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How the Illinois Injured Workers’ Benefit Fund works

Illinois workers who are injured on the job have the right to workers’ compensation benefits for hours of work lost and for medical expenses. If the employer fails to pay the compensation owed, then the benefits can be paid by the Injured Workers’ Benefit Fund (IWBF).

The IWBF was created in 2005 to compensate injured workers whose employers fail to pay workers’ compensation benefits. It is funded directly from penalties that employers must pay if they fail to carry required workers’ compensation insurance, and the money is used to help workers who may not otherwise receive benefits due to their employer’s uninsured or underinsured state. Cases are reviewed, and funds disbursed, by the Illinois Division of Insurance Compliance. If there are insufficient funds to cover all the claims that are submitted, then distribution of benefits takes place on a pro rata basis.

Injured workers may apply for IWBF benefits if they have already received a final workers’ compensation award, and their employer failed both to pay the benefits and to carry proper workers’ compensation insurance.

Specific procedures and requirements apply to IWBF benefits. If you were injured at work, consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to learn more about your rights.

Briskman Briskman & Greenberg
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Illinois Governor Vetoes Truck Safety Bill

A bill to increase the speed limit for trucks on some non-urban Illinois highways, which was passed unanimously in both chambers of the Illinois state legislature, has been vetoed by Governor Pat Quinn.

The trucking industry supported the bill, claiming that a high speed differential between cars and trucks is dangerous. The top speed for cars on nonurban highways in Illinois is 70 mph, an increase from 65 mph that went into effect on January 1, after Governor Quinn signed a measure raising the limit. Trucks in most Illinois counties may travel at the same posted speed as automobiles, but they are limited to 55 mph in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties, which the Illinois Trucking Association (ITA) says is dangerous.

The ITA said that it did not support raising the speed limit for cars, because it would increase the speed differential between cars and trucks. It now supports raising the speed limit for trucks for the same reason.

In a letter to Illinois legislators, Quinn said that the increased speed for trucks would lead to an increase in highway fatalities.

Russ Rader, a representative of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, said that research does not support the idea that a high speed differential between cars and trucks is dangerous. He said that lower speed limits for trucks are safer, as they reduce stopping distance and allow cars to pass trucks more easily.

Matt Hart, the director of the Illinois Trucking Association, said that he expected legislators to call for a vote to override Quinn’s veto.

About Erb’s palsy

Erb’s palsy is an injury that can occur during birth. When such an injury is the result of medical malpractice, the child’s family may be entitled to compensation through a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Erb’s palsy has similarities with brachial plexus palsy, which is the loss of upper arm movement caused by nerve damage that occurs during delivery. Erb’s palsy affects both the upper and lower arm.

It is usually possible to recognize Erb’s palsy immediately after delivery, as the child is unable to move the arm that is affected by the condition. However, there are cases in which the condition is not apparent until months later. It is important for parents to be aware of the symptoms so that they can seek treatment if they appear.

A child may be suffering from Erb’s palsy if one or more of the following symptoms are present in the affected arm:

  • Lack of movement
  • Poor reflexes
  • Holding the arm close to the body with the elbow flexed for sustained periods
  • Difficulty gripping things and little strength

Erb’s palsy may be caused when medical professionals apply too much force during the delivery process. While many cases of brachial plexus palsy and Erb’s palsy heal on their own, surgery or physical therapy may be necessary in some. If you believe your child may be suffering from Erb’s palsy, consult with your physician. If you believe your child’s injury may have been caused by errors on the part of medical personnel, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney to learn more about your rights.

Amputee Files Lawsuit Against Hospital for Cremating Amputated Leg

A patient has filed a lawsuit against Skokie Hospital for incinerating his amputated leg. The patient, an Orthodox Jew whose religious traditions indicate that the dead should be buried whole, claims that he informed a rabbi employed by the hospital and other medical personnel that he wanted his leg to be preserved to be buried with him after his death.

In March 2011, Moshe Lefkowitz had surgery to have his left leg amputated below the knee. The hospital claims that Lefkowitz signed consent forms permitting the hospital to dispose of his leg. Lefkowitz said in an affidavit that he is legally blind and was told by a nurse that he was only signing a form consenting to the surgery.

Lefkowitz sued the hospital and the rabbi in 2013, seeking damages in excess of $100,000. A Cook County judge dismissed the suit, but that ruling was reversed by an appeals court, and the case was sent back for trial.

The hospital argued in an appellate brief that Lefkowitz should not be able to sue the rabbi for what it termed “clergy malpractice,” saying that the plaintiff’s religious contentions have “no place” in the civil court system. Lefkowitz claimed in court papers that he is suing the rabbi for negligence for not properly informing the hospital staff of his wishes.

In reversing the circuit court’s granting of the defendant’s motion to dismiss, the Appellate Court of Illinois, First Judicial District ruled that Lefkowitz had raised at least a question of material fact as to whether he had knowingly consented to the disposal of his leg.

Rabbi Yona Reiss of the Chicago Rabbinical Council told the Chicago Tribune that under Jewish tradition, body parts that have been severed are preserved or buried for the day when it is believed that the bodies will be resurrected. Severed body parts are usually buried in private, low-key ceremonies, he said.

Protecting your loved ones from abuse – Podcast

This month on Chicago Injury Alert, we talk about ways you protect your loved ones from nursing home abuse.

Chicago Drivers Who Ignore Crosswalks Face Penalties

Chicago police have begun a series of traffic enforcement stings intended to help prevent accidents involving pedestrians in crosswalks.

Many Chicago drivers are unaware that they are required to stop their cars when they encounter pedestrians in marked crosswalks, even when they are crossing the street midblock. Indeed, many Chicago drivers fail to yield, much less stop, for pedestrians in crosswalks. But police and traffic officials are attempting to change that with increased enforcement and improvements to streets and signage.

Each year in Chicago, there are about 3,000 accidents involving a vehicle striking a pedestrian and about 30 lives lost. To try to reduce these numbers, police are planning about 60 pedestrian traffic safety enforcement stings this year, in which undercover police officers will traverse crosswalks on foot and issue citations to drivers who fail to stop for them. 

Police issued one citation after another during a recent sting, even though signs warned motorists about the special enforcement action.

Since a state law was passed in 2010, motorists must stop for pedestrians in crosswalks. Prior to that, they were only required to yield and, if necessary, stop. Violators face a possible fine of $120 in Chicago, and up to $500 in some other jurisdictions. More than 1,200 such tickets were issued by Chicago police in 2013, according to a report in the Chicago Tribune.

Some streets have also been outfitted with pedestrian refuge islands midway through the crosswalk, so that people who do not have time to walk all the way across a wide street before the light changes can wait safely in the median. Street-level signs that read “stop for pedestrians” have also been installed. City officials say their goal is to cut serious pedestrian injuries in half in five years, and to eliminate them entirely in ten years.

Cerebral palsy among the most serious birth injuries

Cerebral palsy is one of the most serious injuries that can be caused by medical malpractice during labor or delivery. The condition can be caused by a deficiency of oxygen to the child’s brain, and the effects can last a lifetime.

Cerebral palsy includes a number of different neurological disorders that have a negative effect on muscle coordination and the movement of the body. Although most children who suffer from cerebral palsy have had the condition since birth, the condition may not be able to be diagnosed until the child is a few years old. In the United States and Europe, cerebral palsy occurs in between two and four out of every 1,000 births.

There are a number of different events that can lead to cerebral palsy, often involving a lack of oxygen to the brain, birth trauma or premature delivery. In some cases, action or inaction by medical personnel may constitute medical malpractice. 

Malpractice may include the failure to properly monitor the heart rate of the fetus, failure to detect infections in the mother such as meningitis, failure to detect a prolapse of the umbilical cord, delay in performing a cesarean section, or negligence in the use of instruments such as forceps or vacuum.

It is important to note that not all cases of cerebral palsy are the result of medical malpractice. If you believe that your child’s birth injury may have resulted from a medical mistake, it is important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible to learn more about your rights.

Age Restriction in Park Not a Liability Shield

The Chicago Park District must do more to publicize playground age restrictions if it wants them to be the basis of legal immunity, a state appeals panel has ruled.

The First District Appellate Court, in an unpublished order decision by Justice Robert E. Gordon, found that signs must be posted at the park and that any ordinances restricting the age of users of playground equipment must be published in order for the park district to claim immunity.

The case, Artenia Bowman v. Chicago Park District, involved a 13-year-old girl who fractured her ankle on a slide with a hole in it, which the park district claimed was intended for children under 12. In July 2011, the child’s mother filed a complaint in Cook County Circuit Court seeking recovery of medical expenses. Bowman alleged that the park district had received several complaints about the broken slide and had failed to fix it.

The park district raised an affirmative defense, arguing that the girl was in violation of an ordinance restricting the use of playgrounds for younger children to those between ages 5 and 12. Whether or not there was a sign indicating the age restriction on the day the girl was injured remained in question, but the trial court granted summary judgment to the park district in June 2013.

On appeal, Judge Gordon wrote that there was no evidence that the park district took measures to enforce the age restrictions, and that there was no way for a child to know that such a restriction existed.

Paul Greenberg of Briskman Briskman & Greenberg represented Bowman. Greenberg noted that while the ordinance in question refers to park equipment intended for use by younger children, it does not specify which equipment or locations are age-restricted. Greenberg said that the ruling is important because the park district will now have to publicize the ordinance and/or post signs if it wants to restrict playground users to certain age groups.

Personal injury claim not barred by workers’ compensation exclusivity, Illinois Appellate Court rules

An Illinois Appellate Court recently ruled that a worker who allegedly sustained exposure to asbestos while working for his employer between 1966 and 1970 was not barred from pursuing a personal injury claim by the exclusive remedy provisions of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. The claim was not compensable under the Act, as the statute of repose had expired.

In the case of Folta v. Ferro Engineering, James Folta allegedly sustained exposure to asbestos while working for the defendant, his employer, in the time period between 1966 and 1970. Forty-one years later, on May 17, 2011, he was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma. 

Generally, the no-fault compensation provided under the Workers’ Compensation Act is the exclusive remedy for workers whose injuries arise out of and in the course of their employment. However, a statute of repose limits asbestos claims under the Act to a 25-year period from the time the employee was exposed. Another statute of repose limits claims under the Illinois Workers’ Occupational Diseases Act to a three-year period.

The First District Appellate Court ruled that because the plaintiff’s workers’ compensation claim was time-barred, his injury was “not compensable under the Act,” and he could therefore pursue a civil lawsuit against his employer.

Many misdiagnosis errors go unreported

Medical errors involving surgery or drug mistakes receive a lot of attention, perhaps in part because it is often obvious that an error has been made. But research indicates that misdiagnosis may be a far more common type of medical mistake.

Experts in patient safety say that misdiagnosis, which can include delayed, missed or incorrect diagnoses, may affect between 10 and 20 percent of all cases.

Medical errors that harm patients and are the result of negligence on the part of doctors or hospital personnel may give rise to medical malpractice lawsuits. However, in the vast majority of misdiagnosis cases, lawsuits are not filed. In many cases, patients are not aware that an error was made because the misdiagnosis is never reported.

A report by Daniel R. Levinson, the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services, found that only one in seven mistakes or injuries involving Medicare patients are actually reported by hospital staff, even though reporting events that cause patients harm is a requirement of receiving Medicare payments.

Patients who suspect a misdiagnosis caused or worsened an injury should consult with a medical malpractice attorney to determine whether a lawsuit is appropriate to recover compensation for the harm they suffered.

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The Chicago Illinois personal injury law firm of Briskman Briskman & Greenberg represents injured people throughout Illinois, including Chicago, the Chicagoland area, Joliet, Waukegan, Cicero, Evanston, Arlington Heights, Wheaton, Bolingbrook, and Naperville, as well as other cities within Cook County, Will County, DuPage County, Lake County and McHenry County.
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