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Illinois Looking to Strengthen Penalties of Move-Over LawIllinois lawmakers have introduced new legislation that would increase the punishment for drivers who violate the “move-over” law, also known as Scott’s Law. The existing law states that drivers must use caution when approaching a stationary emergency vehicle on the side of the road. Scott’s Law is a traffic violation that requires a fine, though it can also be an aggravating factor for charges such as driving under the influence. The changes to the law would expand the punishments for incidents involving property damage or personal injury.

Scott’s Law

The state created the move-over law to protect emergency responders after several had been injured or killed when motorists struck them by the side of the road. The law was named after Chicago Fire Department Lt. Scott Gillen, who died after being hit by an intoxicated driver while responding to a crash. The law states that drivers who are approaching a stationary emergency vehicle must:

  • Proceed with caution;
  • Reduce speed; and
  • Change lanes in order to give the vehicle room, if possible.

The law defines a stationary emergency vehicle as any vehicle that is authorized to be equipped with flashing lights, including the red and blue lights and yellow lights. A conviction is a business offense, punishable by a fine of $100 to $10,000. For incidents involving vehicle damage or personal injury, the offender’s driver’s license can be suspended for 90 to 180 days.

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Activities That Distract You From Divorce StressWhen going through a divorce, it is common for the process to consume your thoughts, even when you are supposed to be taking a break. Some divorce anxiety is understandable and shows that you appreciate the importance of the decisions you are making. However, you could be building towards a nervous breakdown if you cannot occasionally distract yourself from that stress. Simply relaxing may not be enough to help you temporarily forget about your divorce. You need to find activities that are both physically and mentally engaging.

Exercise

A fitness routine helps many people treat their daily anxieties. It is tempting to forgo regular exercise because your divorce, work life, and personal life leave you exhausted. However, exercise can benefit you in ways that normal relaxation cannot, such as:

  • Expelling your built-up stress;
  • Making you feel healthier;
  • Releasing endorphins that can improve your mood; and
  • Improving your sleeping.

Exercise comes in many forms besides running on a treadmill or lifting weights. You can join classes for aerobics, yoga, dance, or martial arts. Outdoor activities, such as hiking, cycling or rock climbing, can be a source of fun and exercise. Joining classes or groups will also add a social component to your experience that can help distract you.

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New Illinois Law Would Allow Latent Injury Claims Past Statute of ReposeThe Illinois General Assembly has passed legislation that extends the opportunity to receive compensation when people suffer from work-related occupational diseases. If signed by the governor, the law would allow plaintiffs to file civil lawsuits against employers if the statute of repose for workers’ compensation has expired. The Illinois Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that workers’ compensation was the only recourse for people seeking compensation for occupational diseases and that the 25-year statute of repose is a strict time limit for when a plaintiff must file a claim. The new law would effectively circumvent that ruling.

Occupational Diseases

Unlike most workplace injuries, an occupational disease develops from long-term exposure to a contaminant and not from a specific event. Common causes of occupational diseases include:

  • Exposure to radioactive materials; and
  • Inhalation of harmful substances, such as asbestos.

The period of repose is the length of time after the worker’s last known contact with the contaminant that a plaintiff has to file a workers’ compensation claim. Depending on the cause of the occupational disease, the statute of repose could be as little as two years or as long as 25 years. However, it can take years to decades for a worker to become aware of an occupational disease, such as cancer or respiratory diseases.

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Deciding Whether to Take a Public Injury SettlementMany personal injury cases end with a settlement before heading to court. By filing a personal injury claim, you may receive a settlement offer from the liable party or its insurer. Accepting a settlement is quicker and less expensive than filing a lawsuit, although you would likely receive more compensation in a successful lawsuit. However, there are situations where it is wiser to file a lawsuit than accept a settlement. A personal injury attorney will consider several factors when advising you on your case:

  1. How Much Is the Liable Party Offering?: The insurance company would prefer to pay you the minimum amount necessary in response to your injury claim. You must consider whether the settlement amount will fully cover your injury expenses. The insurer may dispute the extent of your injuries or whether certain treatments are necessary for your recovery. Some insurers have a maximum payable amount for injury claims. You may need to file a lawsuit if the insurer cannot or will not offer enough compensation for your injury.
  2. How Much Do You Need For Pain and Suffering?: An out-of-court settlement can include compensation for pain and suffering if your injury caused a decline in your quality of life. However, compensation for pain and suffering can be a subjective amount, even if both sides agree that it should be part of the settlement. There are different formulas to quantify pain and suffering compensation, and some of the values in the formulas depend on how severe you consider the injury to be. By filing a lawsuit, you can let the court decide the appropriate amount of pain and suffering compensation.
  3. How Strong Is Your Case?: Illinois uses comparative fault when determining the amount to award in a personal injury lawsuit. Even if the court finds in your favor, it can decrease your award if it determines you were partially at fault for the incident that caused your injuries. You will receive nothing from the case if the court decides that the defendant was not at fault or that you were more than half at fault for the injury. If there is serious doubt about who was at fault, you may risk receiving less from the lawsuit than you would from the settlement.

Contact a McHenry County Personal Injury Attorney

Before deciding whether to accept a settlement, you should speak to a Crystal Lake, Illinois, personal injury lawyer at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, to determine if it is a fair offer or if you would benefit more by filing a lawsuit. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838.

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Marijuana Odor Enough to Permit Vehicle SearchA couple of years ago, Illinois changed its Cannabis Control Act to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Possessing less than 10 grams of marijuana is a civil law violation, punishable by a fine of $100 to $200. The change decreases the number of people who may face misdemeanor drug possession charges for what is a minor offense. However, decriminalization is not the same as legalization, a fact that recently prevented an Illinois defendant from suppressing evidence in a criminal case.

Recent Case

In People v. Rice, the defendant was charged, convicted and sentenced to 11 years in prison for possession of a controlled substance. A police officer had stopped the defendant’s vehicle for speeding and decided to conduct a search because he smelt burnt cannabis. During the search, police allegedly found:

  • A small bag containing marijuana on the defendant;
  • Two sealed envelopes containing $37,000 in the vehicle; and
  • A box that contained 1,300 methamphetamine pills.

Probable Cause

The defendant argued that the evidence from the police search should be suppressed because the scent of marijuana did not give the officer probable cause to conduct a search. He cited the change to Illinois law that decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana and a Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling. Massachusetts voters had passed a referendum that decriminalized the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana. The Massachusetts court determined that the scent of marijuana was no longer enough evidence of criminal activity to conduct a search because the amount that the suspect possesses may not be a criminal offense.

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