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State Negligence Damage Cap Raised to $2 Million

Illinois

The Illinois legislature overrode the veto of SB 2481 in November. The bill provided additional compensation to families of veterans who died of Legionnaires’ disease at the Quincy veterans home by raising the damage cap for tort actions against the State of Illinois. Since July of 2015, thirteen resident veterans at the Quincy Veterans Home died while under the care of the State of Illinois.  Under the previous law, the law set the damage cap at $100,000.

Governor Rauner’s Veto

Illinois set the the $100,000 cap, which tied for the lowest in the country, in 1972. The Illinois legislature voted to raise the cap to $2,000,000. Lawmakers proposed the bill after reports that the families of the Legionnaires’ victims could only collect $100,000. At the time, the Rauner administration denied negligence handling the outbreaks at the Quincy nursing home.

When Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed the bill, he said that the bill ignored the impact of future litigation on the “fiscal position of the state and its taxpayers.” He argued that the damage cap should increase from $100,000 to $300,000.

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Illinois Medical Record Rules for Personal Injury Cases

illinois medical records Attribution: Alpha Stock Images - http://alphastockimages.com/

Hospital by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images

As previously discussed, insurance companies frequently request medical records. What do you need to specifically know about Illinois medical record rules?

How Do I Get My Medical Records?

Health care provides keep most adult medical records for at least six years. Children have varying lengths of time as well. This length can depend on state laws. Under Illinois law, hospitals must keep medical records at least 10 years. However, no specific rule exists for how long doctors in Illinois must keep medical records. Remember that you have the right to see, get a copy of, and amend your medical record for as long as your health care provider has it.

Under Illinois law, your health care provider owns the actual medical record. For example, if your provider maintains paper medical records, they own and have the right to keep the original record. You only have the right to see and get a copy of it.

Requesting Your Records

Request the record directly from your health care provider. Depending on the record you need, you may need to talk with a hospital or your primary care physician. However, if your doctor no longer practices, you may need to contact the state department of health to find out where your records are kept. You might be denied access to certain medical records, such as your mental health records, if your provider thinks it would harm your physical health for you to see your records.

Facilities may have forms on hand for you to request your medical records, but you can also fill out a Medical Records Request Letter and send it in. You may need to provide the following information:

  • Your name and maiden name
  • Social security number
  • Medical ID number under your policy, or the policy provider number
  • Contact information (address, email and phone number)
  • The records being requested
  • The date of the service(s) of record
  • How you would like your records delivered
  • Your signature

Why This Matters to Your Injury Case

Your lawyer will want to have all of your related medical records related to your injury. This information will:

  • allow an accurate assessment of your injuries,
  • assess the viability of your case,
  • provide proof of your injuries,
  • help determine damage,
  • allows medical experts to analyze the records, and
  • helps prove fault.

Getting the compensation you deserve shouldn’t be a battle. Arlington Heights personal injury attorney Ronald F. Wittmeyer understands how you feel. With more than 30 years experience practicing plaintiffs’ personal injury law, we can fight aggressively on your behalf. Serving the Northwest suburbs including Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Palatine, and surrounding areas, the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd.helps level the playing field against major insurance companies and corporations. If you’ve been injured or involved in an accident, call our office at (847) 637-5818 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation with one of our highly qualified Arlington Heights personal injury attorneys. The sooner we can learn about your case and your needs, the more effective we can be at recovering fair and adequate compensation for your losses.

MCLE and Illinois’s New Requirements

MCLE

MCLE stands for minimum continuing legal education. Most states requirement CLE so that attorneys maintain an up-to- date knowledge of the law. Typically, states require attorneys  to take thirty credit hours every two years. Newly admitted attorneys must complete a total of 15 MCLE hours. The hours include 6 hours of basic skills course, which must be completed prior to being sworn into the bar and 9 hours of general or professional responsibility, which must be completed within 1 year after being sworn into the bar.

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Denied Insurance Claim? Here’s What You Should Do

Denied Insurance Claim? Here’s What You Should DoSteps To Take After Your Denied Insurance Claim

 

Insurance companies charge you premiums to make a profit. Every time they pay a claim, that profit drops. Thus, insurance companies do everything in their power to delay or deny claims. If your denied insurance claim was valid, here’s what you need to do after receiving your denial letter.

 

Identify the Cause of the Denial

 

When an insurance company denies your claim, it must give reasoning. The reasoning is typically included in the denial letter. Finding out why your claim was denied is the first step to getting the compensation you deserve. Insurance companies deny claims for many reasons, but the most common reasons are:

 

Disputed Liability

 

Depending on the policy, the insurance company will deny a claim if the policyholder was not at fault.

It’s common for insurance companies to try to deny liability, so they don’t have to pay the claim. The good news is you will typically be given a chance to appeal the denied insurance claim.

 

If the insurance company is disputing liability, you need to consult with an attorney. Because this is a commonly used tactic to deny claims, you will need a seasoned personal injury claim attorney to prove liability so you can be compensated. To prove liability, you will need to gather evidence such as a crash or police reports and medical records.

 

Policy Exclusions

 

In some cases, insurance companies will deny claims because of policy exclusions. Insurance policies generally don’t cover intentional acts, acts of God, or some natural disasters. If any of these elements were involved in your accident, you might not be covered.

Lapse in Policy

 

The other most common reason for a claim denial is a lapse in the policy, which happens when the policyholder fails to pay the premium.

 

Facing a denied insurance claim can be frustrating and leave you feeling outnumbered. Insurance companies are motivated to deny your claim to save them money, which is why it’s so important to work with an experienced Arlington Heights car accident claim lawyer when filing a claim. A good attorney can help you appeal your denial and get your valid claim paid.

 

If you need help with an insurance claim, Arlington Heights personal injury attorney Ronald F. Wittmeyer can help. With more than 30 years experience practicing plaintiffs’ personal injury law, we can fight aggressively on your behalf. Serving the Northwest suburbs including Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Palatine, and surrounding areas, the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. helps level the playing field against major insurance companies and corporations. If you’ve been injured or involved in an accident, call our office at (847) 357-0403 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation with one of our highly qualified Arlington Heights personal injury attorneys. The sooner we can learn about your case and your needs, the more effective we can be at recovering fair and adequate compensation for your losses.

 

13% of Illinois Drivers Are Uninsured: Here’s How to Protect Yourself

13% of Illinois Drivers Are Uninsured: Here’s How to Protect YourselfOver 13% of Illinois drivers are uninsured, according to a recent survey by the Insurance Research Council (IRC). So if you get in an accident in Illinois, it’s a real possibility the other driver could be uninsured. Protecting yourself from uninsured motorists is easy if you take preventative action and know what to do if you’re involved in an accident.

 

Purchase Good Insurance Coverage

 

The best way to protect yourself from uninsured drivers is to carry good uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. UM coverage is relatively inexpensive considering the benefits. And with 13% of Illinois drivers being uninsured, UM coverage is more important than ever.

 

Illinois requires drivers carry a minimum amount of UM coverage equal to the minimum amount of liability insurance. The minimum policy limits in Illinois are $20k for property damage, $25k bodily injury for one person per accident, and $50k for more than one person involved in an accident. In many cases, these policy limits are insufficient and quickly exhausted. We recommend bodily injury policy limits of $250k per person and $500k per accident for your protection.

 

Know How to File an Insurance Claim

 

You can file an uninsured motorist claim with your insurance company if the at-fault driver is uninsured or fled the scene (hit and run). UM claims are also common in accidents involving a car and a bicyclist or pedestrian. But it’s important to know that even if you are filing a claim with your insurance company, you need to be aware of your rights to make sure your insurer doesn’t violate them. A good first step is to read through your insurance policy to learn about the policy terms when filing a UM claim. Also, it’s a good idea to consult with an experienced Illinois auto accident attorney who can sort out the limits and terms of your policy so you can get maximum compensation.

 

Direct Claims

 

In very few instances, it’s worth it to file a personal injury claim directly against the at-fault driver. These claims can be very complex and are best handled by a seasoned personal injury attorney. Direct claims require more legwork and can be difficult to pursue in court. In certain cases, however, a direct claim is the only way to recover damages.

 

The State of Illinois is cracking down on uninsured drivers, enforcing fines and conducting random surveys requiring drivers submit proof of insurance. Nevertheless, it’s crucial to protect yourself adequately and know what steps to take after being involved in an accident with an uninsured driver. If you’ve been involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured Illinois driver, you should contact an Arlington Heights auto accident and attorney immediately. The sooner you involve an attorney in your claim, the better your chance of getting fair compensation.

 

If you’ve been involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, Arlington Heights personal injury attorney Ronald F. Wittmeyer can help. With more than 30 years experience practicing plaintiffs’ personal injury law, we can fight aggressively on your behalf. Serving the Northwest suburbs including Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Palatine, and surrounding areas, the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. helps level the playing field against major insurance companies and corporations. If you’ve been injured or involved in an accident, call our office at (847) 357-0403 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation with one of our highly qualified Arlington Heights personal injury attorneys. The sooner we can learn about your case and your needs, the more effective we can be at recovering fair and adequate compensation for your losses.

 

The Risks of Using Social Media When Filing an Insurance Claim

The Risks of Using Social Media When Filing an Insurance ClaimPosting in Private

 

Social media is a great way to share the details of your life with your friends and family. But social media is not suitable for sharing information about an accident or insurance claim. Insurance companies are increasingly turning to technology to investigate claims. Part of this effort is looking to social media to find information about claimants. But they aren’t using that information for your benefit; they’re using it to increase their profits.

 

Can They Do That?

 

Insurance companies are within their right to check claimants’ public social media accounts like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. But they aren’t interested in pictures of your pets and what you had for dinner. They want to find information they can use to deny your claim. How do they do this? I’m glad you asked because understanding their tactics is the key to protecting your rights.

 

What Are They Looking For?

 

Insurance companies will do anything to find evidence and information about your life to disprove what you tell them. For example, if you told the insurance company you experienced significant pain for weeks after your accident, the claims investigator might turn to your social media pages to find information to the contrary. If your posts show you going out with friends or having a good time, they might say you couldn’t possibly have been in great pain.

 

Similarly, some claimants have been caught talking about the details of their claims on social media, accidentally revealing bits of information that the insurance companies can use to deny their claim. It happens all the time. Claims investigators have even accused claimants of insurance fraud based on poorly thought out social media posts.

 

Why It’s Not Fair

 

But there is an inherent problem in this tactic: a problem insurance companies don’t always acknowledge. People are more likely to downplay the negative in their life on social media. Typically, we post about positive things and keep the negative components of our personal lives private. Furthermore, many of us don’t take social media so seriously that we overthink the consequences of what we’re saying. It’s supposed to be fun and informal! But insurance companies will stop at nothing to use our words against us to devalue or deny claims.

 

You should always be on guard when dealing with insurance companies. Don’t assume your private life is private. It’s a good idea to abstain from posting about your accident or claim and consider whether insurance investigators could misinterpret your posts. If you want to learn more about what you should do to protect your rights and your claim, consult with an experienced Illinois personal injury attorney in your area. An attorney can help you avoid common insurance claim mistakes.

 

If you need help with an insurance claim, Arlington Heights personal injury attorney Ronald F. Wittmeyer can help. With more than 30 years experience practicing plaintiffs’ personal injury law, we can fight aggressively on your behalf. Serving the Northwest suburbs including Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Palatine, and surrounding areas, the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. helps level the playing field against major insurance companies and corporations. If you’ve been injured or involved in an accident, call our office at (847) 357-0403 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation with one of our highly qualified Arlington Heights personal injury attorneys. The sooner we can learn about your case and your needs, the more effective we can be at recovering fair and adequate compensation for your losses.

Dash and Helmet Cams: Can They Protect Your Rights?

Dash and Helmet Cams: Can They Protect Your Rights?Keeping a Record

 

Dash and helmet cams are becoming common fixtures in cars and motorcycles today. While they have long been in use in Asian countries—where traffic is hectic, and accountability is minimal—motorists in the US are now using cams to protect their rights in accidents and encounters with law enforcement.

 

New technologies have also fueled this trend. Action cameras—like GoPros—are making portable video recording cheaper and more accessible. Dash cams easily clip into adapters that can mount on your windshield. And new adapters can securely strap action cameras to DOT-approved helmets so that bikers can comply with helmet laws and manufacturer’s warnings about modification of the helmet shell.

 

This new trend not only gives us hair-raising camera footage, but it is helping claimants get the compensation they deserve from insurance companies.

 

How They Help

 

Dash cams and helmet cams can provide clues to what happened in an accident. Camera footage can illuminate issues such as traffic light color, the right of way, and sequence of events. It can also show lane changes, turns, and merging, all common points of collision. Having proof of these elements can reduce the chance of the insurance company disputing liability. This is especially helpful in motorcycle accidents where visibility is often an issue. Helmet cam footage can show the line of sight between car and motorcycle, clarifying when and where the collision took place.

 

Is Recording Legal?

 

Bear in mind, laws on recording can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. While there is no law prohibiting you from recording your commute, in some cases, it is illegal to record someone without their knowledge, which could come into play if you kept recording after the accident. Also, the footage can be subpoenaed as evidence in a personal injury claim. Take care to back it up after a collision because deleting it could land you in trouble.

 

A dash cam alone isn’t enough to ensure you fair compensation. Insurance companies use brilliant tactics to work against everything a claimant says and the evidence they provide. They are quickly learning to challenge new technologies, such as dash and helmet cam footage. If you recorded footage of your accident, speak with a car and motorcycle accident attorney in the Arlington Heights area. An attorney can help you submit the footage to the right parties to support your claim. This will give you the best chance at full and fair compensation.

 

If you’ve been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, Arlington Heights personal injury attorney Ronald F. Wittmeyer can help. With more than 30 years experience practicing plaintiffs’ personal injury law, we can fight aggressively on your behalf. Serving the Northwest suburbs including Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Palatine, and surrounding areas, the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. helps level the playing field against major insurance companies and corporations. If you’ve been injured or involved in an accident, call our office at (847) 357-0403 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation with one of our highly qualified Arlington Heights personal injury attorneys. The sooner we can learn about your case and your needs, the more effective we can be at recovering fair and adequate compensation for your losses.

 

 

Can An Attorney Get Me a Bigger Settlement?

Can An Attorney Get Me a Bigger Settlement?As a personal injury law firm, we get many calls from potential clients who want to know whether we can get them a bigger settlement. Indeed, this is one of the most common questions we are asked. The answer—not to disappoint you—is that it depends on the specific facts and circumstances of the case.

 

Getting What You Deserve

 

Many factors can influence your settlement amount. But, generally speaking, an attorney will be able to make those elements work in your favor for a maximum settlement. For smaller claims, an attorney might not have a lot of leverage to get you a bigger settlement. In claims involving moderate to severe injuries, lost time from work, or long-term disability, however, an attorney might be able to get you a bigger settlement using the following techniques.

 

Experience With Insurance

 

Personal injury attorneys have extensive experience working with insurance companies. You may have filed a few claims in your life, but only a personal injury attorney will have seen the gamut of moves an insurance company will make to deny claims. They know every trick in the book and know how to spot and stop them.

 

This benefit is priceless because too many claimants are taken advantage of by insurance adjusters who are merely doing their job by making the insurance company money. The tactics they use can be sneaky. Unfortunately, if the claimant unknowingly agrees to something or signs the wrong piece of documentation, he or she could forfeit all rights to compensation.

 

An Understanding of the Law

 

An attorney can use the law to your advantage. Illinois personal injury law is complex. A good attorney can find the areas of the law that can strengthen your claim and emphasize them. He or she can also make sure the law is not inappropriately applied to your case by a less than forthright insurance adjuster.

Picking the Right Strategy

 

An attorney will know when to settle and when to litigate. Not all claims settle out of court. Claims of high value or involving disputed liability or facts are sometimes less likely to settle. A good attorney will be able to make a wise judgment call on when to file suit. Likewise, an experienced attorney will be able to navigate the litigation process, which can be lengthy, convoluted, and demanding of your time.

 

What An Attorney Can Do

 

Consult with an experienced Illinois personal injury attorney if you have questions about the personal injury claims process. An honest attorney can tell you whether your case is worth their time and your money. Most personal injury attorneys charge on a contingency basis. This means they only collect a fee if you win your case. He or she can also provide you with information that can help you make the best decision on how to handle your claim.

 

If you’ve been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, Arlington Heights personal injury attorney Ronald F. Wittmeyer can help. With more than 30 years experience practicing plaintiffs’ personal injury law, we can fight aggressively on your behalf. Serving the Northwest suburbs including Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Palatine, and surrounding areas, the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. helps level the playing field against major insurance companies and corporations. If you’ve been injured or involved in an accident, call our office at (847) 357-0403 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation with one of our highly qualified Arlington Heights personal injury attorneys. The sooner we can learn about your case and your needs, the more effective we can be at recovering fair and adequate compensation for your losses.

 

Health Insurance Refusing to Pay? Here’s What You Should Know About Subrogation

Health Insurance Refusing to Pay? Here’s What You Should Know About Subrogation

Who Pays First?

After treating injuries from an accident, many people receive a notice from their health insurance company stating it may or may not be responsible for paying your bill. Many people think their health insurance company is refusing to pay. In reality, the health insurance company is explaining their right to subrogated interest.

What Is Subrogation?

When faced with mounting medical bills and an uncooperative health insurance company, many people don’t know what to do. The fact is your health insurance company has a duty to pay your medical bills according to your policy. But your insurance company might have a claim to subrogated interest. This means that they might have a right to reimbursement after they pay your claims. You still have a right to compensation for your losses. Your compensation, however, could be reduced by the subrogation claim your health insurance company has.

How Subrogation Works

If your health insurance company paid for $5,000 of medical bills for treatments for your injuries sustained in an accident, and you received $10,000 compensation from the liable party’s insurance company, your health insurance company could be entitled to reimbursement for the $5,000 paid.

Further Complications

This is a simplified example used to illustrate how the transfer of the right to compensation works. Additional factors that can affect subrogation include the difference between what the provider billed and what the insurance company ultimately paid. Also, the specific language in your insurance policy can affect how subrogation laws are applied in your case. Expect further complications if you have Medicare or are receiving workers’ comp benefits, both of which handle subrogation rights a little differently.

Insurance claims can be complex, especially when there are multiple policies involved. To ensure your medical bills are paid and you receive fair compensation for your losses, work with an Arlington Heights personal injury attorney when handling your claim. A skilled attorney can review your insurance policies and those of the liable party. Then, he or she can determine whether your insurer has a right to compensation and explain how that can affect your settlement.

 

Dealing with medical bills after an accident can be overwhelming, but Arlington Heights personal injury attorney Ronald F. Wittmeyer can help. With more than 30 years experience practicing plaintiffs’ personal injury law, we can fight aggressively on your behalf. Serving the Northwest suburbs including Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Palatine, and surrounding areas, the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. helps level the playing field against major insurance companies and corporations. If you’ve been injured or involved in an accident, call our office at (847) 357-0403 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation with one of our highly qualified Arlington Heights personal injury attorneys. The sooner we can learn about your case and your needs, the more effective we can be at recovering fair and adequate compensation for your losses.

 

 

Knowing When to Settle and When to File Suit

Knowing When to Settle and When to File SuitFiling an insurance claim is like playing a game. And, when out on the field, it helps to know the playbook. Knowing when to settle your claim and when you should file suit is one of the most important strategies you can master. But choose your strategy wisely to ensure you receive fair compensation as soon as possible with as little expense as possible.

When to Settle

The majority of insurance claims are settled out of court. Typically, the parties involved—the plaintiff and the insurance company—can come to a settlement agreement. Reaching an agreement saves both the time and cost of litigation. Cases most likely to settle successfully are those where liability is clear, and the damages are undisputed. Likewise, low-value claims and those involving minor injuries are rarely worth the hassle of a trial.

When to File a Law Suit

You can face many barriers to settling an insurance claim. Sometimes it is necessary to file suit if you’ve tried to settle, but the insurance company will not offer fair compensation. Consider filing suit if the insurance company is denying liability, disputing your losses, or is firm on a lowball settlement offer. You can still attempt to settle after you commence litigation and before trial. Keep in mind you may or may not have the same bargaining power at that point.

A Note of Caution

The only good time to settle or file suit is after you’ve treated your injuries to the fullest extent. Once you receive compensation, you are responsible for all future medical bills, so make sure you have a good idea of your future expenses before you even think about resolving your case.

Playing the Game

Filing suit can be costly and involves the court. It can also significantly prolong your case. You should never file suit unless you cannot settle for fair compensation. Don’t let the insurance adjuster pressure you into signing a settlement agreement. If you don’t know whether you should file suit or try to settle in your case, speak with an attorney. Working with an experienced Illinois personal injury attorney can ensure you receive fair compensation, no matter the route you have to take.

 

If you’ve recently been injured and need help with your insurance claim, Arlington Heights personal injury attorney Ronald F. Wittmeyer can help. With more than 30 years experience practicing plaintiffs’ personal injury law, we can fight aggressively on your behalf. Serving the Northwest suburbs including Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Palatine, and surrounding areas, the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. helps level the playing field against major insurance companies and corporations. If you’ve been injured or involved in an accident, call our office at (847) 357-0403 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation with one of our highly qualified Arlington Heights personal injury attorneys. The sooner we can learn about your case and your needs, the more effective we can be at recovering fair and adequate compensation for your losses.

 

About the Firm


Ronald F. Wittmeyer, Jr. practices plaintiffs' personal injury law at his office in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

About Ron

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