Chicago Personal Injury

Chicago Personal Injury 

Chicago’s personal injury lawsuits are commenced by people who are injured by the carelessness of other people (accidental or intentional) or by using a defective product that caused personal injury in some way. When an individual or entity is determined to be legally responsible for injuries to another person, that person/entity is liable for those personal injuries and may be required to pay compensatory and/or punitive damages as part of a Chicago personal injury lawsuit.

Chicago personal injury lawyerCompensatory damages are awarded in an effort to return the injured person to the state they were in prior to sustaining injuries with an amount of money that is sufficient enough to replace whatever the injured party lost, including medical costs.

Punitive damages (also known as exemplary damages) can be awarded in addition to actual damages that compensate a person for a loss suffered due to an injury caused by a plaintiff. Punitive damages are designed to punish the wrongdoer in the interest of protecting society from future damages by such wrongdoing. Many businesses and insurance companies object to and consider punitive damages to lie in legal limbo somewhere between civil and criminal law, inasmuch as they resemble a “criminal fine” since they are not compensatory in nature and increase the potential costs of running a business.

There are a lot of situations from which a personal injury lawsuit could arise and they include the following:

  • Car/truck accidents
  • Bike/motorcycle accidents
  • Workplace accidents
  • Construction accidents
  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Nursing home neglect and abuse
  • Medical malpractice
  • Injuries sustained at birth
  • Product liability for use of defective items
  • Wrongful death

Personal injuries are very often severe enough to be life threatening and the emotionally draining nature of accidental injuries are life-altering since they impact future activities, including your ability to work, which can result in lost wages on top of the trauma of the accident itself.

If you or a loved one has suffered personal injuries because of the negligence or carelessness of another, it is imperative that you contact a qualified personal injury attorney to evaluate your case and discuss available options. A personal injury lawyer will be aware of the statute of limitations, which limits the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit, and work with law enforcement, defense attorneys and insurance companies to protect your legal rights after having suffered an injury.

Traffic Violations in Chicago

Traffic Violations in Chicago

You would think a citywide decline in traffic violations would be a good thing for the City of Chicago, but that is, apparently, not the case.

Chicago's traffic camsMayor Rahm Emanuel approved the use of cameras to catch speeding vehicles and those running red lights in the City of Chicago, justifying the practice by focusing placement of the cameras near schools and community parks.

These cameras contributed to the expectation of over $100 million in income for the City from fines paid by Chicago area residents for these motor vehicle infractions filmed by cameras strategically placed all over the city. The City of Chicago “earned” $100 for every flash of the camera showing a traffic violation and the people spending the city’s money are feeling the absence of those funds.

The drivers in Chicago caught on immediately and exhibited to Mayor Emanuel their ability to drive within the speed limit, as well as their tendency to stop at red lights!   This display of good driving skills has resulted in a drastic reduction in the number of fines for violations from camera-related traffic offenses and a $50 million shortfall in the city’s anticipated budget for 2015.

The City of Chicago’s attempt to create a lucrative new source of revenue by employing cameras to catch and film traffic violations completely backfired when the people responded by paying better attention while driving and obeying the city’s traffic laws.

Critics insist that using cameras for catching traffic violations does nothing to make our roadways safer and only accomplishes the addition of income to government coffers.   In Chicago and across the country, drivers on roadways in areas where those cameras are used are choosing not to contribute to that “fund.”

Illinois Law Regarding Gun Ownership and Medical Marijuana

Illinois Law Regarding Gun Ownership and Medical Marijuana 

Medical marijuana regulators in the State of Illinois have dropped a proposal that would have banned medical marijuana patients from owning or possessing firearms.

After months of public feedback, the Illinois Department of Health formally filed rules regarding the state’s medical marijuana program, which is one of the strictest in the nation, whereby the agency removed rules originally proposed that would have required medical marijuana users and their caregivers to forfeit their rights to gun ownership and relinquish their Firearm Owner Identification cards before being placed on the State’s medical marijuana registry.

Although it is still illegal under Federal law for anyone who uses marijuana or other “controlled substances” to own or possess a firearm, medical marijuana advocates applaud the State’s decision saying “Anything that makes it less burdensome for the patients is always a good thing.”

The new rule not only allows medical marijuana users to be gun owners, but also makes it less expensive for prospective patients by dropping the medical marijuana registry fee to $100 and allowing veterans and disabled folks to pay only $50 for registration.

Under the new rules, prospective owners or operators of dispensaries or cultivation houses would have to pay a $5000 non-refundable application fee and anyone who wants to open a marijuana growing operation will be required to prove liquid assets of at least $500,000.

The new rules now go to the State’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules for review and approval after 45 days of public comments and suggestions.

Chicago Personal Injury and Fire Fighters

Chicago Firefighters

Firefighters are a unique and devoted group of people who generally live half of their lives in a fire station somewhere, grocery shopping, cooking and eating meals and sharing their firehouse homes with their colleagues until the alarm sounds and they are jolted into the reality of their jobs.   They leap into action, donning their turnout gear in record time, fire up the trucks’ engines and head into the heart of whatever fire has erupted. They work hard and are devoted to their occupations, risking their lives regularly as part of their careers.

Firefighters in the Chicago area went on strike in 1980 because of new guidelines that were implemented reducing the number of staff required to be on hand in fire stations, without considering the overtime pay such minimum staffing standards would generate. All these years later, the City’s contract with firefighters dictates that at least five firefighters are required to man every firefighting vehicle, but the City’s Mayor, Rohm Emmanuel, wants to reduce that number to four employees per vehicle, eight total, in fire stations that have both fire engines and trucks (“double houses”), which has met with great resistance from the Chicago Firefighters Union. In addition to the reduction in numbers of new hires required by the budget, many older firefighters are retiring, further complicating the understaffing problems of the City’s fire department.

This understaffing has resulted in millions of dollars being spent by the City to defend discriminatory and other undefined “legal issues” related to the lack of hiring new firefighters which, in turn, has not only contributed to the City’s inability to hire new firefighters, but also required the City to spend more than $40 million dollars this year alone for overtime compensation of firefighters the City does employ, which is more than double the amount authorized in the City’s budget for overtime spending.

After many meetings, defense of costly discrimination lawsuits filed by women who were denied jobs because of their inability to meet strict physical standards (that have now been abolished) and the retirement of approximately 245 firefighters at the end of 2013, the Chicago Fire Department is finally now conducting firefighting academy classes for new employees, which it hasn’t done for 8 years. The City intends to conduct a series of classes of approximately 150 students, each beginning at the half-way point of the previous class, to alleviate the runaway overtime spending that has gone from over $13 million in 2011 to $40 million in 2013. This will hopefully resolve the understaffing problems, which have plagued the City of Chicago’s fire departments for years and drastically reduce the enormous amounts of money the City has been paying for overtime work performed by firefighters. Which in turn will help with some of the Chicago Personal Injury claims.

What Illinois Can Learn From Colorado

What Illinois Can Learn From Colorado!

Six months after Colorado became the first state to legalize marijuana for recreational use, the numbers are starting to pour in and the news is good for the State of Colorado (as well as the State of Washington, which also legalized pot).

marijuana drug chargesThe legalization of marijuana in Colorado has resulted in the opening of about 100 retail marijuana shops and the creation of almost 10,000 jobs statewide in the cultivation, sales and distribution of legal marijuana.   Marijuana-related sales are expected to total approximately $1 billion during 2014, resulting in approximately $10.8 million in tax revenues, a good portion of which goes to public schools in the state. In Colorado, medical marijuana is subject to a 2.9% sales tax and recreational pot is taxed at the rate of 12.9%. Where as in Chicago it’s still against the law. Read More about a Chicago drug lawyer.

The New York Times reported that “Because of the lag in reporting many health statistics, it may take years to know legal marijuana’s effect – if any – on teenage drug use, school expulsions or the number of fatal car crashes.”   Some statistics may not be known, but some are:

  • Fact:       crime is down 10.1% in the City of Denver from the same period last year, with violent crimes dropping 5.2%.
  • Fact:       marijuana sales have generated $10.8 million in tax revenues, with $1.9 million going directly to improve Colorado public schools.
  • Fact: $9 million is being designated for research into the efficacy of marijuana.
  • Fact:       thousands of jobs have been and continue to be created in the cannabis industry.
  • Fact:       home values in Colorado are up 8.7% in 2014.
  • Fact:       legal pot has not tarnished Colorado’s brand or image.
  • Fact:       six months after legalization, 54% of Coloradoans remain in support of legal marijuana.
  • Fact:       since January 2014, the Colorado State Patrol reported that the number of people pulled over for driving while under the influence of marijuana have accounted for only 12.5 percent of all DUI citations.

Law enforcement officials predicted “the apocalypse” if Colorado legalized marijuana for adults over the age of 21. Six months into legalization, however, those individuals have lost credibility since legalization has not caused an increase in adverse or criminal behavior. In fact, the State of Colorado has seen a huge drop in pot-related arrests, resulting in estimated savings of $12 to $40 million per year in law enforcement and court-related costs. Also, over the past decade, the State of Colorado averaged 10,000 arrests and/or citations for under-age minors in possession of marijuana and that number has been reduced to 900 arrests as of the end of June 2014.

According to a recent report by John Gettman, on a national level, criminal justice expenditures for marijuana-related enforcement total $7.6 billion each year, with $3.7 billion of that amount going to law enforcement, $853 million to courts and $3.1 billion going to corrections.

Forfeiture laws have been quite lucrative for law enforcement agencies across the nation and legalization of pot in Colorado and Washington has caused those agencies to refocus their efforts on preventing out-of-state distribution of the product that is legal in those two states. This has resulted in cops outside the States of Colorado and Washington pulling-over drivers simply because their cars display Colorado or Washington license plates.

Sixty-nine year old Colorado resident Darien Roseen filed a lawsuit in the District of Idaho claiming that a Gem State Trooper used “license-plate profiling” as a tactic to unlawfully detain him and search his vehicle for marijuana. Idaho State Trooper Klitch initially refused to state a reason for pulling over Roseen, but later claimed he was stopped for not signaling a turn into the rest area where he was pulled-over and detained and for bumping into two snow covered curbs, both of which claims were contested by Roseen. After 8 law enforcement officers wasted 3 hours searching in vain for drugs in Roseen’s vehicle, he was issued a citation for careless driving and was released from custody, along with his vehicle. Thereafter, Roseen filed a lawsuit seeking general and punitive damages against the Idaho law enforcement agency. More of these types of lawsuits can be expected, if law enforcement continues to engage in “license plate profiling.”

Overall, the great social experiment of legalizing marijuana in the States of Colorado and Washington is working well and proving that legalization of marijuana does not cause more crime and that legal pot produces jobs and creates tax revenues, all of which benefits the citizens who foot the bill for America’s failed war on drugs, specifically marijuana.