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Protect your rights as a consumer and patient – You don’t have to surrender to arbitration

With every signature, every click and broken seal, you are potentially waiving a fundamental right—to have your dispute resolved by a jury. The American Association for Justice (AAJ), I am a former Parliamentarian, recently published a report revealing the extent to which American jurisprudence, federal statutes, and corporations have conspired to force consumers to arbitrate their claims rather than bring them to court (view here).

Personal injury plaintiffs have the most to lose in this equation. Arbitrations traditionally favor the defendant in form and procedure. For instance, many nursing homes and assisted living facilities will include a binding arbitration agreement in admission or resident agreements. However, when a loved one is entering into this transaction, they are hardly attentive to their rights in the event that they fall victim to professional negligence, rather they are concerned about the level of health care in their new home.

Consumers need to look at the fine print, especially when they could be injured at the hands of another. Don’t be afraid to ask about the details of the transaction and even reject the arbitration agreement. In many cases, it may not be a condition of providing goods or services but you certainly won’t know until you ask; it is always the best time to consult your attorney, before you give up your rights.

The healthcare system is not part of the equation when considering your own medical malpractice claim

Stunningly high healthcare costs are a constant topic of public debate. The blame gamers cast aspersions far and wide targeting the claimed impact of medical malpractice lawsuits. Time and time again independent studies have disproved this theory. Most recently Johns Hopkins University published a study that demonstrates what little impact medical malpractice claims have on healthcare costs. Studying six years worth of data compiled by the National Practitioner Data Bank, researchers found that high verdicts and settlements in medical malpractice cases account for less than one percent of the annual amount expended on healthcare in the U.S. The data showed that plaintiffs predominantly recovered high verdict and settlement amounts in cases where the patient was killed or injured while under the age of one; develops brain damage, quadriplegia or requires lifelong care; or suffers an anesthesia error. Research also shows that states with damage caps on malpractice claims do not see a commensurate reduction in malpractice insurance rates that would incentivize physicians to practice in the state. Illinois attempted to impose such caps on damages but the measure was struck down by our state supreme court.

The reality is that humans practice medicine on humans and medical mistakes are going to be made. Medical malpractice insurance exists to protect both the doctor and the patient for these inevitabilities. Patients should not be deterred by the phantom impact that medical malpractice claims have on the healthcare system when deciding to pursue a claim for an incident of suspected medical malpractice. Knowledge is power; investigating your potential claim and understanding the options for obtaining compensation for your losses is integral to making an informed, responsible decision about your future. If you or a loved one has been injured due to a mistake by a healthcare provider or medical professional, you owe it to yourself to consult an experienced Illinois attorney regarding your case. You may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and other damages.

American Trial Lawyers

Laird Ozmon recently attended the American Trial Lawyers (ATLA a/k/a AAJ) Board meeting and met with key candidates addressing compelling social justice issues, including Angus King of Maine and Joe Donnelly of Indiana, among others. We pledged our commitment to keep the constitutional safeguards protecting plaintiffs.

Laird M. Ozmon Elected American Association for Justice Parliamentarian

AAJ (formerly Association of Trial Lawyers of America – ATLA) closed its annual meeting today with the ascension of Laird M. Ozmon to the national office of Parliamentarian. AAJ is the national organization for plaintiff trial lawyers in the United States. Mr. Ozmon, a former president of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association and longtime active member of AAJ has most recently served on its Executive Committee and its Board of Governors. He will continue his work on behalf of plaintiffs nationwide securing justice working from Capital Hill to local courtrooms. His track record in the field of person injury litigation ensured his selection as a 2010/2011 Illinois Super Lawyer. Mr. Ozmon, a graduate of Loyola Law School, Chicago, Illinois, practices throughout the United States with his principle office, the Law Offices of Laird M. Ozmon, Ltd., in Joliet, Illinois. Today he balances an active practice that includes personal injury matters such as major medical malpractice, product liability, and motor vehicle cases with his duties as an officer of the AAJ. From Parliamentarian Mr. Ozmon will ascend to the position of national AAJ president.

Illinois Supreme Court Modifies General Cautionary Instruction to Allow Juror Questioning of Witnesses

Effective July 1, 2012 Illinois Pattern Jury Instruction 1.01 has been modified to permit jurors to ask questions of certain witnesses.  This instruction and corresponding comments are in line with the recent adoption of Illinois Supreme Court Rule 243 that authorizes judges to let jurors submit written questions in civil jury trials. While individual judges have discretion to hammer out the procedural details, IPI 1.01 provides the framework. Judges will be the ultimate arbiters of the form and submission of the questions; but this new approach will give the jurors the ability to clarify testimony or explore facts that they deem significant. This is a positive step in integrating jurors into the fact-finding process that is emblematic of our extraordinary American justice system.

Check out new IPI 1.01

Law Offices of Laird M. Ozmon Represents Former NFL Players in Lawsuits

The Law Offices of Laird M. Ozmon now represents former NFL players in lawsuits stemming from the NFL’s conduct in actively ignoring and withholding medical proof that NFL players were subjecting themselves to long term health problems caused by concussions, sub-concussive events and ordinary repetitive contact. Several independent medical studies by renowned research universities have shown that NFL players are at great risk of developing severe neurological impairments. If you are a former NFL player, or you know a former NFL player, please encourage him to contact our offices at 815-727-7700. We will have him properly evaluated and take appropriate legal action on his behalf. Laird’s law firm is associated with one of the major law firms co-ordinating and directing the nationwide litigaton.

Weight-loss Surgery Led to Woman Losing Her Legs

JOLIET, Ill. (CBS)
A weight-loss surgery turned into a nightmare and cost a woman both of her legs.
CBS Chicago

 

CBS 2 Investigator Dave Savini examines allegations that she was not properly monitored or treated, in part, because she was hospitalized during a holiday.

Life for Mary Beth Ruphard has changed drastically since last Thanksgiving. Weighing 278 pounds, she went to Provena St. Joseph Medical Center, in Joliet, for surgery to beat her battle with obesity.

“I just wanted to live longer, live better you know, said Ruphard. “I had diabetes (and) hypertension as my risk factors.”

Ruphard had weight-loss surgery in early November, then was back in the hospital for surgery to repair a perforation. Then, on Thanksgiving morning, she started complaining about her legs.

“I did complain to a nurse,” said Ruphard. “I say, ‘my legs, they are aching and they are tingling.’”

Read the full story

The Life of a Personal Injury Lawsuit

Personal injury claims include motor vehicle accidents, slip and fall cases such as falls on sidewalks, in stores, restaurants, or other premises, products liability for defective or unsafe products, professional negligence such as the negligence of a doctor or dentist, and other incidents that result in injury to the person. Personal injury may also include an injury to your reputation such as defamation when someone states something false about you to another person. It is important to retain a qualified personal injury attorney to represent you.

We want you to know what happens once you have entrusted your personal injury claim to us.

First we conduct a thorough investigation of your claim. This investigation will include obtaining all of the documentation of the incident and your injury, photographs and videos, as well as contacting any witnesses and obtaining their statements. We may consult with your treating physicians to determine your prognosis for recovery. We will also seek to determine if there is any insurance coverage and the amount of the coverage.

After completing our initial investigation, if we deem it appropriate we will contact the representative for the other party’s insurance company to attempt to settle the claim before filing a lawsuit. You must have completed your medical treatment and been given your prognosis by your physician before we can negotiate a settlement on your behalf. We will not settle the case without your authority.

If we are unable to reach a settlement, we will prepare and file a complaint against all potentially culpable defendants and place summons for service on the defendants with the sheriff. This initiates the lawsuit.

The defendants have a period of time to answer the complaint after they are served with the summons and complaint, usually thirty days. The defendant may answer the complaint or file a motion to dismiss if they believe they have grounds to defeat the lawsuit at the early stages. If the court denies the motion to dismiss, the parties are at issue and the case proceeds in court.

The parties then initiate discovery. This is a process of investigation where each party may obtain information from the opposing party and any witnesses on their behalf that may be used at trial. Discovery takes the form of written interrogatories, production requests, and requests to admit as well as oral discovery that consists of taking testimony of all parties and witnesses via deposition. We work hard to prepare you and make you comfortable when you give your deposition during discovery.

During the course of discovery it may be necessary for each side to retain a paid expert witness to testify on some aspect of the case. For instance, we may have to obtain an expert witness to testify that your injuries are permanent, or that the product you were injured by was defective, or that the defendant physician was negligent. The expenses for experts testifying on your behalf will be paid out of your recovery according to your contract with us.

After discovery is completed the judge sets a trial date. The judge may also recommend mediation or a pre-trial settlement conference. The amount of time between the filing of the lawsuit and the actual trial date varies greatly depending upon the extent of the injury, the number of witnesses, the court calendar, and other variables. In many cases, the process takes a minimum of two years. Notwithstanding this, the parties can engage in settlement negotiations at any time and the case may be resolved to your satisfaction before trial.

You can be assured that we will work tirelessly to minimize the stress of the litigation and get your case to a swift and satisfying conclusion.

The Most Important Steps to Take When You Are Injured in a Car Accident, Fall, or Suffer Other Personal Injury

#1 CONTACT THE AUTHORITIES.
Depending on the type and location of the injury, you should contact the police or notify the manager of the premises immediately following the injury. Make sure that you obtain contact information for the authorities to obtain any documentation of the incident.

#2 GET MEDICAL ATTENTION.
You should seek medical attention immediately.

#3 FOLLOW YOUR DOCTORS’ COURSE OF TREATMENT.
Once you have addressed your immediate medical needs after the accident, make sure that you follow medical advice and follow-up with your physician and/or any physicians to whom you were referred as directed.

#4 CONTACT YOUR INSURANCE CARRIER.
If you have insurance coverage that might apply such as automobile insurance, contact your insurance carrier to notify them of the incident.

#5 DO NOT SPEAK TO ANYONE REPRESENTING THE OTHER PARTY INVOLVED.
Oftentimes representatives from the insurance company for the other party or the other party herself will contact you, do not under any circumstances speak to anyone. The first person you should speak to is an attorney who you seek to hire to represent you and look out for your interests.

#6 PRESERVE THE EVIDENCE.
After you have received the proper medical attention and taken care of yourself make sure that you preserve any evidence that might be relevant to the cause of the accident, the injuries that were suffered as a result of the accident, property damage, and the location and circumstances of the accident. This could include photographs or videos of you and the injuries, the scene, the vehicles or objects involved, copies of medical records, police reports, names and phone numbers of witnesses, and anything else that you believe might have bearing on your case. It is also wise to keep a journal of the pain and suffering you have experienced as well as the limitations you have suffered as a result of your injuries.

#7 CONTACT A PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY AT YOUR EARLIEST OPPORTUNITY.
The sooner you retain a personal injury attorney, the sooner your rights and interests will be protected to give you the best advantage in recovering monetary compensation for your personal injury. Remember you have a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit under state law so the sooner you retain an attorney and get him working for you the better. We are happy to meet with you for a free consultation at your home or in the office when it is most convenient.

Beware of Medical Advice Over the Phone

In a heart-breaking case, the Illinois Appellate Court has decided that a six-week-old newborn who died of bacterial meningitis had no patient-relationship with the hospital that advised her parents to give her Tylenol and call her doctor in the morning. Even though the child had been a patient at the hospital on four recent occasions, and her mother called seeking medical advice after being unable to reach her pediatrician, there was no such relationship and the hospital had no duty to the child for purposes of pursing a medical malpractice case. In rendering such a decision the court will consider whether the patient knowingly seeks a physician’s services and the physician knowingly accepts patient. The court viewed the fact that the hospital representative dispensed medical advice as deficient to prove that he knowingly accepted the child as a patient. This is simply not enough to create a physician-patient relationship. The result would have been different had her pediatrician’s office given the advice since they had an ongoing relationship. This case serves as a reminder that hospitals cannot substitute for the ongoing physician-patient relationship. If you have no access to a regular physician and you or a loved one needs medical care you need to seek care in person, you can’t phone it in.

Estate of Kundert v. Illinois Valley Community Hospital, No. 3-11-0007 (Ill. App. Ct. 3rd Dist., January 10, 2012).

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