Category Archives: Quad Cities

Our Firm in the News

Here is an article about a dram shop case we filed last week. I won’t add much to what is in the article because the case is pending. It should be noted, though, that a bar only needs to be “a cause” not “the main cause” or “the biggest cause” of someone’s intoxication (although it has to be more than de minimis).

(Howard Zimmerle is a personal injury attorney in the Quad Cities who handles car accidents and dram shop cases, as well as many other injury matters. He can be reached at 309-794-1660 or hzimmerle [at] mjwlaw.com).

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Filed under Illinois Case Law, Illinois law, Our Firm, Quad Cities, Wrongful Death

New website for self-help in Rock Island County

Illinois legal aid has just started a website for people in Rock Island County who may have minor legal problems and don’t need or can’t afford a lawyer. The website at rockisland.illinoislegalaid.org provides some simple advice and forms for things like divorce, child support, small claims cases, landlord/tenant issues, etc. It’s no substitute for a good lawyer, but it might help some people.

I have some concerns with the website. Some of the answers are too brief – for example, there is a section about statutes of limtations, but nothing mentioning that some cases have 1 year statutes, no discussion of the discovery rule, etc. It’s impossible to get a perfect understanding of how statutes of limitations work in one paragraph, but I guess that’s my point. It’s dangerous to give broad advice in a few words. Most of the advice seems pretty good.

Young lawyers should also read some of this. Often the nuts and bolts of everyday practice aren’t taught in law school, and this could provide a good overview for certain “how do I do this” type questions.

For those non-lawyers out there, you’re often better off with a lawyer – but not always. There might be lawyers who will handle your smaller matters, and what you think might be a smaller matter might be more serious and complex than you think. It’s like taking care of a car – I could putz around and try to fix my car myself, but there’s a good chance it would take me forever and I’d still screw it up. It’s much easier for me to pay a mechanic and have it done right – and often come out paying less in the long run.

But believe me, some things are possible to do without lawyers. I got the idea to go to law school after handling a small claims case myself when I was in high school. I loved being in court, and decided to learn more – now more than 12 years later, here I am!

(Howard Zimmerle is a lawyer with offices in Rock Island and Davenport. You can contact him at hzimmerle [at] mjwlaw.com or 309-794-1660).

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Filed under Great Websites, Illinois law, Legal News, Quad Cities

New Blog Announcement!!

In addition to my work with the QC Injury Lawyers Blog, I’m also starting:

(drumroll)

The Rock Island Workers Comp Blog

(wild, raucous applause)

It’s aimed at clients, potential clients, and any laypeople who want some basic info about Illinois Workers Compensation. It’s probably too basic for most lawyers, but it serves a different purpose than this blog.

I’m excited – it’s been fun thinking of content for the new blog. Any suggestions?

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Filed under Great Websites, Illinois law, Our Firm, Quad Cities, Workers Compensation

But What Good Does Money Do? New Study Answers That Question (Sort Of)

Money makes you feel better

Any trial lawyer has faced that question in voir dire, either explicitly or implicitly: “But what good will money do? It won’t undo anything.”

This comes up most often when discussing intangible things, like pain, emotional distress, loss of consortium and loss of a normal life. Good lawyers have several ways to show why a full and fair verdict should include those damages where applicable. We all know that the purposes of the civil justice system are to make up for what has been done, compensate the victim, and hold the wrongdoer accountable for his/her actions. Good lawyers can explain to a jury why a verdict for medical bills and lost wages can’t begin to compensate a seriously injured person and his/her family.
Well today’s post isn’t about that. This post is about a new study that shows that handling cash makes us feel better. Just like how the lollipop at the pediatrician’s office makes the owie go away, a fat stack of Benjamins makes everything a little sweeter. Seriously. Participants in the study who had recently handled paper money felt less physical pain when they had their hand dipped in scalding water and less emotional pain when they felt socially excluded in another experiment.
I don’t think there’s much real information that can be extrapolated from this study. I’m sure some could argue that it means people’s perception of injuries and pain are different when money is involved, but I don’t see it that way. I thin the lollipop analogy is more apt – if the participants in the study had been holding a family pet, or spending time with loved ones, or even watching a favorite TV show (by the way, my current favorite is Modern Family) they would probably feel a little less pain or social exclusion. Good things (money) make bad things (pain) less bad. Probably don’t need a study to show that, when you boil it down that way.
(Howard Zimmerle is an accident and injury lawyer in Rock Island Illinois and Davenport Iowa.)

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Filed under Juries, Quad Cities, Trial Practice, Uncategorized, Unrelated Website of the Week

Henry County Jury Verdict Makes News

I had a jury trial in Henry County last week in a case where a guy shot a teenager with a shotgun. The case and the verdict were both interesting, so the local newspaper picked up the story, which ran today. If you’re a subscriber, you can click here - otherwise read these snippets from the article:

Jury awards teen $48,908 for injuries in shooting (actually it was $46,908, but I’m not picky)

A Kewanee man in prison for shooting a teenager on June 29, 2004 has been ordered by a Henry County jury to pay the victim $48,908.

(…)

Mr. Redmond injured two people with shotgun fire and threatened nine others near property he rented to store commercial fireworks.

(…)

“I think the jury got it right,” Mr. Zimmerle said. “I think it sends a message to people that these sort of actions won’t be tolerated.”

Mr. Zimmerle said he made the analogy of the wild west to the jury last week. “You can’t shoot people when they come near your property.”

(…)

[T]he judgment paid for [Plaintiff's] medical bills, with $12,500 for past pain and suffering and $25,000 in punitive damages.

I wish I could comment on this case a little bit, but it wouldn’t be the best idea, since the defendants still have time for possible post-trial motions or appeals. Still, drop me a line if you’re interested in more about the case or my strategy. I’m proud of this one.

(Howard Zimmerle is an attorney practicing in Kewanee, Geneseo, and all of Henry County Illinois)

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Filed under Juries, Quad Cities

Michael Warner & Associates Updated Website

My firm, Michael J. Warner & Associates, just updated our other website, http://www.mjwlaw.com – check it out. Not only do you get to see some of our success record, but you get pictures of my shining, happy face! Actually, I seem to have awkwardly positioned myself against a judge’s bench in the Rock Island Justice Center, but it’s worth a look nonetheless.

(Howard Zimmerle is a car accident attorney practicing in Rock Island, Moline, Davenport and Bettendorf).

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Filed under Our Firm, Quad Cities

Rock Island County Arbitration Statistics

I attended a meeting today regarding Rock Island County Arbitration cases. The goal of the meeting was to decide what statistics the county should keep on these cases to help attorneys and arbitrators value cases.

The statistics they kept for the last year were very interesting:

  • 19 – number of cases tried to a jury between June 2006 and June 2007 after rejection of arbitration award (all further statistics will refer to this group of cases).
  •  $7,606.04 – average arbitration award.
  • $3,927.13 – average jury verdict.
  •  3 – number of cases with a jury verdict of $0. 
  • 37% – percentage of jury verdicts that were below the amount of medical bills.
  • 3 – number of verdicts greater than the arbitration award.
  • 84% – percent of jury verdicts that fell below the arbitration award.
  • 2 – number of verdicts over $10,000.
  • 6 – number of arbitration awards over $10,000.
  • 121% – average jury verdict is 121% of the medical bills.
  • Howard Zimmerle – the attorney with the highest jury verdict out of these 19 (pats self on back).

So what are the conclusions to draw from this?

First, many of these cases should have been filed as small claims cases, as very few got even an arbitration award over $10,000, the small claims limit.

Second, your client will not be awarded much for pain and suffering in these types of cases.

Third, the arbitrators may overvalue a lot of these cases.

Fourth, cases with a value of between $15,000 and $50,000 (the arbitration limit), must either settle before trial or be filed as “L” cases (over $50,000).

Fifth, insurance companies who reject arbitration awards aren’t always doing it to be jerks - in 16 out of 19 cases, they did the right thing.

(Howard Zimmerle is a trial lawyer in Rock Island County, Illinois).

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Filed under Illinois Case Law, Negotiations, Quad Cities, Settlements