The Chicago Personal Injury Law Blog tag:chicagopersonalinjurylegalblog.com,2009-03-23://51 2014-03-26T18:07:26Z Chicago Personal Injury News and Information Movable Type Enterprise 4.38 How Does an Arbitration Clause Affect My Case? tag:chicagopersonalinjurylegalblog.com,2014://51.44781 2014-03-27T11:41:00Z 2014-03-26T18:07:26Z After suffering a personal injury, you may be required to participate in mediation or arbitration before you can head to court. Many contracts routinely include arbitration clauses that require parties to arbitrate a dispute before filing a lawsuit. What... Aditi Mukherji, JD After suffering a personal injury, you may be required to participate in mediation or arbitration before you can head to court.

Many contracts routinely include arbitration clauses that require parties to arbitrate a dispute before filing a lawsuit.

What exactly are arbitration clauses and how do they affect personal injury cases?

]> Arbitration Clauses

Most arbitrations arise because of an arbitration clause in a contract, in which the parties have agreed to resolve any disputes arising out of the contract through arbitration.

Arbitration clauses can be simple, but they can also be very detailed and complex. For example, they may specify how arbitrators will be selected, where the arbitration will be held (which can be pricey if you live in another state), who will pay for attorneys' fees, and whether the final arbitration award must be kept confidential.

Mandatory v. Voluntary Arbitration

An arbitration clause may make the arbitration mandatory or voluntary. If it's mandatory, you must resolve the dispute through arbitration -- it's very possible that you've signed away the right to sue in court, participate in a class action lawsuit, or appeal the arbitration decision.

In contrast, voluntary arbitration is a choice rather than a necessity. The two parties agree to arbitration after the dispute arises, after they've had a chance to evaluate other options for resolving the dispute.

Binding vs. Non-Binding Arbitration

An arbitrator's decision may be binding or non-binding. In binding arbitration, the arbitrator's decision is final. That means a court can't review or overturn the arbitrator's decision except in very limited circumstances, for example, when fraud or misuse of power were involved or when the arbitration clause was unconscionable.

Non-binding arbitration allows either party to reject the arbitration award and go to trial. Of course, this isn't ideal because you'll have wasted considerable time and money on arbitration, but it's at least an option.

After brushing up on the pros and cons of arbitration, consider having a Chicago personal injury lawyer review your arbitration clause and evaluate how (if at all) it will affect your personal injury case.

Related Resources:

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What Are 'Fighting Words'? tag:chicagopersonalinjurylegalblog.com,2014://51.44727 2014-03-26T18:30:00Z 2014-03-26T18:20:44Z Fred Phelps, the founder of the Westboro Baptist Church -- the fire-and-brimstone congregation known for picketing military funerals with anti-gay signs -- died late last Wednesday at the age of 84, The Washington Post reports. His congregation's extreme hate-mongering... Aditi Mukherji, JD Fred Phelps, the founder of the Westboro Baptist Church -- the fire-and-brimstone congregation known for picketing military funerals with anti-gay signs -- died late last Wednesday at the age of 84, The Washington Post reports.

His congregation's extreme hate-mongering prompted a U.S. Supreme Court case on the exercise of free speech -- specifically, fighting words. In an 8-1 ruling, the Court ruled that Westboro's anti-gay protest at a soldier's funeral did not rise to the level of fighting words and was therefore protected free speech.

What are fighting words?

]> Origin of Fighting Words

Certain categories of speech that fall outside of First Amendment protection, including fighting words -- words which would likely make the person whom they are addressed commit an act of violence.

The origins of the doctrine trace back to the U.S. Supreme Court case Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire. In 1942, Walter Chaplinsky, a Jehovah's Witness, was distributing religious literature in Rochester, New Hampshire. People were getting restless with his activities. But when confronted, he responded: "You are a God damned racketeer" and "a damned Fascist and the whole government of Rochester are Fascists or agents of Fascists."

The Court ruled that speech was unprotected. Along with lewd, obscene, profane, and libelous speech, "insulting or 'fighting' words -- those which by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace" fall outside of the scope of the First Amendment, the Court ruled.

Current State of Fighting Words

In a series of cases that followed, the Supreme Court eroded its ruling in Chaplinsky and limited the fighting words doctrine, to the point where it's questionable if it even exists anymore.

The final nail in the coffin for fighting words was the Court's decision in Gooding v. Wilson, according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. While assaulting a police officer, Johnny Wilson shouted, "White son of a bitch, I'll kill you." "You son of a bitch, I'll choke you to death." and "You son of a bitch, if you ever put your hands on me again, I'll cut you all to pieces." The Court ruled this constituted vulgar and offensive speech and such speech is protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

Chaplinsky is formally alive but of little vitality. If the fighting words doctrine has any life left (many argue it does not but still needs a proper burial), the Court has narrowed it to only include abusive language, exchanged face to face, which would likely provoke a violent reaction. After all, even the vitriolic sayings of Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church were not considered fighting words.

Related Resources:

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Liability in Truck Accidents With Hazardous Cargo tag:chicagopersonalinjurylegalblog.com,2014://51.44460 2014-03-10T11:41:00Z 2014-03-05T18:24:10Z The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issues accident reports on a variety of truck accidents, including ones that involve cargo trucks carrying hazardous materials. Fortunately, the NTSB doesn't indicate any recent occurrence of hazardous truck accidents in Illinois. But if... Aditi Mukherji, JD The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issues accident reports on a variety of truck accidents, including ones that involve cargo trucks carrying hazardous materials. Fortunately, the NTSB doesn't indicate any recent occurrence of hazardous truck accidents in Illinois.

But if you get into a truck accident involving hazardous cargo, what kind of liability comes into play?

Here are three areas of liability a hazardous cargo truck accident may involve:

]>
  • Negligence per se. Truck drivers and their trucking carriers must follow the regulations set forth by the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. In Illinois, truck drivers and their trucking carriers are also required by law to adhere to the Hazardous Material Transportation Act (HTMA), which provides requirements for the safe transportation of hazardous materials. You may be able to recover damages under the legal theory of negligence per se if you suffered harm:
    • From a violation the HMTA was designed to prevent,
    • You're a member of the class of people meant to be protected by the statute (typically, the public), and
    • The violation of HMTA was the proximate cause of your injury.
  • Negligent hiring or negligent training. Employers can face liability for truck injuries caused by employees when employers fail to ensure the truck drivers placed on the road are safe and qualified. An employer's failure to conduct an adequate background check is one common way to prove negligent hiring. Other variations of employer negligence that may apply to a hazardous cargo case include negligent training, negligent retention, and negligent supervision.
  • Shipper liability. In limited circumstances, the shipper of hazardous materials can be held legally responsible if injuries resulted from the truck's cargo, especially if the shipper failed to advise the driver or the trucking company of the hazardous nature of material contained in the freight. Essentially, it comes down to the shipper's duty to inform.
  • If you've been involved in a truck accident involving hazardous cargo, you may want to consult a truck accident attorney to explore your legal options.

    Related Resources:

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    Prep School Cooking Class Fire Injures 5 tag:chicagopersonalinjurylegalblog.com,2014://51.44272 2014-02-24T12:41:00Z 2014-02-21T00:37:40Z A cooking class fire at a public prep school injured five students, resulting with one in critical condition. The fire occurred in a science lab at Northside College Prep. Students were reportedly heating hot chocolate during a routine cooking... Aditi Mukherji, JD A cooking class fire at a public prep school injured five students, resulting with one in critical condition.

    The fire occurred in a science lab at Northside College Prep. Students were reportedly heating hot chocolate during a routine cooking instruction when a single-burner stove ignited with a flame, causing a flash fire, Chicago's WMAQ-TV reports.

    Will the school be liable for the students' injuries resulting from a cooking class gone wrong?

    ]> School Fire Liability

    One critically injured student was transported to Mt. Sinai Hospital. The three others were transported with minor injuries to Swedish Covenant. A fifth student refused treatment.

    If the students and their parents opt to pursue legal action over the incident, they could name several defendants in a lawsuit, including:

    • Teachers. It's the duty of teachers to properly supervise their students. If it's discovered the Northside teacher failed to keep a close eye on the students during the cooking instruction and could have prevented the accident, his or her negligence could lead to civil liability for the resulting injuries.
    • School district. Like teachers, school districts bear responsibility for keeping students reasonably safe. Under the legal theory of premises liability, the school owes a duty to review its activities, facilities, and equipment to minimize injury risks. When a school fails to meet these duties, such as making sure cooking class burners are in good working order, a parent could sue the school district for resulting injuries.
    • Students and parents. If fellow students contributed to the accident -- for example, by goofing around or fiddling with the stove -- they could face potential liability for their actions.
    • Manufacturer. If the single-burner stove incident ignited a fire because of a product defect, the injured students could sue the manufacturer under a theory of product liability.

    As an investigation into the incident unfurls, it should become clearer what caused the accident and who may face liability for the injuries.

    Related Resources:

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    3 Killed in I-94 Pileup During Whiteout tag:chicagopersonalinjurylegalblog.com,2014://51.43869 2014-01-28T16:11:00Z 2014-01-28T16:10:35Z Three people were killed on I-94 near Michigan City, Indiana during near-whiteout winter conditions. A huge collision involving more than 40 semis and cars resulted in a pileup that left 20 people with injures and three dead, the Chicago Tribune... Jenny Tsay, Esq. Three people were killed on I-94 near Michigan City, Indiana during near-whiteout winter conditions.

    A huge collision involving more than 40 semis and cars resulted in a pileup that left 20 people with injures and three dead, the Chicago Tribune reported. The blizzard-like conditions contributed to the slick roads and low visibility.

    Even though poor weather contributed to this traffic calamity, injured parties may have legal remedies in court.

    ]> Possible Lawsuits

    In car accident lawsuits, negligence laws will govern. Generally, drivers must exercise reasonable care when operating their vehicles to avoid injuring others. Drivers are likely negligent if they cause an accident by disobeying traffic signs, driving above the speed limit, or disregarding weather or traffic conditions.

    For the drivers involved in the I-94 pileup, Indiana police officials reported to the Chicago Tribune that a sudden burst of heavy snow cut visibility to about 10 feet. The rapid change in weather caused several cars to slide around and hit their brakes. Although unpredictable weather was a significant contributing factor to the fatal accident, drivers who failed to slow down and contributed to the pileup could be liable in a personal injury lawsuit.

    For the three people who were killed in the accident, each family may hire an attorney to file a wrongful death lawsuit for their deceased loved one. Wrongful death lawsuits can be filed when a person dies due to another person's negligence or misconduct. For instance, if there's evidence that drivers failed to reasonably account for the inclement weather leading to a fatal accident, then close family members of the deceased can likely sue for wrongful death.

    Winter Driving Safety Tips

    Winter weather can be inevitable, but winter driving accidents are avoidable. Here are a few tips to keep you safe on the road.

    • Leave at least 20 feet between your car and the one in front of you, especially if the roads are slick.
    • Replace old wiper blades before the snowy season begins.
    • Slow down. In bad weather conditions, drivers are expected to drive as slow as they need to in order to avoid accidents.
    • Only drive when absolutely necessary. As the recent whiteout proves, there's no telling when a huge storm will hit, so try to stay off the roads as much as possible.

    Although snowy weather in January is no surprise for people living in the Midwest, the tragic accident on I-94 should serve as a reminder for drivers to be extra cautious when driving in the winter.

    Related Resources:

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    Chicago River Tragedy: 1 Dead, 1 Missing tag:chicagopersonalinjurylegalblog.com,2014://51.43713 2014-01-16T12:41:00Z 2014-01-15T16:23:34Z A recent Chicago River tragedy involving three friends and a dropped cell phone is a grim reminder to people in the area to never step onto the icy river. Sadly, for the victims in this tragedy, that realization came... Aditi Mukherji, JD A recent Chicago River tragedy involving three friends and a dropped cell phone is a grim reminder to people in the area to never step onto the icy river. Sadly, for the victims in this tragedy, that realization came too little too late.

    Could the city face liability for the death?

    ]> Chicago River Tragedy

    Authorities said Ken Hoang, 26, from St. Paul, Minn., fell into the water after he climbed over a fence and stepped down to find a phone he'd dropped on the ice. His two friends, a 23-year-old man and a 21-year-old woman, stepped onto the icy river to try to help him but fell in as well, reports the Chicago Tribune.

    After the three fell in, a passerby called 911. Rescue workers extricated the two men from the icy water. Tragically, Hoang was later pronounced dead. The 23-year-old man is in stable condition, while the 21-year-old is still missing, but presumed dead.

    City Potentially Liable?

    It may be difficult for the victims' families to peg liability on the city for this tragedy, considering the three hopped a fence before tragically plunging into the icy water.

    Nevertheless, the city may be staring down potential wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits as more accidents happen in the river. Just last month an eerily similar incident took place in nearly the same spot when a woman visiting from Texas died after she accidentally slipped into the river near the Michigan Avenue bridge, reports the Tribune.

    Given the history of deadly accidents, the victims could claim that the city should have done a better job with giving warnings and putting up barriers. In particular, the victims could argue that the city failed to properly warn tourists and other passersby unfamiliar with wintry weather about the dangers of stepping onto ice. They could also present a negligence argument based on the city's failure to put up additional fences and barriers near the ice.

    Related Resources:

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    When Can You Sue An Employer for Wrongful Death? tag:chicagopersonalinjurylegalblog.com,2013://51.42674 2013-11-04T12:41:00Z 2013-11-01T22:52:26Z When can you sue an employer for wrongful death? After a devastating crash that left three Chicago residents (a wife, husband, and their friend) dead, this question is one of many on the minds of the remaining family members,... Betty Wang, JD When can you sue an employer for wrongful death? After a devastating crash that left three Chicago residents (a wife, husband, and their friend) dead, this question is one of many on the minds of the remaining family members, the Chicago Tribune reports.

    All three victims, Won Suk Lim, 56, his wife Jung Ran Min, 50, and their friend, Gwi Rye Kim, 65, were in the same car when a Village of Skokie garbage truck struck the car, promptly engulfing the crushed car in flames. Kim's son, the administrator of her estate, has filed a lawsuit against the garbage truck company.

    Here's a general overview of when you can sue an employer for wrongful death:

    ]> Wrongful Death

    In general, a wrongful death lawsuit alleges that one's death was caused by the negligence or misconduct of another. Usually, the victim's family can sue for wrongful death in order to recover certain types of losses. In this case, the applicable losses may be loss of income and loss of parental guidance.

    Usually, a wrongful death lawsuit must contain the following elements:

    • a death caused by another's negligence
    • a family member who is suffering monetary injury as a result of the death, and
    • the appointment of a personal representative for the decedent's estate.

    Employer Liability

    In this case, Kim's son is alleging that the employer, Village of Skokie, was negligent, possibly in hiring the truck driver. Can Village actually be sued, as opposed to the employee (the truck driver, in this case), though?

    Under a doctrine called respondeat superior, employers are vicariously liable for the acts of their employees when those acts occur during the course of employment. This means that if a car crash occurs in a company car, the employer's liability turns on whether or not the employee was acting in the scope of employment. In this case, it could very well be the case that the truck driver involved in the fatal crash was on his or her shift when the accident occurred.

    The truck driver has also been employed with the Village of Skokie for about 19 years and was not injured.

    Related Resources:

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    How to Sue the CTA tag:chicagopersonalinjurylegalblog.com,2013://51.42375 2013-10-16T15:26:00Z 2013-10-17T16:12:38Z How do you sue the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA)? This is likely one of many questions being raised after a mysterious Chicago Metro train crash involving a completely unoccupied train. In this recent crash, an empty "ghost" train ended up... Betty Wang, JD How do you sue the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA)? This is likely one of many questions being raised after a mysterious Chicago Metro train crash involving a completely unoccupied train. In this recent crash, an empty "ghost" train ended up colliding with another one, one with passengers on-board, the Associated Press reports.

    Passenger Kim Quatch, the first to file a claim stemming from this incident, is seeking at least $50,000 in damages stemming from this crash.

    Though the cause is still somewhat unknown, there are likely to be other injured parties who will want to claim damages. If so, how does one go about suing the CTA? Here's a general overview:

    ]> Suing a Municipality

    If one is injured by a party who is connected to a municipality, the injured person can sue for damages. However, there is a special step involved when one wants to sue the government. In this case, the CTA is a municipal corporation, which means that if one wanted to file a claim against the CTA, he or she would have to follow that special process.

    When one sues a municipality, there is an additional requirement that you file a "notice of claim" within a certain number of days. The reasoning behind this claim is that governments (and their subdivisions) may be entitled to immunity from lawsuits and often can't be sued without permission.

    Suing the Chicago Transit Authority

    Illinois had a special requirement for victims of accidents involving the CTA under Section 41 of the Metropolitan Transit Authority Act. This entailed a special six-month notice requirement, meaning that all suits brought after six months (even due to clerical errors or other simple, non-substantive mistakes) were dismissed, regardless of their legitimacy.

    However, as of 2009, that rule has been repealed. CTA cases now need to be brought within the normal one-year statute of limitations. This means that for those who have been injured by this most recent CTA-related collision, their claims must be brought forth within the next 12 months.

    Personal injury claims are often difficult enough on their own. Add in a municipality and it's taken to a whole new level of complication. If you've been involved in an injury because of the CTA or any other government subsidiary, make sure you contact a local attorney for help with your case.

    Related Resources:

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    'Ghost Train' Crash Injures Dozens, Increases Transit Worries tag:chicagopersonalinjurylegalblog.com,2013://51.42118 2013-10-02T11:41:00Z 2013-10-01T22:46:06Z Investigators are still in the middle of determining the cause of a mysterious "ghost train" crash that left dozens of people injured. An empty Chicago commuter train that was parked in a service yard somehow ended up on a... Betty Wang, JD Investigators are still in the middle of determining the cause of a mysterious "ghost train" crash that left dozens of people injured. An empty Chicago commuter train that was parked in a service yard somehow ended up on a rail line and collided with an oncoming train early Monday, Chicago's WBBM-TV reports.

    At least 33 people were hurt. Luckily, there were only minor injuries.

    While the cause is still unknown, what are some possible liability issues that could be tied to this train crash?

    ]>
  • Negligence. Negligence is one of the most common legal theories that injured parties in a train crash will put forward. In order to find negligence, the following elements have to be established: a duty of care, a breach of that duty, causation, and damages. For example, if the train conductor who last visited the "ghost train" somehow left the control panel unlocked, he and Chicago Transit Authority could be found negligent and liable.
  • Common carrier liability. Under a negligence theory, trains are held to a higher standard in determining their duties to passengers. The theory of common carrier liability states that because the carriers offer their services to the public, common carriers like Chicago's Metro trains must reach a higher standard of care.
  • Res ipsa loquitur. Because so little is known about the cause of this crash, res ipsa loquitur might apply. Res ipsa loquitur, which in Latin means "the thing speaks for itself" is a negligence theory that is sometimes used when no other explanation but negligence could account for the plaintiffs' injuries. Basically, an event like a runaway train crash shouldn't ever happen had someone not been negligent. This places the burden of proof on the plaintiff -- in this case Chicago Transit Authority -- to prove the crash was not due to CTA's negligence.
  • Products liability. If the train crash was not caused by a human act but rather the result of a mechanical malfunction or error, the manufacturer of the train could be held liable under a theory of products liability. This theory will strictly hold a manufacturer liable for injuries caused by any unreasonably dangerous defects in their product.
  • Train crashes are complicated matters, and there may not be one clear-cut resolution. If you have any questions or issues about a train crash that you've been injured from, be sure to contact an experienced attorney in your area.

    Related Resources:

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    3 Questions to Ask When Suing for School Injuries tag:chicagopersonalinjurylegalblog.com,2013://51.41537 2013-08-28T11:41:00Z 2013-08-27T22:54:36Z No parent wants to think about the possibility of their child being injured at school, but, unfortunately, the likelihood of that is often high. With back-to-school season in full effect in Illinois, parents should especially be wary not only... Betty Wang, JD No parent wants to think about the possibility of their child being injured at school, but, unfortunately, the likelihood of that is often high. With back-to-school season in full effect in Illinois, parents should especially be wary not only of the precautions to take in preventing their child from being injured at school, but questions to ask after an incident occurs.

    Here are three big questions to ask when your child is injured at school:

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  • When did this happen? This is a very important question to ask if you plan on bringing forth a lawsuit on behalf of your child. Every state has their own statute of limitations, in other words, a time limit on when a civil suit can be brought forth. This is to prevent stale cases from going forward and for the sake of fairness to the party being sued. Illinois' statute of limitations is two years. So, if you plan to, make sure that you seek action within two years of the school injury.
  • Was this while they were playing sports? Was your child injured while they were engaged in athletics or during a school-sponsored sport activity? If so, school sports injury lawsuits can often be hit or miss. There are a number of outside factors to consider. For one, you may have signed a liability waiver at the beginning of the school year. Also, many sports injury cases can be a dime a dozen. So even though you may think your child's case is novel, a court may dismiss it based on a prior ruling in favor of the school in a similar case.
  • Was there negligence? Almost all successful lawsuits that involve a child's injuries at school will require a showing of negligence. Negligence requires the following elements: a duty owed to the victim (by a school or coach, for example), a breach of that duty, proof that the breach caused the victim's injury, and damages. In many cases, courts find that a duty has not been breached; sometimes accidents happen. Sometimes the court will find the child at fault for her own injuries.
  • These types of questions may appear easy to answer, but they are often far more complicated than just a "yes" or "no." If your child has been injured at school, make sure you contact an experienced, local attorney to help assist you in the process.

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    5 Truthful Tips for False Arrest Claims tag:chicagopersonalinjurylegalblog.com,2013://51.40748 2013-08-05T17:19:01Z 2013-08-05T17:19:10Z Even though Chicago is no stranger to police misconduct, you don't have to be physically roughed up by the police in order to get compensation for police behaving badly. Here are four tips to consider for Chicagoans who feel they've... Brett Snider, Esq. http://www.linkedin.com/pub/brett-snider/b/550/346 Even though Chicago is no stranger to police misconduct, you don't have to be physically roughed up by the police in order to get compensation for police behaving badly.

    Here are four tips to consider for Chicagoans who feel they've been subjected to false arrest:

    ]> 1. Know the Legal Standard.

    In general, police and other law enforcement agents have qualified immunity which protects them from lawsuits for actions while performing their official duties.

    In order to sue a police officer or officers for false arrest, you must prove that there was no probable cause that you were engaged in criminal activity at the time of your arrest.

    2. File a Tort Claim.

    If you can prove that there was no probable cause for an officer to arrest you, then your Fourth Amendment rights were violated and you can take steps to sue the police for false arrest.

    The first step will likely be to file a tort claim against the city. If your claim is rejected, or if the city fails to respond within a certain time frame, then you can proceed with a full-fledged lawsuit.

    3. Seek Punitive Damages.

    In many cases of false arrest, the police maliciously or intentionally violate an arrestee's rights, either by simply arresting them in a retaliatory fashion or even inappropriately touching them during the arrest.

    For example, Lemont resident Olga Alexsoff sued Naperville police for false arrest in 2011, after officers allegedly arrested her without probable cause or warrant and intentionally touched her breasts during the arrest.

    When evidence is presented that officers maliciously or intentionally violated an arrestee's rights, punitive damages (i.e., money) can be awarded to the victim as a punishment for those malicious acts.

    4. Collect Evidence.

    Since the crux of any false arrest case is probable cause, the factual record of the case is especially important to a judge or jury.

    Most police departments, including the Chicago PD, have a system for requesting and obtaining copies of police reports for a small fee, and you should also try to locate eyewitnesses not mentioned in the report.

    5. Consult an Attorney.

    Whatever the facts might be, consult a Chicago civil rights attorney who is knowledgeable about false arrest claims so that you can a more complete view of your options in a potential false arrest suit.

    Remember, just because an officer didn't punch or shove you doesn't mean you don't have a case.

    Related Resources:

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    Slip-and-Fall Injuries Can Ruin Your Summer BBQ tag:chicagopersonalinjurylegalblog.com,2013://51.40099 2013-06-03T18:22:01Z 2013-06-03T18:22:19Z Since summer is (un)officially here, you might be getting your grill ready for a BBQ feast full of friends, food, and fun. As you prepare to make merriment, make sure to take all the necessary precautions to prevent slip and... Aditi Mukherji, JD Since summer is (un)officially here, you might be getting your grill ready for a BBQ feast full of friends, food, and fun.

    As you prepare to make merriment, make sure to take all the necessary precautions to prevent slip and fall injuries at your party. Not only would a slip and fall injury be a total buzzkill, it could get you sued for your guests' injuries.

    To keep your party-goers playing Slip and Slide instead of slip and fall, here are a few tips:

    ]>
  • Inspect your home for potential outdoor hazards. It's important to keep the driveway and walkway to your door clear and free of any dangers or obstructions. This is especially important for areas around the pool or deck that can get wet and slippery.
  • Make necessary repairs. You know that loose railing you've been meaning to re-enforce? Well, now's the time to fix it. If you knew about a dangerous condition, didn't do anything about it, and then someone slips and falls because of it, you could be liable for the injuries.
  • Secure all decorations. If you have decorations staked into the ground like tiki lights, make sure the decorations are safely secured and out of the way. If a guest trips on one of them and gets injured, you could get sued for being negligent.
  • Prepare for potential legal consequences. If a friend gets hurt, she might sue you out of necessity to cover medical expenses. This is because insurance companies often look for someone else to pin the costs on when a claim is made. If you know it's not your fault, don't engage with the insurance company and...
  • Hire an attorney. Contact a Chicago personal injury lawyer and fight back against the insurance company. Depending on the case, the insurance company may end up footing the bill for your guest's slip and fall injuries.
  • Related Resources:

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    Can You Sue the Police for Wrongful Death? tag:chicagopersonalinjurylegalblog.com,2013://51.39938 2013-05-21T20:31:01Z 2013-05-21T20:31:29Z Police officers usually have broad powers to carry out their duties. However, police officers go too far sometimes. When this happens, the victim of the misconduct might have remedies available under federal and state laws. In Illinois, the Illinois Wrongful... Aditi Mukherji, JD Police officers usually have broad powers to carry out their duties. However, police officers go too far sometimes. When this happens, the victim of the misconduct might have remedies available under federal and state laws.

    In Illinois, the Illinois Wrongful Death Act allows victims to sue for a number of different actions that include police misconduct or use of deadly force.

    So while officers may have qualified immunity, they can also potentially be held liable for wrongful death.

    ]> Higher Standard for Police Misconduct

    Police officers are typically immune from lawsuits for the performance of their jobs. The goal of qualified immunity is to allow state and federal employees to perform their responsibilities without fear of being sued by individuals who may suffer injuries.

    Generally, a lawsuit for wrongful death is a claim that a person's life was taken due to the negligence of another person or company. But when it involves police misconduct, the standard is higher.

    Unlike private citizens, police officers can't be held liable for negligent conduct that resulted in a death. That means the failure to exercise due care isn't enough to trigger liability. Instead, the conduct that caused the death must be willful and unreasonable.

    What's Willful or Unreasonable?

    Most wrongful death lawsuits against the police involve claims of excessive force. Whether the officer's use of force was reasonable depends on the surrounding facts and circumstances.

    For example, officers are authorized to use reasonable amounts of force to restrain or capture a suspect. But a court can find that under circumstances the force was unreasonable, which allows a victim to recover.

    However, before you even begin work on a potential lawsuit against the police, you generally must give the police -- or, usually, the local government in charge of the police -- notice of your claim, and a chance to respond. The notice must be submitted within a certain time period after the injury occurs.

    Because the laws about suing the police for injury or wrongful death can get complicated, you may want to contact an experienced Chicago personal injury lawyer to help guide you through the process.

    Related Resources:

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    Where Should You File Your Injury Lawsuit? tag:chicagopersonalinjurylegalblog.com,2013://51.39570 2013-04-29T17:49:01Z 2013-04-29T17:49:53Z If you've been injured, you might be thinking about bills -- and lawsuits. First, you should consider whether filing a lawsuit is the right decision in your case. If you think a lawsuit fits the bill, the next step is... Aditi Mukherji, JD If you've been injured, you might be thinking about bills -- and lawsuits. First, you should consider whether filing a lawsuit is the right decision in your case.

    If you think a lawsuit fits the bill, the next step is to figure out which court is the most appropriate to hear your case. Here are a few factors to keep in mind:

    ]> How much are you asking for?

    If you're seeking $5,000 or less in your case, you may want to file your lawsuit in an Illinois small claims court. It's an attractive option because you can sue for an injury for a pretty small fee.

    In small claims court, you usually have pro se representation, which means you'll represent yourself. But don't worry, representing yourself sounds scarier than it is. There are ways for you to prep for small claims court.

    But if you really hate public speaking, you're in luck. In Illinois, you don't need to have a lawyer for smal claims court, but you can have one if you want.

    How many days has it been since your injury?

    Another important factor that lawyers take into account is the difference in statutes of limitations. If you missed a state court filing deadline, filing in a federal court might still be an option.

    Which venue is appropriate?

    If you don't need to go to small claims court and you don't have a statute of limitations issue, how do you know which venue to go with? This question often boils down to preference.

    Some attorneys go to great lengths to try to pick the court that will be most favorable for their lawsuit. This practice is called forum shopping. Many attorneys can take the pulse of courts and have an idea about how certain types of cases usually fare in different courts.

    The same goes for the reputations of judges and juries. Many attorneys think that federal court judges may be more forgiving than state court judges, or vice-versa. Jury panels can also differ greatly based on whether it's a state or federal court.

    Another consideration is the location of the court. For example, a lawyer might suggest filing a lawsuit in a state court just because it's much closer than the nearest federal courthouse. It may just be a matter of convenience.

    With a range of options available, it might be useful to have a Chicago Personal Injury lawyer help figure out what's best for you.

    Related Resources:

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    What Types of Damages Can You Claim in a Car Accident? tag:chicagopersonalinjurylegalblog.com,2013://51.39335 2013-04-08T18:09:01Z 2013-04-08T18:09:52Z If you get into a car accident in Chicago, you may be entitled to a variety of different types of damages. By contacting a local Chicago car accident attorney, you'll learn that damages can go way beyond medical bills and... Andrew Lu If you get into a car accident in Chicago, you may be entitled to a variety of different types of damages.

    By contacting a local Chicago car accident attorney, you'll learn that damages can go way beyond medical bills and physical therapy. In fact, depending upon the extent of your injuries, your family members may be able to collect too.

    Here are some of the most common types of damages claimed following a car accident:

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  • Medical expenses. These are the types of damages that most individuals associate with a car accident. Medical expenses can include treatment of minor injuries like bumps and bruises. These damages can also include the costs of much more serious treatment and rehabilitation, such as for people who suffer permanent disability or brain injuries. It's important to keep all your receipts and bills for medical treatment as these can support your claim.

  • Pain and suffering. These damages are based on the type of injury, the seriousness of the pain suffered, and the prognosis for future pain associated with the injury. Pain and suffering may also include mental and/or emotional damage stemming from the incident, such as anxiety or stress.

  • Lost wages. Injuries resulting from a car accident may cause you to lose earning capacity for a variety of reasons such as lengthy hospital stays, taking time off to attend physical therapy, or injuries that permanently affect your ability to work. For a claim for future wages, you must be able to prove that the injuries have impaired or diminished your ability to earn money based largely on past earnings.

  • Loss of affection or companionship. If you are married, an injury could deprive you and your spouse of the ability to show affection, including sexual activity. Unlike other types of damages, loss of affection, companionship, and/or consortium are claimed by the uninjured spouse.
  • Related Resources:

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