Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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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people roller skatingOne of the biggest issues in any trial is the instructions that the court provides to the jury during the trial and before the jury deliberates. Although the trial court judge determines which instructions it will provide to the jury, the parties can offer suggested instructions or ask the court to include or restrict certain information with regard to the instructions. This is why it is critical to have a seasoned Illinois personal injury lawyer assisting you in your lawsuit.

An Illinois appellate court recently issued an opinion involving a dispute about jury instructions. In the lawsuit, the plaintiff sued a roller rink after falling and suffering a broken wrist. At the time of the fall, the plaintiff was reportedly skating backward. After the close of evidence at trial, the plaintiff asked the court to instruct the jury regarding Illinois Civil Jury Pattern Instruction (IPI) 60.01. The plaintiff suggested adding three provisions to the instructions that were taken from the Roller Skating Rink Safety Act, which multiple witnesses had discussed in their testimony. The additions included a provision about how the operator was required to comply with common safety standards for roller rinks, to have at least one supervisor present on the floor for every 200 users, and to maintain the skating rink surface in a reasonably safe manner.

The roller rink offered its own suggested version of the instruction, which included a statute covering the responsibilities of skaters when they are using a roller rink, as well as their assumption of the risk of potential injuries. The trial court judge ultimately instructed the jury regarding the entire statute and also provided an instruction regarding comparative negligence. This is a doctrine that allows the jury to consider whether the plaintiff’s own conduct contributed to his or her injuries. After deliberations, the jury returned a verdict for the roller rink, and the plaintiff filed a motion seeking a new trial, based on her assertion that the judge provided confusing instructions. The judge initially denied the plaintiff’s motion for a new trial.

empty city crosswalkMost people are aware that they may face criminal charges for assault and battery incidents. What fewer people understand is that if you are a victim of an assault and battery, you can bring a negligence claim against the person who harmed you to seek compensation for your injuries. As seasoned Chicago personal injury lawyers, the dedicated attorneys at Therman Law Offices have assisted victims in asserting their right to compensation after an unjustified attack. One of the biggest issues that this type of case presents is whether evidence from the criminal action can be used in the civil action.

In a recent appellate opinion, an Illinois court discussed this issue. The defendant was found guilty in a criminal trial for aggravated battery for beating the victim with a briefcase on the side of the highway. Evidence at trial showed that the victim was driving his taxicab in downtown Chicago when he stopped in the middle of a crosswalk. The defendant then approached the taxicab and smashed the front windshield with his briefcase. The victim confronted the defendant, at which point the defendant struck the plaintiff with the briefcase. The victim required hospitalization and stitches.

The victim also filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant. After a civil jury trial, the defendant was found liable for acting negligently and willfully when he beat the plaintiff with his briefcase.  The trial judge entered an order stating that as a result of the defendant’s criminal conviction, there was no issue regarding whether the defendant was liable or whether his conduct was wanton and willful. The court also rejected the defendant’s request to offer evidence regarding his affirmative defenses. As a result, the jury was only asked to determine whether the defendant caused the plaintiff’s injuries and the value of the plaintiff’s damages. The jury concluded that the defendant was liable for the plaintiff’s medical bills, disfigurement, and pain and suffering. The jury did not hear any evidence regarding the defendant’s criminal conviction.

Illinois Appellate Court Upholds $1,000 Judgment in Cervical Injury Car Accident Claim Involving Pre-Existing InjuryThe facts of a recent and relevant case involving an Illinois car accident illustrate how courts address the question of pre-existing injuries in personal injury claims. The plaintiff was driving her vehicle in rush hour traffic when the car behind her struck her vehicle. This caused the plaintiff’s vehicle to strike the car immediately ahead of his vehicle. The plaintiff reported that the impact caused her knee to strike the dashboard and that the impact jerked her backward and forward. The plaintiff was taken to a nearby hospital in an ambulance where she indicated neck, arm, and back pain. During the proceeding months, the plaintiff received treatment for her injuries. Her treating doctor concluded that she suffered a cervical strain, forearm strain, back strain, and arm strain. The plaintiff was prescribed painkillers and physical therapy for her treatment.

Several months later, the plaintiff was diagnosed with a pinched nerve in the cervical region that was attributed to the crash. The plaintiff saw a specialist next who conducted an MRI and ordered specialized physical therapy to treat the plaintiff’s multiple cervical abnormalities.

The plaintiff filed a civil action against the driver who struck her vehicle seeking reimbursement for her medical bills as well as damages for her pain and suffering. The plaintiff’s expert witnesses at trial testified regarding the plaintiff’s course of treatment and diagnoses. The defendant’s expert witnesses testified that the plaintiff had reported experiencing pain the affected region of her body prior to the accident and that the treatments that she received were, in their opinion, not necessary.

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Picture of ClockOne of the biggest considerations that accident victims need to keep in mind is ensuring that they assert their claim for compensation within the designated statute of limitations. Knowing when your statute of limitations may expire can be complicated. As seasoned Chicago personal injury lawyers, we have counseled numerous victims regarding the procedural aspects of their claims. A recent Illinois appellate opinion illustrates the importance of filing before the statute of limitations expires.

The plaintiff consulted two physicians in 2010 regarding low back pain and pain in her left buttock and leg region. A neurosurgeon then diagnosed her with left lumbar radiculopathy and multilevel spinal stenosis. He recommended a lumbar laminectomy to treat these conditions. In 2010, one of the original treating physicians performed this operation, and the plaintiff experienced relief for roughly four months, but the pain eventually returned. The treating physician then recommended an additional course of treatment that provides temporary relief, but she ultimately recommended another surgical procedure when the plaintiff’s symptoms persisted.

The physician performed a lumbar spinal fusion procedure using two plates. The plaintiff suffered serious complications following the surgery, requiring hospitalization and a displaced spinal fusion plate. The physician recommended a revision surgery. A few hours after the surgery, the plaintiff reported numbness in her left foot. Eventually, the plaintiff underwent emergency surgery to address a number of conditions and complications. The plaintiff was eventually discharged and prescribed rehabilitative treatment.

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