Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The role of the Illinois Personal Injury Attorney

There is a relatively well kept secret in the United States regarding the law of personal injury.  The secret is: trial lawyers, personal injury lawyers, and consumer lawyers are among the most important advocates for the safety and well being of the general public.

Every so often a tort reform bill or referendum comes before lawmakers.  The arguments in favor of tort reform generally reflect the idea that settlements and verdicts relating to accidents, personal injuries, and medical malpractice increase the cost to the rest of society.  This argument is used to persuade people across the United States that there should be caps on law suits for personal injuries.

The arguments in favor of placing caps on settlements and jury verdicts are largely an illusion sprung on the public by lobbyists for insurance companies.  The simple fact is that caps on personal injury lawsuits benefit one group above all others: insurance companies. Insurance companies operate like any other business--their eyes are set on the profit margin.  Insurance companies want premiums, they want your business, they do not want to pay out for claims.

Insurance companies spend billions of dollars each year in an attempt to sway public sentiment, to confuse the issues involved.  However, the current healthcare/insurance system does not provide enough oversight and regulation of the injuries suffered by individuals.  Caps on tort claims would significantly lower oversight of treatment afforded individuals--from tests performed by doctors related to injuries to treatment by insurance companies.

The role played by attorneys is that of an advocate.  Attorneys facilitate the interests of the public and provide representation to those who cannot stand on their own two feet, literally and figuratively.  Attorneys ensure that insurance companies pay the full value of a claim and fight so that people have a chance to recover from their injuries in a meaningful way.  Attorneys protect against the tyranny of insurance companies.  Insurance companies want attorneys out of the picture.

At The Law Offices of Adam J. Zayed, P.C., our attorneys are dedicated to ensuring that the rights of all of our clients are protected.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Chicago truck accidents are far more likely to lead to catastrophic injury

Everyone avoids trucks on roads and highways.  People instinctively avoid being behind trucks and avoid driving next to trucks.  This is at least partially because of the sheer size of trucks.  We live in the year 2010, but our society still relies upon trucks to transport goods.  Unfortunately, truck accidents are far more likely to lead to catastrophic injury and even wrongful death because of their weight, size, and lack of maneuverability.

The trucking industry is the leading transporter of goods, well above train.  However, trucks are also statistically the most dangerous vehicles on the road.

When truck accidents occur, it is very likely that a representative from the trucking company will be sent to the location of the accident.  It is absolutely essential that people involved in truck accidents retain an truck accident attorney to fight for their rights.

The Law Offices of Adam J. Zayed, P.C. provides truck accident representation throughout Illinois including but not limited to the following counties: Cook County, DuPage County, Kane County, Will County, McHenry County, Kendall County and Lake County.

Monday, June 21, 2010

About Medical Malpractice and an explanation of why it is alright to pursue a remedy if you have been wronged.

We place a huge amount of trust in our doctors. When everything goes smoothly, we praise our doctors.  When something goes wrong with treatment from a doctor, it is common to feel alienated and lost.  The solution to this problem may not be immediately apparent.  In the event of medical malpractice, it is important to solicit the expertise of a medical malpractice attorney in order to protect your rights.

Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor or healthcare provider fails to do something that a reasonably careful doctor or healthcare provider would do.  Medical malpractice also occurs when a doctor or healthcare provider does something that a reasonably careful doctor or healthcare provider would not do.

We trust that we will receive the best treatment possible from our doctors. But it is an unfortunate certainty that not everyone gets the treatment they deserve.  For this reason, a case of medical malpractice can be very unsettling. A medical malpractice lawyer will take the steps necessary to determine whether a doctor has committed medical malpractice by not complying with the requisite standard of care.

Medical malpractice goes beyond mistake or a bad result, medical malpractice is a serious deviation from what is reasonable. However, it is not always absolutely clear when medical malpractice has occurred.  Patients are at a significant disadvantage in the event of medical malpractice. Patients simply do not have the medical expertise to analyze their situation.  Patients may not even know all the facts.

If you suspect that you or a loved one has suffered from medical malpractice or some form of negligence on the part of a healthcare provider, it is crucial that you contact a Chicago medical malpractice lawyer at Law Offices of Adam J. Zayed, P.C.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Illinois Train Accidents

Train accidents occur far more frequently in Illinois than in other states.  This is undoubtedly due to the sheer quantity of rail lines in Illinois.

Illinois has well over 7,000 miles of railway lines in Illinois--Illinois ranks second in the nation behind Texas.

If you've ever been caught behind a freight train while driving a car, here's an interesting statistic: Illinois railways move over 500 Tons (nearly 1 trillion pounds) of freight every year.  More than any state in the U.S.

There are over 50 railroad companies operating throughout Illinois including but not limited to:

Common Freight Carriers

  • Alton and Southern Railway (ALS)

  • Belt Railway of Chicago (BRC)

  • Bloomer Shippers Connecting Railroad (BLOL)

  • BNSF Railway (BNSF)

  • Burlington Junction Railway (BJRY) also operates City of Rochelle Railroad (CIR)

  • Canadian National Railway (CN) through subsidiaries Chicago Central and Pacific Railroad (CC), Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railway (EJE), Grand Trunk Western Railroad (GTW), Illinois Central Railroad (IC), and Wisconsin Central Ltd. (WC)

  • Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) through subsidiaries Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern Railroad (DME) and Soo Line Railroad (SOO)

  • Central Illinois Railroad (CIRY)

  • Chicago–Chemung Railroad (CCUO)

  • Chicago, Fort Wayne and Eastern Railroad (CFE)

  • Chicago Port Railroad (CPC)

  • Chicago Rail Link (CRL)

  • Chicago SouthShore and South Bend Railroad (CSS)

  • Chicago Terminal Railroad (CTM)

  • Crab Orchard and Egyptian Railroad (COER)

  • Coffeen and Western Railroad (CAEG)

  • CSX Transportation (CSXT) including subsidiary Baltimore and Ohio Chicago Terminal Railroad (BOCT)

  • Decatur Junction Railway (DT)

  • Eastern Illinois Railroad (EIRC)

  • Effingham Railroad (EFRR)

  • Evansville Western Railway (EVWR)

  • Illinois Railway (IR)

  • Illinois and Midland Railroad (IMRR)

  • Illinois Western Railroad (ILW)

  • Indiana Rail Road (INRD)

  • Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad (IHB)

  • Iowa Interstate Railroad (IAIS) operates Lincoln and Southern Railroad

  • Joppa and Eastern Railroad (JE)

  • Kankakee, Beaverville and Southern Railroad (KBSR)

  • Kansas City Southern Railway (KCS) including subsidiary Gateway Eastern Railway (GWWE)

  • Keokuk Junction Railway (KJRY)

  • Manufacturers Railway (MRS)

  • Manufacturers' Junction Railway (MJ)

  • Norfolk Southern Railway (NS)

  • Pioneer Industrial Railway (PRY)

  • Riverport Railroad (RVPR)

  • Shawnee Terminal Railway (STR)

  • South Chicago and Indiana Harbor Railway (SCIH)

  • Tazewell and Peoria Railroad (TZPR) operates Peoria and Pekin Union Railway (PPU)

  • Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis (TRRA)

  • Toledo, Peoria and Western Railway (TPW)

  • Union Pacific Railroad (UP) including subsidiary Southern Illinois and Missouri Bridge Company

  • Vandalia Railroad (VRRC)

  • Vermilion Valley Railroad (VVRR) operates FNG Logistics Company (FNG)

  • Wisconsin and Southern Railroad (WSOR)

Private freight carriers

  • Burlington Junction Railway (BJRY)

  • Calumet Transload and Railroad

  • C&C Railroad

  • Chicago Heights Switching operates Bulkmatic Railroad (BTCZ)

  • DOT Rail Service

  • Kaskaskia Regional Port District (KKRX)

  • Mokena Illinois Railroad

  • North American Industrial Railway

  • Peoria, Peoria Heights and Western Railroad

  • Respondek Railroad (RRC)

Passenger carriers

  • Amtrak (AMTK)

  • Chicago Transit Authority

  • Fox River Trolley Museum (Aurora, Elgin and Fox River Electric)

  • Illinois Railway Museum

  • Metra

  • MetroLink

  • Monticello Railway Museum

  • Silver Creek and Stephenson Railroad

  • South Shore Line

Illinois has over 10,883 public highway rail crossings, of these 8,131 are on street level and 2,752 are separated by roads by a bridge.

These statistics can be found at http://www.icc.illinois.gov/railroad/

At The Law Offices of Adam J. Zayed, P.C., we provide the highest level of legal advocacy.  In the unfortunate event of a train accident, it is necesscary to ensure that your rights are protected.  We ask that you strongly consider retaining the services of an attorney at The Law Offices of Adam J. Zayed, P.C. in the event of a train accident.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Impaired Earning Capacity

It is very often the case that one's ability to earn a living will be impacted in the unfortunate event of an accident.  When analyzing a personal injury case, impaired earning capacity is always a consideration.  The calculations that go into analyzing the degree that one's earning capacity is impaired requires a significant amount of foresight.  Also, impaired earning capacity is a concept that must be applied on a person to person basis, taking into account the specifics of a person's life.

Some of the factors that go into showing how a person has had their earning capacity diminished by an injury include:

  1. the physical and mental capacities, before and after the injury;

  2. preexisting physical or mental conditions;

  3. educational background and/or training;

  4. type of career;

  5. career potential;

  6. ambition to enter into a career as long as the ambition has a reasonable chance of coming to fruition;

  7. how the injury affects plaintiff's career (For example, severely injured hand may present different difficulties to a typist than it would a taxi driver).

Should you have a question related to Impaired Earning Capacity or a related subject, please contact an attorney at The Law Offices of Adam J. Zayed, P.C.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Lien Frustration

The concept of a "lien" is by its very nature difficult to comprehend.  What's more is that people suffering from personal injuries are generally not in a position to tackle the complexities of Illinois lien laws. Hopefully this post will provide some insight into the often confusing territory of liens involved in personal injury cases.

According to Blacks Law Dictionary a Lien is: "a legal right or interest that a creditor has in another's property, lasting usually until a debt or duty that it secures is satisfied."  In the personal injury context, liens attach to an individuals personal injury claim and the expected recovery.

One of the most common types of liens involved in personal injury cases are health care provider liens.    A valid health care provider lien is created when medical services are rendered and notice is served.  The lien subsequently attaches to any verdict, judgment or settlement reached stemming from the cause of action.  In other words, your heath care provider will get a portion of your personal injury recovery.

It is important to note that the total amount of all health care provider liens cannot exceed 40% of the verdict, judgment or settlment stemming from the cause of action.

Aside from health care provider liens there are numerous other types of liens, including, but not limited to:

  • Medicare liens

  • Workers' Compensation Liens

  • Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services Liens

  • Attorneys Liens

Incurring a personal injury can be a devastating event.   In addition to the physical ramifications of a personal injury, numerous other factors create stress and inconvenience. In the unfortunate event of a personal injury, I suggest you contact a personal injury attorney.  Nevertheless, hopefully the information contained in this post will help alleviate some of the stress you might feel when you receive notice of a lien relating to your personal injury.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Wrongful Death Actions and CREDITORS

I was recently asked about one of the nuances of the Wrongful Death Act.  The situation was as follows: The decedent had a significant amount of debt, and the family wanted to bring a wrongful death claim.  The question was: would the decedent's creditors have a right to recover under the Wrongful Death Act?

The Illinois Wrongful Death Act states:

Sec. 1. Whenever the death of a person shall be caused by wrongful act, neglect or default, and the act, neglect or default is such as would, if death had not ensued, have entitled the party injured to maintain an action and recover damages in respect thereof, then and in every such case the person who or company or corporation which would have been liable if death had not ensued, shall be liable to an action for damages, notwithstanding the death of the person injured, and although the death shall have been caused under such circumstances as amount in law to felony

740 ILCS 180.

As I have stated in previous posts, the Wrongful Death Act is a statutory creation that provides the surviving spouse and next of kin with a right to recover for the loss of the decedent.  Section 2 of the Wrongful Death Act states: "the amount recovered in every such action shall be for the exclusive benefit of the surviving spouse and next of kin of such deceased person."

A. This means that any recovery is not treated as part of the estate of the deceased; and

B. This means that the decedent's creditors cannot touch any amounts recovered in a Wrongful Death action.

At The Law Offices of Adam J. Zayed, P.C., our attorneys are experts in recovering the compensation families are entitled to in the event of a catastrophic injury or wrongful death

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Complexity of Personal Injury Claims (Part 1): Who is liable?

Personal injury claims have a reputation for being relatively straightforward.  This is because very often the circumstances leading to the actual injury may be commonplace, e.g. a dog bite, a slip and fall, or a one car traffic collision.  Even when the circumstances causing a personal injury are relatively unremarkable, the legal aspects of the case will likely involve significant complexity.

Using one car accidents as an example, I'll attempt to illustrate  the magnitude of the complexity.

A one car accident is an accident involving literally one automobile.  A case I recently handled involved an individual who crashed into a construction site, while she had a passenger in the car with her.  On the surface, one might think: "One car, one driver, one person at fault." Despite the apparently straightforward fact pattern, simply determining all liable parties can be a significant task.  Even in this case, potentially liable parties may include but are not limited to:

  • the driver,

  • the passenger (if passenger took negligent actions),

  • the owner of vehicle (if not the driver),

  • the employer of the driver,

  • the road contractor,

  • local municipalities, and

  • the automobile manufacturer.

A personal injury attorney will investigate the facts of a case, and will ensure that maximum justice is achieved. When results matter, it is important to hire someone who knows the angles.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Survival vs. Wrongful Death

The term "wrongful death" is actually a bit of a misnomer.  In the unfortunate event that someone suffers an untimely death, one would intuitively think that the appropriate claim to file would be a "wrongful death" claim, to recover for losses suffered by the individual that suffered the untimely death.

Under Illinois statutory law, however, the Wrongful Death Act does not recover for damages incurred by the deceased.  Wrongful death claims recover for losses sustained by the spouse and the next of kin of the individual who suffered a wrongful death. 740 ILCS 180/0.01

On the other hand, a survival action is a claim brought in order to recover for personal injury and other property losses suffered by an individual before succumbing their injuries.  A personal injury attorney will ensure that all appropriate claims are made in order to ensure that victims of personal injuries recover the compensation they are owed.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

What does “personal injury law” really mean?

Personal injury law is a nuanced body of civil law.  The word civil is important here because personal injury law gives injured people the right to sue in a civil action, as opposed to a criminal action. Another word for a civil action is: tort.

According to Black's Law Dictionary, a tort is:

"1. A civil wrong, other than breach of contract, for which a remedy may be obtained...in the form of damages;  a breach of duty that the law imposes on persons who stand in a particular relation to one another.  2. The branch of law dealing with such wrongs."

There are numerous sub-categories of torts, including, but not limited to:

  • constitutional torts,

  • dignatary torts/defamation,

  • governmental torts,

  • intentional torts, e.g. battery,

  • mass torts,

  • negligent torts,

  • personal torts,

  • prenatal torts,

  • prima facie torts,

  • property torts,

  • public torts,

  • quasi-torts, and

  • toxic torts.

A person who commits a tort is called a: tortfeasor.

It is easy to think of torts/personal injuries in terms of real world occurrences, e.g. dog bites, atv accidents, trucking collisions, boating accidents, car crashes.  Personal injuries occur with shocking frequency.  It's very easy to understand the real world consequences of these injuries because they are so evident.  What is not so obvious is that there are laws that exist to provide people with compensation for their injuries, personal injury laws.

So very often, people don't realize that they are entitled to compensation for their injuries.  Very often they fall through the cracks of the legal system and do not recover for their injuries. Personal injury attorneys ensure that people do not fall through the cracks, and ensure that people receive the compensation that they are entitled.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Attributing “Value” to a personal injury case.

When clients come into my office, they often ask: how much is my case worth?

And this is a fair question, because it is very important to determine the amount an individual may be able to recover.  It is important, however, to understand that there is a serious difference between the the amount an individual should be able to recover, the maximum potential recovery amount (the amount an individual could recover), and how much the claim is actually worth (the amount an individual will be able to recover).

In order to determine the maximum potential recovery amount, it is necessary to discover all available insurance coverage and all other avenues of compensation.  I touched upon these issues briefly in my previous post.

An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to run the gauntlet of the personal injury claims process in order to find all applicable insurance coverage.

In the state of Illinois, mandatory auto insurance laws require that insurance is, at minimum, maintained in the following amounts:

  • $20,000 for injury or death of one person in an accident;

  • $40,000 for injury or death of more than one person in an accident; and

  • $15,000 for damage to property of another person.

Actual amounts of insurance coverage vary on a case by case basis.  But many people choose to obtain the minimum amount of auto-insurance in order to keep their insurance expenses low.  In fact many insurance companies only write these minimum insurance policies in an effort to limit their exposure.

The circumstances of a case also give rise to the possibility of additional insurance coverage.  For example, if a defendant was an employee driving a company vehicle, the company may very well be liable.  Or where a driver of a vehicle is not the owner, the actual owner may very well have applicable insurance coverage.

Of course, it is necessary to look at the insurance coverage of the plaintiff  to discover other avenues of insurance coverage, such as uninsured and underinsured coverage.

Once all liable parties are discovered and all applicable insurance coverage is discovered, it is important to determine the actual value of your case.  And very often this value is higher than the total amount of insurance coverage.

Insurance coverage aside, there are several factors that can limit recovery.  These factors include, but are not limited to:

  • the amount of property damage--the more visible the property damage the more likely an insurance company is to pay the actual value of a claim;

  • whether a plaintiff has had previous injuries--previous injuries will usually decrease compensation offered by insurance companies;

  • whether shocking, wanton and egregious behavior caused the injuries;

  • the degree and visibility of injuries--the more plainly visible the injury the easier for juries to understand why plaintiffs deserve compensation; and

  • degree of fault, if any, attributable to the plaintiff.

There are many obstacles to claiming the compensation due for personal injuries.  And it is important to remember that determining the amount of compensation an individual will receive is not as simple as multiplying medical expenses by three. However, personal injury attorneys take great pride in advocating for plaintiff's rights.  And a skilled personal injury attorney will bridge the gap between the compensation individuals should receive and what they will receive, ensuring that plaintiffs receive full value for their injuries in the face of obstacles presented by the facts of the case and available insurance coverage.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Did I settle too soon? Investigating all applicable insurance coverage.

A person who recently went through the personal injury claims process asked me whether she settled too soon.   She was involved in a traffic collision and her medical expenses and lost wages were in the area of $22,000.  She had a friend who was an attorney specializing in patent law, and she asked her friend to take care of the case for her.

Because the driver who hit her only had $25,000 in liability insurance, the patent attorney settled it for $25,000.  However, this result still left the woman wondering.

In this situation, I would've recommended that the woman consult a personal injury attorney. More likely than not, the woman would've been entitled to significantly more than $25,000 considering factors like future medical expenses, loss of future wages, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.  I didn't know enough about the facts of the woman's particular case, but it seemed to me that none of these factors were taken into account in calculating the $22,000.

It is possible that $25,000 was the maximum amount that could've been recovered.  However, it is always necessary to determine the availability of all possible insurance coverage.  For example, when determining the policy limits of an opposing party, one should inquire about excess/umbrella insurance, which insurance companies often hesitate to disclose.  Also, if,  a would be defendant is underinsured, the plaintiff's own insurance policy should have been notified of an underinsured motorist claim.  Even if it isn't certain whether underinsured coverage will apply, notice should still be given to the plaintiff's insurance company.

This is but a sample of the avenues the woman could have looked for recovery.  It is essential to hire an attorney who knows personal injury law in order to increase  recovery.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Why should you should retain a personal injury attorney? (Part 1)

Insurance companies have spent billions of dollars lobbying congress to enact tort reform legislation.  These companies have given many rationales for enacting tort reform laws.  One of the main rationales is to keep medical costs low.  The logic is that if payouts for damages in personal injury and medical malpractice claims are kept low, medical costs will also be kept low benefiting society at large.

However, insurance companies are not neutral parties in this equation.  Insurance companies are interested in keeping recoveries for personal injury claims low, so that their profit margin on each insurance premium stays high.  Insurance companies are for-profit institutions after all.

Insurance companies don't want people to retain personal injury attorneys.  In fact, studies made by insurance companies have shown that "attorney involvement is associated with a 64 percent increase in the average claim size." This is one reason hiring a personal injury attorney is important.  It is essential to retain an advocate who will fight for your rights and your interests, without ulterior motives.

How to choose a personal injury attorney? (Part 3)

You have a valid personal injury claim if you were injured as a result of an accident, caused by the fault of another.  When you are in the process of searching for an attorney, you should take your case to an attorney who has experience in the personal injury legal field.  It it very important that your case is handled by an attorney who is passionate about personal injury law.

If you have a valid personal injury claim, you can recover for:

  1. Medical expenses incurred during treatment of your injuries;

  2. Future medical expenses;

  3. Loss of Wages;

  4. Loss of Future Wages;

  5. Pain & Suffering; and

  6. Loss of enjoyment of Life.

It may very well be the case that your personal injury attorney will play an important role in protecting your future in the event of injury.  It is critical that your personal injury attorney is willing to fight for your rights.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

You’re injured, and you’re partially at fault–Do you still have apersonal injury claim?

The short answer to this question is: it depends.

Illinois law concerning fault and recovery has gone through several serious transformations.  Up until the 1981 Illinois Supreme Court decision, Alvis v. Ribar, Illinois used a "contributory negligence" system to determine whether a plaintiff could recover in a personal injury claim.  Alvis v. Ribar, 85 Ill. 2d 1 (Ill.1981).  Under this system, any degree of fault attributable to a plaintiff was an absolute bar to recovery.

The Alvis decision ushered in a new set of laws pertaining to fault and recovery in Illinois. Under the new "comparative negligence" legal system, plaintiff recoveries were limited by the percentage of their own negligence or fault.  So theoretically, if a plaintiff were 25% at fault or even 75% at fault, that plaintiff could recover with a reduction reflecting the percentage of their fault.

In 1986, the Illinois State Legislature enacted law that has supplanted Alvis's comparative negligence system. The new law is a hybrid between contributory negligence and comparative negligence.  Since 1986, Illinois has been a "modified contributory negligence" state.  735 ILCS 5/1116.  Under the current modified contributory negligence system, recoveries for damages are diminished in proportion to the percentage of fault attributable to the plaintiff. (Similar to comparative comparative negligence laws).  However, plaintiffs who are more than 50% at fault are completely barred from recovery. (Similar to contributory negligence laws).

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Statute of Limitations – How long can you wait to file a personalinjury claim?

One of the most important factors in any personal injury claim is: what is the applicable statute of limitations?  This questions determines when a personal injury claim may be filed. If a claim is not brought within the the appropriate statute of limitations time period, the claim will be barred and Courts will not hear the case.

Generally, actions for personal injury damages in Illinois must be commenced within 2 years after the cause of action accrued.  735 ILCS 5/13-202.

However, there are several nuances to this rule:

Personal Injury to Minors:  In this situation, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the minor reaches the age of 18.

Personal Injury Actions Made Against the State: In this situation there is an additional notice requirement.  The Court must be notified within 1 year of the injury, and suit must be filed within 2 years.

Dram Shop Actions:  Personal injury actions must be filed within 1 year.

Personal Injury Claims Against the Chicago Transit Authority: In the past, claims made against the CTA had to comply with a 6 month notice requirement.  If CTA did not recieve notice within 6 months of an individual's injury, the claim would be bared.  However, as of June 1, 2009, Governor Patrick Quinn repealed the 6-month notice requirement. Today, personal injury claims against the CTA need only comply with a 1 year statute of limitations.

Personal Injury Claims Against a Local Public Entity: Claims must be filed within 1 year.

An experienced personal injury attorney will ensure that all applicable statute of limitation requirements are met.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Are Incorrect Police Reports A Bar to Recovery on Your Personal InjuryClaim?

A client recently asked me about an all too common situation:  He was involved in an auto-accident and the person who hit him was at fault.  Unfortunatley, the police report for the accident incorrectly showed my client to be at fault. Would he be prevented from recovering for his damages/injuries?

The answer to this question is: NO.

Chances are you've heard of the term Hearsay. This situation is why the rule exists.

According to Rule 802 of the Federal Rules of Evidence: "Hearsay is not admissible except as provided by these rules or by other rules prescribed by the Supreme Court pursuant to statutory authority or by Act of Congress."

According to Black's Law Dictionary hearsay is: "testimony that is given by a witness who relates not what he or she knows personally, but what others have said, and that is therefore dependent on the credibility of some other than the witness."

In this situation, the police report is hearsay.  The report is a police officer's out-of-court writing.  The police report does not consist of "the facts." The police officer was not a witness.

Even though the police report is inadmissible hearsay, however, the police report will be used by insurance companies to facilitate the settlement of claims. So, if the police report is wrong, chances are you will have to file a claim with the court and perhaps go to trial.

In short, an incorrect police report may create roadblocks, but it should not bar just compensation for damages.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Provisions

When people are involved in collisions or accidents, they naturally look to the individuals who caused the collision or accident for recovery. Very often, however, the individual who caused an accident (a) will not have insurance coverage or (b) will not have adequate insurance coverage to cover the claim.  In this situation, achieving recovery may require looking into one's own insurance policy for "uninsured" and/or "underinsured" motorist provisions.

The validity and usefullness of this kind of coverage becomes clear in light of statistics from the the Insurance Research Council which show that the  number of uninsured drivers can reach 25% in some states. The Insurance Research Counsel also estimates that 15-17% of drivers nationally are uninsured.

Fortunately, Illinois requires uninsured/underinsured provisions.  An important caveat is that uninsured/underinsured generally only covers bodily injury and not property damage.

The Law Offices of Adam J. Zayed, P.C.  are dedicated to fighting for victim's rights.  For representation throughout the Chicago area, please contact one of our attorneys at 888-337-0023. 

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

How to Choose a Personal Injury Attorney (Part 2)

Honestly, one of the best ways to find a personal injury attorney, or any attorney for that matter, is to ask your family, friends, and acquaintances.  The chances are very high that someone you know knows a good attorney.

Another way to find an attorney is to use attorney referal services.  This method may prove slightly less credible, however, because the attorneys you will find through these services pay to get on the referral list.  Their skills as attorneys may very well be suspect, but if they pay their fees to the referral services, they remain on the list.

Another method for finding an attorney is to contact the local Bar Association for your area.  Most likely your area or county will have Bar Association listings of attorneys in particular practice areas.  These listings, however, do not necessarily ensure the capabilities of attorneys.

How to Choose a Personal Injury Attorney (Part 1)

It is not easy to choose a personal injury attorney.  Part of the difficulty is due to the sheer number of attorneys.  Another part is actually finding an attorney.  (Finding an attorney is not as easy as flipping open the yellow pages these days).  A very large part of this difficulty is due to the fact that people are not aware of how attorneys work, which means that people seeking attorneys might not be able to distinguish a good attorney from a bad one who will run a case into the ground.   One of the best things to do is to do some research and to go into an attorney-cient relationship with some knowledge.

One of the most important attributes your attorney should have is the ability to give you security.  At the end of the day, your attorney should help you sleep easy knowing that your claim is going to be redressed.  Finding the right attorney means knowing that your interests will be protected.  Your attorney should show you compassion and should be more interested in redressing the wrong done to you than profiting from your claim.  Not all personal injury attorneys are "ambulance chasers."  The right attorney is out to fight for your rights, not merely to capitalize on the tragedies that have befallen you.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Medical Malpractice Law Ruled Unconstitutional by Illinois Supreme Court

On Thursday, February 4, 2010, the Illinois Supreme Court struck down a law that limited damages awarded to victims of Medical Malpractice.  The law in question was signed into place in 2005 by former Governor Rod Blagojevich. and limited recoveries for pain and suffering and other non-economic damages to $500,000 in cases against doctors and $1,000,000 against hospitals.

James Rohack, president of the American Medical Association claimed: "Today's court decision threatens to undo all that Illinois patients and physicians have gained under the cap, including greater access to healthcare, lower medical liability rates and increased competition among medical liability insurers."  Despite this entreaty, the $500,000 and $1,000,000 recovery caps mentioned above did not adequately compensate all patients who receive negligent treatment.

While the debate goes on in Springfield as to whether lawsuits affect the quality and costs of medical care,  on a case by case basis, it is now in the jury's hands to decide the proper damages against doctors and hospitals.  This is because the Illinois Supreme Court held this decision should be in the jury's hands rather than lawmakers:

"The law violates the state's separation-of-powers clause between the branches of government by allowing lawmakers to interfere with a jury's right to determine damages."