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November 2013 Archives

Legal Relief for "Hate Crimes"

 Question: What legal relief is available if I believe I was the victim of a “hate crime?”Answer: A hate crime occurs when a person “commits assault, battery, aggravated assault, misdemeanor theft, criminal trespass to a residence, misdemeanor criminal damage to property, criminal trespass to real property, mob action or disorderly conduct” against a victim because of the victim’s ethnicity, race, religion or other characteristics.Any hate crime is punishable with criminal prosecution and remedies that may include restitution paid to the victim. You can also pursue a civil action for hate crime and seek damages, attorneys’ fees, and other relief.   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

Deadbeat Dads -- The ISBA Offers Some Suggestions Under the Law

 Question: How can I get my children’s deadbeat dad to make his child support payments on time?Answer:  If the parent obligated to pay child support falls behind in making payments, the court may request that the person's employer withhold the support directly from his or her paycheck. To do this, the custodial parent must obtain a court order by filing a form with the circuit court.Employers are legally obligated to withhold support, and those who do not are subject to legal penalties. You may also have the child support payments withheld and paid to the clerk of the court in your county, then sent to you. An Illinois law allows the courts to suspend deadbeat parents' driver's licenses for those who are 90 days behind in court-ordered child support.If you are not receiving the child support payments due you, or if they are late, you can contact the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, which offers free legal representation to enforce child support orders. Private attorneys also provide representation to compel support payments.   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

Preparing a Will for the First Time -- Some Tips from the Illinois State Bar Association

Question: I’m preparing to have a will drawn up for the first time.  What should I know?Answer: There are a number of decisions a person must make related to the dispersal of his or her assets after death. Who will receive the assets from the estate and at what age? Who will be named as guardians of minor children and what are their duties? Should life insurance proceeds be payable to a trustee or executor named in the will or to individuals directly? Who will be named executor of the will? Should charitable gifts be indicated? What steps can be taken to avoid paying unnecessary taxes upon your death?At the first meeting with your lawyer, take along a list of your assets, as well as the names and addresses of those who should receive them.  Once the will is drawn up, and you are satisfied with its contents, your lawyer will make sure that it is signed and witnessed in accordance with the law.  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

Accidental or Avoidable? Drawing the Line Between Natural and Negligent

In places like Chicago. where ice and snow are a danger for almost a third of the year, their proper disposal is necessary for public safety. In a recent case, improper disposal caused a tragedy and the public entities were granted immunity because the court held  that the snow and ice were naturally occurring.   Read on for Robert Clifford's expert opinion on why those responsible must be held accountable:http://cliffordlaw.com/news/firm-news/immunity-negligence/

The Importance of Jury Trials for Achieving Justice

Was it contributory  negligence or did the defendant do all that could be done to make the premises safe?  Read on for Robert Clifford's outlook on the importance of consistency, and a comprehensive pursuit of justice when summary judgment may preclude the discovery of certain facts:http://cliffordlaw.com/news/firm-news/jurors-hear-case/

Looking Back Can Inform the Future

The legal profession is an ever-changing world oftentimes in the midst of an adversarial atmosphere. Sometimes, a step back to pause and reflect on the reasons lawyers chose their "noble profession" can be just what is required to renew passion and remember goals.   Read on for Robert Clifford's insights into both the profession and some key rules that are handy to remember:http://cliffordlaw.com/news/firm-news/trip-memory-lane/

Public v. Private Job Wages -- Can the Wages Differ?

Question:  Can my employer force me to work on a private job for a lower wage while I am employed on a public works project at the prevailing wage?Answer: No. This is a common way contractors and subcontractors intentionally violate prevailing wage laws. Even if you’re not a union member, you are protected by Illinois and U.S. labor laws. The prevailing wage is based on the type of work you perform, and it’s important it is classified correctly by your employer. If you feel you were paid unfairly, you can file a claim with the Illinois Department of Labor. You cannot be punished by your employer for filing a claim.  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

Is the Charity Legitimate? Here's One Way To Tell

Question: How do I know if a charity or fundraiser is legitimate? Answer: Illinois law requires most charitable organizations and fund-raisers to register each year with the Office of the Illinois Attorney General. Consumers can check the Attorney General’s Website to learn about an organization’s income, expenses, programs and administration. Illinois law also requires charities to disclose – if they are asked – what percentage of a contribution will directly aid the people the charity serves and what percentage goes for salaries and other expenses.   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

FDA Moves to Close Loophole

Back in 2011, the Pliva v. Mensing ruling from the Supreme Court of the United States revealed a loophole in federal regulation of generic drugs.  Generic drug manufacturers were not responsible for the updating of labels; it was left to brand name companies. In the past two years, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has moved towards closing this regulation loophole.  After a public comment period, requirements are expected to change and these generic drug companies may bear new responsibility and liability in the maintenance of proper labeling. After this period, proponents of the move assure that patient safety will be enhanced.  For a more in-depth look at the issue, read the Today show report here:http://www.today.com/news/safety-advocates-loophole-puts-users-generic-drugs-risk-8C11545187#safety-advocates-loophole-puts-users-generic-drugs-risk-8C11545187

Johnson and Johnson Settlement Offer Solidifies

The Articulated Surface Replacement, or ASR, hip replacement device may cost Johnson & Johnson less than originally anticipated. After a reported tentative offer of over $4 billion, the lawyers for Johnson & Johnson reportedly went to work negotiating a new settlement offer at a reduced figure of $2.56 billion. However, the reduction does not tell the complete story, as separate suits could still be filed for pain and damages, which makes this a base figure that does not fully represent the total sum that could eventually be paid out.  For more dialogue on this case, see the New York Times article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/20/business/johnson-johnson-to-offer-2-5-billion-hip-device-settlement.html?emc=eta1&_r=0

Immigration Service Providers -- the ISBA Explains What They Can Do

Question:  I recently moved to Illinois from South America and want to remain here permanently. Can an immigration service provider handle all of my legal matters such as getting me a “green card” work permit? Answer:  Immigration service providers are limited in what they can offer. An immigration lawyer, on the other hand, can tell you which forms are needed in your case, fill them out on your behalf, and file and serve your legal papers. Immigrants should be aware that U.S. notaries are not lawyers, unlike notaries in some countries, and therefore cannot provide legal advice on immigration issues. Some immigrants have been victimized by scam artists who use the “notary” title to obtain upfront fees, then provide no service.  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

Exit Screening? Syracuse Airport Installs New Exit Doors

At the end of a long flight, or even a short one, the last thing anyone wants is another cumbersome procedure. People are more willing to participate in, and are accustomed to, security screenings in the airport than they were a decade ago. However, the latest addition of exit portals at the Syracuse airport caused some ire similar to when shoe screenings and body scanners became part of the air travel experience.   As part of renovations at the airport, officials there said they installed the new doors as an additional security measure and to avoid TSA screeners from monitoring the exits.  A cause for concern different from previous security additions, though, is that these devices hinder the speed and efficiency of exiting travelers, especially in case of an emergency like a fire. While authorities assured that there were available methods of egress in such a case, there remains a cause for concern. For more of the story on the pros and cons of these installments, see Tim Knauss’s article here: http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2013/11/syracuse_airport_exit_portals.html

When Doctors Don’t Speak Up, Patients Suffer

In any profession, mistakes are made. But when it comes to practicing medicine, there can be very little room or allowance for a code of silence that protects those who have erred. Doctors must be encouraged, and allowed, to speak out against their fellow practitioners without fear of reprisal or repercussion. Transparency would increase the quality of care, and restore some of the faith the medical profession has lost among laymen. Malpractice must be addressed and dealt with accordingly as a testament to the importance of patient safety and care over earnings. The peer pressure and financial dangers should not keep patients in harm’s way because good doctors stand silent. Marshall Allen’s ProPublica article tells more here: http://www.propublica.org/article/why-doctors-stay-mum-about-mistakes-their-colleagues-make/single#republish

Pause Before Posting: A faux pas online can stand as grounds for dismissal

Social media pervades our culture and acts as a digital "water cooler" for venting and gossip. However, a recent trend shows that employers are using poorly considered online comments as legal grounds for dismissal. Furthermore, ill-advised posts that show up on a search engine can prevent people even having a chance at a myriad of other opportunities.  For more, see the original article here: http://letamericaknow.com/view_newsletter_ysk.php?memberid=21957&orderid=619&newsletterid=202&issueid=1312&subscriberid=0  

The Slippery Slope of "Open and Obvious" Dangers

Some dangers may be open and obvious, but courts have struggled with the concept of when it may amount to negligence when someone is hurt or killed. Recent court cases have considered the expansion of the scope of an open and obvious danger.   Read on to hear Robert Clifford's cautionary words against this trend: http://cliffordlaw.com/news/firm-news/dangerous-precedent/

Problems with your Cable Company? Here's what the Illinois State Bar Suggests

Question:  How can I best resolve an issue with a bill I received from my cable TV service company?
 
Answer:  Start by visiting the company’s Website or calling their customer service hotline. If that fails to resolve your issue, contact the Illinois Attorney General’s office. Under the state’s new Cable and Video Customer Protection Law, there are stronger standards that cable and satellite service companies must abide by, governing installation, disconnection, repairs, appointment hours, billing procedures, customer remedies and special needs services.
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

Unneighborly Waste in Plain Sight -- Legal?

Question:  Our neighbor has a stack of used car tires and other trash in plain view in his back yard.  Isn’t that against the law?
 
Answer:  Yes, it is considered a form of illegal dumping. Other crimes against the environment include burning tires, agricultural waste, chemical release, hazardous waste, chemical and demolition debris, and yard waste. You can report the problem by calling the Illinois Environmental Hotline at 1-888-288-9436.
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

Can you get a refund for a checked bag that was lost?

Question:  The airline lost my suitcase that I paid $35 to check. Eventually it was found and returned. Am I entitled to a refund? Answer: Not according to the law. The majority of airlines won’t provide a refund for the checked bag, even if it takes days to find it.  The U.S. Department of Transportation wants to change that, but the airlines are fighting it, arguing it would raise prices across the board.   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

Planning a Wedding on a Handshake

Question: For our daughter’s wedding, we are working with a wedding planner who is also a family friend. The financial arrangement was made with a handshake. Have we set ourselves up for a problem? Answer:  A good rule of thumb is never hire anyone who works without a contract. Without it, you have no legal recourse if something goes wrong. By far, the biggest problem with weddings seems to be with banquet halls, where the salesperson made a verbal promise that does not appear on the event order form. You should also insist on a contract from the wedding photographer, any musicians and other professionals providing services. Never pay everything upfront, and pay only with a credit card so you can reverse the charges if the contractor fails to deliver.    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

Hip Replacement Problems Could Cost Johnson & Johnson Billions

Multiple sources have confirmed that a tentative settlement agreement has been reached in the case of faulty hip devices.  Clifford Law Offices represents several clients who have been victims of this faulty device.  The current reported settlement amount stands at $4.4 billion dollars, but could go up a few hundred million more should the plaintiffs also secure the right to have insurance and Medicare payouts reimbursed, according to Bloomberg News and The New York Times.   The full details of the settlement remain uncertain, but a preliminary release includes the details of an "average" settlement of $350,000 per plaintiff and the option to have the faulty Articular Surface Replacement (ASR) removed and substituted for a functional device. This decision is hoped to alleviate the issues that have plagued the ASR device recipients for years, for which Johnson & Johnson mandated a recall after a drastic increase in reported failures in mid-2010.

Grounds for Annulment in Illinois - the ISBA Explains

Question: What are the grounds for annulment in Illinois? Answer: Grounds for annulment vary in different legal jurisdictions but are typically limited to fraud, bigamy and mental incompetence.
In Illinois, they may also include the following circumstances:
  • A party lacked capacity to consent to the marriage at the time that the marriage was solemnized, either because of mental incapacity or infirmity or because of the influence of alcohol, drugs or other substances, or the party was forced into the marriage fraudulently (within 90 days after the petitioner learned of the condition);
  • A party lacked the physical capacity to consummate the marriage within one year’s time;
  • A party was under age 18 and did not have the consent of his or her parents, or guardian, or judicial approval (the marriage can be declared invalid prior to the time that the person reaches age 18 when the party could have married legally).
   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

Returning Vets Getting Their Former Jobs Back -- It's the Law

Question:  Our son is returning home from Iraq soon after the New Year. Will he be able to get his former job back?Answer:  Illinois soldiers who are returning home from war overseas are entitled to reemployment upon their return, according to federal law. Under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act, military personnel must have given written or verbal advance notice to their employer; not have a cumulative length of absences due to service in excess of five years; and must submit an application for reemployment within an appropriate time frame, which varies depending on the length of military service and whether the person has a service-connected injury or illness.Other sections of the law provide for driver's license and license plate renewal, power of attorney, wills and living wills, fair credit reporting and student loans.   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

Protecting a Newborn Through the Safe Haven Law in Illinois

Question:  What is the time limit on a parent or parents surrendering their newborn child to a so-called “safe haven?”
 
Answer:Abandonment of a newborn baby is a prosecutable offense in the state of Illinois.  In 2001, Illinois passed the Abandoned Newborn Infant Protection Act or Safe Haven Law, which allows parents of newborns to surrender the child within 30 days of their birth to a safe haven without being prosecuted. The law is intended to encourage parents to leave an unwanted newborn with a responsible party, rather than abandon the child, which may result in severe injury or death. Parents may give an infant to a hospital, manned fire station or other emergency medical facility. In such a situation, the surrendering parent(s) are granted anonymity.
 
 
 
 
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

Registered Sex Offender Moves Into Your Neighborhood -- What You Can Do

Question: We discovered that someone who moved in down the street is a registered sex offender. How can we ensure that our families are protected from harm?Answer: The Sex Offender Registry was created in response to the Illinois Legislature's determination to facilitate access to publicly available information about persons convicted of sex offenses. Illinois State Police has not considered or assessed the specific risk of re-offense with regard to any individual prior to his or her inclusion on this registry and has made no determination that any individual included in the registry is currently dangerous. Individuals included on the registry are included solely by virtue of their conviction record and Illinois state law. The primary purpose of providing this information is to make the information easily available and accessible, not to warn about any specific individuals. Anyone who uses this information to commit a criminal act against another person is subject to criminal prosecution.  
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

Negligent Entrustment of Your Car -- the ISBA Offers Some Tips

Question: What happens if I loan or sell a car to a minor who is then in car accident? Answer : In Illinois, if a car is lent to someone who may not be competent to operate it, and he or she causes an accident, there is a theory of law under which the lender can be liable for damages that arise. The theory is called "negligent entrustment of a vehicle."This is not the case, however, in the sale of an auto. In a 1984 case that made it all the way to the Supreme Court of Illinois, a father sold his car to his 23-year-old son. Later, the son was involved in an accident that killed his passenger. The passenger's parents sued the father under the "negligent entrustment of a vehicle" theory.In court, the passenger's parents argued that because the son had three DUI convictions and did not have a driver's license, the father was negligent in entrusting the car to his son. The court, however, ruled in favor of the father, holding that the theory of "negligent entrustment" did not apply to the sale of an automobile.   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

Power of Attorney v. Living Trust -- Ask A Lawyer

Question: How can I determine whether I should get a power of attorney or a living trust?Answer: Living trusts and durable powers of attorney for property have some similarities but also have unique characteristics. Factors to take into account include the size of your estate, the form in which you wish to hold your assets, your age and state of health and whether you want the instrument to be effective immediately or sometime in the future. For most individuals, a durable power of attorney for health may be desirable in any event. A lawyer can give you information on the best way to make these kinds of choices.   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

Using Some Electronic Devices Will Be Allowed During Take-Offs and Landings

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) decided that it will begin lifting restrictions on the use of some portable electronic devices so that they now can be used during all phases of flight.Tablets, e-readers like Kindles and other electronic devices that play games and videos can be used safely and can provide travelers more comfort during the critical take-off and landing phases of the flight.  The FAA said it is providing airlines with guidelines to carry out the new policy.  The ban on cell phone use remains in effect.The FAA has long been studying the use of electronic devices below 10,000 feet and said that it made this new decision after input from representatives from the airlines, aviation manufacturers, passengers, pilots, flight attendants and the mobile technology industry.These changes will take effect depending upon each individual airline but the FAA said it is likely to occur before the end of this year.  To read the Department of Transportation’s press release on this new rule, click here

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