Taking the Confusion Out of Common Injury and Estate Planning Worries: Answers to Your Frequent Questions

The most important job for any attorney is making sure that his client understands every aspect of her case. Although some lawyers are comfortable keeping their clients in the dark, we feel that you deserve more. You deserve to have all of your questions and concerns addressed in order to pursue your own case confidently and successfully. This is why we take the initiative to answer common questions that you may have even before you even step into our office. If you don't see your question answered below, please contact our office at 855-522-5291.

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  • Can I hold the owner liable after a dog bites me?

    An Aggressive German Shepard Both Illinois and Missouri take a strict stance when it comes to owning a dog. In both states, the pet owner can be held liable if a dog bites an individual. While some other states offer a “one-bite rule,” which gives owners a second chance after an initial incident, Illinois and Missouri dog owners are subject to what is known as strict liability. In short, pet owners in these states are responsible for any injuries caused by their pets, regardless of the circumstances surround the bite or other injury.

    Requirements for Dog Bite Liability

    The injured people do have some responsibility in these situations, however. In Illinois and Missouri, a dog owner can be held liable only if:

    • The animal caused the bite or injury. In Missouri, the law covers only dog bites. In Illinois, any injury caused by a dog could be considered.
    • The injured person was on public property or had a legal right to be in the place where the attack occurred.
    • The injured person did not provoke the dog.

    In Missouri, an injury caused by a dog related to something other than a bite is also possible, but the injured person would have to pursue negligence charges against the pet owner.

    Related Charges and Possible Defenses

    It is also possible that criminal charges can be filed against the dog owner. If a dog attacks a person without provocation on more than one occasion or causes serious injury or death, it could be classified as “dangerous” or “vicious.” Dangerous and vicious dog owners could be subject to criminal charges, fines, probation, or even jail time.

    Finally, not every dog bite or injury case is reasonable. Dog owners in Illinois and Missouri would not be held responsible if they prove that the injured person was either trespassing or provoked the animal. Provocation could include poking, teasing or abusing a dog, or attempting to get close to a mother’s puppies. Trespassing would occur if the injured person was unlawfully on the dog owner’s property.

    If you or someone you love has suffered injuries related to a dog attack, the experienced legal team at the Tapella & Eberspacher Law Firm can help. Contact our office today at 855-522-5291 for a free, no-obligation consultation.

     

  • What are off-label medications, and is it safe to take these drugs?

    In the United States, we have many prescription medications available to treat virtually every disease. Physicians have the Off-Label Medication Button on a Keyboardfreedom to prescribe any medication they see fit to aid a patient. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not govern medical practice. So, while they hold manufacturers to strict guidelines about who marketing campaigns may target, physicians are not held to those same mandates. They may select any medication for any patient.

    What Are Off-Label Medications?

    Mayo Clinic researchers define off-label prescribing as “prescribing currently available and marketed medications but for an indication that has never received FDA approval.” This means the drug has been tested and approved for some use, but it is then prescribed to treat a disease for which it does not have approval, in a different dosage than standard or in a different patient population than intended.

    Studies state that off-label prescribing is very common, with one study claiming that as many as 20 percent of prescriptions are off-label.

    These medications are often used safely outside their intended purpose, and physicians may prescribe a drug off-label for many reasons. Some reasons include:

    • Last resort. In some cases, the patient is suffering from a terminal illness, and his doctor will try any treatment that may ease symptoms or possibly improve health.
    • Other medications in the class are approved for that use. If another drug in the same class does have FDA approval for an additional use, physicians may proceed to prescribe any drug in the class for that use.
    • Lack of population data. The drug may not have specific approval for a specific population, such as children, pregnant women or elderly patients. For example, the narcotic morphine is not FDA-approved for use in children, but it is very commonly used by pediatric doctors.
    • Anecdotal evidence. Information from other doctors in the field could prompt a physician to try an off-label prescription.

    Are Off-Label Medications Safe to Use?

    While there have been few reports of off-label medications causing serious harm, there is usually just not enough scientific research available to say with certainty whether off-label drugs are safe or not. In many cases, only financial considerations have kept manufacturers from pursuing additional FDA approval.

    However, researchers acknowledge that due to the uncertainty, physicians could be held liable for complications that occur when a patient is prescribed an off-label drug.

    Experts encourage patients to ask physicians if a medication is being prescribed to them off-label. If it is, patients should find out why specifically their doctor wants to prescribe the medication and if there are any FDA-approved drugs that could be alternate options.

    While many commonly prescribed off-label drugs are considered safe, others can cause complications and harm. If you or someone you love suffered injuries after taking an off-label drug, you may be entitled to make a claim. Chat live with a member of the experienced legal team at the Tapella & Eberspacher Law Firm to learn more today.

     

  • Do I need a lawyer for my workers’ compensation claim?

    Injured workers are not required in Illinois or Missouri to retain a lawyer for workers’ compensation claims. However, these cases Hiring a workers' compensation lawyer can help you if you've been injured at work.are legal proceedings, and most employers and insurance companies will have an attorney present at all events.

    If an employee is filing a workers’ compensation claim, it means he or she has been injured or suffered an illness that will affect his ability to work and earn income, potentially for the rest of his life. The outcomes of these cases are legally binding and can seriously affect the future for the injured worker and his family.

    Why Hire a Workers' Compensation Lawyer for an Illinois or Missouri On-the-Job Injury Case?

    Workers’ compensation cases can be complicated, with laws constantly updating and changing. Additionally, members of the commission and the judge are impartial parties and are forbidden from offering any legal advice. If you don't hire a workers' compensation lawyer, then it becomes your responsibility to:

    • File appropriate paperwork,
    • Track the claim's status,
    • Talk with the legal team for the employer or insurance company,
    • Appear at hearings,
    • Present evidence to support his case if necessary.

    An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer can handle all these issues for the injured worker while he focuses on recovering from his illness or injury.

    Complications That May Require Legal Counsel

    Some simple workers’ compensation cases may be resolved quickly if the injury is not severe and little or no time off work was required. However, most cases involve some complication that could make it more difficult for an employee to handle on his own. Officials in both Illinois and Missouri suggest retaining an attorney in many situations.

    Scenarios Where a Workers' Compensation Attorney Is Helpful:

    • If an employer denies the claim,
    • If the case must go to trial,
    • If medical bills are not being paid,
    • If the injured worker receives Social Security or qualifies for Medicaid or Medicare,
    • If the employer or insurance company offers a settlement contract,
    • If the employee has been fired, demoted or harassed at work due to the claim,
    • If the injured worker feels at all uncomfortable proceeding with the case.

    Ready to Learn More? Talk to Our Workers' Comp Lawyers for Free

    If you or someone you love has been injured at work, the experienced workers' compensation attorneys at the Tapella & Eberspacher Law Firm want to help. If you are ready to take the next step we invite you to fill out a contact form for a free, no-obligation consultation.

     

  • Are companies required to offer workers’ compensation benefits?

    Illinois law requires all employers to provide workers’ compensation benefits to employees. Employers can either purchase workers’ compensation insurance from a third party or self-insure, with permission from the state.

    The Workers’ Compensation Act Protects Employees

    In addition to securing workers’ compensation insurance or approval to self-insure, state law mandates that employers must:

    • Post a notice in the workplace naming the insurance carrier and explaining employees’ rights
    • Keep records of any workplace injuries and report to the state commission if any injury results in an employee missing more than three days of work
    • Not discriminate against an employee in any way for filing a workers’ compensation claim
    • Not charge an employee for any premiums the employer pays to workers’ compensation insurance carriers

    If employers fail to fulfill these requirements, they could be subject to penalties. Negligent failure to provide benefits is considered a misdemeanor and could result in up to one year in jail and $2,500 in fines. If an employer knowingly fails to provide benefits, it is a felony punishable by up to three years in jail and thousands of dollars in fines.

    The employer could also be subject to civil penalties, citations, and even stop-work orders for failing to provide workers’ compensation. Most seriously, the employer could lose the protections of the Workers’ Compensation Act. This means that the injured employee could sue the employer, which is a key protection of the law.

    When the Employee Is Not Protected Under Workers’ Compensation

    While the law does require companies to provide these benefits, there are situations when an employee is not eligible to receive them. Employers do not have to pay workers’ compensation benefits if:

    • The injury or illness is not work-related
    • The employee does not provide medical information regarding his medical status and fitness to work
    • The employee was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the injury
    • The injury was the result of horseplay or behavior in violation of company policy
    • The injury was sustained by an independent contractor

    Our Workers' Comp Lawyers Are Here to Protect You After an Accident

    Laws exist to protect workers and employers from the serious consequences of workplace injuries. If you have been injured at work, you need a workers' compensation attorney to defend your rights. Tapella Law may be able to help you secure the benefits you deserve. Contact us to chat live with a member of our team.

     

  • What can I do to ensure my special needs child is taken care of after my death?

    All parents understand that a special needs child will require lifelong care. That child may never be able to live alone without assistance. Often, parents worry about what will happen to their child when they can no longer take care of him, and they want to be especially proactive in planning for the future. One of the most important actions in these cases is to establish a special needs trust.

    What Is a Special Needs Trust?

    A special needs trust is an arrangement in which a third party manages assets for a beneficiary who is physically or mentally disabled. The trust fund is administered by a chosen trustee who is in charge of the money and spends it on the child’s behalf. There are two types of special needs trusts:

    • Individual. An individual trust is administered by a trustee selected by the parents or legal guardians of the child and supports only that child.
    • Pooled. A pooled trust is a collective or community trust that many families can contribute to. This trust is administered by a nonprofit organization, although each beneficiary does have an individual account and trustee appointed by the nonprofit. This is a common option when parents feel they do not have a good choice for an individual trustee or are leaving the child a modest sum of money.

    Both types of trusts are set up by parents, grandparents, or legal guardians of the special needs child. Additionally, trustees for both types of trusts are legally bound to follow the terms of the trust document to benefit the child.

    The Benefits of a Trust

    Special needs trusts allow parents or other trustees to leave money to a child while still protecting the child’s eligibility for government assistance. Most government programs will disqualify candidates with assets worth more than a set limit. To receive supplemental security income or health benefits in Illinois, a person cannot have income greater than three times the poverty level or receive more than $2,000 per month. Often, when a child is left an inheritance or receives a legal settlement, these amounts of money are greater than the state-mandated income limit.

    The money in a special needs trust is not managed by the child, so the assets are not counted by the government, ensuring it has no impact on the amount of services a child can receive from federal sources. Without the trust, the child could lose supplemental services and have to pay for everything out of pocket. Additionally, special needs trusts allow grandparents or other loved ones to gift the child money directly into the trust.

    If you are the parent, grandparent, or caregiver of a special needs child, contact the experienced legal team at Tapella Law to help you protect his future. Call us today at 855-522-5291 for a free consultation.

     

  • How can I ensure my loved one with Alzheimer’s disease is safe in a nursing home?

    By 2030, over 7.5 million Americans will be living with Alzheimer’s disease, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA). For the many families of those who suffer from the disease, decisions on how to care for a loved one can be difficult. Often, the patients require more assistance than the family can offer alone. Many times, families turn to skilled care facilities to provide their loved ones with a safe, healthy environment. However, Alzheimer’s and dementia patients are often the victims of abuse by their caregivers. An NCEA survey showed that 47 percent of surveyed caregivers had abused or neglected a patient with dementia.

    Patients With Alzheimer’s Are Vulnerable to Abuse

    Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia—a condition that causes memory loss, confusion, social withdrawal, mood changes, and decreased judgment. These symptoms worsen over time and leave dementia patients especially vulnerable to abuse, as they may prevent the abused patient from recognizing or reporting the abuse.

    It is important to be vigilant and involved in the care of loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease, as they may not be able to communicate abuse. Symptoms of abuse may include:

    • Aggressive behavior by the patient and fighting between the patient and caregiver—noted by the NCEA as the best indicator that abuse is taking place
    • Physical symptoms such as bruises, welts, burn marks, or bedsores
    • Sudden changes in health
    • Sudden changes in finances

    Finding the Best Care for Your Loved One

    There are many care options available for those who suffer from Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. While it can feel like a daunting decision to place your relative in a care facility, experts suggest:

    • Talking to medical professionals and social workers about local care facilities.
    • Visiting the different types of facilities to get a feel for each place and what it can offer your loved one.
    • Being involved. Once your loved one has entered a facility, check on him often and build a relationship with the staff.

    What to Do If You Suspect Abuse

    If you suspect your loved one is being abused, it is important to take action. Speak to a doctor and the staff of the care facility. In Illinois, the Department of Public Health investigates cases of abuse, neglect, or exploitation of an older person living in a long-term care facility. Additionally, hiring an experienced personal injury attorney can aid in preserving evidence, preventing future instances of abuse, and securing compensation for medical expenses.

    If you suspect someone you love has suffered nursing home abuse, you may choose to take legal action. Contact the experienced legal team at Tapella Law for a free consultation at 855-522-5291.

     

  • If I’ve suffered an injury at work, can I get worker’s compensation?

    If you suffer an injury at work, your employer may be required to compensate you under workers’ compensation—a type of insurance nearly all employers are required to carry. Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system of benefits paid by employers to workers who suffer job-related injuries or illnesses and protects both employees and employers. Employees are able to receive benefits regardless of who was at fault for the injury or illness, while employers are shielded from lawsuits.

    Steps to Take When You’re Injured At Work

    If you are injured at work, it is important to take action quickly. Here are some guidelines to follow:

    1. Obtain medical treatment. First, seek medical aid for an injury—even a minor one. In rare cases, minor injuries can develop into more serious problems if they go untreated. Additionally, keep all medical bills related to the injury or illness.
    2. Report the injury to your employer. Submit notice of the injury to a supervisor. Illinois law states that employees should give notice of the injury as soon as possible, but no later than 45 days after the incident. Workers’ compensation rules only require the employee to offer a written or an oral report of the incident, but some employers may ask for submission of an official accident report.
    3. Consider hiring an attorney. Workers’ compensation is not a lawsuit; rather, it is a way to file for a benefit, much like a health insurance claim. However, the process can be complicated, and some employers will dispute a worker’s claim. Additionally, there are some exceptions in which the worker is still eligible to sue the employer outside workers’ compensation.
    4. File a claim with the Commission. Employers will typically provide the paperwork for the injured employee to file a claim with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, as well as information about the program and how to file the claim.

    What Constitutes a Work-Related Injury

    Workers’ compensation covers work-related injuries and illnesses, but these may not always be caused by an accident or occur at the job site. While workers’ compensation covers an injury from a specific accident, it may also cover repetitive stress injuries and aggravation of an existing condition if caused by the job. Additionally, employees can file a claim for injuries occurring out of the office on work-related errands or on travel for business.

    If you were injured at work, you may be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits. You need a workers' compensation attorney from Tapella Law. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation at 855-522-5291.

     

  • What can I do if I suspect my loved one is being abused in a nursing home?

    As parents and grandparents grow older, it can be difficult to meet their unique and changing needs. Often, families rely on skilled facilities to care for elderly family members. Nursing homes have a special duty to keep the elderly safe and healthy, and family members trust that their loved ones will be protected and taken care of. Sometimes, however, that trust is violated through nursing home abuse or neglect.

    A 2010 survey found that over half of nursing home staff members admitted to mistreating older patients within the year leading up to the study. The mistreatment included physical abuse, mental abuse, and neglect. For the estimated 1.4 million older adults living in nursing homes and their families, that can be a scary statistic.

    What to Do If You Suspect Abuse

    If your loved one lives in a nursing home and you suspect abuse or neglect, there are steps you should take immediately to end the mistreatment:

    • Take photos. Visible signs of injury such as bruises, welts, cuts, burns, and evidence of restraints may be present. Hints at neglect can include bedsores and dirty living conditions.
    • Report your suspicions to an administrator. Nursing home officials should be notified, so they can take steps to protect the abused person. Make sure to document your complaint by following up with written letter or an email.
    • Inform the proper authorities. Concerned family members can contact the Illinois Adult Protective Services or the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services. Law enforcement and a state’s long-term care ombudsman program also examine elder abuse cases.
    • Consider contacting a lawyer. An experienced personal injury attorney can preserve evidence and help take steps to stop the abuse and hold the abuser responsible.

    Families do not have to prove that abuse is occurring. Once a complaint is made to authorities, an investigation will take place to assess the situation. Additionally, many states have laws that shield those who report the abuse from liability if no abuse is taking place.

    Safety advocacy groups encourage family members to voice their concerns about elder abuse because suspicions are correct all too often. If your loved one has been mistreated at a nursing home, we may be able to help. Contact the legal team at Tapella Law to learn more at 855-522-5291.

     

  • Can we recover damages if our child’s cerebral palsy was caused by a medical mistake?

    When a child is diagnosed with a disability like cerebral palsy, parents can feel overwhelmed. In addition to addressing important medical issues, parents may be worried about paying for their child’s expensive care. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that the care of a person with cerebral palsy will be approximately $1 million during his lifetime.

    Cerebral Palsy From Medical Negligence

    If you feel your child’s cerebral palsy is the result of medical negligence by the doctor, nurse, or other hospital staff, it is possible to recover damages—money the law requires a party to pay for a breach of duty. While every case is different, it may be possible to be awarded compensation for:

    • Medical expenses. A child with cerebral palsy requires doctor or hospital visits, tests, medication, surgeries, and other medical care.
    • Medical equipment and devices. Depending on the severity of the disability, it can be necessary to modify a home or car. Children can also require special equipment fitted to their individual needs such as wheelchairs or crutches.
    • Future medical expenses. Children diagnosed with cerebral palsy will require a lifetime of care. Caregivers will need to plan for the future, as well as address current medical needs.
    • Physical therapy. A variety of physical treatments can both provide comfort and strengthen muscles.
    • Mental health support. The mental and emotional stresses of living with a disability can increase, especially as the child grows older. Mental health specialists can contribute to the child’s sense of well-being and general mental health.
    • Occupational therapy. Therapists can work with children to create and foster as much independence and self-care as possible.
    • Speech therapy. Speech therapy can help a child strengthen mouth muscles and tongue. This can both improve communication and aid in feeding. This is important as up to 35 percent of children with cerebral palsy are malnourished.
    • Punitive damages. Considered punishment for the liable party, these damages can be awarded against the doctor, hospital, or other provider responsible for the disability.

    Speak To a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Today

    Compensation can provide families with some relief from the stresses that accompany raising a child with a disability and be vital in helping the child live a happy, productive life. Not all cases of cerebral palsy are preventable, but it is important to determine if a medical mistake was made. If your child’s cerebral palsy was avoidable, you are entitled to compensation. Contact us at 855-522-5291 to discuss your case.

     

  • What can I do when I am hospitalized to protect myself from hospital negligence?

    Take aggressive steps to avoid being hurt by hospital negligenceWhen you are in the hospital, you may feel helpless. You are away from home, out of your comfort zone, and at the mercy of the people charged with taking care of you. You don’t have to take it lying down, however. Learn what questions to ask and when to speak up for your own protection.

    Be Your Own Advocate—Or Bring One With You

    If you are undergoing a non-emergency procedure or elective surgery, there are things you can do when scheduling your visit to protect yourself. Once you are in the hospital, however, it is even more important that you take steps to make sure you do not become a victim of a doctor’s or nurse’s negligence. Make a list before you go to the hospital, and include the following:

    • Take someone with you. When you are in the hospital, you need someone in your corner. Plan to have a family member or friend with you as much as possible. This person can act as your eyes and ears, especially when you are asleep or on medication that makes you foggy. The best choice is someone who is not afraid to ask questions on your behalf.
       
    • Bring your prescription bottles with you. While the staff should ask what medication you have been taking, having your bottles with dosage labels with you will ensure that you don’t make a mistake in relaying the information and that they don’t make a mistake when writing it down. It is also a visible reminder to staff that you are taking additional meds which may interact with hospital treatments.
       
    • Request a blood-clot screening. If you are at risk for blood clots—and most long-term patients are—make sure you are given compression socks or heparin therapy to prevent venous thromboembolism, the cause of death in 1 in 100 patients. Don’t wait for a doctor to offer—ask the question up front.
       
    • Ask for help getting around. Falls can result in serious injury, especially if they happen while you are recovering from surgery. You should be given skid-proof socks for walking around your room, but if you are at all unsteady on your feet, ask for help from the staff, who should respond quickly.

    While asking for these things may initially make you feel uncomfortable, remember that doctors, nurses, and hospital staff are all there to help you. The mistakes they make are almost always unintentional, and a word or two from you could prevent an error that could end their career. If you ask nicely and don’t take an accusatory tone, they may even thank you.

    Our Experts Know What to Do

    If you suspect that you have been the victim of hospital negligence, call us toll free at 855-522-5291. Our on-staff nurse and network of medical professionals will assess your case and let you know if we can help. Don’t hesitate—call now.