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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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Hand with phoneOne of the biggest headaches that people face after a motor vehicle collision is negotiating with insurance companies and navigating their insurance policies. Not all policies are the same, and insurance companies often bury key language in legalese or at the end of the document. Knowing when you need to submit certain pieces of information or identifying key deadlines is critical. At Therman Law Offices, our team of Chicago car accident lawyers is standing by to help you make sense of your insurance policy and to ensure that you are treated fairly.

A recent appellate decision highlights the complications that can arise with insurance claims after a car accident. The plaintiff was involved in a motor vehicle crash in 2007 with an uninsured driver. The plaintiff promptly notified her insurance company of the accident. She kept in contact with her assigned insurance representative and updated the representative about her medical treatment and missed work.

In 2009, the plaintiff demanded arbitration with her insurer but did not include the name of the arbitrator whom she intended to use. The insurer denied the request and filed a declaratory judgment action against the plaintiff, asking for a declaration that her demand for arbitration was untimely because it was not submitted within the two-year time period required in the policy. The plaintiff filed a counterclaim, seeking a declaratory judgment and requesting arbitration. This time, the plaintiff included the name of an arbitrator.

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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.

people in crosswalkCar accidents and truck accidents are always devastating for the victims, even when the injuries and property damage are minor. When a driver’s negligence results in a fatality, however, the outcome is a nightmare. At Therman Law Offices, our team of Chicago fatal truck accident lawyers has handled numerous claims on behalf of grieving survivors. We know exactly what you are going through during this time and will fight to ensure that you bring a careless driver to justice. Recently, an Illinois trial court considered a lawsuit involving a fatal truck accident.

The victim, age 15, was walking home from school with his older brother prior to the accident. As he and his brother entered a crosswalk, a truck driver initiated a right-hand turn into the intersection. The truck struck the victim, and its rear wheels ran over the victim, causing her to die at the scene.

The victim’s surviving family members filed a lawsuit against the truck driver and the trucking company that employed the driver, alleging that the driver was negligent in failing to yield the right of way to the victim and her sibling as they crossed the street. The plaintiffs’ complaint stated that the crosswalk signal was green for the pedestrians and that the victim and her sibling had proceeded well into the crosswalk at the time the truck struck the victim. The parties agreed that the driver was acting within the course and scope of his employment at the time of the crash. A surveillance video from one of the corners where the accident took place was offered into evidence. Although the video had poor quality, the plaintiffs alleged that it showed that the victim and her sibling had been walking across the crosswalk for at least 30 seconds before the truck arrived at the intersection.

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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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bankruptcy judgment pageThere are countless procedural rules that must be followed when asserting a claim for injuries. Although certain legal matters from your past may not seem like they have a bearing on your current claim, disclosing them or providing information related to those prior claims may be essential. As dedicated Chicago personal injury lawyers, we have assisted many accident victims with ensuring that they follow all of the applicable procedural rules so that they don’t jeopardize their right to recovery.

A recent appellate case demonstrates how complicated this issue can be. The facts of the underlying case are as follows. The plaintiff sustained injuries in 2010 when he slipped and fell down a stairwell while at work. He worked as a patrolman, which required him to frequent various places on his assigned station, including what he described in his complaint as a negligently maintained stairwell. The plaintiff filed a workers’ compensation claim against his employer and was awarded benefits.

In 2012, the plaintiff filed a civil complaint against the defendants, alleging that they owned, operated, and maintained the premises in a negligent manner. The plaintiff sought compensation for his injuries, and his wife filed a claim for loss of consortium. Six months before filing the personal injury action, the plaintiff had filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceeding. Among the disclosures filed with the bankruptcy, the plaintiffs signed a document listing the workers’ compensation claim as an asset. During a hearing about their assets, the plaintiffs testified about the workers’ compensation claim. Two months before filing the civil lawsuit, the plaintiffs received a discharge in the bankruptcy proceeding, and the case was closed.

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medical record pageOne of the most critical aspects of any car accident case is the discovery phase, in which the parties request information about the accident and each other’s background. Although it is clear that certain types of information are discoverable, there are frequent disputes regarding whether other categories of information and documents must be produced, including medical records. As seasoned Chicago car accident lawyers, we are experienced in handling discovery and know how to ensure that the other side plays by the rules. A recent appellate case demonstrates a common dispute regarding medical records in auto accident cases.

The facts of the case are as follows. The plaintiff filed a negligence action against the defendant in 2015, alleging that the defendant struck the plaintiff with his vehicle while she was crossing the street in a crosswalk. The defendant asserted an affirmative defense to the complaint allegations, arguing that the plaintiff failed to keep a proper lookout and failed to cross the street properly. The defendant also alleged that the plaintiff was intoxicated at the time of impact and that the plaintiff’s negligence rendered her at least 50% or more at fault for the accident.

During discovery, the plaintiff sent interrogatories to the defendant, which included a request regarding any medical or physical conditions that required a letter of physician’s approval for the defendant to drive. In response, the defendant indicated that he required a letter of approval involving a diabetic reason and identified the doctor who provided the letter. The plaintiff had also requested the identity of any eye doctor or general practitioner who had treated the defendant in the last 10 years. The defendant claimed that these requests sought information that would violate HIPAA and the doctor-patient privilege. He also asserted that his medical health at the time of the accident was not an issue in the litigation.

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money and gavelWhether in an Illinois workers’ compensation order or in a civil claim, the court has the power to award attorneys’ fees to different parties based on different procedural rules. Understanding when an award of attorneys’ fees is appropriate is essential to ensuring that you are treated fairly. A recent appellate opinion discusses this procedural rule.

The case arose from an injury that the plaintiff sustained as a construction worker. The plaintiff sought workers’ compensation benefits and filed a civil claim against the employer and a third-party defendant. The parties eventually reached a settlement in the civil action, which seemed to settle the civil claim as well as the workers’ compensation claim. The arbitrator assigned to the workers’ compensation claim approved the settlement and ordered the plaintiff to pay attorneys’ fees to the lawyers who provided him with counsel during the hearings. The claimant appealed the attorneys’ fees award, which was unanimously affirmed on review.

Next, the plaintiff appealed the decision to the civil court. He did not post an appeal bond at the time he filed his petition for review. One of the attorneys provided with attorneys’ fees in the original decision filed a request to quash the appeal on the basis that the failure to post an appeal bond rendered the appeal improperly filed. The circuit court agreed with the attorney and dismissed the worker’s claim for review.

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