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There is more to the practice of law than television's depictions of high courtroom drama and criminal behavior. In fact, most people in need of the services of attorneys are more likely to need professional representation when purchasing real estate or divorcing their spouses. Lawyers are also expert in the exceedingly important matters of drawing up and reviewing contracts as well as setting up corporations and other business entities. Attorneys may be called upon to initiate or defend civil suits that involve a range of wrongdoing, including personal injury. They also play roles in matters of death, wills and taxes. In future columns, we will show you how to put yourself on the right side of the law.

On The Right Side Of The Law

There is more to the practice of law than television's depictions of high courtroom drama and criminal behavior. In fact, most people in need of the services of attorneys are more likely to need professional representation when purchasing real estate or divorcing their spouses. Lawyers are also expert in the exceedingly important matters of drawing up and reviewing contracts as well as setting up corporations and other business entities. Attorneys may be called upon to initiate or defend civil suits that involve a range of wrongdoing, including personal injury. They also play roles in matters of death, wills and taxes. In future columns, we will show you how to put yourself on the right side of the law.

We would like to welcome you to our biweekly column. We hope you find upcoming installments both interesting and informative. Our attorneys provide dedicated and experienced legal representation in cases of personal injury and workers' compensation. We pride ourselves on our personal service and frequent client communication. You are so much more than just a case to us. Call 630-352-4345 today to schedule a free initial consultation. Our office is located at 107 S. Third St., Bloomingdale. For your convenience, we offer weekend and after-hours appointments.

Note: A lawyer's expertise may also extend to workers' compensation and rights in the workplace.


In The Interest Of Fairness

Before the parties in a civil lawsuit go to trial, each submits to the fact-finding process known as "discovery" to gain information about what the other side knows about facts pertinent to the case. This process employs methods including depositions (oral questions) and interrogatories (written questions) that must be answered under oath. Both parties are also entitled to request documents such as contracts, memos and other materials relating to the case. If necessary, the court can force unwilling parties to come forward with relevant information. The legal system goes to such great lengths to make all this information available to both parties in order to level the playing field and not give one side an unfair advantage over the other.

If you have any questions about the discovery process — or about civil lawsuits in general — then please call us today. We will schedule a free initial appointment with you to discuss the merits of your case. Our lawyers provide experienced and aggressive legal representation for victims of personal injury, including automobile accidents, on-the-job injuries, medical malpractice and cases of negligence. We provide personal attention from the first phases of discovery until the final verdict is in. Don't suffer because of someone else's negligence. Call 630-352-4345 today to make an appointment. Our offices are located at 107 S. Third St., Bloomingdale. And remember, we're happy to take these cases on a contingency basis. That means you don't pay unless you win!

Hint: If you are being deposed, you have the right to have your lawyer present and are advised to do so to best protect your interests.


Are You Responsible For Injuries On Your Property?

Whether or not property owners are responsible for injuries that occur on their land or in their homes largely depends on the status of the injured party. For instance, if the injured person is a customer (or "business invitee"), property owners may be liable if they did not act reasonably to protect that person, even if they did not know about the danger. Alternatively, if the injured party were a house guest or door-to-door salesperson (a "licensee"), the property owners most probably would be liable only if they did not protect that person from a danger that was known to exist. Property owners generally do not owe a duty of care to those on their property without permission ("trespassers").

If you've been injured on someone else's property — or if you have any questions about your own liability — then please call for an appointment today. Our attorneys offer aggressive and experienced legal representations in personal injury cases that include negligence as well as automobile accidents and medical malpractice. We'll be happy to take these cases on a contingency basis — that means you don't pay unless you win. Call 630-352-4345 today to schedule a free initial consultation. Our office is located at 107 S. Third St., Bloomingdale.

Hint: Property owners are responsible for posting warnings about hazards that they know to exist on their properties.


With A Patient's Consent

Elderly individuals and their families should have a particularly good understanding of the concept of "informed consent" with an eye toward the future possibility that they will need to undergo a medical procedure. If so, they have to know what treatment is planned and need to agree to it. Informed consent is required by law. If patients are treated without their consent, it may constitute assault and battery. This is why hospitals have patients sign as many as three consent forms. However, the legal validity of these documents depends on circumstances. While a signed form may provide evidence of informed consent, it does not necessarily preclude the patient from bringing a suit after treatment.

Clearly, informed consent is a complex issue, one that requires an expert legal eye to discern its subtleties. If you believe that you or a loved one has suffered at the hands of a doctor or a hospital, please call R. Mark Maritote, P.C., today. We will schedule a free initial appointment with you to discuss the merits of your case. Our lawyers offer experienced and aggressive legal representation for victims of medical malpractice as well as other forms of personal injury. Call 630-352-4345 today to make an appointment. Our offices are located at 107 S. Third St., Bloomingdale.

Hint: When an individual is considered to be unable to give informed consent, a parent, legal guardian, caregiver or other person may be authorized to give consent on the patient's behalf.


Adopting Measures

People choosing to adopt a child must select an experienced and knowledgeable attorney to represent them and help navigate the legal process. Regardless of what type of adoption is being pursued, the birth parents must consent that their child should be adopted. This is, in fact, the biggest and most important step in the adoption process. It requires that the birth parents sign a document in which they consent to the adoption and give up all rights to the child. The type of consent varies by state. In some states, the birth parents must verbally agree to the consent before a judge; other states require that the birth mother file a paper (petition of relinquishment) with the court.

HINT: In an adoption, consent is not needed if the birth parent is deceased, has abandoned the child, has his or her rights terminated by the state, or if there are "special circumstances" (such as failure to have contact for a prolonged period).


Severance Pay

It is common practice for employers to offer a severance package to soften the impact of being laid off; however, employers are under no obligation to do so. The law only requires severance (some combination of money and continuing benefits) if former employees have been led to believe they would be paid when signing a written contract stating that there would be severance pay. Verbal promises, a company history of paying severance and the promise of severance pay in an employee handbook or as part of personal policy also provide legal justification for severance pay. The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) requires most employers to offer laid-off employees continuation of their health insurance, but it does not stipulate that employers pay for it.

Hint: Because happy former employees are less litigious, employers are more inclined to offer them severance packages. Sometimes employers may require fired employees to sign a release (an agreement not to sue) in exchange for a severance package.


Discerning Intent

Plaintiffs in civil cases are more likely to collect damage awards if they come from the defendant's insurance company and not the defendant's own pockets. Therefore, it is important to discern whether the tort (wrongdoing) was intentional or not. Intentional torts, in which the wrong is committed by one who is substantially certain that injury will result from the act, are not covered in liability insurance policies. Thus, damages awarded by the court must be paid by the person committing the tort. An unintentional tort is one that results from one's carelessness or negligence. Because there are insurance policies designed to cover damages assessed for injuries resulting from unintentional (or negligent) torts, plaintiffs can feel more certain of payment.

If you've been hurt in an accident — regardless of whether you think it was intentional or unintentional — then you need to call our office today. We have lots of experience with a wide variety of personal injury cases and we will make sure that you get the money that you deserve. What's more, we take these cases on a contingency basis, which means you don't pay unless you win. You're not just a case to us — you're a customer. Call 630-352-4345 today to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case. Our office is located at 107 S. Third St., Bloomingdale.

Hint: If you were to slip and fall at the home of a friend or acquaintance, his or her homeowners policy would likely pay for any damages you might receive as the result of a successful civil case to recoup costs for pain and injury that you suffered as a result.


Motions And Appeals

A verdict by a jury or a judge does not necessarily signal the end of a personal injury case. In fact, the losing party may quickly move for a new trial based on the assertion that the trial was unfair due to legal errors that prejudiced its case. Otherwise, in cases involving jury verdicts, the losing party may make a motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict, which argues that no reasonable jury could reach the verdict that the jury in this case did. It may also happen that the judge may reduce the damages awarded to the plaintiff in the belief that they are too high. For that matter, the judge may increase the damages.

Because a personal injury case may take a long time to resolve, it's vital that you have an experienced and dedicated lawyer working on your behalf from the first consultation to the final remuneration. We have dealt with a large number of personal injury cases, from automobile accidents to medical malpractice. We can make sure that you get what you deserve. Call 630-352-4345 today to make an appointment for a free initial consultation. And, of course, we are happy to take these cases on a contingency basis. That means you don't pay until you win. Our offices are located at 107 S. Third St., Bloomingdale.

HINT: Either side may appeal the amount of the damage award.


A Tort Is Not Necessarily A Piece Of Cake

There are many kinds of personal injury cases, which also go by the name "tort" cases (the French word for "wrong"). Staying with this terminology, the person doing the wrong is known as the "tortfeasor," or defendant. In injury cases based on tortfeasor negligence, the defendant is charged with failing to exercise the care for the safety of another that a prudent person would ordinarily use. There are other types of injury cases that involve more than mere negligence. These include an injury that was caused intentionally, such as an assault. In any injury case, the common thread is the concept of fault, which must be proven before the injured party can obtain a legal remedy or judgment.

If you have been hurt by someone's negligence and think that you might be due remuneration for your pain and suffering, please call our law office today. One of our attorneys will schedule a free initial consultation to discuss the merits of your case. We provide experienced and aggressive representation in cases of personal injury, including auto accidents and medical malpractice as well as negligence. We will fight hard to get you the money that you deserve. In addition, we take these cases on a contingency basis, which means you don't pay unless you win. Call 630-352-4345 today. Our office is located at 107 S. Third St., Bloomingdale.

Hint: Plaintiffs in personal injury cases must prove "proximate cause," which shows that the defendant's negligent behavior was directly related to the plaintiff's injuries.


Enough Blame To Go Around

In exchange for workers' compensation, beneficiaries agree to give up their right to sue their employers for the tort of negligence. However, this compensation bargain does not prevent injured workers from filing a liability insurance claim against anyone else outside the business who may have been even partly responsible for the accident. In the event that a worker files both a workers' compensation claim and a private liability insurance claim, the workers' compensation system automatically has a lien against any compensation recovered from the liable outside person or business (known as the "third party"). This means that any damages recovered from the third party must be repaid to workers' compensation for money it paid for medical bills or lost wages.

If you've been hurt at work and have any questions about worker's compensation, please call our office today to schedule a free initial consultation. Our lawyers have broad experience with a large number of personal injury cases, from automobile accidents to medical malpractice. We can make sure that you get what you deserve. Call 630-352-4345 today to make an appointment. And, of course, we are happy to take these cases on a contingency basis. That means you don't pay until you win. Our offices are located at 107 S. Third St., Bloomingdale.

Hint: Prior to the implementation of workers' compensation, injured workers had to prove that employers were negligent in order to gain any compensation for lost wages and medical bills.


It's A Crime... And A Tort

While criminal actions are prosecuted in criminal court, they may also prompt a civil case if a plaintiff suffers injury as a result. For instance, if one person assaulted and battered another, the action would constitute a crime that would be punishable in court. The state would then prosecute the offender on behalf of society, not on behalf of the victim. Any fine handed out against the defendant as a sentence would not go to the victim but to the government. That same incident of assault and battery could also give rise to an action under tort law whereby the injured party could sue the defendant for causing injury. Any court-ordered compensation would go to the injured person.

If you have been hurt by someone else and believe that you are due recompense for your suffering through a civil tort, then please call our office today. One of our attorneys will schedule a free initial consultation to discuss the merits of your case. We provide experienced and aggressive representation in cases of personal injury, including auto accidents and medical malpractice. We will fight hard to get you the money that you deserve. In addition, we take these cases on a contingency basis, which means you don't pay unless you win. Call 866-402-0174 today. Our office is located at 107 S. Third St., Bloomingdale.

Hint: While the standard of proof in criminal cases requires prosecutors to prove their version of events "beyond a reasonable doubt," only "preponderance of evidence" is required in civil cases.


Who's Taking The Fall For Your Injuries?

If you fell and hurt yourself on a neighbor's property as a result of his or her negligence, would you sue? Some people would shrug off their injuries, not wanting to disrupt cordial neighborly relations. However, not wanting to "rock the boat" may leave injured people drowning in medical bills and lost wages. The fact is that most people do not know the full extent of their injuries or how long they might last. Nor are they aware of how expensive medical treatment or the recuperation process might be. If you are seriously hurt due to the negligence of someone else, you are entitled to compensation for your injuries. That is why property owners purchase homeowners' insurance with liability coverage.

If you have been injured by someone's negligence, you deserve remuneration. Our lawyers provide aggressive and expert representation for victims of any sort of personal injury case, from slips-and-falls to automobile accidents. We will work hard to make sure that any future medical expenses are taken care of — because you can't know now how expensive they will be. Call 630-352-4345 today to make an appointment for a free initial consultation. And, of course, we are happy to take these cases on a contingency basis. That means you don't pay until you win. Our offices are located at 107 S. Third St., Bloomingdale.

Hint: Without a lawyer to represent your legal interests, you would be negotiating in the blind with an experienced insurance agent if you were to entertain and accept an immediate settlement offer for your injuries.


Wrongful Death Lawsuits

When a person dies due to the negligence or other type of unjust action of another, the victim's survivors are entitled to monetary damages. In effect, wrongful death lawsuits filed in civil court ensure that negligence victims' rights to be compensated for their injuries do not perish along with them. This has not always been the case. Under "common law," which consists of general legal principles that have passed from England to the United States over the centuries, it was not possible to make a wrongful death claim because it was thought that the claim went the way of the deceased victim. However, wrongful death statutes that have been passed by states in subsequent years have corrected this injustice.

If you have lost a loved one due to someone's negligence, please call our law offices today. No amount of money can make up for your pain and loss, but we know that you deserve some remuneration for your losses. Our attorneys provide aggressive and experienced representation for survivors of wrongful deaths, as well as for personal injury victims. Call 630-352-4345 today to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss the merits of your case. Our office is located at 107 S. Third St., Bloomingdale.

Hint: Any damage awards received from a successful wrongful death suit belong to the deceased's estate and may later pass to others as directed by the deceased's will.


A Measured Approach

A defendant who is found liable in a personal injury case will be directed to pay damages, which are usually measured in terms of monetary compensation. However, the very nature of pain and suffering makes it difficult to measure in a dollar amount. This broad concept includes both the physical pain associated with the injury as well as the recovery for mental suffering associated with bodily disfigurement. On top of these elements is the loss of enjoyment in relation to life. In the case of an avid recreational athlete, for instance, the loss of a limb would be an exceedingly significant loss. An experienced attorney must put a price on such a loss and secure it for his or her client.

If you have been injured by someone's negligence, clearly you deserve remuneration, but how much? Determining a dollar amount can be a complicated process. Our lawyers have years of experience with a wide variety of personal injury cases and we can use our expertise to help you understand how much money you are due. Call 630-352-4345 today to make an appointment for a free initial consultation. And, of course, we are happy to take these cases on a contingency basis. That means you don't pay until you win. Our offices are located at 107 S. Third St., Bloomingdale.

Hint: Victims of negligence and wrongdoing are advised to keep a journal in which they record their personal thoughts about the tribulations resulting from their injuries.


Living Vicariously

Even though a person may have not caused an injury, the legal doctrine of "vicarious liability" may assign him or her liability for an injury to a person on the basis of his or her legal relationship to the person who did cause the injury. For example, if an employee were to cause injury to someone as a consequence of acting negligently, the responsibility could be passed to the employer. For this to happen, the negligent act must have been committed during the course of employment. A parent could also be held liable for the negligent act of a child. Both of these cases are concerned with the "law of agency," which makes one party the legal agent of another.

If you have been hurt through someone's negligence and have any questions about the applicability of vicarious liability, please call our office for an appointment today. We provide aggressive and experienced representation victims of personal injury, whether in an automobile accident, an on-the-job injury, or a simple slip-and-fall case. You get personal service from the initial free consultation through the final verdict. Call 630-352-4345 today to fight for the remuneration that you deserve. Our office is located at 107 S. Third St., Bloomingdale.

Hint: The legal doctrine of vicarious liability also goes by the name "imputed negligence."


Collecting A Money Judgment

Once plaintiffs win their civil cases, they can expect to receive payment of a money judgment forthwith. If not, the plaintiff should send a copy of the judgment to the defendant with a letter demanding payment. If the judgment amount is considerable, the plaintiff may want to consider allowing the defendant to pay in installments. If the defendant refuses to pay, the plaintiff may return to court and request a court order of execution entitling a law enforcement official to attach property belonging to the defendant or to garnish wages. This action is facilitated by the fact that the court requires that defendants fill out a form listing all of their assets at the time the judgment is entered against them.

Of course, before you start worrying about collecting your remuneration, you need to win your case. We have years of experience with a wide variety of personal injury cases and will personally fight hard to make sure that you get the money that you are due. Call 630-352-4345 today to make an appointment for a free initial consultation. And, of course, we are happy to take these cases on a contingency basis. That means you don't pay until you win. Our offices are located at 107 S. Third St., Bloomingdale.

Hint: Although the court will try to help plaintiffs collect the money judgments owed them, it cannot guarantee payment.


Inflicting Intentional Harm

One category of claims made in civil lawsuits is called intentional wrongs (willful torts), which range from assault to invasion of privacy. Each of these wrongs involves intent, which is the desire to bring about a result or acting in a manner that is nearly certain to bring about a particular result. One thing to bear in mind is that intentional torts usually have a shorter statute of limitation (the time in which to sue) than negligence actions. Thus, time is of the essence when contemplating bringing suit for intentional wrongs. Whenever you have suffered injury as the result of another's actions, whether intentional or not, consult an attorney about your rights.

If you've been hurt through someone else's negligence — whether in an auto accident or on-the-job accident or just walking down the street — you deserve compensation for your injury. If an insurance company has been giving you're the run-around, then you need to call our office for an appointment today. Our attorneys provide aggressive and experienced representation for victims of personal injury. You get personal and dedicated service from a lawyer who wants to make sure that you get what you deserve. Call 630-352-4345 today to make an appointment for a free initial consultation. Our office is located at 107 S. Third St., Bloomingdale.

Hint: Intentional infliction of emotional distress involves purposeful behavior designed to cause severe mental anguish in another person.


The majority of civil lawsuits never go to trial because the parties may agree to settle the case at any point in a lawsuit. Thus, a compromise between opposing parties can take place from the time the lawsuit is filed up to the point at which the case has been tried but before the jury reaches a verdict. A settlement consists of an agreement by the plaintiff to accept money in return for dropping the action against the injuring party. While the plaintiff's lawyer may offer a realistic assessment as to whether the lawsuit based on the plaintiff's claim will ultimately be successful, the final decision of whether or not to accept a settlement offer rests solely with the plaintiff.

Of course, just because a settlement doesn't involve a juried trial doesn't mean you don't need a lawyer's advice and assistance to deal with the complexities of a settlement. How much do you deserve, in light of your injuries and your possible future medical bills? What's fair and reasonable for you and your family? Our lawyers have years of experience with a wide variety of personal injury cases. We will personally fight hard to make sure that you get the money that you are due. Call 630-352-4345 today to make an appointment for a free initial consultation. We are happy to take these cases on a contingency basis. That means you don't pay until you win. Our offices are located at 107 S. Third St., Bloomingdale.

Hint: If you are injured in an auto accident, never agree to an insurance company's settlement offer without consulting a lawyer.


Insult To Injury?

It's difficult enough to be forced out of work by a job-related injury without facing a challenge to a workers' compensation claim. To help the process along and better ensure the likelihood of collecting the benefits due them, those injured on the job should make sure that their employers have filed a workers' compensation report and given the injured worker a copy. In anticipation of a possible denial of claims that leads to an appeal, injured workers should also have copies of everything in their workers' compensation files and their medical records. All medical reports should be answered completely and include how the injury is related to employment, a full diagnosis, the course of treatment, and any permanent/partial disability rating.

If you have been hurt and have any questions about worker's compensation, or any other legal issue, please call our office today. We provide aggressive and experienced representation for victims of personal injury, including auto accidents, slips and falls, and, of course, on-the-job injuries. You've been through enough — you deserve to get recompense for your time and your pain. Call 630-352-4345 today to make an appointment for a free initial consultation. Our office is located at 107 S. Third St., Bloomingdale.

Hint: Workers filing workers' compensation claims should save "notice of decision" letters and note the name of the judge and how many days they have to appeal.


What We Have In Common

The American system of civil law is based on England's common law system, which was designed to secure the rights of individuals and prevent the governmental seizure of property without due process of law. This unwritten law adheres to the principles that every person is responsible for his or her wrongdoing and that, for every wrongdoing, there is a remedy. The judge decided disputes based on acceptable social customs of the time, or used common sense to make a ruling that was fair and just. These rulings (precedents) became the law for all similar disputes. In this country, "case law" has grown out of judges' decisions to permit wronged persons to recover damages when no previous law addresses a situation.

Because civil law is based on a patchwork of precedents from earlier rulings and on the English common law, it can get very complicated. That's why you need a lawyer who is thoroughly conversant with all aspects of civil law. That's why you need to call our office today. We have years of experience with a wide variety of personal injury cases. You deserve a lawyer who will fight hard to make sure that you get the money that you are due. Call 630-352-4345 today to make an appointment for a free initial consultation. We are happy to take these cases on a contingency basis. That means you don't pay until you win. Our offices are located at 107 S. Third St., Bloomingdale.

Hint: Case law is the American equivalent of English common law.


Crash Course

It is an unfortunate fact of life that there is a good likelihood that, at some point, you will be involved in a car crash. While many of these occurrences are accidents, others result from the carelessness or recklessness of another driver. In such cases, would you know what to do to protect yourself and your legal rights? First, it is necessary to call the police and establish a police report that accurately reflects your recollection of events. It is also of great benefit to interview witnesses and get their comments and phone numbers. If necessary, also seek medical attention. In no case should a person involved in an accident ever admit wrongdoing or apologize for his or her actions.

If you have been involved in a car crash, your second phone call (after the police) should be to a good lawyer who can provide experienced and aggressive representation. That's why you should write this down our name and this number: 630-352-4345. The insurance companies' lawyers will work hard to make sure that they don't have to pay any more than absolutely necessary — that's why you need someone to fight for you. We will provide the thoughtful expert representation that you deserve. Call today to make an appointment for a free initial consultation to discuss the merits of your case. And remember that we will be happy to take cases like this on a contingency basis. Our office is located at 107 S. Third St., Bloomingdale.

Hint: If you are involved in a car crash, use your cellphone to take pictures of the crash scene if you are able.


This Is Personal!

Victims of crimes soon realize that criminal cases focus on punishing the offender and deterring him or her from committing further crimes. Even though crime victims may have endured injury, lost time from work, and endured pain and suffering, criminal cases have little to do with compensating them for their losses. With this in mind, victims may pursue civil actions in efforts to gain compensation for the wrongs perpetrated against them. Doing so moves victims from roles as mere witnesses in criminal cases to a position in which they are in control. As plaintiffs in civil cases, victims can work with their attorneys to make themselves whole again or as they were prior to the injurious act committed against them.


If you have been the victim of a crime, or hurt through someone's negligence, then you deserve remuneration. If you are thinking about pursuing a civil case, then you need to call our office today. We have years of experience providing thoughtful and aggressive representation in a wide variety of civil and personal injury cases. You deserve a lawyer who will fight hard to make sure that you get the money that you are due. Call 630-352-4345 today to make an appointment for a free initial consultation. We are happy to take these cases on a contingency basis. That means you don't pay until you win. Our offices are located at 107 S. Third St., Bloomingdale.

Hint: A civil suit must be filed within a certain period of time for the claim to be valid.


Reckless Behavior

Most civil cases involve torts (wrongdoings) that can be ascribed to either negligent or intentional conduct. In addition, there is what is known as "willful and wanton" behavior, otherwise known as reckless conduct. Such actions are generally defined as unreasonable conduct committed under circumstances in which the person knew that his or her conduct created an unreasonable risk of physical harm, and that the probability was relatively high that harm would occur. Thus, the person who commits the willful and wanton tort is aware of the danger but is indifferent to it. In a sense, reckless conduct has some attributes of both negligence and intentional torts. Those on the receiving end of such action can pursue a legal remedy.

If you have been hurt due to someone's willful and wanton recklessness, then you deserve compensation for your pain and suffering. If you are thinking about pursuing a case, then you need to call our office for an appointment today. Our experienced and aggressive attorneys have years of providing expert representation in a wide variety of civil and personal injury cases. You deserve recompense and you need a lawyer to help you get it. Call 630-352-4345 today to make an appointment for a free initial consultation. Our offices are located at 107 S. Third St., Bloomingdale.

Hint: Willful and wanton negligence is action undertaken in conscious disregard of another's rights and with awareness that the defendant's conduct probably would cause injury to another.