Chicago Personal Injury Blog
In a recent case filed in Joliet, Illinois, a woman’s attorney sued no less than six defendants in a single wrongful death lawsuit. She alleged that the negligence of many others may have contributed to the death of her late husband.
In this particular case, the deceased man had been on a golf outing, during which alcohol had been served. According to the lawyer for the case, a school bus had been chartered at least partially so that the golfers could avoid the risk of driving under the influence on their return.
During the trip, something terrible happened. The man fell against the bus door while it was traveling at a relatively low rate of speed and the door flew open, throwing the passenger to the pavement below. By the time that he had been flown to St. Francis Medical Center, he was in critical condition due to serious head trauma and major injuries. He died about a week later.
It’s Often a Good Idea to Include Multiple Defendants
A high percentage of lawsuits filed in Cook County, and elsewhere in Illinois, often relate to a single defendant. For instance, if someone were to punch you in the nose, you would sue that single person. If someone damaged your property, you would sue that single person.
But injury and medical malpractice cases are often far more complicated and lend themselves to suing multiple defendants. In the golf-outing case example above, the defendants included two trucking companies, a school bus company, the bus manufacturer, the bus door manufacturer, and the school bus driver.
The reason for including so many possible responsible parties in a lawsuit is that it is the responsibility of the attorney to cover all possibilities. Once a lawsuit has been filed, the attorney may later be unable to amend (to fix) the pleadings (paperwork).
So, if a responsible party is left off, it may turn out that the plaintiff (person filing the lawsuit) receives no compensation at all, because the correct party simply was not sued. As such, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. If there is any reasonable possibility, based upon the available evidence, that some person or some entity may be at least partially to blame for the harm, it’s always recommended that such a party be added to the lawsuit as a defendant.
The attorney can always drop that party from the lawsuit at a later time, if it turns out to that party is not at fault.
Examples When Many Defendants Might be Included
What about a car accident? Although in some circumstances, a single person may be the subject of the lawsuit, multiple defendants are very common in car crash cases.
For starters, the lawyer would not only sue the other driver, but the driver’s insurance company. If the other person was driving for work, that person’s employer would likely get sued. If other cars were involved in the crash, each of those drivers and their insurers might be included. What if a pedestrian had stepped out into traffic causing the accident? Then that person should be included.
Sometimes, a driver may blame the accident on a faulty automobile. Such lawsuits are referred to as products liability lawsuits and involve suing the car manufacturer or an automotive parts supplier claiming that they were responsible in some way.
Sometimes, a city such as Chicago might even be sued based upon negligent road maintenance, construction, or planning that contributed to the accident.
In the case of medical malpractice injuries or deaths, the number of parties who are subject to such a lawsuit is likely to be even greater. If surgical negligence or a failure to diagnose a medical condition is alleged to have occurred, it is incredibly important that the malpractice attorney cover all bases and include every possible defendant.
It’s often been said that when such a lawsuit gets filed, it’s not uncommon to “sue everyone including the nurse who turned on the light switch”. Although that’s an oversimplification and no one should ever be named as a defendant without just cause, the importance of naming all possible defendants cannot be overstated.
Doctors don’t operate in a vacuum, so it would be unusual to name just the doctor on a lawsuit. They sometimes work for themselves, but often are members of a “medical group” or they are employees of a hospital. Other doctors are often consulted during the patient’s treatment. Nurses assist with the course of medical treatment. Procedures that take place in hospitals or outpatient locations utilize the medical staff, machinery and facilities provided.
For all these reasons, hospitals, nurses, and medical groups are frequently included defendants in medical malpractice cases.
If you have questions about whether you have a potential injury lawsuit, or which defendants would likely be included in a such a claim, call Sexner & Associates LLC night or day at (800) 996-4824. Our experienced attorney can answer such questions free of charge or obligation.
A personal injury lawsuit may take many forms. People mostly think of these suits in the context of car accidents or medical malpractice cases involving doctors and hospitals. But a PI (personal injury) case doesn’t need to involve broken bones or permanent physical injuries. It instead refers to any injury that occurs to a person and it doesn’t need to leave a visible scar at all.
So, mental and psychological injuries may be considered as personal injuries. Take for instance a recent spate of lawsuits, more than a dozen in fact, that were filed in Cook County Court against the Boy Scouts of America.
Fifteen cases were filed alleging that, in the 1980s, the Boy Scouts allowed a convicted sexual offender free reign to prey upon their scouts in a troop located in the Chicago suburb of Burbank. These court complaints are seeking millions of dollars in monetary damages and allege that the national Boy Scouts organization knew, or should have known, about of the sexual abuse, but allowed the abuse to continue without intervention.
According to reports, the scout leader (who is now in jail) had been arrested way back in 1961 for the molestation of scouts on a camp out. Around 1971, he was again arrested for taking indecent liberties with a child and labeled as an “ineligible volunteer”. He also was apparently let go by the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) for molesting children in the 1970s and 1980s.
Yet, over the following years, he was able to join at least two more troops located in Indiana before becoming affiliated with the Chicago suburban scout troop.
Who is Legally Responsible for Abuse?
Once a lawsuit is filed, a judge or jury will ultimately decide who is responsible under the law. They will also decide how much in monetary damages the wrongdoers will be ordered to pay the victims. One thing is likely true, though, if it can be proven that the abuser did in fact commit the sexual abuse, he or she will be found personally liable.
Collecting damages from such a person may be easier said than done. Especially because that person may be sentenced to jail in a related criminal case, the abuser may have insufficient funds to satisfy the court judgement.
So, if there are other possible defendants that may also be responsible for the abuse, an experienced attorney will always be sure to include them in the lawsuit as well. In the example of the Boys Scouts lawsuits described above, the national organization was sued and, if later found liable, such an organization would have a higher likelihood that they would have sufficient funds and insurance sources needed to satisfy such a money judgement.
Time Limitations on Abuse Lawsuits
In Illinois, the general rule is that a personal injury lawsuit must be commenced within two years from the time that the injury event occurred. But there are some exceptions, and some of these arise frequently in those cases involving sexual abuse claims.
One of the most common exceptions relates to the age of the victim. Those who prey sexually upon others often do so to the very young. The law recognizes that children do not have the presence of mind to contact the police or the ability to call an attorney. So, for that reason, this time period (called the statute of limitations) does not begin to run until the child has attained the age of majority.
Another common exception involves that of “repressed memory”. This refers to those who suffered childhood sexual trauma but repressed those memories for years or even decades until they were “recovered” later in life. This often occurs during psychiatric or psychological treatment.
In such circumstances that the court accepts the science behind repressed memories as reliable, sometimes cases like these are allowed to proceed despite how long ago the abuse occurred.
Other types of Sexual Abusers Who May be Subject of a Lawsuit
Sexual abuse can happen to anyone, anytime, and anywhere. Some studies have shown that 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys are likely to be victims of sexual abuse. But a common thread that runs though such crimes is that offenders are often older and in a position of power over the abused, such as teachers, coaches, counsellors, and relatives.
Just like a Boy Scout leader, the same is sometimes also true of priests and other clergy who are looked up to for advice and counsel by altar boys or other parishioners. When someone has been abused by a priest, minister, reverend, or other religious leader, an experienced sex abuse personal injury attorney will likely include as an additional defendant in any lawsuit the supervising organization such as the Archdiocese of Chicago.
No other recent incidents of sexual misconduct have captured the headlines to a greater degree than the scandal engulfing USA Gymnastics and the disgraced team doctor from Michigan State University. Literally hundreds of victims have initiated lawsuits or plan to do so against the doctor. In addition to the doctor, other entities will undoubtedly also be included as additional defendants in these PI lawsuits: none more prominently than USA Gymnastics.
It is alleged by the plaintiffs, including Olympic champion Aly Raisman, that this governing body knew about the abuse, yet allowed it to continue and then attempted to cover it up. If these allegations are believed by the court system, USA Gymnastics will be held legally and financially liable, just as will the actual offending doctor.
If you or a loved one has been sexually abused by another, Sexner & Associates LLC can help you guide you through the legal process and hold those responsible to be legally and financially accountable. Call our 24-hour hotline at (800) 996-4824 now for free information.
Medical Malpractice Cases Happen Every Day
Doctors, surgeons, and nurses aren’t perfect, although they often pretend to be. According to some reports, preventable medical errors account for between 200,00 and 400,000 deaths each year, making medical malpractice the 3rd leading cause of death in America.
It’s true that doctors are usually highly educated and trained, and it’s true that few doctors ever intend to cause harm to anyone, but the fact remains that doctors are people too. Medical personnel are often over-worked, under-staffed, and must switch from one patient to another on a moment’s notice. They may be sleep deprived or they may be distracted by any of life’s little problems just like the rest of us.
The difference is that when doctor’s make mistakes, lives may be lost. If a carpenter makes a mistake, he just grabs a new piece of wood and starts over. For doctors and surgeons, the stakes are far greater.
Doctors protect their own
When a person believes that they or someone close to them has been harmed by a doctor, it’s common to seek a second opinion. That’s an excellent idea. You should never expect the original doctor to admit any fault.
Perhaps if you found another specialist who was the member of a completely different medical practice, that person might give you an objective and honest appraisal of your medical situation. Sometimes that happens, but all too often, doctors tend to protect their own and are very hesitant to express their true feelings about whether the first doctor committed an error. That’s why it’s so important to trust your feelings.
If you think that a doctor failed to properly diagnose, misdiagnosed, or committed a surgical mistake, call an experienced lawyer to hear their opinion. It’s free, it may give you some piece of mind, and it’s your right to know the truth.
Most Cases Go Unfiled
People trust doctors and, for the most part, they should. But that doesn’t mean that you should throw your own logic or common sense out the window. So, just because you are being told that your situation is “normal” or that your progress is “as expected”, doesn’t mean that you need to believe it.
If you have any reason whatsoever to think otherwise, speak to a lawyer for free. Most of the time, your medical records can be ordered and objectively reviewed by a knowledgeable attorney without cost. This is how you learn the true answer.
Maybe it’s a case and maybe it isn’t, but you’ll never know unless you have a professional check it out for you. Each year, far more medical malpractice cases go unfilled than are actually filed, because those involved trust their doctors blindly and worry about “rocking the boat”. There’s no reason to worry. All conversations with a lawyer are 100% confidential.
So, if you suspect something is wrong, have your case checked out for free. The worst that happens is the lawyer tells you it’s not a viable case, but then, at least you’ll know. Sometimes, even though serious permanent injury or death occurs during treatment or surgery, it’s still not a case. Other times it is. That’s because for it to be a medical malpractice case, the doctor must have “deviated from the standard of care”, which basically means that he or she must have done something wrong that other similar doctors would not have done.
Don’t try to guess if your case qualifies. Ask an experienced lawyer.
Medical Insurance Company are Different
Insurance companies for hospitals and other medical providers are not like car insurance companies. If you have a car crash, you might be able to negotiate directly with the other insurer and settle your case. Not so with medical insurers. Their medical customers don’t usually want to settle. The stakes are also much higher than with car insurers, often involving many millions of dollars.
It’s unlikely that you’ll even be able find the contact information for the insurer, as medical providers are not likely to tell you directly. Experienced med malpractice attorneys know how to get in contact with such insurers though. An attorney might first try to negotiate, but more times than not, they need to begin a lawsuit to jump-start talks in earnest.
That’s because only when the insurer recognizes that a knowledgeable attorney is on the case and is ready to do all the things necessary to achieve justice, will your case ever get the attention and compensation that it deserves.
Medical insurance companies are just not in the business of giving out money or “doing what is right” or fair. They would prefer to pay you zero dollars if given a choice. Most of the time, they need to be pushed (and sometimes dragged) in the direction of justice and fairness.
Time Limitations Apply to File a Case
If you or a loved one has been harmed by a doctor or surgeon, contacting an attorney is surely very low on your list of important things to do. That’s completely understandable, but do keep in mind that in Illinois, a lawsuit for medical malpractice needs to be filed within two years from the negligent event (although there are some exceptions to this rule).
If it’s filed even a minute too late, the lawsuit will be dismissed. Also keep in mind that medical malpractice cases require the attorney to carefully examine all the medical records (sometimes thousands of pages) and consult with a medical expert in order to secure an affidavit before the case can be filed. All of this takes time, sometimes months. So, if you think you might have a case, try not to delay in contacting a lawyer for a free review.
If you believe that a medical professional caused harm to you or a loved one, call Sexner & Associates LLC 24 hours a day at (800) 996-4824 and speak to an experienced attorney. The call is free and there are never any attorney fees charged unless we are successful on your behalf.
Some people might think she has a face only a mother could love, but Martha the mastiff doesn’t care. She just won the 29th annual World’s Ugliest Dog Contest in 2017.
Martha was awarded $1,500 and a trip to New York, but her handler said she’d probably just like a nap. Read the rest »
When fetal monitoring is used (and diagnosed) properly, it can help doctors monitor how childbirth is proceeding. Nowadays, most hospitals in Chicago and throughout the U.S. use FHRM to confirm that babies are healthy during labor—that is, not in fetal distress and at risk of a birth complication.
Below, we’ve tackled the answers to five commonly asked questions about fetal heart rate monitoring. Read the rest »
Champaign County Nursing Home is currently being investigated in reference to the death of a 78-year-old woman. The woman, who was a long-time resident of the facility, was found dead outside of the facility on the ground, lying partially on the sidewalk. There was no apparent head trauma or injury. The coroner’s office has confirmed that they are trying to determine at what point the woman went outside, how long she had been there, and whether she had gone in and out of the nursing home during that period of time. Read the rest »
While the idea of dogs barking at postal workers may seem cliché, it is, in fact, an indicator of a serious problem. Attacks by dogs against postal workers are unusually common. According to data from the U.S. Postal Service, Chicago ranked 5th in 2013 for dog attacks on mailmen, with a total of 47 for the year.
Illinois, in general, had the second-highest number of dog attack insurance claims in 2013, behind only California. In Chicago, the owner of a dog has strict liability for any dog attack against a person who is not illegally trespassing on the owner’s property, or who did not violently provoke the dog. Postal workers who are delivering mail appropriately are not trespassing and dog owners CAN be held liable for any unprovoked attacks against them. Read the rest »
Because of the high cost of living (comfortably) through retirement, a greater number of older workers are still on the job. As these baby boomers continue to age, more and more of them are rejecting the traditional retirement age of 65; and it’s projected that by the year 2024, the labor market will be comprised of 25% older workers.
But it’s no fun getting old. People are just not as limber and bones tend to become more brittle over time. With age come vision and hearing changes which gradually worsen; reduced balance and response time; and chronic bone, muscle, and general medical problems. As such, the workplace is slowly becoming a more dangerous place, where serious injuries or fatal accidents are more likely and more prevalent. Some of the types of workplace accidents that have increased in recent years include transportation accidents, deaths related to falls, and impacts from equipment or objects, as well as fires and explosions. In one recent fatal accident, a 56-year-old Chicago man fell to his death while retrieving an item from a high location. Read the rest »
In what is believed to be the largest jury verdict ever awarded in Cook County, Illinois, for a birth injury case, a Chicago jury awarded $53,000,000 to a 12-year-old Hickory Hills boy. The lawsuit alleged that the University of Chicago Medical Center committed medical malpractice when it failed to properly care for his pregnant mother, resulting in serious and permanent injury to the baby.
According to documents filed in the Cook County lawsuit, the attorneys for the family accused the University of Chicago of failing to properly monitor the mother and child, failing to properly follow a chain of command, failing to perform a Cesarean section (C-section) in a timely manner, failing to take accurate measurement of cord blood gases, and failing to take notice of fetal heart rate patterns that suggested that the baby was in distress and suffering from hypoxia. Read the rest »
One recent study found that over 250,000 people die every year in America from avoidable medical mistakes. But the vast majority of these deaths never find their way into court or into the hands of an experienced attorney who can advocate on behalf of the victim’s family. They are simply swept under the rug by doctors and hospital officials who tell the family of the deceased that their loved one was simply too old or too sick and that nothing more could have been done. Although patient groups and the U.S. government encourage hospitals to “own up” to medical mistakes, often times it is only when family members seek the assistance of an experienced medical malpractice attorney that the real facts are uncovered. Medical records must usually be subpoenaed to reveal the truth that doctors and hospitals prefer to keep secret. Read the rest »