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The Illinois Supreme Court has declared legislation imposing a limit, or “cap,” on the amount that a jury can award to the victims of medical malpractice is unconstitutional. In Lebron v Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, the Court held that “statutory caps violate the separation of powers clause of the Illinois Constitution and declared the entire Act invalid.”The case represents a major victory for civil justice. By declaring that a legislature cannot substitute its judgment for that of a jury of citizens, the Illinois Supreme Court has joined a growing number of state supreme courts who have deemed such legislation unconstitutional, or otherwise invalidated such acts.In order to understand what this decision means, it is important to understand what so-called “tort reform” acts “cap.” These acts place a limit, or cap, on what a jury can award in any case for non-monetary damages. These are damages for loss of a normal life, pain and suffering. By placing a uniform limit on these damages, legislatures have, in effect, said that those who are harmed the most should not receive compensation for their losses. The Lebron case is a perfect example:The Lebrons filed suit for injuries their child received during delivery, including severe brain injury, cerebral palsy and cognitive mental impairment. Because of the negligence of the doctor and nurses involved, Abigaile Lebron will never develop normally and will be fed by tube for the rest of her life. And Abigaile is exactly the type of victim of medical malpractice who deserves compensation and, due to tort reform, is exactly the type of patient who is most affected by caps. Because caps act to limit only non-monetary damages, it is the young, the old and those who have low earnings who are most affected by caps. If a 50 year old banker making $250,000 a year is left in the same condition as a 1 year old, that 50 year old banker will be able to show earnings losses in the millions of dollars, in addition to past and future medical bills. But, if the same thing happens to an infant, that infant has no earning history, so it is difficult or impossible to establish those lost earnings. Thus, with caps in place, hospitals and doctors consistently devalue loss of life and injury to the very young and the very old.The Illinois Supreme Court made the right, and just, decision.

“Stacking”-sounds like something you do with firewood or kid’s blocks. But in personal injury and automobile accident cases, it may mean more money available for the injured victim. Stacking” refers to multiplying the available insurance coverage by the number of insurance policies. Under Missouri law, uninsured motorist coverage has “stacked” for many years. An example will help to make this clear(er):If you are injured in an accident with an uninsured motorist, and you have auto insurance in Missouri, by law you have at least $25,000 in uninsured motorist coverage. However, if your injuries are severe, $25,000 doesn’t go far. But, if you have more than one policy, the coverage stacks. For example, if you have 3 policies, you would have at least $75,000 in uninsured motorist coverage.While this has been the law in Missouri for years, liability policies have not stacked. Liability coverage is that coverage which is purchased to cover injuries caused by a driver. Again, Missouri law requires that every driver carry at least $25,000 in coverage. In a decision handed down by the Missouri Supreme Court last week, the Court has declared for the first time that such coverage stacks, at least to the amount of the statutory minimum coverage. Again, an example may make this clearer:If you are injured by a driver who has liability insurance, the maximum the insurance company will be required to pay (if your damages support such an amount) is the sum of the policy limit on the involved vehicle, plus the minimum $25,000 coverage existing on each other insured vehicle. So, if the vehicle involved in the collision has a policy limit of $50,000 per accident, but has 2 other vehicles insured, then you may be able to collect up to $100,000 from that insurer ($50,000 + $25,000 + $25,000).This is a major change in Missouri law that clearly benefits victims of motor vehicle crashes. If you or a family member has been injured in an auto crash, please call The Law Offices of Todd N. Hendrickson for a free consultation at 314-721-8833.

We’ve all heard the talking heads and seen the news stories: “There are too many frivolous lawsuits,” “doctors are fleeing because of malpractice suits,” and “malpractice claims have driven up health care costs.” The fact is, these are simple myths touted by the insurance industry to frighten us so that we help them to remain as the most profitable industry in the country.A new paper by the American Association for Justice debunks these myths.For example:Myth: Malpractice claims drive up health care costs.Truth: The total cost of paying and defending malpractice claims is less than 1% of the cost of health care–in fact, .3%.Myth: Doctors are fleeing/Truth: According to the AMA the number of doctors is continually increasing, not decreasing.Myth: Tort reform will lower doctor’s insurance premiums.TruthL Tort reform has never resulted in lower premiums for doctors. What it has resulted in is increasingly larger profits for insurance companies.Know the truth about the malpractice myths.

On October 1, 2009. a jury in the Federal District Court of Southern Illinois in Benton, Illinois returned a $600,000 verdict in a difficult survival action. I represented the Estate of Jennifer DeArmon in a case against Primary Care Group and Dr. Vinay K. Mehta, a general surgeon.After 4 days of evidence, the 7 person jury took less than 90 minutes to find that Dr. Mehta was negligent in perforating the superior vena cava (the main vein returning blood to the heart) while placing a central veinous catheter. Jennifer DeArmon, who suffered from a form of muscular dystrophy, had been wheelchair bound since age 6. Her disease, anterior horn cell disease, progressively weakened her muscles, leaving it difficult for her to cough and clear her lungs, resulting in frequent bouts of pneumonia. She had been hospitalized for two weeks in December 2004 before Dr. Mehta attempted to place the catheter. As a result of the perforation, Jennifer was transferred by air ambulance to another hospital. She was hospitalized for more than 2 months following the perforation and her health deteriorated. In July 2005 she passed away from unrelated causes.It was my honor and pleasure to have met Jennifer shortly before her death and to go on and represent her Estate.If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of medical malpractice, please contact me at 314-721-8833 or use the Contact form on this page.

As a trial lawyer, I’m asked this question all the time: How do you put a dollar figure on a human life? There is no easy answer. Every human life has value and no amount of money can ever replace a life. These contradictory ideas are at the heart of the problems that juries face every day in this country when they are called upon to do just that: place a dollar value on a human life. So, is there any guidance? Actually, there is …The United States places a value on human life all the time. Cold, hard dollar values. The U.S. does this in order to evaluate the costs and benefits of various safety and other programs. The Environmental Protection Agency values a single human life at $7.22 million. The federal Department of Transportation has done the same calculation and has come up with a figure of $5.8 million. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has long held the value of a single human life is $5 million. The U.S. uses these figures like this: If a program would save 3 lives and would cost $10 million, then the cost-benefit analysis would be in favor of spending the money to save those 3 lives.So, if our federal government values a single human life at $5 million dollars or more, then how can various state governments, including Missouri and Illinois, place caps on what a jury can award for a human life, at levels far below the value that our federal government places on a human life? In Missouri, state law caps “non-economic damages” at $350,000 per person. $350,000 is only 7% to less than 5% of the true value. In Illinois, the cap stands at $500,000. These caps are outrageous and should be stricken down and repealed so that a jury can decide, on its own, on the basis of the community’s shared values and beliefs, the value of a human life.

Sport Utility Vehicles(SUVs) are advertised as being safe, well built vehicles which can be used for everyday road driving, as well as off roads and rough terrain. Unfortunately, not all SUVs are as safe as they are advertised to be. Research has shown that due to their larger size and higher center of gravity, SUVs are more prone to rollovers than smaller sized passenger cars.In the U.S., statistics show that more than 10,000 people are killed each year in SUV rollover accidents, and thousands more are left with severe or catastrophic injuries.Personal injuries resulting from an SUV rollover accident include, but are not limited to:Head injury or head traumaSpinal cord injury or back injuryNeck injuryBroken bones & fracturesLoss limbsParalysisDeathIf you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a SUV rollover accident, you may be entitled to receive compensation for your injuries and damages. It is important to speak with an experienced St. Louis accident attorney who can investigate your case and evaluate if the auto manufacturer can be held liable.At the Law Offices of Todd N. Hendrickson in St. Louis, our attorneys are highly skilled in accident cases and have successfully represented numerous clients in various automobile accidents. We are committed to protecting the rights of our clients and help pursue compensation to help cover for; medical expenses, loss of income, future expenses, pain and suffering, and funeral expense.If you have been seriously injured or lost a loved one due to an SUV rollover accident or other serious accident, contact Todd N. Hendrickson to schedule a free consultation and receive appropriate legal advice.

Have you been involved in a car accident that happened as a result of the other driver talking on a cell phone while driving? It is currently estimated that 7% of all car accidents in the United States involve cellular phone usage on the road. Today there are more drivers on the road than ever before, and the number of cell phone users continues to increase rapidly.A study done at Harvard showed that over the last five years, the number of cellular phone users has risen from 93 million to 129 million. With so many people driving and using cell phones, the two are bound to combine with disastrous results.Many states are implementing laws that make it illegal to use a cell phone while driving unless a ‘hands-free’ device is used. In St. Louis, we are still waiting for cell phone/driving laws to be passed. In the mean time, cell phone-related car accidents continue to injure and kill people. Todd N. Hendrickson is a St Louis accident attorney and represents those who have been injured in all types of accidents.If you or someone close to you has been injured in St Louis by a negligent driver who was using a cell phone at the time of the crash, you may be eligible to receive a monetary award for your injuries. All drivers are responsible for driving in a safe manner so they do not put themselves and other drivers at risk. When someone fails to operate a vehicle safely, the damage they cause is considered to be an act of negligence. St Louis accident lawyer Todd Hendrickson has a proven track record of bringing negligent parties to justice and holding them financially responsible for the damages and injuries they have caused.Call the St. Louis Law Office of Todd N. Hendrickson at 314.721.8833 to discuss your potential claim. Todd can provide you with a free consultation and advise you of your rights and what steps should be taken to pursue your claim.

You’ve been injured, whether it was in a car accident, work place injury, or due to medical malpractice or as a result of a faulty product. Have you ever thought about how you talk to your doctor about these injuries? No? Well you should …

Doctors write office notes and reports about every office visit they have with you, and every time they see you in the hospital. Doctors are the historians of your medical condition. What they write can affect any legal case you may have. Whatever the doctor documents about your injury or condition is what the insurance company, defense attorney, judge and jury will see. And all too often, if you try to say “that isn’t what I said!” who do you think that insurance company, defense attorney, judge and jury are going to believe?

Doctors are just like everyone else. They want to be successful at what they do. They want their patients to get better. As a result, doctors records tend to be biased in favor of recovery. I’m not saying it is an intentional bias. In most cases, it is not. It is just that their job is to make you better and they want to believe that they are achieving that goal.

So … how does what you say to your doctor affect what they write? Simple: unless you are 100% recovered, never tell a doctor “I feel fine” or “I feel better.” We all know that those statements are usually followed by an “except ….” “Doc, I feel fine, except my left leg is still killing me. I can’t bend it the way I should and the pain wakes me at night.” If your doctor has been treating this condition for awhile, chances are, his records will record: “Patient feels fine” or “patient improved.” In fact, you aren’t. And you’ve just created a hurtle for you and your attorney to overcome.

So, resist the temptation to say “I’m better” or “I’m fine” if you aren’t. Prepare for your visit with your doctor. Think about how your injury or condition has been since you last saw your doctor. Be prepared to tell him, quickly and succinctly, each of your complaints. Tell him or her what triggers any pain. Tell them if it hurst after certain activities or at certain times of the day. Be prepared to give them examples of things that your injuries have kept you from doing, or have made difficult to do, such as housework, your job, recreational activities. Don’t exaggerate. Never exaggerate! Simply list your problem and leave out “I’m fine” out of your vocabulary until there is nothing else on that list of things that are hurting or bothering you. Then, and only then, are you “fine.”

In the most recent 3 years of reported data, more than 94 people have died in ATV accidents in Missouri. //atvsafety.gov Nationally, more than 1200 deaths were reported as a result of ATV accidents.If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of an ATV accident, you should contact The Law Offices of Todd N. Hendrickson. We can investigate the accident and determine if there is an applicable product recall or safety violation. Many people are completely unaware of the Missouri safety laws regarding ATV ridership. These and other factors must be investigated in the event of an ATV accident.Contact Todd N. Hendrickson for a free consultation.