Illinois Plaintiff's Lawyer Personal Injury Blog- Legal News and Insights from Champaign Urbana Attorneys Koester & Bradley, LLP

Credible Witness Statements are Important in Personal Injury Cases

4/27/2016

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Don't Let Insurance Adjusters Deprive you of the Compensation You Deserve


No one ever expects to be injured in an auto accident. Unfortunately, automobile accidents happen all the time. Regardless of whether you were driving home from work or going to the grocery store, you deserve to be compensated for your injuries if you are the victim of the negligence of others. The last thing you want to do is end up making a mistake that could cause you to lose out on the money owed to you. Avoid these three mistakes when it comes to  automobile accidents and your safety.  Unfortunately, directly after an auto wreck, the last thing going through your mind is preserving your right to compensation.  That is just fine, as long as you remember a few simple facts, by the time you first meet with your accident attorney, you can be well on your way to the compensation you deserve.  Avoid this three common errors. 

Settling too quickly.

Insurance companies will often try to get you to settle your case fairly quickly.  In fact, insurance adjusters receive extensive training in learning how to force a victim to take a fast and low settlement. The quicker they settle, the less likely you are to fully understand the scope of your injuries and how much the whole accident is going to cost you.  The Illinois legislatures knows this, and this is why the Statute of Limitations in Illinois is actually two years. Even though you might need the money now, you are better off waiting until you are close to being fully recovered. This makes sure you can claim everything you lost from the incident.  Furthermore, the settlement achieved by retaining an experienced local attorney are almost always higher than negotiating on your own.  

Giving statements on pain medication.

Many insurance companies will try to get you to give a statement right after being in an accident. If you are taking pain medication, you need to refrain from giving any statements until you are completely coherent and able to understand what is going on.  Remember, you are never required to give a statement to the insurance company for the negligent driver.  Your contract is only with your insurance company not with that of the defendant driver. Additionally, insurance adjusters want to take statements as soon after the accident as possible since it is less likely that you are in severe pain.  Due to increased levels of adrenaline, the pain seldom sets in until weeks after the wreck.  Finally, bear in mind that you are always permitted to have your attorney present when you give your statement.

Not hiring a trained lawyer.

When dealing with an auto accident case, you need to make sure you have a trained lawyer working on your side. They will deal with the insurance company for you so you can focus on recovering from the accident.  This seems obvious, and the horrible attorney ads on television, billboards, and on the radio constantly state it, but the reality is, insurance companies will never take an individual seriously until a lawyer is hired.  This is not a positive situation, but it is a reality.  
Contact us to schedule a consultation about your case.  If we can help we will let you know and work through the process with you from start to finish.  If we can't help you, we will let you know and still try to help you through.  No hard sell, just good advice. As always, you don't pay us until we recover. 

Thank Your Local Medical Malpractice Lawyer

4/26/2016

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According to Harvard, Medical Malpractice is a Positive Force


"Medical Malpractice lawsuits cost us all in healthcare premiums."  This is the faulty rhetoric put forth by certain entities opposed to civil lawsuits.   Health Affairs, a public policy journal, has recently published a study that may prove otherwise.

Harvard researchers published the study the primary finding of which was that the medical liability system (liability for negligent actions imposed on medical professionals) accounts for a measly 2.4 percent of American Health Care expenditures.  In fact, the cost of medical malpractice lawsuits alone is well below one percent of the $55.6 billion spent on health care in the U.S. in 2008.
Health and Human Services recently published data from 1998 showing that American spend $7,681 per person  on health care, the Harvard study results suggest that only $185 of that amount goes toward malpractice insurance, “defensive” medical tests, legal costs, and the verdicts and settlements paid to patients.  Hardly the problem that ant-malpractice community would have the public believe.

“Physician and insurer groups like to collapse all conversations about cost growth in health care to malpractice reform,” said Amitabh Chandra, one of the authors and a professor of public policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He points out further, “the amount of defensive medicine is not trivial, but it’s unlikely to be a source of significant savings.”  Clearly the lobbying and media relations efforts on behalf of the Insurance and physician groups are not telling the full story.

Medical malpractice is a reality.  Doctors make mistakes, as do nurses, physician assistants, and other medical professionals. Individuals that have been victims of medical malpractice can file lawsuits in relation to failure to diagnose a medical condition, surgical complications, and improper coordination of hospital staff, and the violation of hospital protocols and policies.

Patients and families that have questions regarding a potential medical malpractice action should contact experienced civil litigation attorneys.   Most take cases on a contingency fee basis,   this allows medical negligence attorneys provide access to dedicated counsel and other legal resources without substantial costs to the patients and families.

In Illinois, a medical expert must certify all medical malpractice cases before the lawsuit is allowed to proceed in court.  Therefore, no "frivolous"  medical malpractice lawsuits can reach the court system in Illinois.   Thus, another myth regarding medical malpractice is dispelled.
Unfortunately, the Insurance and Physician Group lobby has plenty of money to spend on swaying and misinforming the public--The Illinois Plaintiff's lawyer only has the facts.   Let us know how we can help.

The Complicated Problem of Indexed Annuities

4/24/2016

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Indexed Annuities Offer Large Profits and Commissions for Insurance Companies, but Questions Remain as to Whether these Products are Good for Clients


Koester & Bradley | Securities Attorneys

Since the first Equity-Indexed Annuities appeared in the product lines of insurance companies in the mid 1990’s, significant confusion has abounded.   These annuities can be classified somewhere in the void left between fixed annuities and variable annuities.  In this regard, many individual investors are naturally attracted to the perceived benefit derived by Equity-Indexed Annuities.  Benefits are described as including, protection from market downturns due to the fixed interest rate portion of the annuity, and the ability to reap the benefits of market upturns due to the variable interest rate portion of the annuity.  The concept seems simple, but the simplicity surrounding Equity-Indexed Annuities ends abruptly.

What do I Need to Know?

What do I Need to Know?

Whether the individual investor is considering purchasing an Equity-Indexed Annuity, or already has, it is vital to be aware of the following complexities make the product as enigmatic as the now famous Collateralized Debt Obligation which is at least partially responsible for the financial meltdown of 2009-2011:
  • Equity-Indexed Annuities are products, not investments.  An Equity-Indexed Annuity is a contract that is actually purchased from an insurance company through a third party, usually a broker or registered financial advisor.  The broker or advisor receives a commission, and the insurance company immediately goes to work investing the contract price in order to make as much money as possible during the time that the investor pays over the annuity amount.   The investor hopes to receive the desired income stream later in life.
  • Registered Financial Advisors are selling Equity-Indexed Annuities.  This does not seem like a big issue at first glance, but, registered financial advisors owe a very high, fiduciary, duty to clients.  Insurance brokers only owe clients the duty to suggest “suitable” products--although the Department of Labor has made plans to change this.  As a reference, lawyers and executors of estates also owe fiduciary duties to those they protect.  The major problem becomes when a registered financial advisor, owing a fiduciary duty to the client sells an Equity-Indexed Annuity, which, while suitable, is not actually the best financial decision for the client.  Significant legal liability may await the advisor, while financial disarray may await the client.   Generally speaking, if a financial professional has designed a “financial plan” for the client, a fiduciary relationship may exist.
  • Dividends are not usually afforded to the client.  While a particular Equity-Indexed Annuity may offer baseline interest rate, the individual investor that purchases an Equity-Indexed Annuity will likely miss out on reaping any dividends and any accompanying reinvestment.
  • The Index used to calculate your Return may not be the S&P.  While Equity-Indexed Annuities are always tied to a particular index, the index that may vary.  The index used to correlate returns in an Equity-Indexed Annuity is vitally important.  Certain indices will always outperform others during certain periods of time.  Further, some Equity-Indexed Annuity contracts allow the insurance company to determine the base index that is to be used during various periods of time.  This determination may not always be in the best interest of the individual investor.
  • The Guarantee is only as good as the company promising to pay.  All investors alive today have experienced too big to fail.  For example, on March 11, 2008, AIG introduced its “Global Bonus Index fund” to great fanfare.  An Equity-Indexed Annuity is an insurance contract and nothing more.
  • Fees abound.  An investor will likely be subject to early surrender fees, death benefit surrenders if moving from another annuity to an Equity-Indexed Annuity, and the most import fee of all, the fee that applies if Equity-Indexed Annuity holders do not choose to annuitize.  The guaranteed minimum income benefit will likely only apply if you annuitize.


So Who Is Looking Out for Me?

Equity-Indexed Annuities are tied to equity markets. This opens the door to both state and federal securities regulators to become involved in the regulation of Equity-Indexed Annuities.

The Illinois Department of Securities has already taken action in certain Equity-Indexed Annuity cases.   While all insurance products are regulated at the state level, securities regulations are often be more stringent than insurance regulations.  This added level of governmental scrutiny does provide some protection to individual investors, but when purchasing a complex product such as an Equity-Indexed Annuity, there is no substitute for research and due diligence on the part of the individual investor.  The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, known as FINRA, also has literature available outlining in great detail the complexities of Equity-Indexed Annuities.

What Should I Do?

Educate yourself.  There is a tremendous amount of information on Equity-Indexed Annuities available on the internet.  Ask questions, constantly, to you insurance broker or advisor.  This is the only way to fully understand any insurance product; not to mention one as complex as Equity-Indexed Annuities.  Questions should include:

  • Are you a fiduciary?
  • What is your commission?
  • What index is the Equity-Indexed Annuity tied to?
  • Do I need to annuitize to receive my full benefit?
  • What early withdrawal fees apply?
  • What other penalties apply?
  • What is the AM Best Rating of the company with which my annuity was purchased from?
  • And most importantly, could the same projected income result be reproduced in a more cost effective, lower commission, format?

If you have any questions about Indexed Annuities or feel as though you may not have been told the full story, feel free to contact us.

Ryan Bradley Writes on Medical Devices on Recall Guide, Update on the Stryker Shape Match Cutting Guide

4/05/2016

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Ryan Bradley Describes How Medical Devices Make it to You

"If you have a company with a new medical device there are two primary to bring your device to the American market by way of the FDA. One process is called “Premarket Notification,” often called the “510(k) process.” The other is called Premarket Approval and is known by its submission acronym “PMA.” There is however, a radical difference between the two approval processes."
Recall Guide Koester & Bradley
Over at Recall Guide, a new consumer protection website focused on informing the public about dangerous drugs and devices, Partner Ryan Bradley describes how medical devices make it to market.  Most residents of Central Illinois are aware of the wide variety of medical devices on the market but there is little understanding as to the process that companies such as Johnson & Johnson and Stryker must go through in order to bring a device to a patient.  Even fewer people are aware of the 510(k) process and how fast a new implant, metal on metal hips for example, make it out of development and into the bodies of Champaign Urbana.  

Read more at Recall Guide and stay tuned form more article from Koester & Bradley lawyers.  


A Lessor Known Stryker Recall In Illinois: The Stryker Triathlon Knee Cutting Guide

In early 2013 comma as much of the medical device industry was focused on the epidemic of metal-on-metal hips, Stryker Orthopedics in conjunction with the FDA recalled its Shape Match cutting guide which was included in the installation of the Triathlon Knee System. This recall covered all lot numbers of the Cutting Guide produced between May of 2011 to November of 2012. It is important to keep in mind that the Stryker shape match recall was small in comparison to the more well-known Stryker metal-on-metal hip recall. While there were fewer incidences of failure, the shape match cutting guide cost serious injuries to patients including chronic pain, knee fracture, Knee instability, revision surgery, and permanent decreased mobility. Koester and Bradley has reason to believe that Stryker Triathlon knees using the Shape Match cutting guide were implanted in Central Illinois and across the Midwest. Individuals who received a Stryker knee implant between 2011 and early 2013, and are experiencing problems, are well advised their positions as well as an experienced who handles medical device.

Illinois Plaintiffs Lawyer Personal Injury Blog by Koester & Bradley, LLP 

Legal News and safety tips with Illinois Impact from the Accident and Personal Injury Firm Koester & Bradley, LLP

Authors

Ryan R Bradley is a personal injury and litigation lawyer based in Champaign County Illinois focused on representing injured clients and businesses navigate the maze of litigation to financial recovery.  


Tom Koester is a personal injury attorney based in Champaign County in Central Illinois focused on representing the injured and victims of Medical Malpractice and Personal Injuries.