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

FootballOn first blush, it may seem preposterous that deflated footballs in New England would have any relevance to the every day work of a Chicago personal injury law firm. Perhaps, the most common thread is that one of the attorneys at Leopold & Associates hails from New England and is a die-hard fan of all things Boston Sports. At the same time, as the media spends countless hours dissecting the conclusions made by an NFL investigation into allegations of cheating by the New England Patriots, many are asking whether there is sufficient evidence to convict the football team in a court of law? And by examining the evidence from a legal perspective, one is likely to conclude that a conviction would be “more probable than not.” 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