Clifford Law Offices PC
Get Your Free Case Review
312-899-9090
Main Menu Email Us

October 2013 Archives

Your Landlord Refuses to Fix Your Apartment? What You Can Do

Question:  I have repeatedly asked my landlord to make repairs on my apartment, and they haven’t done so. Do I have a right to withhold the rent?Answer:   If a repair is needed, landlords have a limited amount of time to make them. If the landlord doesn't cooperate, you should send him or her a letter by certified mail. If the landlord fails to timely do repairs, you may have the right to do them yourself and deduct the amount from your next rent payment.  Keep receipts and take before and after photos. These documents can be used as proof if you need to go to court.  For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.comIf you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org.Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit http://www.illinoislawyerfinder.com/legal-faqs

Store's Finance Charges -- Is There No Limit?

Question:  Is there a limit on the finance charges that a store can charge?Answer:  In Illinois, there is a limit to the finance charges that can be added to the price of goods purchased on an installment plan. The finance charge must be disclosed on the the contract. Any charge in excess of the limit is illegal, and the contract may be canceled at the buyer’s option. A lawyer can provide you with information about the limit on finances and can provide the advice to keep from entering into an unfavorable contract.

Parent's Legal Rights of a Child in Foster Care

Question:  What legal rights do I have as a parent of a child in foster care?Answer:  You have numerous rights, including the selection of the home in which your child is placed. If you know of a relative who would be appropriate to care for your child, tell your caseworker. You have the right to a visit with your child within 14 days of when the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) takes protective custody, although that visit may be supervised.  Through your lawyer, you have a right to testify in court, bring in your own witnesses, and have your lawyer question the people who testify against you. If at any time you do not understand what is happening, or think there is a problem, tell your lawyer. You also have the right to appeal some of the judge’s decisions.  For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com.  If you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org.Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit http://www.illinoislawyerfinder.com/legal-faqs

Receive a Jury Summons? You Must Comply

Question: What happens if I ignore a jury summons?Answer:  Jury summons are sent through the mail to a citizen's home. If you receive a summons, you must report to the address indicated on the summons at the time stated. Failure to do so may result in your being held in contempt of court, and you may be fined, or in extreme circumstances, receive a jail sentence.  For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com.  If you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org.Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit http://www.illinoislawyerfinder.com/legal-faqs

Woodstove Use in Illinois -- The Illinois State Bar Explains

Question:  Are woodstoves prohibited for indoor use?Answer:  While woodstoves can be used in Illinois, the type of materials that may be burned as a fuel and the manner in which such stoves may be operated are limited to the fuels and maintenance procedures specified by the manufacturer of the stove. Local governments have the authority to adopt ordinances limiting or prohibiting this type of activity.  For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com.  If you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org.Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit http://www.illinoislawyerfinder.com/legal-faqs

Using Profanity and the First Amendment

Question: Is using profane language protected by First Amendment rights?Answer: As offensive as it may be to some people, the use of profane language, whether spoken or in print, is not unlawful. Some municipalities may have old laws on the books that prohibit profanity, but those laws violate the First Amendment. In 1971, the U.S. Supreme Court addressed the issue of profanity involving a man that had been arrested for wearing a jacket with a swear word on it. The court ruled that profanity was fully protected.  For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com.  If you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org.Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit http://www.illinoislawyerfinder.com/legal-faqs

Remodeling Your House -- Beware of Unscrupulous Contractors

Question: We plan to do some significant remodeling on our home. How can we protect ourselves from unscrupulous contractors?Answer: Before contracting for any home repair or home improvement project, you should determine the scope of work to be done and set specifications for the job. Get recommendations and references from friends, family and colleagues. Some experts advise obtaining at least three written estimates from contractors who have come to your home to view and discuss the work that needs to be done. Be sure the estimates you receive are based on the same work so that you can make meaningful comparisons. The contractor you hire should meet licensing and registration requirements and you can get that information by contacting the appropriate governmental authority. Other tips are posted on the website of the Illinois Attorney General.  For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com.  If you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org.Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit http://www.illinoislawyerfinder.com/legal-faqs

What to Expect in that First Meeting With Your Attorney -- What the ISBA Says

Question: Do I need to pay for the first meeting with an attorney?Answer: Every attorney has a different way of charging for their services. Some are willing to provide an initial consultation at little or no charge. You should always ask in advance if there will be a charge for the first meeting and, if so, what the charge covers. The Illinois State Bar Association’s IllinoisLawyerFinder.com service connects members of the public with an attorney for a 30-minute consultation for no more than $25. For a phone referral, call 800-922-8757.  For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com.  If you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org.Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit http://www.illinoislawyerfinder.com/legal-faqs

Illinois Hospital Association Releases Report on Harmful Events

A report released by the Illinois Hospital Association (IHA) Thursday (Oct. 17, 2013) showed that fewer preventable harmful events occurred in hospitals throughout the state in 2012 compared to the previous year.The report is based on the achievements of more than 200 hospitals and health systems in Illinois. It found that those hospitals reduced the number of falls, pressure ulcers, infections and other harmful events (843 less) with an estimated cost savings of about $18 million. It also found that preventable hospital re-admissions stayed about the same at 14 percent during that time frame. Specific hospitals were not named.A copy of the report, “Raising the Bar, A Call to Action,” can be found here.

Resolving Cases Through Mediation

Question: Is there a way that a case can be resolved without a judge?Answer: Yes. Mediation is a way to resolve or settle a dispute without the case being decided by a judge or an arbitrator. A mediator is a neutral third person who helps the parties and their attorneys arrive at a mutually agreeable settlement. Keep in mind that a mediator does not decide the case but only assists in a voluntary settlement.  For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com.  If you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org.Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit http://www.illinoislawyerfinder.com/legal-faqs

Bob Clifford Speaks to Channel 7 on the Ten Year Anniversary Date of the Cook County Administration Building Fire

Ten years ago the City of Chicago was shocked by a fire that broke out in the Cook County Administration Building in the heart of the Loop.  Clifford Law Offices represented a number of people who were injured or who lost loved ones in the blaze. Bob Clifford looks back with ABC reporter Paul Meincke on the lessons learned from that tragic event.  Click here to view story.

The Importance of an Estate Plan

Question: What is the importance of having an estate plan?Answer: A crucial role of estate planning tools, such as wills and trusts, is to minimize taxation in the transfer of assets. Creating a comprehensive estate plan also minimizes estate taxation incurred in the probate process. Many people can avoid paying estate taxes due to the State and federal exemptions, which allow a certain amount of property to transfer tax free upon ones death. The gap between the Illinois and federal exemptions makes proper estate planning all the more essential.  For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com.  If you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org.Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit http://www.illinoislawyerfinder.com/legal-faqs

Small Claims Court -- Should You Represent Yourself?

Question: I am representing myself on a small claims matter in court. What should I know about how to conduct myself in the courtroom?Answer: Here are a few tips. Arrive at the courtroom on time. Wear conservative clothing and avoid t-shirts, sloppy jeans and flip-flops. Do not interrupt the judge or anyone else when they are speaking. Speak loud enough so that people 20 feet away can hear you. Citizens who represent themselves in court should not expect the judge to explain basic procedures that would be better left to an attorney.  For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com.  If you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org.Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit http://www.illinoislawyerfinder.com/legal-faqs

New Law in Illinois on Teaching Sex Education in Schools

Question: I thought that Illinois schools could only teach sex education to students if the curriculum promotes abstinence. Has this changed?Answer: Under a new state law to go into effect in January 2014, public schools that want to teach sex education will need to provide students with accurate information about birth control and sexually-transmitted diseases. Until now, abstinence has been the only required curriculum for schools that choose to teach sex education.  For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com.  If you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org.Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit http://www.illinoislawyerfinder.com/legal-faqs

Traffic Offenses in Another State -- What Can Happen

Question: Can a person in Illinois who is stopped by the police for a traffic offense, such as speeding, be subject to arrest if he or she only has an out-of-state driver’s license?Answer: It depends on the state. If the state is part of the Interstate Driver’s License Compact, the person stopped by the police could conceivably sign the ticket and leave the scene. But a person driving with a license from a state which is not a Compact member could be required to accompany an officer to the police station to post bond. The state of Illinois requires anyone who moves here from another state to transfer his or her driver’s license within 30 days of the relocation.  For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com.  If you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org.Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit http://www.illinoislawyerfinder.com/legal-faqs

Be Careful of Giving Personal Information Over the Phone to Strangers

Question: I received a call from someone who said he was with the government, and offered to sign me up for an insurance card. Because he asked for my personal information, I said no. Did I do the right thing?Answer: You did the right thing to say no. Scammers are using the advent of the new healthcare act to steal people’s identities. Never give out information such as your Social Security number, date of birth, bank account numbers, and credit card number. Also, keep in mind that the government typically uses traditional mail to communicate with consumers, not calls or emails.  For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com.  If you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org.Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit http://www.illinoislawyerfinder.com/legal-faqs

Expunging the Records of a Criminal Case in Illinois

Question: If my criminal case was dismissed, does this mean I can have my record expunged or sealed?Answer: Expunged records are ones which are destroyed. That is, they are returned to the petitioner. This means your name would be removed from the public record. Keep in mind that because of the Internet, some information may still be out there in cyberspace. An alternative to expungement is having a record sealed, meaning it will be physically and electronically maintained but is unavailable without a court order. You can request to seal a file if you were acquitted, found not guilty or the case was dismissed. A lawyer can answer questions about your case.  For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com.  If you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org.Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit http://www.illinoislawyerfinder.com/legal-faqs

Update: Advocate Medical Breach of Privacy

Many aspects of the litigation against Advocate are underway.Although many of Advocate's patients have received letters, some patients have been allegedly victimized without having been aware of the data breach. Some patients state that they have not received letters, but their data was allegedly stolen. To address that issue, we have filed a motion in which we seek to have Advocate publish in the newspapers information concerning the data breach. The intention is to increase public awareness, so that both consumers and businesses can be on-guard for suspicious activity.Additionally, we have filed a motion for class certification. Advocate can either consent to the motion, or object to the motion. In either instance, in accord with Supreme Court Rule, the court will evaluate the characteristics of this case, so as to ensure that the case is suitable for class certification.Litigation takes time. Many of you have inquired as to the timeframe of this case. Please understand that there is no specific answer to that question, however, the Court is inclined to manage cases as efficiently as possible. That said, just as we are entitled to file our case and supply evidence, Advocate is entitled to defend its case and supply evidence. True justice cannot be rushed. Be assured that we will handle this matter with efficiency. We believe that the patients are entitled to, and we seek, timely relief for a situation that poses a high-risk situation with potentially adverse outcomes.

The Law on Interns

Question: I plan to hire several interns. Do I need to pay them a salary or hourly wage?Answer: Internships can be a great gateway to job entry, which is why they are so appealing. The U.S. Labor Department says that unpaid internships at the nonprofit level are “generally permissible” while a similar job at a for-profit company must pass the department’s “six-point” test. That test says, among other things, that interns cannot displace regular employees and that an employer cannot receive an “immediate advantage” from the intern’s activities.  For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com.  If you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org.Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit http://www.illinoislawyerfinder.com/legal-faqs

Non-Compete Agreements -- What Illinois Courts Have Said

Question: After a year at my current company, I’ve decided to join a rival firm. The only problem is, I signed a non-compete agreement. If my current employer decides to sue, what are the chances he’ll win in court?Answer: Time is on your side. In a recent decision, an Appellate Court ruled unanimously that Illinois companies, which require newly-hired employees to sign a non-compete agreement, cannot block an employee who has worked at the company for less than two years from going to work for a rival. It doesn’t matter whether they quit or are fired. The one exception may be if the employee got something in return for signing the agreement, such as a bonus or additional compensation. A lawyer can review your specific non-compete agreement and provide counsel.  For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com.  If you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org.Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit http://www.illinoislawyerfinder.com/legal-faqs

Websites on Truck Safety -- Test Your Road Safe IQ

Insurance Institute Tracks Truck Accidents Noting that one in 10 highway deaths occur in a crash involving a large truck, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety compiles extensive information on truck accidents. Check here for the latest statistics, status reports and other resources. Coalition Dedicated to Improving Car-Truck Safety The Truck Safety Coalition is dedicated to reducing the number of deaths and injuries caused by truck-related crashes, providing support to truck crash survivors and their families, and educating the public, policy-makers and media about truck safety issues. What is your Road Safe IQ? Road Safe America believes a truck driver has as much responsibility as a commercial airline pilot. Their mission is to make highways safer. Take their informative quiz and test your road safe IQ.

Important Statistics on Trucking Accidents

By the numbers/ 3,757 Killed - In 2011, 3,757 people died in collisions with trucks, an 11.2 percent increase over 2009. There were 88,000 injuries reported during the same period. Source: Commercial Motor Vehicle Facts, March 2013, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (download)   Only $750,000 - Motor carriers are only required to maintain $750,000 in insurance per crash. Yet, damages from a fatal crash can exceed $4 million, leaving injured motorists and taxpayers to pay the difference. Source: Study Shows Trucking Companies Underinsured,Trucking Alliance   98 Percent - Ninety-eight percent of vehicle occupants killed in crashes involving a passenger vehicle and a large truck in 2011 were occupants of the passenger vehicles. Source: Large Trucks Fatality Facts, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Truck Accidents on the Rise

After reaching an historic low in 2009, deaths and injuries from truck accidents are on the rise. Why the turn for the worse? According to a startling report from the American Association for Justice, lax practices are forcing a growing number of unsafe trucks on the road that are often driven by overworked, underpaid and poorly trained drivers. Meanwhile, outdated insurance laws fail to provide adequate coverage for those involved in a car-truck accident. Since trucks move nearly 70 percent of our nation's freight,you should know the facts and what is being done to better protect all Americans. Commonsense Measures Can Help Prevent More Accidents When a 76-year-old truck driver fell asleep at the wheel on an Oklahoma interstate and slammed his 40,000-pound rig into several cars that had slowed for a minor collision, 10 people were killed, including two families of four. The truck driver had started his shift at 3 a.m. with just five hours of sleep and had been driving for 10 hours when the accident happened. He never touched the brakes. Unfortunately, preventable truck-car accidents like this are on the rise. In 2011 (the most recent year complete data are available), 3,757 people died in collisions with trucks and 88,000 more were injured. It marked the second straight year fatalities were up and was an 11.2 percent increase over 2009. Report Details Safety Hazards that Cause Truck Accidents A report released in June by the American Association for Justice uncovers a number of preventable safety hazards that contribute to truck accidents. According to the Truck Safety Alert: The Rising Danger from Trucks, the problems are driven by an economic model that is fundamentally unsound. "Truck drivers - compensated by miles driven, not hours worked - are pushed to ignore safety measures, delay repairs and drive in a fatigued state," it said. In addition, the report notes that artificially low insurance limits prevent unsafe trucking carriers from ever being held accountable for the damages they cause. While a fatal truck crash today can result in approximately $4.3 million in damages, the insurance minimum for cargo trucks has remained frozen at $750,000 since 1980. U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania recently introduced the Safe Haul Act (H.R. 2730) to raise the required insurance minimum for motor carriers. Given that the percentage of freight traveling by truck is expected to reach 70 percent in the next decade, it is highly likely that more trucks will share the roadways with passenger cars. Thus, the report ends with this dire warning: If the current growth in the fatality rate for truck accidents continues, 58,000 people will lose their lives in the next 10 years. Tips for Avoiding Car-Truck Accidents

Making Sure Your Lawyer is Licensed to Practice Law

Question: How can I be sure that the lawyer I’m about to hire is licensed to practice law?Answer: The Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission (ARDC) is the organization which provides a way for consumers to verify whether a lawyer is licensed to practice law. Being included in the ARDC listing ensures that the lawyer has a degree from an accredited law school and that he or she passed a test in order to be admitted to the state bar.Unlike the ARDC site, the Illinois State Bar Association’s (ISBA) illinoislawyerfinder.com website is a referral site. ISBA members must meet certain requirements before they are listed, such as being licensed to practice law, maintaining professional liability insurance, and being in good standing with the ARDC.  For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com.  If you have a legal question, send it to illinoislawcolumn@isba.org.Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit http://www.illinoislawyerfinder.com/legal-faqs

Privacy Policy | Business Development Solutions by FindLaw, a Thomson Reuters business.