Will Legalization Increase the Number of Marijuana Related Traffic Deaths?

A study by a marijuana consulting firm concluded that legalization of Will Legalization Increase the Number of Marijuana Related Traffic Deathsmarijuana in Illinois could create a market of between $1.69 and $2.58 billion per year. But will legalization increase the number of marijuana related traffic deaths?

The massive tax revenue from such a market, not to mention the potential boost to local economies, has proponents of legalization pushing hard for legalization. State Senator Heather Steans recently introduced SB 7, which would permit recreational marijuana use in Illinois for those over 21 years of age.

The Illinois Senate Executive Committee voted 12-4 in favor of SB 7 on April 3, 2019. As it stands now the bill is nothing more than a “shell bill”, a bill that can receive significant amendments in the future. The Committee’s passage of a bill lacking in detail is perhaps evidence of the growing support in favor of legalization. This is not surprising, given that approximately two-thirds of Illinois voters are in favor of legalization.

Will Legalization Increase the Number of Marijuana Related Traffic Deaths?

Opponents of recreational marijuana use in Illinois argue that those in favor of legalization are ignoring significant long-term consequences. A recent report issued by the Midwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area points out that following legalization in Colorado and California, the number of marijuana related traffic deaths increased substantially.

Moreover, in 2016, fifty-one percent of drug related fatal crashes in Iowa involved marijuana use versus forty-one percent nationwide. The study also found that the costs of legalization would outweigh potential tax revenue by more than four times (i.e., for every $1 in tax revenue there would be $4.50 in costs).

An increase in the number of marijuana related traffic deaths is not at all surprising given research into the effects that marijuana use has on driving. The National Institute on Drug Abuse highlights research that shows marijuana use:

  • Impairs judgment
  • Motor coordination and
  • Reaction time

These studies have found a direct relationship between THC blood levels and diminished driving ability.  Perhaps most troubling among the research are the findings that marijuana is the illicit drug most often found in the blood of drivers involved in car accidents, including marijuana related traffic deaths.

Proponents of recreational marijuana use in Illinois have argued that the correlation between recreational use and marijuana related traffic deaths is a function of marijuana remaining in the blood for up to several weeks after use.

In other words, the drivers in fatal car accidents may not have been under the influence of marijuana at the time of the accident. Moreover, some studies have also found that those drivers with marijuana in their blood were more likely to be under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident.

The correlation between drunk driving and car accidents is essentially common knowledge at this point. Given that studies have found that marijuana use has similar effects on driving ability, it is debatable whether legalization of marijuana is a good idea.

It remains to be seen whether SB 7 or similar legislation legalizing recreational marijuana use in Illinois will be passed. The decision will be one of a cost benefit analysis – potential tax revenue and widespread public approval versus the safety of our roadways.

We have been involved in cases involving the use of drugs and alcohol. If you or a loved one was involved in a marijuana-related car accident, contact us today by calling 1-847-305-4105.

Top 7 Tips To Obtain a Car Accident Settlement in Chicago

It often takes years to obtain a car accident settlement in Chicago. Our approach in car accident cases is to aggressively pursue settlement options Top 7 Tips To Obtain a Car Accident Settlement in Chicagoto avoid the costs and uncertainty associated with litigation. However, we are always prepared to engage our litigation counsel if necessary.

Below are my top 7 tips to obtain a car accident settlement in Chicago:

Tip Number 1

If you have been involved in a car accident, the most important thing is to receive proper medical care. If you suffered “permanent” injuries, no settlement in the world is going to accurately compensate you for your injuries.

As such, I always advise my clients to “Focus on Your Health, Not Your Case.”

For tips on biggest mistakes after an auto accident, check out my YouTube channel called LawFull.

Tip Number 2

This one might sound self-serving, but you should also consult with a Chicago car accident lawyer. I know what you’re thinking – of course he’s going to say that.

I don’t care whether it’s with me or someone else, but there are a lot of moving pieces after an accident and it’s important to get some guidance when you get started. If nothing else, do some research on Illinois law on YouTube or Google.

I’ve seen many things happen in the days and weeks after an accident. I’ve seen victims act out of emotion, giving damaging statements and waiving important rights. Such errors can have devastating consequences and prevent the victim from receiving a fair car accident settlement.

Tip Number 3

If a doctor tells you to do something, do it. I’ve seen several cases where my clients did not follow their doctors’ instructions. Believe me, that is going to come back to haunt you when you’re trying to settle your case. Insurance companies will use your failure to follow doctor’s instructions against you.

Once your medical treatment is finished, we will obtain all of your medical bills and records and review them in depth. We will submit this information along with a formal demand letter to the insurance company.

The insurance company will then analyze the medical bills and records as well. While we try to use the medical information to our advantage, they will try to use it against us. This means, capitalizing on gaps in treatment, failure to follow doctor’s orders, and of course, pre-existing conditions.

Tip Number 4

What are Typical Car Accident Settlement Amounts in Illinois? Every case is different and I’ve seen insurance companies offer widely disparate amounts for the same injuries.

It’s really a sliding scale. In cases where the victim suffered significant and/or permanent injures and missed a substantial amount of time from work, the recovery will be vastly greater than someone who suffered a neck or back sprain.

Tip Number 5

Another important consideration in Illinois is who was at fault. Illinois is what is known as a comparative negligence state. Comparative negligence seeks to allocate recovery based on the extent of the parties’ responsibility for the accident.

In short, if you are 50% or less at fault for an accident, you can recover for your injuries in Illinois. If you are 50.1% or more at fault, you are barred from recovering.

Establishing fault in a contested matter is just another reason why I highly recommend that you consult with an experienced Chicago car accident lawyer.

Insurance companies will seek to reduce your recovery by placing blame on you for the accident. In order to receive the maximum car accident settlement in Chicago, you need an experienced attorney to disprove allegations of fault against you.

Tip Number 6

What if you get hit by an uninsured driver? Often, our clients are involved in auto accidents with another driver that either does not have insurance or has a small insurance policy.

I had a mini-van accident case like that recently. In that case, our client was struck while driving his mini-van in Hoffman Estates. He suffered an injured knee which was worth much more than the $25,000 in insurance the other driver had.

Fortunately, our client carried an underinsured motorist policy and we were able to seek $25,000 from the other driver’s insurance company and another $70k from our client’s insurance company.

Tip Number 7

How Long Does it Take to Receive a Car Accident Settlement? The time required to receive a settlement is a common and valid concern of our clients. Often, car accident victims suffer an immediate financial loss that can add to the stress and trauma of the auto accident.

In addition to medical bills, the cost of purchasing or renting another car and lost wages can take a major toll on clients. While every case is different, we will work to obtain the maximum possible recovery as quickly as possible. However, I don’t want to mislead you either. It’s going to take a while.

Thanks for checking out my blog on the top 7 tips to obtain a car accident settlement in Chicago. If you have been in an auto accident and would like to consult with an experienced Chicago car accident lawyer, please contact us today for a free consultation.

Illinois Dog Bite Law – FAQs

We repeatedly get the same questions regarding Illinois dog bite law. As Illinois dog bite lawsuch, we put together this list of frequently asked questions or FAQs on dog bite law in Illinois.

My name is Barry Zlotowicz and I am an experienced dog bite lawyer.  If you were bitten by a dog or other animal, contact me at 847-305-4105 for a free consultation.

What Law Applies to Dog Bites in Illinois?

Illinois dog bite law is governed by 510 ILCS 5/16.  The statute provides that where a dog (or other animal) attacks an individual without provocation the owner of the animal is liable to the injured person for the full amount of his or her injuries.

Under Illinois Dog Bite Law is the Dog’s Owner Strictly Liable?

Yes.  A dog owner is strictly liable for animal attacks and is liable for the full amount of the injured party’s damages.

Is Illinois law more or less strict than other states?

Illinois dog bite law is significantly stricter than many other states. In Illinois, if a dog bites, the owner is on the hook for the damages.

Other states may follow a negligence theory of liability meaning you have to weigh whether the dog owner breached his or her duty of care in managing his/her animal.

And some states follow a “one-bite rule.” This means that an animal owner is not on the hook the first time their animal bites someone. It should be called the “one-bite free” rule.

Are There Defenses to an Illinois Dog Bite Case?

Yes, there are defenses in a dog bite case, even in a strict liability state.  An experienced dog bite lawyer will typically raise several defenses:

  1. If the owner can establish that the dog was provoked by the injured party, then he or she may not be liable.
  2. Second, if the injured party was trespassing on private property when attacked by the dog the owner will may not be liable for the injuries.

What is the Justice for Buddy Act?

The Justice for Buddy Act is a law that was enacted in Illinois to protect dogs from more vicious animals.  In this case, a small dog named “Buddy” was killed by a neighbor’s dog.

The law comes into effect when a dog that has been deemed “dangerous” is found to be off its leash twice within the 12-month period following the designation.  In such cases, the owner is said to be a “reckless dog owner” and will have to forfeit their dogs to a shelter, rescue or sanctuary. Then the owner will be prohibited from owning dogs for a period of three years.

The Justice for Buddy Act took effect on January 1, 2019.

What is the Statute of Limitations in Illinois Dog Bite Cases?

In Illinois an injured party has two years from the date of the injury to file a complaint in court.  If the case is not filed within two years, the injured party will lose the right to receive compensation for his or her injuries.

The statute of limitations for minors bitten by dogs is different.

Thus, it is important to consult with an experienced dog bite lawyer so that you are aware of your rights and important deadlines.

What Should I do if I Have Been Attacked? 

If you have been bitten or attacked by a dog or other animal, it is important to seek immediate medical attention.

Medical care for dog bites varies as do the injuries suffered by dog bite victims. There is always a risk of infection from the dog’s saliva getting into the wound. Therefore, your medical provider may or may not close the wound with sutures. Thereafter, the wounds should be cleaned regularly.

It is also important to find out whether the has been immunized.  If not, you may need a tetanus shot or additional vaccinations.

Once you have received medical attention, it is important to consult with an experienced lawyer for dog bite to ensure that you are aware of your rights.  The Chicago Legal Group has successfully assisted clients in receiving full compensation for their injuries.  Please contact us today for a free consultation.

Fatal Traffic Crashes in Chicago

Fatal Traffic Crashes in ChicagoAll traffic accidents can be devastating, however, crashes that result in fatalities are particularly tragic events. The Illinois Department of Transportation reports that 1090 people died in traffic crashes in our state in a single year. Chicago news sources are constantly reporting fatal traffic crashes in Chicago:

These are only a few of the many tragic accidents that happen on a regular basis throughout the Chicago area on a regular basis. For each fatality, there are often family members who are left with a loss that permanently changes their lives in numerous ways.

Illinois law recognizes that family members in this situation should have important legal rights if someone else caused the fatal accident. If the accident victim had survived, they would have the right to file a personal injury action and seek damages from a negligent party. Since the deceased person cannot file a lawsuit, the law gives that opportunity to certain surviving family members who can file a wrongful death claim.

Wrongful Death Laws in Illinois

Each state has its own unique laws regarding wrongful death claims. In Illinois, a wrongful death is one that occurs due to another party’s neglect, default, or wrongful act. According to the law, if an injured person would have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit after an accident, the law allows surviving family members to file a wrongful death claim if the injuries were fatal.

In many states, family members file the lawsuit themselves, though Illinois requires that the lawsuit be filed by the personal representative of the deceased’s estate. Often, the personal representative happens to be a close family member, such as a spouse or an adult child, though this is not always the case. If the deceased did not designate someone in their will or died without having a will, the court will appoint a personal representative.

Though the family members do not directly file the claim, certain damages paid are meant for the benefit of a surviving spouse, children, or other next of kin of the deceased, such as damages for mental suffering, grief, and loss of care and companionship. The damages will be distributed to a surviving spouse and other qualifying family members based on the proportions of their losses. Damages for monetary losses including medical and funeral expenses will go to the estate to ultimately be distributed to beneficiaries.

Liability for Fatal Accidents

While any type of traffic accidents can result in fatalities, certain types can have a particular risk of causing fatalities, including:

  • Head-on collisions
  • Rollover crashes
  • Accidents involving large commercial trucks
  • Accidents involving motorcycles, bicycles, or pedestrians

In many cases, fatal traffic crashes in Chicago happen because someone else acted in a negligent manner. When someone owes another person a duty of care and breaches that duty, causing injuries, they are deemed to be negligent under the law. In order to prevail in a wrongful death claim, the personal representative must sufficiently prove negligence on the part of another party.

Other drivers are commonly the at-fault party for fatal traffic accidents. Other drivers have the duty to operate their vehicles in a reasonably safe manner to prevent accidents and injuries. They can breach this duty and cause fatal crashes in many ways, including:

  • Aggressive driving, including tailgating, cutting off other drivers, and excessive speeding
  • Texting, talking on a phone, or other forms of distracted driving
  • Driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol
  • Fatigued driving that can lead to a lack of focus or falling asleep at the wheel
  • Violating any Illinois traffic safety laws

It is important to know that another driver is not always liable for wrongful death on the roads. In some cases, a company such as an auto manufacturer may be negligent. Such companies have the legal duty to ensure they sell safe vehicles and auto parts. If an auto part is defective and malfunctions while someone is driving, the malfunction can cause them to lose control and crash.

Auto parts that have caused fatalities include brakes, tires, steering systems, and even airbags. Manufacturing company Takata notoriously produced millions of defective airbags that shot metal shards toward vehicle occupants upon deployment, causing several unnecessary fatalities. In this situation, the wrongful death claims were against the companies involved in producing and selling the airbags.

Negligent parties can also be government entities or construction crews that fail to properly inspect, maintain, or repair roads. Chicago roads can have many dangerous hazards, including potholes, cracks, inadequate guardrails or shoulders, and more. Taking on companies or government agencies can be particularly difficult, though families still deserve to recover from these liable parties.

Civil v. Criminal Claims

As mentioned above, a Cook County sheriff’s deputy recently died in a drunk driving crash. The driver who caused the accident has been criminally charged with driving under the influence (DUI) and reckless homicide, among other offenses. While a criminal conviction and sentence may bring a sense of justice to the family, it does very little to provide surviving family members with the financial recovery they deserve under the law.

A wrongful death claim is filed in civil court, separate from any criminal proceedings. These claims seek money damages instead of criminal penalties such as jail time. The burden of proof is also lower in civil claims than criminal cases, so it may be possible for family members to prevail in a wrongful death lawsuit even if a prosecutor cannot prove a crime beyond of reasonable doubt. It is always worth it to discuss a possible wrongful death claim if you lose someone in a tragic accident.

Contact a Glenview, IL Car Accident Lawyer to Learn About Your Rights

While a wrongful death case can provide compensation for your family, it can also be difficult to discuss what happened. You should not wait to contact an experienced Chicago wrongful death attorney at the Chicago Legal Group for help. We will handle your claim while you focus on your emotional recovery after a tragic loss. Call 847-305-4105 or fill out our online contact form to request a free case evaluation.

Can TBI victims recover compensation?

Traumatic brain injuries, or “TBIs,” are extremely serious injuries that often occur after serious head trauma. They can interfere with the way the can TBI victims recover compensationbrain normally functions and cause a host of serious symptoms and complications that can have a significant impact on a person’s ability to work, go to school, or even engage in everyday tasks. Often, TBIs are considered to be catastrophic injuries due to the neurological and functional impairments that can result.

I’ve been asked can TBI victims recover compensation? The answer is often yes but is based on establishing liability or fault for an accident as I’ve discussed on this site many times.

Traumatic brain injuries are generally categorized as mild, moderate, or severe. A concussion is an example of a common mild TBI. However, despite a “mild” categorization, all degrees of traumatic brain injuries are serious and anyone who suffers head trauma should seek immediate medical attention.

What are the Symptoms of a Traumatic Brain Injury?

The symptoms of a TBI depend largely on the severity of the injury and where the injury occurred in the brain. Different parts of the brain are responsible for different functions, so the effects of an injury can vary significantly from patient to patient.

Some of the symptoms associated with head trauma and a mild traumatic brain injury include:

  • Headaches
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Nausea
  • Memory problems
  • Dizziness
  • Sleep issues
  • Ringing in the ears

Symptoms can persist for days or weeks, and victims are often instructed to rest and use caution to prevent further head trauma. As evidenced by recent lawsuits involving the National Football League (NFL) and National Hockey League (NHL), suffering multiple concussions can have extremely serious long-term effects, such as early-onset dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, as well as a complicated and often fatal condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

The symptoms of a moderate TBI are often similar to those of a mild TBI, though they last for several months or longer. Often, moderate TBI victims need rehabilitative therapy to help them overcome the effects of the injury. People with moderate brain injuries often undergo extensive medical monitoring during their recovery process.

Severe TBIs can cause substantially more serious issues, and victims often experience a prolonged period of unconsciousness or coma. Severe TBI patients may spend time in the intensive care unit (ICU) and weeks in the hospital or a brain injury center. In addition to unconsciousness, a severe TBI may be evidenced by clear fluid draining from the nose or ears, memory loss, slurred speech or the loss of verbal communication abilities, and more.

In the days immediately following a severe brain injury, medical professionals will likely be closely monitoring a patient’s intracranial pressure. Swelling of the brain and hemorrhaging in the skull can both put excessive pressure on the brain, causing additional serious damage. In some situations, a surgeon will need to implant an intracranial pressure monitor inside the patient’s skull or even remove part of their skull to relieve the pressure and make room for swelling. Excessive pressure is only one of many complications that can occur after a severe TBI.

All too often, patients with severe TBIs suffer permanent and life-changing impairments. Again, the type of impairments will depend on the location of the injury, and may include one or more of the following:

  • Cognitive impairments – Trouble with communication, processing, following directions, completing basic tasks, learning new things, memory, and more.
  • Physical impairments – TBIs can result in problems with balance, coordination, speech, and sensory abilities.
  • Behavioral impairments – Some TBI victims experience difficulty controlling their emotions, angry outbursts, and even major changes in their personalities.

Many of these impairments can change the course of a victim’s life, as they may have trouble in school, have to switch jobs, or have to relearn how to engage in basic everyday tasks and self-care.

What Kinds of Accidents Can Cause Traumatic Brain Injuries?

Virtually any type of accident that can cause head trauma can result in a brain injury. That said, they often occur in:

  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Bicycle accidents
  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Sports accidents

Importantly, TBIs can occur in the absence of any external object coming into contact with the head if the head shakes violently enough to make the brain hit against the side of the skull, as can occur in a serious car accident.

Can TBI Victims Recover Compensation?

Under Illinois law, if someone else’s negligence caused your TBI, you are likely entitled to compensation for your injuries. Negligence occurs when a person fails to use the degree of care that would ordinarily be used by a reasonable person in the same or similar circumstances. Some examples of negligence that could result in a TBI include:

  • Defective manufacture or design of recreational equipment
  • Distracted driving
  • Traffic violations
  • Failing to mitigate slip and fall hazards on a commercial property
  • Impaired driving
  • Careless playground design

It can be difficult to identify and prove when someone else should be liable for your accident, but an experienced personal injury attorney can evaluate your situation and advise you of your rights.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Recover Compensation after TBI?

So, can TBI victims recover compensation? Yes they can. But, if you suffered a TBI, is highly advisable that you retain a lawyer to represent you after a TBI.

Insurance companies do not have your best interests in mind and will do everything they can to settle your case for as little as possible. Unless you have significant experience litigating TBI cases, it’s hard to know what your case is actually worth, so proceeding without counsel puts you at risk of accepting a settlement offer that does not adequately compensate you for your losses. The most effective way to ensure that you get the full value of your claim is to retain an attorney as soon as you can after an accident.

Contact Chicago Legal Group Today to Schedule a Free Consultation with a Glenview Personal Injury Attorney

If you or a loved one has sustained a traumatic brain injury in a preventable accident, you should discuss your case with an attorney as soon as you can. TBI victims are often able to recover significant compensation for their accident-related losses, including their lost income, medical expenses, physical and emotional pain and suffering, and lost quality of life. To schedule a free case evaluation with an attorney, call Chicago legal group today at 847-305-4105 or contact us online.

Drunk driving accidents after the Super Bowl

The Super Bowl on Sunday will mark the end of another football season, but Drunk driving accidents after the Super Bowldid you know that it will also mark the end of the busiest time of the year for drunk driving accidents?

An inordinate about of DUI auto accidents occur between the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and Super Bowl Sunday.  And a large number of these are drunk driving accidents after the Super Bowl.

There are likely several causes behind this:

  • First, inclement weather throughout much of the country during the winter months makes for more hazardous driving conditions.
  • Second, more people drink during the holidays as they attend gatherings with family and friends.
  • Third, there is a significant increase in the number of people on the roadways during the holiday season. For instance, an estimated 97 million Americans take to the roads between December 23 and January 1st alone.
  • Finally, trips to see friends and family during the holidays are typically longer trips. Longer trips increase the risk of driver fatigue which can contribute to an increased number of accidents.

All of these factors together make for a dangerous mix.  Together, they contribute to an estimated 25,000 drunk driving accidents resulting in injuries that occur between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve.

Incredibly, the number of drinking violations by repeat drunk drivers jumps an average of 22% on Super Bowl Sunday. This in turn leads to a large number of drunk driving accidents after the Superbowl

In addition to strict penalties for those caught driving while intoxicated, most states have enacted dram shop laws.  Dram shop laws are a body of laws that provide a legal cause of action against the owner of a tavern, pub, restaurant or other establishment that provided alcohol to someone that caused an injury or damages.

Dram shop laws differ from state-to-state as to whether a cause of action can be brought against a social host.  Therefore, if you are planning on hosting a Super Bowl party and serving alcohol to your guests, you may want to keep in mind that if one of your guests is involved in a DUI accident on his or her way home, you may potentially be held liable for any resulting injuries.

Bar and restaurant owners also need to exercise due care to ensure that their patrons drink responsibly.

A Safe Super Bowl Sunday

The Super Bowl has become a national holiday.  Friends and family gather to enjoy the game, consuming high-calorie snacks, which they wash down with plenty of alcohol.

If you are one of those that plan on hitting the roadways this coming Sunday, the best way to avoid the increased probability of a drunk driving accident after the Superbowl is to avoid driving while intoxicated altogether.

Some simple planning can go a long way in reducing your risk of being involved in a DUI accident:

  • Secure a reliable means of travel prior to the game.
  • If you are not planning on consuming alcohol, exercise increased caution on the roadways as there is likely to be a higher frequency of drunk drivers on the road following the game.
  • And remember, Uber and Lyft are the perfect solution to driving drunk.

The Chicago Legal Group can help victims of drunk driving accidents obtain compensation to cover their medical expenses or other costs related to an accident.  In you or anyone you know is a victim of a DUI accident, please contact our office today for a free consultation.

The Odds of Dying from an Opioid Overdose now Greater than Dying in a Car Accident

dying from an opioid overdoseFor the first time in history, the odds of dying in a motor vehicle accident are now lower than the odds of dying from an opioid overdose. This according to a new report published this week by The National Safety Council.

And yet, despite the increasing awareness of the opioid epidemic, the public’s perception of opioid addiction remains inconsistent with reality.  The majority of the public refuses to accept the medical industry’s general consensus that opioid addiction is a disease.

It is true that a large portion of opioid abuse stems from experimental use.  Often overlooked, however, are those whose addictions arise involuntarily.  The most common example of this are addictions that develop involuntarily through prescription painkillers prescribed to patients following an injury.

Consider that in 2012, health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for painkillers in 2012, enough for every American adult to have his or her own bottle of pills.

Think about that for a second. 259 million opioid/pain killer prescriptions.

Often, these injuries are the result of being involved in an automobile accident.  A study conducted in Australia found that among chronic pain patients in a pain management program, those being treated for pain following a car accident injury were the most likely of all patients to abuse opioids.

The authors attribute the higher rate of opioid addiction among car accident victims to two key factors.  First, those that suffer injuries are commonly treated with prescription pain medication.  Second, post-traumatic stress disorder is common among car accident victims.  The trauma leads to depression which fuels the use of opioids as a form of self-medication.

Fortunately, politicians are beginning to take notice of the widespread prescription drug problem in this country.  Illinois has been one of the more active states in enacting legislation to curtail the opioid epidemic.

In 2017, Illinois released its State Opioid Action Plan along with Executive Order 2017-05.  The Order created the Governor’s Opioid Prevention and Intervention Task Force in September of 2017.  And just his past year, the Senate passed Senate Bill 2777 amending the Illinois Controlled Substance Act.  The most significant provision of the Bill requires medical professionals to take 3 hours of continuing education to learn how to safely prescribe opioid medications.

The legislation seeks to reduce the number of opioid prescriptions being written by health care providers.  The belief is that the health care industry serves a “gate-keeper” function.  By exposing less patients to opioids, many involuntary addictions can be eliminated.  This in turn will help to reduce the record number of accidental opioid overdose cases in the United States.

A large number of our auto accident clients have taken opioids after being injured in an accident. The opioid use may have started with a prescription for back pain shortly after the accident or the medication could have been prescribed later like after a surgical procedure.

In 2017, I personally had surgery to repair an injury to my right elbow. I was on pain medication for 7 days – just 7 days. When I tried to get off the medication, I felt ill. I was shaky and agitated. It took 2 to 3 days for me to feel myself mentally. I can only imagine how hard it is to get off opioid pain killers after taking them for an extended period.

If you have been involved in a car accident, make sure you understand the risks associated with prescription opioid use.  A short-term solution can turn into a long-term problem that can have life-threatening consequences.  Be sure to discuss your safety concerns and alternative treatment options with your healthcare provider.

To speak with an attorney about this issue, contact me at 847-305-4105.

New Illinois Child Passenger Protection Act Law Takes Effect

A new law in Illinois, the Child Passenger Protection Act, took effect on The Illinois Child Passenger Protection ActJanuary 1, 2019.  The Child Passenger Protection Act is part of a growing trend among states to mandate the use of rear facing child seats for children under two years of age.

Car accidents are the number two leading cause of death among children from ages 1 to 4?  In fact, a child is involved in car accident at a staggering rate of every 33 seconds.  Approximately one quarter of children killed in car accidents in the year 2014 were not properly restrained.

Studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have found that car seats reduce the risk of fatal injuries by 71% for infants under 1 and 54% for toddlers ages 1 to 4.

Given these statistics, in April of 2011 the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued a policy statement recommending that children ages 2 and under ride in rear facing child seats. The AAPs policy increased their prior recommendation that children ride in rear-facing child seats until the age of 1.  Since the AAP’s policy statement was released, twelve states have enacted their own rear facing child seats law consistent with the policy statement.  Of these states, Illinois is the latest member to mandate the safety standard.

Child Passenger Protection Act

The Illinois Child Passenger Protection Act previously required that all children under the age of 8 must be secured in proper child safety seat.  Effective January 1, 2019, the Illinois Child Passenger Protection Act was amended to include the requirement that all children under the age of 2 be properly secured in rear facing child seats.  The only exception to this rule is for children that weigh in excess of 40 pounds or are more than 40 inches in height.

Resources Available to Parents to Ensure Compliance with the Child Passenger Protection Act

The fines for failing to comply with the Child Passenger Protection Act are stiff.  A fine of $75 may be issued for the first violation and a fine of $200 for the second violation.  Not to mention, of course, that parents are putting the life of their child at stake by failing to abide by the law.  With so much on the line, parents should consider taking advantage of the following resources available to Illinois drivers.  These resources include:

  • Educational Programs from the Secretary of State. Topics include choice of safety seats, seat installation and a review of applicable rear facing child seats law.  Safety presentations can be scheduled by completing a form located at: https://www.ilsos.gov/ContactFormsWeb/presentation_drivers.jsp.
  • Visit a safety seat fitting station to have the installation of your rear facing seat checked by a certified child safety technician. The fitting stations are located throughout Illinois.  The program is known as the Keep Me in a Safe Seat Program.  Parents can request an child safety seat inspection by completing the form located at: https://www.ilsos.gov/ContactFormsWeb/childsafetyrequest.jsp.

Should you have further questions regarding the Child Passenger Protection Act or other applicable child safety regulations, consider contacting Glenview attorney Barry Zlotowicz for a free consultation at 847-305-4105.

What happens if I’m at fault for a car crash?

Did you cause an accident were wondering what happens if I’m at fault for a car crash? As a personal injury lawyer, I normally represent people who fault for a car crashwere involved in car crashes but were not at fault for the accident. If you caused a car crash and were wondering what was going to happen, call me at 847-305-4105.

Today I’m going to answer the question of what happens if you caused a car crash.  What is going to happen to you and what you can and cannot recover yourself.

When you cause a crash, you are the “at-fault” party. Theoretically, the victim in the crash will file a claim with your insurance company or he or she might file a lawsuit against you personally.

In this case, you are the “defendant.”  You are defending yourself against the claim of another person.

The first thing that I would recommend doing is telling your own auto insurance company about the crash. Turn it over to State Farm or Farmers Insurance and let them handle it. This is the reason you purchased insurance in the first place.

Obligation to Work with Your Insurance Company

When you signed up for auto insurance, you actually agreed, whether you know it or not, to work with your insurance company in the event you are involved in a car crash.

I don’t normally let my clients give a recorded statement to the third party (other guy’s) insurance company. However, giving a recorded statement to your insurance company will likely be required.

Other things are required as well such as getting your car inspected, providing them pictures, showing up to assist in your defense in case you get sued, and so on.

If you don’t cooperate with your insurance company, they could deny the victim’s claim against you. What would happen in this situation? The victim would likely file a lawsuit against you. They would be left with little choice.

In addition, if you proceed in this course of action, your insurance could drop their coverage of you altogether.

What happens if I’m at fault for a car crash?

What are the practical ramifications of causing an accident? They could include:

  • Increased auto insurance rates. This is what people who call my office are always concerned about.

Bottom line is there is no way around this. Your insurance rates could go up unless you have some sort of accident forgiveness on your policy.

Accidents happen and sometimes there is nothing you can do about it. If you didn’t have auto insurance, you would have been on the hook for much more than you are with insurance.

  • You may have also suffered significant damage to your car as well. If you have collision coverage on your vehicle, you can get the damage to your vehicle fixed as well.

If you don’t have collision coverage – you should get it. If you caused the accident, this insurance will cover the repairs to your own vehicle. Though you will likely have to pay your deductible.

  • I’ve had quite a few people call and ask if they can recover for their pain and suffering if they caused a car crash. Unfortunately, the answer is no.

If you caused the crash, you will not collect anything for your pain and suffering or for your medical bills.

One exception on the medical bills would be if you had medpay coverage. Medpay or medical payments coverage is a cheap way to get your first $2500 or $5000 in medical bills paid (including co-pays and your deductible) regardless of fault for the accident.

  • People also often ask if they can recover for their lost wages if they caused the accident. The short answer is no you cannot. At least in Illinois. However, some people have whats called PIP coverage or Personal Injury Protection. Under PIP plans, you may be entitled to recover for your lost wages regardless of fault.

 

  • Finally, while your car is getting repaired, you will probably need a rental car to get to work or to drive your kids around. Whether your rental car is paid for depends on whether you have rental car coverage in your policy.

My strong suggestion is – check with your auto insurance company before you get in an accident to make sure you have all of the above.

Additional Thoughts on Being a Defendant in a Car Crash Case

A couple other things to know if you caused an accident. Why I’m telling you this I don’t know because it certainly doesn’t help my clients who were the victims in the accident.

First, you may not be 100% at fault for the crash.  A majority of states in this country recognize the concept of “comparative negligence.” This means that there is some fault on the part of both parties to the accident.

In Illinois for example, if you can prove that the other party was more than fifty percent at fault for the accident, that person is barred from recovering.

Another thing to be aware of is being hit with an “excess judgment.”  For example, if you have an Illinois minimum insurance policy of $25,000, that means that your insurance company is only on the hook for the first $25,000 in damages you cause.

But what if the victim suffered huge injuries and as a result, they obtain a verdict against you of $1,000,000? Your insurance is not going to pay that extra $975,000. Unfortunately, chances are you can’t pay it either. As such, chances are you will end of filing bankruptcy.

This is not the norm, however. Most personal injury lawyers are not going to file a lawsuit in a case where there’s $25,000 in insurance proceeds, litigate the case for 18 months, go to trial and then try to collect against someone who likely doesn’t have the ability to pay that amount.

Finally, you might be thinking that you shouldn’t get insurance at all then. About 15% of the people driving on the road in Illinois do not have insurance. Be warned that if you do not get insurance, you can get arrested and charged with a crime. And, you could theoretically get sued and be forced to file bankruptcy to avoid paying the judgement against you.

Keep your medical bills from going to collections

If you were involved in a car accident in Glenview, or anywhere in Illinois, Keep your medical bills from going to collections you may have suffered injuries. If you did, you need to keep your medical bills from going to collections until the case settles. If you would like to speak with a car accident attorney about this matter, call me today at 847-305-4105.

Using Your Health Insurance to Pay Medical Bills

Health Insurance is the Best Way to get Your Medical Bills Paid

As I’ve discussed in other blog articles, the best way to pay your medical bills after a car accident is by using your health insurance. But this is not full proof. Health insurance companies will try to avoid paying for your medical bills if they can. And if they do pay, they will expect to be reimbursed out of the proceeds of your settlement.

I recently received a call from a Glenview resident who was injured when a car ran over his foot. He went to the emergency room after the accident and gave the hospital his health insurance information. He thought the matter was resolved. Six months later, he was advised that his bills were being denied because he “lied” on his health insurance application about being a smoker.

Health insurance companies are like any insurance company – they will utilize whatever methods they have to avoid paying your medical bills.

Even if you use your health insurance, you will be responsible for paying your co-pays and your deductible. And if you don’t pay them, those medical bills will go to collections.

Keep Your Medical Bills from Going to Collections

Co-Pays and Deductibles

So, how do you keep your medical bills from going to collections? The most obvious answer is to pay them. For many people this is not easy however. Not everyone can afford to pay the huge deductibles that come with health insurance today.

Co-pays too are increasing. In 2018, I personally had no co-pays and zero co-insurance. Now in 2019, I have a co-pay every time I visit my doctor and co-insurance of as much as 30 percent.

Ignoring the Bills is NOT a Strategy

First and foremost, never, ever, allow the bills to pile up on your counter or your desk. Ignoring them is a sure-fire way to ensure that your bills end up in collections.

Instead, take the initiative. Contact your medical provider’s billing department. When you call, the billing department will verify who you are by asking for your:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Social Security Number
  • Account Number

You can then explain your situation and ask for advice how to proceed. Occasionally, you will run across a biller who does not care about your situation. These people receive calls all day from car accident victims, attorney’s offices and other people who have piles of medical bills and need help. However, most of the time, the medical provider will work with you to get your bills paid.

How Do You Pay These Bills?

Medpay: First, you may have med-pay insurance. Med-pay or medical payments coverage is available through your auto insurance policy and it is a great option for paying these bills. The nice thing is that medpay is available regardless of fault and there is no deductible. However, if you recover from the third party for your damages, you may have to pay your auto insurance company back.

Payment Plan: Almost all medical providers I have dealt with understand that most people cannot afford to pay their medical bills personally after an accident and that they want to keep their medical bills from going to collections. As such, you may be able to enter into a payment plan with the provider where you pay a nominal amount of your bill monthly until your case settles.

Credit Card: We are a credit card based society but people generally understand that using your credit card is a costly way of paying your medical bills. If you “finance” your $2,500.00 medical bill on your credit, you will end up paying much more for it due to interest on the “loan.” However, it’s better than having your credit ruined because you didn’t pay the bill at all.

Medical Liens: Some medical providers will allow you to sign a “lien” which is basically a promise to pay the provider back out of the proceeds of the settlement. This will keep the bill from going to collections and will give you time to resolve your case and pay your bill.

Note that if you are not in Illinois and in a no-fault state, the rules apply differently and you should consult a car accident attorney familiar with your state’s no-fault laws.

Why should you care about collections

First and foremost, it is critical to keep your medical bills from going to collections. If you don’t pay your medical bills, they can and will go to collections. Having an outstanding debt like that can affect your credit report. And they could affect your credit for seven years just like any debt. This is unfortunate when in most cases, this could have been avoided with a phone call.

Of course, there are practical ramifications to having a bad credit score. Try getting a mortgage with a bad credit score, or buying a new car or getting a new credit card. If you can get the loan with a bad credit score, you will pay a significantly higher interest rate which could cost you thousands of dollars.

Bankruptcy due to Medical Bills

Your bills going to collections is bad, but in this country there is an even worse fate and that is having to file for bankruptcy as a result of medical bills.

Medical bill debt is one of many reasons why people file for bankruptcy. When you file for bankruptcy, your medical debt can be eliminated the same as other unsecured debt.

This should be a last resort however. You do not want to file bankruptcy if you can avoid it. And again, your attorney can help you avoid such a drastic outcome simply by contacting your medical providers.

If you are suffering as a result of a lot of medical bills as a result of having been in an auto accident, feel free to reach out to me at 847-305-4105 for a free consultation.