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With medical bills getting more and more expensive, it seems that people will fight more about whether or not medical bills are reasonable and necessary. In Illinois, for a party to introduced bills into evidence, they are required to prove that the bills are reasonable, necessary, and related. Usually, by the end of the case the defense has agreed to stipulate to allow the medical bills into evidence. Plaintiffs often use requests to admit in an attempt to get the defense to agree to allow the bills into evidence. Typically, the defense will refuse to admit the pills are reasonable unnecessary in writing, requiring an agreement orally, which then gets confirmed my email or letter. Defense may hire experts to rebut the plaintiff’s evidence about the reasonableness and necessity of bills, but they rarely do.

The collateral source rule permits a party to offer evidence of what is reasonable and necessary, but prohibits testimony about what a collateral source, a third party, like an insurer, actually pays for services. This is based on the principal that a tortfeasor, (the person who did wrong and caused the need for medical bills) should not get the benefit of plaintiff’s insurance agreements.

In the case Verci vs. High Plaintiff incurred over $1,000,000 in medical expenses, so the defense decided to fight about it. Defense hired an expert, Rebecca Reier to claim that the charges of Dr. Kube, who charged the great majority of the bills, were unreasonably high.

As a Plaintiff’s lawyer I’m always concerned about naming the right corporate defendant. People frequently set up numerous corporations and LLC’s to protect them from liability. They often have similar names. If you look at the Cyberdrive website and look up any Corporation you will find numerous ones with similar names. To make matters worse, people who own a lot of rental property typically set up one big LLC with a different sub – LLC for each property. This can make suing the proper defendant very difficult.

This came up in the recent case of Angell vs. Stantefort Family Holdings LLC. In Angell the plaintiff was being shown a mobile home which she was considering purchasing. The defendant had failed to place a grate over a hole in one of the mobile homes. Plaintiff stepped in the hole and was seriously injured. She filed suit, naming Tristar Estates LLC , who owned the ground as the defendant

In its answer the defendant was evasive as to who owned the property. They objected to the allegation as to whether or not they owned the mobile home. Then they indicated that Stanefort Real Estate Group LLC did not manage occupy released the unit . It denied the existence of any leases contracts or similar agreements with regard to the mobile home. Stanefort was owned by an irrevocable trust entitled the Stantefort Family 2012 Irrevocable Trust. Brian Gallagher was the CEO of the defendant company. There were at least eleven companies related to the irrevocable trust. Gallagher was also the chief operating officer of Stantefort Property Management Inc. There was also another company called Midwest Home Eentals LLC which owned the mobile homes and should have been the defendant in the lawsuit.

Witness disclosures are frequently an issue in jury trials. Lawyers are required to make disclosures in civil jury trials concerning what witnesses they intend to call, and what those witnesses are expected to say. The rule is intended to prevent surprise for litigants. It is also frequently used as a sword by the opposing lawyer to keep evidence out.

This became an issue in the medical malpractice claim entitled Wilson vs. Moon. In Wilson, the plaintiff’s decedent was a young man, 23 years old, who suffered a pulmonary embolism which killed him. The plaintiff’s decedent went to the emergency room complaining of shortness of breath. The plaintiff sued the emergency room physician and the hospital where the plaintiff’s decedent passed away.

During discovery the plaintiff and the defendant indicated in their witness disclosures that any available witness disclosed by any party may be called as a witness by the party that was making the disclosure. In other words, all parties claim they could use all witnesses for all purposes that had been disclosed by other parties.

Illinois law has method by which a court can order a civil litigant to undergo physical or mental examination. The point of the rule is to make sure that both sides have the ability to examine a party. In other words, it would not be fair for the defendant if the plaintiff got to pick all of her medical providers and the defendant could not have their own doctor examine the litigant. Illinois Supreme Court rule 215 is a procedure allowing doctors to examine patients. The doctor is supposed to prepare a report within 21 days of the examination.

In Batson versus Township village Associates, the issue became whether or not a doctor who did not turn over the report within the 21 days could testify. Linda Batson claimed she was injured while riding in an elevator owned by Township Village Associates. By filing suit, she placed her physical condition at issue because she claimed she got injured. The defense hired Dr. Mitchell Rotman to examine the plaintiff. Dr. Rotman met with plaintiff on August 15, 2016. On August 31, 2016 Rotman fax a copy of his report to the defense lawyer hired him. He did not however, fax mail or deliver a copy of report plaintiff’s counsel.

The parties took a deposition on September 13, to 2016 of one of the plaintiffs treating doctors, Dr. Baak. Before the questioning started the lawyer for the plaintiff stated, on the record, that he had not received a copy of Dr. Rotman’s report. He also indicated he intentionally scheduled the evidence deposition seven days after the 21-day time limit so that he would have the report prior to Dr. Baak’s evidence deposition. Counsel for the plaintiff filed a motion to bar Rotman’s testimony.

Permanent total disability in Illinois worker’s compensation claims mean that a person is entitled to total disability for life.  If someone is a permanent total they are entitled to two-thirds of their average weekly wage for life.  This is much like temporary total disability, but it is permanent.  Many people confuse total permanent disability with the designation of the “Person as A Whole”, which is five-hundred weeks of disability.  Five-hundred weeks of disability is 9.6 years; whereas, permanent total disability lasts for an injured worker’s life.

There are three ways to get a permanent total disability.  First there is what they call a statutory permanent total disability, which is found at Section E 18 of the Act. The statutory permanent total applies when a victim loses two limbs or both eyes.  If a person loses these body parts, they’re entitled to permanent total disability whether they can work or not.

The other types of permanent total disability require that the injury victim prove that they cannot work.  The victim can present medical evidence supporting a claim of total disability that a person is unable to work.

In Illinois Worker’s Compensations victims are entitled to two doctors and their referral chains. When we get cases in, often workers have already used one of their choices. We have had many people come in who have been referred to a doctor of the employer’s choice. When the employer does this they often misrepresent or suggest to the worker that they are required to go to these particular doctors. The selected doctor is often pro insurance company and not very friendly to injury victims.

This selection can have a huge impact on a person’s case by the time the case is over. Selecting a good doctor, from the standpoint of medical ability, and the from the standpoint of insurance bias, is very important to a person’s case.

Illinois law protects injury victims by having the two-doctor rule. Even if an employer tells a worker to see the company doctor or an occupational doctor, the worker still has a right to another group of doctors.

The third district court of appeals made an interesting decision concerning inter-spousal immunity. In Hand versus Hand, the parties were coming back from a vacation in Florida. In Indiana, they were involved in a one car accident where William was driving. Patricia, his wife got hurt. They filed suit in Illinois, where they lived.

Indiana has a statute which says that a person cannot sue their spouse for personal injury involving the operation motor vehicle accident. Illinois law does not have such a law. In Illinois spouses can sue one another. This is obviously a suit to get the insurance money.

The defendant, probably the insurance company, asked the court to dismiss the case because of the Indiana law. The trial court allowed the motion to dismiss, applied Indiana law, and dismissed the plaintiff’s appeal.

Illinois law permits a plaintiff to dismiss his or her case and refile it later. Typically, plaintiff, often because they are missing a witness or have some other fatal flaw in their case, dismisses the case without prejudice. The plaintiff then has a year to refile the case. This is especially useful if you are missing a witness who cannot be found, but the judge will not continue the case.

This came up in a medical malpractice case entitled Freeman vs. Crays. In Freeman the plaintiff had hired a primary care doctor to testify that the defendant in the case should have referred plaintiff’s decedent to a cardiologist. The plaintiff did not hire a cardiologist to testify about what might have happened after the plaintiff’s decedent got cardiologist. In other words, it was unclear whether a referral to a cardiologist would have likely saved plaintiff’s decedent. It was also unclear what the likelihood was.

Right before trial the defense asked for directed findings because the plaintiff could not prove causation. The trial court that without a cardiologist plaintiff could not win, so plaintiff dismissed and refiled.

I had a great guest on the air on December 23, 2017. The podcast his here. I went to a seminar at the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association on medical malpractice to keep up my continuing legal education. One of the speakers was a former president of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, Pete Flowers. He is one of the name partners in Meyers and Flowers. They handle all sorts of cases, including medical neglect, and a fair amount of medical product liability, and other things.

As he got up to speak he was introduced as having settled a case for $1 billion. After the seminar, I talked to Pete in the bar; I know him through my association and work on the board of managers of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association. He told me that the speaker had made a mistake. He had 3 cases that settled for a billion dollars. I was fascinated. Billion-dollar settlements are a rare thing. To have one is remarkable, to have three is really striking. So, I asked Pete to be on the air.

The first case that we talked about in the air was a train wreck case. I had never heard of the Lac – Megantic rail disaster. Peter explained that the disaster was a Canadian train wreck. The train was carrying the fracked oil, which is highly flammable. The two people who were operating the train both left the train, but failed to put the brakes on properly. As you might imagine, the train began rolling. It rolled 7 miles before it came to be town of Lac – Megantic, a small town with about 6,000 people in it. The train jumped the tracks, spilled oil through the lake, and basically blew up the town. Just short of 50 people died. Canadian law caps noneconomic damages at somewhere in the $250,000 to $326,000 range. Pete filed suit trying to get jurisdiction in Chicago, the train went through a great deal of United States and the defendant was located in Chicago. He was successful. He managed to get much more than the low Canadian cap for the loved ones of the victims who died.

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