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Injured Workers' Benefit Fund Gives Relief When Employer Lack InsuranceEmployers make their workers vulnerable when they do not provide the legally required workers’ compensation insurance. Injured workers may struggle to pay their medical expenses, particularly if their injuries prevent them from working. As an injured worker, you can file a lawsuit against your employer if it does not carry workers’ compensation insurance. Illinois provides an alternative compensation source through its Injured Workers’ Benefit Fund. The state maintains the fund with the monetary penalties that it collects from employers without workers’ compensation insurance. However, you must complete an arbitration process to collect from the IWBF, and the benefits can be less than what you would have received from a workers’ compensation settlement.

Receiving IWBF Benefits

Workers are eligible for IWBF pay only if their employers:

  • Did not have workers' compensation insurance; or
  • Refuse to pay the workers’ compensation benefits that were awarded to the worker.

You must file your IWBF claim with the Illinois State Treasurer, which manages the fund. During arbitration, the Illinois Attorney General’s office and possibly your employer will represent the defense, claiming that you should not receive the benefits. If the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission awards you the IWBF benefits, then you have 90 days to respond by filing for the benefits.

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Sun Glare Does Not Waive Vehicle Accident LiabilitySun glare can be just as dangerous of a vision hazard while driving as heavy rain or fog. National traffic crash studies estimate that sun glare causes a couple hundred accidents each year, but the number may not represent all of the sun-related crashes because police reports often cite other factors as the cause. Sun glare can temporarily blind you to obstacles in the road and is most prevalent at dawn and dusk during the spring and fall months. Drivers cannot use sun glare blindness as a defense against liability for a traffic crash that they caused.

Preventing Glare

You are expected to take necessary safety precautions against being blinded by sun glare or causing an accident if you are blinded. Unlike with severe weather, sun glare is not legally an “Act of God” that makes you unable to control your driving. There are several ways you can protect yourself and other drivers:

  1. Wear Polarized Sunglasses: Completely polarized sunglasses should eliminate the glare on your eyes, though you may still not have optimal vision.
  2. Clear Off Your Dashboard: Reflective objects on your dashboard can shine the sunlight onto your windshield and into your eyes.
  3. Use Additional Sun Visors: The standard sun visors in a vehicle may not deflect the sun from all angles. Installing additional sun visors can cover the gaps.
  4. Clean Your Windshield: Streaks and marks on your windshield can make the glare worse and reduce your visibility further.
  5. Change Your Driving Route: The sun will always rise from the east in the morning and set in the west during the evening. You can try to avoid driving in a direction that makes you face the sun.
  6. Drive at a Different Time: You can adjust your driving schedule so you are not traveling during the morning and evening hours when the sun glare is at its worst.

If the sun glare is blinding you, you should reduce your driving speed or pull over and stop. You cannot expect your visibility to suddenly improve.

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Illinois Inconsistently Applies Juvenile Detention PolicyIllinois has amended its juvenile crime laws in recent years to try to reduce the lasting damage that the justice system can cause. It is more difficult for the state to try a juvenile as an adult and easier for juvenile offenders to seal or clear their records. However, the use of detention centers is still negatively affecting some juveniles. Even police detention after an arrest can psychologically damage a child. Juvenile advocates are challenging the detention system, saying that detention centers do not meet the goal of rehabilitating the children.

Statistics Suggest Harm

Studies of people who served time in a juvenile detention facility as children show that the use of detention facilities often correlates with:

  • Lower high school graduation rates;
  • Lower rates of employment and income potential;
  • Higher occurrences of mental illness; and
  • Greater likelihood of becoming a repeat offender.

Other studies have concluded that areas that more often offer alternatives to juvenile detention have lower rates of juvenile crime.

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Four Strategies for Financial Success in Your Divorce NegotiationsSavvy divorcees view their division of property as a strategic accumulation of assets instead of a struggle to obtain as many valuable properties as possible. Some assets have a potential value that their current value does not reflect. Just as importantly, other properties may be more costly to hold onto than they are worth. You should prepare for your divorce negotiations by identifying goals. Here are four considerations for obtaining long-term financial success from your divorce agreement:

  1. Assess the Future Value of Your Marital Assets: You should use more than a property's current value when calculating an equitable division of property. Some properties can appreciate in value, such as market investments, real estate, and business interests. Identifying these potential growth assets will help you in choosing which assets you want to keep and preventing your spouse from taking advantage of you. You should ask for additional compensation if your spouse wants an asset that may be worth more than its current value.
  2. Balance Risk and Reward: Relying on the growth of your divorce assets may backfire if the assets do not appreciate in value as estimated. Many growth factors are outside of your control, such as the state of the economy and business markets. You should measure an asset’s potential for growth by both its high-end outcome and likelihood of growth. Protect yourself by keeping some marital assets that are certain to maintain their current value.
  3. Include Expenses in Property Valuation: Real estate, such as the marital home, is an enticing marital property because of its value and use. However, it also comes with many expenses, such as property taxes and upkeep. You should evaluate whether keeping a real property is worth the cost. Are you asking for the marital home because you need the home or because you want to keep a valuable property? You can receive several other properties in exchange for your marital home.
  4. Prioritize Your Vital Properties: Some marital properties are more important to you than to your spouse. Maintaining complete ownership of your business protects your primary source of income. Later in your life, you will rely on your retirement benefits to support your living expenses. You may need to give up other marital properties in order to have complete control over these vital assets.

Making a Plan

You should discuss your financial strategy for your divorce with your attorney before you begin your negotiations. A McHenry County divorce attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can help you identify key properties and advise you on how to keep them. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838.

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Workers' Compensation Covers Repetitive Trauma InjuriesNot all workplace injuries originate from a single event. Actions that put continued stress on your body can gradually cause health conditions called repetitive trauma injuries. Most major workplace injuries occur at jobs that require physical labor or use dangerous equipment or materials. Workers at any type of job can develop a repetitive trauma injury because the movement causing the injury can be minute. Repetitive trauma injuries are the most difficult injuries to prove in a workers’ compensation claim because of their gradual development.

Examples

A repetitive trauma injury is often a pain or weakness in a muscle or joint that develops after years of putting stress on that part of the body. Examples of repetitive trauma injuries that occur at work include:

  1. Carpal tunnel syndrome: Continued use of your hands causes swelling that pinches your nerves and creates pain and numbness.
  2. Tendonitis: The tendons that connect muscles to bones can become inflamed and potentially rupture if they are overstretched or overused.
  3. Bursitis: The bursae sacs between bones and tendons can become inflamed, most commonly in the hips, elbows, and knees.
  4. Back injuries: You can strain your lumbar vertebrae and vertebral discs through heavy lifting or by poor posture while sitting.
  5. Stress fractures: Repetitive motions, such as running or walking, can create tiny fractures in a bone, especially if you are not wearing supportive shoes.

Filing a Claim

It can be difficult to prove that a repetitive trauma injury arose from your work because you cannot give an exact date for when the injury occurred. To create a strong workers’ compensation case for your repetitive trauma injury, you should:

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