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McNamara Phelan McSteen, LLC

Unless you have been through the process of making a claim for injuries, you most likely (and reasonably) believe that winning your negligence trial is the end of the road, and that your check is on the way. Unfortunately, in the great majority of cases, your successful verdict, (or reasonable settlement), is merely the beginning of the next step of the process—negotiating the outstanding liens.

In the context of personal injury claims, a “lien” is a legal claim upon the recovery the injured party receives, whether by settlement or verdict and judgment after trial. As a practical matter, a lien is a financial obligation that must be satisfied before the injured party can recover any proceeds from his or her settlement or judgment.  There are various types of liens that may attach to your personal injury claim, but the first that comes to the attention of the injured party is often the Health Care Provider Lien.

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The Illinois legislature passed a new law, effective January 1, 2018, which prohibits hospitals from maintaining a list of individuals who may not be admitted for treatment.  Supporters of the legislation urged its passing to ensure access to medical care within hospital systems regardless of ability to pay, prior medical/mental health history, or any other reason that warrants inclusion to a list to deny care.  The law does provide hospitals and medical staffs with flexibility to determine the appropriate treatment and setting for treatment for incoming patients.

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Bicyclists in Illinois can now put a red tail light on the rear of their bike, instead of, or in addition to the traditional red reflector.  Bicycle groups laud the new law as a recognition of changing technology, which will provide for greater visibility, and thus greater safety, for bicyclists on the road.

Two other new bicycling laws took effect in Illinois as of January 1, 2018.  One allows motorists to pass a bicyclist on the highway in a no-passing zone. The other recognizes riding a bicycle on a highway shoulder as a legal practice.

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The civil attorneys of McNamara Phelan McSteen often consult with homeowners who either paid a contractor to do work which was not completed, or was done but done poorly and not in accordance with industry guidelines.  Fortunately, Illinois has laws in place to protect homeowners–most importantly, the Home Repair and Remodeling Act. The law requires businesses/contractors engaged in the home repair and remodeling business to give the homeowner/customer certain notices, notably:

For every contract over $1,000.00 the contractor shall provide the customer with a written contract, which must contain the following:  1) The total cost — including parts and materials listed with “reasonable particularity,” along with any charge for an estimate; and 2) The business name and address of the person engaged in the business of home repair or remodeling.

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Recently, the Will County Circuit Court has been relying on Guardians at Litem to assist in investigating and making recommendations in order to resolve disputes between parents centered on the issues of parenting time, the determination as to who will make major parenting decisions for the minor child(ren), and other parenting issues.  Previously, judges were routinely appointing experts to investigate and make recommendations on these types of issues.  Unfortunately, even though these experts provided comprehensive, and at times exhaustive, reports and recommendations on what were formerly referred to as custody and visitation disputes, the amount of time it would take to finish their investigations and submit recommendations, along with the expense incurred for their work, made the appointment of such experts unattractive to most parents.

The appointment of a Guardian at Litem (GAL) to represent the minor child(ren) in these disputes is routinely a quicker and more cost-effective way to address the issues involved, and helps provide the Court with guidance in considering the best interest of the child(ren).  It is important to keep in mind that GALs do not represent the parents, and parents should not expect a GAL to treat them as a client.  Parents must always rely on the advice of their own counsel, especially when dealing directly with a GAL.  Most importantly, parents should discuss with their own attorney the subject matter that they may be asked to address when speaking with a Guardian at Litem, as well as how best to present their position to the GAL, while at the same time deciding how to minimize the weaknesses in their case when questioned directly by the GAL.  Many parents make the mistake that a GAL is somehow co-counsel in advocating for their position.  Many times the GAL receives information from parents that most attorneys would caution against disseminating.  Therefore, interacting with a GAL is an important subject that should be thoroughly discussed with an attorney before such communication begins.

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Will County Bar Association Illinois State Bar Association Lions Minooka AV 2019 Rotary DuPage County Bar Association
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