COVID-19 Update: How We Are Serving and Protecting Our Clients
Justia Lawyer Rating for David M. Barish

Normally, if you are hurt on the job in Illinois, you are limited to receiving only workers’ compensation benefits. If, however, your employer didn’t have valid workers’ compensation insurance at the time of your injury, then the range of outcomes is very different. In that circumstance, your employer isn’t shielded by the protections of the Workers’ Compensation Act, which means that you are no longer prohibited from suing your employer in civil court and getting a damages award in the full amount of the harm you suffered. This may help because a civil court damages award could be massively bigger than the award of workers’ comp benefits you otherwise would have received. To do that requires clearing many legal procedural hurdles that are often technically intricate and complicated, so it pays to have a knowledgeable Chicago workers’ compensation attorney on your side.

As an example, there’s the appellate court judgement regarding the case of J.G., a worker for a food manufacturer in the Chicago area. When he was hurt at work in early 2018, J.G. hired legal counsel to handle his workers’ compensation case. His attorney began investigating the case and discovered that J.G.’s employer did not have workers’ compensation insurance at the time of J.G.’s accident.

To be able to bypass the workers’ comp process and instead take your employer to civil court based on your employer’s lack of valid insurance coverage, you have to jump through several hoops in terms of proof.

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Here in Illinois, the state has strong laws regarding using cell phones while driving. This summer, the penalties for causing an injury accident (or fatal accident) due to distracted driving are going up – to a potential maximum of a $1,000 fine and a one-year driver’s license suspension, according to the Chicago Tribune. One of the groups of people who depend heavily on their phones, and are at a high risk of driving distracted, are Uber and Lyft drivers. Their job involves lots of driving and their access to new riders involves lots of interfacing with a cell phone app, so the potential for danger is clear. If you’ve been injured by a distracted Uber driver, then you may be entitled to compensation through a civil court action. By reaching out to an experienced Chicago car accident attorney, you can get the information you need about your legal options.

Dealing with the need to use a cell phone app frequently while also driving frequently is something that all Uber drivers must deal with. Regrettably, some do it better than others. Posts on Uber message boards contain multiple “horror” stories like one Chicago-area rider who stated in 2019 that “I took an Uber ride a couple years ago in River North where the driver was holding his phone on his lap. I didn’t feel a strong sense of safety during that ride.”

It sounds like that rider got home safely, but not all riders are similarly fortunate. In Toronto, Canada, a man’s Uber ride to the airport was his last. According to a report by The Star, the Uber driver transporting the man and his girlfriend first went the wrong way on the expressway, managed to navigate onto the correct expressway going the correct way, but then lost control of his cell phone. The driver pulled over to retrieve the phone from the floor of the car, but did not get his vehicle completely outside the far-right travel lane before stopping. Another driver crashed into the Uber driver’s car, fatally injuring the passenger and severely injuring his girlfriend.

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When you are seeking SSI and disability insurance benefits, you need to persuade the judge of several things. One of those things is that you have limitations and those limitations prevent you from holding a job. A recent case from nearby northern Indiana is an important reminder that, even if you are able to engage in certain basic activities around your home, you may still be too limited to work and still be entitled to benefits. Getting those critical benefits requires various forms of proof, and it pays to have an experienced Chicago Social Security disability attorney on your side, who knows how to present the evidence you need for success.

The applicant in that recent case, B.T., was a woman with multiple health issues, including diabetes, obesity, bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety. Despite these limitations she cared for her daughter with disabilities, as well as for her father. She also volunteered at her church. The administrative law judge who first heard B.T.’s case ruled against her, concluding that the evidence indicated that B.T.’s limitations would not prevent her from working.

A federal District Court judge, however, revived the case. That opinion is very instructive. As the judge explained in his opinion, just because you are capable of doing some activities, that doesn’t automatically mean that you are capable of doing work for an employer. The administrative law judge ruled against B.T., in part, because the evidence indicated that she could cook, manage her personal hygiene, clean and do laundry. However, the way B.T. was performing at home contained some critical differences from how she would be expected to perform at any workplace.

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If you’ve been injured in a slip-and-fall accident, there are several things that you need to prove and several types of evidence that can help you meet those requirements. You need proof of an injury. You need proof of causation. You also need proof of notice, among other things. You can get that proof with document evidence or lay witness evidence or expert evidence (among other types). It is, however, essential to be sure you have the evidence you need lined up and ready to present to the court in order to take your claim to trial. To be sure you have what you need for success, talk to a skilled Chicago injury attorney about your case.

L.C. was a woman who was injured in a slip-and-fall accident in a Chicago stairwell. She allegedly suffered significant injures and, as a result, decided to sue. In L.C.’s case, she asserted that she fell due to ice on the stairwell that accumulated as a result of faulty gutters.

When you’re suing a property owner in a premises liability case (which can mean a slip-and-fall or a trip-and-fall, among other scenarios), there are several things that you have to show. One of those things is what’s called “notice.” Notice means that the property owner knew, or reasonably should have known, about the hazard that caused your injuries.

When your application for Social Security disability benefits goes to a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ), it’s important to recognize in advance what you’ll be up against. You very likely will face an expert witness who will give testimony that you can still work and are not entitled to benefits. Part of succeeding in a scenario like that, then, is being ready to break down the credibility of that expert witness. Doing that is one of the many areas where skilled counsel can be invaluable, so be sure you’ve retained an experienced Chicago Social Security attorney when it comes time to pursue your Social Security disability case.

There are lots of ways in which an expert witness’s opinions can be flawed, providing you with potential avenues of attack. As an example, we can look at the case of A.B., a 40-year-old man with back pain, neck pain and many other conditions that prevented him from performing the health service, construction and food service jobs he used to do. Based on those multiple medical maladies, A.B. applied for Social Security disability benefits.

At the benefits hearing, a vocational expert testified that A.B., even with his significant medical limitations, could still handle three jobs: “callout operator, semiconductor bonder, or registration clerk.” Additionally, according to the expert, A.B. could be a counter clerk if certain lifting, standing and walking restrictions were in place. In total, there were roughly 140,000 jobs available that A.B. could do, according to the vocational expert.

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When you apply for Social Security benefits based on your disability, expect the government to fight back aggressively. They will have lawyers well-versed in Social Security law. They may have medical experts with impressive resumes. However, if you come to your Social Security hearing armed with the right legal representation and the right medical experts supporting your position, then you can overcome all that, succeed and get the award of benefits you need. Before you go, though, make sure you have a skilled Chicago Social Security attorney on your side.

In a disability case, medical evidence will, of course, most likely be center-stage. One of the most powerful forms of medical evidence that you can place on your side is the testimony of treating physicians stating that you are, in fact, disabled.

The testimony of treating physicians generally carries a great deal of weight. Additionally, as a recent Social Security case from here in Chicago shows, the administrative law judge (ALJ) hearing your case must either given those doctors’ opinions weight, or give very specific reasons why she didn’t.

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As an Amazon warehouse worker, there are certain risks that come with the job. One thing that you, as an Amazon worker, should not have to accept as “just part of the job” is being placed at an unreasonable risk of exposure to coronavirus. If there is any slight degree of good news, it is that, if you’re placed in that kind of situation, the law may provide you with a remedy though civil action. If that sounds like your workplace circumstances, be sure to act without delay by contacting an experienced Chicago workplace injury attorney.

Reports have come in from Amazon warehouses around the county about workers at risk, and even some who have died. D.G. was an Amazon warehouse worker in Sacramento who had been injured at work. D.G.’s doctor’s orders following the injury stated he was required to remain seated at work at all times. Rather than allow D.G. to remain home during the height of the pandemic and governmental stay-at-home orders, Amazon continued to require D.G. to be present at the warehouse, according to a CNet report.

While at work, he asserted that he had his employer’s blessing to use the internet on his phone, text his wife and chat with other employees stationed nearby. He said he was given no work to do and received no supervision, but he was required to be at the Amazon warehouse’s breakroom 10 hours a day, every day. According to the report, his employer instructed to “sit there watching Netflix if I wanted to,” as long as he was sitting in that room.

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Anytime you set out on Illinois’ roadways and expressways, there is an element of danger. That’s especially true if your vehicle comes into contact with a “big rig.” These truck accidents, due to trucks’ size and weight, have an elevated tendency to cause major damage, injuries and death. Getting the full amount you deserve in this type of situation may involve many different types of evidence to establish all the damage for which you are entitled to receive compensation, so be sure you have an experienced Chicago truck accident attorney handling your case from the very start.

Just a few weeks ago, the state Department of Transportation released its latest accident statistics report, which covers January – December 2018. During that year, the state logged more than 13,000 accidents involving tractor-trailers, with 2,235 causing injury and 122 causing death. These numbers represented a significant increase over 2017, when there were only 11,700 truck crashes, 1,949 of those causing injury and 107 fatal accidents. In each of those three categories, the year-to-year increase was more than 10%.

Recent news stories provide further examples of the problem. In early July, the Chicago Sun-Times reported on a motorcyclist who lost his life while traveling north on Lewis Avenue in Waukegan. The driver of the Freightliner that was immediately next to the motorcyclist switched lanes to the right… and right into the path of the Harley Davidson. The motorcyclist was declared dead at the scene.

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It is sometimes said that no one likes attorneys until they need one. It can be easy to form negative opinions about lawyers based upon what you see a small minority doing in the news headlines. However, when you’re hurt and a powerful entity on the other side is inaccurately representing what happened in your accident in order to deny you the recovery you urgently need, you may feel overwhelmed or plain hopeless if you are without counsel. When that happens, you definitely need the services of the right Chicago car accident attorney. Your experienced injury lawyer can help you make sense of your case, take control and acquire the evidence you need (like eyewitnesses, forensic crash-scene evidence or video footage) to expose the truth.

An example of that type of situation happened recently in the Chicago suburb of Hometown. A Metra train crashed into a compact sedan one night at around 7:30 p.m. A WGN report indicated that, according to Metra, “the lights were flashing, the gates were down and other vehicles had stopped, but the female driver sped around the gates.” The accident critically injured three women inside the car. A 19-year-old male pedestrian struck by the car and died in a hospital two days later.

Obviously, if Metra’s description were true, that could be incredibly damaging to the court cases that the injured passengers and fatally injured pedestrian’s family might pursue against Metra, as it would indicate that the car’s driver, not Metra, was to blame for causing the accident. This is why you need ample resources on your side to discover all the favorable evidence that may be out there. The unfortunate reality is that, without strong evidence to contradict Metra’s description, may people might find the story of a relatively young driver in her 20s recklessly choosing to “beat” the train to be persuasive.

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We have heard stories from our clients and other attorneys about the difficulties that working men and women are having balancing their desire to be safe during the Covid-19 pandemic while earning a living or giving their children an education. We have heard about factories where there have been many positive tests. Sometimes were hear about all the steps management has taken to try to reduce the spread of the disease and sometimes we hear about management that is only focused on production and doesn’t really seem to care about the safety of their employees.

We have also heard about workers who have no choice but to face an increased risk of getting Covid-19. These are the first responders, police, and fire and healthcare workers. There are delivery drivers. There are grocery store workers and restaurant staff. There are teachers who are caught between the competing legitimate desires to remain safe and yet complete the mission of educating our children.

We have slowly started returning to some union halls to meet our clients. Those locals are very protective and make sure that there are a limited number of people in the building, that everybody practices social distancing, that there is plenty of hand sanitizer around and that everybody is wearing a mask. We had a number of paper masks with our firm’s name and number on it that we bring with us when we travel to these union halls. If somebody needs a mask, we have one for them.

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