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Workers' Compensation Continues, Even If Your Employer Does NotWhat will happen to your workers’ compensation claim if your employer goes out of business? This scenario does happen and leaves claimants worried about whether they will receive the benefits they need while they recover and look for a new job. Fortunately, the status of your employer will not affect your workers’ compensation claim in most cases. The process could take a little longer, but the end result should still cover your medical expenses and lost income.

Insurance Coverage

Most employers provide workers’ compensation insurance through a third-party insurance company, who is responsible for paying your benefits. Your employer going out of business does not change the insurer’s ability to cover you in the event of a successful workers’ compensation claim. However, the process can be slower if your employer is unable to help its insurer with the case. There may be no one left in your employer’s human resources department to:

  • Assist the insurer with investigating your injury; or
  • Give the insurer your wage records.

You can provide paycheck stubs or other pay records to help move the process along. In some situations, your employer being closed can help with your workers’ compensation claim. The insurer likely wants to close your case quickly because your employer is no longer a paying client. A prolonged court battle may not be worth the cost to them.

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Left-Turning Drivers Pose Threat to PedestriansA majority of the accidents that occur at intersections are the result of a vehicle making a left turn. Drivers can easily misjudge the speed of an oncoming vehicle or may not see the vehicle because of their vision being obstructed. Oncoming drivers may suffer serious injuries if they have a head-on collision with a vehicle that turns in front of them. Pedestrians in a crosswalk can also be injured when a vehicle makes a risky or illegal left turn. There are four factors that make left-turning vehicles dangerous to pedestrians:

  1. Driver Impatience: It can be frustrating to wait at an intersection for a chance to turn left, especially when there is not a left turn signal. The driver may act hastily when there is finally a gap in the oncoming traffic or the light is about to turn red. He or she may not think to look for pedestrians, who have the right-of-way to cross the street at the intersection.
  2. Quick Acceleration: Drivers must increase their speed when making left turns because of the wide turn radius. They may also rush to fit into the small window they have to make a turn against oncoming traffic. A fast-moving vehicle will have more difficulty stopping for a pedestrian and can cause greater injuries if a collision does occur.
  3. Blind Spots: A left-turning driver will likely notice a crowd of people in a crosswalk but could miss a single pedestrian who happens to be in his or her blind spot. The A-pillars on a vehicle, which hold the windshield, can obstruct a driver’s vision during a left turn. Car companies are designing wider A-pillars to store airbags and increase vehicle safety during rollovers. Unfortunately, wider A-pillars create larger blind spots for drivers.
  4. Oncoming Vehicles: A vehicle making a dangerous left turn affects the behavior of other vehicles on the road. An oncoming driver could react to a vehicle turning in front of him or her by swerving to avoid a collision, putting pedestrians at risk. A second vehicle could rear-end the oncoming vehicle, pushing it further into the intersection.

Contact a McHenry County Personal Injury Attorney

The driver of a left-turning vehicle will likely be liable for hitting you while you are in a crosswalk. You may share contributory negligence if the crosswalk light told you to stop, but you can still receive injury compensation as long as the driver was more than half at fault. A Crystal Lake, Illinois, personal injury attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can help you file a lawsuit against a negligent driver. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838. 

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Hasty Mistrial Ruling Leads to Double JeopardyThe fifth amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects a defendant from being tried more than once for the same crime, which is known as double jeopardy. The prosecution can seek a second trial with a new jury if the first attempt ended in a mistrial, which most commonly occurs when a jury cannot reach a unanimous verdict. A court may also declare a mistrial if it believes that a jury has been prejudiced to the point that it cannot reach an unbiased verdict. However, a mistrial must be the court’s last resort, after considering other options to preserve the trial. An Illinois appellate court recently ruled that the state could not start a new trial against a defendant because the trial court was not justified in declaring a mistrial in the first prosecution attempt.

Case Details

In People v. Shoevlin, a woman was charged with two counts of domestic battery for allegedly attacking her husband. The two parties were separated at the time of the alleged incident and filed for divorce afterward. The defense built its case on the idea that the husband had an incentive to lie about the incident in order to gain a majority of the parental responsibility for their children. During the closing arguments, the defense said that the man was trying to ruin the woman’s life with the charge because she would likely lose her children. After the statement, the judge privately met with the counsel for both sides, saying that it was inaccurate to claim that the state would take her children away as a condition of her conviction. After deliberating for five minutes, the judge brought the jury back in the room and declared a mistrial. The judge’s reasoning was that:

  • Telling the jury to disregard the defense counsel’s statement would not prevent prejudice; and
  • Discrediting the defense counsel would mean that the defendant would appeal a potential conviction based on ineffective assistance of counsel.

Appeal

When prosecutors started a new trial, the defense motioned to dismiss the trial because it would be subjecting the defendant to double jeopardy. The trial court rejected the motion, but the appellate court reversed that decision. The court stated that it is important to limit a defendant’s prosecution to one trial whenever possible because having multiple trials:

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Divorcees Must Modify Deed, Mortgage for Marital HomeYou and your spouse will decide which of you will retain ownership of your marital home after your divorce. However, the division of property in a divorce agreement is not enough to completely transfer ownership of the home to one person. As long as both of your names are on the deed and mortgage, you both will have some control over and responsibility for the home. The most efficient way to settle the issue is to transfer the deed and modify the mortgage while your divorce is still ongoing.

Potential Problems

Your divorce agreement states your intention for one of you to occupy and control your marital home after your divorce. It does not automatically change your deed or mortgage. Failing to update these documents may not have immediate consequences but will eventually cause complications:

  • One of you cannot sell the home without the other’s approval if the deed still says that you both own the home;
  • The person who no longer lives in the home could be liable for property tax and mortgage payments if the occupant does not pay them; and
  • If the occupant files for bankruptcy, the mortgage lender can pressure the other person on the mortgage to pay the remainder.

It is easier to settle these issues between each other now than returning to court years later when you are having problems.

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How Would Value-Based Care Change Workers' Compensation?There is an ongoing debate in the workers’ compensation insurance industry about whether more insurers should adopt a value-based care model for paying claims. VBC proponents in the industry cite the potential to provide treatment that is more effective in cost and outcome for the patient. How would a VBC system change workers’ compensation for claimants? It may benefit them in theory, but there are still questions about how the system would actually work.

Value-Based Care vs. Fee for Service

Workers’ compensation insurers use a fee-for-service payment model, in which the insurer pays the healthcare provider for each visit or procedure that it performs. Critics of fee for service say that it puts a greater incentive on the number of visits than the quality of care provided. A VBC payment system compensates healthcare providers based on the nature of the injury and the recovery of the patient. There are several payment models for VBC, including:

  • Pay for performance;
  • Bundled payments; and
  • Outcomes-based payments.

VBC proponents call this a more holistic and patient-centered approach to workers’ compensation. The doctor’s financial incentive is to help a worker reach maximum recovery as soon as possible, which could result in injured employees returning to work more quickly. Of course, insurers could also benefit from more predictable pricing and shorter periods of disability payments.

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