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Hillside, IL 60162

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Recent Blog Posts

Who Acts For You When You Cannot?

 Posted on January 05, 2017 in Estate Planning

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If you had to be away at the time of an important transaction, or if you suddenly became incapacitated, who would act in your place? Fortunately, there is a legal document that lets you name someone to act for you in situations like these - the "power of attorney."

There are different kinds of powers of attorney. A standard power of attorney lets you appoint someone to handle financial affairs. You can grant power over all your property, or limit the authority to handling a certain task. A standard power of attorney ends when you die, become incapacitated, or on a set date.

A durable power of attorney is like a standard power of attorney, except it stays valid even if you become incapacitated. Durable powers of attorney are often used to help avoid guardianship proceedings - because someone has already been appointed to handle your affairs, a court won't have to.

A durable power of attorney for health care lets you authorize someone to make your medical decisions if you cannot.

Powers of attorney are valuable planning tools. Laws regarding them are complex, so you should seek legal help in making or changing one.

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When Insurance Companies Do the Wrong Thing

 Posted on January 05, 2017 in Personal Injury

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Insurance companies often claim that with them, you're in "good hands," or that they are on your side, "like a good neighbor." But when you need to make a claim, the opposite is sometimes the case, and it's therefore important for accident victims to get legal help promptly. Here are some real-life cases that show how insurance companies sometimes try to delay - or avoid - paying valid claims.

  • Joe R. was badly hurt when the motorcycle he was a passenger on got in an accident. Under the law, Joe was entitled to collect money from the motorcycle driver's insurance company. But when Joe asked about the driver's insurance, the insurance company first said he was not covered. Then, after a long time passed, they told Joe he could receive money - but said the time limit for his claim had expired. Joe took the insurance company to court, and won.
  • Julie H. was hurt when her car was hit by a drunk driver. The drunk driver's insurance company offered Julie a very small settlement though it knew she deserved a much higher amount. Julie took the insurance company to court, and won her damages plus an extra amount to punish the company for not promptly settling her claim for a fair amount.

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When Divorce Is Near

 Posted on January 05, 2017 in Divorce

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Many couples get a divorce when they discover their marriage was not right for them. Divorce is a legal declaration that the marriage is over. Except for certain obligations - like alimony and child support - the parties are free to remarry.

Most states once granted divorces only if a spouse committed a marital wrong like adultery or mental or physical cruelty. Today, all states permit no fault divorces. In a no fault divorce, a spouse need only show the marriage has failed - he or she does not have to prove a marital wrong occurred. No fault laws make it hard to prevent divorce if either spouse wants one.

To get a divorce, one must file a complaint (or petition) in the proper court. Most states have "residency requirements" -laws that prohibit divorces unless one of the spouses has lived in the state for a minimum amount of time (usually six months or a year) before filing the divorce action.

Couples seeking divorce who do not meet their state's residency requirements should not go to another state or country where these requirements are less strict. Such a divorce may be invalid in that person's home state.

Between the time the divorce action is filed and the divorce becomes final, several matters may require court orders. There are temporary orders regarding spousal support and, if children are involved, child custody and child support. A "restraining order" may be needed to stop one spouse from abusing the other.

The second part of a divorce (the first part is ending the marriage by court decree) consists of dividing marital property, providing for the payment of spousal support, and settling child support and custody issues.

If the parties cannot agree how to divide property, a judge decides. In some states, the judge considers the couple's assets, the length of their marriage and each spouse's contribution to it, and then divides the property in a fair manner. In other states, the couple's "community property" (the property either spouse obtained through his or her labor or skill during marriage) is divided evenly.

Emotions and complex issues are involved in any divorce. Thus, each spouse should seek legal help. A lawyer can provide advice about property settlement, support, custody and other issues, and explain tax and other consequences regarding these matters.

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What To Do In Case of an Auto Accident

 Posted on January 05, 2017 in Personal Injury

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You're driving along when suddenly a car hits you. It's hard to think clearly at this time, but the information that you obtain right after an auto accident - and what you say - can have a big impact on your recovery. Here are some steps to take when you are in a car accident. They will reduce the hassles and help make sure you get the maximum recovery that you are entitled to.

  • Call 911 to get help for anyone badly hurt.
  • Write down the name, address, phone and driver's license numbers, and insurance company of the other driver and the other car's owner (if the other driver does not own the car).
  • Write down the other car's make, year and license number.
  • Write down the names, addresses, and phone numbers of all witnesses (including passengers in both cars).
  • Make a diagram of the accident. Show the positions of both cars before, during and after the accident. If possible, measure skid marks, and show them on the diagram. Be sure your diagram includes stop signs, traffic signals and cross walks.

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What "Negligence" Means

 Posted on January 05, 2017 in Personal Injury

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At one time or another, everyone thinks of making a claim against somebody for "negligence." Usually this happens after being in an accident. What exactly is "negligence?"

The legal concept called "negligence" has evolved over many centuries. Depending on the case, it can be easy or hard to apply. Here is a summary of the many elements courts consider to decide if someone was "negligent."

Breach of Duty and Damage. In short, negligence exists when someone causes damage by failing to perform a duty owed to someone else. For example, everyone has a duty to be careful when driving a car. A driver who is careless and gets in an accident may be "negligent."

"Damage" is the legal word for injuries suffered because someone was careless. Injuries include physical harm, emotional distress, damage to property, and lost wages.

One more aspect of negligence is "foreseeability." A person is liable for negligence only if the resulting damage was a foreseeable result of his or her actions.

How Courts Decide. To decide if someone breached a duty in a particular case, a court looks at all the facts to find out what happened. Then it asks what a "reasonable person" would have done in the same situation. If the person accused of being negligent did what an ordinary person would have done in the same situation, there is no liability. But if the person's actions were not what a reasonable person would do, then he or she will probably be found liable for acting negligently.

If you are hurt in an accident where the other party may have been negligent, seek legal help to find out about your right to recover damages. Act quickly, since there are time limits for making claims.

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Watch Out for the Dog That Bites

 Posted on January 05, 2017 in Personal Injury

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Watching out for dogs that bite is good advice for pet owners and animal lovers alike. Dogs may be man's best friend. But anyone who has been bitten will agree that the bite is worse than the bark. While there are many sayings about dogs and their owners, once a bite occurs, the law too has something to say -about responsibility for the injury, and damages.

The old saying that "every dog gets one free bite" was once a correct statement of the law. Owners were liable for the acts of a pet only if it was known to be vicious. Before a pet bit someone, the owner could deny knowing its vicious tendencies. So the first victim of a dog's teeth might have no legal remedy. The old rule began changing many years ago, at least as to pet dogs.

Some states passed laws making owners responsible to anyone bitten by their dog, whether or not it was known to be vicious. Today, most places hold dog owners responsible for damages caused when their dog bites someone. But even this simple rule has exceptions. For example, a dog's owner may not be liable for injuries the dog inflicts on a person who ignores adequate warnings that the dog is vicious and may bite.

For animals other than dogs, the old rule still applies. Thus, an owner may be liable for injuries caused by a domestic animal - a horse, cow, sheep, pig, chicken, and so forth - only if it is known to have a propensity likely to cause injury. Prior actions can put an owner on notice that the animal may be considered "vicious" if it hurts someone.

Animal owners should always take care to protect others from being bitten or attacked by their pets. But everyone can reduce the risk of injuries from vicious animals by being careful. If an injury does occur, it is comforting to know that the animal's owner is usually responsible for the damage that is caused.

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Using A Lawyer Means Better Insurance Settlements

 Posted on January 05, 2017 in Personal Injury

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If you've been in an accident, you must decide whether to get a lawyer's help in making your claim. Insurance adjusters want you to settle your claim without getting legal help. But settling too fast with an adjuster usually means you won't get all the money you should. That's why if you're in an accident, you should get a lawyer's help, even when (especially when) the adjuster is anxious to pay you a modest amount to close your matter quickly.

When you make a claim to an insurance company, they assign it to an "adjuster." Adjusters work for the insurance company, not you. Their job is to close the file on your claim without paying too much money.

Many adjusters are polite to talk with. They handle many claims so they may understand the problems you face. But whether the adjuster is pleasant or not, remember that his or her job is to act in the insurance company's best interests, not yours.

After an accident, the adjuster may tell you a quick settlement will get you money faster. The adjuster may tell about his or her own experience and say with confidence what your claim is worth. The adjuster may try to talk you out of calling a lawyer, by saying a lawyer would cost you money or can't get your benefit increased.

Adjusters say these things because the insurance company can close the file on your claim for less money if you don't have help from a lawyer. The adjuster may try to persuade you to accept a small payment and sign a "Release," even though you don't yet know the full extent of your claim. This is especially common in accidents, where many physical injuries don't show up until much later.

Using a lawyer almost always results in a higher settlement than you'd get by relying on the adjuster. Recently, a car insurer tried to settle an accident claim for a small amount of money. After the policyholder hired a lawyer, the insurer settled the claim for over 10 times the original offer.

If you've been in an accident, seek a lawyer's help when dealing with the insurance company. Using a lawyer makes recovering damages easier, and you'll likely get more money. Never forget that insurance adjusters - no matter what they say - work for the insurance company, not you.

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Tips For Buying Or Selling A Home

 Posted on January 05, 2017 in Real Estate

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Selling or buying a home is the biggest financial transaction for most people and one of the most complex. No wonder home sales are notorious for legal disputes. Here are ways to avoid some of the most common legal problems encountered in buying or selling a home.

Tips for Sellers

  • Make repairs before selling. This includes plumbing, electrical and many other problems that will need to be fixed in any event. Avoiding the need for the buyer to make these repairs will avoid some disputes.
  • Make the buyer's good faith deposit nonrefundable. That is, make sure the contract says the seller can keep the deposit if the buyer does not complete the purchase.
  • Also make sure the contract includes your right to accept a "backup offer." This is an offer from another buyer who will make the purchase if the first buyer backs out.
  • Sell the home "as is." This means the home is sold in its current condition and the seller will not pay for repairs. It does not eliminate the duty, under the laws of most states, to make disclosures about known defects.

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The Value of Having a Personal Injury Lawyer

 Posted on January 05, 2017 in Personal Injury

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If you get in an accident and want to make a claim, one of the first things you have to decide is whether to use a lawyer, or whether to make a claim against the wrongdoer and his or her insurance company yourself.

For many reasons, if you are hurt in an accident, you should get a lawyer's help rather than try to do it yourself. Here are some of the main reasons.

  • To get an evaluation of your case. An experienced personal injury lawyer can tell you how strong your case is. Also, because a lawyer knows the many different things that accident victims can recover money for, you can get a good idea about how much money you're legally entitled to recover.
  • You need someone on your side who is experienced in dealing with insurance companies. Insurance companies have many people working for them. Often, they'll try to avoid or delay paying valid claims, or offer unfairly low settlements. Accident victims need someone to assert their rights to get what they are legally entitled to. An experienced personal injury lawyer, who knows how insurance companies work, is the best person to do this.

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Study Shows Using a Lawyer Results in Higher Money Awards

 Posted on January 05, 2017 in Personal Injury

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People in car accidents are often told to get legal help to make sure their rights are enforced. A study confirms two other key reasons for getting legal help if you are in an auto accident - you will likely receive more money, and you have a better chance of recovering money.

The study was conducted by the respected Rand Institute. It found that auto accident victims who hire attorneys receive about 25% more money than auto accident victims who do not hire attorneys - even after deducting all costs.

The study also found that using a lawyer increases an auto accident victim's chances of recovering money to almost 95%.

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