Posted on in Cook County personal injury lawyer

Here are some new Illinois laws that went into effect on January 1, 2017…

Criminal Damage to Property Class Level

In 2017, the General Assembly raised the minimum threshold amount of property damage as it relates to class levels. Any damage to property below $500 is a Class A Misdemeanor, while damage above $500 is a Class 4 Felony. Previously, any criminal damage to property exceeding $300, in most circumstances, would constitute a Class A Misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 364 days in county jail and anything over $300 would have become a Class 4 Felony, punishable with prison time between 1-3 years and fine of up to $25,000.

Juvenile Law Changes

New laws impacting juveniles (17 years old or younger) went into effect on January 1, 2017. One law that went into effect involves the classification of certain offenses. Under certain circumstances, Criminal Trespass to a Residence, Criminal Damage to Property, Criminal Damage to Government Supported Property, Criminal Defacement of Property, Disorderly Conduct and Obstruction of Justice constitute a Class 4 Felony, which carries penalties of 1-3 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections and a fine of up to $25,000.00. However, if the above felony offenses are committed by an individual 17 years, the individual is now facing a Class A Misdemeanor.

Another new law affecting juveniles involves their ability to expunge certain offenses. With expungements, under many circumstances, a waiting period must occur before a petition to expunge can be filed. As of January 1, 2017, juveniles do not have to wait to expunge their history as a result of offenses where Court Supervision was successfully completed, or if the offense, if committed by an adult, would have been a Class B misdemeanor, Class C misdemeanor, petty offense or business offense. Additionally, Courts must now automatically grant these petitions to expunge without having any hearing.

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dog bites, animal attack, Illinois personal injury attorneyWe Americans love our dogs. In fact, statistics say that more than half of all U.S. homes have at least one dog, and currently there are between 70 and 80 million dogs in this country. But as much as we love our dogs, there are numerous incidents that result in a person becoming the victim of a dog bite. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) puts the number of people who are bitten by dogs every year at over 8 million. Approximately 890,000 of those victims require medical treatment, and more than half of those victims are children.

And it is not just dog bites that require medical attention. People can also become injured if a dog jumps on them, or knocks them down. This can be especially dangerous to elderly victims and children.

A recent study conducted by the Insurance Information Institute (III) reveals that one-third of the total amount of homeowner insurance claim dollars which were paid in 2014 were for paid to victims who had been injured by a dog. The total amount paid to these victims was over $530 million. The study found that although the number of claims decreased from the year before, the average cost per claim increased.

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complications, Illinois malpractice attorney, Cook County personal injury lawyerIn 1999, the medical report, “To Err is Human” was released, shining a spotlight on what was previously unknown by an unsuspecting public – the actual number of medical errors which occur every day. According to the report, which was compiled by the Institute of Medicine, there were approximately 44,000 to 98,000 lives lost every year due to mistakes made by medical personnel. Although the report is credited with exposing this deadly issue, medical errors continue to be epidemic and recent studies estimate that there are now over 200,000 people who die from medical errors each year – making it the number three cause of death in the country.

Thousands of patients who thought they were having a simple procedure done have died from injuries or other complications caused by medical mistakes.

The question remains – why do medical error fatalities continue to increase despite the awareness of the issue? One factor may have to do with how the medical community addressed – and continues to address – the problem. Initiatives were taken to address potential procedural problems within a medical facility, including encouraging members of medical teams to be vocal about any issues they see, safety checklists that should be followed, and handwashing campaigns.

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tractor-trailers, speed limits, Cook County Personal Injury AttorneyAccording to statistics from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), there are approximately 4,000 fatal tractor-trailer crashes in this country annually. Another 95,000 victims are seriously injured in truck accidents. The number of tractor-trailer accidents increases every year.

One of the main causes of tractor-trailer accidents is speeding. A federal investigation recently suggested that most of the tires that are on these vehicles are not designed for the constant high speeds at which truck drivers are often traveling.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) found that, although there are several tires that are rated at 81 mph, the majority of tractor-trailer tires are rated at 75 mph. However, there are 16 states in this country which have passed speed limits of up to or more than 75 mph. Three states - Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming -  have even approveed speed limits of 80 mph. The maximum speed limit in Texas speed is 85 mph. Unfortunately, many tractor-trailer drivers are exceeding even these high limits, causing serious safety issues and the high risk of rollovers and tire blowouts.

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truck accidentTracy Morgan and Walmart have announced a settlement regarding the New Jersey truck accident which seriously injured Morgan and killed comedian James McNair last year.  The terms of the settlement are being kept confidential, according to a press release first published by Marketwatch.

The lawsuit stems from a crash in June of 2014 when the limo in which Morgan and others were riding was struck from the rear by a semi-truck operated by a Walmart employee.

The lawsuit alleged that the Walmart truck driver had been awake for more than 24 hours before the crash and that his commute of 700 miles from his home in Georgia to work in Delaware was "unreasonable." It also alleges the driver fell asleep at the wheel.

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James A. Payonk, Jr.

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Orland Park, Illinois 60467

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