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Employees in Illinois Cannot Waive Right to Workers’ CompensationIllinois law requires all employers in the state to carry workers’ compensation insurance – even if they have only one employee or part-time employees. The only businesses that can choose to waive the workers’ compensation requirement are those whose only employees are a sole proprietor, business partners or corporate officers. The state can fine an employer and its corporate officers $500 per day if they knowingly fail to have workers’ compensation insurance. Despite the state’s strict requirements, some employers lead their employees to believe that they cannot or should not file a workers’ compensation claim. As a worker, you should watch for tactics that your employer may use to discourage you from exercising your right to benefits after a workplace injury:

  1. Illegal Contracts: An employment contract is not allowed to include a section stating that you agree to not file a workers’ compensation claim in the event of an injury. Mediation with your employer is not a replacement for a workers’ compensation claim. If you notice such a provision in your employment contract, you should contact an attorney to confirm that it is illegal and bring it to the attention of your employer. Even if you have already signed the contract, your employer cannot enforce an agreement to forgo workers’ compensation.
  2. Waivers: Employees cannot waive their right to workers’ compensation, whether it is voluntary or at the employer’s suggestion. Illinois employees are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits in exchange for not filing personal injury lawsuits against their employers. If someone gives you a workers’ compensation waiver form, you should recognize that it is not a legally enforceable document.
  3. Intimidation: Employers are prohibited from retaliating or discriminating against employees who file workers’ compensation claims. Victims of retaliation can file lawsuits against their employers and recover damages. However, some employers use actual or implied threats of retaliation in order to intimidate employees. You should not let a fear of retaliation prevent you from filing a workers’ compensation claim.

Contact a Crystal Lake Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

Some employers take advantage of their employees’ lack of knowledge about workers’ compensation laws by using deceptive practices to discourage employees from filing claims. The employers know they cannot enforce a contract that prevents you from filing a claim, but they hope that you will give up without testing whether the contract is legal. A McHenry County workers’ compensation attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, will stand up to employers and insurance companies that are trying to deny your injury benefits. To schedule a free consultation, call 815-338-3838.

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Compensation for Third Parties Injured During Police ChasesWhen a police officer pursues a driver who is attempting to flee, they do so knowing that the chase could put other drivers and pedestrians at risk of injury or death. If you are injured during a police chase, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against both parties. The party being chased is clearly liable if they directly caused your injury by colliding with you. They may still be liable if the police vehicle collided with you because they were the proximate cause of the chase. It is more difficult to prove that a police officer is liable for your injury. State law grants tort immunity to police officers for most actions in the line of duty. If you file a personal injury lawsuit against a police department, it will likely ask the court for summary judgment to dismiss the lawsuit. However, you should contest a summary judgment if the police officer’s actions were reckless.

Police Policy

Police departments have policies about when officers should initiate and terminate a high-speed chase. For instance, the city of Chicago’s policy states that officers need to balance the necessity of catching a fleeing party against the danger it could create for bystanders. Officers must consider factors such as whether:

  • They are in an area with a high volume of vehicles or pedestrians;
  • The chase requires driving at a speed that is unsafe for the area;
  • The weather or road conditions will make the pursuit more dangerous;
  • The suspect has already caused property damage; or
  • The suspect has been identified, allowing the officer to apprehend them later.

Chicago’s policy prohibits officers from chasing a subject who is suspected of a non-hazardous traffic offense. Violating these policies does not make a police department automatically liable for personal injuries, but it is evidence in determining whether the officer was willfully or wantonly reckless.

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Your Rights When Approaching an Illinois DUI CheckpointStates disagree on the legality of DUI checkpoints – spots where police officers stop passing vehicles to see if drivers show signs of being intoxicated. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1990 that checkpoints could be legal but let states decide how to conduct them properly. Twelve states, including neighboring Wisconsin, consider them illegal because they stop drivers without establishing reasonable suspicion of a crime. Illinois is among the states that do allow DUI checkpoints. If you find yourself approaching a checkpoint, you need to understand how they work and your rights.

How DUI Checkpoints Work

Police can create a DUI checkpoint at any time and place but most commonly use them during holiday weekends at locations where DUI arrests are common. They may use media outlets to announce checkpoints in advance in hopes of discouraging drunk driving. Police must follow several rules in order to legally conduct a checkpoint:

  • They cannot select a location that would cause unnecessary traffic jams or create dangerous situations for drivers;
  • They must use signs, lights or signal flares to alert drivers of the upcoming checkpoint;
  • All officers and vehicles must be cleared marked as belonging to law enforcement;
  • They cannot unreasonably detain drivers who show no signs of intoxication or other suspicious activity;
  • They must have reasonable suspicion in order to force a person to step out of the vehicle or to search the vehicle; and
  • They cannot arrest someone without probable cause that a crime has been committed.

Your Rights

You are allowed to turn around to avoid a DUI checkpoint as long as you make a legal turn. If you do go through the checkpoint, you have the same rights as someone whom police have pulled over:

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Including Phone Conversations in Your Parenting PlanEach parent’s scheduled time with their children after divorce should not be interrupted by the other parent unless necessary. In some cases, a phone conversation or texting with the children may be appropriate. However, there are situations where these forms of communication may disrupt the existing parenting time schedule. Extensive phone conversations between a parent and child can be included in a parenting schedule to ensure that both parents agree on whether it is appropriate.

When Are Phone Conversations Appropriate?

Some children have trouble adjusting to a two-household living arrangement because it is their first time being away from either parent for an extended period. They may initially benefit from phone calls with the nonresidential parent, though you should ween them off of these calls so that they do not become emotionally dependent on them. There are other situations in which a phone call that is longer than a couple of minutes may be appropriate:

  • When a parent lives a long distance from their children, regular phone calls may be part of their parenting time because it is impractical for them to frequently see each other in person;
  • A phone conversation could also be a substitute for parenting time if the children are on a trip and missing their normal parenting time; and
  • Children should be able to talk to their nonresidential parent in special situations when they have news that they want the other parent to immediately know about.

When Are Phone Conversations Not Appropriate?

Frequent communications or long conversations with a child can aggravate the parent who has the children. You should not interrupt your children’s time with the other parent unless there is an urgent issue that cannot wait until you see them again. Even sending periodic texts to check up on your children is disruptive.

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Receiving Workers’ Compensation When You Have Two JobsSome people work more than one job in order to supplement their income and pay for their living expenses. A worker may be balancing two full-time jobs, though a second part-time job is more common. Suffering an injury at one job may affect your ability to work at both jobs. Though workers’ compensation benefits are available through the job where you were hurt, you may worry about lost income from your other job. Fortunately, Illinois allows you to include wages from more than one job when filing your workers’ compensation claim.

Qualifications

Your average weekly wage helps determine workers’ compensation benefits such as disability payments and lump-sum settlements. A workers’ compensation insurer for one employer may contest your inclusion of income from an additional employer in your average weekly wage. However, you are entitled to compensation for lost income from all of your jobs, as long as:

  • You can prove that your other job exists;
  • The employer for where the injury occurred was aware that you had an additional job; and
  • That employer did not object to you working a second job.

Most injured workers do not have proof in writing that their employer knew about their second job. You need to remember who you told at work about your second job and what their response was. You could strengthen your claim by showing that your employer knowingly adjusted your schedule to accommodate your other job.

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