Personal Injury: 7 Legal Protections To Take

Car after car accident/crash

If you have been injured as a result of a car, truck, or motorcycle accident, your first objective should be to get proper medical care. Even if you are certain that the other driver is at fault, you should not wait for the other driver’s insurance company to accept responsibility for your medical expenses. Get the treatment that you need immediately and the insurance company can square up matters between them later.

If you have your medical care in hand, then you should proceed to take the following steps:

1. Take pictures of the scene and both vehicles

Show damage. Indicate lighting conditions and traffic control devices. If the accident is serious and a major accident unit or accident reconstructionist is not on the scene, you may need to contact a lawyer to facilitate getting the evidence that you will need at the scene. The more serious the accident and the greater the injury (or death) the faster you need to contact a lawyer.

2. Get the names and contact information for witnesses

Do not rely upon the police to do this. Police departments and officers vary dramatically in skill and inclination to thoroughly investigate accidents. In some major metropolitan areas, the officers do not view the handling of accidents as important police work.

3. Contact a lawyer

You will want to get a lawyer involved early to evaluate the case and work on it while it is recent and witness memories are fresh.

This is not a do-it-yourself job. Insurance companies save billions of dollars each year by settling with people representing themselves. Only a lawyer practicing in this area will be able to assess your case and obtain the best settlement for you.

4. Obtain medical records

Your lawyer will need to evaluate the extent and permanency of your injury. If you undergo physical therapy, those records are also necessary to support the continuing need for care. Although many people swear by the benefits of chiropractors and holistic medicine, such treatments are not accorded great respect by insurance carriers or jurors.

5. Don’t give a statement to the other driver’s insurance company

The insurance investigator has only one goal—to limit the amount of damages that you will receive. The insurance companies often employ investigators who are very personable and ostensibly empatheti Don’t be fooled.

6. Assess the property damage

You may need your vehicle back fast. Most the time, you can handle the property damage claim because it just involves getting estimates for the damage or compensation for the total loss. The only catch is that any release that you sign should not release r injury claim.

7. Be patient

The more serious your injury, the longer the settlement or court process will take. You want to make sure of the extent of your medical recovery before resolving your negotiation or case. If you have a serious case, the wait will be well worth it.

6 Things to Consider Before Signing a Prenup

It’s not difficult to grasp why many couples are hesitant to even consider signing a prenuptial agreement. At first glance, best viagra  it can feel as if you’re hedging your bets against the marriage lasting before it even begins. And for the overwhelming majority of couples who wed each year, many of whom are entering the arrangement with relatively equal levels of wealth and education, a prenup truly is unnecessary.

But those who do draw up prenup contracts usually do so for good reason. For instance, if you’re middle-aged and the marriage isn’t your first, then you’re more-than-justified in protecting the wealth you obtained in the years prior to meeting your new spouse. It’s also quite common for wealthy families to ask their children to sign prenups so that familial assets, inheritance, and shares of any family-owned business remain intact in the event of a divorce.


If you have decided to form and sign a prenup, there are questions and circumstances you should consider that would not only ensure the agreement is fair for both parties, but that it’s also enforceable in court in the unfortunate event of a divorce.

How long is it before your wedding day?

In order for a prenup to hold up in court, it must be apparent that both parties fully understood the terms of the agreement and entered into it of their own free will. I always advise clients to settle on an arrangement as far in advance as possible so that neither party can argue they were pressured into signing something mere hours before walking down the aisle.

Do both spouses have a lawyer?

As tempting as it may be to simply hire a single lawyer to handle your prenup, each spouse should have independent representation. Without it, then it can be argued that fair representation wasn’t given to both parties.

What is the earning potential of each spouse?

This is separate from the question about pre-marital assets. If both are highly educated and work in lucrative industries, then there may not need to be as much consideration pertaining to post-divorce alimony (also known as “maintenance” in some states) But if one person is a low-paid social worker while the other is a surgeon, then the agreement should acknowledge this disparity. Even when those entering the marriage have equal earning capacity, if the intent of the parties is that, in the event children are born, one spouse will discontinue or terminate employment, then a provision relating to maintenance may be quite helpful.

Have you disclosed all assets?

Prenups are primarily about protecting pre-marital assets. So if an asset isn’t fully disclosed in the document, then a judge may rule that it isn’t protected and may be divided up in divorce. Pre-marital assets can include everything including real-estate, stock, savings, and family heirlooms.

Does a spouse have a large inheritance, trust fund, or shares in a family business?

If a family has grown a successful business, then they’d be justified in worrying that a significant stake in that business could be lost in a son or daughter’s divorce. It’s entirely reasonable for a spouse to count any future inheritance as a premarital asset. In addition, the pre-nup agreement can provide for disposition of assets in the event of death.

Where do you and your assets reside?

Different states have varying laws about what spouses are legally entitled to, and these should certainly be taken into consideration in any agreement. For instance, in states like Louisiana and Wisconsin there’s what’s called community property, meaning that any property acquired during a marriage is equally co-owned by each spouse regardless of whose name is listed on the ownership documents. In some states, even assets owned prior to marriage that are used to benefit the other spouse during the marriage can be considered marital to some extent. In addition, in some states, a house purchased before a marriage by one spouse but thereafter occupied by the married couple, may afford the other spouse a homestead allowance. In addition, the responsibility for premarital debts after marriage may vary by state. Allocation of tax responsibilities can also be determined.

Are there assets that were purchased by the couple together before marriage?

It is increasingly common for couples to purchase homes before they marry. Often the spouses contribute disproportionately to the purchase. For example, the wife may have made more of a down payment and the husband may have greater creditworthiness to support the loan. The couple can provide for an allocation based upon the disparate contributions. The allocation need not be fixed. It can be contingent on events—if children are born to the marriage, then the percentage allocations can be different than if no children are born of the marriage.

How should transfers or gifts of assets be handled in the marriage?

The parties can provide that transfers after marriage to the other spouse will not change the percentage ownership of the asset or that the intent is to change ownership.


Embarking on a new marriage is an exciting journey, and agreeing to a prenup is in no way a guarantee that it will ever be needed or used. But in an age when the divorce rate is hovering around 50 percent, it’s understandable that couples will seek to protect both their personal assets and their future earnings. While a prenup may at first make the person proposing it seem cynical, it’s actually a sign of sound judgement, one that will give peace of mind to both parties so they can focus on the wonderful years ahead.

Municipal Flooding Lawsuits

Illinois Farmers Insurance Company has filed several class action lawsuits against dozens of Chicago-area municipalities alleging that these municipalities each failed to provide safe storm sewer systems and conduct adequate storm water mitigation. Farmers Insurance alleges that these failures caused widespread sewer water invasions into the homes of individuals insured by Farmers on April 17-18, 2013.

Farmers has filed these suits in Cook,  Lake, Will, DuPage, Kendall, Kane, LaSalle and DeKalb counties. The lawsuits further allege that the “common, central and fundamental issue in this action is whether the [municipalities] have failed to safely operate retention basins, detention basins, tributary enclosed sewers and tributary open sewers/drains for the purpose of safely conveying stormwater.”

The suits were filed by Stuart Brody of Sneckenberg, Thompson & Brody.

If successful, these suits could require municipalities to pay significant damages to Illinois Farmers Insurance Company, and possibly other insurance companies if the suits proceed as class actions.

The claims in the lawsuits brought by Farmers Insurance are similar to those filed by Sneckenberg Thompson & Brody on behalf of Chicago-area residents against various municipalities after a record rainfall hit the area in April 2006.

Tom Gardiner and Barry Owen of Gardiner Koch Weisberg & Wrona defended one of the 2006 lawsuits and were successful in securing summary judgment on behalf of its municipal client.


To contact Tom or Barry about these lawsuits, please call 312-362-0000.

Multi Million Dollar Class Action Lawsuit – Summary Judgment

Sept. 12, 2012 – Nichols v. Chicago Heights

Gardiner Koch Weisberg & Wrona secured summary judgment in a multi-million dollar class action suit brought against the City of Chicago Heights in connection with a record rainfall that took place across the Chicago area on April 16-17, 2006. After extensive briefing and oral argument, Judge Thomas Allen determined that plaintiffs’ claim for negligence was barred by the Tort Immunity Act and plaintiffs’ claim for res ipsa negligence was not supported by the facts in the case. Judge Allen’s decision is currently being appealed by plaintiffs.

The case was handled by Thomas Gardiner and Barry C. Owen.

Lawsuit Claims Man Beaten By Police, Wrongly Arrested

By Cynthia Dizikes
Tribune reporter
8:02 PM CDT, September 9, 2011

A man who says he was roughed up and wrongly arrested by Chicago police has filed a federal lawsuit against the department.

Ohesha Brinkley alleges that on Oct. 24, 2010, officers Juan Santiago and Zeyad Matlock approached him at a bus stop near 65th Street and Western Avenue and told him to turn around and place his hands on the wall.

Although Brinkley said he initially tried to run away from officers because he had marijuana in his possession, he alleged in the lawsuit that he surrendered a short time later, getting down on his knees and putting his hands in the air.

At the time, Brinkley said he presented “no physical threat,” yet the officers allegedly shot him in the back with a taser gun and then sprayed disabling chemical in his face.

Brinkley was later charged with marijuana possession and the unlawful use of a weapon and spent more than 8 months in the Cook County jail awaiting trial, according to the lawsuit. During that time, Brinkley alleges that he was evicted from his apartment and lost his job as an asbestos removal technician.

Brinkley, who is suing for excessive force, assault, battery, wrongful arrest and malicious prosecution, was eventually found not guilty after a jury trial.

Brinkley alleges that he has suffered severe mental distress as a result of the incident, including insomnia, anxiety and depression.

City officials could not immediately be reached.

Brinkley is suing for an unspecified amount of money.

Plaintiff’s Attorneys:

Thomas G. Gardiner
Barry C. Owen

GKWW Wins Case For Yorkville; Judge Complements GKWW On Work

GKWW recently represented the United City of Yorkville in a case involving a developer seeking specific performance of a contract involving another developer.  Yorkville was a party to an annexation agreement involved in the case.  GKWW won the trial for Yorkville and then filed a petition for its fees under the annexation agreement.  Judge McCann granted Yorkville all of GKWW’s fees (with the exception of a few entries amoung hundreds of time entries).  In granting the petittion for fees, Judge McCann wrote:

“In this case, the Court finds that the nature of the case was a complex and difficult civil case involving issues of contract, real estate, and municipal law. I find that the skill and standing of the attorneys representing Yorkville were excellent and the degree of responsibility required was high. The stakes were high for Yorkville in this case and adverse ruling would have had significant consequences for Yorkville. I further find that the usual and customary charges in the Kendall County community for similar work to comparable, if not higher, than the rates charged by Yorkville’s attorneys.”

A business betting on legal change

The legal issues pertaining to online casinos have left us with a hodgepodge of law across the world. For players it can be confusing. But essentially, it comes down to a matter of where one lives. For the online casino companies who try to attract these players, it is even more tricky business. Casinos have to closely consider the terminology and specificity of the law to decide whether to actively recruit players from certain areas. This is true particularly in the United States, sales where legislatures are changing the situation almost every day. While politicians have tried to crack down on online gambling on the federal level, the results have been a mixed bag. With the inception of online gambling, foreign casino operators did regular business with U.S. players. A 2002 ruling stated that the Wire Act did not specifically outlaw online gambling. So Congress in 2006 passed a law designed to define and restrict online gambling. It did not. Some online casinos stopped doing cash business with U.S. customers, while others stayed at the table, maintaining that the law is still too vague.

Mobile casino laws change

Online casinos seem to roll with the legal punches, though, and some states have jumped on the bandwagon. Nevada recently enacted an online gambling law. Until then – believe it or not – you couldn’t go online and play a game of poker for money in Las Vegas. New Jersey is at the online table and Delaware has reserved a seat. For much of the rest of world outside of the U.S. gambling is legal and regulated.

It is easy to see why there is such jostling to address the legal issues of online gambling. For one, the onset of the mobile casino has brought a whole new craze for online gambling. Anyone with a smartphone has a mobile casino game literally at hand. The mobile casino is convenient and easy to use. It also offers a way of social networking. A person biding his or her time in a waiting room, an airport terminal or the back of a taxicab, can play a game of poker with a friend from across town or overseas. You can find a game and mobile casino to match your brand of phone, and you can get all sorts of bonuses for signing up, depositing and getting a friend to sign up.

Playing for real or fun money

For people who try a mobile casino to play for real money, new sites are turning up all of the time. One of the latest is an operator called mFortune Mobile Casino. It is a company based in the United Kingdom, where gambling is legal and regulated. MFortune casino offers a match bonus of up to £200 and a variety of ways to deposit and withdraw, including third-party options. Customers can deposit as little as £3, and with the low-limit games offered, that little amount can bring hours of fun. MFortune offers an array of casino games that include slots and bingo. For those who want to play for free, most sites – including mFortune casino – offer the play-for-free option. Many players like to use this mode to practice strategy for when the opportunity to play for real money arises.

All of these factors have made the mobile casino industry big business and a phenomenon that is, despite legal issues, here to stay. And the business appears to be poised to adjust as the laws are relaxed.

$5.42M Decision in Farissier Case

On October 6, 2003, Phyllis Farissier, 55, went to defendant Northwest Oncology & Hematology, S.C., for the first day, fifth cycle of her combination chemotherapy treatment for Stage III A-S Hodgkins lymphoma. The primary treating oncologist, Dr. Paul Sowray, was out of town on vacation, and a covering oncologist, Dr. Erol Yorulmazoglu, saw Mrs. Farissier.  Dr. Yorulmazoglu failed to withhold bleomycin from her combination chemotherapy that day.

Two weeks later, on October 20, 2003, Mrs. Farissier went for her next appointment for combination chemotherapy, a different covering oncologist read the pulmonary function test results, appreciated the decrement in pulmonary function, took her off the drug, and prescribed prednisone treatment. Despite receiving the appropriate treatment, Mrs. Farissier died 5 weeks later as a result of severe progressive bleomycin lung toxicity.

Mrs. Farissier was survived by her husband of 35 years, and two adult children.  Plaintiff sued under the Wrongful Death Act and the Survival Act.  The jury assessed total damages of $5,420,950.  The damages were itemized as follows: (Wrongful death) Loss of society to family: $4,742,325.  Funeral and burial expenses: $13,260. (Survival) Pain and suffering before death on November 28, 2003, $500,000.  Loss of normal life, $100,000.  Medical bills, $65, 365.
The case was tried from January 18 – February 4, 2011, in front of Judge Richard Elrod.

Plaintiff’s attorneys:
John R. Wrona
Gardiner Koch Weisberg & Wrona