Archive for the ‘ Personal Injury ’ Category

Can You Sue For An Injury Sustained At A Sporting Event?

Posted on: October 19, 2017 by in Personal Injury
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When a 2-year-old girl was severely injured by a foul ball at Yankee Stadium in September, baseball fans around the nation asked: Could this happen to me or to my child? And if someone is injured at a baseball game or another sports event, does that person have any legal recourse? Keep reading, and you’ll learn those answers and more about the safety and rights of sports fans.

When you go to the ball game, you expect an afternoon or evening of fun and entertainment. What you do not expect is that you – or someone you love – will be gravely injured and rushed to an emergency room. Baseball fans are severely injured by foul balls, not frequently, but regularly enough to raise real concerns.

In October, for example, right here in Chicago, a 60-year-old Cubs fan filed a lawsuit against the Cubs and Major League Baseball (MLB). Jay Loos was blinded in one eye, suffered a jaw injury, and had his nose broken when he was struck in the face by a foul ball at Wrigley Field in August. He’s had three surgeries, expects that more will be needed, and seeks over $50,000 in damages.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE BASEBALL COMMISSIONER’S REACTION?

Both the Cubs and Yankees have stated that they will add more protective netting to make their fans safer, and the Commissioner of Major League Baseball, Rob Manfred, has asked every team to assess the risks from foul balls at their home fields. While these moves are commendable, they don’t really address an important legal matter that sports fans need to know about.

That matter is liability. When you buy a ticket to see the Cubs, the Sox, or any other Major League Baseball team, read the small print. That’s where the risk to fans is spelled out and the team’s liability is limited. You’ll learn more about that small print in a moment.

But first, is Major League Baseball legally obligated to protect paying spectators from foul ball injuries? According to Sports Illustrated, “Courts have long recognized the so-called ‘Baseball Rule,’ which imposes a limited duty on the part of teams to protect fans from foul ball injuries.”

WHAT IS A BALL PARK’S “ZONE” OF DANGER?

In the magazine’s September 21, 2017 edition, Michael McCann, the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the University of New Hampshire School of Law, explains that “teams must provide protective screening to fans seated in a ‘zone of danger.’ This zone includes seats behind and near home plate.” The logic is that these fans don’t have sufficient time to react to foul balls – which can move at over 100 miles per hour.

“Therefore,” McCann explains, “courts have reasoned, teams must place adequate netting or screening to protect these fans.” However, spectators outside the “zone of danger” are in seats that provide more reaction time, and courts usually presume that these fans have assumed the risk of injuries from foul balls.

Thus, fans generally waive the right to sue over a foul ball injury when they enter the stadium. Every Major League Baseball ticket has printed language explaining that ticket holders assume “all risk and danger incidental to the game,” including the “danger of being injured by equipment, objects, or persons entering spectator areas.”

HOW ARE TEAMS PROTECTING THEMSELVES FROM LIABILITY?

Additionally, stadium announcers typically ask spectators to stay alert, and most MLB stadiums have signs posted as reminders. The tickets, announcers, and signs give the teams some legal cover and make it difficult to sustain a claim for damages.

The reticence of courts to find teams liable for fan injuries was partially explained in a 2008 ruling from the Nevada Supreme Court. That court said that the restricted liability assigned to teams under the Baseball Rule limits “expensive and protracted litigation that might signal the demise or substantial alteration of the game of baseball as a spectator sport.”

The Nevada justices believed that without limits on a baseball team’s liability for fan injuries, too may fans would sue, and teams would have to increase ticket prices to pay for more liability insurance. Those dire predictions may or may not be true, but for now, limited liability is the law. With several notable exceptions, the courts have favored teams over fans when injuries lead to trials.

WILL SAFETY IMPROVE FOR BASEBALL FANS?

But that favoritism might be changing. After a 6-year-old girl was hit by a foul ball at an Atlanta Braves game in 2010 – causing a skull fracture and brain injuries – Georgia courts allowed the family’s personal injury lawsuit to proceed, and the Braves later settled with the family out of court. And another case, currently pending, has the potential to change the way all courts interpret the Baseball Rule.

At Yankee Stadium on a drizzly day in 2011, Andrew Zlotnick’s view of the game was blocked by umbrellas, and a foul ball that he purportedly didn’t see caused permanent vision damage and other injuries. Zlotnick’s lawsuit contends that the Baseball Rule should not apply in his circumstances. An appellate court currently has Zlotnick’s case under review.

Every case is different. If you or someone you love is injured by a foul ball or for any other reason – at Wrigley Field, Guaranteed Rate Field, or at any other sports venue in the greater Chicago area – speak at once regarding your legal rights and options with an experienced Chicago personal injury attorney. That attorney will review the details of the incident and determine if you have grounds to take legal action.

HOW DOES ILLINOIS PROTECT INJURED VICTIMS OF NEGLIGENCE?

In Illinois, the victims of negligence – who can prove that they are victims of negligence – are entitled by law to full compensation for their medical bills, including treatment in the future if needed, for their lost wages and lost future earning capacity, and for their past, current, and future pain and suffering arising from their injuries. To obtain that compensation, those victims will need help from an experienced Chicago personal injury attorney.

The Commissioner of Major League Baseball has personally asked teams to improve safety at major league stadiums. That’s an admission by someone at the very top of professional baseball that safety can be improved. In fact, the Baseball Rule may be on its way out, and fans may be able to expect a safer baseball experience in the near future.

Can You Sue The Government For Negligence?

Posted on: March 20, 2017 by in Personal Injury
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Local, county, state, and federal governmental agencies and entities are in most cases protected against lawsuits by a legal principle called “sovereign immunity.” For example, if your child is injured attending an Illinois public school, a personal injury claim must demonstrate that there was willful and wanton and/or “reckless behavior” on the part of one or more school employees. If you’re injured in traffic because the Chicago Transit Authority was negligent, a notice of intent to sue must be filed within six months of the injury and a lawsuit must follow within a year. A number of criteria must be satisfied before a lawsuit can be filed against any government agency in Illinois.

But what about the federal government? If you slip on a wet floor at the post office and you are injured, if an FBI agent crashes into your automobile, or if you’re the victim of medical malpractice at a Veterans Administration hospital, what is your legal recourse? If you are injured because one or more employees of the federal government were negligent, in most cases your only recourse is to bring a lawsuit under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). However, if you choose to sue the feds under the FTCA, you’ll have to overcome a number of legal obstacles, and your claim may be restricted by a long and somewhat perplexing list of legal limitations.

WHAT IS THE FEDERAL TORT CLAIMS ACT (FTCA)?

The doctrine of sovereign immunity is historical. Under monarchies, the sovereign – that is, the king or queen – was the authority which created the courts, so the sovereign could not be bound by the courts. The effect was that no one was allowed to sue the king or queen. Sovereign immunity has continued into the 21st century as the legal principle that you cannot sue the government – unless the government allows you to. The Federal Tort Claims Act allows only particular lawsuits against federal employees acting within the “scope” of their employment.

If someone is injured because of the negligence of one or more federal employees, before a personal injury claim can be filed, you’ll have to find out if your claim is allowed under the FTCA. If it’s not, you probably will not be able to sue. In the greater Chicago area, let an experienced Chicago personal injury attorney help you determine if you can file a personal injury claim against a federal employee or agency. You may have other options that your attorney can explain as well.

WHEN IS A LAWSUIT ALLOWED BY THE FTCA?

Frankly, the limitations placed on lawsuits against the federal government are too numerous and extensive to list here, but you may find these general guidelines helpful. Only federal employees can be sued under the FTCA. Independent contractors working for the federal government cannot be sued under the FTCA, but you may have other options if your lawsuit targets a contractor rather than the federal government itself.

Generally speaking, only negligence claims are allowed. Acts of intentional misconduct that cause injuries are handled differently, and if you are the victim of the intentional misconduct of a federal employee, your attorney can explain your other options. Any claim made against a federal employee or federal agency must also be allowed by and based on the laws of the state where the negligence and injury took place.

In spite of the multiple limits on FTCA lawsuits, the government of the United States nevertheless pays out millions every year to compensate injury victims with FTCA claims. If you’ve been injured by the negligence one or more federal employees, let an experienced Chicago personal injury attorney review the details and determine if your claim can be pursued. If you’ve been injured, and you need to be compensated, it’s well worth the effort.

If your attorney determines that your injury claim is valid under the FTCA, then a number of steps must be followed, and you’ll also have to meet some hard, non-negotiable deadlines. In a “regular” personal injury lawsuit, you take the case directly to court. But if you sue under the FTCA, the first step is filing a notice – called an “administrative claim” – with the federal agency responsible for the purported negligence. Use the government’s standard claim form, Standard Form 95 (or “SF 95”), and have your attorney complete the form or review it after you’ve completed it.

HOW DOES THE ADMINISTRATIVE CLAIM PROCESS WORK?

If you sue the federal government for a personal injury, you generally must file the administrative claim with the appropriate federal agency within two years of the date you are injured. Don’t wait two years. In fact, see an attorney and have the administrative claim filed as quickly as possible after the injury. Your administrative claim should include both the facts and details regarding your injury and the precise amount of compensation you are seeking. Include enough facts so that the agency can conduct its own investigation. This is another good reason to have the claim reviewed by an attorney before submitting it.

Federal agencies normally have six months to respond to an administrative claim. Sometimes, an agency may admit the validity of the claim and compensate the claimant without any further action and without any need to go to court. When a federal agency rejects an administrative claim, the claimant then has six months (from the date the decision is mailed to the claimant) to file a formal lawsuit. Don’t wait six months. Have your attorney file the lawsuit at once if your administrative claim is denied. If the federal agency does not make a ruling within six months, you may continue awaiting the agency’s decision, or you may file the lawsuit at that time.

You cannot sue for more than you specified in your administrative claim unless you have new evidence that increases the value of your claim, and you may not seek punitive damages from the federal government. You must file the lawsuit in the United States District Court either in the district where you reside or in the district where you were injured. After the lawsuit is filed in federal court, the process is comparable to a “regular” personal injury lawsuit. Attorneys for both sides may attempt to negotiate a settlement before and even during the trial.

Even for a federal law, the Federal Tort Claims Act is extensively complicated, so don’t even think about suing the federal government and acting as your own attorney. Keep in mind that most personal injury attorneys work on a contingent fee basis, so if an attorney accepts your case and sues the federal government on your behalf, that attorney is likely convinced that your claim will prevail.

Infographic – Chicago’s Highest Settlement & Trial Verdicts Of The Year

Posted on: June 30, 2016 by in Infographics, Personal Injury
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In the following infographic, we explore the highest settlement and trial verdicts of the year in Chicago.  In this country, we are protected from the neglect and carelessness of others, and if you have suffered as the result of another’s negligence, then you owe it to yourself and your family to get the financial compensation you deserve. Speak with an experienced personal injury attorney to explore your options and protect your rights.

CHICAGO’S HIGHEST SETTLEMENT & TRIAL VERDICTS OF THE YEAR

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When Can A Landlord Be Held Liable For Tenant Personal Injuries?

Posted on: April 17, 2016 by in Personal Injury
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If you are a landlord in the state of Illinois – or anywhere else – one of your priorities must be putting solutions in place before problems arise. Real estate laws in most states are complicated, detailed, and sometimes baffling, and residential tenants in most states are provided by law with legal rights and protections to ensure fair treatment. For example, a landlord can sometimes be held legally liable for the personal injuries of tenants.

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Landlords can be held legally accountable for injuries that are the result of dangerous or unmaintained conditions that the landlord did not repair and did not inform the tenant about. If a tenant reports any dangerous condition – even a dangerous condition that the tenant has caused – a landlord must fix or make a reasonable effort to fix that condition in a reasonable amount of time, or the landlord can and probably will be held liable for any resulting injury or injuries.

If it can be proven that the landlord (or his or her agent) was negligent in maintaining a property, and if it can be proven that the negligence was the proximate or direct cause of an injury or injuries,a landlord may be found liable and compelled to pay damages. In the Chicago area, for example, an injured tenant could file a personal injury claim with the help of a Chicago personal injury attorney against the landlord’s insurance company for medical expenses, lost earnings, pain and other physical suffering, disfigurement, permanent physical disability, and emotional distress.

HOW CAN LANDLORDS PROTECT THEMSELVES?

If a personal injury claim is filed by a tenant, in most cases, actual active negligence does not specifically have to be proven. It’s enough for a tenant-plaintiff to show that a landlord simply knew or should have known about a dangerous condition, and either failed to repair it or to give sufficient warning regarding the danger.Landlords must minimize any possibility of injury to tenants, so they may find these three general recommendations useful:

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  1. A rental property must be regularly inspected to ensure compliance with health and safety regulations and to identify any existing or emerging potential hazard.
  2. Dangerous conditions reported by tenants must be fixed in a reasonable time period.
  3. Don’t forget to check the lights, water pressure, plumbing and drainage, electrical fixtures, stairs, doors, and windows. Larger properties – apartment buildings and other commercial properties – will be subject to more regulations, and may require regular professional inspections.

Landlords should keep detailed records of the complaints that tenants make and the repairs that are made in response. Rather than brushing off tenant complaints, landlords should actually encourage tenants to report dangerous conditions so that those conditions can be repaired promptly. If someone is injured because of a landlord’s failure to repair a dangerous situation or to provide a clear and adequate warning, the landlord could be found negligent and compelled to pay damages.

Landlords have a legal duty to maintain the general safety of their rental properties. That duty may include the installation and maintenance of extra lights, smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, and in larger buildings it may also include a requirement to post escape plans and instructions in plain view. Illinois law makes landlords responsible for unintentional harm caused by negligence. To prove a claim of negligence against a landlord, a tenant must show that the landlord breached a legal duty owed to the tenant by not meeting the reasonable “standard of care” legally required by the situation, and the tenant must also prove that an injury or injuries resulted from that breach of duty.

WHAT IS A STANDARD OF CARE?

“Standard of care” is the legal phrase for the level of caution and prudence that a reasonable person must exercise in a particular situation. If a landlord does not meet the reasonable standard and a tenant is injured, the landlord will be found legally negligent. Precisely what is a landlord’s reasonable standard of care? If a personal injury claim against a landlord goes to trial, the courts will determine what the average, reasonable landlord would do in the same circumstances and whether the landlord being sued exercised at least that minimum level of caution and prudence.

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When there’s a law, regulation, or ordinance in place that spells out a landlord’s responsibility, and the landlord is not compliant with that law, regulation, or ordinance, and injury or injuries are the result, the landlord is automatically deemed negligent. For example, if a city or state requires smoke detectors in rental units for residential housing, and injury occurs to a tenant because a residential rental unit was rented without a smoke detector, “reasonableness” is no longer a consideration. Because a law is on the books, a landlord would be considered automatically negligent in that circumstance.

WHEN ARE LANDLORDS LEGALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR INJURIES?

Clearly, not every injury on a landlord’s property is a landlord’s fault. When a tenant is injured on a landlord’s property, inside a unit or in a common area, it doesn’t automatically follow that the landlord is responsible. If tenant’s own negligence or recklessness led to the injury or injuries, the landlord probably cannot be held liable. In fact, landlords are responsible only for injuries caused by their own breaches of duty to provide reasonable care, and moreover, the injuries sustained must be “foreseeable” injuries. In other words, to be found legally responsible for an injury or injuries, a landlord would have to “reasonably” foresee the potential consequences of his or her negligent action (or failure to act).

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A landlord may also be held accountable for an injury or injuries caused by the criminal actions of others if those crimes were reasonably foreseeable. For example, if a tenant is injured by a criminal because of a lack of locks, lights, or in some cases the lack of an alarm system, the landlord might be held liable for the injury or injuries, depending on the details of the incident.

ARE YOU ALLOWED TO SAY NO?

As a residential landlord, you cannot refuse to rent to someone based on race, color, religion, age, marital status, sexual preference, gender, national origin, ancestry, a mental or physical handicap, military status, or unfavorable discharge from military service. That doesn’t mean that you can’t say no to a potential renter. You can say no for non-discriminatory reasons including safety reasons. For example, you can refuse to rent to people who smoke or to people who have a criminal record.

Tenants have rights under Illinois law, and if they’re injured by a landlord’s negligence, they have every right to retain the legal help of an experienced Springfield or Chicago personal injury attorney. In addition to making certain – on a regular basis – that rental properties are safe, landlords should protect themselves with strong, and precisely-worded leases that spell out clearly the rights and obligations of both the landlord and the tenant. A precisely-drafted lease, a friendly rapport with tenants, and regular safety inspections are the best tools landlords have for protecting themselves from liability for personal injuries.

Drunk Driving: Who Suffers The Most?

Posted on: March 8, 2016 by in Personal Injury
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When someone decides to drive after drinking too much, that person puts every other person sharing the street at risk for a collision and for devastating injuries. If a drunk driver crashes into you – and you live through it – you could sustain broken bones, severe burns, spinal cord damage, or a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Seek medical attention immediately if you are involved in a crash with a drunk driver, and then discuss your legal rights and options right away with a good personal injury lawyer, and in the Chicago area, with an experienced Chicago personal injury attorney. The law in Illinois allows the injured victims of drunk drivers to seek full reimbursement for medical bills, lost income, and all other injury-related expenses, but you will need a good attorney’s help.

You do not have to drink very much to reach the “legal limit.” For almost everyone, one or two drinks will take you there, and some people need even less. In all fifty states, the limit for driving is a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.08 percent. If your BAC level is measured at 0.08 percent or higher, you can be arrested and charged with driving under the influence – DUI. Some states call the offense driving while intoxicated or DWI, but it’s the same crime. The point is that just one drink is enough to impair your driving skills and slow your reaction time.

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WHAT ARE THE STATISTICS?

The National Commission Against Drunk Driving reports that more than 250,000 of us are injured annually by impaired drivers in the United States, and about 10,000 people are killed each year in alcohol-related vehicle crashes. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the total cost to all of us in the U.S. for the damage caused by drunk drivers exceeds $50 billion every year. In state criminal courts across the nation, the criminal justice system relentlessly hands out penalties to convicted drunk drivers – probation, jail and prison time, fines, license suspensions and revocations, community service, and more. However, if you or someone you love has been severely injured by an impaired driver, you can also take that driver to court and sue that person for civil damages. It’s another good reason to avoid driving under the influence – you’ll be punished first by the criminal court system, and you could later face even more penalties in a second, civil court procedure.

If you or someone you love is injured by a drunk driver, and if – after consulting with an attorney – you choose to file a personal injury claim, you will be required to prove that you have been injured, that you were injured by a specific individual – the defendant – in a specific traffic crash, and that the defendant was driving negligently at the time of the collision. Yes, it helps if the defendant failed a breathalyzer exam or received a DUI or DWI conviction, but all you are required to prove in a personal injury claim is that the other driver was negligent. What’s most important is putting your attorney to work at once. Witnesses need to be questioned and evidence in the case needs to be compiled and examined promptly. A good personal injury attorney will fight aggressively and relentlessly for your rights and your compensation, but the sooner you get started and contact that attorney, the better.

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IN WHAT WAYS DO VICTIMS SUFFER?

Still, if an impaired driver has inflicted a long-term or disabling injury, in some cases it won’t matter how much cash you win in a verdict or a settlement. The reality is that the injured victims of drunk drivers often suffer in ways that no sum of money can alleviate. Jada Benge, for example, was a 33-year-old mother of three when she was killed in 2004 by a drunk driver. Her three daughters and her husband were also severely injured when that driver slammed into their vehicle and tragically changed their lives forever. “The pain is still there,” Michael Benge said to KBAK and KBFX News. “My girls were 8, 9 and 12 at the time when they watched their mother die.”

Last year, Rebekah Bowers Sanders and her husband were the victims of a drunk driver near Paris, Texas. Both sustained multiple serious injuries, broken bones, sprains, fractures, bruises, and more. Ms. Sanders suffered a broken eye socket and the loss of vision in that eye. She recently explained to KLFY News, “I have yet to regain the vision in my right eye, and it is extremely unlikely that I will ever see out of it again. I will never get to look over my shoulder at my children playing in the backseat of the car.”

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WHAT DOES SCIENCE SAY?

Scientists are now actually confirming the widely-held suspicion that the injuries suffered by intoxicated drivers are frequently less serious than the injuries those drivers impose on others. A research team at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) has found that a higher blood alcohol content level appears to enhance an injury victim’s chance of surviving a serious collision. And the drunker a person is, the more likely he or she is to avoid being seriously injured. Lee Friedman, an assistant professor of environmental and occupational health sciences at UIC, headed up the research team and wrote the report. He adds that, “After an injury, if you are intoxicated there seems to be a pretty substantial protective effect.”

In some cases, the injuries that a drunk driver inflicts on innocent victims can be permanently disabling. A traumatic brain injury can be the result of any blow or jolt to the head. Spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries happen far too often in alcohol-related vehicle collisions. Whiplash can happen when the rear end of a vehicle receives a sudden, severe impact. Bone, muscle, and tissue damage can keep you from performing your job and even impair your ability to accomplish basic everyday tasks like cooking, dressing, and bathing.

Some physical injuries heal with time, but the emotional injuries a drunk driver visits on others can be lifelong. The most egregiously injured victims confront serious psychological challenges after sustaining permanent and disabling injuries. The future can look genuinely bleak, and some survivors are overcome by feelings of isolation, alienation, depression, and fear. Obviously, no one who is active and healthy is going to adjust easily to being suddenly and permanently disabled. Almost every injured accident survivor will encounter some kind of psychological hardship. Jobs may be lost. Marriages may suffer. And in spite of the legal penalties that are handed out to convicted drunk drivers almost every day by the courts, it really does seem as if the innocent victims of drunk drivers are the ones who take more punishment for the crime.

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WHEN AN ACCIDENT HAPPENS, WHAT MUST YOU DO?

Try to keep calm and stay rational if you are involved in a vehicle crash with a drunk driver. You must try to do several very important things virtually at once, so it really is essential to think clearly. Obtaining medical help for yourself and others is the top priority. Even if you don’t think you’ve been injured, it is essential to see a doctor as soon as possible to protect yourself. Adrenaline in your system can mask pain, and some injuries are not immediately apparent or detectable. A mild soreness or ache could emerge as a serious medical problem days or weeks later. Seeing a doctor will provide peace of mind if you’re healthy, and it can begin to establish the medical record you’ll need if you’ve been injured and you later file a personal injury claim.

When you’re in a traffic crash, call the police. You will need to obtain a copy of the police accident report, and you may need their eyewitness testimony if you file a compensation claim. If other witnesses saw the collision, try to obtain their names and their contact information. You must get the other driver’s name, contact, and complete insurance information, and if that driver cannot help you – because of intoxication or injury – ask the police for help getting the details you need.

Take as many photographs as you can as quickly as you can, or have someone take pictures for you. You really cannot have enough photos of the accident, the damage to the vehicles, and your own injuries. Photographs can confirm your testimony and sometimes make all the difference in a personal injury case. Keep copies of everything – medical bills, receipts, test results, and anything else that might be relevant. Keep all of your medical appointments and get the healthcare and medical treatment you need.

Candidly speaking, cash simply cannot compensate for much of the damage that drunk drivers leave in their path. However, a good personal injury attorney will use every available legal tool to help you win the compensation that lets you move ahead with your life after a catastrophic injury. If you or anyone you love is injured – now or in the future – by a drunk driver anywhere in or near the greater Chicago area, do not wait to take action and seek justice. Arrange immediately to consult with an experienced Chicago personal injury attorney.

The Tragedy of Nursing Home Abuse

Posted on: January 14, 2016 by in Personal Injury
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When someone you love is no longer able to live independently, a decision must be made about the best arrangement for your loved one’s care. That decision is far too often made at a time of personal and family crisis, frequently just as your loved one is ready to be discharged from the hospital subsequent to a serious illness or operation. If your family has an elderly or disabled loved one who is residing at a long-term nursing home facility, your family needs to be in constant communication with that facility’s staff, needs to make frequent surprise visits, and needs to stay alert to any signs of mistreatment, negligence, or abuse. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, 36 percent of the nursing home facilities in the United States have at some point been cited for violating elder abuse laws. While nursing homes are trusted to care for our elderly and often frail family members, unfortunately, too many nursing home residents are mistreated, exploited, and abused. It happens in all fifty states.

While the overwhelming majority of nursing home facilities in the United States are professionally staffed and managed, other nursing homes unfortunately are not. Understaffing and a failure to provide sufficient or appropriate training are usually – although not always – the underlying causes of abuse, negligence, and mistreatment in nursing homes. Nursing home facilities, of course, exist to make profits for their owners, but a nursing home’s owners cannot be allowed to put profits above the security, health, and well-being of the residents. Tragically, abuse in nursing home facilities is on the rise in the United States. Nursing home neglect or abuse includes but is not limited to:

  • malnutrition and dehydration
  • emotional, verbal, or physical abuse
  • unnecessary restraint
  • financial exploitation and theft
  • failure to monitor residents (for falls and other injurious incidents)
  • negligence or malpractice and the subsequent medical complications
  • bed sores or ulcers caused by neglect

COMMON TYPES OF NURSING HOME ABUSE

Bedsores or “pressure” ulcers are among the clearest signs that a nursing home resident’s care is being neglected. Pressure sores are lesions which emerge in the skin due to long-term, unrelieved pressure on bony areas of the body. The pressure minimizes the normal flow of blood to those areas, so the surrounding tissue dies. Bed sores can show up almost anywhere, but they are common in or on the sacrum, coccyx (tailbone), elbows, ankles, and heels. Nursing home personnel can easily prevent bedsores simply by regularly turning residents to relieve pressure on any particular spot. The failure to take this simple measure is frankly inexcusable and should be considered a sign of serious trouble at a nursing home facility.

Another negligence issue at many nursing homes is dental care. In 2013, a New York Times article reported that due to undertraining and understaffing, many nursing home residents do not receive adequate dental care – or in some cases any dental care at all. Nursing home residents suffer from gum disease, cavities, and a variety of other dental problems. For older persons, as you may already know, the ramifications of inadequate dental care can swiftly become serious health issues. Improper oral hygiene may also contribute to pneumonia, a leading killer in nursing homes. If you have a loved one in a nursing home facility, don’t hesitate to ask what kind of dental care is provided.

Financial exploitation of nursing home residents is also alarmingly on the rise. Financial exploitation includes stealing cash or jewelry, the unauthorized cashing of checks, the forging of signatures, and tricking or bullying someone into signing a will, a contract, or some other questionable financial document. If you find any clear sign of abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation, or if you even suspect that your beloved family member is a victim of nursing home abuse, you must act at once.

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ELDER ABUSE CANNOT BE TOLERATED

In the most egregious incidents, which thankfully are extremely rare, nursing home residents have been physically assaulted. In 2014, two certified nursing assistants were charged with committing battery against a 76-year-old Alzheimer’s patient at the Palm Gardens Nursing Home in Winter Haven, Florida, according to the police. The victim’s son suspected abuse when he discovered bruises on his father. He installed a tiny camera in his father’s room and captured several incidents of physical abuse. It goes without saying that physical abuse of the elderly can never be tolerated and that anyone responsible for physical abuse of the elderly must be held accountable.

If you notice any signs of nursing home abuse, or if you believe that your loved one may be a victim of mistreatment or negligence by a nursing home facility’s staff, speak at once with a good personal injury lawyer who can fight for your family’s rights, and in the greater Chicago area, speak promptly with an experienced Chicago personal injury attorney who routinely represents the victims of nursing home abuse and their families. A good personal injury lawyer can launch an immediate investigation, gather evidence and testimony on your behalf, and work with other experts who can help you and your family. Nothing is a higher priority than the health and safety of your family members. If you suspect that negligence, abuse, or mistreatment is happening to someone you love or happening in a nursing home where your loved one resides, seek the legal help you need immediately from an experienced personal injury lawyer. Your lawyer should be able to advise you about what steps to take and may be able to help you obtain the damages and compensation – and the justice – your loved one needs and deserves.

REDUCING THE INCIDENTS OF ABUSE

Lawmakers and healthcare providers are constantly considering new ways to reduce the number of nursing home abuse and mistreatment incidents. Many state legislatures have adopted a “Patients’ Bill of Rights” which outlines the responsibilities of nursing home owners, nursing home staffs, and nursing home residents. In 2015, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed a bill into law that now allows nursing home residents to install cameras in their rooms to protect themselves against abuse. The law allows residents to place cameras in their rooms if residents pay for the cameras. According to the Chicago Tribune, the Illinois Department of Public Health says that there are roughly 19,000 allegations of neglect or abuse in Illinois nursing homes every year – an average of more than fifty neglect or abuse allegations every day. The new law also provides that the audio and video recordings made by nursing home residents may be used in court.

If you have an elderly family member who resides in a nursing home, you also need to be sure that the facility is adequately staffed. Across the nation, nursing homes – and their residents – are suffering from a shortage of qualified personnel, and that shortage is severely impacting the quality of care to disabled and elderly residents. Many nursing home facilities simply have not hired the personnel that’s needed. Federal guidelines are vague; all that federal law requires is that nursing homes must have “sufficient” staff, but allowing the nursing homes themselves to determine what is “sufficient” has resulted, at many facilities, in negligence, abuse, and risks to the safety and health of the residents.

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TAKING ACTION

Families should also try to understand that nursing home abuse may be difficult to identify because some victims may not understand that they are being abused. Those suffering with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and dementia are particularly vulnerable to nursing home abuse. If you believe that someone you love has been criminally abused, or if you believe that your loved one is currently at risk, let an experienced personal injury attorney explain your legal options and help you determine if law enforcement officials should be notified. If you choose to file a lawsuit for damages against a nursing home, a criminal conviction for something like theft or battery can only make your claim stronger. Of course, every nursing home abuse case is unique, and every state’s laws differ slightly, so you’ll want to obtain a personal injury lawyer’s advice from the first moment you suspect nursing home abuse, and in the state of Illinois, you should speak with an experienced Chicago personal injury attorney.

In Illinois, approximately 1,200 long-term care facilities across the state serve more than 100,000 residents. Nursing home facilities in Illinois are licensed, regulated, inspected, and certified by the Illinois Department of Public Health and by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. If you have a loved one in a nursing home in Illinois or any other state, be on the lookout for these signs of abuse: bruises, bed sores, cuts, ulcers, thirst, hunger, or a sudden emergency, coma, or death. Abuse also includes sexual abuse or unwarranted restraint. If you believe a beloved family member may be the victim of nursing home abuse in Illinois, speak at once to an experienced Chicago personal injury lawyer who will fight for your family’s rights. Nothing is a higher priority than your loved ones, and an experienced personal injury attorney is the person who can help you and your family. If you suspect ongoing nursing home negligence, mistreatment, or abuse, make the call as quickly as possible.

Traumatic Brain Injury and Its Impact on Sexual Functioning

Posted on: August 28, 2015 by in Personal Injury
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A brain injury can affect every aspect of a person’s life. The sexual consequences of traumatic brain injury are typically underestimated.

Many persons, who have suffered a traumatic brain injury, may complain of lower sexual desire or lack of desire after the injury. In other cases, persons may actually experience a spike in interest in sex after a brain injury. That can result in impulsive sexual behavior, promiscuity, and other inappropriate behaviors. These persons may make inappropriate sexual advances, making others uncomfortable.

Patients with a traumatic brain injury also often complain of failure to become sexually aroused, or difficulty attaining an aroused state. They may experience difficulty in achieving or maintaining and erection, or difficulty or inability to achieve an orgasm.

All of these changes in a person’s sexual functioning can severely impact his self-esteem, and lower the quality of his life.

In a personal injury claim, the spouse of the person with a brain injury can file a claim for loss of consortium. Loss of consortium will seek to compensate the spouse of the victim for loss of sexual relations, as well as loss of affection, care and companionship as a result of the injury. The injured victim can also make a claim for loss of enjoyment of life.

Speak to a Chicago personal injury lawyer to determine what legal remedies you have in the case of a traumatic brain injury that has resulted in sexual consequences. Schedule a consultation with a Chicago personal injury lawyer today.

Should I accept a settlement offer in my Illinois nursing home abuse case?

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Many Illinois nursing home abuse cases are settled outside of the courtroom. However, whether you should settle depends on the unique characteristics of your case. Your nursing home abuse lawyer can help you determine the most effective legal strategy for you and your elderly loved one.

When a nursing home abuse case is settled either prior to or after a lawsuit is filed, the plaintiff agrees to accept a set monetary amount in exchange for dismissal of the case. But just because a settlement is offered, doesn’t mean you should accept. Often times, the insurance provider of a nursing home will make a low-ball settlement offer in hopes of saving money. In fact, it’s the job of insurance adjusters to minimize payouts to injured parties.

We strongly suggest working with a knowledgeable nursing home neglect lawyer who can help you assign a realistic monetary value to the economic and non-economic damages suffered by your loved one. Ultimately, your settlement should take into account the facts and circumstances of the case, the amount of the offer, and the personal decision of whether you want to settle or try the case. An experienced lawyer such as the Chicago personal injury attorneys at Phillips Law Offices will work with you to weigh the pros, cons and overall fairness of the offer.

Nursing home abuse claims can be understandably overwhelming. If your loved one was injured as a result of abuse or neglect in a nursing home, they may have endured expensive medical treatment, disability, pain and suffering, and diminished quality of life. Ideally, a fair settlement should cover all bills associated with their injury, as well as give you peace of mind.

There is no amount of money that can undo your loved one’s suffering. However, fair compensation – whether achieved by negotiation or by going to trial – can go a long way toward restoring justice and dignity to your loved one.

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Are assisted living centers in Illinois required to keep records of the care provided?

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By state law, Illinois assisted living centers are required to keep records of patient care and staffing. Maintaining these files allows the state to monitor facilities to ensure care being rendered to nursing home residents is appropriate and safe. When misconduct is reported, records also allow the state and lawyers like the nursing home abuse attorneys at Phillips Law Offices to determine whether assisted living centers properly cared for a patient.

Even with state regulations in place, abuse in nursing homes and other assisted living centers remains an all too common occurrence. In fact, more than half a million cases of nursing home abuse are reported to authorities each year in the U.S. Sadly, many more incidents of abuse go unreported.

Neglect and abuse in nursing homes can be difficult to detect and even harder to prove. Embarrassment, fear of retaliation and cognitive impairments such as dementia prevent many abuse victims from coming forward. Meanwhile, families of the elderly may mistake signs of abuse, which can range from bruises and bedsores to increased disorientation or anxiety, as normal symptoms of aging. Examining medical and employee records is a critical step in identifying abuse and holding nursing homes accountable.

If you suspect someone you love has suffered abuse in a nursing home or other assisted living facility, it’s important to have your loved one’s records evaluated by a legal professional to determine your legal options. A qualified nursing abuse attorney has the legal expertise and resources to evaluate medical records for abuse and neglect. If misconduct is found, your attorney will advocate on your behalf.

Elder abuse comes in many forms, but its impacts are often the same. Victims of nursing home abuse and their families are frequently left with costs ranging from medical bills and injury to pain and suffering and reduced quality of life. By reviewing nursing home records, your attorney can determine whether you have an Illinois nursing home abuse claim – and whether you are entitled to financial compensation for harm suffered.

Are Illinois assisted living centers monitored for possible abuse and neglect?

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When you have a loved one in an Illinois assisted living center, it’s understandable to be concerned with the quality of care they are receiving. The state of Illinois is in charge of regulating the operation and licensing of its assisted living facilities. However, as in any government system, violations often fall between the cracks. If you suspect abuse or neglect in an assisted living center, nursing home or other long-term care facility, it’s a good idea to speak with an experienced Illinois nursing home abuse lawyer.

With limited budgets and personnel, states can only do so much to monitor assisted living facilities. It’s up to vigilant assisted living center staff, families of residents, and attorneys to ensure facilities maintain a proper standard of care, and to hold them accountable when they fail to do so.

Nursing home abuse and neglect is more common than many people realize. More than half a million instances of elder abuse are reported to authorities each year, with many more cases going unreported. Misconduct in assisted living facilities can take many forms, from outright physical or sexual abuse to subtle negligence or emotional abuse. However, all forms of abuse have the potential to wreak devastating impacts on long-term care patients, including serious injury, failing health, diminished quality of life and even death.

Often times, Chicago nursing home abuse goes undetected because victims are cognitively impaired or embarrassed to report misconduct. This is why it’s so critical for families to keep close watch on their loved ones. When a loved one suffers abuse at the mercy of caregivers, nursing home abuse lawyers such as the team at Phillips Law Offices exist to hold nursing homes responsible.

There is no justification for the abuse or neglect of our society’s most vulnerable citizens. If you believe abuse and/or neglect is occurring in an Illinois assisted living center, it’s important to speak up. Your Chicago nursing home abuse attorney can help you put a stop to the wrongdoing and restore the dignity, and rights, of your elderly loved one.