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Serious Personal Injury Cases

Personal injury law involves injury which is caused accidentally by another’s failure to use reasonable care. The definition of reasonable care is determined on a case–by–case basis. A person may be liable for the injury caused through negligent or reckless action. The injury to the plaintiff must be caused by and be a foreseeable result of the defendant’s action. Some of the defenses to liability for personal injury include intervening causes, pre–existing condition, and assumption of the risk.

Types of personal injury lawsuits brought include injury and wrongful death cases arising from automobile, bike and pedestrian collisions, trucking accidents, boat and airplane accidents, construction accidents and OSHA violations, premises liability, product liability, nursing home liability, toxic and mass torts, medical malpractice, and other forms of negligence. A successful plaintiff in a personal injury suit may recover damages for medical expenses, property damage, emotional distress, pain and suffering, loss of consortium or companionship, lost wages, costs and attorney fees, and lost future earnings.

Nursing Home & Nursing Care Cases

The practice of nursing as a registered professional nurse is defined as diagnosing and treating human responses to actual or potential physical and emotional health problems, through such services as case finding, health teaching, health counseling, and provision of care supportive to or restorative of life and wellbeing, and executing medical regimens as prescribed by a licensed or otherwise legally authorized physician or dentist.

Nursing includes professionals in clinical nursing, nursing management, health care quality assurance and health care risk management. Many legal issues focus on nurses' professional negligence, employment, discrimination and licensing. Nurse Practice Acts (NPAs) are laws in each state that are overseen by the state boards of nursing. They are also responsible for licensing of nurses and determining who is competent to practice nursing. Common Law is derived from principles or social mores rather than from rules and regulations. It consists of broad, interpretive principles based on reason, traditional justice and common sense. Together, the NPAs and judge made case law define nursing practice. It is a nurse’s responsibility to be informed on both the NPA and common law of judicial case law for the state(s) in which they are licensed to practice.

Abandonment results when the nurse-patient relationship is terminated without making reasonable arrangements with an appropriate person so that nursing care by others can be continued. An example of a legal definition states as follows:

“Abandoning or neglecting a patient or client under and in need of immediate professional care, without making reasonable arrangements for the continuation of such care, or abandoning a professional employment by a group practice, hospital, clinic or other health care facility, without reasonable notice and under circumstances which seriously impair the delivery of professional care to patients or clients.”

Some of the factors considered include:

Did the nurse accept the patient assignment, creating a nurse-patient relationship? Did the nurse provide reasonable notice before terminating the nurse-patient relationship? Could reasonable arrangements have been made for continuation of nursing care by others when proper notification was given?

In most cases, the following situations are not examples of abandonment:

Refusing to accept responsibility for a patient assignment(s) when the nurse has given reasonable notice to the proper agent that the nurse lacks competence to carry out the assignment. Refusing the assignment of a double shift or additional hours beyond the posted work schedule when proper notification has been given.

Gender Violence Act Cases

Gender violence cases usually occur away from the workplace. They are date rape cases, rape cases, sexual assault cases by a co–worker, beating women and battering women. They differ from gender discrimination in employment cases. Gender violence cases were permitted by the legislature to provide a remedy for women who were beaten and battered so that the offender does not escape liability for medical expenses and the psychological traumas resulting from the violent acts.

Date Rape Cases

Victims of date rape were raped by an individual with whom they were acquainted. In many such cases, the establishment of guilt becomes difficult, particularly in cases where the victim displays no physical evidence of violence and there is only the testimony of the victim. Date rape studies show that there is a high incidence of under–reporting of this crime, often due to loss of memory of the victim.

There are certain “date rape” drugs that render the victim unconscious and limit memory, such as GHB and Rohypnol; using these drugs on somebody is not actually “date rape,” but a federal crime with a possible 20 year sentence. In 2000, President Clinton signed a federal law banning the possession of distribution of the date rape drug called GHB. The fact that the parties knew each other or that the woman willingly accompanied the man are not legal defenses to a charge of rape.

Toxic Black Mold Cases

Molds are microscopic organisms found virtually everywhere, indoors, and outdoors. Mold spores are tiny, lightweight, and easily detached by airflow, vacuuming, walking on a carpet or sitting on a couch. In indoor environments, they grow in air–conditioning ducts, carpets, pots of household plants, etc. They produce and release millions of spores, which are small enough to stay airborne threatening to invade the human respiratory system. Due to the health risks associated with mold exposure, certain laws may apply, dealing with such issues as warranties, insurance rights, torts, and others.

Due to the health and safety concerns involved with toxic mold, there is a growing pressure to enact laws which deal with the presence of mold on property. One state's mold legislation includes such provisions as requiring disclosure by sellers of property of known mold on the premises to prospective buyers and guidelines for identification and removal of mold.

Sexual Harassment & Assault Cases

Hostile environment in the workplace is the most commonly recognized form of sexual harassment. This mostly occurs when job benefits are made contingent on the provision of sexual favors. When a sexual advance is rejected by an employee it can result in loss of employment or other benefits in job. This is also a part of quid pro quo sexual harassment. Quid pro quo harassment also occurs when an employee makes an evaluative decision, or provides or withholds professional opportunities based on another employee's submission to verbal, nonverbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.

When a sexual harassment claimant establishes a case of sexual harassment that meets applicable legal standards, employers are under the burden of proving that the harassment did not occur or that it occurred for nondiscriminatory reasons. Remedies for victims of quid pro quo sexual harassment include recovery of compensatory damages. Punitive damages can also be awarded to successful claimants. However, such damages are awarded only if the claimant establishes that the employer acted with malice or reckless indifference to his/her rights.

Retaliatory Discharge Cases

Retaliatory discharge a legal term for the punishment of an employee for engaging in a protected activity, such as filing a discrimination charge or opposing unlawful employer practices. A typical claim might involve an employee discharged for filing a valid worker’s compensation claim. It is usually an exception to the at–will employment doctrine, which allows an employer to fire an employee for any or no reason at all.

For example, an employer is prohibited from retaliating against an employee who complains of discriminatory behavior on the part of the employer or a co-worker, or who refuses to participate in discriminatory behavior at the request of the employer, or on behalf of the employer. Typically the complaining employee's belief that discrimination has occurred must be a reasonable belief.

Consumer Fraud Cases

Consumer fraud refers to an act resulting in financial or other losses for consumers in the business transactions. The act where the use or employment by any person of any unfair commercial practice, deception, fraud, false promise, suppression, or omission of any material fact with an intention to sell or advertisement of any product by misleading the consumer is declared to be an unlawful practice. Consumer fraud can take place in person, by telephone or mail, or over the internet.

Deceptive Business Practices

Deceptive trade practice is an activity in which an individual or business engages that is likely to mislead or lure the public into purchasing a product or service. False advertising and odometer tampering are two examples of deceptive trade practice. Deceptive trade practices are given special status as offenses against the general public. It is accorded by law of special enforcement status.

Deceptive trade practices result in criminal prosecution in some states. In some other states, statutes provide for private enforcement, whereby a citizen is entitled to sue a business for violating deceptive trade practice laws. The person may be able to recover punitive damages and/or statutory fines. Moreover, the attorney general of the state may bring a lawsuit against an offending business enterprise.

A number of states have adopted the standardized Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act (UDTPA). The Uniform Act does not add or detract from the law of any one state. It covers almost all the prohibitions and issues addressed in state laws. The states that have not adopted the UDTPA have similar other laws.

Whistle–Blower Cases & False Claims Act

The term Whistleblower usually refers to someone reporting a fraud against the government under the False Claims Act. In 1863, in response to frauds that were costing the U.S. Treasury millions of dollars and many lives, Abraham Lincoln urged Congress to pass the False Claims Act to prevent scams against the federal government. The False Claims Act is now used to discourage fraud against the federal government in many areas, including prescription drug purchases, nursing homes, weapons and defense purchases, natural resource contracts, and low-income housing.

Under the 1986 amendments to the False Claims Act, the role of the Whistleblower was expanded, and the financial reward to the Whistleblower was increased. In addition, the amendments allowed whistle–blowers to play an active role in the litigation and to challenge the fairness and adequacy of a government–negotiated settlement. Also, in cases where the Whistleblower prevailed, the law required that reasonable attorney's fees be paid.

A claim under the Federal False Claims Act is filed on behalf of the United States, and often referred to as a "qui tam" action. A qui tam suit is a suit brought by an individual on behalf of the United States government seeking to expose and thereby stop the wasting of federal funds. The qui tam relator, often referred to as a Whistleblower, if successful in his or her suit, is entitled to a percentage of the funds recouped by the federal government, generally between 15 to 25 % of the recovery. The claim is brought by anyone with knowledge of the fraud, including health care administrators, doctors, nurses and patients. However, a private citizen or company can not file a qui tam action without an attorney. This is because the relator brings his or her case on behalf of the government, and the U.S. government can not be represented in court by a non-attorney.

In order to make a qui tam claim, federal funding must be involved, and the fraud alleged must be substantial and non-frivolous in nature. Anyone who learns credible information that a false or fraudulent claim for federal funds has been submitted or paid is eligible to file a qui tam action, as long as they didn't learn about the fraud in the newspapers, or another public forum.

Maritime Cases

Since the development of the Constitution, federal courts have had jurisdiction to hear admiralty and maritime cases. In contract cases, the question to determine jurisdiction is whether a contract relates to maritime commerce, not the place where a contract was made or was to be performed. However, a contract to build or sell a ship does not give rise to admiralty jurisdiction. Admiralty jurisdiction arises in tort cases if the tort occurred in navigable waters or if a vessel has caused injuries on land.

Sales Commission Claims

In the case of a breach of an agreement, the employee is entitled to receive compensation for damages caused by the employer's failure to fulfill its obligations under the agreement. An employee may also be entitled to receive damages in connection with a violation of his or her implied rights. Recovery of damages in the form of commissions earned but not paid, are generally recoverable. The Illinois Sales Commission Act protects employees and their rights to commissions.

Overtime Wage Claims

There are both federal and state laws that affect wage and overtime claims. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires enterprises engaged in interstate or foreign commerce and state and local government to pay overtime of 1.5 times an employee's regular rate of pay for hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a workweek, unless the employee is considered exempt from overtime. FLSA does not require that overtime be paid for hours worked in excess of eight hours per day or on weekends or holidays. As a general rule, non-exempt employees must be compensated for all hours of work that management knows of, or has reason to know of, even if the employer did not request or authorize the time or type of work performed.

The State of Illinois has a higher minimum wage than the federal government. States are permitted to provide workers greater overtime protections than those offered by FLSA. If an employment situation falls within the jurisdiction of both state and federal law, then the employer must comply with the state or federal law that sets the higher standard. In most cases, only public sector employees are permitted to receive compensatory (comp) time off in lieu of monetary overtime compensation.

Minimum Wage Claims

The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 ("FLSA"), the basic law controlling employment and compensation issues in the United States. Illinois currently has a minimum wage of $8.25 per hour. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.

Commercial Collection Cases

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Employment Discrimination Cases

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Equal Pay Act Cases

The Equal Pay Act, passed in 1963, was the first law to address gender inequality in the workplace and one of the first laws to benefit women explicitly since they gained the right to vote earlier in the century. The Equal Pay Act guaranteed equal pay for equal work for men and women. For the act to take effect, men and women must be employed under similar working conditions, and equal is defined as “equal skill, effort and responsibility.” Overtime and travel are included among the provisions of the act.

The Equal Pay Act is part of the Fair Labor Standards Act, although it is unlike the other parts of the act in that there are no exceptions for executive, administrative, professional employees, or outside salespeople. But the Equal Pay Act contains the same business exceptions as the Fair Labor Standards Act and covers only employees “engaged in commerce.” In practice, this law applies to vast majority of businesses in the country. There are four affirmative defenses to the Equal Pay Act: merit, production, seniority, and "factor other than sex." The most litigated of these defenses is the “factor other than sex” because of the ambiguous nature of the clause. For example, prior wages, profitability of the company, and evaluation of a personal interview have all been held to be a factor other than sex justifying pay discrepancies between men and women under the Equal Pay Act.

Gender Discrimination Cases

Gender discrimination, also known as sexual discrimination, is any action that specifically denies opportunities, privileges, or rewards to a person (or a group) because of gender. The practice of letting a person’s gender become a factor when deciding who receives a job or a promotion, is gender discrimination. When gender is a factor in other decisions about employment opportunities or benefits, that too is gender discrimination. While most discrimination charges claim that a woman (or women) was discriminated against in favor of a man (or men), there have also been cases where males have claimed that they have been discriminated against on the basis of gender. These cases are usually referred to as “reverse discrimination.”

Court rulings handed down through the years have determined that a company's responsibility not to discriminate based on sex begins even before an individual is hired. Companies can be held liable if pre-employment screening or testing is determined to be discriminatory, if applications ask unacceptable questions designed to screen for sex, or if the overall selection process is deemed to be unfair. One of the main indicators that gender discrimination has occurred in the hiring process involves the qualifications of the job applicants. While a slight difference in qualifications between a female and a male candidate does not automatically indicate gender bias (if a lesser qualified male candidate is hired instead of a female candidate, that is), a drastic difference in qualifications has almost always been upheld by the courts as a sure sign of gender discrimination. For example, if a male who dropped out of high school without receiving a diploma is hired in an administrative position over a female who had obtained her master's degree, then it is likely bias was a factor.

In addition to gender discrimination in hiring and other circumstances, there is a particular form of sexual discrimination called sexual harassment. This form of discrimination involves inappropriate words or actions of a sexual nature directed at one employee by another. To meet the criteria for harassment, the behavior in question must be both unwanted and sexual in nature. The U.S. legal system has determined that there are two main types of sexual harassment, the first being “quid pro quo,” or “this for that,” which occurs when one employee offers another employee a job or benefit in exchange for sexual favors, or threatens to deny that job or benefit unless sexual favors are granted. The second type of sexual harassment is referred to as “hostile work environment.” In these types of cases, an employee, or a group of employees, repeatedly make lewd comments or suggestive noises, make unwanted sexual advances, or otherwise use sex to create a work environment that is intimidating or threatening to others.

Age Discrimination Cases

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits any employer from refusing to hire, discharge, or otherwise discriminate against any individual because of age. The act covers compensation, terms, conditions and other privileges of employment including health care benefits. This act specifically prohibits age-based discrimination against employees who are at least 40 years of age. The purpose of the act is to promote the employment of older persons and to prohibit any arbitrary age discrimination in employment.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act became law in 1967 but its roots can be traced back to 1964, when the U.S. government enacted Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. This act radically changed working life in the United States. The core of Title VII was to prohibit discrimination in employment based on race, color, sex, national origin, or religion. This statute provided a way for women and minorities, in particular, to challenge barriers that limited equal opportunities in organizations. States adopted similar legislation as well. One variable noticeably missing from Title VII was age discrimination. Three years later, the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives enacted the 1967 Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).

Race Discrimination Cases

Federal and state laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of a person's race or national ancestry in the terms or conditions of employment, which may include salary, benefits, hours, vacations, promotions or whether a person is hired.

Race is generally defined as a person's ancestry or their ethnic characteristics. It is illegal to discriminate against anyone, if the reason for the discrimination is their race, color or national origin. Discrimination may be in the form of overt acts or may be more subtle and accompanied by ethnic slurs and derogatory comments. Also, discrimination based on a person's association with people of a particular race is also prohibited.

Religion Discrimination Cases

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of a person's race or color in the terms or conditions of employment. Terms and conditions of employment include salary, benefits, hours, vacations, promotions or whether a person is hired.

The term “religion” includes all aspects of religious observance and practice, as well as belief. The employer must demonstrate that they are unable to reasonably accommodate an employee's religious observance or practice without undue hardship. A typical example of religious discrimination occurs when an employer is seeking to convert others and the employees are denied employment, not promoted, denied raises or unfairly disciplined because the employee will not accept the employer's or manager's religious beliefs.

National Origin Discrimination Cases

National origin happens when an employer discriminates because of where someone was born. Race discrimination and national origin discrimination can often go hand–in–hand. A “U.S. citizens only” policy in hiring is illegal. An employer may require U.S. citizenship for a particular job only if it is required by federal, state, or local law, or by government contract. An employer may not discriminate because of citizenship status against U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, and the following classes of aliens with work authorization: permanent residents, temporary residents (that is, individuals who have gone through the legalization program), refugees, and asylees.

Federal laws which prohibit national origin discrimination include the Immigration Reform and Control Act, (IRCA) which prohibits employment discrimination because of national origin against U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, and authorized aliens, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bans national origin discrimination against any individual.

Construction Accident Cases

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Trucking Accident Cases

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Automobile & Boat Accident Cases

Every driver has the duty to keep his car under proper control and to drive in a manner so that he may avoid colliding with other cars. Most of the time the fault of the accident lies with the driver involved. However, there are circumstances when others may be negligent and liable for the harm caused. These parties include, but are not limited to, the state or municipality which maintains roads, bridges and signs; auto manufacturers; and maintenance and repair shops.

The law permits you to seek recovery after an accident to “make you whole again.” The main concept is that you should be compensated in a manner that, as best as the law can arrange, places you back in the same position as you were before the accident. In attempting to make a person whole, the law recognizes that damages from an automobile accident can come in many forms; lost wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering, scarring, disfigurement, loss of earning capacity and a spouse's loss of consortium, or loss of the services, society and intimacy of the relationship.

In addition to normal compensatory damages designed to make someone whole, in extreme cases “punitive damages” may be available if the injury was the result of someone else's reckless or irresponsible behavior, or if the cause of the accident or the extent of the injury was caused by something about the car that is dangerous — a defective product — that the manufacturer should have corrected.

There are exceptions to this rule in states that have passed “no fault” insurance provisions or allow for “economic only” recovery. In this situation, a person may be limited to recovering only for actual lost wages, medical expenses and property damage. Pain and suffering may be limited or unrecoverable in certain states.

Worker's Compensation Cases

Workers’ compensation laws are designed to ensure payment by employers for some part of the cost of injuries, or in some cases of occupational diseases, received by employees in the course of their work. State workers’ compensation tax laws vary by state. Some states have a quarterly workers compensation tax, although most states let employers purchase workers compensation insurance from private insurance companies. Washington is the only state with worker’s compensation tax rates based on the hours worked rather than per $100 in wages paid. Local laws should be consulted for specific requirements in your area.

Reference: All Legal Terms and Definitions provided by USlegal.com.