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  • Expiration Dates On Vouchers

    The social-buying category is extremely popular with consumers; companies like Groupon and LivingSocial offer huge discounts – usually 50-90% off – from local businesses. The magic of this category is that the companies buy bulk discounts for the consumer, and you, as the consumer, purchase a voucher, better known as a gift card.

  • Medicare Pilot Program for Montana Asbestos Victims

    In 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency declared a public health emergency arising from the long term asbestos exposure of Libby, Montana residents. The exposure occurred due to the operation of a vermiculite mine in Libby from the 1920s to 1990. Earlier this month, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced that people residing in and near Libby that suffered from certain medical conditions would be eligible for Medicare under the Affordable Care Act’s “Exposure to Environmental Health Hazards” provision and could thus participate in a new Medicare Pilot Program for Asbestos-Related Disease. In order to qualify for the program, applicants must: 1) qualify for Medicare under the Affordable Care Act’s “Exposure to Environmental Health Hazards” provision; 2) live in Lincoln or Flathead County, Montana; 3) have Medicare Part A (hospital insurance); and 3) have Medicare Part B (medical insurance). The program is designed to provide services that Medicare would not usually cover by offering comprehensive, coordinated health care coverage for those detrimentally affected by the asbestos exposure. As explained in this  NBC news article, the pilot program will cover the following services not normally covered by Medicare: Special home care services Special medical equipment Help with travel to get care Special counseling, for example, help quitting smoking Nutritional supplements Prescription drugs not covered by Medicare drug plans (Participants in the Pilot Program must be in a Medicare drug plan to receive this benefit). This is a very interesting development and many are carefully following the progress of this innovative pilot program. Asbestos-related illnesses are quite serious–even deadly– and can severely limit the quality of life of those affected. Programs like this one are a promising development and have the potential to positively affect the lives of those suffering from the after effects of asbestos exposure. 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 .

  • Rosa’s Law Replaces The R Word

    When we hear the word disabilities we usually think about physical disabilities. Rosa’s Law, named for an 8-year-old Maryland girl diagnosed with Downs Syndrome, gives dignity to people with intellectual disabilities allowing them to be respected and appreciated.

  • Changes in the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act

    Over the past year Illinois lawmakers have determined to pass new Worker’s Compensation Reform bill. This new law I scheduled to become effective September1, 2011; it will dramatically impact the rights of injured workers. The two major changes provides for changes in obtaining medical treatment, permanency or monetary awards. Now more an injured worker needs a highly skilled Workers Compensation attorney in order to receive workers compensation benefits.

  • Illinois Supreme Court Considers Pattern Jury Instruction for Professional Negligence

    The Illinois Supreme Court addressed an interesting issue earlier this month: whether the Illinois Pattern Jury Instructions on the standard of care for professional negligence correctly stated the law in Illinois. This issue was considered in Studt v. Sherman Health Systems, 2011 WL 2409897. In Studt, the plaintiff filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant based on claims of institutional negligence and vicarious liability due to the hospital physicians’ failure to diagnose the plaintiff’s appendicitis. The defendant appealed following a jury trial which resulted in a favorable verdict for the plaintiff. One issue raised on appeal by the defendant was that the applicable section of Illinois pattern jury instructions, IPI Civil (2006) No. 105.01, incorrectly stated that the jury may consider evidentiary sources other than expert testimony when determining whether the physicians were negligent in their duties. After analyzing applicable case law, the Court concluded that IPI Civil (2006) No. 105.01 was a misstatement of the law and that the trial court’s instruction in this regard was improper: The Hospital submits that IPI Civil (2006) No. 105.01 is a misstatement of law because it erroneously instructs that the jury may consider a broad array of other evidentiary sources including bylaws, rules, regulations, policies, procedures, community practice and other evidence. The Hospital argues that these other evidentiary sources can be properly considered only in institutional negligence claims against a hospital, not claims based on vicarious liability for professional negligence…(W)hile expert testimony is permitted in institutional negligence cases, it is required in professional negligence cases. Accordingly, we determine that the 2006 IPI effects a significant and unwarranted departure from the established law governing professional negligence cases…For the foregoing reasons, we hold that the version of IPI Civil (2006) No. 105.01 given at trial constituted error because it did not limit the jury’s consideration to expert testimony. However, fortunately for the injured plaintiff in this case, the Court concluded that even though the trial court improperly instructed the jury, the error did not seriously prejudice the defendant and was thus harmless. Therefore, the jury verdict rendered in favor of the plaintiff remained undisturbed. 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.

  • Illinois Court Rejects Restatement Tort Claim

    In Tilschner v. Spangler, No. 2–10–0111, the Appellate Court of Illinois, Second District, considered the viability of a personal injury lawsuit based on claims seeking to impose liability for the failure to control a third party’s actions. In this case, the plaintiff was a guest at a party and was injured when another guest set off fireworks. She alleged in her complaint that the defendant, the party host, failed to to protect her from the acts of the second party guest who ignited the fireworks that caused her injuries. Specifically, she alleged that by operation of section 318 of the Restatement, the defendant knew or should have known of his ability to control the other guest and of the need to exercise such control, and thus had a duty to prevent the other party guest from creating an unreasonable risk of bodily harm to her. Unfortunately for the plaintiff, the Court disagreed, holding that the Supreme Court of Illinois had never adopted section 318 of the Restatement, and thus that cause of action was not viable in Illinois: A restatement is not binding on Illinois courts unless it is adopted by our supreme court…Thus, we must determine whether our supreme court has adopted section 318 of the Restatement (Second) of Torts; if it has not, Spangler owed no duty to Patricia…The restatement that we adopt today is that our supreme court has not adopted section 318 of the Restatement (Second) of Torts. Therefore, count II of Patricia’s third-amended complaint, interpreted in the light most favorable to her, fails to allege a duty recognized by our supreme court and fails to set forth a cause of action on which relief may be granted. The trial court did not err in granting Spangler’s section 2–615 motion to dismiss with prejudice. 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.  

  • Supreme Court of Illinois Revises Elements of Wrongful Birth Claim

    In Clark v. Children’s Memorial Hospital, No. 108656, the Supreme Court of Illinois considered the validity of a lawsuit involving claims that a hospital and its physicians failed to properly test and diagnose a couple’s first born child for a genetic defect and thus failed to advise the couple of the risk of conceiving a second child. The lawsuit revolved around claims of wrongful birth, negligent infliction of emotional distress and others. As explained in the decision: Plaintiffs Amy and Jeff Clark filed suit against Paul Wong, M.D., Rush University Medical Center (Rush), Baylor University Medical Center (Baylor), and Quest Diagnostics Clinical Laboratories (Quest), alleging various theories of liability in connection with the birth of their son, Timothy, who has Angelman Syndrome…They later added Children’s Memorial Hospital (Children’s Memorial) and Barbara Burton, M.D., as defendants. Their amended complaint alleged that Burton negligently failed to inform plaintiffs of test results revealing that their first son, Brandon, suffered from Angelman Syndrome due to a UBE3A genetic mutation, and that they would not have conceived Timothy had she provided them with accurate information regarding the risk of giving birth to another child with the same condition. The first important holding of this case involved the “wrongful life” claim. The court reaffirmed its prior holdings and rejected this claim on public policy grounds, explaining that: “A child who is born with a genetic or congenital condition does not have a cause of action in this state against a health care provider whose breach of the standard of care “precluded an informed parental decision to avoid his conception or birth.” Id . at 236, 111 Ill.Dec. 302, 512 N.E.2d 691. His life, while burdened by his condition, is “as a matter of law, always preferable to nonlife.” Next, the court addressed the negligent infliction of emotional distress claim and reached a conclusion that overturned prior Illinois court rulings. At issue was whether, in making an emotional distress claim, the parents were required to prove that any alleged negligence on behalf of the defendants in regard to their child also endangered the parents. This requirement is typical negligent infliction of emotional distress claims that are not grounded in any other claim. However, the court noted that in this case, the emotional distress claim arose in the context of the “wrongful birth” claim. In other words, the parents were not asserting an emotional distress claim as a[READ MORE…]

  • Proposed Policies Regarding Recalled Rental Cars Insufficient

    In past posts, we’ve reported that rental car agencies regularly lease recalled cars without fixing the underlying safety issue behind the recall. There have been a number of attempts to fix this problem, including a joint petition filed with the FTC by two consumer groups asking that the FTC investigate the situation, legislation introduced in March by Senator Charles Schumer that would require rental agencies to immediately remove from circulation all recalled cars, and a California bill aimed at reducing the number of recalled rental cars on the road. In April, in response to the growing concerns regarding the continued leasing of recalled vehicles and the safety concerns this practice poses to consumers, the American Car Rental Association (ACRA), which represents nearly 100 rental car agencies, issued a proposal intended to address the situation. Under the proposal, a system would be set up that would allow rental car agencies to assess the seriousness of an automobile recall and then determine whether or not to remove the recalled car from the road. As explained in this Reuters article, according to Senator Charles Schumer, the proposal is insufficient and doesn’t go far enough to protect consumers: Schumer said the association’s proposal would “create a vague double standard that defines some recalled cars as safe and others as dangerous,” allowing “these companies to shirk their responsibility to consumers’ safety.” Schumer said ACRA’s proposal would allow each rental car company to set its own policy, which would lead to unsafe cars being rented out. Schumer raises some very valid concerns. Safety should always come first, but judging from this proposal, it seems that ACRA is more concerned with profits and earnings over safety.  The safety of consumers should always trump the convenience and profit of rental car agencies. Hopefully, instead of the lax standards proposed by ACRA, Schumer’s legislation and the other measures that we’ve discussed in the past will be passed, automobile accidents involving recalled rental cars will be prevented and lives will be saved. 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.

  • Will Cars of the Future Have Black Boxes?

    In the very near future, if the Department of Transportation gets its way, all new vehicles may be required to have “black boxes” much like the ones used in airplanes. These devices record and collect data related to the operation of the motor vehicle. This data can then be accessed and analyzed in the event of a car accident. As explained in this Detroit News article, many newer vehicles already have black boxes installed: Most automobiles already have the devices. NHTSA estimated that about 64 percent of 2005 model passenger vehicles had them; many major automakers already include black boxes on all of their vehicles, including General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co., Toyota Motor Corp. and Mazda Motor Co. The problem right now is that not all cars have these devices installed and even those cars that do collect different types of data, but, as explained in the article, this will change in just a few years: A rule that takes effect in the 2013 model year standardizes the information EDRs collect and makes retrieving the data easier. Devices must record 15 data elements, including vehicle deceleration, in specific formats. This will be an important development, since black boxes can provide invaluable information about the cause of a car accident. If all cars have these devices and collect the same types of data, then the information will be even more accessible and may very well prove to be of great value to car accident lawyers when seeking to recover for injuries on behalf of a client injured in an automobile accident. 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.

  • Illinois Workers’ Comp Bill Passes

    As we discussed in recent posts, changes to Illinois’ workers’ compensation have been on the horizon for a few months now. One sticking point in recent drafts of the proposed legislation that was of great concern was the proposed change that would require workers to prove that the injuries for which they seek benefits were caused by work-related activity. Last week, legislation amending the current workers’ compensation system passed in the House on the second try by a vote of 62-43. Shortly thereafter, Governor Quin indicated that he had every intention of signing the legislation. The good news is that the newly passed legislation did not include the requirement that workers prove that their injuries were job-related. However, as explained in this Bloomberg BusinessWeek article, there were a number of changes made that would negatively impact the rights of injured workers under the compensation system: The changes are supposed to cut between $500 million and $700 million from workers’ compensation, which totals $3 billion. Medical fees will be reduced 30 percent. Payments for carpal tunnel syndrome will last only 28 1/2 weeks, instead of 40. New guidelines will govern what treatment injured workers can receive and make harder for intoxicated workers to win claims. Employers can organize medical networks for handling workers’ compensation cases…New arbitrators will serve three-year terms instead of six and will be barred from accepting gifts. Critics say arbitrators have been too “cozy” with workers and their lawyers. Thus, although injured workers arguably dodged a bullet and the proposed changes that would have most seriously affected their rights were not enacted, the changes that were enacted are less than favorable when it comes to the rights of workers. That being said, until the changes have been implemented and in effect for a while, it will be difficult to predict the true effects of the changes. 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 Illinois Workers’ Compensation Reform Not Yet Enacted (thechicago-injury-lawyer.com) Proposed Illinois Legislation Would Decimate Workers’ Compensation (thechicago-injury-lawyer.com) Illinois House and Senate Approve Bill Banning Workers’ Comp For Employees Who Cause Accidents (thechicago-injury-lawyer.com)

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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.