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  • Workers’ Compensation Protects You

    The workers’ compensation system was designed to provide certainty for injured workers in the event of a workplace injury. In exchange for certain benefits, the law does not allow a direct lawsuit against the employer at common law. The unfortunate truth about Workers’ Compensation cases is that employees often times find themselves pitted against the interest of employers. Insurance companies handling the claim have been retained by the employer; their goal is to deny or minimize claims to realize a cost savings, frequently at the expense of the injured worker. While workers’ compensation law provides a statutory recovery against employers for workplace injuries, injured workers may also have a personal injury lawsuit against other parties who share responsibility for the accident, also known as “third party defendants”. A “third party cause of action” means that if someone other than your employer is responsible for the accident that caused your injury, you may sue the third party in addition to bringing a workers’ compensation claim. A third party claim can be made against the manufacturer of a product or the company that installed a piece of equipment, controlled a work site, maintained land or caused a motor vehicle accident. Workmen’s compensation is considered to be a no fault system that allows injured or sick employees to receive expenses and lost wages while not suing employers. Benefits to the employee include: 100% of your medical care is paid for, the right to choose the doctor of your choice, 2/3 of your salary or wages are tax free while you recover from the accident until Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). If you are wondering, when should you report an injury? Report as soon as you realize that you have an injury. It’s impossible to understate the importance of notification when it comes to a work related injury. You want to be on record with your employer immediately; your employer should have you fill out Form 45, the state Workers Compensation form. Illinois allows 45 days to file a claim. Failure to do so may provide justification for a workers compensation carrier to deny benefits, even if the workplace injury is very serious. Besides contacting your boss or benefits director (typically an HR function), you should consult an attorney at Ankin Law Offices. Our attorneys will assist you in filling out the forms, talk with you about your claim and explain your rights. The Illinois[READ MORE…]

  • Chicago Trivia

    The statue of which president is in Chicago’s Lincoln Park?     President Grant. What Chicago street has addresses that can be North, South, East and/or West?  Wacker Drive – you can also have upper and lower Wacker Drive. Between the Cubs and White Sox, which was the first team to appear in the World Series?   Both teams met in the 1906 World Series The White Sox went 93-58 to win the American League pennant, three games over the second place New York Highlanders (later Yankees). The Cubs had a tremendous record in 1906, going 116-36 in the 152-game season. They won the National League crown by 20 games over the New York Giants. The White Sox would be successful in this World Series, downing the Cubs four games to two. White Sox pitcher Ed Walsh won two games, and third baseman George Rohe would bat .333 with seven hits and four RBIs. The White Sox outscored the Cubs by only four runs, 22-18 in the entire series.

  • What is a Class Action Lawsuit and Could I have One?

    What is a Class Action law suit? This is when multiple parties have a common cause of action and they are collectively filing a lawsuit together. The reason for filing together or as in a Class Action is, in many instances, it is not economical to file individual claims, and the impact can be greater by submitting the claims together. Over the past few years changes have been made in the rules; now consumer organizations may bring claims on behalf of large groups of consumers.

  • New Recalls Affecting Children

    Image via Wikipedia One of the many things personal injury attorneys do is fight to protect the helpless, defenseless members of our society, including children. When large manufacturers ignore their duty to exercise reasonable care in the production and distribution of products geared toward children, personal injury and class action attorneys step in and force them to compensate the victims of their negligence and change their practices in the future. Recently, there have been a large number of recalls and lawsuits related to children’s products that exemplify the importance of holding these large companies accountable for their actions. For example, as discussed in this blog post from The Pop Tort, a class action is now pending in which an Illinois mother is alleging that Abbott Laboratories, Inc. knew that Similac infant formula contained beetle larvae but failed to issue a recall for over a week after learning that the formula was contaminated. In another case, Wal-mart agreed to pay the state of New Jersey “$775,000 in fines and revise its business practices following a ruling that the company sold expired infant formula and over-the-counter drugs to customers.” And, as discussed in this New York Times article, another potential problem area is children’s jewelry tainted with cadmium, a metal that is toxic when ingested or inhaled. As explained in the article, there have been a number of recalls related to cadmium: Retailers like Dress Barn and Claire’s Boutiques recalled necklaces, earrings and bracelets this year after finding the products contained cadmium. The restaurant chain McDonald’s offered $3 refunds in June to customers who bought “Shrek” drinking glasses with high levels of cadmium in the paint. Clearly, manufacturers don’t always have their customer’s best interests in mind. And, it’s up to government agencies and plaintiff’s attorneys to protect the interests of consumers and keep these large companies in check. Howard Ankin of Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles  workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. Mr. Ankin can be reached at (312) 346-8780 and howard@ankinlaw.com. Related articles Similac infant formula undergoes recall (charlotte.news14.com) U.S. Seeks Limits on Cadmium for Toys and Jewelry (nytimes.com) Beetle-Tainted Similac Infant Formula Recalled (aolhealth.com) Carcinogenic cadmium-packed kids jewelry still being sold: Health Canada (canada.com)

  • Illinois Court Considers Application of the Dead-Man’s Act to Deposition Testimony

    Image via Wikipedia In a recent case, one issue considered by Second District Appellate Court of Illinois in Balma v. Henry, No. 2-09-1301, was whether the Dead-Man’s Act (the Act) can be used to prevent statements in discovery depositions from being admitted in summary judgment proceedings and/or at trial. Balma involved a car accident which resulted in a personal injury lawsuit. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants’ negligence–namely rear ending the plaintiffs’ vehicle with their vehicle–caused their injuries. During the discovery phase of the proceeding, one of the defendants, Edward Henry, was deposed and then later died of causes unrelated to the accident. The plaintiffs made a motion to preclude the statements of Henry, among others, by invoking the Act. Before reaching its decision, the Court explained the purpose of the Act: The Dead-Man’s Act protects decedents’ estates from fraudulent claims and equalizes the parties’ positions in regard to giving testimony. Gunn, 216 Ill.2d at 609, 297 Ill.Dec. 414, 837 N.E.2d 865. The objective of the Dead-Man’s Act is fairness. Vazirzadeh v. Kaminski, 157 Ill.App.3d 638, 645, 110 Ill.Dec. 65, 510 N.E.2d 1096 (1987). The Dead-Man’s Act is intended to remove the temptation of a survivor to testify to matters that cannot be rebutted because of the death of the only other party to the conversation or witness to the event, but it is not intended to disadvantage the living. Hoem v. Zia, 159 Ill.2d 193, 201-02, 201 Ill.Dec. 47, 636 N.E.2d 479 (1994); Morse v. Hardinger, 34 Ill.App.3d 1020, 1026, 341 N.E.2d 172 (1976). The Court analyzed the applicable law, explaining that statements made during discovery depositions were admissible in a summary judgment proceeding and were not precluded by the Dead-Man’s Act: It is proper to apply the Dead-Man’s Act in the context of a summary judgment proceeding because, while a motion for summary judgment is not a modified trial procedure, it is an adjudication of a claim on the merits and is the procedural equivalent of a trial. The Court then applied its decision to the specific procedural facts of the case and remanded the matter to the trial court for further proceedings. Howard Ankin of Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles  workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. Mr. Ankin can be reached at (312) 346-8780 and howard@ankinlaw.com.

  • US Supreme Court Considers Validity of Lawsuits Against Vaccine Producers

    Image via Wikipedia In March we discussed the pending United States Supreme Court case,  Bruesewitz v. Wyeth,  No. 09-152, a case in which the parents of a child who suffered injuries after receiving her 6-month DPT vaccine are seeking to overturn the current administrative processes established for lawsuits of this type. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in this case about whether lawsuits could proceed against companies that produce childhood vaccines. At issue was whether legislation passed by Congress 24 years ago shields vaccine producers from lawsuits alleging that serious injuries resulted from the administration of childhood vaccines. The law, National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act, was intended to limit the ability to seek recovery for injuries related to vaccines. This Act sets forth an administrative process that must be followed for claims stemming from vaccine-related injuries. The intent behind the Act was to ensure a stable market supply, and to provide cost-effective arbitration for vaccine injury claims. The rationale behind the passage of this Act boils down to balancing our societal interest in reducing the occurrences of childhood diseases against the likelihood that that there will occasionally be negative reactions to these life saving vaccines. At issue in Bruesewitz is whether the Act protects companies that produce vaccines where the vaccine design defects and subsequent injuries were likely due to negligence in the preparation and storage of the vaccine, as opposed to unavoidable side effects unrelated to quality control in the production of the vaccine? How the case will be decided is anyone’s guess, since during oral arguments the Court seemed split, as explained in this Chicago Tribune article: Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg took the family’s side, arguing that because a safer vaccine was available in the early 1990s, the drug maker could be sued for selling a more dangerous type of vaccine. But Justices Anthony M. Kennedy and Antonin Scalia said Congress had passed the law to shield manufacturers from lawsuits. “There is a tremendous expense” to defending against lawsuits, Kennedy said. The worry was that vaccine makers would get out of the business if they were exposed to massive lawsuits, he said. As we explained previously, this is an important case and one that may have negative long term ramifications should the court rule in favor of vaccine producers and conclude that the Act covers all design defects, regardless of their cause. Howard[READ MORE…]

  • Former Illinois State Trooper Seeks Workers’ Compensation Benefits

    Image by Sherlock77 (James) via Flickr A former Illinois State Trooper, Matt Mitchell, recently filed for workers’ compensation benefits stemming from injuries sustained when he caused a car accident while on duty as a state trooper 2 years ago. As explained in this AOL News article, the car accident occurred when he was responding to an emergency call. He was talking to his girlfriend on his cell phone and responding to emails when he lost control of his police cruiser, which was traveling in excess of 100 mph. The vehicle jumped the median and collided head on with another car, killing its teenage occupants, Kelli and Jessica Uhl. He later pleaded guilty to reckless homicide and reckless driving and subsequently resigned from the force. A civil suit is still pending. Members of the family of the victims of the crash are unhappy that he has filed for workers’ compensation benefits for injuries related to the crash. However, benefits have not yet been granted, as explained by a representative of the ex-trooper: Ed Herman, an attorney and spokesman for Mitchell, declined to comment specifically about the case. “The state of Illinois has a process for these claims, and we need to let the process play itself out without outside influence,” he said by telephone. Mitchell’s attorney is correct–there is a system in place that will determine Mithcell’s eligibility to obtain benefits. Unfortunately, that process can sometimes be complicated. To learn more about Illinois workers’ compensation benefits, you can visit the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission’s website, where you can find this useful handbook that explains the process for injuries and illnesses occurring after February 1, 2006. As explained in the handbook, in many cases, retaining the services of an Illinois workers’ compensation attorney may be advisable. Howard Ankin of Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles  workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. Mr. Ankin can be reached at (312) 346-8780 and howard@ankinlaw.com. Related articles Trooper Causes Fatal Crash, Wants Worker’s Comp (newser.com) No Shame? Killer Cop Wants Workers’ Comp (abcnews.go.com)

  • Illinois Appellate Court Addresses Racetrack’s Liability

    Image via Wikipedia The First District Appellate Court of Illinois recently addressed the liability of a property owner for negligently maintaining its premises in Morrissey v. Arlington Park Racecourse LLC, No. 1-09-3460 (2010). In Morrissey, the plaintiff was injured when the horse he was riding slipped and fell. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit, alleging that the horse slipped and fell on a puddle of soapy water located on the asphalt next to the training track. As the plaintiff rode the horse off the track, the horse stepped in the puddle, slipped, and fell, injuring the plaintiff in the process. The plaintiff filed suit alleging that the defendant negligently maintained the racetrack. The defendant claimed that it was not liable, in part, because the condition of the grounds was open and obvious and thus the plaintiff should have protected himself from such an obviously dangerous condition. In response, the plaintiff asserted that the “deliberate encounter” exception applied–namely that the defendant should have known that a reasonable person in the plaintiff’s shoes would have continued forward through the soapy puddle since the advantages of doing so outweighed the disadvantages. The Court first explained that the “deliberate encounter” exception is premised on the landowner’s knowledge of the premises and its expectation regarding the invitee’s actions in the face of a dangerous condition. Applying this rule, the Court then agreed with the plaintiff, holding that: In the present case…it is impossible to conclude, as a matter of law, that the defendant, which was clearly aware that on a daily basis riders used the east exit because of its proximity to the training track, so as to exercise all of their horses within a span of only five hours, could not have anticipated that the plaintiff would elect the choose east exit, despite the dangerous condition there. Thus, the Court overturned the lower court’s decision and concluded that the lawsuit against the defendant could proceed. Howard Ankin of Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles  workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. Mr. Ankin can be reached at (312) 346-8780 and howard@ankinlaw.com.

  • Maryland’s Highest Court Upholds Cap on Non-Economic Damages

    Image via Wikipedia In April, we reported that the Court of Appeals of Maryland heard oral arguments in a case regarding personal injury damage caps. In the case being appealed, the parents of a young child who had drowned received a jury award of $4 million for their pain and suffering, but the damages were reduced to $1 million by operation of the damage cap laws. The specific issue considered by the court was whether jury awards for pain and suffering damage caps were constitutional. In late September, the Court finally issued its decision in DRD Pool Service, Inc. v. Freed. As explained in this post at the Maryland Malpractice Lawyer blog, the Court upheld the state’s cap on non-economic damages. The Court noted that its decision was grounded in stare decisis, thus refusing to diverge from prior holdings on this issue: The present case does not satisfy the tests for rejecting stare decisis or the Murphy and Oaks precedents which upheld the constitutionality of the Cap. Merely arguing that the majority was wrong in Murphy is not sufficient grounds to abrogate the principles of stare decisis. …(The plaintiffs) have offered no evidence of a clear error, or a change in law or circumstances that would justify disregarding stare decisis and rendering the Cap unconstitutional. In our view, the Cap continues to serve a legitimate government purpose. Thus, lawsuits in Maryland continue to be subject to the cap for damages related to pain and suffering. Fortunately, as we’ve discussed in the past, certain types of cases, such as Illinois medical malpractice lawsuits, are not subject to damage caps. This allows juries to assess each case on their merits and award damages based on the specific facts of the case. Where damage caps are applicable, in states such as Maryland, the jurors’ hands are tied, even in the most egregious of cases. The end result is  that the most severely injured people in those states are least likely to recover damages for the full extent of their injuries–a sad state of affairs, indeed. Howard Ankin of Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles  workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. Mr. Ankin can be reached at (312) 346-8780 and howard@ankinlaw.com.

  • Court Holds Private Social Media Postings Discoverable in Personal Injury Lawsuit

    Image via Wikipedia It’s undeniable–social media use is increasing exponentially. And, with this rapid increase in the use of social media, more attorneys are quickly realizing the utility of social media postings in litigation. When witnesses or parties to a lawsuit publicly post about their activities and whereabouts, the information can be used to dispute claims of injury during the settlement phase of a case or as impeachment material at trial. Because social media is a relatively new phenomenon, courts and ethics committees are just now beginning to address issues related to the use of social media postings in lawsuits. For example, as reported in this law.com article, just last month, a New York court issued a ruling regarding the discoverability of private social media postings in a personal injury trial. The plaintiff in that case brought a lawsuit against the manufacturer and the distributor of a chair that she alleged was defective. As a result of the defect, she fell from the chair, resulting in numerous injuries. The plaintiff claimed that as a result of her injuries, including herniated discs and restricted motion in her neck and back, she was mostly confined to her home and bed. The defendants sought access to the plaintiff’s private postings on Facebook and MySpace, two popular social networking sites. Her attorneys opposed the request, claiming that permitting access to the messages would violate her privacy and allow the defendants access to information that was completely irrelevant to the lawsuit. The court disagreed with the plaintiff, concluding that defendants were entitled to access the private postings as part of the pre-tial discovery process: Plaintiffs who place their physical condition in controversy, may not shield from disclosure material which is necessary to the defense of the action… Accordingly, in an action seeking damages for personal injuries, discovery is generally permitted with respect to materials that may be relevant both to the issue of damages and the extent of a plaintiff’s injury… (It is) reasonable to infer from the limited postings on Plaintiff’s public Facebook and MySpace profile pages, that her private pages may contain materials and information that are relevant to her claims or that may lead to the disclosure of admissible evidence. This is an important ruling, if only because it highlights the risks of interacting on social media sites when involved in a lawsuit. Plaintiffs attorneys should take note and may very well[READ MORE…]

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    Our firm handles workers' compensation and personal injury claims in Chicago, Berwyn, Joliet, Cicero, Waukegan, Chicago Heights, Elgin, Aurora, Oak Park, Oak Lawn, Schaumburg, Bolingbrook, Glendale Heights, Aurora, Niles, Schaumburg, Arlington Heights, Naperville, Plainfield and all of Cook, DuPage, Lake, Will, McHenry, LaSalle, Kankakee, McLean and Peoria Counties.