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b2ap3_thumbnail_att-chris.jpgSometimes it is hard to know what ITLA is doing for you. Most of it goes on in Springfield and out of our view. But it involves knowing who is doing what to take away the rights of injured people and making sure we are there to bring the fight.

On Wednesday I testified in Springfield in front of the House Judiciary Committee. The topic was the “Public Duty Rule.” This rule is a holdover from the common law which has been the source of much confusion since the passage of the tort immunity act in 1965. The Public Duty Rule is this: local governments have no duty to provide services to any individual but only to the public as a whole. This rule is a form of sovereign immunity which originated in England and essentially means that the King is not liable no matter what he does to you. Sovereign immunity was eliminated by the 1970 Illinois Constitution with the caveat that the legislature can pass laws granting immunities. That was done previously with the Tort Immunity Act in 1965.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Screen-Shot-2017-03-17-at-3.30.32-PM.pngSexual Harassment in the workplace is unequivocally common. So when it happens, the victim should seek justice in court. That is every citizen’s right according to the Seventh Amendment.

However, countless employers include an “Arbitration Clause” in employee contracts. It’s an inconspicuous disclaimer that most people are unaware of. This clause essentially requires employees to waive their right to sue in the event of harassment or discrimination. “Arbitration” is just another word for mediation-- In which the company pulls aside the victim and the perpetrator to try and settle the dispute internally. That way, the company gets off scot-free. The employer doesn’t have to worry about a public lawsuit, about firing the guilty party, or about making sure in-office harassment doesn’t continue. The system is a pretty transparent. It allows the company to save it’s own skin. But the bottom line is, the clause doesn’t protect victims, it silences them.

In her recent essay, Gretchen Carlson wrote, “According to the National Employment Lawyers Association, in 2010 36 million employees — or roughly a third of the non-union workforce — were subject to mandatory arbitration for workplace disputes.” It’s been proven that employees lose in arbitration meetings far more often than they do in litigation trials. The win rate for employees in arbitration is only 21.4 percent, according to Alexander Colvin’s study. “An Empirical Study of Employment Arbitration: Case Outcomes and Processes”.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_att-chris.jpgThe following letter to the editor by ITLA President Christopher T. Hurley appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times on February 23, 2017.

In his budget address, Gov. Bruce Rauner said Illinois should emulate Massachusetts workers’ compensation system. However, following its lead would come at a great cost to our state’s taxpayers. Massachusetts doctors who care for those injured on the job are the lowest paid in the nation, which raises concerns about access to quality care.

If Illinois cuts the rate doctors are compensated to treat injured workers to match Massachusetts’ levels, a patient’s choice of physicians will be seriously limited and wait times for treatment are sure to rise significantly.

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The following is a statement released by Richard Burbidge, President of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers.

The International Academy of Trial Lawyers expressly and unequivocally condemns attacks on the independence of our judiciary and the Rule of Law, two cornerstones of our democracy.  Judges are ethically prevented from making public remarks about cases pending before them and must rely upon others to protect the judiciary from inappropriate and disrespectful criticism.  Lawyers have a special responsibility in defending the Rule of Law and the independence of our judiciary, and the protection and defense of those principles are integral to this Academy and its work.  

The recent attack upon United States District Court Judge James Robart shows disrespect for our judiciary, the Rule of Law, and a system which has existed for almost 250 years.  Judge Robart is not a “so-called judge.” Judge Robart, nominated by then-President George W. Bush, was unanimously confirmed by the Senate in 2004 and has served our nation since his confirmation.  Like the President of the United States, Judge Robart is entitled to the respect afforded a person in his position and the mutual respect upon which our government was founded.

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The following letter to the editor by ITLA President Christopher T. Hurley appeared in Crain's Chicago Business on December 5, 2016.

Gov. Bruce Rauner disingenuously claims that he’d like a balanced approach to improving workers’ compensation (“Bruce Rauner: My case for workers’ comp reform”), but demands that workers, especially those nearing retirement age, bear the financial brunt of his proposed changes.

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It should be within a private citizen’s grasp to identify a dangerous intersection in their community and ask the state to make it safer. Unfortunately, obtaining the data to prove that a particular place on a public road has been prone to recurring accidents is more complicated than it seems. 

The lack of transparency from the state and local government can seem unjust and frustrating. But it’s important to understand how the state is protecting itself and why. From there, concerned citizens can learn how to effectively collect public road information to keep their communities safe.  

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Posted on in In the News

So-called Workers' Comp 'Reform' Sticks it to TaxpayersThe following letter to the editor by ITLA President Christopher T. Hurley appeared in Crain's Chicago Business on December 5, 2016.

Leave it to the Illinois Policy Institute to promote the fiction that the loss of manufacturing jobs has been driven by the cost of workers’ compensation insurance and to propose, as a solution, a right hook to men and women hurt on the job.

IPI is desperate to validate Gov. Bruce Rauner’s race-to-the-bottom pursuits – demands for changes in state law that would hurt Illinois’ working and middle class families before he will even discuss completing work on a budget the state has lacked for an unprecedented two years – and it is eager to distract from the fact that profits are growing for  workers’ comp insurers.

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Chicago medical negligence lawyersBeing honest, transparent, and accountable for a medical mistake might be the ethical approach - in fact, this behavior is encouraged by the Code of Medical Ethics, the American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Unfortunately, not all physicians follow this ethical guideline. Even more concerning the data from a recent study, which revealed that more doctors are willing to cover up a mistake. Why is this becoming a trend, and what does it mean for some of the most vulnerable members of society? The following explains further, and provides some important information for victims of medical error.

Nearly One-Fourth of Doctors Willing to Cover Up a Mistake

More than 7,500 doctors from over 25 specialties were asked one simple question: is it ever okay to cover up a medical mistake. The majority of doctors said no (78 percent), which is a good thing, but seven percent said they would most definitely cover up an error. Another 14 percent said “it depends.” Their stance was often based on the level of harm that the patient had or could experience. This was across all specialties, which includes doctors who treat some of society’s most vulnerable members.

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Posted on in In the News

Beyond Court: Lawyer Helps Train ER DocsBy , Daily North Shore

When trial attorney Christopher Hurley successfully tried a case on a behalf of a family whose wife and mother had died from sustained hypoxia in a hospital emergency room, he could have stored the case file and moved on. Instead, the Winnetka resident decided to address the underlying problem.

During the trial, Hurley realized the emergency room doctors, while well-intentioned, were inadequately trained. It took the doctors a half hour to secure an airway for his client, who was having an asthma attack. Hurley recognized that with proper training the result would have been different for his client and others suffering similar circumstances.

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So-called Workers' Comp 'Reform' Sticks it to TaxpayersAnyone of us could be hurt on the job. It doesn’t matter if we work in an office, in a factory or on a farm, accidents happen to people in every occupation. When someone is seriously injured, the question becomes: Whose responsibility is it to pay for their care and rehabilitation so they can get back to work?

For Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, his insurance industry allies, and many businesses the unfortunate answer is that the person who was hurt and the taxpayers should pay. Under the guise of "reform" they are seeking further changes to our workers' compensation laws that shift the risk of needing to care for the injured away from insurers and that allow employers to more easily evade the responsibility for ensuring safe work sites and working conditions.

Rauner and Republican legislators want to cut the number of injured workers eligible to receive benefits and many employees, especially older workers more likely to be hurt, would receive no compensation for serious work-related injuries.

Chicago medical malpractice attorneysWhile the current rate of medical malpractice in the United States places every patient at risk, some have a higher risk than others. Among them are non-English and limited English speaking patients and families (about 20 percent of the U.S. population, or about 57 million people). Just what is this risk, and what does it mean for limited or non-English speaking citizens? More importantly, what rights do people in these communities have if they do experience a serious error? The following explains further.

Understanding the Risks

Numerous studies have been conducted on the potential harm that patients face when doctors make critical mistakes and diagnostic errors. Among them are studies that have examined the potential effects of language barriers, which have found that non-English speaking and limited English speaking patients have an overall higher risk of experiencing:

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Chicago medical malpractice lawyersThere are many types of medical error that end badly, but often the most tragic are those involving a misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose cancer. Many either lose their lives, or a portion of their body that never should have been removed. What is most concerning, however, is the frequency at which these accidents occur. If you or someone you love has been misdiagnosed with cancer, or has suffered because of a failure to diagnose, the following can help you understand your options.

An All-Too-Common Occurrence

Each year, approximately 1.3 million people are diagnosed with some form of cancer. Of those, around one in 71 cases are misdiagnosed. This was determined by a recent study from The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. What is even more concerning, however, is how many of these cases are misclassified, meaning the patient did actually have cancer, but pathologists had misjudged how far or fast the cancer had spread. Much like a failure to diagnose (which is also surprisingly common), such an error can ultimately lead to the unnecessary and untimely death of a patient.

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Chicago medical malpractice lawyersWhile it is fairly common knowledge that developing countries still struggle with infant and maternal mortality in childbirth, many wrongly assume that such tragedies are not an issue in developed nations. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, statistics indicate that maternal mortality has doubled over the last 20 years. If someone you love has suffered the same fate, and you believe medical negligence may have been a factor, the following information can help you better understand your rights, including your right to compensation.

Understanding Maternal Mortality in the United States

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 600 women die from childbirth complications per year. Complications related to the puerperium (the reproductive system’s return to its pre-pregnancy state, which continues over the course of about six weeks after childbirth), eclampsia, preeclampsia, hemorrhaging of the pregnancy, placenta previa, and pregnancy with an abortive outcome are some of the most common causes. Many of these complications, if caught early, could be prevented or managed prior to, during, and after delivery. In such instances, medical negligence may have occurred.

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Chicago defective medical device lawyersOver the last decade, an estimated 750,000 women have received the Essure birth control implant. Thousands have reported health complications, some of which were life-altering. In response, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has moved to issue a “black box” warning – their most serious type – for Essure. Yet the devices remain on the market. If you or someone you love has the Essure implant, the following information covers what you should know about the possible risks, and what you can do, should you experience any of them.

Current Warning Label and Potential Complications

Pitched as the only non-surgical permanent birth control option, Essure consists of two nickel-titanium coils. They are implanted into the fallopian tubes, through the cervix, during a 15-minute procedure. Within three months, scar tissue is supposed to develop around the coils, preventing the fallopian tubes from releasing eggs into the uterus. Until a follow-up check at that three-month mark, women are told to use alternative forms of contraception to prevent pregnancy. The device’s current warning says women may experience pelvic pain and bleeding immediately after the procedure.

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Chicago medical malpractice lawyersIn a perfect world, patients would be guaranteed high quality medical care. They would not have to worry about receiving the wrong medication or being subjected to the wrong treatment. Conditions would be diagnosed as early as humanly possible, and it would be the correct diagnosis. Unfortunately, we do not live in this perfect world. Medical mistakes happen, and the very care that is supposed to heal a patient ends up killing them instead. Cancer and heart disease are missed, causing unnecessary death.

Thankfully, there are things that patients can do to protect themselves. They can be informed and aware of the problems that exist in healthcare industry. They can do research their doctors and care providers to ensure they are being treated by someone who is competent. They can empower themselves and actively participate in the care they receive. The following information can help you do just that.

Understand Your Risk

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Chicago medical malpractice lawyersSepsis is a serious, fast-moving, and potentially fatal infection that causes more deaths in America than heart attacks. Even more concerning is a recent analysis done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in which it was found that nearly two-thirds of the 258,000 annual fatalities were missed by doctors and nurses. In some cases, the oversight could be considered a negligent medical error. If you or someone you love has experienced a missed or delayed sepsis diagnosis that resulted in death or injury, know your rights, including your right to pursue compensation.

Sepsis: A Potentially Fatal Medical Emergency

Almost any patient can suffer from a case of sepsis. In fact, one man nearly died from sepsis that occurred after a paper cut. His case was caught quickly, thanks to the hospital’s nationally recognized sepsis prevention and detection plan. He did end up in a medically induced coma for three weeks to give his body time to heal, but the man ultimately made a full recovery.

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Chicago medical malpractice lawyersDoctors may be mere humans, just like the rest of us but, by default, they are held to a higher standard. We expect them to be rational, honest, and moral human beings. This is not irrational or asking too much. We are entrusting them with our lives, our secrets, the parts of us that are vulnerable. Yet there are far too many who are not worthy of that trust. Worse yet, you – their patient – may never know, and that could put you at risk for a medical injury.

Fit to Practice?

Nearly a decade ago, a Missouri doctor was investigated for healthcare fraud. Found guilty and convicted of a felony, he allegedly charged Medicare insurance for one drug but then injected cheaper, still experimental drugs into the eyes of his patients. Sometimes, he reportedly split the single-dose vials between to separate patients and then billed each one for a full dose. In total, this happened at least 284 times, which amounted to about $600,000 in excess charges to the government.

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Chicago medical malpractice lawyersWhen it comes to strokes, research indicates that the outcome of a patient can improve by as much as 80 percent if they are given prompt and early treatment. Unfortunately, for anywhere between 15,000 and 165,000 Americans per year, such treatment is not received because they are misdiagnosed - often with a condition that is benign in nature. Women, minorities, and younger patients may be at an especially high risk for this potentially deadly medical mistake.

Risk of Misdiagnosis Higher for Certain Stroke Sufferers

Conducted by Johns Hopkins University, one study found that emergency room doctors are as much as 30 percent more likely to overlook the symptoms of a stroke in women and minorities. That risk jumps even higher for patients under the age of 45 who, though less likely to suffer from stroke, are far from immune (about 34 percent of strokes occur in those under age 65).

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Illinois medical malpractice attorneysMost studies on medical malpractice have been conducted on the treatment received at hospitals, but Americans are most often treated by their primary care doctors. How does the care that they receive here measure up? According to one study, not so great. In fact, as many as 16 percent of all malpractice claims in 2013 were made against general practitioners. The following information highlights what every American should know about their risk of a medical error with their PCP.

Missed Diagnoses and Your PCP

In an analysis of 34 different studies on medical malpractice claims, researchers at Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Medical School and Trinity College Dublin found that missed diagnoses of a serious (and often fatal) condition accounted for 26 to 63 percent of all malpractice claims against primary care providers. Heart attack, meningitis, and cancer were the most commonly missed conditions, but researchers also found cases in which primary care providers has missed fractures, ectopic pregnancies, and appendicitis in their patients. The most common consequence of diagnostic error was patient death (between 15 percent and 48 percent of all claims).

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Fall RiskThe family of a woman who sustained severe arm injuries after being dropped while under the care of the Mosaic of Lakeshore has filed a lawsuit against the facility.

On September 20, 2016, Tiba Thurmond, as Power of Attorney for Property of Rhonda Ridley, filed a complaint in the Circuit Court of Cook County against the defendant, alleging that the facility failed to provide proper care to Rhonda Ridley.

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