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43 Million

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3,500 +

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99%

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26 Million

Total Personal Injury Cases Won

17 Million

Total Work Injury Cases Won

insurance policy textAs Chicago car accident attorneys, we often receive questions regarding the role of underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage. A recent appellate opinion from the First District highlights the importance of understanding how an insurance policy may affect your potential damages award. The facts of the case are as follows. The plaintiff suffered serious injuries during a car accident in May 2011 when the vehicle in which he was riding collided with another vehicle. The other driver failed to stop at a stop sign and yield the right of way. The accident occurred while the plaintiff was working, and the vehicle that he was operating belonged to his employer.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant. Her vehicle was insured, and the insurer offered the full limits of the defendant’s policy, $100,000. The plaintiff accepted the offer, and the parties settled. The plaintiff had also asserted a claim against his employer’s auto insurance policy, which included coverage for the vehicle he was operating at the time of the accident. The policy included bodily coverage of up to $1 million and provided underinsured motorist coverage of up to $500,000 for certain personnel, including directors and partners and their family members. It offered $40,000 to any other individual who qualified as an insured. The plaintiff made a demand for the policy limits, and the insurer denied it, stating that the plaintiff was only entitled to $40,000 under the underinsured motorist policy and that the plaintiff had already received $100,000 from the defendant’s policy.

The plaintiff filed suit against his employer’s insurer, seeking a declaratory judgment entitling him to relief and a reformation of the policy to provide underinsured motorist coverage to the plaintiff, amounting to $1 million. The plaintiff made many other requests in the action, including a request that the court compel the insurer to binding arbitration with the plaintiff.

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big rig truckIn a recent opinion from the Fourth District of the Appellate Court of Illinois, an injured employee filed an appeal from an order issued by a trial court, setting aside a decision from the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission that awarded her benefits. According to the trial court, the Commission erred in concluding that the claimant demonstrated a causal connection between her alleged injury and her job duties. In other words, the lower court determined that the plaintiff’s injuries did not occur as a result of her employment and that she was therefore not entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits.

The plaintiff worked as a truck driver beginning in 2005 for a period of roughly six months. Due to medical conditions, the plaintiff ceased working after that period and underwent back surgeries in 2009 and 2011. The claimant also reported experiencing fibromyalgia and received Social Security benefit payments for this condition beginning in 2010. The plaintiff reported experiencing back pain and foot numbness and was considering a third surgery, according to her treating physician’s care plan, in 2013, when she decided to go back to work instead. She resumed work as a truck driver in 2013. As part of her reinstatement as a truck driver, the plaintiff was required to undergo a physical examination, which she passed. The employer allowed certain accommodations for the plaintiff, who could only drive during certain parts of the day due to her fibromyalgia medication.

During a delivery that occurred in December 2013, the plaintiff slipped and fell on a concrete pad that was likely covered in ice, landing on the right side of her back. The plaintiff reported to the emergency room, where she was examined and ultimately discharged. The plaintiff did not return to work following the accident. The plaintiff sought medical treatment from her existing providers, who concluded that her physical condition and back pain prevented her from working as a truck driver.

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empty jury boxMedical products are intended to make our lives better, to address illnesses and physical conditions, and to help medical professionals render the best medical care that they can provide. And while many medical devices are successful in helping to facilitate these goals, there are a number of devices that end up doing more harm than good. In some cases, the harm results from a manufacturer’s failure to design the device in a reasonably safe manner. In some cases, the harm is a result of a company’s negligence. In others, the harm results from a company’s desire to prioritize profits over patients’ health and safety.

One of the most discussed dangerous medical products in recent news is pelvic mesh. There are a variety of manufacturers that have developed pelvic mesh products. In general, the device is intended to support damaged or weak tissue. They’ve also been used to address stress urinary incontinence in women. The device is also often known as vaginal mesh or surgical mesh.

Recently, a jury in Pennsylvania awarded a plaintiff a $20 million verdict in a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson involving one of its pelvic mesh products. The plaintiff alleged that she received the company’s product during a surgical procedure to address her stress urinary incontinence. After one month, the woman reported experiencing severe discomfort and pain. It was later determined that the mesh product began to erode. Her treating physicians performed a number of surgeries to repair the damage, but they were ultimately unable to remove all of the mesh shards.

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single use coffeemakerThere are many appliances that provide convenience and luxury in our modern lives. For those of us who have to have our morning cup of coffee, single-cup coffee makers like the Keurig coffee machine provide an excellent aid. What many consumers fail to realize, however, is that these appliances and many others, such as washing machines and pressure cookers, pose serious threats to our safety, particularly if they contain design defects or manufacturing defects.

According to a recent report, a consumer in Massachusetts experienced $100,000 worth of damage to her home after her coffee maker allegedly caught fire. After her insurance company paid the claim pursuant to her homeowner’s insurance policy, the insurer filed a lawsuit against Keurig, seeking compensation. The insurer is claiming that the machine, a Model K70 according to Keurig’s inventory, suffered from a defect that rendered the product unreasonably dangerous. There has been at least one other report indicating that a Keurig machine has caught fire.

Although this lawsuit only involves property damage, a defective coffee maker that is prone to catching fire poses serious health and safety risks to consumers. If the coffee maker catches fire during the early morning hours when people are sleeping in a home, they can suffer injuries like smoke inhalation, burns, or even death. A consumer may also suffer serious burn injuries when attempting to extinguish a spontaneous and unexpected fire within the device. And many of these single-use coffee makers are common in office buildings and other retail complexes, putting workers and shoppers in serious danger should the building catch fire.

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nursing home residentsIn a recent United States Supreme Court case, the highest court in the nation issued a ruling that has significant consequences for lawsuits involving nursing home abuse and injuries. In Kindred Nursing Centers v. Clark, the Supreme Court concluded that state courts cannot implement laws that single out arbitration agreements in a manner that results in negative treatment.

The facts of the underlying lawsuit are as follows. Two nursing home residents executed a power of attorney for their respective relatives. When each nursing home resident initially moved to the nursing home, the relative executed an arbitration agreement on behalf of the resident. Some time thereafter, each resident passed away, and the relatives each brought a wrongful death lawsuit against the nursing home, alleging that the resident’s death was a result of negligence. In response to the lawsuits, the nursing home moved to enforce the arbitration agreements.

Since the incidents occurred in Kentucky, the lawsuit initially proceeded through the Kentucky state court system and eventually reached the Kentucky Supreme Court. That court concluded that the relatives could not execute the arbitration agreements on behalf of the residents because the residents did not expressly authorize the relatives to enter into the arbitration agreements. The court concluded that the arbitration agreements could not be enforced because an individual must specifically and unequivocally waive his or her right to a jury trial under the Constitution.

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water park rideIn a recent case from the Illinois Appellate Court for the Second District, the plaintiff suffered a devastating hand injury while riding a waterslide located at an amusement park operated by the defendant. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant was negligent in its operation of the waterslide and that it failed to provide sufficient warnings to guests about the potential hazards. She also argued that the defendant did not perform adequate maintenance of the waterslide to ensure that it was in good working order. The plaintiff also asserted a claim for res ipsa loquitur, alleging that the circumstances surrounding the incident and the way it occurred would not normally occur without negligence. In response, the defendant alleged, among other things, that the plaintiff was contributorily negligent.

During the discovery phase of the litigation, the plaintiff requested the identities of certain personnel who were operating the waterslide at the time of the incident. In its initial response, the defendant indicated that the personnel could not be identified. Additional information obtained during discovery indicated that an incident report regarding the accident may have been generated, but the defendant indicated that it could not identify any such report.

The plaintiff filed a motion requesting sanctions against the defendant for failing to produce the report and failing to identify the witnesses, seeking a number of items of relief. The defendant contested the motion, stating that the court should order a mistrial, require the defendant to compensate the plaintiff for attorney fees, or set a new trial date.

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man on stretcherIn a recent case from the Illinois Appellate Court for the First District, the plaintiff requested workers’ compensation benefits following an injury he allegedly incurred during his employment at a hotel. The parties agreed to a lump sum settlement, which indicated that the employer had compensated the employee for all of his medical expenses. Two years after the settlement agreement was approved, the employee filed a motion seeking to enforce the contract and associated penalties. Specifically, the employee claimed that the employer had failed to pay some of his medical expenses and refused to do so when the employee made a demand for payment of the outstanding bills. In addition to requesting an order requiring the employer to pay all of the outstanding medical bills, the employee asked the court to issue penalties against the employer.

In the workers’ compensation system, an employee who suffers injuries as a result of his or her occupation is entitled to receive benefit payments to compensate him or her for his or her lost wages, as well as receiving compensation for any medical expenses associated with the injury. The worker can opt for a weekly benefit payment reflecting a certain percentage of his or her average income, or opt for a lump sum settlement. A dedicated and knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney can help you determine which option is better for you.

The Workers’ Compensation Commission issued an order in favor of the employee, requiring the employer to pay over $16,000 in medical expenses and awarding the employee roughly $8,000 in penalties as well as over $3,000 in attorney fees. The employer appealed to the circuit court, which upheld the Commission’s determination. The employer appealed again, asserting that the Commission did not have proper jurisdiction to hear the employee’s motion. In the alternative, the employer argued that even if jurisdiction was proper, the Commission interpreted the contract incorrectly. Finally, the employer alleged that the action was time-barred.

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Essure Coil DeviceModern medicine provides many benefits that improve the lives of millions of people. For all of the advancements and breakthroughs in medicine, however, there are occasional instances in which a device, drug, or other product ends up causing more harm than good. Recently, many women have come forward reporting adverse health consequences associated with the Essure device, with several patients requiring revision and removal surgeries to address their conditions.  The device is marketed as a less invasive, permanent sterilization procedure for females. Developed by Conceptus, which is a company owned by Bayer AG, it features flexible coils inserted in the fallopian tubes. Roughly three months after insertion, tissue forms around the coils, which prevents sperm from reaching an egg and achieving fertilization. The device is not intended to be removed and is seen as a permanent measure.

According to some reports, over 9,000 removal procedures have occurred since 2009 as results of punctures in fallopian tubes or the uterus and shifting of the coils. Some of the adverse health events identified in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s adverse events database include reports of fetal death, miscarriages, and other issues. Other women have required hysterectomy procedures in order to remove the broken fragments from the device. So far, 15,500 adverse event reports associated with Essure have been filed.

Although the device received FDA approval, the FDA cautions women to consider permanent birth control carefully and has required the maker of Essure to revise the label to include a boxed warning and decision checklist for patients. Since 2013, at least one public interest group has pressured the FDA to revoke approval of Essure and to require it to be removed from the market. Instead, the FDA invoked a label change that now requires the packaging to state that the device can cause a number of conditions, including organ perforation, chronic pain, and allergic reactions. In the meantime, the agency has indicated that it will continue to examine the risks and dangers associated with Essure.

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wet city sidewalkIn a recent opinion from the Illinois Court of Appeals for the Fourth District, the plaintiff filed an action against the City of Danville (“the City”), alleging that she suffered injuries as a result of a trip and fall accident that occurred on a sidewalk area maintained by the City. According to her complaint, the plaintiff was shopping on one afternoon in 2012. When returning to her parked vehicle after leaving a store in the downtown district, she used a sidewalk to get to her vehicle, which was parked roughly five storefronts away. Then, the plaintiff walked at an angle as she approached the curb where her vehicle was parked. As she did so, she alleges that she stepped into roughly of an inch of water pooling on the sidewalk and to the right side of a lamppost embedded in the sidewalk. As she stepped into the water, the plaintiff claims that her left shoe struck an object that caused her to lose her balance. She then fell forward, striking her chin on the sidewalk.

The plaintiff received nine stitches in her chin to close the wound. Her complaint also alleged that she suffered severe bruising to her left foot, face, and arms. During the fall, two of her teeth were chipped, and she required dental work to address this injury. She also claimed to have suffered a partially dislodged crown that was also treated by a dentist.

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empty signature lineAccording to recent reports, a 52-year-old woman lost her life at a nursing home following a nursing assistant’s refusal to provide resuscitation and care. According to the records, the woman had not signed a DNR, or Do Not Resuscitate order. This is a legal document that instructs a medical facility to not engage in certain resuscitation methods in the event that the signor becomes incapacitated. If the patient has not signed a DNR, the presumption is that the medical staff should exercise all available methods to resuscitate the patient.

The background of the incident is as follows. The patient was staying at the nursing home facility, located in Highland Park, Illinois, following a recent bout of pneumonia. The patient intended to stay at the nursing home for only a few weeks while she received physical therapy and other recuperative care. The patient had a number of conditions that complicated her recovery, including kidney failure and diabetes.

During her stay, the patient suffered from a bacterial infection known as Elizabethkingia. At one point, the patient coded, which means her heart ceased beating. A nursing assistant who was present referred to the patient’s file but misread the information and falsely believed that the patient had executed a DNR agreement. Based on this false reading of the patient’s chart, the nursing assistant did not call for help or notify any other medical staff members that the patient had coded. After 30 minutes, a staff member realized that the nursing assistant had misread the patient’s file and promptly called 911. Unfortunately, the patient had already passed and could not be revived.

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