Whenever you go to the hospital, every doctor, nurse, therapist or other medical professional that is involved in your care generates a large number of medical records. These records are a vital part of any medical malpractice lawsuit and often total thousands of pages. Medical records serve as a window into the minute details that are often crucial in explaining why a medical procedure may have gone wrong. For example, when a patient is hooked up to monitor, every blood pressure reading, heart fluctuation or oxygen level is recorded, often on a minute-by-minute basis. This allows for the ability to track causes and their effects and pinpoint the precise moment that something may have changed. If a patient’s heart rate unexpectedly drops, it is very important to look at the portion of the medical records surrounding the decreasing heart rate to figure out exactly what may have happened to explain the change.

With all of that said, medical records are very private documents. They often contain information and medical history that is personal and therefore should only be seen by a doctor, the patient or a representative authorized by the patient to view their records. In order to protect this patient privacy, Congress passed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in 1996. The HIPAA law regulates the use of protected health information by ensuring that this information remains private and is not shared with third parties. Protected health information is broadly defined as any portion of a patient’s medical record or billing information. Continue reading

Are you one of the thousands of Chicago motorists who saw a flashing white light in your review mirror as you drove through an intersection? Did you open your mail a few weeks later to find a traffic and color picture of your car going through that intersection while the light was red? Did you pay the fine? If a recent court ruling is upheld, you may be due for a refund. Continue reading

One of the largest drawbacks of our civil justice system is the amount of time it takes to litigate a case from start to finish. Here in Chicago, it is not uncommon for a medical malpractice case to take four years from the time the case is first examined to the point where the case reaches a final resolution. One of the common questions our clients ask is for an explanation of the many steps involved in litigating a complex medical malpractice case. While these phases of litigation are themselves, the subjects of volumes of books, this blog post attempts to provide a very basic overview of the major various stages of litigation involved in a complex lawsuit. Continue reading

This past summer, we wrote about a law in Indiana that prevents medical malpractice victims from receiving fair and adequate compensation when their lives are drastically altered by a doctor’s medical error. In its current form, Indiana’s Medical Malpractice Act, Ind. Code. Ann. § 34-18-14-3, places an absolute cap on compensation for losses such as medical bills, pain, suffering, the cost of future medical care, a loss of wages or any loss of a normal life at $1.25 million. This law has caused families to go bankrupt, lose their homes or live on welfare because of a medical mistake that was no fault of their own. Recently, however, a family from Evansville, Indiana has challenged the constitutionality of this law. Continue reading

One of the most pressing issues facing the city of Chicago is the current gun violence that plagues the community. It seems as though every day the local news is reporting on another shooting or other violent crime involving guns across the city. While the issue of gun control and firearm regulation has sparked heated debate across the county, the neighboring city of Milwaukee recently tried a new, untested approach at regulating firearms: using the legal system to hold gun shops who are careless in firearm sales accountable for violent crime resulting from an illegal sale. Just yesterday, Milwaukee’s efforts appeared successful. As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports, “a jury late Tuesday found Badger Guns and its owner liable in the wounding of two Milwaukee police officers in a first-of-its-kind verdict that was being watched nationwide. Continue reading

Last week, NBC Nightly News reported on a shocking study by the National Academy of Medicine regarding medical errors in the United States. According to the report “most Americans will get a wrong or late diagnosis in their lifetimes… often with devastating effects.” Dr. John Ball, chairman of the Committee on Diagnostic Error in Medicine and an author of the study put it more bluntly by stating “everyone will experience one meaningful diagnostic error in their lifetime.”

The statistics are shocking. For example, the study analyzes that “diagnostic errors contribute to 10 percent of patient deaths” and a staggering “6 to 17 percent of adverse events in hospitals.” However, patients often never know these high and unacceptable numbers. The report explains that the lack of a uniform medical system in the United States contributes to keeping these numbers “under the radar” making it very difficult to quantify how many people are seriously injured by medical errors. The report calls this situation both an under-represented and understudied issue area in medicine. Continue reading

Leopold & Associates has been fighting for victims of serious injuries in the Chicago area for more than 30 years. During that time, our clients have come to rely on us for being accessible and down to earth while working our hardest to be tireless advocates for our clients’ legal rights. We pride ourselves on being available for our clients, even long after a case may have ended. We are always happy to try our best to answer any legal question you may have. In that light, we tried to compile some of the most frequent questions our clients ask us about their cases. Continue reading

In less than a week, the state of Illinois will be without a budget unless Republican Governor Bruce Rauner and the Democratically controlled state legislature can come to an agreement. For the past several months, Governor Rauner has refused to sign a budget unless the budget includes a number of “pro business” regulations that he believes are important for Illinois’ economy. So far, the Legislature has rebuffed working with Rauner on these non-budget regulations until an actual budget is passed. One such regulation advocated by Governor Rauner is tort reform, a law designed to limit how much compensation a victim of medical malpractice or other serious personal injuries can receive from judge or jury of their peers. Continue reading

Quite often, the individuals involved in a serious car accident focus on the initial cause of the accident.  Did a vehicle cut another driver off when changing lanes?  Did a driver lose control of his or her car when racing down the highway at a dangerous speed?  Were the roads icy or unsafe to travel on?  These questions are generally the starting point of any accident investigation.  Yet it is also important to look at the resulting damage and what factors may have contributed to the severity of the accident and whether steps could have been taken to minimize or mitigate any harm that came to a driver or passenger after the initial cause of the accident occurs.  Recently, a federal court in Texas focused on the latter issue holding a highway guardrail manufacture liable for serious injuries, and even deaths, caused by a design change in the companies’ guardrails.  This finding of liability resulted in a $663 million judgment. Continue reading

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