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Tinley Park nursing home injury attorneyAs the average lifespan has increased, so has the elderly population in the United States. According to the United States Census Bureau, there were estimated to be nearly 50 million Americans who were age 65 or older in 2016. With the rapidly growing elderly population, more round-the-clock care is needed, which is why nursing homes are popular options for people. There are nearly 1.4 million elderly Americans in nursing homes, and unfortunately, a good portion of them will experience some sort of neglect or abuse while in an assisted living facility. 

Signs of nursing home neglect can be easy to spot once you know what you are looking for. Here are a few common warning signs that your loved one might be experiencing nursing home abuse or neglect:

Emotional or Psychological Changes

While this may not the most obvious of signs, it is perhaps one of the most serious indications that your loved one is being neglected. You know your loved one best -- if you notice any alarming changes in their behavior, you should be suspicious. Watch out for signs such as:

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Cook County DUI defense lawyer underage drinking and drivingWhen examining traffic offenses or crimes that can be committed while driving, a DUI is one of the most serious charges one can face. The state of Illinois has cracked down on drunk driving in recent years for both underage drivers and adult drivers. Underage DUI is a very serious crime in Illinois. Not only is an offender violating DUI laws, but they are also violating the minimum drinking age laws. Having a teenage child who gets caught drinking and driving can be a nerve-wracking experience, but understanding the laws and the consequences for breaking them can help ease some of the uncertainty.

Zero Tolerance Laws

In an effort to reduce the number of teenagers who drink and drive, Illinois has adopted zero tolerance laws for drivers under the age of 21. Under these laws, any blood alcohol content (BAC) over .00 will result in charges. A first-time offender will lose their driving privileges for three months for any BAC that is over .00. They will lose their driving privileges for six months if they refuse to take a chemical test.

A second-time offender can expect to face much more serious consequences if he or she is caught drinking and driving while under the age of 21. A second offense under the zero tolerance laws will result in the loss of driving privileges for one year for a BAC over .00 or a loss of driving privileges for two years for refusing to take a chemical test.

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Tinley Park workers' compensation lawyerThough some occupations may have higher injury rates than others, you can get hurt at work no matter what industry you work in. Workers’ compensation cases can be difficult and tedious, but it is important to note that the first 24 hours or so after your workplace injury are crucial. Taking the correct actions after being injured at work can make for a stronger workers’ compensation case, while taking the wrong actions could mean no case at all. Here are five things you should do after a work injury in Illinois:

1. Inform Your Employer About Your Injury

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act states that you should notify your employer about your injury as soon as possible. You are permitted to notify your employer orally or in writing, but writing is typically better, because you then have hard evidence that you notified your employer of your injury. The notice should contain information about your injury and the time and place where it was sustained. A general rule of thumb is that you should notify your employer about your injuries no later than 45 days after the incident.

2. Seek Medical Attention as Soon as Possible

Before you go to the doctor, try to contact your employer’s human resources department to inquire about any limitations the workers’ compensation insurance may have. Typically, you can choose which medical provider you can see, but your employer may have limitations. If your employer has a preferred provider program (PPP), you have the choice of two providers within the PPP. If your employer does not have a PPP, you have a choice of any two medical providers. 

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Tinley Park medical malpractice lawyerUnfortunately, medical malpractice is a common occurrence in the United States. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, medical negligence is the primary cause of death for more than 250,000 people each year. This puts medical negligence at the third leading cause of death in the United States, behind heart disease and cancer. Sadly, medical errors and negligence are usually preventable, meaning most of those deaths were unnecessary and at the fault of the doctor. One thing people can do after they or their family members experience an injury from a medical error is file a medical malpractice case. However, these cases can be complicated, so before you pursue a medical malpractice claim, here are four things you should know:

1. The Burden of Proof Lies Completely With You

In medical malpractice cases, the victim has the burden of proof. The physician does not have to prove that he was innocent; you and your lawyer have the responsibility to prove that the physician’s mistake was the reason that you suffered an injury. You must also demonstrate the actual losses you suffered because of the doctor’s error, such as additional medical treatment, disability, and pain and suffering.

2. There Are Three Elements You Must Prove

There are three main elements that make up a medical malpractice case. All three of these must be present, because the absence of any one of them will mean you do not have a case. You must prove that:

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Tinley Park rideshare accident injury attorneyA Chicago couple may continue their lawsuit against Uber after an appeals court in Illinois reversed the ruling of a Cook County judge. The couple was injured in 2014 in a chain of events that began when they were kicked out of an Uber vehicle near 44th Street and Homan Avenue in the Brighton Park neighborhood. The lawsuit seeks damages for the injuries the couple suffered as the result of being hit by a car while walking home from where the Uber driver left them.

A Quick Recap

In October 2014, the couple used the Uber app to request a ride home from the movies. They were picked up at the theater at around 2:00 a.m., but according to court documents, the Uber driver did not drive the proper route to the couple’s home. He allegedly made several wrong turns and ended up lost. When the couple tried to help by giving the driver directions, he reportedly got upset and kicked them out of the car prior to reaching their intended destination.

The couple started walking toward their home. While they were crossing at an intersection along the way, they were hit by a car, and they both suffered injuries. The driver fled the scene but was arrested the following day.

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Orland Park DUI defense lawyerPolice officers are tasked with protecting our communities. However, as with any person of authority, laws exist to direct how and when police officers can use their power. One of these constraints involves the concept of “probable cause.” In order to pull over a motorist, a police officer must have a good reason for doing so. If you are facing charges for driving under the influence (DUI), and the officer who arrested you did not have probable cause to pull you over, your case may be dismissed.

Reasonable Suspicion of a Crime

To legally pull someone over, a police officer must have a reasonable suspicion that the person has broken the law or soon will. The term “reasonable” in this context means that most officers of average training and experience would conclude that illegal activity has occurred or is about to occur. In order for a DUI arrest to be legally warranted, it must be reinforced by probable cause. Put another way, there must be some type of evidence that justifies the belief that the driver was intoxicated.

Some of the common reasons police officers pull over motorists and make DUI arrests include:

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Tinley Park car accident injury lawyer airbagsIf you have bought a new car—or even a used car—in the last few years, you have probably noticed that new safety features are being added to vehicles all the time. Newer cars often come equipped with braking-assist systems, blind spot detection, and a wide range of other systems designed to keep drivers and passengers safe and limit injuries in the event of a car accident.

For those who learned to drive many years ago and still use the techniques they were originally taught, some of these safety features can actually present unexpected dangers. For example, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and other safety organizations now say that the old “10-and-2” method of steering can put drivers at risk for burns, broken bones, and other injuries if the steering-wheel airbag deploys.

Airbags Make a Difference

Driving instructors have long taught new drivers to envision the steering wheel as the face of a clock. Drivers were instructed to grip the wheel with the left hand at the 10 o’clock position and the right hand at the 2 o’clock position. The idea was to give the driver the most control over the steering wheel and the vehicle while steering. 

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Vincent CorneliusAt the Fotopoulos Law Office, we want to offer our sincere congratulations to Vincent F. Cornelius, who was recently elected as a judge of the Twelfth Judicial Circuit Court of Will County. We believe that Vince will provide justice and fairness in the cases that enter his courtroom.

For decades, Vince Cornelius has been a shining light in the legal community in Will County and throughout the state of Illinois. He has tried hundreds of civil and criminal cases in Will, DuPage, Kane, Cook, Winnebago, Grundy, Kendall, and DeKalb Counties, providing dedicated, personal advocacy for his clients. He has defended clients charged with a wide variety of criminal offenses, from homicide and white collar crimes to DUI and traffic violations, and he has been involved in the settlement of multi-million dollar personal injury cases.

In addition to his advocacy for clients in the courtroom, Vince is dedicated to serving the legal community. He is the past president of the Illinois State Bar Association and the Illinois Bar Foundation, the past Chancellor of the Illinois Academy of Lawyers, a founding board member of the Black Bar Association of Will County, and a member of the DuPage County Bar Association, the Will County Bar Association, and the National College for DUI Defense. He has served on the Governor’s Commission on Criminal Law Reform and on the Board of Visitors of Northern Illinois University College of Law.

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traffic stop and search, Orland Park criminal defense attorney, illegal drugs, felony drug possessionAnyone who has seen the television show Law & Order knows the familiar opening narration: “In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate, yet equally important, groups: the police, who investigate crime; and the district attorneys, who prosecute the offenders.” But what happens when these functions become blurred, i.e. the district attorney’s office starts acting as the police? The Illinois Supreme Court recently addressed this question in an important case arising from the controversial policies of LaSalle County's former top prosecutor.

IL Supreme Court Says Ex-LaSalle Prosecutor Conducted Illegal Stops, Arrests

In 2011, then-LaSalle County State's Attorney Brian Towne formed a team of special investigators known as SAFE. Special investigators are individuals appointed by a State's Attorney to serve subpoenas and conduct limited investigations to “assist” prosecutors in performing their duties. They are not, however, sworn police officers.

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assault, battery, Orland Park criminal defense attorney, police excessive force,  criminal chargesThis past January, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) completed a formal investigation into the Chicago Police Department (CPD), specifically the misuse and overuse of force in ways that violate the civil rights of Illinois residents. The DOJ found there was “reasonable cause to believe” that CPD officers routinely took part in acts that “unnecessarily endanger themselves and result in unnecessary and avoidable uses of force.” This was not the result of a few bad officers, the DOJ said, but rather a system-wide “failure to train officers in de-escalation and the failure to conduct meaningful investigations of uses of force.”

IL Judges Reverse Battery Conviction of Man Tased Repeatedly by Police

There are many cases where police not only use excessive force, they turn around and charge the victim with a crime, such as assault and battery. Sadly, many of these victims-turned-defendants suffer from mental illness. The DOJ report noted that many law enforcement officers are not properly trained to deal with “complex situations” involving people with mental health problems and, as a result, the situation quickly escalates.

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violent crime, felony charges, unlawful use of a weapon, Orland Park criminal defense attorney, criminal convictionIf you are charged with a violent crime in Illinois, you have the right to a fair trial. On television legal dramas, you often see crusading prosecutors make powerful opening or closing arguments designed to sway a jury's emotions. In real courtrooms, however, prosecutors need to stick to the evidence. They are not ethically or constitutionally permitted to inflame the jury with prejudicial language.

Court Reverses Attempted Murder Convictions Following Prosecution Misconduct

For example, a prosecutor who repeatedly refers to a defendant as a “criminal” during opening arguments may violate that defendant's right to a fair trial. Indeed, an Illinois appeals court recently overturned the convictions of two co-defendants after a prosecutor did just that. The underlying criminal case involved three Chicago police officers who were shot and injured while attempting to execute a search warrant against one of the defendants.

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drug crime cases, drug charges, criminal conviction, drug conviction, Orland Park criminal defense attorney.Most drug crime cases in Illinois involve police searches, and the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires the police to obtain a warrant for most searches. In its broadest terms, the Fourth Amendment protects our right to privacy. However, this presumes that we had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the first place.

For example, if a police officer walks into your house and starts looking around, that would clearly be a violation of your privacy. Yet suppose you live in an apartment building and an officer searches the lobby, which is unlocked and accessible to the public. Illinois courts have said such searches of “common areas” do not require a warrant because there is no reasonable expectation of privacy.

Still, even within an apartment building, there are limits to how far the police can go. In a 2016 case, the Illinois Supreme Court held that police could not conduct a warrantless search outside an apartment door that was “located within a locked apartment building.” The court said the fact that public access was restricted to the hallway leading up to the defendant's door was critical.

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Orland Park criminal defense lawyer, criminal trial, sexual assault, presumption of innocence, Taking the FifthThe most basic principle of the criminal justice system in Illinois is the presumption of innocence. Whether you are charged with a DUI, sexual assault, or murder, state law provides that “[e]very person is presumed innocent until proved guilty.” In any criminal trial, the burden is therefore on the prosecution to establish the defendant's guilt beyond a “reasonable doubt.”

Can You Be Punished for “Taking the Fifth”?

It is important to understand how the burden of proof works in a criminal trial. If you are accused of a crime, you are not obligated to present any evidence in your defense. Of course, it may benefit you to do so, depending on the circumstances of the case. But at no point can a judge or jury demand that you “prove” you did not commit a crime. Aside from the fact it is difficult to prove a negative, it violates the plain language of Illinois law, which presumes the defendant's innocence.

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felony convictions, own a gun, weapons charges, Orland Park criminal defense attorney, armed habitual criminal lawGun ownership is not an absolute right in Illinois. A resident must obtain a Firearms Ownership Identification card (FOID) from the Illinois State Police in order to legally possess any firearms or ammunition. Anyone who owns or carries a gun without a FOID may face felony weapons charges.

Illinois' Armed Habitual Criminal Law

Certain classes of people are ineligible to receive a FOID. Notably, this includes individuals who have been previously convicted of a felony in Illinois or any other jurisdiction. In fact, if someone previously convicted of multiple felonies is found in possession of a firearm, he or she may face serious sanctions under Illinois law.

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Orland Park criminal defense attorney, right to a speedy trialYou probably know that the United States Constitution guarantees your right to a “speedy trial” if you are accused of committing a crime. The Illinois state constitution has a similar requirement. But what exactly constitutes “speedy?”

In state criminal cases, Illinois law says that a defendant who is taken into custody must be tried within 120 days. If the defendant is released on bond, he or she must be tried within 160 days after filing a written demand for a trial.

Prosecutors Cannot Engage in “Piecemeal Litigation”

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Orland Park criminal defense attorney, DUI charge, field sobriety testWhen an Illinois police officer suspects you of DUI, you may be asked to take one or more field sobriety tests. By law you do not have to agree to such tests. Moreover, if you take a test and “fail,” based on the officer's judgment, it may be used against you as evidence in court.

Court Rejects Peoria Officer's Arrest Based on HGN Test

However, not all field sobriety tests are afforded the same weight by judges. Nor does failure necessarily prove that you were intoxicated above the legal limit in Illinois. Therefore, it is important to challenge any test result that may be inaccurate or improperly administered by the police.

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Orland Park criminal defense attorney, DUI, marijuanaWhen it comes to DUI, there is a critical difference between alcohol and illegal drugs such as marijuana. You probably know that drunk driving is only a criminal offense if your blood alcohol concentration is 0.08 percent or higher. This means that most people can have one or two beers in their system and not worry about legal liability.

However, when it comes to illegal drugs, Illinois law states that “any amount” in a person's system is unacceptable. In other words, if police find any amount of THC—the active ingredient in marijuana and cannabis products—in your system, you are guilty of DUI even if there is no evidence that you were impaired. Additionally, if you are arrested for a DUI where someone else is seriously injured, you can be charged with an “aggravated” DUI which carries stiffer criminal penalties.

Illinois Supreme Court Rejects “Medical Condition” Defense in Aggravated DUI Case

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Orland Park DUI defense attorney, Illinois police, drug userDUI does not just refer to drunk driving. It is against Illinois law to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of any drug, legal or illegal. However, police must have reasonable grounds to believe that you are actually under the influence of drugs.

Officer Lacked “Probable Cause” Based on Questionable Drug Test

This can be a problem when an officer lacks appropriate training and simply jumps to the conclusion that a driver was using drugs without adequate proof. Given that a drug arrest can not only lead to a criminal charge, but also carries a “civil penalty” in the form of an automatic driver's license suspension, such mistakes can be devastating to innocent individuals.

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Orland Park criminal defense attorney, convicted of a drug crimeIf the police conduct a lawful search and find drugs on your person—i.e., in your coat pocket—you can be charged with illegal possession of a controlled substance. However, even if you are not actually carrying any drugs, you may still be convicted of a crime if you had “constructive” possession of narcotics.

Constructive possession means that drugs are found in an area determined to be under your control.

The Elements of Constructive Possession

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Orland Park drug crimes defense lawyer, drug chargesIf you are arrested on drug charges, such as possession of a controlled substance with the intent to deliver, the burden is on police and prosecutors to prove you did something wrong. This includes establishing your identity and presence at the crime scene—i.e. where the alleged drug transaction took place. Many criminal convictions rely solely on police officer testimony to establish a defendant's guilt.

You Have the Right to Present a Defense

It is therefore critical that the court allow the defendant to present evidence that contradicts police testimony. This can include something as seemingly trivial as a tattoo. In fact, an Illinois appeals court recently overturned a drug crimes conviction precisely because the trial judge refused to look at the defendant's tattoos.

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