Articles Posted in Personal Injury

definition of insuranceUnderstanding the role that insurance policies may have in your claim can be critically important to ensuring that you receive the compensation that you deserve. Accidents can lead to considerable damages and expenses, especially when long-term injuries and permanent disabilities are involved. As Illinois personal injury lawyers, we have substantial experience dealing with insurance companies.

In a recent appellate decision, an employee filed a lawsuit against its former employer for injuries that the employee sustained as a result of long-term exposure to asbestos. The employee notified every insurance company that had sold policies to the employer during the relevant time period. One of the insurance companies contended that the policies it provided to the employer for the relevant time period should be viewed as excess insurance because the employer had agreed to a self-insured retention program as opposed to a deductible for that period of time. The employer asserted a counterclaim, seeking a judgment declaring that the insurer’s policies should be viewed as primary coverage for the relevant time period. The lower court granted the employer’s motion for summary judgment on this issue.

The insurer appealed, arguing that any policy that refers to a self-insured retention must be viewed as an excess policy according to Illinois case precedent. The appellate court rejected this, finding that Illinois courts have detailed other characteristics that will help distinguish between primary and excess insurance policies. For example, courts have ruled that excess policies do not typically require immediate notice of an accident or event, as primary policies typically do. Insurers that provide excess insurance are not concerned with every accident that happens, but only those that are severe enough to warrant excess coverage. Also, excess coverage is contingent on the insured exhausting his or her primary coverage. As a result, excess coverage providers typically do not require notification until there is a reasonable likelihood that the excess insurance policy will be necessary. As a result, courts have concluded that excess insurance policies provide the insured with some amount of discretion.

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Picture of morgueWhen it comes to personal injury law, there are many different kinds of conduct and harm that render a victim eligible for compensation. As experienced and knowledgeable Illinois personal injury lawyers, we have handled a wide variety of cases including unique and complex types of injuries. In a recent case, the plaintiff gave birth to a daughter who was stillborn. The plaintiff signed a form provided by the hospital authorizing it to dispose of the daughter’s remains. The plaintiff alleged in her complaint that the defendant’s employees told her verbally that the daughter would be buried in a short period of time. Roughly one year later, the plaintiff learned that her daughter’s remains were still in a cooler at a morgue facility that the defendant operated. She also learned that the remains were in a container that contained many other fetal remains.

In her complaint, the plaintiff also contended that the defendant voluntarily undertook burial of the deceased baby and that this created a duty to provide the child with a timely burial as promised. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant breached this duty by failing to make arrangements for the burial, by placing the baby’s remains in a container with multiple other fetal remains, by failing to report the baby’s death to the local registrar, by using the wrong burial consent form, and by failing to maintain or to follow any appropriate burial protocols. Finally, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant was negligent in supervising and monitoring its employees.

As for damages, the plaintiff alleged that she suffered severe emotional distress and depression as well as incurring burial and autopsy fees.

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eyes with tearsFew things are more devastating than suffering intentional abuse, especially at the hands of someone you trust. There are many claims involving adults sexually abusing minors. What many victims fail to realize is that in addition to facing criminal liability, the defendant also can face civil liability for the pain and suffering that he or she caused. Our seasoned team of Illinois personal injury lawyers has handled numerous cases involving sexual assault. As a result, we understand just how serious and sensitive this matter is for you and your family.

In a recent appellate opinion, the Illinois Court of Appeals was asked to consider whether a complaint alleging that a director of youth ministries sexually groomed and raped a minor was properly dismissed. In their complaint, the plaintiffs named several persons and entities as defendants, including the congregation that employed the director and the pastor involved. The trial court eventually dismissed the claims against the pastor and one of the congregations involved. The plaintiffs later amended their complaint, alleging negligent retention, negligent supervision, willful and wanton failure to protect, and willful and wanton failure to supervise against the various remaining defendants.

At its core, the complaint allegations referred to a two-year period of time in which the plaintiff was allegedly subjected to various types of abuse and sexual misconduct by the director. The complaint included allegations involving other minors who were allegedly victims of similar conduct. Ultimately, the director and other defendants filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, which the lower court granted. After another series of motions, all claims against all defendants were dismissed. The plaintiffs filed a motion to reconsider, but the lower court only granted it regarding the negligence claims against the pastor.

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baby in bathThere are few things more devastating in life than losing a child due to an unnecessary and avoidable incident. At Therman Law Offices, our seasoned team of Illinois wrongful death lawyers has guided numerous families through the legal process. We know that no amount of money will ever truly compensate you for your loss, but it can help cope with the financial impact of the event.

In a recent appellate decision, an Illinois court considered whether a lower court appropriately allocated the proceeds of a wrongful death action between the parties to the case. The facts of the case are as follows. The parents of two daughters participated in the Intact Family Services program administered by the defendant. The parents had two daughters who were 10 months apart in age. In July 2010, the daughters were placed in a bath tote while unsupervised. The younger daughter, who was seven months old, drowned in the bath tote. The mother was participating in the program at the time the death occurred.

An independent administrator was named for the deceased infant’s estate, and he filed a wrongful death lawsuit. The lower court approved a $750,000 settlement from the program and its employee to the estate, and it was also approved in probate court. Sometime thereafter, the father filed a petition seeking a determination of the relative dependencies of the decedent’s family members according to the Illinois Wrongful Death Act. He sought a 90% allocation for himself, a 10% allocation for the surviving sibling, and a 0% allocation for the mother.

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insuranceLosing a loved one is a painful experience. The devastation can be even more life-changing when the victim is a baby or child. The dedicated Chicago wrongful death lawyers at Therman Law Offices have seen how a family can be forever torn apart by a doctor’s carelessness. Having to deal with insurance companies who don’t always have your best interests in mind can make this process even more burdensome. In a recent appellate case, the plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against an insurer, asserting a claim for a bad faith failure to settle a lawsuit. The jury ultimately ruled in the plaintiff’s favor and awarded them a multi-million dollar judgment. The insurer appealed, raising a number of issues.

In the underlying lawsuit, the plaintiffs brought claims against many individuals, including the doctors who provided treatment to their child. Many of the defendants were either dismissed from the action or resolved through summary judgment proceedings before the issue with the insurance company arose. The jury returned a wrongful death verdict for the parents, which was offset by various pre-trial settlement payments from the other defendants. The insurer paid the policy limits on the remaining verdict. Over $1 million remained after the insurer paid the policy limits, and the defendant physicians in the lawsuit were personally responsible for the amount. The defendant physicians signed over their right to pursue a bad faith failure to settle the claim against the insurance company in exchange for a covenant to not enforce the excess judgment against them.

The plaintiffs then filed the bad faith insurance action against the insurer, seeking compensation in the amount of the remaining verdict as well as $10 million for punitive damages, reflecting the insurer’s failure to settle or resolve the claim. The plaintiffs also requested a jury trial and requested a six-person jury pursuant to a specific Illinois code provision that allows for six-person juries in civil matters. The insurer challenged the use of a six-person jury panel, but its challenge was denied. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiffs and awarded the remaining judgment amount, as well as $13 million in punitive damages and attorney’s fees and costs.

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Flowers At FuneralIf an accident victim loses his or her life as a result of the injuries that he or she sustains, Illinois law allows the surviving family members to bring a wrongful death claim against the wrongdoer who caused their loved one’s death. Illinois law also allows the surviving family members to file a survival action to recover damages that the decedent would have been able to seek had he or she not died as a result of the accident. The dedicated and compassionate Illinois wrongful death lawyers at Therman Law Offices have assisted numerous grieving families with navigating these laws following the unexpected loss of a loved one, and we are ready to assist you.

In a recent lawsuit involving wrongful death and survival actions, the decedent lost his life as a result of a car crash in which a truck driven by the defendant crashed into the back of the SUV in which the decedent was driving. The decedent’s son filed a wrongful death and survival action against the defendant, who eventually admitted liability and agreed to proceed with a trial as to the amount of damages that he owed. Next, a probate estate was opened for the decedent, and another individual was appointed as the special administrator. She litigated the survival claim, while the son litigated the wrongful death claim.

After the trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff for the wrongful death claim but returned a verdict in favor of the defendant for the survival action. The administrator for the estate died after this verdict, and the attorney filed a request for a new trial on the survival claim. The attorney failed to report her death, however, and the court denied the post-trial request. The attorney filed a notice of appeal in the administrator’s name but failed to report her death again. Next, the son moved to be named as the administrator of the estate, which the probate court authorized. The defendants moved to dismiss the appeal, which the court denied. The defendants appealed.

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Horseback RiderThere are many different ways that you can be injured in an accident, including incidents caused by large animals. As dedicated Chicago personal injury attorneys, the lawyers at Therman Law Offices have handled a wide variety of accident cases, including dog bites and other injuries caused by animals. In a recent lawsuit, the plaintiff alleged that she was injured when she was kicked by a horse owned by another individual. In the complaint, she alleged that the owner violated the Illinois Animal Control Act and acted in a negligent manner at the time of the injury.

According to the complaint, the plaintiff alleged that the parties were riding horses next to each other on a public trail when the defendant’s horse kicked the plaintiff. She alleged that her injuries resulted in permanent disabilities and disfigurement. The allegations further stated that the plaintiff did not provoke the defendant’s horse and that she was conducting herself in a peaceful manner at a place where she had a right to be located. Regarding the negligence claim, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant failed to warn the plaintiff about the violent nature of the horse and its tendency to kick people, failed to train the horse properly, and was negligent in riding too close to the plaintiff when she knew that the horse had a violent nature. Finally, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant was riding the horse in a manner that went against industry norms and customs.

The defendant responded to the complaint by alleging that the injury actually occurred in Missouri and that Missouri law should govern the matter. As a result, the defendant argued that the claim based on the Illinois statute must be dismissed. Next, the defendant argued that the plaintiff had executed a Release of Liability before engaging in the horseback riding endeavor and that according to Missouri law, this absolved the defendant of liability. Based on these arguments, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss the action.

Clock on GrassThere is nothing more devastating than losing a loved one in a fatal auto accident. As compassionate and experienced Chicago car accident lawyers, we have seen numerous wrongful death actions arising from another individual’s carelessness. One of the most common ways that these accidents take place is motor vehicle collisions. A recent Illinois appellate opinion discusses liability in a fatal car crash, along with the importance of filing the action within the statute of limitations.

The plaintiff’s brother was killed while walking in a crosswalk when he was struck by a tow truck. The decedent’s brother contacted an attorney to bring a civil claim against the defendant. The attorney filed this lawsuit exactly two years and a day after the date of the accident. The case went through a number of other procedural issues, including a dismissal for lack of prosecution. The new attorney filed a petition for relief from the judgment based on a variety of grounds, including evidence that the prior attorney suffered a stroke while representing the plaintiff and was unable to practice law. The parties disputed whether the plaintiff actively prosecuted the claim, and the defendant argued that the claim was filed after the statute of limitations, rendering it time-barred.

The plaintiff countered the statute of limitations argument by saying that the plaintiff died the day after the accident as a result of his injuries and that the plaintiff was legally disabled from the moment of the accident until the moment he died, effectively tolling the statute of limitations. The plaintiff also wanted to add a claim for wrongful death, which had not been pled in the original complaint.

empty signature lineWhen you suffer injuries due to another person’s negligence, you may have the option of asserting several different causes of action to recover compensation. Knowing which causes of action to assert and whether you need to follow certain procedural requirements with each cause of action is a critical step in your lawsuit. As seasoned Chicago personal injury lawyers, we have substantial experience with numerous causes of action and can ensure that your rights are protected. A recent Illinois appellate case demonstrates the importance of asserting the appropriate cause of action and complying with any procedural requirements.

In 2014, the plaintiff underwent a number of plastic surgery procedures performed by the same plastic surgeon. After these procedures, the plaintiff filed a complaint alleging that the doctor owed her damages for breach of contract, medical battery, and consumer fraud. In her complaint, the plaintiff stated that she had a consultation with the doctor to learn about the procedures she wanted to have, including the removal of a breast implant. She further alleged that she and the doctor agreed that new implants would be placed below the pectoral muscle and agreed upon a price for the procedure. A formal written proposal was created in writing with an itemization of the procedures. The proposal did not discuss the placement of the new implants, but the plaintiff alleged that the parties had reached a verbal agreement. During the procedure, the doctor placed the implants above the pectoral muscle.

In response to the complaint, the defendants submitted a motion to dismiss, arguing that the complaint was one for medical negligence and that as a result, the plaintiff was required to comply with certain statutory requirements for medical malpractice in Illinois, including the submission of an affidavit from a licensed medical professional substantiating the plaintiff’s claims of medical negligence. The plaintiff rejected this characterization of her complaint as one involving medical negligence. Instead, she alleged that her consumer fraud claim did not involve medical negligence but instead deceptive business practices because he agreed to perform the surgery one way and then did it another way. It was not the standard of care used during the procedure that the plaintiff challenged, but instead the businesses practices that the defendant used before the procedure.

doctors in surgeryIn any personal injury lawsuit, understanding which evidence you and the other party can submit is a critical aspect of protecting your right to recovery. Some cases are complex and involve challenging evidentiary issues that could make or break your ability to recover damages. As seasoned Chicago personal injury lawyers, we are well versed in the rules of evidence and can use our knowledge to help you ensure that you are treated fairly. A recent appellate case demonstrates how difficult these evidentiary issues can become.

In 2012, the defendant doctor performed a procedure on the plaintiff consisting of a celiac plexus block. Following surgery, the plaintiff reported numbness in her legs. She was taken to the hospital, where it was concluded that she suffered a vasospasm and related paraplegia. The plaintiff and her husband filed a lawsuit against the doctor, asserting claims for medical negligence and loss of consortium. A few years after the claim was filed, the plaintiff died as a result of a stroke. The surviving husband amended the complaint to include a claim for the wrongful death of his wife, based on the alleged negligence of the defendant doctor. The plaintiff included many different counts of negligence regarding the celiac plexus procedure, including a failure to treat his wife’s condition with less aggressive and intensive methods. The plaintiff also alleged that the defendant lacked privileges to perform the procedure at the hospital.

Before trial, the parties filed a number of motions in limine. These are motions that seek to resolve certain evidentiary issues before trial, such as which type of evidence can be admitted or whether there are any issues that the parties wish to exclude from the trial before the proceedings. One of the motions in limine that the defendant filed sought to exclude evidence regarding the issue of whether the defendant had privileges to perform the procedure at the hospital. The plaintiff also filed a motion in limine wanting to bar any evidence regarding the decedent’s history as a smoker. The trial court granted the plaintiff’s motion barring evidence about the decedent’s smoking history while reserving a ruling on the defendant’s motion regarding the defendant’s privileges at the hospital.

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