Join me and Jacqui Melius of Dudley & Lake as we discuss personal injury work — including motor vehicle accidents, medical malpractice and nursing home negligence. Together, we address the common questions that people have when involved in these kinds of claims and attempt to demystify them for you and your family!
Jacqui Melius is a personal injury attorney with Dudley & Lake which has offices in Libertyville and Chicago (www.dudleylake.com – telephone (847) 362-5385. Dudley & Lake specializes in personal injury, medical malpractice and nursing home negligence cases.
Melius grew up in Lake County. Her interest in the law was sparked by her father’s position as Lake County Public Defender. She watched her father try some cases as a youngster and recalls some of the infamous clients her father defended. During law school she clerked for the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. and local firm, Salvi & Schostok. Upon graduation, Melius obtained a position with her current firm, Dudley & Lake, where she has practiced for 16 years.
Melius finds trial work in personal injury to be rewarding as she often sees clients at their lowest point after a terrible injury, and she works to help clients access justice. She spends a great deal of time listening to clients which is constructive in helping her understand how her clients’ injuries have affected their lives, and this better helps her present the best case for them.
The biggest issue for personal injury clients is how insurance (auto and health) will affect the payment of medical bills. Many clients involved in an accident don’t understand why their health insurance should pay their medical bills, if another driver is at fault. Melius stated that it is best for health insurance or med pay (if available) to pay medical bills up front as a personal injury settlement will not be paid until well after treatment is completed; additionally, unpaid bills can affect credit ratings. Moreover, if there is an insurance settlement, health insurance will be paid back out of the settlement.
Besides, auto accidents, slip and fall cases are another type of personal injury cases. These cases are tougher to win as the line between an accident and a claim with fault can be very narrow. Especially difficult are slip and falls involving snow and ice. There is no obligation to remove natural accumulations of snow and ice, and thus, there is no recovery for a fall under such circumstances. However, there may be a recovery if there is an unnatural accumulation of snow and ice as with a leak leading to a patch of ice.
Medical malpractice is a specialized area of the law that is challenging and can be expensive to file. Before a medical malpractice case can be filed, it must be reviewed by a medical expert and certified that the doctor involved deviated from the standard of care and that deviation injured or caused the death of the patient/client. Such reviews are expensive and require tenacity on the part of the lawyer as many doctors are protective of their profession and reluctant to assert such claims. Additionally, lawyers practicing in this area must conduct a great deal of research to thoroughly understand the medical background.
Melius also handles nursing home negligence cases. Such cases are easier to try in the sense that many people inherently dislike nursing homes and these facilities may be an easier target than an individual doctor. Nursing homes also may have a stronger economic incentive to settle negligence cases as the law provides that nursing home defendants must pay attorney fees if they lose at trial.
Melius has tried many cases in her 16-year career and feels the best way to learn the art of trial practice is to simply try cases. She recalls feeling especially nervous about jury selection when she first started trying case but now feels very comfortable with the process to the point of enjoying and having fun with jury selection. Melius also takes many seminars in her field. Additionally, she feels that watching other lawyers conduct trials is a great way to keep learning and improving her trial technique.