H.R. 1215 – Closing the Courthouse Doors to Victims

mederrorscausedeath12The American Association for Justice reports H.R. 1215, the massive medical malpractice bill that also applies to nursing home and drug and device cases, will be debated on the House floor next week. This is the bill that caps non-economic damages at $250,000, eliminates joint liability for economic and non-economic loss, caps attorney fees, has a restrictive statute of limitations and says that a doctor and a pharmaceutical company cannot be named in the same lawsuit.  The bill is very preemptive and applies limits regardless of the number of parties, the causes of action or the theory of liability.

Medical error is the third leading cause of death in America. Capping damages prevent victims from getting compensation for injuries that deserve compensation for. It also increases your tax burden while protecting big insurance and allowing them to profit off of malpractice.

The first thing to note is that when suing in the medical malpractice arena, you are not typically suing a doctor, nurse or healthcare professional personally. More often than not, you are suing their insurance company. The insurance companies don’t want you to know this. But it’s true.

Caps only serve to help insurance companies profit, while passing the buck to the victim or ultimately the taxpayer. Take for instance a medical malpractice case where a child will need lifetime care due to a birth injury. It could cost millions to provide care for the child over the course of the child’s life because of the malpractice. Damages caps prevent a jury from awarding more than $250,000 to cover this cost. Once the $250,000 has been spent, victims are often forced onto public aid, increasing the tax burden. This prevents insurance companies from sharing the burden of the mistakes made by those who committed malpractice. It also allows insurance companies to profit off of the malpractice committed because they know they will only have to pay small amounts for the most devastating injuries.

H.R 1215 prevents victims from getting compensated while protecting big insurance and passing the buck to taxpayers. Tell your Representative in Congress that you won’t stand for a bill that robs taxpayers to allow insurance to profit and leaves victims by the wayside.

How Long After I’m Injured Can I File My Lawsuit?

If you have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, there is a time limit to filing a lawsuit. These statutes of limitations in Illinois vary depending on the type of case and injury you have suffered. The statute of limitations sets the time limit you have to hire an attorney and file a lawsuit. Whether you were in an automobile accident or the victim of medical negligence, statutes of limitations in Illinois prevent you from bringing a lawsuit – even if you were hurt or wronged – after a certain time period.


The time you have depends on the type of lawsuit you want to file. The three most common types of statutes of limitations we encounter at The Collins Law Firm involve negligence, products liability, and wrongful death lawsuits.


  • Negligence cases involve personal injuries and/or property damage caused by someone else’s failure to use reasonable care.
  • You have two years to file a lawsuit for personal injury claims.
  • For property claims, you have five years to file suit.
  • The statute of limitations begins to run on the date the injury occurs.


  • Products liability cases are cases involving dangerous or defective products which have caused either personal injuries or property damage. These cases can range from toxic products like asbestos to dangerous drugs.
  • Typically, you must file your products liability action within two years.
  • The “discovery rule” allows the plaintiff to commence her action within two years after the date she first knew, or should have known, of the existence of the personal
    injury, death or property damage alleged but not more than eight years after the personal injury, death or property damage occurred.
  •  Typically, the discovery rule applies in cases where the plaintiff is exposed to a harmful substance, but does not experience any ill effects until many years after they were exposed.
  • Illinois’s law provides that the limitations period for certain product-related claims does not accrue until the date the plaintiff first knew, or should have known, of the injury.


  • Wrongful death cases arise when the negligence of others has caused death.
  • The estate of the person who has died can file the lawsuit before „„the expiration of the limitations period for the underlying claim (i.e. 2 years for personal injuries); or within „„one year from the date of the decedent’s death.
  • The statute of limitations begins to run on the date of death.
  • There is a one year statute of limitations „„for survival claims.


This is a common question that we are asked by our clients so we have made a list of essential steps to take when you have been injured:

  • If you are injured Call 911 or seek immediate medical attention;
  • If the police are at the scene explain to them in detail what happened;
  • If you are in a place of business or a hospital, ask that an incident report be prepared;
  • If possible, you or someone with you should take photographs of your injuries and any vehicles or conditions that caused your injury;
  • If you are at work, immediately inform your supervisor and/or co-worker of your injury and how you were injured;
  • Call John Risvold at 630-527-1595 immediately;
  • Once you have been released from the hospital, you should follow-up with your primary caregiver and follow all of their instructions;
  • You should keep track of your medical treatment, we will provide you with a log to make this task easier;
  • Do not make any statements to any insurance companies without speaking to one of our trial lawyers first.

John Risvold Joins The Collins Law Firm P.C.

aZ0gPvpFJohn Risvold joined The Collins Law Firm in 2017 as an associate trial lawyer. As a trial lawyer, John handles personal injury, medical negligence, wrongful death, environmental and other catastrophic injury cases. John works exclusively for victims and consumers to ensure they get the justice they deserve.

He has tried cases to verdict in the Chicago area and taken depositions throughout the country. Prior to joining The Collins Law Firm, John worked on both the defense and plaintiff’s side, giving him a unique insight into how cases are handled by defense firms.

A graduate of the University of Missouri, John received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Missouri School of Law. While at Mizzou, John was recognized as one of the school’s top trial advocates, receiving the R. David Ray Excellence in Trial Advocacy Award and CALI Award for best Trial Advocate. He graduated Order of Barristers, a distinction which is given to the 10 attorneys in each class who exhibit excellence and attain high honor through the art of courtroom advocacy.

In 2017, John was named to the Illinois Super Lawyers Rising Stars list. A distinction which recognizes 2.5% of attorneys under the age of 40 in each state.

Many of the cases John handles were referred to us by other attorneys, friends or family.

If your client or loved one has a medical malpractice, wrongful death, catastrophic injury or other personal injury matter, we welcome the opportunity to work with you to help those who have been injured.

If you need help, Contact us today to learn how we can help you. 

What To Do When Meeting With Your Attorney 

You were the victim of someone else’s negligence, you’re hurt and probably upset, you called friends or family who referred to a trial lawyer. The lawyer tells you they would like to meet and discuss your case. Now what do you do? Meeting with an attorney can be a nerve-wracking experience. Here’s a guide to the meeting.

Your Attorney Is Your Advocate

You’ve been through a traumatic experience. Your lawyer is there to learn the facts of your case and advocate for you on against the person, corporation or insurance company who wronged you. It’s important to remember that the things you tell your attorney are confidential and privileged. The attorney is your advocate to stand up for you and guide you through the legal process.

Remember, lawyers are people too. There is no reason to be nervous when meeting with your lawyer. They are on your side. We are here to help protect your rights and serve your needs, often in your greatest time of need. Asking questions, being forthcoming and listening carefully to the advice of your attorney will ensure much better results for you and your case.

Tell the whole story

Your lawyer is there to help you and fight for you. Explain your situation as clearly as possible. If you can, prepare a timeline of events in advance such as when the accident occurred and what medical treatment you received.  The lawyer will not judge you. Your lawyer is there to support you and make sure that your rights are represented. Give us the entire story, every little detail, no matter how bad you make think it is. I assure you they have seen worse. We will be able to deliver much better results the more forthcoming you are.

The more of your story we learn early on in the case, the easier it becomes to tell your story. Our job is to devise a strategy to best help you in your time of need. In order to do that, we need all the facts. Don’t hold back.

Be Prepared

To help your lawyer prepare, you must be prepared yourself. Here is a list of some of the items to bring with you when you meet with your attorney.

  • ALL your files regarding the accident
  • ALL your correspondence with or regarding insurance, doctors or the police.
  • ALL insurance policies relevant to the matter
  • E-mails & social media communications between you and any witnesses
  • You last 3 years of tax returns
  • ALL of your medical records and bills

After the Meetings

Once you have met with your lawyer and the case has begun, it’s important to remember three key things.

  1. Don’t speak to any representatives from the insurance company or the person or corporation who caused your accident
  2. Continue to seek medical care, if you need it.
  3. Remember the legal process can take time, your lawyer will keep you updated as the case progresses.



Red Cross Safety Tips For The 4th of July Holiday

It’s time for Fourth of July celebrations – fireworks, a backyard barbecue, maybe a trip to the beach. Whatever people have planned, the American Red Cross wants them to enjoy their holiday and has steps they can follow to be safe.

“We want everyone to have a great holiday, and a safe one,” said Alison Bono, Central and Northern Michigan Regional Director of Communication. “Whether the weekend will involve fireworks, grilling or going to the seashore, we have safety tips everyone can follow.”

FIREWORKS SAFETY The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public fireworks show put on by professionals. Stay at least 500 feet away from the show. Many states outlaw most fireworks. If someone is setting fireworks off at home, they should follow these safety steps:


  • Never give fireworks to small children, and always follow the instructions on the packaging.
  • Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution.
  • Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.
  • Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight “a dud.”
  • Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from children and pets.
  • Never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials.
  • Leave any area immediately where untrained amateurs are using fireworks.


GRILLING SAFETY Every year people in this country are injured while using backyard charcoal or gas grills. Follow these steps to safely cook up treats for the backyard barbecue:


  • Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use.
  • Never grill indoors – not in your house, camper, tent, or any enclosed area.
  • Make sure everyone, including the pets, stays away from the grill.
  • Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, the deck, tree branches, or anything that could catch fire.
  • Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill to keep the chef safe.
  • Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using grills.


BEACH SAFETY If someone’s visit to the shore includes swimming in the ocean, they should learn how to swim in the surf and only swim at a lifeguarded beach, within the designated swimming area. Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards. Other safety tips include:


  • Keep alert for local weather conditions. Check to see if any warning signs or flags are posted.
  • Swim sober and always swim with a buddy.
  • Have young children and inexperienced swimmers wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
  • Protect the neck – don’t dive headfirst. Walk carefully into open waters.
  • Keep a close eye and constant attention on children and adults while at the beach. Wave action can cause someone to lose their footing, even in shallow water.
  • Watch out for aquatic life. Water plants and animals may be dangerous. Avoid patches of plants and leave animals alone.


RIP CURRENTS Rip currents are responsible for deaths on our nation’s beaches every year, and for most of the rescues performed by lifeguards. Any beach with breaking waves may have rip currents. Be aware of the danger of rip currents and remember the following:


  • If someone is caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the shore until out of the current. Once free, they should turn and swim toward shore. If they can’t swim to the shore, they should float or tread water until free of the rip current and then head toward shore.
  • Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist near these structures.


Additional water safety tips are available at redcross.org/watersafetytips

SUN PROTECTION Limit exposure to direct sunlight between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 15. Reapply sunscreen often. Remember to drink plenty of water regularly, even if not thirsty. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine in them. Protect the eyes by wearing sunglasses that will absorb 100 percent of UV sunlight. Protect the feet – the sand can burn them and glass and other sharp objects can cut them.

During hot weather, watch for signs of heat stroke—hot, red skin; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; rapid, shallow breathing. If it’s suspected someone is suffering from heat stroke:


  • Call 9-1-1 and move the person to a cooler place.
  • Quickly cool the body by applying cool, wet cloths or towels to the skin (or misting it with water) and fanning the person.
  • Watch for signs of breathing problems and make sure the airway is clear. Keep the person lying down.





Source: Red Cross Issues Safety Tips For 4th of July Holiday

PCBs & Chemical Safety: Chemical Safety Bill Could Help Protect Monsanto Against Legal Claims

Yesterday a jury in St. Louis, MO awarded $17.5 million in damages to three plaintiffs and assessed $29 million more in punitive damages against Monsanto and three other companies in a suit here alleging negligence in the production of PCBs.

Despite this verdict on behalf of injured plaintiffs, chemical safety in America is on precarious ground. A new version of the Toxic Substances Control Act has passed both the House and Senate. While the new bill would be, by most measures,  a major improvement over the 40 year old existing TSCA, there is one glaring exception. PCBs. Polychlorinated biphenyls. PCBs are used to make everything from fluorescent lighting, to plastics, caulking and oil-based paints. Until it stopped production in 1977, Monsanto was the source of 99% of the polychlorinated biphenyls  used by U.S. industry.

PCBs have been demonstrated to cause cancer, as well as a variety of other adverse health effects on the immune system, reproductive system, nervous system, and endocrine system. These problems may not affect Monsanto however. The New York Times notes:

Facing hundreds of millions of dollars in lawsuits, the giant biotechnology company Monsanto last year received a legislative gift from the House of Representatives, a one-paragraph addition to a sweeping chemical safety bill that could help shield it from legal liability for a toxic chemical only it made.

Monsanto insists it did not ask for the addition. House aides deny it is a gift at all. But the provision would benefit the only manufacturer in the United States of now-banned polychlorinated biphenyls, chemicals known as PCBs, a mainstay of Monsanto sales for decades. The PCB provision is one of several sticking points that negotiators must finesse before Congress can pass a law to revamp the way thousands of chemicals are regulated in the United States.

Source: Chemical Safety Bill Could Help Protect Monsanto Against Legal Claims – The New York Times

Traumatic Brain Injuries on the Playground

Playgrounds aren’t always fun and games according to a new study. Researchers found that children are increasingly being diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries after a run-in with playground equipment.

Researchers from the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control looked at injury rates for kids under 14 from 2005 to 2013 and determined that there was a significant increase in children going to the emergency room for traumatic brain injuries. Boys accounted for 58.6 percent of the TBIs identified while 50.6 percent of children between the ages of five and nine had injuries, according to a study published today in the Pediatrics Medical Journal.Most playground-related TBIs were associated with monkey bars and swings, according to researchers.

The authors theorize that the rise in injuries can be attributable to two reasons: increased playground time for kids and increased awareness among parents and doctors about the dangers of head injuries.”It is also plausible that heightened public awareness of TBI and concussions has prompted parents to seek medical care for their children in the event of a head injury, when previously they would not have done so,” the authors wrote.

Source: More Children Are Suffering Traumatic Brain Injuries at the Playgro.. | abc7chicago.com

Medical Malpractice: The 1% of Doctors

The New England Journal of Medicine has analyzed data that 1% of physicians account for approximately 32% of paid medical malpractice claims. The data – which was pulled from the National Practitioner Data Bank – shows that over a recent 10-year period, a small number of physicians with distinctive characteristics accounted for a disproportionately large number of paid malpractice claims.

A study of 70,000 malpractice claims against approximately 55,000 doctors from 2005 through 2014, the Journal analyzed data with the hope of understanding the distribution of malpractice claims among physicians.

Among all of the physicians with paid claims, 84% incurred only one malpractice claim during the study period, which accounted for 68% of all paid claims. Of the remaining physicians, 16% had at least two paid claims during the relevant time frame, accounting for 32% of the claims.The last 4% of doctors had at least three paid claims (if not more), accounting for 12% of the claims.

Physicians who had three paid medical malpractice claims have three times the risk of incurring another paid medical malpractice claim in the future. Practitioner speciality also plays a role: the risk of malpractice among neurosurgeons, for example, was four times as great as the risk among psychiatrists.

The Journal’s conclusion boils down to this startling fact: “A small number of physicians with distinctive characteristics accounted for a disproportionately large number of paid [medical] malpractice claims.”

Source: 1% of Physicians Account for One-third of Paid Medical Malpractice Claims | The National Trial Lawyers

Avoidable Medical Errors: The Third Leading Cause of Death in America

The Center for Justice & Democracy reports that according to the report, published in the Journal of Patient Safety, ‘between 210,000 and 440,000 patients each year who go to the hospital for care suffer some type of preventable harm that contributes to their death,’ the study says. Only heart disease and cancer cause more deaths in America than avoidable medical errors.

Source: Marshall Allen, “How Many Die From Medical Mistakes in U.S. Hospitals?” ProPublica, September 19, 2013, cited in CJ&D’s Briefing Book: Medical Malpractice – By The Numbers (p. 77)

Source: Spotlight: Avoidable Medical Errors Are the Third Leading Cause of Death in America | centerjd.org

Chicago’s Lead Water Risk

flint-waterWhile the lead contamination in Flint has captured the nation, it has also raised questions about the safety of drinking water in other cities across the United States. Here in Chicago, the Chicago Tribune reports, 80% of properties in Chicago are hooked up to water service lines made of lead. Any home built before 1986 (the year lead pipes were banned) could have lead water service pipes. The Trib reports:

In a peer-reviewed study, researchers at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found alarming levels of the brain-damaging metal can flow out of household faucets for years after construction work disrupts service lines that connect buildings to the city’s water system.

The study also found the city’s testing protocols — based on federal rules — are likely to miss high concentrations of lead in drinking water.

Yet when city officials notify homeowners about new water mains being installed, the letters do not mention potential lead hazards. Residents are advised merely to flush all faucets and hose taps for several minutes after the work is completed to remove any “particulates,” a solution EPA scientists and independent experts say is grossly inadequate.

While city officials claim the water is safe to drink and that Chicago complies with the 1991 Lead and Copper rule, accurate and comprehensive testing in the city is lacking.

[T]he federal rule requires only 50 homes be tested every three years in Chicago, a city of 2.7 million people with more lead service lines than any other U.S. municipality.

Moreover, the rules require utilities to check only the first liter of water drawn in the morning. The EPA study found that although the first liter often is lead-free, high levels of the toxic metal can flow through taps for several minutes afterward, depending in part on the length of the service line between the home and street.

Studies have shown that exposure to even small amounts of lead can permanently damage the developing brains of children, lowering IQ and increasing the risk of learning disabilities, aggression and criminal behavior later in life.

While Chicago water may be safe to drink, for now, the EPA warns that the only way to ensure safety is the total and complete removal of all lead service lines. A project like that would be a tremendous undertaking for a city already crippled by debt and budget issues.