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Orland Park personal injury attorneyLabor Day, the holiday recognizing America’s workers, is intended as a day of rest and relaxation and a chance to enjoy a rare three-day weekend. Barbeques, ballgames, lakeside fun in the sun – these are hallmarks of Labor Day, so it is both unexpected and tragic when the holiday is marred by an injury or death. 

Unfortunately, with so many Americans hitting the road to visit friends and family, and with alcohol often being a feature of social get-togethers, accidents are inevitable. Personal injuries may be suffered on one of the nation’s highways, parks, sporting grounds, lakes and other swimming areas, or even unlikely places where you least expect it. Cuts, bruises, broken bones, post-traumatic stress, and even loss of life are among the consequences. 

When harm is suffered by no fault of your own, the pain and suffering are only magnified. Besides a ruined holiday and unexpected medical care and bills, there lingers the need to hold a wrongdoer accountable for the physical, emotional, and financial losses you have suffered. Fortunately, in the civil courts of the state of Illinois, procedures are in place to allow victims to seek redress from those that have caused harm, whether intentionally or negligently.

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Orland Park medical malpractice attorney, patient informed concentMedical malpractice involves more than a physician's negligence. A doctor can be held liable if he or she fails to inform the patient about the “general nature” of a procedure and the patient is subsequently injured. Informed consent in this context includes explaining the “risks involved, the prospects of success, the prognosis if the procedure is not performed, and alternative treatments."

Court Reinstates Malpractice Claim Over Child Injured During Delivery

Informed consent often comes up when dealing with birth injuries. There are cases where a doctor fails to properly warn an expectant mother of the risks of natural childbirth. As a result, the child may be injured during delivery and suffer lifelong consequences.

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Orland Park personal injury lawyer, motorcycle accidentApproximately 4,500 people are killed each year in motorcycle accidents, according to federal safety statistics. Even a non-fatal motorcycle accident can leave a driver with serious injuries and cost thousands of dollars in medical bills and lost income. Therefore, when an accident is the result of another party’s negligence, it is important to hold him or her accountable.

Lying in Road Not an “Overt Action”

Sometimes a motorcycle accident may not be directly caused by another person, but there is still a question as to how a person’s actions may have led to the victim’s injuries. An Illinois appeals court recently addressed such a case. The central question was whether two dog owners’ alleged carelessness led to a motorcycle accident.

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traffic stop and search, Orland Park criminal defense attorney, illegal drugs, felony drug possessionAnyone who has seen the television show Law & Order knows the familiar opening narration: “In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate, yet equally important, groups: the police, who investigate crime; and the district attorneys, who prosecute the offenders.” But what happens when these functions become blurred, i.e. the district attorney’s office starts acting as the police? The Illinois Supreme Court recently addressed this question in an important case arising from the controversial policies of LaSalle County's former top prosecutor.

IL Supreme Court Says Ex-LaSalle Prosecutor Conducted Illegal Stops, Arrests

In 2011, then-LaSalle County State's Attorney Brian Towne formed a team of special investigators known as SAFE. Special investigators are individuals appointed by a State's Attorney to serve subpoenas and conduct limited investigations to “assist” prosecutors in performing their duties. They are not, however, sworn police officers.

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drug crime cases, drug charges, criminal conviction, drug conviction, Orland Park criminal defense attorney.Most drug crime cases in Illinois involve police searches, and the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires the police to obtain a warrant for most searches. In its broadest terms, the Fourth Amendment protects our right to privacy. However, this presumes that we had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the first place.

For example, if a police officer walks into your house and starts looking around, that would clearly be a violation of your privacy. Yet suppose you live in an apartment building and an officer searches the lobby, which is unlocked and accessible to the public. Illinois courts have said such searches of “common areas” do not require a warrant because there is no reasonable expectation of privacy.

Still, even within an apartment building, there are limits to how far the police can go. In a 2016 case, the Illinois Supreme Court held that police could not conduct a warrantless search outside an apartment door that was “located within a locked apartment building.” The court said the fact that public access was restricted to the hallway leading up to the defendant's door was critical.

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Orland park criminal defense attorney, stop-and-frisk searchYou are walking down the street minding your own business. A cop approaches you and starts asking questions. After a few moments, the cop decides to frisk you and discovers illegal drugs or drug paraphernalia in your pockets. You are arrested and charged with possession.

Is this legal? Can the police just “stop and frisk” you without a warrant? Unfortunately, in many cases they can and do. Illinois courts afford police wide discretion to conduct stop-and-frisk searches where a “reasonably prudent person” would believe his or her “safety was in danger.”

In theory, police are entitled to conduct these types of warrantless searches to protect against a person with a dangerous weapon who might try to hurt someone. But in practice, stop-and-frisk often leads to over-broad policing that unfairly targets certain groups. The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois notes that Chicago police disproportionately target African-Americans, who represented “72 percent of stops, yet constitute just 32 percent of the city's population.” Additionally, the majority of stop-and-frisks do not recover dangerous weapons or any other illegal activity.

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Orland Park criminal defense attorney, sex crimes caseA sex crimes charge can permanently brand the accused as a “sex offender” in the eyes of the law and the public. One factor to keep in mind is not all sex crimes involve physical assault. For example, if a person “engages in a sexual act” in the “presence or virtual presence” of a child, he or she may be charged with “sexual exploitation.” This is a misdemeanor for a first offense but a felony if the defendant has any prior sex crimes conviction.

Ex-Wife's Testimony Used to Convict Defendant

In pursuing a sex crimes case, Illinois prosecutors will not hesitate to introduce any evidence designed to make the defendant look as bad as possible to the jury. Judges are supposed to keep unduly “prejudicial” evidence away from the jury, but prosecutors still have quite a bit of leeway in making their case. This includes allowing evidence that supposedly proves a defendant's motive or intent.

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Orland Park criminal defense attorney, DUI chargeNormally an Illinois police officer must have probable cause to stop you on suspicion of a DUI. The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects all individuals against “unreasonable” seizures by the police. However, what if an officer stops to speak with you for another reason and subsequently discovers evidence that suggests drunk driving?

Court Reinstated Driver's License Suspension

The Fourth Amendment does not apply to “consensual encounters” with the police. In other words, if you speak to the police voluntarily, and not under coercion or detention, you cannot later invoke the Fourth Amendment to claim any evidence obtained against you was an illegal search. Of course, it may not be obvious to you at the time that an encounter was “consensual.” Consider the following case in point. 

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Orland Park criminal defense attorney, prescription drugsAlthough DUI is usually associated with drunk driving, Illinois law actually prohibits operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of any drug or controlled substance. This can even include a legal prescription drug. To avoid a DUI conviction, a defendant must prove not only that he or she had a valid prescription, but he or she also used the drug in a manner that did not prevent him or her from driving safely.

Driver Must Prove Xanax Did Not Impair His Driving

In a recent Illinois case, police arrested a man for DUI after blood and urine tests revealed the presence of alprazolam in his system. Alprazolam, better known as Xanax, is a prescription drug used to treat anxiety disorders. The defendant held a lawful prescription for Xanax, with instructions to take two pills per day.

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Orland Park criminal defense lawyer, proving my innocenceAlthough television legal dramas might lead you to think the criminal justice system is infallible—the heroic police and prosecution always manage to catch the clearly guilty defendant—the reality is there are many people in Illinois sitting in prison for crimes they did not commit. In fact, the National Registry of Exonerations at the University of Michigan reports 195 wrongful convictions in Illinois—most of them from Cook County—have been identified and overturned since 1989.

Illinois Man Exonerated After Years in Jail

Defendants in sexual assault cases are especially vulnerable to false convictions based solely on the testimony of an unreliable accuser. An Illinois appeals court recently looked at whether or not an accuser may challenge a defendant's actual innocence even when the state concedes there was a wrongful conviction.

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Orland Park personal injury lawyer, personal injury settlement, medical liensFollowing a car accident, your first priority is seeking treatment for your injuries. As we all know, medical care is expensive, especially if you lack sufficient insurance. Even a simple accident can lead to thousands of dollars in unpaid bills. Additionally, Illinois hospitals are not shy about collecting on those bills, even if the injured victim has yet to receive any compensation from the parties responsible for his or her accident.

Court Rules Hospital Did Not Have to Bill Victim's Insurer

Illinois law permits all health care providers—hospitals, doctors, et cetera—to file a lien against “all claims and causes of action” held by an injured person who seeks treatment. In other words, if you are injured in a car accident, the hospital that treats you can legally claim part of any potential personal injury lawsuit that you file. The law limits such medical lien to “reasonable charges” for the care provided, which in no case may be more than 40 percent of the “verdict, judgment, award, settlement, or compromised” secured by the injured victim.

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Orland Park criminal defense attorney, criminal trialIf you are facing felony charges, it is important to make sure the court respects all of your constitutional rights. While even the best judges make honest mistakes, such errors can prove costly when you are facing the loss of your freedom and the permanent taint of a felony conviction. Therefore, a defendant should never hesitate to object—or in some cases appeal—when a judge fails to follow the law.

Murder Conviction Overturned After Judge Kicks Out Defendant's Grandmother

A recent Illinois case illustrates how a seemingly minor procedural error can be a big deal in a felony case. The defendant here was tried for murder. A jury convicted the defendant and the judge sentenced him to 100 years in prison.

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Orland Park criminal defense attorney, surveillance location privilegeThe Constitution affords all criminal defendants, such as those facing drug charges, the right to “confront” the witnesses against them. This means that if you are arrested and charged with a crime, you have the right to cross-examine the arresting officer and any other prosecution witnesses at trial. However, law enforcement often tries to undermine a defendant's right to confrontation by withholding information that might benefit the defense and undermine the prosecution. 

 

Drug Conviction Reversed After Improper Invocation of Privilege

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Orland Park criminal defense attorney, police handcuffDrug crime cases often begin with seemingly routine traffic stops. Illinois law enforcement officers may use a minor traffic crime, such as speeding, as a pretext to stop and search a vehicle suspected to contain evidence of illegal drug activity. While the Constitution is supposed to protect all citizens against “unreasonable” searches, in practice there are a number of loopholes that judges allow police to exploit.

Court Reinstates Drug Charge After Questionable Search

One recent Cook County drug case, which is still pending, began with an unverified “tip” from an unidentified informant. Someone allegedly informed a Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agent in San Diego that a woman was illegally transporting drugs to Chicago. This agent then told his counterparts in Chicago. 

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breathalyzer tests in Illinois, Orland Park DUI lawyerBeing pulled over, no matter the reason, is always an unnerving experience. If you are pulled over under the suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI), it is possibly one of the most serious crimes a driver can face when it comes to breaking the law behind the wheel. The crime is severe, and the consequences can be tragic, especially when the offense could have been prevented entirely by taking a cab home or calling for help.

You must make a choice.

If you are an Illinois driver who has been pulled over due to suspicion of operating under the influence, one of the first things you can expect to face upon arrest is a breathalyzer test. Although you are confronted by law enforcement to submit to this test, it is up to you to refuse or submit. You have the right to make a choice. It is important to note, however, that many criminal defense attorneys encourage their clients to refuse to submit to the test, due to one major advantage: By refusing, you are preventing yourself from potentially failing it, which can ultimately help you in a court of law. It is important to consult with a qualified attorney if you refuse a breathalyzer test.

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