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How Trust, Emotions, and Facts Affect Personal Injury Verdicts

Web Admin - Monday, December 24, 2018
Inverness personal injury lawyer jury verdictSerious injuries, illnesses, and deaths happen every day. In many cases, these are unfortunate events that naturally occur in our imperfect world. However, there are times when a personal injury or wrongful death occurs as the result of another party’s negligence or misconduct. For example, a drunk driver may cause a collision that kills another person, or a business may fail to take reasonable precautions when manufacturing a product. In these situations, the party at fault has a civil responsibility to compensate the injured party for their damages. 

Juries Sometimes Award Huge Sums in Personal Injury Cases


Many, if not most, personal injury cases are resolved through an out-of-court settlement negotiated by lawyers. In some cases, however, the two sides cannot agree on the amount of damages that one party should pay to the other, so the case must go to trial. The verdicts in personal injury trials are often unpredictable, and they are sometimes dramatically large, as in these recent 2018 cases:

- An Indiana jury awarded $35 million to a man who was rendered a quadriplegic in a car crash caused by a drunk driver. 

- A Georgia jury awarded $1 billion to a young woman who was sexually assaulted by an armed security guard employed by her apartment complex.

- A San Francisco jury awarded $289 million, which was later reduced by a judge to $78 million, to a man whose cancer was caused, according to the court’s verdict, by Roundup weedkiller.


How Attorneys Build a Convincing Case for a Large Verdict 


What factors convince a jury to rule in favor of an injured person and to award large amounts of compensatory and punitive damages? This is a hard question to answer definitively, but there are several factors that play a role. An experienced personal injury lawyer knows how to leverage these factors and use them to construct a compelling combination of factual evidence and emotional arguments for a jury trial.

One factor is that jurors seem to be less offended today by plaintiff requests for multi-million dollar verdicts and more willing to award them. Court-watchers speculate that American citizens have been affected by the barrage of online stories highlighting exorbitant professional athlete contracts, lottery jackpots, and the huge gap that has developed between CEO compensation and worker wages. As a result, jurors tend to believe that a corporate defendant can easily afford a large payout and must be made to feel the pain of their mistakes through punitive damages, and that the injured party deserves the compensation. 

Another factor is more widespread feelings of anger and distrust against “the elite.” Part of this stems from the growing division between the highest-paid and the lowest-paid workers in America. This has caused more anger and distrust toward the leadership of large corporations, who are viewed as getting rich at the expense of their workers. Also, with so much “fake news” going around on social media, people are becoming more distrustful in general. In some cases, jurors even distrust the injured person’s attorney and increase their award to the injured person just to “make sure they are taken care of” after the plaintiff’s attorney takes their share of an award.

Short attention spans are a third variable that personal injury lawyers must increasingly take into account when developing their trial arguments. Younger generations do not have the patience to sit through days of oral testimony by technical experts. Attorneys need to use more graphics, videos, and even virtual reality recreations of an accident scene in order to make testimony more compelling and impactful to jurors. 

Attorneys must also be sensitive to the way the injured person is portrayed and the way their story is told. Juries who are emotionally touched by a well-told story can be swayed toward one side or the other. For example, when jurors see that the injured party is part of a likeable, hard-working family that they can relate to, they are more likely to favor the injured party. The injured person’s attorney may also encourage jurors to look at the injured person and think, “What if it were me?” When such feelings are strong enough, they can cause jurors to override arguments that the defendant acted according to reasonable standards of care.

Consult a Des Plaines Personal Injury Attorney  


If you have been injured through another person’s or corporation’s negligence or wrongdoing, you could have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit and be eligible to receive compensation for your injuries. The first step is to discuss your case with an experienced Barrington personal injury lawyer. The attorneys of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC have decades of experience obtaining due compensation for our clients in personal injury and wrongful death cases. Contact us at 847-934-6000 to schedule a free consultation.

Ken ApicellaAbout the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.



Sources:
http://riskandinsurance.com/5-reasons-why-juries-are-awarding-billion-dolla…
https://www.theindianalawyer.com/articles/45836-recent-35m-verdict-is-among-largest-indiana-jury-personal-injury-awards
https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/05/24/613964570/georgia-jury-awards-1-billion-in-lawsuit-over-girls-rape
https://www.wsj.com/articles/judge-reduces-jury-award-against-bayers-roundup-to-78-5-million-1540258899

Recovering Damages When Injured on Chicago Area Public Transportation

Web Admin - Friday, December 21, 2018
Inverness bus accident injury lawyerIf you regularly utilize the public transportation network in Chicago and its suburbs, there are a number of ways in which you could be injured and have grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit. Whether you ride buses or trains operated by Metra, CTA, or Pace, the potential causes of personal injuries are similar, including:

- A slip-and-fall that occurs at least in part due to the negligence of a bus or train operator. A fall attributable only to wet floors on a bus or train when it is raining outside is unlikely to qualify. On the other hand, CTA could be liable for a fall caused by an improperly trained driver who stopped their vehicle too quickly.

- Injuries attributed to faulty design or maintenance of a station platform or piece of equipment.

- Injuries sustained during a train derailment or a bus crash attributed to operator error. For example, Pace could be held liable if a bus driver causes a crash by running a red light, speeding, or being distracted by looking at their phone. However, if a collision is wholly the fault of another vehicle’s driver, Pace would generally not be liable.

- Wounds suffered by a pedestrian who is struck by a bus or train, or by parts flying off a bus or train, where it can be shown that the operator of the bus or train was at fault. If a person trespasses onto train tracks and is struck, they generally cannot hold the train operator responsible.

- Injuries inflicted by a public transit security officer who used excessive force or committed some other type of misconduct.


Time Is Critical in Chicago Public Transportation Injury Cases


If you believe you have a legitimate claim for damages against CTA, Metra, or PACE, you should contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. There are two reasons why Illinois personal injury cases involving public transportation are time sensitive. First, critical evidence must be protected, such as security video recordings that are typically only retained for a limited period of time before being erased or overwritten. An attorney must typically file an emergency protection order to preserve videos and other relevant evidence. Second, Illinois state law (745 ILCS 10/8-101) requires all claims against “local entities,” which includes local public transit authorities, to be filed within one year of the incident, versus a two-year timeframe for most other lawsuits. 

Recovery of Compensation from Transit Authorities is Possible


In 2017, a woman who was injured in a CTA train derailment was awarded more than $6 million in damages by a jury. She suffered injuries to her head, neck, and back when her head struck a metal pole and a door inside the train car. 

To compensate a man who was assaulted in a train station by Metra police officers, Metra agreed to an out-of-court settlement of $250,000 in 2017. The entire incident was captured on video.

Consult an Arlington Heights Public Transportation Accident Attorney 


If you have been injured on public transportation in the Chicago area, and you think you may have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit, talk to a knowledgeable Rolling Meadows personal injury lawyer without delay. The attorneys of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC will review your case at no cost to you. Contact us at 847-934-6000 to schedule a consultation.

Ken ApicellaAbout the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.



Sources:
http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?ActID=2062&ChapterID=58&SeqStart=8900000&SeqEnd=9200000
https://chicago.suntimes.com/news/woman-who-sued-cta-over-2014-blue-line-derailment-gets-6-5m/
https://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/metra-police-beating-video-lawsuit-463813893.html

Enjoy the Season of Giving Without Tax Implications

Web Admin - Monday, December 17, 2018
Schaumburg gift tax attorneyYou do not have to wait until you die to give a loved one enough money to pursue a big dream, such as starting a business or advancing their education. You can give that gift today without paying any extra federal taxes as long as you follow a few simple rules and have a sound estate plan. During the holiday season, it is important to understand how federal gift tax affects the high-value gifts given.

Why the Gift Tax Exists 


Gift taxes exist because of the federal estate tax. If your estate is large enough that federal estate taxes will be owed upon your death, the IRS wants to make sure it collects those taxes one way or another. The gift tax ensures that people cannot avoid the federal estate tax simply by giving away their assets prior to death.

Who Has to Pay Federal Gift Taxes? 


Gifts are always tax-free to the recipient. Federal gift tax rules only apply to the giver and only come into play if you exceed the annual gift limits. 

What Are the 2018 and 2019 Gift Limits?


The annual gift limit is $15,000 per individual recipient per calendar year for 2018 and 2019. You can give that amount to as many individuals as you wish without being required to pay gift tax. It does not matter if the individual is related to you or not.

In other words, a gift of $15,000 or less that is given to one person will not have any gift tax or estate tax implications. Separately, your spouse may also give $15,000 to anyone they want. 

Non-cash gifts are valued at their current fair market value. For example, if you originally paid $5,000 for a painting or 100 shares of stock, and the item is worth $15,000 at the time you transfer the gift, the IRS considers the value of the gift to be $15,000.

What Happens if I Exceed the Annual Gift Limits?


If the total value of your gifts to any one individual in one calendar year exceeds the annual limit, you must file a federal gift tax return using IRS Form 709. This is separate from your federal income tax return but is due at the same time. 

A separate Form 709 must be filed by each individual who gives an over-the-limit gift; spouses cannot file one joint Form 709 the way they file a joint income tax return.

However, just because you have to file a federal gift tax return does not mean you will actually have to pay any taxes at that time. You can choose to apply over-the-limit gift amounts to your federal estate tax exclusion. In essence, rather than paying the gift tax now, you defer the taxes until your death when the final estate tax return is filed.

If you opt to pay gift taxes at the time you file a gift tax return, the tax rate starts at 18% and goes as high as 40%. These rates are substantially lower than current estate tax rates, but again, the laws can change dramatically from year to year. 

Ultimately, most people will not owe any federal estate taxes upon their death, so it is often preferable to avoid paying gift taxes early.

What Happens at Death When My Estate is Settled?


A federal estate tax return must be filed only if the fair market value of your total assets at the time of your death plus the sum of all pre-death taxable gifts exceeds the IRS “basic exclusion” amount. The IRS basic exclusion amounts are $11.18 million for 2018 and $11.4 million for 2019. 

Of course, it is possible that the estate tax threshold could be reduced in future years. For example, if you had died in 2017, the estate tax exclusion was just $5.49 million. 

These complexities are a good reason to work with a highly skilled tax and estate planning attorney to develop a comprehensive estate plan.

Please note that the information in this article applies only to federal tax law. Consult your financial and legal advisors regarding applicable Illinois estate and gift tax laws.

Consult a Schaumburg Tax and Estate Planning Lawyer


Many people find great pleasure in giving generous gifts to their family members sooner rather than later. However, to avoid creating an unnecessary tax burden, talk to a knowledgeable Arlington Heights gift tax and estate plans attorney at Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC. Call 847-934-6000 to schedule an appointment; there is no charge for an initial consultation.

About the Author: Attorney Jay Andrew is a founding partner of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC. He is a graduate of the University of Dayton School of Law and has been practicing in estate planning, probate, trust administration, real estate law, residential/ commercial leasing, contracts, and civil litigation. Since 2005, Jay has been a Chair of the Mock Trial Committee for the Annual Northwest Suburban Bar Association High School Mock Trial Invitation which serves over 240 local Illinois students each year.


Sources:
https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/whats-new-estate-and-gift-tax
https://www.thebalance.com/what-gifts-are-subject-to-the-gift-tax-3505680
https://www.hrblock.com/tax-center/income/other-income/do-i-have-to-pay-taxes-on-a-gift/

Treatment of Same-Sex Spouses and Civil Union Partners Under Illinois Probate Law

Web Admin - Wednesday, November 21, 2018
Rolling Meadows same sex couple estate planning lawyerThe state of Illinois has recognized civil unions of same-sex couples since 2011 and same-sex marriage since 2014. But it was not until 2015, when the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, that all states were required to allow and recognize same-sex marriages. These changes over the past decade have had a major impact on estate planning for same-sex couples.

Differences Between Illinois’ Civil Union Act and Marriage Fairness Act


The 2011 Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act (750 ILCS 75) declares that a party to a civil union “is entitled to the same legal obligations, responsibilities, protections, and benefits” that the law of Illinois affords to spouses. This law did not, however, mention children of civil union partners or other family members.

The 2014 Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act (750 ILCS 80) more forcefully declares that its purpose is to provide same-sex and different-sex couples and their children “equal access to the status, benefits, protections, rights, and responsibilities of civil marriage.” It goes on to say that parties to a marriage and their children “shall have all the same benefits, protections, and responsibilities under law.”   

Conversion of a Civil Union to a Marriage in Illinois


Civil unions were not automatically converted to marriages when the 2014 law was passed. Rather, the Civil Union Act was modified in 2014 to allow the voluntary conversion of a civil union to a marriage at no cost. Through May 2015, a couple could have their civil union redesignated as a marriage just by applying to a county clerk. The effective date of the marriage would be the same as the effective date of the earlier civil union. 

As of June 2015, parties to a preexisting civil union must apply for a marriage certificate and have the marriage solemnized and registered as a marriage. The effective date of that marriage would be the date the marriage was solemnized.

Impact of a Civil Union vs. Marriage on Estate Planning


Spousal inheritance rights are the same in Illinois, whether you are legally in a same-sex civil union, same-sex marriage, or different-sex marriage. Still, if you entered into a civil union, you may want to convert that to a marriage, just to ensure that your relationship is recognized as a legal marriage nationwide and internationally. For example, when partners are citizens of different countries, an actual marriage certificate will generally be needed in order for the spousal relationship to be recognized for immigration purposes. In addition, the same-sex marriage law specifically references “children” and “family” of the couple.

Also, if you entered into a civil union at some point, and the relationship broke up, you should be sure that the civil union was legally dissolved; the process is the same as for the dissolution of a marriage in Illinois. If the civil union was not legally dissolved, or converted to a marriage followed by a divorce, one partner could still claim the right to inherit from the other.

Inheritance and Related Rights of Same-Sex Married Couples Recognized Nationally


Same-sex couples gained numerous inheritance-related benefits as a result of nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, such as:

- The couple no longer has to worry about moving from a state where same-sex marriage was recognized to a state where it was not.

- If one spouse dies without a written will or trust, the other will now automatically inherit under the laws of their state of residence.

- When one spouse dies, the other can claim the marital deduction for federal gift and estate tax purposes.

- When one spouse dies, leaving the other as beneficiary of a qualified retirement account, the surviving spouse can roll over those assets into their personal retirement account, allowing for optimal asset protection and income tax planning. 

- As a living individual in 2018, you can make inter vivos gifts of up to $15,000 per person per year with no tax implications. However, you can gift as much as you want to your spouse. 

- Spouses can make medical decisions for one another without requiring a power of attorney for health care.

Consult a Palatine Same-Sex Marriage Estate Planning Lawyer


Whether you are married to a same-sex or different-sex spouse, particularly if you have children, you should really have an estate plan, including basic documents such as advanced healthcare directives and powers of attorney. Talk to an experienced Schaumburg estate planning attorney at Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC. We can help you develop a will, trust, and other legal plans that will provide emotional and financial security for you and your family for the long-term. Contact us at 847-934-6000 for a free consultation.

About the Author: Attorney Jay Andrew is a founding partner of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC. He is a graduate of the University of Dayton School of Law and has been practicing in estate planning, probate, trust administration, real estate law, residential/ commercial leasing, contracts, and civil litigation. Since 2005, Jay has been a Chair of the Mock Trial Committee for the Annual Northwest Suburban Bar Association High School Mock Trial Invitation which serves over 240 local Illinois students each year.


Sources:
http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=3294&ChapterID=59
http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=3525&ChapterID=59

How Much Is Pain and Suffering Worth in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Web Admin - Tuesday, November 20, 2018
Schaumburg personal injury attorney pain and sufferingWhen you or a family member has suffered a personal injury as the result of someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing, you have probably suffered serious financial losses as well. Even if you had good health insurance, or the person who caused the accident had insurance that paid some or all of your medical bills, there are almost always uncovered costs.

Your uncovered losses may include: 

- Medical costs for treatment of the injury when it occurred.

- Costs to buy special equipment or even to modify your home to accommodate a disability.

- Costs for rehabilitation services which could be needed for months or even years.

- The cost of round-the-clock, long-term care provided in your home or at an assisted living facility.

- Costs for mental health treatment.

- Loss of income the person would have earned had they not been injured.

- Costs for your family to travel and visit the injured person.

- Non-economic costs, which are often lumped under the broad umbrella of “pain and suffering.”

Measuring the Non-Economic Costs of an Injury


An attorney can tally up the financial costs listed above, make future projections, and come up with an appropriate figure as compensation for those losses. However, the calculation of the value of non-economic losses is much more difficult. Some of the specific factors that need to be weighed include: 

- Is the person permanently disfigured or physically impaired, such as by an amputation or paralysis?

- Will they have to suffer through numerous surgeries over the years to try to restore their appearance and/or function?

- Is the injury such that it results in long-term pain to the victim? This is often the case in spinal cord injuries or when a part of the body, such as a leg, suffers multiple fractures or fragmentation.

- Has the person suffered severe emotional distress, perhaps from seeing friends or family killed in the same incident?

- Has the victim suffered from severe insomnia, nightmares, anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder?

- Are there beloved hobbies or activities that the person can no longer participate in as a result of the injury?

- Have family members of the victim suffered loss of consortium or companionship due to the victim’s injuries?

The more of these factors that you can prove, the more non-economic damages you may be able to recover. Documentation will be important to prove that these factors are real, including physician reports, medications prescribed, and your own personal documentation, such as a diary noting how the victim was feeling from day to day.

An attorney who has handled many personal injury cases will likely have developed their own formula, or chosen useful formulas developed by others, to translate these non-economic costs into a dollar figure to cite in the lawsuit. One common method is to apply a multiplier to the total financial damages. For example, if the victim and family’s financial losses totaled $500,000, you might triple that figure and claim an additional $1.5 million for non-economic losses. The multiplier, of course, would depend on the severity of the injury suffered and the extent of the non-economic losses. 

Is There a Legal Cap on “Pain and Suffering” Damages in Illinois?


The Illinois legislature passed a law in 2005 to limit awards for non-economic losses in medical malpractice cases to $500,000 for physicians and $1,000,000 for hospitals. However, in 2010, the Illinois Supreme Court subsequently ruled that law unconstitutional. Thus, Illinois currently places no limit on the amount of compensation that can be awarded for non-economic losses.  

Consult a Rolling Meadows Personal Injury Attorney 


If you are wondering whether you should file a personal injury lawsuit, consult an experienced Palatine personal injury lawyer. The attorneys of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC will determine the best legal strategy for your case and fight aggressively to see that you are compensated for your losses. Contact us at 847-934-6000 to schedule a no-cost, no obligation consultation.

Ken ApicellaAbout the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.



Sources:
https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-2010-02-05-1002041182-story.html
https://centerjd.org/content/fact-sheet-caps-compensatory-damages-state-law-summary
https://centerjd.org/content/fact-sheet-understanding-non-economic-damages

Considering a Personal Injury Lawsuit? Follow These Helpful Tips

Web Admin - Tuesday, November 06, 2018
Rolling Meadows personal injury attorneyIf someone in your family has suffered severe injuries and financial hardship as a result of someone else’s negligence, you are probably wondering if you should file a personal injury lawsuit to recover compensation for your losses. 

Yet, like many people, you may hesitate to contact a personal injury lawyer about your situation for reasons such as:

- You believe the insurance company should handle everything.

- You feel intimidated by the legal system.

- You can see yourself in the other person’s shoes, and you do not want to cause problems for them.

- You do not have the energy to deal with a lawsuit while you are in the midst of dealing with serious medical and financial issues. 

If you find yourself in this situation, here are some helpful things to know: 

1. You Have to Act Quickly to Protect Your Family for the Long-Term


In the aftermath of a serious injury, you may feel like you have more important things to do than find a lawyer. However, there are two reasons why you might need to put a personal injury lawsuit at the top of your priority list right now. First, while insurance may cover your immediate medical costs, you have to consider both the long-term costs of caring for the injured person and the loss of income that will be suffered by both the injured person and any caregivers. 

Second, each state has a statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits. Your lawsuit usually must be filed in the state where the injury occurred, not the state where you live. For most personal injury cases in Illinois, you must file your lawsuit within two years of the incident that caused the injury (735 ILCS 5/13-202).

2. It Will Be Easier If You Prepare Before You Call 


Before you contact an attorney, write down a summary of your case, including:

- The cause of injury, such as a car crash or dog bite. Be prepared to provide additional details that demonstrate the other person’s negligence, such as police reports indicating the other person was drunk driving or that the dog had bitten people before.

- The date and location of the incident. 

- The type of injuries, such as cuts, broken bones, paralysis, brain damage, etc. 

- Whether full recovery is expected, or whether there is some type of permanent damage such as loss of mobility, mental or psychological damage, or chronic pain.

- How long the injured person was unable to work as a result of the incident, and whether they will have long-term income loss and/or incremental healthcare expenses as a result of their injuries.

Once you have these basic facts on paper, you will feel more confident and ready to make that first call to an attorney.
 

Consult a Rolling Meadows Personal Injury Attorney 


If you are wondering whether you should file a personal injury lawsuit, consult an experienced Palatine personal injury lawyer. The attorneys of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC will determine the best legal strategy for your case and fight aggressively to see that you are compensated for your loss. Contact us at 847-934-6000 to schedule a no-cost, no obligation consultation.

Ken ApicellaAbout the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.



Sources:
http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?ActID=2017&ChapterID=56&SeqStart=99900000&SeqEnd=103300000

Why Top 15% Income Households Need to Start Estate Planning Now

Web Admin - Wednesday, October 24, 2018
Schaumburg estate planning lawyer wealth protectionYou do not have to be Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk to need an estate plan. You do not even need to be earning $1.4 million a year, which is the average annual income of the top 1% of Illinois households. However, if you are fortunate enough to be in the top 15%, you will likely amass enough assets to need an estate plan. For perspective, a 2017 household income over $140,000 per year puts you in the top 15% of U.S. households; over $170K puts you in the top 10%, over $225K in the top 5%, and over $431K in the top 1%. If you fall into these ranges, here are three reasons why you should start an estate plan: 

1. You may think it is too early to be worrying about an estate plan. It is not. 


If you belong to the Baby Boomer generation, you are now age 54 to 72. Gen Xers are age 39 to 53. You may be in great health today, but you cannot predict what will happen tomorrow. You do not want to leave your family in chaos, trying to figure out what to do in the event of a sudden illness or death. Peace of mind is a gift you give yourself and them when you make the time to create an estate plan.

2. You may think your estate is not big enough to require “planning.” It may be bigger than you realize.


Have you totaled up your assets lately? Your home, vehicles, whole life insurance, retirement accounts, other investments, and personal property may add up to more than you realize. You may think that you will use up your entire retirement savings during your lifetime, but many people will not. If you have invested wisely, you may be able to live off the earnings and hardly touch the principal. Also, your primary home, vacation home, or other assets (artwork, jewelry, gold coins) may appreciate in value more than you expect. With an estate plan, you can make sure your assets are distributed according to your wishes.

3. You may think that a simple will that divides your estate equally among your children is enough. But have you allowed for the unexpected?


An experienced estate planner will point out the types of unexpected events that can occur and the important contingencies that you should cover in your plan, such as: 

- What if one of your heirs becomes disabled or cannot be trusted with money due to an addiction? You may want to place your money in a trust with scheduled distributions, with a trustee who has the authority to distribute more or less money if circumstances warrant.

- What if someone does not want the asset you want to give them? For example, you may want to make sure your lake cottage stays in the family, with each child owning an equal share. But what if one of them moves far away or cannot afford the maintenance costs? Also, when it passes to the next generation, what happens if one child has three offspring and another has just one? Is it fair for one grandchild to have a 50% say in future decisions while the other three grandchildren split the remaining 50%? An experienced estate attorney will anticipate and know how to solve for such problems. 

- What if you outlive your presumed heirs? Do you have siblings or other relatives you would like to provide for?

- What if your final estate is likely to be substantially larger than you think your heirs need? Are there any charitable causes you would like to support, perhaps only if your final estate exceeds a certain amount?

Consult a Kenilworth Estate Planning Lawyer


These are just three of the reasons that an income earner who is in the top 15% should be starting their estate plan now. For more information, contact the experienced Inverness estate planning attorneys at Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC. We will help you develop a savvy estate plan that will provide emotional and financial security for you and your family. Contact us at 847-934-6000.

About the Author: Attorney Jay Andrew is a founding partner of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC. He is a graduate of the University of Dayton School of Law and has been practicing in estate planning, probate, trust administration, real estate law, residential/ commercial leasing, contracts, and civil litigation. Since 2005, Jay has been a Chair of the Mock Trial Committee for the Annual Northwest Suburban Bar Association High School Mock Trial Invitation which serves over 240 local Illinois students each year.



Sources:
https://dqydj.com/united-states-household-income-brackets-percentiles/
https://money.usnews.com/money/retirement/baby-boomers/articles/2018-07-05/6-common-myths-about-estate-planning
https://www.kiplinger.com/article/retirement/T021-C032-S014-10-surprisingly-common-estate-planning-mistakes.html

When to Call an Attorney to Solve a Life Insurance Dispute

Web Admin - Wednesday, October 17, 2018
Des Plaines life insurance claim lawyerFollowing a death in the family, you could easily find yourself facing a stack of bills and insufficient income to cover them. This can happen even if you have been a careful money manager. If a life insurance payout does not come quickly enough, you could experience severe financial stress on top of everything else. But how do you know when you need the intervention of a lawyer to help you collect on a life insurance policy? Here are a few warning signs to watch out for:

Has it been more than 30 days since you submitted your claim?


Following a death, you must contact the life insurance company and open a claim. Then, you must submit the death certificate and any other documentation and signatures required by the insurance company. When you have completed the claims process, the company should deliver payment to you within a few weeks. If you have contacted the insurance company several times and still have not received payment after 30 to 60 days, and you have not received a clear explanation for the delay, you may need an attorney’s help to cut through the red tape and put some pressure on the company to approve your claim.

Did you buy the life insurance policy less than two years ago?


Life insurance policies typically include a “contestability” clause that allows for policy cancellation and claims denial if, within two years of issuance, the insurer discovers that any material fact was not disclosed during the application process. If the insured dies within two years of obtaining the insurance policy, their original application and other documentation may be carefully examined to see if there were any “material misstatements or omissions.”
 
For example, if the insured person failed to disclose any medical conditions (e.g., a serious illness such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or depression) or habits (e.g., use of drugs, alcohol, or tobacco), this could lead to a denial of your claim.

The insurance company could spend months evaluating medical records, credit reports, motor vehicle reports, and so on, looking for evidence of a material misrepresentation and a reason to deny your claim. If the two-year contestability period is a factor in your claim, you may need an attorney to speak to the insurance company and convince them that your claim is valid.

Did the insurance company send you a letter of denial?


A life insurance claim may be denied for reasons such as “non-accidental death” or because the policy was rescinded. In many cases, a skillful insurance attorney can help get that denial reversed by conducting an independent investigation of the facts of your case and making a forceful argument to the insurance company.

Consult a Des Plaines Life Insurance Dispute Resolution Attorney 


If you are having problems collecting on a life insurance policy, the intervention of a knowledgeable Palatine life insurance lawyer can help. The attorneys of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC will slice through whatever obstacles are standing between you and your insurance payout as quickly as possible. Contact us at 847-934-6000. We serve clients throughout the northwest suburbs, including Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Crystal Lake, Barrington, and Schaumburg.

Ken ApicellaAbout the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.



Sources:
https://www.aigdirect.com/about-life/managing-your-policy/how-to-file-a-life-insurance-claim
http://illinoisinsurance.org/consumers/news-updates/be-truthful-your-life-insurance-application-protect-loved-on
http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs5.asp?ActID=1249&ChapterID=22

How Teen Parties Can Result in Parent Liability for Personal Injuries

Web Admin - Thursday, October 11, 2018
Schaumburg personal injury attorney parent liabilityYou may have heard of parents saying, “I would rather have my kids host a party at our house or get them a hotel room than have them out driving who-knows-where and drinking.” Or perhaps you have heard of 17- to 20-year-olds using fake IDs or an older sibling’s ID to buy alcohol. If, as a parent, these tales do not set off warning lights in your mind, you may want to pay heed to this quick tutorial on Illinois law. Not only are there criminal penalties to consider, but also the possibility of a personal injury lawsuit.

Do Not Use a Fake or Borrowed ID for Underage Alcohol Purchase 


It is illegal in Illinois for a person under age 21 to purchase alcoholic beverages using a fraudulent ID or using the driver’s license of another person. Both the lender and the borrower of an ID card used to illegally purchase alcohol can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. 

Do Not Allow Underage Alcohol Consumption on Your Property 


Parents may allow their children under age 21 to consume alcohol under a parent’s direct supervision and approval in the privacy of their home. However, it is against Illinois law for parents to allow “invitees” under age 21 to consume alcoholic beverages on any property under their control or on any vehicle or watercraft under their control (235 ILCS 5/6-16, a-1). The property owner is legally responsible, whether they knowingly allowed the alcoholic beverage consumption or simply failed to control access to the alcohol. 

The offense of providing alcohol to a person under age 21 is a Class A misdemeanor. If a death or personal injury results, the property owner could face severe criminal penalties. 

In addition, parents should be aware of the laws governing social host civil liability. The applicable Illinois law is the Drug or Alcohol Impaired Minor Responsibility Act (740 ILCS 58). Social host liability means that an adult host can be held liable for injuries resulting from a minor’s impairment by alcohol or drugs obtained from that adult host. 

For example, suppose an adult hosts a party where alcohol or illegal drugs are available, and minors under age 21 are present. If one of those minors becomes impaired, gets behind the wheel or a car, and is involved in a collision, anyone injured in that accident can sue the adult host for damages.

Do Not Rent a Hotel Room for Prom Night, Graduation Night, Etc.


If a person over age 21 pays for a hotel room in which underage alcohol consumption is anticipated, and one of those minors becomes intoxicated and causes property damage or injury to another person, the person who paid for the hotel room can be held liable such damages and injuries (235 ILCS 5/6-21). 

For example, if an underage drinking party gets out of control, the hotel could sue the adult renter in civil court to force payment for damage to walls, ceilings, windows, or furnishings. The adult renter could also be found negligent in a personal injury lawsuit if one of those minors gets drunk in that hotel room and is injured in a fall down the hotel stairs or off a balcony. 

Consult an Arlington Heights Personal Injury Attorney 


If you host or contribute to an underage drinking event, and someone is injured as a result, you could be sued for damages in civil court in addition to facing criminal charges. If you or your child have been injured because a parent or other adult gave minors access to alcohol or illegal drugs, it is imperative to consult an experienced Palatine personal injury lawyer. The attorneys of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC will carefully review your case and recommend the best course of action to mitigate the damage to your life. Contact us at 847-934-6000 to arrange a consultation.

Ken ApicellaAbout the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.



Sources:
http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=023500050K6-20
http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=023500050K6-16
http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=2493&ChapterID=57
http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=023500050K6-21
https://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/publications/pdf_publications/dsd_a118.pdf

Lawsuits Claim Monsanto's Roundup Weedkiller Causes Cancer

Web Admin - Monday, September 24, 2018
Des Plaines toxic chemical injury lawyerAs a school groundskeeper in northern California, Dewayne Johnson sprayed an estimated 150 gallons of Monsanto’s glyphosate-based weedkiller Roundup 20 to 30 times a year between 2012 and 2016. He continued this work even after being diagnosed with cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (a type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma) in 2014. Despite aggressive chemotherapy, the disease advanced, causing thick, painful skin lesions over most of his body. In 2016, Mr. Johnson filed a personal injury lawsuit in federal court against Monsanto, alleging that Roundup contributed to his cancer and that the manufacturer knew that the chemical was hazardous but failed to provide sufficient warnings to users. 

On August 10, 2018, with his disease in the terminal stage and doctors estimating he had just months to live, the 46-year-old plaintiff was awarded $39 million in compensatory damages and $250 million in punitive damages by a San Francisco jury. 

An estimated 8,000 lawsuits have now been filed against Monsanto by Roundup users who developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma or other types of cancer. In addition to the multidistrict federal cases, lawsuits have also been filed in state courts in California, Delaware, Missouri, and Montana. 

Scientists and Studies Differ on Roundup’s Safety


On one side, Monsanto claims that hundreds of studies have shown that glyphosate is not a serious health hazard to humans. The company also denies any link between Roundup and cancer. In the Johnson trial, the plaintiff pointed out that non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma can develop very slowly, showing no symptoms for years; therefore, Johnson’s illness could well have begun prior to 2012, when he began working with Roundup.

In December 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a draft report on glyphosate which concluded that “glyphosate is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans” when used according to label directions. The EPA stated that its findings “are consistent with the conclusions of science reviews by a number of other countries as well as the 2017 National Institute of Health Agricultural Health Survey.”

On the other side, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (a subsidiary of the World Health Organization) classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans” in a 2015 report. It was classified under level 2 out of four levels, where level 1 is “carcinogenic to humans” and level 3 is “possibly carcinogenic.” 

"This jury found Monsanto acted with malice and oppression because they knew what they were doing was wrong and doing it with reckless disregard for human life," said Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a member of Johnson's legal team. 

Consult a Rolling Meadows Personal Injury Attorney 


If you suspect that you or family member has been harmed by exposure to a toxic chemical, such as the glyphosate in Roundup, talk to an experienced Schaumburg personal injury lawyer. The attorneys of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC will carefully review your case and recommend a course of action. If we determine that you have a strong case, we will fight relentlessly for your right to compensation for your losses. Contact us at 847-934-6000 to schedule a consultation.

Ken ApicellaAbout the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.



Sources:
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/dewayne-johnson-monsanto-roundup-weed-killer-jury-award-today-2018-08-10/
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/lawsuits-claiming-weed-killing-chemical-causes-cancer-moves-forward-n890686
https://www.epa.gov/pesticides/epa-releases-draft-risk-assessments-glyphosate


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