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Contesting Child Abuse Allegations by the DCFSThe Illinois Department of Child and Family Services has the authority to indicate you for child abuse or neglect if its investigation concludes that there is evidence of such mistreatment. Being “indicated” does not by itself mean you are facing criminal charges, but the DCFS can use it to limit your parental role and put you on a state register that may prevent you from having a job that involves working with children. You have the right to appeal the DCFS’s decision in order to expunge their findings from your record.

Expungement Process

You have only 60 days to file an expungement request after the DCFS has indicated you for child abuse or neglect. Once you have filed the request with the DCFS, a neutral administrative law judge must hear your case within 70 days. If you are a child care worker, you will receive an expedited hearing within 35 days. The judge will hear evidence from both sides and file a recommendation on whether to grant your expungement request to the DCFS director within 90 days. If either the judge or the DCFS director denies your expungement request, you can appeal to the circuit court.

Evidence

As with prosecutors in a criminal trial, the DCFS investigators have the burden of proving their suspicions of child abuse or neglect. At the hearing, they must present their findings and show why they reached their conclusion. As part of your expungement request, the DCFS must provide you a copy of the investigation report, which you can examine for:

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Appropriate Tasks for Different Members of Your Divorce Support SystemYou will often find a strong support system behind people who successfully go through a divorce. Divorcees will rely on the kindness of friends, family, professionals and even some casual acquaintances who have experience with divorce. It is important to find your support system when going through a divorce, but you also need to know what to ask of each member. A family member should not be making legal decisions related to your divorce. Asking your divorce attorney to console you when you are depressed is an ineffective use of the time you are paying him or her for. There are more appropriate ways for your support system to help you.

Friends and Family

Adult members of your family and your close friends are the people you can rely on for help with your personal life during your divorce. They are the people you turn to when you need:

  • A sympathetic shoulder to cry on;
  • Help with completing daily tasks;
  • Someone to watch your children on short notice; or
  • Someone who can help you forget your stress for a moment.

The friends in your support system should be people who have a limited personal connection with your spouse or a much stronger relationship with you. A mutual friend of you and your spouse may feel uncomfortable picking sides during your divorce.

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When Do You Need Witnesses for a Workers' Compensation Claim?You are the primary witness in your workers’ compensation case and the only necessary witness in many cases. In Illinois, you are not required to prove that anyone was negligent in order to receive workers’ compensation benefits. The arbitrator or court that is deciding your case needs to know that your injury occurred during the course of your work or as a consequence of your work duties. You may need other witnesses if your employer is casting doubt on the cause or extent of your injury. However, live testimony may be unnecessary even in these cases.

Expert Witnesses

Every workers’ compensation case should include records of all of your medical treatments and diagnosis of your physical condition. You can also call your physicians or a vocational expert as witnesses to testify during your case about:

  • The severity of your injuries;
  • Disabilities that resulted from your injuries; and
  • How your injury or disability will affect your ability to work.

Expert witnesses will often charge large fees in order to testify for a case. You should determine whether live testimony is necessary before you pay for an expert witness. Detailed reports from these experts may contain all of the information you need to establish your medical condition and future work limitations.

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Five Types of Catastrophic Injuries and Their EffectsThere is no legal definition for a catastrophic injury in a personal injury case, but general consensus defines it as an injury that permanently affects your ability to work or enjoy your life. Suffering a catastrophic injury may entitle you to substantial compensation if another party was at fault for the accident. You will need the money to pay for expensive medical treatments and therapy, as well as to replace your lost income or to train you for a new career. Your lost quality of life is more difficult to quantify, though compensation for pain and suffering should help. Here are five types of catastrophic injuries, each debilitating in its own way:

  1. Brain Injuries: Suffering a fractured skull or concussion can result in traumatic brain injuries. A minor brain injury can cause headaches, dizziness and troubling thinking, but the prognosis for recovery is usually good. A severe brain injury can cause longer-lasting or permanent symptoms, such as problems with memory, speech, or bodily functions.
  2. Spinal Injuries: Spinal cord injuries are often associated with paralysis, loss of feeling and the inability to control bladder and bowel functions. The severity of the symptoms depends on where the injury occurred and whether it is a complete or incomplete injury. The injury will affect a greater part of the body when it is higher on the spinal cord. An incomplete injury may allow some feeling and movement, while there is a low chance of recovering from a complete injury.
  3. Limb Loss: Victims can lose body parts when they are severed as the result of an accident or when the extent of the damage forces doctors to amputate. In some cases, a severed body part can be reattached, followed by painful rehabilitation. Otherwise, losing a finger or limb will permanently change how a person functions.
  4. Organ Damage: A ruptured organ, such as a liver or kidney, is often a medical emergency because it can cause internal bleeding. The victim may be able to recover with time, but there can be long-lasting symptoms if doctors had to remove part of the organ due to damage or infection.
  5. Severe Burns: Third-degree burns can cause severe disfigurement, chronic pain, loss of sensation, or disablement of part of a body. Even if the long-term effects are purely cosmetic, that may still diminish the person’s quality of life.

Contact a McHenry County Personal Injury Lawyer

No amount of money may ever feel like enough to pay for a catastrophic injury, but you need the compensation for practical purposes. A Crystal Lake, Illinois, personal injury attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can tell you how much compensation you can expect to receive for your injury, based on similar cases. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838.

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Police Blocked from Forcing Defendant to Give Phone PasscodeAn Illinois appellate court recently upheld a lower court ruling that police could not compel a defendant to surrender his passcode in order to access his cellphone. The court determined that forcing the defendant to give up his secured digital information would violate the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which protects people from self-incrimination. The ruling is the latest development in an ongoing debate about whether the contents of a digital device should be treated as simply data or akin to personal testimony in a criminal case.

Fifth Amendment

In People v. Spicer, the defendant is charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance and possessing a controlled substance with the intent to deliver. During a traffic stop, police allegedly found a pill bottle containing cocaine inside the defendant’s car. A court approved a warrant to search the defendant’s cellphone for supporting evidence, but police could not open the phone because of the passcode. Police sought to compel the defendant to provide the passcode. The court denied the request because it would force the defendant to incriminate himself if there is damaging evidence in the phone’s contents. According to a common interpretation of the Fifth Amendment:

  • The amendment applies when the information is testimonial, incriminating, and compelled; and
  • Providing information such as a passcode is testimonial because it requires the defendant to use the contents of his or her mind.

Some legal scholars claim that the Fifth Amendment should naturally protect information on cellular devices because it is an extension of the user’s mind.

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