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Why You Need an Attorney for Your Workers’ Compensation ClaimYour first step when considering whether to file a workers’ compensation claim should be to consult with a workers’ compensation lawyer. Some workers may wonder whether a lawyer is necessary in order to receive benefits. Technically, you could complete the claim yourself, and the process may go fine if your injury is minor and your employer is cooperative. However, many workers’ compensation cases are not that simple, and you risk having your claim denied or not receiving full benefits if you are unprepared. Here are four reasons you need an attorney for your workers’ compensation claim:

  1. You Do Not Know the Law: It is unreasonable to expect you to understand all of Illinois’ workers’ compensation laws and how they apply to your case. On the other hand, your employer and its insurance company have experience with workers’ compensation cases and their own attorneys to advise them. Your employer may take advantage of your inexperience by trying to convince you that you lack the grounds to file a claim or offering a settlement that is much less than what you would receive through a claim.
  2. You Are Injured: In the best of circumstances, it would be difficult for someone to teach themselves workers’ compensation law and represent themselves in court. Recovering from an injury is far from you being at your best. The stress of handling your own case could negatively impact your health and delay your recovery.
  3. You Need Someone Savvy to Represent You: Claimants can get themselves in trouble when they take action on their own without guidance from an attorney. You may say or do something that will inadvertently hurt your claim. A workers’ compensation attorney knows what to say – and what not to say – and how to present your claim in arbitration, in front of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, or in court.
  4. Completing Your Claim May Not Be the End: After your case is finished, your attorney will follow up to make sure that the insurance company does not delay paying your compensation. It is also possible that your employer may retaliate against you for filing the claim by demoting or firing you. Retaliation for workers’ compensation claims is illegal, and you would need an attorney to help you file a lawsuit against your employer.

Contact a McHenry County Workers’ Compensation Attorney

The cost of hiring a lawyer is worth it to ensure that you receive the full workers’ compensation benefits in your claim. Schedule a free consultation with a Crystal Lake, Illinois, workers’ compensation attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, by calling 815-338-3838.

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Are Property Owners Liable for Fall Injuries Caused by Leaves?Many people love autumn in part because of the changing colors of the falling leaves. Leaves are usually not an obstacle for walkers but can sometimes be responsible for slip, trip, and fall injuries. Wet leaves can be slick, and a layer of dry leaves may hide obstacles or wet surfaces. When it comes to personal injury compensation, fall injuries are usually a premises liability issue. Whether you receive compensation from a property owner or their insurer depends on whether the property owner had a duty to protect you in the situation leading to your injury.

Clearing Leaves

There is an Illinois Snow and Ice Removal Act that covers premises liability when someone is injured due to winter accumulations on a property. There is not an equivalent act for leaves. If the same principles apply to leaves as snow, then property owners are not required to clear leaves from walkways on their property. If they do clear the leaves, they are responsible for doing so in a way that does not create a hazard for pedestrians.

If a court applies the Illinois Premises Liability Act, property owners may have a greater obligation to clear leaves from their property. The act states that property owners must make a reasonable effort to protect people from or warn people about hazards on their property. If the property owner had a reasonable amount of time to clear the leaves from public walkways near their property, they may be liable if those leaves became wet and created a slipping hazard due to their negligence. Liability would be more certain if a property owner left an object, such as a rake, hidden under a pile of leaves on the sidewalk.

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The Consequences of Reckless Driving in IllinoisPatrons at Woodfield Mall in suburban Chicago were alarmed when an SUV drove through the indoor shopping center, damaging several displays before it came to a stop at a pillar. The vehicle did not hit anyone, though three people were taken to the hospital. As of the last reporting on the story, the driver was in custody at a behavioral health center and would not be charged until he was released. Police said they do not know if it was a planned attack or if the driver has a mental illness, which could determine what the man is charged with. At the very least, the incident seems to qualify as reckless driving.

What Is Reckless Driving?

Illinois’ criminal code defines reckless driving as:

  • Driving with a willful or wanton disregard for people or property; or
  • Intentionally using an incline to become airborne, such as a hill, bridge approach, or railroad crossing.

Traveling over the speed limit by 35 miles per hour or more is also reckless driving. The charge can become aggravated if the driver injures someone during the incident. If the driver was legally intoxicated, then the charge will be driving under the influence instead.

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Five Keys When Telling Your Children About Your DivorceTelling your children about your divorce may be the most difficult conversation you have throughout the process. Unlike most people you talk to, your decision to divorce will directly and irreversibly affect your children’s daily lives. The news will cause pain to your children and stir up other feelings that may lead to outbursts or emotional withdrawal. Your initial divorce conversation with your children is important because it is one of the lasting memories they will have about your divorce. You should prepare for the talk while keeping these suggestions in mind:

  1. Have Everyone Together: Even though you and your spouse are not getting along, it is important that you tell your children about your divorce together. You need to show your children that you are still dedicated to working together as their co-parents – just not as a married couple. You should also try to have all of your children together for the same conversation because this is a decision that affects the entire family.
  2. Remain Calm: Your emotions will set a tone for the conversation. Being calm and compassionate may not prevent your children from becoming upset but is the best way to soothe them. Showing that you are upset may escalate your children’s emotions, making things worse.
  3. Focus on the Children: Your children do not need to hear the details about why you are getting a divorce. The most important thing to them is how the divorce will affect them. They want to know where they will live and how often they will see each of you. Though you may not know the answers yet, tell them that you will both still be an active part of their lives.
  4. Understand Age Differences: A teenager’s understanding of divorce may be more advanced than a younger child. With younger children, you may need to spend more time explaining what a divorce means. Older children may have enough of an understanding that they want to ask more specific questions about your divorce. Both will be upset by the news, though a younger child may show more obvious signs.
  5. Be Adaptable: It is fine to prepare a script for how you will start your divorce conversation and answer expected questions. However, you need to watch how your children are reacting and respond in an appropriate way. Your children may surprise you with how they respond to the news, which may force you to go off-script.

Contact a McHenry County Divorce Attorney

Your children are just as affected by your divorce as you are, and the decisions you make during your divorce must have their best interest in mind. A Crystal Lake, Illinois, divorce lawyer at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can help you create a comprehensive parenting plan for after your divorce. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838.

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Workers’ Compensation Limited in the Gig EconomyAdvances in digital technologies have caused a growth in the gig economy – a job market based on freelance work and short-term contracts. Uber, Airbnb, and Postmates are three examples of gig economy employers who are driven by apps and digital platforms. Employees like the gig economy because it gives them flexibility in when and where they work. Employers benefit from decreased personnel costs because most of their employees are independent contractors. One of the disadvantages of being an independent contractor is that you lack employee benefits, such as workers’ compensation insurance. If the gig economy becomes a larger portion of the workforce, states such as Illinois may consider adjusting their employment laws.

Independent Contractor Rights

Illinois requires employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance in case one of their employees is injured at work. Independent contractors do not qualify for workers’ compensation benefits under Illinois law. However, the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission has awarded benefits to independent contractors when it determined the employer treated the contractor as an employee. Examples of evidence include:

  • The contractor works fulltime and exclusively for the employer;
  • The employer determines the contractor’s schedule and work assignments;
  • The employer owns the equipment that the contractor uses;
  • The employer pays for expenses related to the work; or
  • The contractor must pass a drug test before they can start working.

Solutions

The lack of workers’ compensation benefits for independent contractors will become a larger problem if more workers rely on jobs from the gig economy as their sole income. Even for those who use the gig economy to supplement their main income, there is a concern that they will not receive benefits if injured while doing their independent contract work. State legislative action may be the only way to provide workers’ compensation benefits to gig economy employees. For instance, California recently passed a law that will classify independent contractors for gig economy companies as employees. The law states that a worker is an employee if:

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