COVID-19 Update: How We Are Serving and Protecting Our Clients

Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

The outbreak of the COVID-19 virus has left us all in unprecedented and uncertain times. On March 20, Governor J.B. Pritzker issued a statewide “shelter-in-place” order which requires all non-essential businesses to close and all non-essential employees to stay home. However, employees in many of the “essential businesses” are exempt from that order including nurses, hospital employees and first responders. Unfortunately, such medical professionals are the ones most at risk of contracting the virus while they continue to work and treat those suffering from COVID-19. Understandably, those individuals must have questions and concerns about what happens if they contract the virus through their work.

Under the Illinois Workers Compensation and Occupational Disease Acts, employees who suffer from an accident/injury or illness which “arises out of” and “in the course of” their employment are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Contracting conditions, such as COVID-19, while performing your nursing/medical duties satisfies those requirements and should entitle nurses and medical professionals to the benefits under the law. These benefits include full payment of your medical bills, weekly workers’ compensation pay equal to 2/3 of your weekly pay and potentially a permanency recovery. There is a 3 day waiting period before receiving the weekly pay but if you are off 14 or more days the waiting period is waived and you are entitled to workers’ compensation pay from day one. You must establish, more likely than not, that you contracted the condition from work as opposed to at home (or some other location outside of work). Your entitlement to benefits is determined on a case-by-case basis. However, employees in the medical field such as nurses, medical professionals, as well as first responders who, by the very nature of their employment, are at a higher risk of exposure than the general public should still complete an accident report/incident if they develop symptomology and seek treatment. Obtaining the necessary paperwork with the diagnosis, work ability and treatment plan is important.

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Laws were enacted to protect employees, such as nurses, medical professionals and first responders, who are trained and employed to protect society. These laws not only apply to you, but are necessary for you to utilize in order to get you back healthy and able so you can continue to help others. We need these workers’ compensation laws now more than ever during these uncertain times.

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission announced a suspension of business to limit the effect of the COVID-19 virus. This suspension of operations is in effect until 3/31/2020 when the situation will be re-evaluated. Here is the link to the Commission’s announcement:  ⁣ ⁣

Unfortunately, no hearings nor docket calls will take place during this period.  In order to comply with the order of Governor Pritzker, the law firm will not be traveling to the union halls for interviewing at least through the end of March.  However, your Katz Friedman lawyers are working hard for you and remain available to take telephone calls.  Our office is open with a reduced non-lawyer staff to insure we make progress on each and every case.⁣

One of the biggest issues affecting many sports leagues today, from youth leagues to the big leagues, is concussions and concussion-related safety. Interscholastic sports in Illinois are no exception. A recent case from the First Appellate District Court involving a high school football player from Cook County offers important clarity regarding what is (and is not) required in a student’s injury case.

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Hospitals and doctors, according to a recent study, rarely admit their mistakes. Deflecting responsibility and avoiding blame are traits that society associates with schoolchildren but not with accomplished professionals, like doctors, or respected institutions, like hospitals.

Unfortunately, a study conducted by ProPublica found that only 20 percent of patients and their families received notice from a hospital or doctor that an error occurred. Furthermore in about half of those families that did receive a disclosure, only received the disclosure after some form of pressure was applied – like a lawsuit.

The Study

The attorneys of Katz Friedman are proud of our reputation for providing consistent legal representation to clients throughout Illinois. We’re proud to announce that Best Lawyers has recognized three of our lawyers for their accomplishments. Being chosen for inclusion in Best Lawyers rankings is an honor bestowed upon a select group of lawyers. This year, Best Lawyers has recognized the efforts of Richard Johnson, Phil Bareck, and Stanley Eisenstein with these distinguished awards.

Richard Johnson has been honored as 2016’s Lawyer of the Year for Workers’ Compensation Law for claimants. Mr. Johnson joined Katz Friedman in 1983. Since then, he’s worked to establish the rights of injured workers in many precedent setting cases before the Illinois Supreme Court. Mr. Johnson’s knowledge and efforts are highly regarded by his peers.

“Workers have rights, and they need a strong advocate to help protect those rights. I’ve dedicated my career to enhancing employee protections within the workplace and I look forward to continuing my efforts,” commented Chicago workers’ compensation attorney Richard Johnson.

A patient visits their physician in a time of great need. Whether for treating a back injury, or removing a cancerous tumor, a patient must be able to trust their physician with their health. In some cases, their very lives are at stake. It’s a great responsibility that is increasingly being neglected and ignored.

According to statistics compiled by the Institute of Medicine in 1999, it was estimated that 98,000 Americans died as the result of medical malpractice every year. In a follow-up study conducted in 2010 by the Office of the Inspector General for Health & Human Services, that number had risen to 188,000. While these statistics are troubling, the bombshell report came in 2013 when the Journal of Patient Safety estimated that the actual number is between 210,000 and 440,000.

Malpractice Leading to Lawsuits

Medical doctors have a great deal of responsibility placed upon them. After years of training and practice, they are expected to have the skill and ability to identify symptoms and translate that into a diagnosis. That doesn’t always happen and the rates of medical misdiagnosis are happening at an alarming rate.

A study conducted by Baylor University last year indicated that up to 5% of patients are misdiagnosed every year. That’s roughly 12 million patients leaving their physicians office with bad information and inappropriate medication. Not only does this leave the medical condition untreated, it can create additional medical problems for the patient.

“The number of patients being misdiagnosed is quite alarming. Patients rely on the advice and expertise of their medical professional. When a patient knows there’s a medical problem, reports the problem and seeks out answers, there’s an expectation that the medical advise is correct. When that is not the case and the patient is misdiagnosed, the results can be catastrophic. The numbers showing the high percentage of misdiagnoses among medical professionals is a very serious medical and legal concern,” commented Chicago medical malpractice attorney Philip Bareck.

Debbie Plank didn’t have to die. That’s what jurors said as they awarded her husband, Timothy Plank, $8 million in damages. He filed a wrongful death suit against the hospital his high school sweetheart went to for treatment. The mother of three died because of diagnostic error, what her husband called a “senseless mistake.”

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Wife made several visits to hospital

Wrongful death occurs when the intentional or unintentional acts or negligence of one party results in the death of another. Wrongful death can occur in a variety of circumstances including motor vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, unsafe premises accidents, workplace accidents, and more. In the United States, medical malpractice is one of the leading causes of wrongful death- second only to motor vehicle accidents. According to a study that was published in the Journal of Patient Safety in September 2013, medical malpractice results in more than 210,000 deaths in the United States Each year.

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The Financial Impact of Medical Malpractice Resulting in Death in Illinois

Medical records represent an important part of the process of obtaining workers’ compensation in Illinois. Workers’ compensation is an entitlement to benefits, owed by the employer, when a worker is injured out of and in the course of employment. Any workers’ compensation attorney in Chicago knows that medical records help to ensure that the specific form and magnitude of compensation requested is appropriate.

The law with which actions by injured workers or liable employers must be consistent is the Illinois Workers’ Compensation and Occupational Diseases Act. Moreover, the Act addresses the role of medical records in the process of seeking workers’ compensation. Specifically, the role of medical records is addressed in sections 8 and 16 of the law.

Employers are entitled to obtain medical records