saying that the sheer weight and force behind such a 5-ton+ behemoth can result in serious injuries by even the slightest bump much less at "normal", or worse, high speeds.

According to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Transportation found here, thousands were killed and injured in 2012 (most recent data). In fact, the Department of Transportation noted:

In 2012, there were 3,921 people killed and 104,000 people injured in crashes involving large trucks (gross vehicle weight rating greater than 10,000 pounds) . . . In the United States, 333,000 large trucks were involved in traffic crashes during 2012.

Federal and State law / regulations differ on what truck drivers can or cannot do - that is, for example, whether the truck driver must maintain certain records and the extent of record keeping. After a crash, it is critical to immediately attempt to preserve evidence of such through what is called a "spoliation of evidence letter" by an attorney (fancy legal language for "you must preserve evidence" and "don't throw evidence / records in the garbage or delete it").

In fact, I often send an immediate, detailed letter with "instructions" to a potential defendant truck driver insurance company demanding that the following (perhaps not exclusive list) be preserved and not destroyed:

o   The tractor and trailer involved in the accident at issue;

o   Permits and licenses covering the vehicle involved in the accident at issue;

o   Any and all permits and/or licenses held by Mr. ____________________;

o   Bills of lading and any other documents in relation to the freight on board on the vehicle involved in the accident at issue on the day of the accident;

o   Mr. ____________________’s daily logs or “diary” of each hour spent on the road and any “resting” for the two (2) years prior to the date of the accident referenced above and in accordance with 49 C.F.R. 395.8 and/or 395.15 and any devices/books used to so record same shall also be preserved, not destroyed, concealed, modified, changed or altered in any way, shape or form;

o   Inspection reports for the tractor (semi cab) and trailer involved in the collision at issue;

o   Any and all maintenance and repair records for the tractor and trailer;

o   Mr. ____________________’s qualification file;

o   Any and all photographs, video, and records of all of the vehicles (not just the tractor-trailer) involved in the accident at issue and of the scene of the accident;

o   Mr. ____________________’s alcohol and/or drug testing results in relation to this incident;

o   Any and all contracts involving the tractor-trailer at issue (e.g., including, but not limited to, any independent use, subcontracted use or other use);

o   Any and all contracts involving the tractor-trailer at issue and its freight;

o   Any and all data from any and all on-board recording devices such as, but not limited to, black boxes;

o   Mr. ____________________’s personnel file and driving history;

o   Any and all GPS tracking data and the devices/software used to so track;

o   Any and all statements obtained from any witness or person in relation to the accident at issue;

o   Any and all dispatch records in relation to Mr. ____________________ and/or his tractor and/or trailer for the two months prior to this incident at issue;

o   Any and all hiring and employment records of Mr. ____________________;

o   Any and all electronic data on any ECM, PCM or other device—whether internally or externally mounted (on the engine or inside any electronic modules internally);

o   Any and all audio and video recordings in relation to the tractor-trailer from any time and from this incident or any investigation in relation thereto; and

o   Any and all data relating to the use of any cell phones or other communication devices of Mr. ____________________ or others in the vehicle at the time of the incident at issue.

Thereafter, I even work with the truck driver / trucking company to arrange to have the truck inspected as soon as reasonably possible. I essentially "wrap up" with a note warning the truck driver / trucking company about the law: "As you may know, Defendants’ failure to comply with this notice can result in severe sanctions being imposed by Court and possible liability in tort for spoliation of evidence or potential evidence."

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

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 - Injury Claims 101

Auto Accident? Truck accident? Motorcycle accident? Workers compensation claim (injured at work)? Nursing home injury or death? Dog bite? Any other injury from any source / reason? Claims 101 Information on the first few steps below - if negligence is involved, you deserve compensation.

No matter the type of injury, first and foremost, get to the Emergency or Doctor. Take care of yourself first - or your loved ones, friend or family.

Next, write down information - on the back of a piece of scrap paper / on ANYTHING! Within a day or two, for example, you might forget who was there (a witness) - even a physical description of the person if you do not know their last (or first) name. List out:

- names

- phone numbers

- addresses

- description of events by time / day / weather / surrounding / facts and other circumstances

CALL A LAWYER after you or your loved one or friend or family member is stabilized.

TALK TO NO INSURANCE COMPANY! Insurance companies might "pretend" to care or be your friend. In reality, you might be recorded and every single word spoken around the time of the accident will most likely be used against you if possible 6 months, 2 years or more down the road. TALK TO A LAWYER - that is confidential and privileged.

Focus on getting better physically. Update your lawyer regularly on your health progress and leave all of the legal burdens to the lawyer. Simple.

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 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 - Digital Assets (Digital Evidence?)

A recent article found here explains how difficult access to e-mails or "digital assets" can be after death. Evidence can "lurk" in e-mails and such "assets". Where are your passwords stored? 

Philip J. Berenz, CPA, JD  - Exclusive invitation and selected! Proud and honored to be a member!

The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 an invitation-only organization composed of the premier trial lawyers from each state in the nation who meet stringent qualifications as civil plaintiff and/or criminal defense trial lawyers. Selection is based on a thorough multi-phase process which includes peer nominations combined with third-party research. Membership is extended solely to the select few of the most qualified attorneys from each state who demonstrate superior qualifications of leadership, reputation, influence, stature and public profile.

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 crash or negligence or "business pain" (plaintiff or defense) - 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

Exclusive invitation and selected! Proud and honored to be a member!

The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 an invitation-only organization composed of the premier trial lawyers from each state in the nation who meet stringent qualifications as civil plaintiff and/or criminal defense trial lawyers. Selection is based on a thorough multi-phase process which includes peer nominations combined with third-party research. Membership is extended solely to the select few of the most qualified attorneys from each state who demonstrate superior qualifications of leadership, reputation, influence, stature and public profile.

 

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: The Reality of Pain due to Personal Injury and "Pain" (aka "Damages") due from Bad Business Deals, Fraud and The Like

We have probably all experienced some sort of pain - physically, emotionally and what can easily be called "pain" from a business or personal perspective when money is lost in a business deal. We can call this "business pain" or "business damages". 

Obviously, real, physical and emotional (or mental) pain cannot literally be "equated" with the business pain. One truly hurts the body and/or mind. The other hurts mainly the pocketbook; however, business pain can also wreck a family, a home and/or a business and be coupled with true emotional pain that may actually give rise to mental anguish (and real mental injury perhaps). In any event, neither type of pain can ever be taken lightly.

A real lawyer must demonstrate empathy with either type of pain. A real trial lawyer must be infused with your projected feelings of either type of pain. It is the trial lawyer who must convey that pain to not only a jury at the "end" of a case -- but from day one -- to the opposing attorney, to the other "side" (the "bad guys" on the other side), to the insurance company, to the Judge. Sometimes, we trial attorneys go beyond and must convey the pain all the way to the appellate courts and Supreme Court if necessary. The pain must be conveyed not once, not twice, not at trial time only -- but from the moment of initial advocacy, from the moment of comprehension, daily and incessantly without hesitation. That is what separates the "men from the boys" so to say in terms of what a real trial lawyer is.

I have personally experienced multiple types of physical pain that I would not wish on my worst enemies. I can empathize with my clients who have experienced pain from personal injury. I understand that it can linger. Pain can destroy the ability to function in your job while it tears at your thoughts when pain medicine "wears off". Pain can destroy your relationships at home. Pain can destroy your inner sense of self. Sometimes, pain doesn't seem to ever go away. Hopefully, it does--and for good. But if not, what next? 

Business pain can "seem" just as bad. Business pain wrecks businesses first, but then migrates into wrecking homes, families and friendships. Sometimes, it wrecks the very person or people you called your brother, your sister, your mother, your father. I have seen it first hand. I have experienced it first hand. I know and understand. It is never "pretty" and actually quite a shame. Hopefully, business pain, too, can "go away" and "for good" just as physical pain often does. But if not, what next?

What's next for either type of pain if it doesn't go away? Fix it. See your doctors religiously for physical pain. Go and visit your business partner -- or your brother, your sister, your mother, or your father -- over coffee and remind him or her (or them) how short life is and try to resolve your differences. Fix your pain as best you can without a legal battle that may be unnecessary in either case.

For personal injury pain, sometimes, money can "repay" the "cost" of the pain (medical bills and related issues). Lawyers often seek the "right" amount of money to at least bring some type of peace and closure to a matter. Sometimes, no amount of money can "turn back the clock" on a permanent problem or, worse, a death. Sometimes, the money awarded or won "sends a message" for safer driving in the future, better products, better professionalism, better structures.

For business pain, again, sometimes money can "repay" the "cost" of the pain (lost profits, lost commissions, lost revenue, lost business). Again, lawyers often seek the "right" amount of money to at least make the original "loser" whole again (or darn close). Sometimes, too, no amount of money can replace a lost business, career, family devastation and personal assets lost. Sometimes, the money awarded or won "sends a message" to others not to defraud, not to breach deals, not to cause damages and to be fair.

In any event, when you next need a real lawyer -- a real trial lawyer -- I'll be here to be infused with a true empathetic understanding of your type of pain and to comprehend it so that I can advocate for you to help you try to "fix it" so you can move on in life and never look back. I am hear to listen to you. I am always honored to help.

It is my mission in life to help people with either type of pain through the legal system -- and to try to find the right amount of "repayment". If you need a real trial lawyer for defense matters, "repayment" may sometimes equate to $0 (or darn close with everything being relative to the overall situation). No matter what, there are most often solutions that can be "lived with". 

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 crash or negligence or "business pain" (plaintiff or defense) - 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.

Snow and Ice = NO EXCUSE for Drivers!

Some drivers that rear-end my clients think they can blame the snow and ice - or bad weather. Wrong. Drivers must slow down even more, be extra cautious and keep a proper lookout - all per Illinois law - or risk liability for an accident.

In fact, such accidents may even warrant "partial" summary judgment in Court (if not settled before Court action is taken). Summary judgment is a legal term for an entry of judgment on liability or damages or both when the Court finds there is "no genuine issue of material fact(s)".

In a rear-end car accident, insurance companies and defendants will often fight even these situations. A plaintiff (the person suing) should move for summary judgment at the appropriate time if evidence is appropriate. Pursuant to 735 ILCS 5/2-1005(c), summary judgment is appropriate and the “judgment sought shall be rendered without delay if the pleadings, depositions, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” Further, “[a] summary judgment, interlocutory in character, may be rendered on the issue of liability alone although there is a genuine issue as to the amount of damages. Id.

Alternatively, Plaintiffs may seek a “directed verdict” at trial time. Notably, at least one Court has made it clear that, at trial time (as opposed to seeking partial or full judgment earlier in the case via summary judgment) the Court may “direct a verdict” on negligence as to a driver because: 

[a] driver . . . has a duty to maintain a sufficient distance from the vehicle in front in order to stop or slow down (Hickox v. Erwin, 101 Ill.App.3d 585), to maintain a safe lookout for traffic ahead (Hickox; Joseph v. Schwartz, 96 Ill.App.3d 749; Snedden v. Lavenka, 92 Ill.App.3d 979) in order to avoid colliding with it (Droese v. Fleming, 93 Ill.App.3d 781), and to take into account the prospect of having to suddenly stop (Droese, 93 Ill.App.3d 781; Snedden, 92 Ill.App.3d 979) or slow his vehicle (Gullberg v. Blue, 85 Ill.App.3d 389). Thus, while a trial court cannot hold a driver, such as defendant, negligent as a matter of law by virtue of a rear-end collision alone, nothing prohibits it from taking the issue of his negligence away from the jury where the evidence overwhelmingly reveals his breach of the foregoing duties. See e.g. Korpalski v. Lyman, 114 Ill.App.3d 563.

Zeifert v. Cox, 182 Ill.App.3d 926 (1st Dist. 1989).

Plaintiffs should fight hard – even on a rear end car accident. Snow and ice is generally not an “excuse” to avoid liability. It’s a reason to slow down and pay attention even more closely.

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

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Texting and Driving Can Lead to "Punitive Damages"

Under Illinois personal injury law, "punitive damages" (those meant to deter and "punish" the wrongdoer) must be brought pursuant to "permission" by the Court. See 735 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. 5/2-604.1 (Lexis 2014).

Many clients want to seek the "maximum" in certain automobile accidents and seeking punitive damages would clearly be an attempt to do just that. However, the facts and circumstances must be proper and evidence (also known as "proof") must exist or be readily available.

A plaintiff (the person suing) has the "burden of proof" in a lawsuit for an automobile accident. Assumptions are generally not allowed (although "inferences" may meet the test).

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

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury and Business Litigation: CTA Commuter Train ("L") Crash Injures Numerous People

You can  On Monday, September 30, 2013, numerous people were injured when Chicago Transit Authority (CTA and sometimes called the L by some and here the "Blue Line") commuter trains collided during rush hour at Harlem Station in Forest Park, Illinois.

Train drivers and train companies owe their passengers a duty of care to avoid causing injuries to their passengers and situations can turn into severe hazards and extraordinary damages when an accident occurs involving such immense 'vehicles.'

Apparently, upwards of 33 people were injured per various reports.

As stated previously by us in another posting, the law requires train drivers--like other motorists--to exercise due care and caution and to follow the "rules of the road (here tracks)" and Illinois law so that a lawsuit for negligence will not be brought against him/her/them for some or all of the following (but not necessarily limited to):

◦ Carelessly and negligently operating, managing, maintaining, and/or controlling a vehicle;

◦ Carelessly and negligently operating a motor vehicle at a rate of speed which was greater than reasonable and proper with regard to conditions and the use of the tracks, or which was greater than the applicable speed limit established in violation of the revised Statutes of the State of Illinois;

◦ Carelessly and negligently failing to equip a motor vehicle with proper brakes although such a device was necessary to insure the safe operation of the vehicle;

◦ Carelessly and negligently failing to keep a proper lookout and to stop or alter the course of a motor vehicle to avoid striking the vehicle (or, here, another train); and/or

◦ Being otherwise careless and negligent (simply not paying attention).

Contact an attorney immediately to preserve your rights. Do not talk to any insurance people without an attorney present. 

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have any questions and to learn how we may be able to help you or your loved one who has been a victim - in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Settlements and Timing of Payment-FINALLY HERE!

It's finally here -- the Governor has signed! 

After settling a case (some types of cases excepted below), a Plaintiff can now have some form of a "deadline" to expect payment of funds provided certain conditions are met.

The new law takes effect January 1, 2014 -- just 5 months from now. Note well that this is just the "deadline" by which the defendant must pay. That is, other issues can still delay "final" fund transfer to the Plaintiff such as, but not limited to (a) lien resolution (doctor / healthcare provider liens); 
(b) Medicare and/or Medicaid issues; (c) calculation of costs and other documentation; (d) simple "clearance" of the check(s); and (e) numerous other issues. The new law will, hopefully, avoid unnecessary work to see Judges when settlement payments seem to be held up and should start the "clock ticking" on payments.

Here is the new law -- it should be read in its entirety and carefully, word-for-word for a true understanding.

735 ILCS 5/2-2301 (Emphasis added where noted in bold/underline/italic)

Sec. 2-2301. Settlement of claims; payment.

 (a) In a personal injury, property damage, wrongful death, or tort action involving a claim for money damages, a release must be tendered to the plaintiff by the settling defendant within 14 days of written confirmation of the settlement. Written confirmation includes all communication by written means.  

 (b) In a personal injury, property damage, wrongful death, or tort action involving a claim for money damages in which the law requires court approval of a settlement, the plaintiff shall tender to the defendant a copy of the court order approving the settlement.  

 (c) In a personal injury, property damage, wrongful death, or tort action involving a claim for money damages in which there is a known third-party right of recovery or subrogation interest (including attorney's liens, healthcare provider liens, or rights of recovery claimed by Medicare, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, or private health insurance companies), the plaintiff may protect the third-party's right of recovery or subrogation interest, where applicable, by tendering to the defendant:

 (1) A signed release of the attorney's lien.

 (2) Either:

 (i) a signed release of a healthcare provider lien; or

 (ii) a letter from the plaintiff's attorney agreeing to hold the full amount of the claimed lien in the plaintiff's attorney's client fund account pending final resolution of the lien amount; or  

 (iii) an offer that the defendant hold the full amount of the claimed right to recovery pending final resolution of the amount of the right of recovery; or

 (iv) documentation of any other method of resolution of the liens as agreed by the parties.

(3) Either:

 (i) documentation of the agreement between the plaintiff and Medicare, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, or the private health insurance company as to the amount of the settlement that will be accepted in satisfaction of right of recovery; or

 (ii) a letter from the plaintiff's attorney agreeing to hold the full amount of the claimed right to recovery in the plaintiff's attorney's client fund account pending final resolution of the amount of the right to recovery; or

 (iii) an offer that the defendant hold the full amount of the claimed right to recovery pending final resolution of the amount of the right of recovery; or

 (iv) documentation of any other method of resolution of the liens as agreed by the parties.

 (d) A settling defendant shall pay all sums due to the plaintiff within 30 days of tender by the plaintiff of the executed release and all applicable documents in compliance with subsections (a), (b), and (c) of this Section.

 (e) If, after a hearing, the court having jurisdiction over the parties finds that timely payment has not been made by a defendant pursuant to subsection (d) of this Section, judgment shall be entered against that defendant for the amount set forth in the executed release, plus costs incurred in obtaining the judgment and interest at the rate specified under Section 2-1303 of this Code, calculated from the date of the tender by the plaintiff under subsection (d) of this Section.

 (f) As used in this Section, "tender" means personal delivery or delivery by a means providing a return receipt.

 (g) This Section applies to all personal injury, property damage, wrongful death, and tort actions involving a claim for money damages, except as otherwise agreed by the parties.

This Section does not apply to:

 (1) the State of Illinois;  

 (2) any State agency, board, or Commission, as defined in Section 1-7 of the Illinois State Auditing Act;

 (3) any State officer or employee sued in his or her official capacity;

 (4) any person or entity that is being represented by the Attorney General and provided indemnification by the State pursuant to the State Employee Indemnification Act;

 (5) any municipality or unit of local government as defined under Article VII of the Illinois Constitution; and

 (6) class action lawsuits.

Section 99. Effective date. This Act takes effect January 1, 2014.

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

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Texting Even OUTSIDE a Vehicle Could Get You Sued!

In a recent decision, it was reported here that a New Jersey Appeals Court held that a person who is texting a driver could very well become a defendant in a lawsuit and be liable to someone who was injured due to such texting.

Texting another driver while you are NOT driving could get you sued! Don't text and drive and don't text someone you know is driving! Just don't do it!

Apparently, the Court issued a statement which said: "We conclude that a person sending text messages has a duty not to text someone who is driving if the texter knows, or has special reason to know, the recipient will view the text while driving."

While the "bar" may be high to get past to sue such a person, we are seeing Defendants routinely sending subpoenas for cell phone records and investigating. Phones are becoming "ultra" mini-computers that people seem to be "addicted" to. It can wait--don't send texts. Don't read e-mails. Keep your eyes on the road so others can arrive safely to where they are going.

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

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: SB 1912 - The Proposed Amendment to the Civil Practice Law of the Code of Civil Procedure in Illinois

Illinois Plaintiff’s attorneys are all too familiar with settled defendants “dragging their feet” on issuing payment on a settled case. In many cases, once the parties reach a settlement, the real fight begins. Through a series of motions, numerous phone calls, and demand letters, plaintiff’s attorneys eventually receive the settlement check from the defendant, sometimes months after the agreement is made. Earlier this year, Illinois Senator Kwame Raoul proposed an amendment to the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure called Senate Bill 1912 (“SB 1912”) that could dramatically change this process of enforcement by stopping unnecessary delay.

The amendment proposes that the defendant must pay the settlement within a statutory period or the Court may enter judgment against the defendants, plus interest and costs.

The way this works is, defendants issue plaintiffs a release within 14 days of the settlement. In cases which require a court order for settlements, plaintiff should obtain the court order and timely disclose it to defendants. Once defendants possess the executed release or court order, the defendants have 21 days to send the settlement check. Failure to send payment within 21 days results in interest accruing from the day the executed release was tendered to the defendants.

As of May 30, 2013, SB 1912 passed through both Houses in the Illinois Senate and has one more hurdle, as it must be signed by Governor Quinn. If SB 1912 is signed into law, it is poised to make a dramatic change in the way lawsuits are settled.

Something else to think about—will Defendants be less likely to settle if SB 1912 passes, given these strict deadlines? If you are interested in SB 1912 and its progress, you can check its progress at the Illinois General Assembly.

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have any questions and to learn how we may be able to help you - in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Injury Cases and Medical Bills

When injured due to a car accident, slip and fall, dog bite, nursing home abuse and neglect or from near any cause or issue, medical bills create significant issues from multiple respects. Some various and very "high-level" topics are as follows (and much more details and information is available upon request):

Health insurance. Your health insurance may outright deny coverage for your injuries and tell you "get your bills paid by the defendant." Now what? Doctors and hospitals generally will not provide non-emergency treatment without insurance or guarantee of payment. Defendant's and their auto insurance carrier (for example) will simply not pay the bills in any timely manner and settling a matter or winning a lawsuit can literally take years. You may have to pay out-of-pocket or fight your own health insurance carrier to pay until you can (hopefully) recover from a Defendant.

Healthcare "liens". In the event there are unpaid bills, healthcare providers may have the right to "lien" your case so that you have to pay some--or all--of the bills incurred and unpaid via any settlement or judgment. If a valid lien is not properly addressed and honored, another lawsuit can evolve. Generally, laws exist that allow for a reduction and satisfaction of any such liens by negotiation and various formulas (a spreadsheet must often be employed in cases of multiple liens from various providers and based on other factors).

Be vigilant with medical bills. Vigilance and constant updating of same with your lawyer will only help you avoid credit issues, collection matters and provide for a smoother injury case in cooperation with your lawyer!

Credit. Unpaid bills can result in collection actions--much before any settlement or judgment can be reached. Usually a simple phone call to any provider or collection company with a simply explanation that such bill is directly related to an injury case will forestall action and credit report problems. In fact, providers simply do not even understand that an injury case may be pending and are actually happy to learn that a case is proceeding and may patiently "wait" to be paid--sometimes for years. Make the calls!

Medicare and Medicaid Bills. Medicare has an absolute right to re-payment in whole or in part by Federal Law without notice to an injured person--or their lawyer. Medicaid is State-related payments which also command re-payment in whole or in part via any settlement or judgment. If not properly handled, such forms of payment could be "cut off" in the future. 

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have anyquestions and to learn how we may be able to help you or your loved one who has been a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect - in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Law -- Patient Advocates Suffer Blow as General Assembly Shoots Down Insurance Requirement

As many of our discussions have tackled, issues of insurance are very essential to protecting the rights of injury victims, and while insurance companies seldom willingly pay all of what they should, Illinois' mandatory insurance laws at least make sure there's a system in place to make sure that injury victims have a possibility of compensation.

That's why it comes as such a disheartening surprise that the Illinois General Assembly shot down, for the second time in four years, a proposed bill that would have required nursing homes to carry liability insurance. Amongst other things, the bill would have:

•required nursing homes to carry at least $1 million of coverage per year;

•allowed the Illinois Department of Public Health to revoke nursing home license for owners without the necessary coverage;

•forced disclosure of each nursing home’s policy to the public;

•forced a nursing home licensee to pay three times the actual damages, or $500, whichever is greater, and costs of attorney’s fees to a resident whose rights have been violated.

While it's true that the vast majority of nursing homes still voluntarily maintain liability insurance -- which makes sense, as to go uninsured would likely take only one or two big lawsuits to put them out of business -- the real pressing issue, as the article mentions, is that many nursing homes use this lack of regulations to drastically underinsure themselves, thus limiting the amounts that victims and their families generally receive, if not outright dissuading them to file suit in the first place.

Such practices are par for the course in this area, unfortunately, and provide nursing homes one more way to try to save money at their patients' expense.

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have any questions and to learn how we may be able to help you or your loved one who has been a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect - in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Law -- Illinois Nursing Home Advocates Renew Demands for Medicaid Reimbursement Reform

The US Supreme Court announced its long-anticipated verdict on healthcare reform and nursing home advocates are using the spotlight as a chance to renew their demands upon Illinois lawmakers to reform the state's Medicaid reimbursement procedures.

Relying heavily on statistics that suggest the state is underfunding Medicaid reimbursements by an estimated $4.7 billion, or approximately $24.34 per patient per day, these advocates are attempting to seize the moment to, essentially, echo most of the same points that they made in regards to Governor Quinn's budget debate.

Naturally, nursing homes must rely largely on government aid programs such as Medicaid to fund patient care, and with national healthcare measures looming large in both the courts and the news; it seems only natural to bring focus on their cause.

However, it's important to keep in mind that it's not just about the funds that nursing homes receive, but what they do with them -- look no further than many of these same advocates' recent efforts to persuade Illinois legislators to cut back on measures from the state's landmark 2010 Nursing Home Care Act.

At the end of the day, nursing home funding is a serious issue that merits long consideration, but there are two sides to every coin and it isn't just about the money, but how nursing homes plan on using it. This too is a serious issue that merits the same amount of attention.

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have any questions and to learn how we may be able to help you or your loved one who has been a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect - in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Law -- Bedsore Case Yields $900,000 Settlement for Seattle-Area Family

A story out of Seattle details the tragic death of an 87 year-old Alzheimer's patient -- who also happened to be a retired nursing educator -- after a number of untreated pressure ulcers, some of which had "burrowed to the bone," led to her death.

Much of this article focused on the reported shortcomings of a unique system that Washington state employees as a state-funded, low-cost alternative to nursing homes (this, too, is an interesting read and cautionary tale for Illinois residents concerned about how the state plans to fix its Medicaid funding shortfall), but the details of how this matter "slipped through the cracks" is enough to give pause to everyone concerned with this issue.

In addition to the fact that, disturbingly, this resident's pressure sores went untreated for an alleged 22 days and were allowed to "burrow[] to the bone," the following paragraph says it all:

"Investigators had cited Houghton Lakeview 33 times for inadequate care and substandard conditions. Two caregivers were convicted felons, barred from such work. Two others had forged nursing credentials. The public was never warned — nor were the residents in the home."

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have any questions and to learn how we may be able to help you or your loved one who has been a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect - in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Law -- An Interesting Model for How to Report Abuse and Neglect

Many of our discussions can, understandably, have the tendency to leave many concerned with the wellbeing and safety of their loved ones in nursing homes a bit disheartened, to say the least. Even if you do notice a situation that disadvantages your loved one, what can you do about it proactively?

The standard advice is that if you see something, say something, but say something to who? The same facility that caused the harm to your loved one to begin with?

Is the Department of Public Health, whose authority is to investigate and take action against nursing homes, slowly being chipped away by bureaucratic red tape? Unfortunately, there are no easy answers to this question, but an article out of Kansas provides an interesting model that cash and resource-depleted states such as Illinois may want to consider.

The underlying idea -- to set up a hotline to report elder abuse is certainly a positive idea, albeit something of a short-term fix. What is interesting, however, is the attempts (although unsuccessful) to place the state's attorney general at the helm of investigating adult neglect complaints. While this would be something of a radical shift if attempted in Illinois, the key to focus on is that each time this measure was proposed in Kansas, the relevant agency offered to devote more financial resources to preventing elder abuse.

This sort of "outside the box" thinking could be potentially useful in Illinois, where advocates for nursing home residents feel, by and large, that they were frozen out of recent legislative measures to clarify aspects of the landmark 2010 Nursing Home Care Act. Sometimes, these sorts of drastic measures, even if they are only used for negotiation tactics, are the best ways to get results.

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have any questions and to learn how we may be able to help you or your loved one who has been a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect - in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: School Bus Accident in Wadsworth, Illinois - Flip Over with School Children

On Friday, April 5, 2013, a terrible school bus accident carrying numerous school children flipped over and per the latest news reports, many children were injured and perhaps one adult is dead.

Apparently, school buses are not required to have seat belts and this is yet another situation where innocent children are exposed to the negligence of the drivers on the road or the very people to whom these children are entrusted.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ("NHTSA"):

"Today’s school buses are built with safety in mind. They are tougher, cleaner and more diligently maintained than ever before. School bus drivers are required to receive special security and medical training, and undergo regular drug and alcohol testing to provide a safe ride for your child. And school bus traffic laws are strictly enforced."

Find out what you don’t know about school bus ridership. Learn the facts and play it safe. Visit schoolbusfacts.com for more information.

Apparently only a handful of States or so require seat belts on buses and Illinois is not one of them. How many children could have been saved from injury today?

We would like to help advocate for a change in law as a result of this matter today.  You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have any questions and to learn how we may be able to help you or your loved one who has been a victim of a school bus crash - in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Law -- Vote on RN Staffing Provision

As previously discussed, nursing home reform advocates are up in arms -- and rightly so -- over a proposed law that unanimously passed through the state's House of Representatives that would force already time-strapped Department of Health officials to conduct a thorough review of a nursing home facility's past reported violations before being permitted to issue them a citation in the event of a serious injury or the death of one of their residents.

Indeed, many advocates believe that this could spell the beginning of the end for the state's landmark 2010 nursing home reform legislation.

While these fears may ultimately be well-founded, it is important to have some perspective on the matter -- and one vote is still cause for hope regarding nursing home reform. There is still pending before the House of Representatives' Joint Committee on Administrative Rules a requirement that at least 20% of the workforce in the state's nursing homes be comprised of Registered Nurses (RN's).

This would be a significant step, as requiring facilities to staff a minimum number of registered nurses has the potential to greatly decrease the number of serious or fatal incidents occurring in these facilities, as it would increase the skill level of the facilities' workforce and provide teams better equipped to respond to emergency situations.

It is important to note as well that this measure would be the first of its kind to put a minimum quota for direct care by RN's.

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have any questions and to learn how we may be able to help you or your loved one who has been a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect - in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Law -- Over Twenty Residents Take Ill at Colorado Facility

Interesting, and troubling, news came out of Colorado as 21 residents and 7 staff members were reported ill with the norovirus at a suburban Denver nursing home.

Norovirus, though not considered being particularly harmful to humans, causes stomach and intestinal inflammation that can lead to dehydration and, ultimately, hospitalization in the elderly.

Although this matter has been reported to the Tri County Health Department, the facility will reportedly stay open while it conducts a cleaning procedure. This is a particularly worrisome story, regardless of how "serious" this outbreak may, or may not, be. The elderly are generally more susceptible to health issues such as these -- particularly those in nursing homes already in deteriorating health.

This is why it is important to look into the sanitation procedures that nursing home facilities have in place when considering a residence for your loved one, as poor procedures or failing to follow up on procedures in place can take a bad situation and make it worse.

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have any questions and to learn how we may be able to help you or your loved one who has been a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect - in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Nursing Home Neglect -- Lawsuit Filed After Dementia Patient Struck and Killed by Fellow Resident

As the Chicago Sun Times previously reported an Oak Park nursing home faced a wrongful death lawsuit from the family of a dementia patient who was reportedly killed after a fight with another resident.

As the Illinois Department of Public Health report indicates, the nursing staff apparently failed to witness the incident, as the alleged aggressor walked into the victim's room and an altercation ensued, which, as the story reports, was only discovered after the staff heard loud noises and observed blood on the floor of the victim's room.

Perhaps the most troubling part of the story is that, although there was reportedly prior instances of "inappropriate behavior" by both residents, there was no supervision or monitoring plan in place for either in their plan of care.

This is particularly important, as attorneys dealing with nursing home accident cases very frequently find that the facility strayed from the resident's plan of care. The plan of care, as the name implies, sets forth the treatment and specifications that residents are to receive while in nursing home facilities. They are implemented on or around the resident's admission into these facilities and updated as circumstances warrant.

This is why, when your loved one is admitted into a nursing home, it is important to keep track of what their plan of care is. If you observe even the smallest deviation from this plan of care as time goes on, report it accordingly.

Often times, tragic events such as this are the culmination of a steadily progressing deviation from a resident's plan of care and, in any case, your loved one deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, and this includes a responsive staff that keeps to the plan of care that has been assigned.

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have any questions and to learn how we may be able to help you or your loved one who has been a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect - in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect -- 5 Charged Relating to Reported Abuse in Tennessee Nursing Home

In an unfortunate story out of a Tennessee nursing home, three nursing assistants were charged with abuse and neglect of a depended adult, while two others were charged with failing to report abuse and neglect.

The charges stem from allegations that the nursing assistants sprayed residents with water from syringes -- sometimes while the residents were sleeping, and other times to "agitate" them -- and took compromising photographs of residents underneath their gowns.

Most troublingly, these acts appear to be done "just for kicks" because the individuals thought that it "would be comical."

Random acts of abuse such as these, done simply for the sake of abuse, should not go unnoticed, as our most vulnerable members of society that have entrusted their care to such facilities deserve much better.

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have any questions and to learn how we may be able to help you or your loved one who has been a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect - in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Law -- Frightening Case of Repeated Abuse and Neglect in Kentucky Facility

In a very troubling story out of Kentucky, a Kentucky "rest home" was recently shuttered after repeated reports of abuse and neglect in the facility.

Although the state's Attorney General asked to place the home in receivership due to complaints about mismanagement of residents' finances, the facility was also cited for reports of physical and sexual abuse to residents, frequent food shortages, and even several criminal investigations into the home's conditions.

While this set of facts, as reported, pretty much runs the gauntlet of impermissible occurrences in a care facility, the true kicker is the section of the article that details the state's investigation.

According to the article, a state agency known as Protection and Advocacy attempted to report conditions (even after the state's Long Term Care Ombudsman became involved) in August 2010 to an adult abuse hotline who told the investigators that they were unaware how to even compile a report for multiple victims over multiple allegations.

There are many other troubling bureaucratic missteps, but the one previously mentioned bears serious concern. When a state investigative agency can do nothing more than call a hotline, which itself can't even write a report, something has truly gone awry.

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have any questions and to learn how we may be able to help you or your loved one who has been a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect - in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Law -- Downstate Nursing Home Declared Emergency Situation

As two local news outlets reported, roof leaks at a Danville nursing home became so severe that Vermillion County took the drastic measure of declaring an emergency situation.

As the article explains, the leaking was so severe that 17 patient rooms have been taken "out of commission" in the facility, which was built in 1972 and renovated in 1978.

While certainly, nature appeared to have played the predominant role in this situation, we've also seen this situation played out before this summer in the Chicagoland area -- for instance, when a suburban Island Lake facility was evacuated in early July due to a lack of air conditioning in the dead of the summer heat.

Situations such as these should be signs of caution for those considering a nursing home for their loved ones -- old, outdated facilities can often be the catalyst for dangerous situations.

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have any questions and to learn how we may be able to help you or your loved one who has been a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect - in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Law -- Report Suggests State Not Doing Its Part

It's certainly no secret that nursing home overcrowding and understaffing has contributed a great deal to the alarming rate of serious injuries and avoidable deaths suffered in nursing homes each year.

That's why this report from the Chicago Tribune is rather troubling, as it suggests that the state isn't living up to its end of the bargain in one of the components of the reform that culminated in the state's landmark 2010 Nursing Home Care Act.

In 2010, the state agreed to start screening mentally ill patients in specialized nursing homes for potential release into subsidized housing and group homes where they would receive specialized treatment.

As the article notes,

"some mentally ill residents of Illinois nursing homes receive excellent treatment, others are housed in a subset of institutions that provide little therapy or discharge planning.”

Ultimately, budget cuts and an increased demand have been two of the primary talking points that nursing home advocates cite as justification for cost-cutting measures and lobbying to ease restrictions on the number of skilled staff required.

It certainly stands to reason, then, that anything the state can do to decrease the number of nursing home residents, and thus undercut this justification that leads to providing less than acceptable services to our most vulnerable members of society, is something that should be done.

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have any questions and to learn how we may be able to help you or your loved one who has been a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect - in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Law -- Wrongful Death Case Against Chicago Nursing Home Settles After 2010 Drowning

The Chicago Tribune reported a lawsuit against a Rogers Park nursing home that settled for $100,000 after a woman drowned herself in a tub after previously expressing suicidal ideation to staff.

The suit alleged that the facility failed to properly monitor the resident after she had put them on notice of her suicidal ideations.

This is a tragic situation where there are certainly no real winners, but there is an important reminder to take away from all of this. When you trust your loved one to the care of a nursing home, you trust them to protect your loved one from everything -- even, unfortunately, themselves, if the case may be.

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have any questions and to learn how we may be able to help you or your loved one who has been a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect - in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Auto Accident Law -- More Efforts to Improve Transportation Safety

The State's trend towards making a concerted effort to improve transportation safety continued with a move by Governor Quinn that went largely under the radar. The announced $21 million grant has the outward goals of trying to improve pedestrian safety in school zones, but it looks as though some of the proposed uses may have positive residual effects as well.

As we've discussed many times, two of the more common causes of harmful accidents these days are distracted drivers and poorly-marked and maintained pedestrian crossings.

By pledging grant funds towards both increasing awareness, warning signs, and even perhaps crossing guard presence near school zones, it looks as though it has the potential to combat the effects of distracted driving.

Also, increasing both the size and safety of pedestrian walkways may also prove to have interesting and positive effects, as any positive safety effects may hopefully serve as a model for how to improve some of the dangers involved with other pedestrian crossings outside school zones going forward.

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have any questions and to learn how we may be able to help you in the unfortunate event of an accident that caused you or your family or friends injuries - in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Law -- Pennsylvania Case Finds Interesting Intersection Between Nursing Home Litigation and Arbitration

An interesting story out of Pennsylvania speaks to the tension that many attorneys face between the litigation process that leads a case towards a trial by jury and the emerging trend towards resolving disputes in informal settings outside a court.

The case contains a great deal of complex procedural maneuverings that may not make a whole lot of sense to those unfamiliar with the process, but, in a nutshell, while an alleged victim of misconduct in a nursing home was still alive, an individual with power of attorney agreed to take the dispute with the nursing home to alternative dispute resolution (ADR) that generally includes such options as binding arbitration and non-binding mediation "settlement discussions."

After this individual died, however, the family filed a wrongful death lawsuit that the nursing home then turned around and attempted to have thrown out due to the prior ADR agreement.

The court sided with the victim's family, however, holding that the party's constitutional rights trump any contractual agreement -- particularly where the law mandates that a nursing home abuse and neglect action be brought in the same lawsuit as a wrongful death claim stemming from the same dispute.

Now, granted, Pennsylvania cases don't have the force of law in Illinois, but looking at the basic facts we know from the article, the issue speaks to a growing nationwide trend -- state courts tend to err on the side of favoring ADR.

Particularly within the context of a nursing home abuse and neglect case, there are a lot of advantages to going the ADR route (a route we often take ourselves, to a usually high degree of success): it prevents dragging the victim or her family through a long drawn-out process where they may have to re-live traumatic events time and again, it also shortens a potentially lengthy and costly discovery process where nurses, staff, and others that may not even be employed by the nursing home anymore would need to be located, questioned, and deposed, amongst other benefits.

What occasionally gets lost in the mix, however, is that the victim and/or their family is entitled to their day in court and, considering the strong preference almost all state courts tend to overwhelmingly give ADR agreements, it will be interesting to see if this line of reasoning catches on and the effect it might have in other states and other areas of the law.

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have any questions and to learn how we may be able to help you or your loved one who has been a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect - in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Law -- Suburban Chicago Nursing Home Announces Renovation Plans

As previously reported in Crain's Chicago Healthcare Daily, the Illinois Finance Authority approved a Lutheran Home for the Aged facility in suburban Arlington Heights' $120 million plan to gut and renovate a facility to include private bathrooms in each resident's room as part of an overall plan to "gut and renovate" its main facility.

As the article suggested, this renovation project, which will decrease the number of skilled nursing beds by 12, is triggered at least in part by "historically low interest rates."

Two initial thoughts come to mind about this project.

First, the ins and outs of this project (reducing the number of beds, while modernizing a facility at "historically low" costs) is a rather strong piece of evidence against the excuses that many nursing home representatives make when they complain that renovating and modernizing facilities is cost prohibitive.

Second, it should not be overlooked that this plan will also decrease the number of skilled nursing beds. If nursing homes aren't going to truly get serious about bringing the number of skilled nurses and staff up to acceptable and appropriate levels, then maybe this approach -- cutting down on beds while simultaneously modernizing facilities -- can provide some semblance of an agreeable balance going forward. Only time will tell, of course.

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have any questions and to learn how we may be able to help you or your loved one who has been a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect - in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Law -- Surprise Inspections of California Nursing Homes Leads to Heated Exchange

It's no secret by now that the shoddy conditions and lack of resources in nursing homes across the country has activists on both sides of the divide up in arms.

One particularly interesting debate raging in California showcases how frustrations between the two sides may be starting to boil over.

As an article detailed, a "surprise inspection" of a California facility by the state department of justice yielded some particularly disturbing results -- one of which prominently described a resident left for a long period of time in a soiled diaper, even after inspectors allegedly notified the facility.

Unfortunate as it may be, stories like this are commonplace. What makes this situation particularly unique is that the nursing home, although under no obligation to do so, saw fit to respond  stating, amongst other things, that the inspectors "did not have a clue what they were looking at."

At the end of the day, unfortunately, there are no real winners in situations such as these -- putting a positive "spin" on reports, findings, etc. doesn't change the fact that, for whatever reason -- neglect, underfunding, understaffing, or anything else imaginable -- some of society's most vulnerable members are put into situations where their dignity is compromised. They deserve better.

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have any questions and to learn how we may be able to help you or your loved one who has been a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect - in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Law -- Lessons to be Learned from California Attorney General's Proactive Approach

The Los Angeles Times previously reported an article from the studies of a 2+ year investigation into Southern California nursing homes ordered by the California Attorney General.

Unfortunately, the study found, amongst other things that: "Inspectors discovered cases of bed sores not being treated properly, patients being given the wrong medication or being over-medicated with psychotropic drugs and residents left in feces and urine for hours. Nursing homes were out of compliance with nurse-patient ratios and fraudulently billing for services, according to the reports."

To those that deal with matters of nursing home abuse and neglect on a daily basis, this is nothing new, sadly, and the problem is widespread on a national level.

What is encouraging about this, though, is that the results were forwarded to the Department of Public Health for investigation -- this is the key to focus on, as Illinois would be wise to learn from this approach. As discussed, the Illinois Department of Public Health is constantly hampered in its efforts to investigate nursing homes bylaws and procedures that limit the amount of time it has to issue disciplinary measures to a nursing home after it is found to be in violation.

When this is coupled with the fact that they have to rely on reports filed by either injured patients or their families, IDPH is constantly fighting an uphill battle whenever it goes up against a nursing home -- be it time limitations, parties and witnesses unwilling to come forth, or otherwise.

That's why this approach by the California Attorney General is something that other states like Illinois can, and should, learn from -- if you want to get a good glimpse of the ways in which nursing homes are letting their residents down, the best way might just be to commandeer the process and devote the resources necessary. The results might be more alarming than they might think.

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have any questions and to learn how we may be able to help you or your loved one who has been a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect - in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Law -- Tennessee's Largest Nursing Home Operators Agreed to a $9 Million Settlement

As those who follow nursing home-related disputes in the news can attest, the most common excuse you're likely to hear when an accident occurs is, bottom line, a complaint about money.

When a resident is injured in a fall and lays unattended to for a long period of time, the likely excuse is that the facility lacked the money to hire enough workers -- same for residents suffering horrific injuries from bedsores.

When a resident is injured or becomes seriously ill from too much or too little medication. It was too expensive to hire skilled staff. When nursing homes make these arguments, they generally cite to statistics about dwindling Medicaid and Medicare funding and the like.

The next time you hear this argument, keep this story in mind. As the article explains, Tennessee's largest nursing provider agreed to pay $9.35 million dollars to settle a lawsuit brought by the federal government alleging that CareAll Management "robbed the Medicare Trust Fund of millions of taxpayer dollars."

The lawsuit claims, in a nutshell, that the company submitted eight fraudulent cost reports to support Medicare billing that it knew was inaccurate. Now, this isn't to suggest by inference that this sort of practice is widespread, but it's certainly something to keep in mind the next time you hear a nursing home's representatives complain that it can't meet proper staffing and resource levels due to Medicare funds drying up.

Playing by the rules is a two-way street, and nursing home residents shouldn't have to take the brunt regardless of what a facility's funding situation truly is.

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have any questions and to learn how we may be able to help you or your loved one who has been a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect - in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Carnival Cruise Lines Ship Breakdown

As most are aware, Carnival Cruise ship the Triumph recently endured an incident at sea. Passengers allegedly endured horrendous and deplorable conditions on what was allegedly to be a vacation of a lifetime for some. 

When purchasing an automobile, purchasers routinely check out the safety features to make a decision before purchasing. How many people actually check the safety records of a cruise ship? Not many! According to research available here it’s almost impossible to locate.

Cruise ships are apparently not regulated under U.S. Federal safety regulations compared to airlines for example and nearly all cruise ships are registered under foreign "flags" doing business in the United States.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, a yearly inspection is performed of every cruise ship that docks in the United States for the operation of the vessel to the backup generators and life boats. The Center for Disease Control ("CDC") also maintains a database of disease outbreaks and other health safety information. 

If being towed for five days was just unacceptable, or if you suffered any other issues in relation to this cruise, contact us to discuss any potential legal remedies. 

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have anyquestions and to learn how we may be able to help you -- in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Auto Accident Law -- Is a Side Impact Airbag Recall on the Horizon?

As an article from the Chicago Tribune illustrated, many prominent auto makers have been in the process of issuing safety recalls in regards to side airbag components that don't deploy as they should following a crash.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is looking into the matter even further, after asking component maker Autoliv Inc. to provide a list of auto manufacturers that it sold specific parts to -- a list, as it turns out, that included many of the world's largest manufacturers, and has prompted some of those companies to issue recall notices.

Apart from the readily apparent safety benefits to properly deploying airbags, looking to whether airbags deployed during an accident often becomes a point of much contention during lawsuits arising from auto accidents.

Often times, defense attorneys use the fact that an airbag did not deploy as evidence relevant to the force of a collision -- stated otherwise, if the airbag didn't deploy, they will argue that the collision was too light to have caused serious injury (no matter how blatantly untrue this may be).

This being the case, many attorneys that advocate for injury victims almost always watch developments such as these very closely for the multiple ways in which these studies highlight the many issues affecting the safety of drivers on the roads.

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have any questions and to learn how we may be able to help you in the unfortunate event of an accident that caused you or your family or friends injuries - in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Auto Accident Law -- Auto Safety Devices from the Testing Room to the Steering Wheel

There have been proposed ideas that have worked their way through the legislature to improve safety for drivers on the road.

Take the bitter dispute over the signed law permitting the City of Chicago to install speeding cameras, for instance.

As discussed in the past, many attempted to spin this as nothing more than a money making device on behalf of the City. If studies are to be believed, however, then perhaps pushing measures through the legislature truly is the proper way to go in improving motorist safety.

A report by the Highway Loss Data Institute indicates that it may take up to as long as three decades for auto manufacturers to make new and improved safety devices mandatory going forward.

For instance, the report notes that front air bags were first introduced in 1980, but weren't mandated by government standards until 1999 -- another 19 years. Even then, estimates suggest that dual front airbags will not be found in 95% of all new vehicles until 2016 -- an additional 3 years from now, and approximately 35 years after they were introduced.

Tellingly, the study notes that

"[u]ltimately, what drives the proliferation of safety features is a combination of government mandates, increasingly stringent crash-test standards, and consumer interest."

In other words, sometimes legislative pushing and prodding is the only way to make safety measures mandatory -- and it is factors such as these that can make a world of difference sooner rather than later in either alleviating (or at least dulling the impact) of a number of harmful and deadly accidents.

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have any questions and to learn how we may be able to help you in the unfortunate event of an accident that caused you or your family or friends injuries - in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Law -- An Essential Nursing Home Checklist

We talk quite often about the importance of keeping yourself informed and making a thorough decision when considering a nursing home facility for your loved one.

It's certainly true that there's no hard and fast "rules" to abide by, and unfortunately, there's no "owner's manual" for what questions to ask and what criteria to use, but on occasion, one comes across a helpful tool.

Anyone looking for such a tool is highly recommended to check out a recent article in the Los Angeles Daily News that discusses the recent changes to Medicare's updated Nursing Home Compare tool.

For those too busy to sift through each question in the Compare tool, this article rather effectively streamlines much of the information and plucks out a few important and helpful categories and questions -- truly a valuable article.

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have any questions and to learn how we may be able to help you or your loved one who has been a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect - in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Auto Accident Law - Cook County Verdict a Victory for Injury Victims...and a Cautionary Tale

We were pleased to hear word of a Cook County verdict in which the family of an accident victim killed after she was struck by a semi-truck in the middle of an Indiana Highway.

A jury awarded $4.25 million dollars to the family of a young woman that was struck and killed by a truck as she stood behind her parked car in the right lane of an Indiana toll way.

Verdicts such as these are certainly welcome reminders that accident victims and/or their families can receive some measure of justice through the court system for their loss. However, the details of the case (as reported by the Cook County Jury Verdict Reporter) also highlighted a disturbing symptom of far too many civil lawsuits these days.

In this trial, the trucking company’s legal team highlighted that the victim did not make a distress call and noted that a copy of the Qur’an allegedly found near the scene of the accident. Therefore, they surmised that the victim was either praying at the time of the accident or was attempting to commit suicide.

Fortunately, the jury did not give very much credence to these arguments, but the lesson should be learned all the same – many defense attorneys will stop at no length to avoid paying for a victim’s injuries, or even in this case, death. This can range from blaming an accident victim even when their car is hit at a complete stop to, as here, trying to play off a tragic death as a suicide attempt.

This unfortunate climate is why choosing legal representation that will stop at nothing to advocate for your rights is so very important.

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have any questions and to learn how we may be able to help you in the unfortunate event of an accident that caused you or your family or friends injuries - in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Law -- Settlement in California to Fund Awareness Training

One of the most common issues that come up in dealing with nursing home abuse and neglect cases -- indeed, one of the things that compels many plaintiffs to file suit on behalf of a loved one -- is the desire to stop senseless and avoidable tragedies from happening again.

Unfortunately, however, mistakes tend to have a way of repeating themselves.

That is why it was encouraging to see the press release on behalf of the University of California, which announced that UC Irvine will provide training and support to nursing homes across Orange County, California as part of a class action lawsuit against 22 facilities for under-staffing nursing homes.

This is a creative approach that has the potential to generate a lot of good and, hopefully, train the staffs of facilities already stretched thin, to better identify and prevent abuse and neglect and better use the resources at their disposal.

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have any questions and to learn how we may be able to help you or your loved one who has been a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect - in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Law -- Article Highlights Pros and Cons of Long-Term Care Insurance

As previously discussed, Governor Quinn's proposed $2.7 billion Medicaid cut has many that follow nursing home care -- both patients and facilities alike -- rightly concerned.

It's certainly reasonable to worry how many of us will pay for our necessary care once we can no longer care for ourselves.

With this in mind, a Chicago Tribune Article provides a good breakdown of the pros and cons of buying long-term care insurance. As the article notes, a good long-term care plan is something that can, and should, "fill in the gaps" for things such as daily living activities that Medicaid may not cover -- particularly if the proposed cuts go through.

Like all insurance policies, it is a serious decision that deserves careful consideration, but this article is an interesting read and a good starting point for the many that are concerned with potential Medicaid cuts and how it might affect them and their families.

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have any questions and to learn how we may be able to help you or your loved one who has been a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect - in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Auto Accident Law -- Illinois Legislature to Consider Tightening Teen Driving Restrictions

We've spent time examining several potential new auto safety laws that took shape throughout last year.

While most, if not all, of these are still in their initial phases, some of them (such as Chicago's speeding camera proposal) made headlines. One that was flying a bit under the radar was a proposal that would raise the age at which teenagers receive a learner's permit from 15 to 16 years, and would further tighten restrictions for teenagers driving at night.

The rationale for this appears to be simple -- teenagers make mistakes. While it may seem to be a bit harsh -- taking away a rite of passage -- the likely benefits would be twofold.

First, the apparent advantage is the safety of drivers on the road -- it takes away the temptation for young people to make mistakes, and it protects against inexperience. However, there is another likely benefit that doesn't necessarily meet the eye at first glance. A great number (if not a majority) of teenage drivers can't yet afford their own insurance and, as such, rely on their parents' insurance plans.

When said teenage driver injures someone in a night time accident, it is the parent whose insurance rate goes up because of the accident -- and may even find them subject to a lawsuit for negligent entrustment in the event that their insurance company refuses to pay for the damage from the injury (which, as any plaintiff's attorney will tell you, is far more common than it probably ought to be).

There was not yet a firm measure working its' way through the legislature, but measures such as this, while perhaps cutting against tradition, speak volumes in the necessary task of pushing overall driver safety forward.

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have any questions and to learn how we may be able to help you in the unfortunate event of an accident that caused you or your family or friends injuries - in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Icy and Snow Roads and Car Crashes and Auto Accidents

Chicago "true" weather is back again and makes for very difficult driving conditions. Be careful! If someone has rear-ended you or slid into you and you believe they were not careful, contact us here immediately to assess the situation. We take calls and contact 24/7/365.

And a reminder to all that not only in "good weather" is texting and reading e-mails prohibited but even more caution should be taken when roads are icy and snow is mixed with rain as it was today in the Chicagoland area. Car crashes and automobile accidents can be avoided!

In fact, the Illinois Secretary of State reminds us of the new laws on texting and driving noting that:

Illinois law prohibits sending or reading electronic communications (text messages) while driving and also prohibits the use of wireless/cell phones in construction/road maintenance zones and school zones.

Illinois drivers are prohibited from text messaging while driving except if you are:

  • Reporting an emergency situation.
  • Using the device hands-free or in voice-activated mode.
  • Parked on the shoulder of a roadway.
  • Stopped due to normal traffic being obstructed and the vehicle is in neutral or park.

Further, the Illinois Secretary of State reminds all that local "municipalities may govern whether wireless/cell phone use is permitted, regardless of the location or the driver's age." 

Finally, avoid "quick" or "aggressive" driving especially in snow and ice conditions. 

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have anyquestions and to learn how we may be able to help you in the unfortunate event of an accident that caused you or your family or friends injuries - in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Law -- Former Nursing Home Employee Files Suit for Wrongful Termination After Reporting Neglect

As if the nursing home industry needed any more negative publicity, a story recently broke regarding a former employee of an Edwardsville nursing home.

While on its face, the article appears to detail a lawsuit filed by a former nursing home employee that alleges she was fired after filing a workers' compensation claim, there is also tucked away at the bottom of the article the following allegation:

The suit also claims that on Oct. 15, 2007, [the Plaintiff] reported potential neglect of residents at Maryville Manor to the Illinois Department of Public Health. It also claims that before she reported the alleged neglect she reported the situation to her supervisors."

Stated otherwise, the suit alleges that when she spoke out about reported resident neglect, the nursing home fired her.

With nursing home employees across the state previously hitting the picket lines in protest of under-staffing and resident care, this sort of publicity is just about the last thing that the nursing home industry needs.

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have any questions and to learn how we may be able to help you or your loved one who has been a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect - in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Law -- Federal Government Considering Lawsuit Against Florida Nursing Home

The headlines in newspapers and websites across the country are often filled with troubling and heartbreaking stories of what can happen when under-staffed and under-funded nursing homes let resident safety and dignity fall by the wayside.

In a shutter-inducing story out of Florida, the federal government is mulling a lawsuit against a Florida nursing home where children with special needs -- even infants -- are being "unnecessarily" sent to adult nursing homes, many of which without an illustrated plan to be released.

As the article explains, a sternly-worded letter from the US Attorney General's Office threatens legal action similar to that of a class action suit filed in South Florida earlier this year, which harrowingly details:

"The lawsuit asserts that children languish in the adult facilities, sharing common areas with elderly patients and having few interactions with others, rarely leaving the nursing homes or going outside. After visiting children in six nursing homes, investigators noted the children are not exposed to social, educational and recreational activities that are critical to child development."

Perhaps most troublingly, the article mentions that the Attorney General's office has recently handled similar situations in Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina and Delaware. Nursing homes with thin resources and overworked staffs can be a nightmare within the context of elderly residents.

The thought of small children with special needs being thrown into this neglected mix is a terrifying thought indeed.

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have any questions and to learn how we may be able to help you or your loved one who has been a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect - in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Law -- More Details Emerge on Nursing Home Legislation's Bad Bargain

Last year, we spent some time discussing the haggling back and forth in the Illinois General Assembly about what to do about a provision in the Nursing Home Care Act that mandated increased staffing levels for skilled nursing personnel, but held off setting the threshold levels for a later date.

Last spring, there was much hand-wringing from patients' rights advocates about what's generally been referred to as something of a bad bargain that was reached by state legislators that agreed to set lower staffing levels than recommended in exchange for cutting Medicaid funding at a lesser rate than many nursing home lobbyists had previously feared.

Now, however, many media outlets around the state are catching on to the bottom line on the budget cuts and staffing levels, and the results are more troubling than some originally thought.

As the articles explain, at the end of the day, Medicaid rates that nursing homes received last fiscal year had been cut by 2.7%, and the "to be determined" amount of care to be provided by skilled nursing personnel from the Nursing Home Care Act will call for 10% to be provided by Registered Nurses (RN's).

However, advocates within the General Assembly had originally called for 20% of the services to be provided by RN's -- which essentially means that the recommended amount was cut in half. When this is viewed together with the fact that many nursing home advocates had feared that Medicaid rates could be cut by as much as 15% -- as opposed to the 2.7% by which they actually were cut -- many have connected the dots and saw a deal where nursing homes got off easy on both fronts -- lower skilled staffing levels and a lower rate cut than anticipated.

Unfortunately, the only real losers in this situation may well end up being the nursing home residents themselves, who unfortunately may have to see the effects of both reduced funding and lower-than-expected skilled service providers. We can certainly hope this isn't the case, but this may be cautious optimism at best.

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have any questions and to learn how we may be able to help you or your loved one who has been a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect - in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Law -- Illinois Company to Pay Portion of Settlement in New York Nursing Home Lawsuit

As recently reported, a county-run New York nursing home has agreed, along with several other companies, to settle a lawsuit stemming from the death of a 90 year-old nun that died after a 200 pound dresser fell on top of her.

As the article explains in detail, the nun, who was a resident in the nursing home, suffered a fractured skull after a freestanding closet came crashing down while she was allegedly reaching for an item on the top shelf.

In addition to paying the largest portion of the $900,000 settlement to the victim's family, the nursing home also has reportedly faced approximately $30,000 in penalties from the state in light of reports that the nursing home was aware of two prior incidents of these closets toppling over (one of which apparently happened a mere matter of weeks before this incident) and, although those particular closets were bolted to the wall, nothing was ever done to ensure that all such closets were properly secured.

The family responded by filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the county that runs the facility as well as the manufacturer of the closet and two companies that allegedly installed it -- one of which is an Illinois corporation.

All parties to the lawsuit have reportedly settled, which appears to have brought an end to yet another tragedy that could have seemingly been avoided.

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have any questions and to learn how we may be able to help you or your loved one who has been a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect - in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Law -- Nursing Home Management Company Added to Governor's Project to Control Healthcare Spending on Medicaid Recipients

Medicare and Medicaid funding (or potential lack thereof) has been one of the more prominent topics this election season on both national and local levels.

In Illinois, and many other states, advocates on behalf of nursing homes and management companies have cited to dwindling Medicare and Medicaid funding as justification for their inability (or perhaps unwillingness) to meet proper staffing requirements and provide adequate funding for their facilities -- even in the face of protests this past year from nursing home residents, patients’ rights groups, and even their own employees.

Against this backdrop, Governor Quinn recently put into place a taskforce of sorts looking to control healthcare spending as relates to Medicaid recipients and attempt to comport with a recent state law that a minimum of half the state's Medicaid recipients receive managed care by 2015.

Needless to say, ensuring that a higher percentage of people receive better care even with dwindling funds will not be an easy task. However, as a recent article notes, the Governor's recent appointment of a prominent Chicago-area for-profit nursing home management company has raised a few eyebrows amongst nursing home patient advocates. As the article explains, the company in question manages numerous homes in Chicago and the surrounding area, some of which have been noted for lower than acceptable staffing levels and, in the case of one such home,

"a below average, two-star rating from the federal government's Nursing Home Compare website, and the home was cited for failing to provide rehabilitation services for a resident, among other health and safety violations."

Now, make no mistake, it is hard to imagine that any large nursing home management company is going to come away with a spotless record, but there are two trends that shouldn't be considered synonymous, i.e. maximizing profit and efficient spending.

The chief complaint by patients' rights advocates isn't that nursing homes aren't faced with a challenge by decreased public funding -- certainly, they are -- it's what they do with the resources that they have, and the win fall profits that many have received this year, even in the face of decreased funding, absolutely speaks to this.

The bottom line is that these programs are far too new to be effectively judged on their merits, but if the goal is to reach the 50% threshold for Medicaid recipients in managed care within the next 2-3 years, then certainly a measure of skepticism over how they get there is healthy and appropriate.

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have any questions and to learn how we may be able to help you or your loved one who has been a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect - in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Law -- Liability for Owners and Operators

As the recent news stories popping up around the state have made clear, the way in which nursing homes are customarily owned and operated has become an extremely contentious topic.

We've discussed the way that nursing homes often set up different legal "entities" that shuffle around ownership of the physical building, while others, for instance, own the furniture or run the staffing, but at the end of the day, actual ownership is quite often concentrated into the hands of a select few people -- sometimes maybe even just one or two people.

While it's a general rule of business law that organizing a corporation "shields" the individual people behind it from personally being held liable for debts, obligations, lawsuits, and the like, but when you look at the unique example of nursing homes -- where, in Illinois, for instance, even the nurses have recently gone on strike in protest of their own facilities' management -- this seems even more unjust.

This is one of the reasons why the Nursing Home Care Act is so unique -- it has a specific provision that directly holds the "powers that be" individually liable for a resident's death in some instances. Section 2-107 of the Nursing Home Care Act provides, in no uncertain terms, that

"[a]n owner, licensee, administrator, employee or agent of a facility shall not abuse or neglect a resident."

While it is extremely hard to keep an owner or operator in the case, procedurally speaking, this is a very powerful statute. Essentially, if you can plead and prove that, for instance, the way an owner allocated resources or ran the budget in a way that constitutes neglect (such as where low staffing levels and untrained nurses neglect to check or turn residents who then develop bedsores), then they can personally be held liable for a resident's injuries and/or death.

Indeed, one Illinois Court of Appeals (the Second District, which covers the "collar counties" around Cook County and the Chicagoland area) recently noted that, under the Act, the owners can be liable for damages, costs, and attorneys’ fees. See Childs v. Pinnacle Health Care, LLC, 399 Ill. App. 3d 167, 180 (2nd Dist. 2010).

While this is far from an easy thing to prove, it shows that the legislature is serious about at least recognizing the problems that arise when nursing home owners under-fund, under-staff, or otherwise mismanage their facilities and then turn around and try to hide behind a "corporate shield."

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have any questions and to learn how we may be able to help you or your loved one who has been a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect - in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Auto Accident Law -- Public Opinion puts Chicago Speed Camera Bill on the Ropes (and Why it Matters)

In the past we've discussed proposed auto safety measures, such as Chicago's proposed speeding camera bill, which would post cameras in designated "safety zones," track speeding cars and issue automated tickets similar to those by red light cameras.

An earlier report, however, indicates that this particular proposal may wind up dying on the vine for one primary reason -- a seemingly significant lack of public support.

If the report is to be believed, many citizens and advocate groups feel that this proposal is not intended to assist with public safety, but rather, the true intention is seen as a money making device.

Whether this is true or not, the article suggested that this sentiment has some in the Illinois state house thinking twice about passing it through (at least without a fight). While this might seem to be a run-of-the-mill political angling, this proposal and the surrounding outcry actually speaks something to the larger issues facing personal injury trial attorneys.

Civil lawsuits often serve as an interesting snapshot of public policy, in that jury trials sit squarely at the intersection of public safety and public opinion.

On one hand, there is certainly a strong case to be made in support of any law that can positively affect the safety of drivers and pedestrians alike. However, if the popularity of such a measure truly drops, and becomes the law nonetheless, then a plaintiff whose main evidence at trial will involve putting such an unfavorable technology in front of a jury of his peers faces an interesting conundrum, as the whole case may ultimately hinge on convincing a jury of the utility of a highly unpopular technology.

For further examples of the effect of public opinion on jury verdicts, look no further than the difficulty that many plaintiffs that choose "alternative medicine" as a means of healing after an accident have in convincing a jury at trial to consider these part of the damages.

Now, certainly there are a multitude of nuances that affect all trials one way or another, and the current fuss about the proposed speeding cameras may ultimately turn out to be much ado about nothing, but it is still a key consideration that all plaintiffs must keep in mind. Taking your case before a jury of your peers means taking into account public sentiment and the will of the majority -- with all the good and bad that comes with it.

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have any questions and to learn how we may be able to help you in the unfortunate event of an accident that caused you or your family or friends injuries - in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Auto Accident Law -- Lawmakers Seek to Close Helmet Loophole

New traffic safety laws went into effect last year that had lawmakers turning their focus to those proposals. Many of those proposed regulations were discussed at a meeting of the Secretary of State's Advisory Committee on Traffic Safety, which outlined the general direction that the legislature sought to take.

While we previously reported on several of these, such as the proposed ban on all handheld devices while driving, one in particular stood out from the rest.

The Committee announced their intention to pass a law that would require anyone, either operating or riding on a motorcycle, to wear a helmet.

Remarkably, Illinois currently sits as one of only three states in the entire country that doesn't require helmets on motorcycle riders. One of the most common problems in dealing heavily with auto accident law is both the amount of preventable accidents and the amount of preventable injuries that could have been remedied with even a slight abundance of caution.

Helmet safety laws tend to have a positive effect on injury rates following accidents and as such, are paramount to increasing the safety of all on the road.

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have any questions and to learn how we may be able to help you in the unfortunate event of an accident that caused you or your family or friends injuries - in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Law -- California Lawsuit Targets Nursing Home Management Structure

We've often discussed the difficulties that arise when filing suit against a nursing home stemming from the complex nature of how the "behind the scenes players" structure the corporate entities behind these facilities.

As a recent article out of California suggests one recent lawsuit is looking at this issue from a different and unique vantage point.

One common perception is that nursing home ownership groups set up complex, byzantine structures (usually consisting of the same small group of investors) -- where, for instance, one corporation owns the "brick and mortar" facility, one entity owns the property, one entity owns the furniture, one entity is set up to manage the facility, and so on and so forth -- to spread things out for purposes of liability and "compartmentalize" things to make it more difficult to pin fault on any one person or corporate entity when a patient suffers abuse and/or neglect.

What the article detailing the California lawsuit suggests is that the parties bringing suit allege it might also have something to do with profit. The article explains that:

"At issue are state-approved agreements in which Country Villa homes contract out their operations to another Country Villa entity. The management company gets a percentage of revenues from the homes it operates. [An attorney] contends that the management company doesn't actually run the facilities and instead consumes money needed to care adequately for patients."

Essentially, the article explains that the plaintiffs in that lawsuit are alleging that the entities set up to run the nursing homes are something of a "ploy" to just sit back and collect the revenues generated from the day-to-day operations.

It can't be emphasized enough that this is something of a controversial theory, to say the least, and that nothing in the lawsuit reported in the article should be taken as established fact just yet, but it certainly speaks to a growing distrust in the way that nursing homes are set up and, if ultimately successful, might one day be the start of a new trend in the way that attorneys in this field of the law approach this issue.

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have any questions and to learn how we may be able to help you or your loved one who has been a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect - in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Law -- California Residents Die After Poisoning from Wild Mushrooms

In a very bizarre and tragic story out of California 2 nursing home residents have died and 4 others have been hospitalized from alleged food poisoning after a caregiver placed what turned out to be poisonous wild mushrooms into a soup that was then served to residents.

As the article suggests, an initial investigation into the situation has concluded that no foul play was involved and that the caregiver didn't know that the mushrooms were poisonous when he or she picked them and placed them in the residents' soup.

However, even if this was just a mere lack of oversight, it still raises some troubling questions about the training and supervision of nursing home caregivers and employees that come up all too often.

When we deal with cases involving under-trained or under-supervised nursing home employees, it generally comes up in the context of a case where a resident went unattended to, a doctor's plan of care wasn't followed, or a staff member was forced to perform a job function above their training or capability and a resident was injured or became ill as a result.

What stories such as these remind us, however, is that when dealing with some of society's most vulnerable members, sometimes what may seem like a basic lapse in judgment that would not have done irreparable harm to a person in good health can have grave consequences.

Unfortunately, it becomes one more thing to keep in mind the next time nursing home advocates complain about required staffing levels, requirements for skilled nurses, and the like -- sometimes the little mistakes can be just as harmful as the big ones.

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have any questions and to learn how we may be able to help you or your loved one who has been a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect - in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Law -- Nursing Home Workers Stage Candlelight Vigil in Protest of Nursing Home Conditions

As we've recently discussed, there seems to be a growing dissent amongst the ranks of nursing home employees about the conditions in many local nursing homes, and many groups of nurses, caretakers, and other employees have begun to vent their frustrations with the very facilities they work for (and the ownership groups behind them) in increasingly public displays.

This has included several of the visible protests we've discussed that have been in the news in recent months and, most recently, a demonstration that included a candlelight vigil and protest outside of several prominent facilities along the north side of Chicago.

The main points of contention of the workers seem to be many of the same common points that have made headlines during this ongoing dispute -- low wages, long hours, low staffing levels, and a perceived unwillingness of ownership groups to invest their sizeable profits back into the facilities -- and these are all, by and large, valid points.

What makes this particular set of demonstrations particularly noteworthy is the inclusion of local politicians and community advocates joining in on the side of the angry nursing home employees. This is a pretty good indication that this dispute is beginning to merge into the political dispute that we've also discussed over recent months, as politicians have argued at length over certain provisions, such as the specific of staffing level requirements, that were left "open ended" in the 2010 Nursing Home Care Act.

It's hardly a secret that powerful advocates on both sides of this dispute have been behind the scenes in many of these disputes, but public displays such as these suggest that there are likely more highly visible public relations tactics to come.

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have any questions and to learn how we may be able to help you or your loved one who has been a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect - in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Auto Accident and Class Action Law -- Toyota Settlement Has Consumers Asking Questions

Yesterday, we discussed early reports of the landmark proposed settlement of a class action brought against Toyota stemming from the widely-reported 2010 alleged defect that caused vehicles to unexpectedly accelerate.

The problem with the early reports, however, is that some of them painted the story with too broad of strokes, and now, as subsequent articles suggest, many Toyota owners aren't quite sure what this settlement means for them.

As we've previously discussed, there were a number of lawsuits that arose from the 2010 controversy -- and, as we've mentioned in the past, representing the victims injured in crashes caused by those defects hits very close to home, as we were one of the first firms filing suit for such injuries here in Illinois.

However, the settlement announced yesterday concerns the class action litigation that came about to compensate for property damage and to take care of Toyota owners that saw the value of their cars decrease simply by virtue of the recall itself. Essentially, as the article states, this settlement will serve as something of a "pool" of money that will be offered to those who owned the defective vehicles -- but it is simply far too soon to estimate how much money everyone will receive, particularly since the settlement itself has not been finalized, and the total size of the affected "class" not yet determined either.

This second point is crucial, and anyone who thinks they might be covered under this lawsuit should not sit back and wait, as the article points out that they will have to "opt in" to the class (basically, you have to send notice of your intent to be a part of this action).

This isn't to take a negative view on this settlement -- to the contrary, as mentioned yesterday, a lot of good will come from this -- but in the immediate aftermath, as is often the case, the details of what this is and what it means can get lost very quickly.

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have any questions and to learn how we may be able to help you in the unfortunate event of an accident that caused you or your family or friends injuries - in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Auto Accident and Class Action Law -- Toyota Agrees to "Landmark" Settlement Relating to Acceleration Cases

As multiple news outlets are reporting, Toyota has agreed, in principal, to settle a class action lawsuit in California stemming from the highly-publicized dispute that arose in early 2010 after a number of complaints were logged that the auto giant's vehicles were accelerating unintendedly.

It should be noted that there have been several different "groups" of litigation that have arisen from this dispute and, as the articles suggest, this particular settlement (estimated to be valued somewhere between $1.1 and $1.4 billion dollars) is intended to set aside funds for car owners whose property was damaged as a result of the alleged defect, as well as separate funds set aside for Toyota owners that were forced to sell their used vehicles at a reduced rate on account of negative publicity.

Perhaps the most important part of this settlement, in the long run, is a provision described in a press release as "the installation of a brake override system in about 3.25 million vehicles," which hopefully will go a long way toward preventing incidents and tragedies from happening in the future.

As you may know, we have been actively involved in various facets of the Toyota litigation from the beginning, and many of the fights will live on beyond this "property damage" settlement, but be this as it may, this is an important settlement for a number of reasons.

The reports as to the settlement figures are certainly significant and important -- the press release cited in the article even refers to it as "landmark" -- but the real win, if early reports are correct, comes in the proposed installation of the brake override system in the estimated 3.25 million vehicles, because it represents a balance between compensation for the harm done and forward progress into preventing the harm from reoccurring.

If these early reports are accurate, this "balance" can serve as a model of what our legal system looks like when it gets things right.

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have any questions and to learn how we may be able to help you in the unfortunate event of an accident that caused you or your family or friends injuries - in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Law - Watchdog Agency Warns Families of Nursing Home Patients to Look Out for Sepsis

We’ve spent a good deal of time discussing the persistent problem of nursing home under-staffing and the wide range of effects it has on all aspects of a nursing home. Decreased attentiveness, and under-qualified (and over-worked) staffing has a pretty straightforward effect on the health and safety of residents.

Now even the nursing home employees themselves are starting to raise their voices for patients’ rights.

The problem with reporting on these trends, however, is that it is of little comfort to the victims’ families to reflect on these tragedies only after they occur. While this is always a good – and necessary– way to raise awareness, one can’t help the feeling that there should be more to raise awareness before these tragedies occur.

That is why a recent press release from nursing home watchdog group, the Nursing Home Complaint Center, is an interesting, and potentially valuable tool. As the article suggests, nursing home under-staffing could also potentially lead to an outbreak of sepsis.

The article analogizes this potential problem to pressure sores – highly avoidable ulcers from skin breakdown when patients are left immobilized for long periods of time – and this is certainly a rational comparison. But the bigger potential problem as relates to sepsis might not only be simple under-staffing, but rather nurses and caretakers that are called upon to perform jobs that they have not been properly trained for.

Septic infections don’t often come with warning signs – it’s not as though, as is the case with visible pressure sores, one can always see the signs of sepsis. Without the proper training as to what to look for and how to respond to early warning signs, once a patient becomes septic, it may be too late. This makes the article a very valuable read, and is certainly something to be considered, if you have a loved one in a nursing home.

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have any questions and to learn how we may be able to help you or your loved one who has been a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect - in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Law -- Home Healthcare Industry Screening Process Highlights Gap In Nursing Home Screening

As we've discussed several times recently, the problem with training nursing home caregivers and keeping up with proper staffing requirements has been one of the most prominent topics in the ongoing debate about the care and services your loved ones receive in nursing homes. These topics come to mind when reading a recent press release from a company that focuses on background screening of home healthcare professionals.

At its most basic level, home health care options -- where, for instance, a Registered Nurse or similar professional provides personal care in a patient's home -- are on the opposite end of the spectrum from nursing homes, although they do provide the same basic service, namely, providing health care services for those unable to care for themselves.

What's cause for discussion, however, is the detailed and thorough criteria that the article suggests as a means to vet a potential health care professional. To quote from the article:

"Those home health care agencies that stay committed to thoroughly and extensively screening all of their staff will be in the best position to succeed. A recent issue of Caring magazine points out the growing use of technology as a means of increasing services to the home health care client. PDAs, smart phones and other technology will provide the home health care provider with the right tools to give patients the care they need and at the same time provide the agencies with methods of effectively supervising their staff in the field. Utilizing these technologies requires finding the right people for the job, people committed to their work and to the training required."

These concerns don't even come up when evaluating the same sorts of individuals in the context of a nursing home care setting. Many facilities can barely find enough individuals with the proper training to follow a patient's plan of care -- certainly more than a few steps behind integrating smart phones and other technology to keep integrated with patient care and keep a facility posted. What really stood out, though, was the following laundry list of questions to ask a potential home healthcare professional:

  • Are your hiring practices standardized for all levels of employees and do you have a written screening policy?
  • Do you understand how Federal EEOC and FCRA laws and rules, and your local state rules affect your organization?
  • Are you current with new laws and changes?
  • Right now, could you explain what changes will take place in 2013 affecting your industry?
  • When is the last time you looked at your insurance policies?
  • Are all of your employees compliant?
  • Do you survey your clients to understand why they use you instead of the competition?
  • If you lose a client do you conduct an interview to find out why?
  • Do you seek a testimonial from your clients?
  • Do you have a crisis management program in place?
  • If you receive a complaint about a caregiver, is there a written policy in place that lays out the immediate steps to take and the follow up that is needed?
  • These questions might also serve as good indicators when shopping for a potential nursing home, possibly using the answers as something of a "tell" as a subtle means to coax out broader problems that plague nursing homes these days.

Again, the two industries are in competition, and it's not entirely congruous to compare the two. But at the same time, it is still an interesting -- and somewhat eye-opening -- contrast to see just how far behind many nursing home standards and practices currently lag.

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have any questions and to learn how we may be able to help you or your loved one who has been a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect - in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Personal Injury and Trucking Accident Law -- New Study Attempts to Link Obesity With Trucking Accidents

As a recent article in Science Now details a new study that is almost certain to stoke a good deal of controversy has put forth a new factor that researchers believe contributes to an increased likelihood of trucking accidents -- obesity. The study followed 744 newly-licensed truck drivers and categorized them by height and weight.

The results suggested that those with a body mass index of 35 or greater (fitting the medical categorization of severely obese) were 43% - 55% more likely to be involved in a crash than those drivers with a normal body mass index.

The article also summarized the research in noting that "the relationship held even when the researchers corrected for number of miles on the road, geographic location, age, and other crash risk factors." While the article and the study point to several different corresponding symptoms with obesity that might cause this uptick in accidents -- fatigue, decreased agility, even sleep apnea and resulting drowsiness -- that isn't to say that this study is going to be without its detractors.

Indeed, the research seems to indicate that there was no increased likelihood of accidents in those categorized as "overweight" or even "obese," but rather, only those fitting into the confines of "severely obese" seem to have a statistical relationship, perhaps indicating that this study won't lend itself to simple answers.

Ultimately, the article suggests that this study is intended to provide some sort of relevant data to be used in the ongoing debate as to whether regulations should be put in place to screen for sleep apnea, and if it is useful to that end, then all the better. But at the same time, there are always "easy targets" for lack of a better term when people examine the risk factors for trucking accidents -- long hours, little sleep, the poor diet that tends to follow with life on the road -- and a study linking the frequency of accidents to severe obesity is a convenient opportunity to "connect the dots." But when the same numbers don't quite fit for drivers either "overweight" or "obese," then the connection between certain lifestyle factors might not be as strong as it looks at first glance.

At the end of the day, though, any study that takes a critical attempt to reduce the number of these destructive accidents is most certainly important, and it is certainly a conversation that needs to be had.

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have any questions and to learn how we may be able to help you in the unfortunate event of an accident that caused you or your family or friends injuries - in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Auto Accident Law -- Another New Direction for Drunk Driving Offenses?

As we recently discussed, studies on the rates of repeat offenders in drunk driving incidents are leading many states to consider mandating interlock devices that, in theory, prevent drunk drivers from being able to operate their vehicles.

Behind these reports, however, is the unfortunate admission that those inclined to make destructive decisions will do so one way or another.

Underscoring this point, studies tend to show that approximately 2/3 of those with interlock devices on their cars still attempt to drive drunk anyhow -- even if they fail to start their car. This is why anotherstudy by CBS Chicago is particularly interesting, as it shows some states considering the problem of drunk driving from a different vantage point. Per the report, some states are looking as far as considering 24/7 alcohol monitoring (such as ankle devices) as punishment for first time drunk driving offenses, finding that repeat offenders are finding ways to sidestep interlock devices.

While ultimately, there is no guarantee that such aggressive measures will be significantly more successful, this line of reasoning is commendable for its creative approach that, as the article notes, shifts the focus of DUI laws from the car itself to the behavior of the person using it.

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have any questions and to learn how we may be able to help you in the unfortunate event of an accident that caused you or your family or friends injuries - in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Commercial Litigation Issues -- Fraud and Heightened Pleading Requirements

As we've previously discussed, fraud is one of the most contentious causes of action that arises in business litigation. What many aggrieved parties don't understand when they first seek out an attorney is that it is so difficult to even plead a proper complaint for fraud that a good deal of cases never even make it off the ground and get past the initial pleadings stage.

As a matter of background, filing a complaint with a court doesn't mean that the case will simply proceed smoothly -- defendants often file "motions to dismiss" that claim that a complaint either fails to include all the necessary elements necessary to state a claim, or that the causes of action alleged are barred by an affirmative matter (such as failing to bring the cause of action within the time for doing so allotted by law, for instance).

In Illinois State Court, you are likely to see a lot more of these motions to dismiss, because Illinois is what is known as a "fact pleading jurisdiction" where a plaintiff has to put forth a good deal of background facts that bolster their potential claim, as opposed to federal courts (and other individual states) that have a lower hurdle to reach under what is known as a "notice pleading" standard where you can be a bit more conclusory.

The Illinois standard is hard enough to meet as it is, but fraud claims are very unique in that they have an even higher hurdle to meet on top of that -- in the text of the complaint itself, before anyone has exchanged any discovery, taken any depositions, or the case has even taken shape, a plaintiff has to meet a "heightened pleading requirement" where the facts alleged specifically relating to an alleged fraud must be plead with sufficient specificity to appraise the defendant as to what he is called on to answer to. See Green v. Rogers, 234 Ill. 2d 478, 494 (2009).

Just as a "refresher," the basic elements that a complaint must include in regards to a fraud claim  requires:

(1) a false statement of material fact;

(2) the party making the statement knew or believed it to be untrue;

(3) the party to whom the statement was made had a right to rely on the statement;

(4) the party to whom the statement was made did rely on the statement;

(5) the statement was made for the purpose of inducing the other party to act; and

(6) the reliance by the person to whom the statement was made led to that person's injury.

See Cramer v. Insurance Exch. Agency, 154 Ill.2d 513, 529 (1996).

So how this works in practice is that it isn't enough to plead that "john doe" made a statement on a certain date, and it's not even enough to even really paraphrase, or plead what it was that "john doe" told you to do. In almost all circumstances, for a fraud claim to meet the heightened pleading requirement, you have to practically quote the allegedly fraudulent statement in a complaint, or at least put out enough specific details that paint a very detailed picture.

This is no accident that the requirement is this high -- the heightened pleading requirement is there to ensure that the courthouse isn't flooded with everyone who feels "short changed" when a business deal or advice goes bad. This isn't a typical situation where you can plead things that you "think" happened and let the case take shape as it goes along.

Fraud is a very serious allegation with very serious penalties, and if you are going to take the very serious step of filing suit against someone for this offense, then you need to have a good deal of ammunition and you need to be prepared to use it right from the outset.

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have any questions and to learn how we may be able to help you or your family or friends or business in the unfortunate event of an incident of self-dealing or breach of fiduciary duty, a breach of loyalty or the like - in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Law -- New Lawsuit Alleges Negligence Against Suburban Nursing Home After Maggots Found in Patient's Ear

As the Chicago Tribune recently reported, a lawsuit has recently been filed in Cook County against an Arlington Heights’ nursing home after 57 maggots were allegedly found in the ear of a 90 year old Alzheimer's patient.

The article alleges that after the maggots were removed from the patient's ear, they were sent to a laboratory and determined to be approximately three days old.

Details in cases such as these are, in and of themselves, squirm-inducing, but what stands out in this story is a one-sentence aside that probably deserves a bit more attention. The article states that, after the incident, the patient's family had "previously filed a complaint with the state Department of Public Health," but that "[a]n investigation in October found no violations to the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act."

Setting aside the question of whether this conclusion was right or wrong in this particular instance, the bigger question becomes, does this finding even really matter? Nursing home advocates and their attorneys will certainly say that it does. However, it really does not matter all that much.

As we've previously discussed, there are rules and bureaucratic hurdles left and right that limit the Department of Public Health on how much time it has to investigate allegations of abuse and neglect and what it can consider while doing so. Sometimes, unfortunately, the lack of a finding by IDPH against a nursing home doesn't mean that there was no violation; it simply means that the agency ran out of time.

This is an incredibly unfortunate phenomenon, as not only does it hinder enforcement proceedings by the state (which can tend to embolden a violator of the Care Act), it dissuades families from seeking compensation for the harm to their loved ones, thinking that either they are prevented from doing so, or that no one will take their case seriously.

Neither of those two consequences are true, and as articles such as these illustrate, fighting for your loved ones rights shouldn't end simply because a state investigation (that may possibly be hampered from the outset) doesn't yield results.

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have any questions and to learn how we may be able to help you or your loved one who has been a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect - in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Personal Injury Law -- Common Carrier Liability -- New Study Urges Transit Units to Invest Up To $2 Billion in Renovations

As CBS Chicago recently reported, a new study released by DePaul University warns that annual spending of perhaps up to $2 billion per year on infrastructure and repairs to Chicagoland's most widely-used public transit -- namely Metra and the Chicago Transit Authority.

The findings suggest that, while ridership has steadily increased in recent years, the spending necessary to keep up with maintenance, repair, and innovation has unfortunately been lagging behind.

This presents itself as something of a multi-angled problem for these transportation providers, because it shows two important trends heading in opposite directions. As riders increase, CTA busses, Metra trains, and the like will become more crowded and cramped (as many of you regular riders have probably noticed) -- this, in and of itself, has the potential to increase the likelihood of injuries.

When you view this trend in light of the other part of this study -- that funding and infrastructure spending isn't keeping up with the trend -- then there's something of a scary scenario where the possibility of injured patrons could increase even more. Beyond the obvious concern that these companies have (or should have) for the basic safety of their patrons, this presents a unique problem for companies such as Metra and the CTA, as they fall under the heading of what is known as "common carriers."

As we've previously discussed, common carriers owe what is often regarded as the highest duty under the law to their riders. This, in and of itself, is enough to open them up to potential liability in even the most basic situations where a rider is injured. When you factor in the notion that the number of riders is on the increase, while the amount of money being spent on upkeep is not keeping up with this trend, then the potential for costly accidents becomes all the more likely.

This ought to be one of the keys that ultimately factors into whether Metra, CTA, and the like take these findings to heart and invest the money necessary to keep its riders safe and its facilities and equipment ahead of the game and pushing forward.

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have any questions and to learn how we may be able to help you in the unfortunate event of an accident that caused you or your family or friends injuries - in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Auto Accident Law -- Are Red Light Cameras Becoming a Thing of the Past?

With the rash of new laws and procedures that took place this year intended to improve safety for drivers on the road, it is interesting to keep in mind -- and take some perspective on -- some of the passing trends in automobile safety. Interestingly, the city of Naperville voted to let contracts expire on their existing red light cameras.

While there are certainly a number of reasons that this, and other, municipalities may have for doing away with these devices, it is easy to forget that just a few years ago, these devices were all the rage, and were being praised as an important tool in the future automobile safety.

While certainly, it may have achieved its' goals in many ways, and had its' fair share of unwanted side effects (such as the blinding flash bulb light that many drivers find distracting), it is still too young of a technology to truly gauge the overall success or failure. There is, however, a lesson to be taken from the ushering in of new measures to improve driving safety and the phasing out of old measures -- the best defense against the dangers of the road is a vigilant driver.

Keeping a keen eye for traffic conditions, anticipating potential hazards from other drivers, and avoiding your own potential distractions are the best ways to avoid a potentially painful and costly accident. And it is important to keep in mind that, for all the new laws and regulations that affect your legal rights in a potential lawsuit, at the end of the day, the questions that matter in such cases come down to the conduct of the drivers themselves.

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have any questions and to learn how we may be able to help you in the unfortunate event of an accident that caused you or your family or friends injuries - in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Auto Accident Law -- New Laws in Effect Require All Passengers to Wear Seatbelts

This year has brought into effect a flurry of new laws passed the previous year, many of which are intended to affect the safety of drivers on the road. One such candidate is the requirement that all occupants of cars, trucks, and vans must wear seatbelts.

While it may come as a surprise to many that this is a "new" development, prior to January 1st of this year, passengers in the back seats of cars were not required to wear seatbelts -- this was only optional.

While the usefulness of this law from a general safety standpoint can hardly be debated, this new detail is also important to many attorneys practicing in personal injury law, because it provides an incentive to hopefully decrease preventable injuries. Also, many backseat passengers injured in auto accidents have previously assumed that because they weren't breaking the law by not wearing a seatbelt that this means that they will automatically be able to recover for their injuries.

This, however, was not (and is not) the case. Civil lawsuits for negligence look to whether conduct was "reasonable" -- a different standard than whether conduct was "legal," and it is often the case that not wearing a seatbelt stood a good chance of decreasing (if not outright eliminating) an injured victim's chances of compensation.

Fortunately, with the new seatbelt law, there is no longer any real confusion about the proper protocol for any passengers in a car. And with greater clarity, hopefully, comes more predictable results, which will allow injured victims more likelihood of success when the proper procedures are followed.

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have any questions and to learn how we may be able to help you in the unfortunate event of an accident that caused you or your family or friends injuries - in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.

Chicago Trial Attorney: Personal Injury & Business Litigation: Commercial Litigation and Business Disputes -- The First Step in a Breach of Contract Claim

In addition to fraud claims that we have previously discussed, perhaps the most common type of commercial dispute that leads to litigation fall under the vast heading of breach of contract. As you can probably imagine, the areas covered under this area of the law are as vast and expansive as the subject matter that people contract for to begin with. And, as you can also probably imagine, most breach of contract lawsuits come down to the fact that someone -- perhaps even both sides -- didn't read the proverbial "fine print." Before we get into the ins and outs of what a breach of contract action entails or what a plaintiff will have to plead and eventually prove, there's a fine nuance to the laws in Illinois that many don't realize until it's too late.

If you are suing someone under the terms of a written contract, you almost always have to attach the contract itself to the complaint. It sounds simple, but it is commonly overlooked -- after all, if you are injured in an auto accident, you don't have to attach a copy of the police report.

The rule finds its origin in Section 2-606 of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure. Section 2-606 provides that

“[i]f a claim or defense is founded upon a written instrument, a copy thereof, or of so much of the same as is relevant, must be attached to the pleading as an exhibit."

735 ILCS § 5/2-606.

There is, however, a subtle exception to this rule, but it shouldn't be relied on too heavily. In Case Presetressing Corp. v. Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine, the court noted

“to the extent the complaint relies on a written contract to establish a duty or a claim...it must set forth all of the relied upon and referred to provisions of the contract or contracts in its complaint or attach them to the complaint as an exhibit.”

118 Ill. App. 3d 782, 789 (1st Dist. 1983) (emphasis added).

Stated otherwise, if you don't attach a copy of the actual contract to your complaint, then you need to quote the language from the agreement instead. However, this doesn't mean that you can get away with "cutting corners" and paraphrasing the language from a contract -- actually, this is a quick way to get your complaint dismissed altogether.

The exception to the rule is more of a way to get around attaching a 50 page contract to a 5 page complaint or having to attach a document that might have confidential information to a publicly available court filing. Breach of contract actions, like all commercial disputes, are highly technical matters that often come down to the smallest of details -- an "and" instead of an "or," a "by" instead of a "before," a small ambiguity that might seem innocuous to the untrained eye. But these are the sorts of things that give rise to contractual disputes to begin with, so it follows that these are the sorts of things that make or break such lawsuits when it comes down to it.

Before you can get down to proving who did what, or even what makes up the claim, you have to start at the most basic, elemental level -- attaching the actual contract.

You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we wi