Earlier this week, a Chicago CTA Bus drove off the road on Michigan Avenue killing one person and seriously injuring several others. Last month, there was a horrific derailment of an Amtrak train outside of Philadelphia that left eight passengers dead, hundreds more injured and is expected to cost over $200 million in damages and insurance claims. These tragedies are stunning in regards to not only the number of injured but also the extent of their injuries. And because they involve paying passengers who are being transported by someone else, they are looked at very differently under the law. Continue reading
One of the most common questions clients ask is why an insurance company, doctor or hospital has placed a lien on the proceeds from their claim settlement or lawsuit verdict? A lien is a type of claim seeking to recover money spent by a healthcare provider to treat a plaintiff’s injuries. The lien allows the provider to be reimbursed for these expenses from the proceeds of any settlement or judgment in connection to the event that caused these injuries. Under Illinois law, a lien is a valid way for medical providers to be reimbursed for outstanding expenses made on a plaintiff’s behalf. See 770 ILCS 23/10. Most health care providers also assert lien recovery rights as a condition of coverage in a health insurance policy.
Example of a lien: The most common example of a medical lien occurs when a health insurance company pays for a plaintiff’s medical care after the plaintiff was injured due to the fault of a third party. These situations commonly occur after auto accidents. For example, when a person is taken to the emergency room following an accident, his or her own individual health insurance policy general pays for the emergency services. When another person is at fault for the accident that caused this emergency treatment (referred to in the insurance industry as the “third party liable”), the injured person (the “plaintiff”) can generally recover the cost of their medical care from the insurance company of the responsible party. At the same time, his or her health insurance company will file a lien seeking reimbursement for the cost of his or her care. The plaintiff then satisfies the lien by refunding his or her own health insurance company for any amounts that were paid for their care. Such an arrangement is fair public policy as without a lien and subsequent refund, a plaintiff would recover their expenses twice: first, through the payment by their health insurance company and a second time when the insurance company for the responsible party reimburses the plaintiff for his or her medical expenses.
There are two important rules that affect how medical bills and liens are determined and compensated: Continue reading
Dealing with the government can sometimes be a daunting task. Whether trying to get a question answered by the IRS or simply attempting to find the right postage on a package at the post office, the bureaucracy and red tape can frustrate the calmest person. When the stakes are high, such as trying to bring a lawsuit against the government for negligence, government delays and red tape can be fatal as a delay can extend beyond the time a plaintiff is allowed to file suit (for more information about how long an Illinois plaintiff has to file a lawsuit, see our earlier post on Illinois’ statute of limitations). On Wednesday, the United States Supreme Court made things a little easier for potential plaintiffs facing these hurdles and the Court’s decision should have wide-reaching effects on a variety of claims. Continue reading
In Chicago, there is no shortage of auto insurance companies vying for your business. And the range of coverage options available for purchase can be just as voluminous. For people who have been in a serious car accident, it can often be confusing navigating the at fault parties’ (commonly referred to as the third party liable’s) coverage. Coupled with a serious injury, receiving compensation for medical bills, time off of work, pain and suffering and vehicle repairs is not always straightforward when policy limits, underinsured motorist coverage and deductibles come into play. This post attempts to provide the thirty thousand foot overview as to what types of coverage are required in a basic Illinois auto insurance policy and what kind of protection these coverage’s provide. Continue reading
All civil lawsuits in Illinois have certain time periods in which they have to be filed called statutes of limitations and statutes of repose. For example, in Illinois, an action for personal injury or medical malpractice generally must be filed within two years when the injured person knew or should have known of their claim but in no even over four years from the date of the injury. Actions not filed within these time periods are considered too late and all recovery may be barred.
The policy behind statutes of limitations and repose are usually concerned with protecting the rights of potential defendants by not allowing so much time to pass that a defendant is disadvantaged by not having valuable defensive evidence, either physical or witness testimony, still available to enable a successful defense. Accordingly, duty is placed upon a plaintiff to not sleep on his or her rights to the detriment of the defendants. So a balance is struck: an injured party is given a reasonable amount of time to realize that they may have a right and need to sue but the time allotted is limited to prevent stale claims.
There are, however, numerous exceptions to these usually strict time limits. The exceptions stem from an underlying concern to protect the injured party and prevent a viable action from being unfairly pre-maturely prevented. So, for example, if a plaintiff is somehow prevented or hindered from recognizing or pursuing his or her claim, exceptions exist that toll or prevent the time period from running. The following are some examples of when a limitations period may be tolled or extended: Continue reading