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

The Four Components of Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

10/25/2017

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Despite the Tort Reform "Fake News" Medical Malpractice Claims are Rare and Difficult

If you have recently had someone in your family become ill, injured, or even die at the hands of a medical professional, you may be able to file a medical malpractice claim.  Despite what you may have heard though, these claims, particularly in Illinois, are complicated and require a variety of steps to ensure that each claim is valid. Medical malpractice is defined as negligent, unskilled or improper treatment of a patient by a medical professional such as a nurse, doctor, dentist or pharmacist. Here, we'll explain what you need to know when it comes to successful  medical malpractice lawsuits.

Successful Malpractice Cases Mean Proving Four Elements 

If you’re considering filing a malpractice lawsuit, you and your attorney need to establish four elements:

Duty to provide medical care. The first thing you need to prove is that the health care professional had a duty to provide medical care in a reasonable and customary manner for a doctor or healthcare professional engaged in the same area of practice. This is not generally an issue once the medical professional agrees to treat the patient.  The complexities with respect to this element arise when there is a medical team caring for a patient.  

Standard of care violation. Next, you have to prove that the health care professional violated the standard of care. Usually, the courts will combine the standard of care within the area where the alleged incident took place as well as the national standards of care.  This is called the "locality rule" and is the case in Illinois. Both sides of the case will ask expert witnesses to testify as to the standards of care that have been established.

Injury sustained. Third, you need to prove the patient suffered a compensable injury. This can be a physical or emotional injury and is usually a combination of both.  It is this element that begins the uphill battle against the negligent doctor and their insurance company-supplied attorney.  Usually, the healthcare provider who committed the malpractice will have their own expert doctor who they will pay to testify that the injuries at issue in the case were not related to the deviation in the standard of care.  This underlines the importance of retaining a competent and local attorney. 

Conduct caused injury. The last thing you need to prove is that the injury was caused by the conduct on the part of the health care professional.  Otherwise known as causation, this can be the most difficult element to prove and is usually the one factors argued the most in a malpractice lawsuit.  Causation is established by an outside doctor analyzing the medical records in the case and determining that, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, the injuries might or could be caused by the negligence.
 
For more information on medical malpractice claims,  contact us. We will sit with you, review your case and unique circumstances and advise you accordingly.

Can Psychiatric Malpractice be Medical Malpractice in Illinois?

10/18/2017

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Mental Health Malpractice are possible in Illinois--but you will Need an Experienced Lawyer 

When you have undergone a trauma or are just looking to improve your mental or emotional health, your first step may be to seek out the help of a psychiatrist. As such, you have a certain expectation that your psychiatrist will help to foster some kind of growth. Like when you seek out a medical professional to treat an injury, you are an entitled to a certain expectation that they will help or at least not hinder your treatment. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Just like with doctors, if your psychiatrist is behaving inappropriately, they can be sued for medical malpractice.
What Does Psychiatric Malpractice Include?
The unfortunate reality is that unlike medical malpractice suits in Illinois, psychiatric malpractice can be more difficult to identify and prove. While injuries treated poorly often have physical consequences, many inappropriate actions by a psychiatrist only manifest in the mind. This causes psychiatric malpractice to be woefully under-reported because patients aren’t sure where to turn or even if they were being abused.
Examples of psychiatric abuse include:
  • Engaging or attempting to engage in sexual relationships with patients
  • Prescribing medications not related to your emotional or mental issues
  • Abuse of a physical, verbal, or emotional nature
  • Breach of confidentiality
  • Negligent hospital care in a psychiatric facility

What to Do When Abuse Occurs?
Like with medical malpractice suits, patients in Illinois who are victimized by the negligent or abusive actions of a psychiatrist have the right to financial compensation. They simply have to seek it out. If you believe you have been a victim of your psychiatrist,  contact us today. The Law Office of Koester & Bradley can sit down with you and make sure you have a case for psychiatric malpractice as well as advise you on how to gather evidence to have the best possible case.

Stay Safe When It Gets Dark

10/16/2017

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Night driving is often the most dangerous time to drive, Koester & Bradley share tips to make it safer. 

Darkness triggers melatonin production, which tells the body that it's time to sleep. This causes drowsiness. Furthermore, people aren't nocturnal creatures by nature and therefore their vision is poorly suited for the dark. These facts mean that the hours after sunset is a dangerous time to drive. While headlights and tail lights make driving possible, they're a poor substitute for sunlight. Here are five tips for making your night driving a safer experience:
Check Your Lights
Make sure your headlights are properly aimed. Shine your car's headlights on your garage door and note the beams' reflections. If they point up, down, or off to the side, have your mechanic adjust them. Replace headlights, tail lights, and brake lights that are burnt out or appear dim. Keep them clean.
Keep Your Windshield and Glasses Clean
Dirt and grime covered glass scatters light. This produces glare when light passes through dirty windshields and glasses. Keep the inside and outside surfaces of both clean. Consider getting an anti-reflective coating on your glasses, which dramatically reduces glare.
Avoid Looking at the Headlights of Oncoming Traffic
The glare of oncoming headlights can cause temporary night blindness. To avoid this, look at the right side of your lane to guide your steering and use your peripheral vision to track oncoming traffic.
Get Plenty of Rest
Get seven or eight hours of sleep the night before a long road trip. Avoid driving at night when you feel physically or mentally exhausted. Therefore, hard manual labor or running a marathon should be avoided before your trip. This is also true for lengthy exams, interviews, and similar experiences that tap out your mental energy.
Drink Coffee When Needed
If you start feeling fatigued during your night drive, get off at an exit and drink a cup of coffee. If you're at a rest stop, a coffee works especially well after a 20 minute nap. While occasional coffee consumption is effective, don't rely on it too heavily. Your body will develop a caffeine tolerance that renders it less effective. At some point, even coffee won't prevent falling asleep at the wheel when your fatigue is sufficiently extreme.
If another's reckless or negligent driving injured you in an accident, our experienced lawyers can help.  Contact us today at Koester & Bradley, LLP.

You Are Not Fine: Premises Liability in Illinois

10/08/2017

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Fight the Urge to just say, "I'm Fine," after a fall (unless you know it's true)


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Human beings. If nothing else we are creatures of habit, especially in the Midwest where it is not uncommon for someone to say "sorry" when somebody else gets in their way.  We don't want to be a burden, and we sure don't want to inconvenience folks.

During the winter months, even unusually warm ones, it is not uncommon to encounter slippery conditions. Outside there is no shortage of snow and ice throughout our long winter, and moisture is often brought inside due to melt from people's shoes, or already there due to spills and leaky pipes.
When we fall we tend to get up as quickly as possible and say "I'm fine" when someone shows concern. Most of the time we are fine and the fall is nothing more than a momentary embarrassment, but sometimes severe damage arises.

But what if you're not fine? 
What happens when you slip and fall, but you are not fine? What if you begin showing symptoms of a debilitating injury after your fall? What if you are unable to work?

That is why we have  premises liability laws in Illinois and around the nation. Property owners, including business owners and homeowners, are responsible for maintaining safe premises.

These laws and statutes are not always clear-cut, and often involve the interpretation of intersection state statutes, common law, and local ordinances and guidelines.  For instance, in Illinois, property owners are actually NOT liable for the  "natural accumulation" of ice and snow on or near their premises.  There are a number of pertinent exceptions to this rule, but an attorney is frequently necessary to navigate these complicated waters.

Additionally, inside a building, property owners must have had the knowledge of the slippery floor or other dangerous condition in order to be found liable.  Again, exceptions exist, and an experienced local lawyer well-versed in personal injury cases will be necessary to prevail again savvy and disingenuous insurance adjusters.

Translation: if property owners are aware of something, it is their responsibility to take care of it quickly or at least notify people about the danger. This could mean mopping up a spill and placing a "wet floor" sign in the area, it could mean fixing a wobbly stair rail, or taking measures to avoid ice build-up on the sidewalk in front of the store.  Proving the knowledge is a difficult part of the equation.

The law allows for premises liability suits because innocent people should not be left to bear the burden of another's negligence, but the insurance industry and internal company policies often make handling these cases without an attorney frustrating, if not impossible. If you or a loved one has been hurt in a slip-and-fall accident,  contact us for a free case evaluation. No hard sell, just hard facts from an experienced attorney.

The Lighter Side of the Law: Litter Hurts

10/08/2017

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A Young Girl Like to Litter--Or Does She?

Legal news coming out of our nation's capitol involves a very young child and a citation for littering. Details are emerging as to how a two-year-old girl from Washington D.C. received a $75 ticket.  But things are not always what they seem.  Was this just "fake news."

Envelope in Alley
According to a report by  CBS 12 News, it was the discovery of an envelope with the child's name on it led to the fine. It was allegedly found on the ground in an alley near West Virginia Avenue, in the northeastern section of Washington D.C.
The child's parents related to reporters how they have always taught their daughter not to litter, so they viewed the ticket as quite ironic. In fact, when the citation arrived in the mail, their two-year-old reportedly said, "Littering, that's not good."

Inspector Firm on Fine
After the family received the citation, the girl's mother contacted the Department of Public Works (DPW) inspector who wrote up the report that led to the issuance of the citation. At first, the inspector insisted  the ticket would not be rescinded because the girl's name was on it. However, the public official eventually suggested that the ticket could be dismissed if the family provided proof of the child's age.

Official Visits “Scene of the Crime”
Eventually, a DPW official went to the neighborhood to look into the incident for himself. After the visit, he said the family would not have to pay the fine.
The little girl’s parents concluded that the envelope merely fell out of the trash when it was being taken to the dumpster in the alley.

We focus on personal injury, car accident, product liability and medical malpractice cases. To learn more about our legal services, please  contact us.  While Koester & Bradley enjoys looking at the lighter side of the law, we take recovering for our clients very seriously. 

Now That it is Raining, Be Careful Driving in Floods

10/04/2017

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Stay safe while driving during flood conditions in Champaign Illinois and Beyond.

With little rain in Illinois over the last few months, you must drive with extra caution when the sky actually opens up. Recent floods caused the deaths several people, including some trapped in their car by water. Therefore, we want to provide you with tips about  Automobile Accidents and Safety during floods.
  • Don't drive over water. You may think that the water is not too deep and that you could easily pass it so long as you drive slowly. However, though a stream may appear small, it could still be dangerous. Moreover, according to the National Weather Service, even twelve inches of moving water can sweep away a small car and two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles.
  • Drive cautiously. If you must over water, be cautious. Check to see whether other drives are passing over the water. How deep is the water? Is there debris moving through the water? Note that water can also damage roads, causing an unseen danger.
  • Drive defensively. Though you know to proceed with extra caution during fierce weather, not all drivers will do the same. Some drivers think they are invincible and will drive too fast or will not break fast enough to slow down. Be aware of your surroundings and other drivers at all times.
  • Remove distractions. Don't talk on your cell phone unless you are reporting an accident. Don't eat or put on make-up while driving. Watch the road. While these are good tips for any kind of weather, it is especially important during severe weather.
  • Get help. If you get stuck on the road because of waters, call your local police or fire department. If you become injured by another driver, contact your local authorities then contact us.

The DePuy Attune Knee Implant has Been linked to Increased Failures

10/02/2017

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The Attune Knee Implant is the Next in a Long Line of Defective Products from Johnson & Johnson

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Just like the DePuy ASR metal on metal hip, and the Pinnacle metal on metal hip, the Attune Knee made by DePuy, a wholly owned subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, has been linked to failures related to instability.  This mode of failure of the popular and heavily marketed knee prosthesis is serious and painful.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received an unusually high number of incident reports indicating early failure in the DePuy Attune® Knee Replacement System.  These failure report are generally submitted to the FDA directly from  the doctors and care providers that implant the device.  

These failures are occurring one month to two years after initial implantation, and patients are reporting loosening and pain. Loosening and pain are just the tip of the iceberg however as a full-on failure is the likely result.  To add to the problem, the knee was very popular and implanted in heavily in Central Illinois as well as across the country.  Koester & Bradley is at the forefront of the litigation.  

The DePuy Attune® Knee Replacement System came on the market in 2013 under the 510 (k) process and did not likely undergo a full FDA review.  Furthermore the release of the knee implant was right on the heels of the major ASR recall, so Johnson & Johnson certainly knew of the problems associated with implants.  The device was intended to last for 15-20 years, which was a major selling point for the DePuy company, but many patients have reported failure  within one month  to two years after the implantation.

If you or a loved one has experienced trouble with any knee implant, simply get in touch with us and we can determine if you may have a claim against the manufacturer.  Koester & Bradley will continue to provide updates on this developing story.


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.