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.

Admission of fault for an auto accident in Illinois

If you get involved in a car crash, you may be inclined to apologize to the Admission of fault for an auto accidentother driver, even if you were not at fault. Word to the wise, do not make an admission of fault for an auto accident. It might be used against you later. If you were involved in an Illinois auto accident, or injured anywhere in Illinois, contact our office at 847-305-4105 for a free and confidential consultation.

Why you should never admit fault for an auto accident

Whenever you “admit” something, it can be used against you. In this case, we are specifically speaking about an auto accident, but this could apply in slip and falls or any other type of personal injury.

When you admit fault, you are making an “admission.” Admissions are admissible as evidence against you. So, if you unintentionally or intentionally make an admission of fault for an auto accident, the other party will take that information and use it against you to establish liability for the accident.

Note that this is not a hard and fast rule. Not every apology is the same and often the same thing said by two different people can mean two very different things. Having said that, if you do admit fault or make some other apologetic statement or an admission, it could hurt your case.

Where does this commonly occur?

The most common place where a party makes an admission of fault is at the scene of the accident. Right after an accident, your adrenaline is rushing, you’re scared, you’re concerned about your safety, your passengers’ safety and even the safety of the person you were in the accident with.

As such, immediately after the accident you may say something totally innocuous like “I’m so sorry.” Believe it or not, this small statement can be the difference between you prevailing in your case or not.

You might also make an admission of fault to a police officer who comes to investigate the accident. The cop is going to make a finding of fault on the police report. The insurance company may base their decision regarding “liability,” or, who is at fault for the accident, based on the police report.

After you report the accident to your insurance company or file a claim with the other party’s insurance company, you will be asked to give a recorded statement. If it’s your insurance company, you probably have to give a statement. But I generally do not allow my clients to give recorded statements to the other party’s insurance company.

During the statement, the insurance adjuster is going to ask you statements to get you on the record so that they too can establish responsibility for the accident. Don’t make an admission of fault for an auto accident in Illinois or anywhere in the United States during a recorded statement either. At least, not if you want to recover for your damages.

The opportunity to accept responsibility for the accident may also arise during your deposition when you give testimony under oath in advance of trial. And it will arise again in the unlikely event your case goes to trial.

Another common place you may be tempted to admit something is at your doctor’s office. Doctor’s and patient communications are protected but if you attempt to get reimbursed for your injuries and medical bills, the doctor’s notes are fair game and will have to be turned over to the other side. If you admit fault for the auto accident to your doctor, she or he may document it in their records and this too can be used against you.

Different ways to make an admission of fault for an auto accident

An admission does not have to be saying “I’m sorry.” While that is the most common admission, it could be in many other forms as well. For example, you are involved in an accident and afterward while talking to the police you state:

  • “I didn’t see him/her”
  • “I was looking at my cell phone”
  • “The sun was in my eyes”

These statements may be used against you and they may in and of themselves establish at least a portion of fault.

I had a client a few years ago who was involved in an auto accident and the other driver who rear ended him sent him text messages after the accident apologizing for what had occurred. She also admitted that she was looking at her phone when the accident occurred and that she had lied to the insurance company about what really happened. Case over.

What to do if the other party admits fault

So, admissions of fault cut both ways – if they can be used against you, they may also benefit you. What do you do if the other party makes an admission of fault after an auto accident? You document it.

If you are in Illinois, do not audio or videotape the admission as that could get you in trouble at least if the other party believes that your conversation is private. But, after the admission is made, document exactly what was said including where, when, how etc. You may be able to use this as evidence later.

Bottom line is, do not make an admission of fault for an auto accident in Illinois or anywhere else for that matter. If you are involved in an Illinois auto accident, contact the Chicago Legal Group for a free consultation at 847-305-4105.

Efforts to remediate after a slip and fall accident in Illinois

I was recently contacted by a woman involved in a slip and fall accident in Slip and fall accident in IllinoisIllinois. She stepped off a sidewalk, tripped and fell on a damaged patch of concrete in the street. The city or a contractor of the city had fixed the dangerous condition shortly after she reported the accident and she wanted to use that evidence against them. Can she? Read this article to learn more or contact my office at 847-305-4105.

Effort to Remediate a Dangerous Condition

Generally speaking, efforts to remediate a dangerous condition after a slip and fall accident in Illinois are not admissible against the defendant to prove that the defendant was negligent. As such, in the case above, the fact that the city repaired the dangerous condition after the accident would not be admissible at trial to prove the city was negligent in maintaining the street.

This sounds illogical doesn’t it? If they fixed the dangerous condition, they must have recognized that there was something wrong. If there was something wrong and they did nothing about it, they should be responsible.

Matter of Public Policy

Sometimes the law doesn’t make a lot of sense. But there are legitimate reasons (sometimes called “public policy reasons”) why we don’t allow the use of this type of evidence.

The main reason being, that we want to encourage a property owner to make repairs to it’s property after (and before) a slip and fall accident occurs. If accident victims were able to use the fact that the dangerous condition was repaired as evidence of negligence, then property owners would never fix the dangerous conditions.

That would result in such a dangerous condition remaining and potentially additional injuries occurring. Therefore, the public policy is to encourage the property owner to make the repairs. Unfortunately, the individual who fell might suffer as a result.

Rule of Law

The rule regarding efforts to remediate a dangerous condition is actually codified – meaning set forth in a statute at both the federal and state levels.

In Federal Court, Federal Rule of Evidence 407 Subsequent Remedial Measures, provides in part that “When measures are taken that would have made an earlier injury or harm, less likely to occur, evidence of subsequent measures is not admissible to prove:

  • negligence
  • culpable conduct
  • a defect in a product or its design; or
  • a need for a warning or instruction

FRE 407 also provides that there are exceptions to the rule including, among others, using the efforts to remediate to prove ownership or control of the property.

Governmental Entities

A quick tip for anyone who was involved in a slip and fall accident in Illinois on a sidewalk, street or other property maintained by a governmental entity.

The timeline within which a claim can be filed against a government entity is shorter in Illinois than it is to file a claim against a private property owner.

So if you are injured in an auto accident, involved in a slip and fall accident or any other type of claim involving a governmental employee or on government property, do not delay. Contact a personal injury lawyer immediately to find out how to pursue your claim for damages.

I am always available to consult with you regarding your accident. If I can’t help you, I may know someone who can. So feel free to reach out to me at 847-305-4105.

Who is at fault for a parking lot accident?

I recently received a call from a woman who was injured when she was reversing Fault for a car accident in a parking lotout of a parking spot. She asked us whether who is at fault for a parking lot accident? The answer to that question is that it depends on the series of events that took place. If you were injured in a parking lot accident, call today for a free consultation at 847-305-4105.

The Situation

The woman who called, was driving in a parking lot in Normal, Illinois. She was reversing the car out of the parking spot when a car “came out of nowhere” and crashed into the back of her vehicle. She was thrust side to side in her vehicle, suffering significant sprains and strains to her back and neck.

She filed a claim against the defendant’s insurance but her claim was denied. She alleged that the other party was at fault for the parking lot accident. She called us asking whether we would represent her for the injuries that she suffered in the accident.

The Rule

Generally speaking, accidents in parking lots in Illinois generally follow the same rules as all other automobile accidents in Illinois. You can recover for your injuries even if you are partially at fault for the accident under the concept of comparative negligence. Specifically, a party can recover for his or her damages if they are not more than fifty percent responsible for the accident.

However, parking lot accidents are unique because unlike most of the accidents I see, one of the parties involved in a parking lot accident are usually backing out of a parking space when the accident occurs.

When a party is backing out of a parking spot, again generally speaking, they have to be extremely careful and cede the right of way to the other driver. As a result, in most parking lot cases I’ve seen, the party backing out of the parking spot is primarily responsible for the accident.

And in fact, the case referenced above, this individual was at fault for the accident and as a result we were unable to represent her.

The Exceptions

There are exceptions of course. If you can demonstrate that the other party was speeding or driving recklessly, you could argue that the other party was at least comparatively negligent for the accident.

I was involved in a case where a client was backing out of a parking spot and a driver literally came out of nowhere and hit the client. Our client couldn’t have seen this other driver because the other driver was not driving in the lot’s driving lanes. Rather he was cutting across the lanes unlawfully.

Other factors could come into play as well. For example, if the other party was on their phone or otherwise distracted, they could be determined to be partially at fault for the accident.

How do you prove fault?

How do you prove fault for a parking lot accident? The same Illinois Rules of Evidence apply to parking lot accidents as to any car accident. The direct testimony of the participants to the accident, the testimony of eye witnesses and the physical evidence are all helpful in establishing the accused for the accident.

Parking lot accidents often involve another piece of evidence not available to other auto accidents and that is the existence of videotape of the accident. If your accident occurred in a Walmart parking lot for example, there may very well be a videotape proof on Walmart’s security cameras.

The problem is that in most cases, Walmart or Target etc. will not provide you access to the videotape without a subpoena. A subpoena is basically a legal and binding request that the store needs to cooperate and turn over the video. And you cannot serve a subpoena without having filed a lawsuit first. Most people don’t want to file a lawsuit especially if there are minor damages. So what do you do?

If the police arrives at the scene of the parking lot accident, they enter the store and personally review the videotape to assist in making a determination of fault for the accident.

A police officer’s determination of fault is not dispositive at trial but it does serve as an instruction for an insurance company to decide whether to “accept liability” for an accident or not.

Police on private property

On a few occasions, I’ve received calls from people involved in accidents that occur in parking lots or on other “private property”. They’ve told stories of how the police either refused to come to the scene of the accident or refused to write a ticket to the responsible party because the accident occurred on private property.

To be honest, I don’t know the answer to this. I’ve seen situations where police have written tickets for violations on private property. Whether the tickets hold up in the court is another topic of discussion.

If the accident does occur on a private property and the damage is moderate, at the very least call 911. That way, the existence of the accident is “on the record.” I’ve written before, about how stories seem to change over time. And the driver who was so helpful at the time of the accident will lie to their insurance company about the accident later. If you get the facts of the accident on the record, that is another piece of evidence you can get in front of the insurance adjuster to help him or her make a decision.

The future of parking lot accidents

Most cars today are sold with rear-view cameras. In addition, cars have all types of sensors and other safety features built into them. As a result, I have proposed that in the future there may not be a need for personal injury lawyers.

Perhaps the most important safety feature to prevent parking lot accidents is having a rear view camera. Many years ago Congress passed legislation requiring that all cars should have them. However, just recently the Department of Transportation dictated that starting this year, all new cars were required to be built with a rear view camera.

Bottom line is, if you are involved in an auto accident and wondering who is at fault, contact your insurance company or feel free to contact our office for a free consultation at 847-305-4105.

Statute of Limitations for Minors in Illinois and Other Issues

The statute of limitations for minors in Illinois is different than the statute Statute of limitations for Minors in Illinoisfor other cases. If your child is under the age of 18 and is injured in an accident, contact our office today for a free consultation 847-305-4105.

Our office is representing three different cases of minor children who were injured in different personal injury accidents. One of our clients, a 11 year old female was injured when she was bitten by a dog. The two other kids both under age 10 were injured in an auto accident.

Minors in Illinois are governed by different rules than those for are accident victims who are over 18 years of age. So, what is the statute of limitations for minors in Illinois? And what are some of the other major issues that affect minor’s personal injury claims?

Statute of Limitations

A statute of limitations is a time period in which an injured person must file a lawsuit or else they will lose their right to recover for their injuries and damages. Why is it important to have statute of limitations? For several reasons. First, it prevents the claims from becoming stale. Also, it is intended to prevent defendants from being sued years after the accident occurs.

The statute of limitations in Illinois for a personal injury claim is 2 years from the date of the accident. Note that if the party who caused your accident is a government employee or entity, you are required to file a notice of claim and your lawsuit in a much shorter amount of time.

Exception to the Statute of Limitations for Minors

There are exceptions to the statute of limitations. The most common exception to the law is if a minor is injured in an accident. If your child is under 18 at the time of the accident, the statute of limitations for minors in Illinois provides the minor with 2 years to file a lawsuit after they turn 18 (or their 20th birthday).

However, if the child was injured by a doctor’s medical malpractice, a different set of rules are applicable. In that case, the child must file their lawsuit within 8 years of the act occurring or before the child turns 22 years old. Birth injuries fall under the same rule as medical malpractice claims.

Child Sex Crimes

Previously, if a child was the victim of sexual crime, it would have to be reported and prosecuted within 20 years of the minor turning 18 years old. In August 2017, Governor Rauner signed legislation eliminating the statute of limitations.

Pursuant to the new statute, “a prosecution for criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual assault, predatory criminal sexual assault of a child, aggravated criminal sexual abuse, or criminal sexual abuse may be commenced at any time regardless as to whether corroborating physical evidence is available or an individual who is required to report an alleged or suspected commission of any of these offenses under the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act fails to do so.”

Settlement of minors claims

When you file a lawsuit on behalf of a minor, the lawsuit is generally brought by and filed in the name of the guardian or parent as the “guardian ad litem.”

A parent does not have the final say in approving a minor’s claims, the Court does. Pursuant to the Illinois Probate Act and Illinois caselaw, all minor’s claims must be approved by the Court.

There is some disagreement as to whether all minor’s claims have to be approved by the Court. I have heard attorneys say if the case is small that they don’t need to obtain the Court’s approval.

Practically speaking, that might be correct. But legally speaking, the Court’s approval is required. If the Court does not approve the settlement, then technically the settlement is not binding on the minor who could theoretically pursue further damages on his or her own upon turning 18 years old.

If your daughter or son were injured in an accident and you want to speak with a lawyer about the statute of limitations for minors in Illinois, contact our office at 847-305-4105 for a free consultation.

Do I have to pay for copays after an auto accident?

Clients often ask us whether they have to pay for copays after an auto accident. copays after an auto accidentThe short answer is – Yes. If you were injured in an accident and need to speak to an attorney, contact our office at 847-305-4105.

Use your health insurance to pay your medical bills after an auto accident

IMPORTANT – It is important that after an accident, you provide your health insurance information to all of your medical providers. This is the best way to get your medical bills paid after an accident.

Some health care providers may refuse to accept your health insurance if your injuries were caused by a third party. Why? It’s a matter of money. If you pay your medical providers out of the proceeds of your settlement after the accident, they will make more money then they will if they are paid by your health insurance company.

If you do use your health insurance, you will likely have copays which must be paid by you. The third party insurance carrier (insurance for the driver who hit you) will not pay for your medical bills (outside of no-fault states) until your case is settled.

What if I don’t pay my copays after an auto accident?

First and foremost, if you do not pay for your copays after an accident, they may go to collections. You may be thinking, it’s not fair. You were injured through no fault of your own and you get stuck paying your bills.

Unfortunately, that’s our system. Unless you’re in a “no fault state”, you are responsible for paying for your copays after an accident.

Best way to pay for your copays

Many of you may have a medpay clause in your auto insurance policy. In short, medpay normally comes in $2,500 increments and they will pay for your bills regardless of fault.

Be advised though that if you do use your medpay coverage, you will have to pay your auto insurance carrier back out of the proceeds of your settlement.

Will you be reimbursed for your copays?

Many clients send me copies of receipts for their copays. That’s fine for getting reimbursed from your medpay policy. But otherwise, we don’t really need these receipts.

Why? A copay is just a small part of a bigger bill. Meaning, a copay is a payment required by your health insurance policy every time you obtain treatment. That copay ($50.00 for example) is just a sliver of the larger medical bill.

When you settle your case, your attorney will seek reimbursement for the entire bill, not just your copay.

If you are wondering whether you have to pay for copays after an auto accident, contact our office at 847-305-4105 for a free consultation.

How to recover lost wages due to a car accident

If you were involved in a Northbrook car accident and were forced to miss Recover lost wagestime at work, you might wonder how to recover lost wages due to a car accident. Call today for a free consultation 847-305-4105 or keep reading.

I have represented a lot of people who suffered injuries in a car accident and as a result were unable to work for an extended period. Most people cannot afford to go without receiving a paycheck for very long – even in a place like Northbrook.

Unfortunately, you will not be able to recover for your lost wages until your case settles. That could be twelve to eighteen months after the accident occurred.

There is one exception. On your auto insurance policy, you may have “Personal Injury Protection” or PIP coverage. A PIP clause may provide you coverage for your lost wages and your medical bills. PIP coverage is usually $2,500 or $5,000.

If you are involved in a Northbrook car accident, ask your auto insurance company if you have PIP coverage and how you can recover from your own policy. Be advised though, if you were injured by a third party and receive compensation for your injuries, your insurance company will expect to be reimbursed for the money they put out on your behalf from your settlement.

How to recover lost wages due to a car accident

So again, the good news is that you can recover for your lost wages. But how do you obtain reimbursement?

In most cases, your lawyer will send a form to your employer seeking confirmation of your lost wages. Our is called simply a “Lost wages verification form.” We also attach a release signed by our client confirming that the employer is authorized to provide us the information. We have had very few instances where an employer did not ultimately help their employee out by filling out the form.

Sometimes the insurance company will request a victim’s W2’s or paystubs to confirm their earnings. I’ve also helped clients who lost stock options and other forms of compensation as a result of being injured. This is tougher to recover for but with proper documentation is obtainable.

I’ve also represented a few Uber drivers who alleged that as a result of the accident they were not able to drive their car for several weeks. In those cases, I’ve asked my clients to go into their Uber app and download confirmation of how much money they made in the eight weeks prior to the accident to show what they made per week on average.

In some cases you may be able to recover for loss of future earning potential as well.

If you were involved in a Northbrook car accident and you want to speak to an attorney Lost wages attorney to learn how to recover lost wages due to a car accident, call us for a free consultation at 847-305-4105.