Birth Injuries in Illinois

Over the course of a pregnancy and delivery, parents will often be assigned a medical team comprised of neonatologists, nurse practitioners, obstetricians and other professionals, whose primary concern is the health and wellbeing of the child. A mother will most likely interact with these practitioners and develop a relationship with them by attending routine doctor’s appointments, by undergoing regular ultrasounds and simply calling for advice. This medical team is heavily involved in a mother’s pregnancy from the moment a mother finds out that she’s pregnant to the day that she finally delivers, all in an effort to execute a safe delivery devoid of complications.

Whilst being surrounded by a medical team may ease the minds of expecting parents, it doesn’t change the undeniable fact that there an abundance of issues that could potentially arise right up to the day a baby is born. Even the most experienced and knowledgeable medical professionals are not infallible and are capable of making mistakes. When a baby is harmed as a result of an oversight or action made by medical professionals while a mother is in labor in the process of delivery, this is deemed a birth injury.

Birth Injuries vs. Birth Defects

Birth injuries and birth defects may seem indistinguishable in the eyes of parents. After all, any harm inflicted to a child is devastating despite which categorization an injury falls under. Nevertheless, if parents are contemplating seeking a legal remedy for their child’s injuries, the distinction between a birth injury and a birth defect is pivotal in determining whether a case is viable in a court of law. Proof that a child’s condition is proximately caused by a mistake made on the behalf of a health care provider, rather than an inevitable occurrence, is the crux of a successful birth injury lawsuit.

Injuries could be caused solely by the negligent actions of a medical professional, or by a complication that was unavoidable (which is known as a birth defect). A newborn can be inflicted with a birth injury when issues occur while a mother is in labor or during a delivery. In cases when an attending doctor, medical staff or hospital facility exercised negligence, a baby may have been wounded due to the misuse of an extraction tool, for example.

However, In cases when a baby may have been harmed due to a birth defect, this harm was inevitable, despite how careful and efficiently an attending doctor operated at any time during a pregnancy. Symptoms of both birth injuries and birth defects may take time to emerge, which may make determining the cause of an injury more difficult as time progresses. But with the help of an experienced legal professional who has access to expert witnesses, there’s an increased chance that parents will be able to determine the likely cause of an injury. If it is a birth injury, parents have the right to seek damages for losses through legal recourse.

Types of Birth Injuries

Obstetricians, nurses and other members of a medical team are trained to recognize and mitigate the complexities of prenatal, intrapartum and peripartum care. But despite this training, these teams are made up of human beings whose errors or omissions have the potential to adversely affect a newborn baby. Mistakes such as prescribing the improper dose of medication to an expecting mother, or orders from a doctor to carry out a high-risk delivery without taking the appropriate precautions constitute as medical negligence. It doesn’t matter whether this negligence is explicit or unintentional, parents have a right to recover damages if a medical professional is found to be liable for a baby’s injuries. Some negligent actions, fortunately, leave a baby unscathed, but in the event that a child is harmed, there are a variety of injuries that may be inflicted. The severity of these injuries is dependent on a number of factors.

Brachial Plexus

The brachial plexus is a bundle of nerves located within the shoulder. When these nerves are damaged, newborns may experience weakness in the upper arm, lower arm, and hand. Brachial plexus may be caused by excess pressure on a baby’s arms during a breach, or feet-first delivery, the excessive stretching of an infant’s shoulders while being delivered head first and the jerking of an infant’s head and neck as the shoulders pass through the birth canal. This type of injury is less common due to the fact that delivery techniques have overall improved, however, there is still a risk that a medical professional could cause brachial plexus.


Cephalohematoma is diagnosed when doctors notice that there is bleeding underneath the cranium, usually indicated directly underneath one of the cranial bones. Symptoms of this injury, which is a bump that appears on top of a baby’s head, typically emerges hours after a baby is born. The bump itself is not dangerous, but it increases the risks of a baby experiencing other complications like anemia, hypotension, jaundice and in rare cases, meningitis. Birthing tools to extract newborns have been known to cause cephalohematoma.

Other types of birth injuries that could be inflicted onto a newborn baby are:

  • Cranial hemorrhaging
  • Oxygen deprivation
  • Erb’s palsy
  • Shoulder dystocia
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Broken bones

How A Birth Injury Affects Mothers

Although a baby’s well-being is a prioritized concern for medical professionals and parents alike. Many people tend to disregard the physical and emotional inflictions a mother could be experiencing during this tumultuous time. Obviously, some physical health conditions that are inflicted during delivery may be visible and immediately felt. But some symptoms may take days, months or even years to emerge.

Also, in the event that an infant has sustained severe injuries or has passed away, these circumstances could take a large toll on a mother’s mental state. Coping with an injury to a baby could be incredibly stressful, which could lead to issues with her mental health and post-traumatic stress disorder. In some cases, dealing with a birth injury may become so physically and emotionally taxing that mothers may temporarily be unable to properly take care of their child.

Experienced Peoria Personal Injury Attorneys

If you or your baby have been injured due to the medical negligence of a healthcare professional, you should immediately consult with an attorney. Contact the experienced attorneys at Benassi & Benassi for a consultation.

About Athena

Athena M. Herman practices in the areas of employment discrimination law, general employment law, and civil rights law. Ms. Herman has successfully represented both plaintiffs and defendants in civil rights employment matters at all levels before the Illinois Department of Human Rights, the EEOC, the Illinois Human Rights Commission, in state trial and appellate courts, in federal district courts, and before the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. She has represented plaintiffs in individual, multi-plaintiff, and class action lawsuits.

Ms. Herman was honored to be selected as one of the “Top 40 Attorneys Under 40” in Illinois for 2011 by the Illinois Law Bulletin. From among more than 1200 nominations, she was one of only two attorneys outside the Chicago area to receive the distinction.

Ms. Herman was the recipient of the 2001 John C. McAndrews Pro Bono Service Award, a statewide award bestowed upon her by the Illinois State Bar Association for extraordinary commitment to providing legal services to the poor. She is a member of The American Trial Lawyers Association; The Illinois Trial Lawyers Association; The National Employment Lawyers Association and The Peoria County Bar Association.

Ms. Herman is a frequent lecturer and instructor regarding the law. At Bradley University, she taught the course Legal Advocacy. She also has been an author and lecturer regarding employment discrimination law at educational seminars for attorneys and managerial professionals, including the EEOC’s 2004 Technical Assistance Program Seminar.

She graduated magna cum laude from University of Illinois’ College of Law in 1997. She was a Harnow Fellow (top 10% of her class) and earned a position on the University’s prestigious National Moot Court Team. Ms. Herman graduated from Bradley University, summa cum laude, with a Bachelor of Science. As a member of the University’s highly acclaimed competitive Speech Team, she won both State and National championships in Persuasive Speaking. Several of her speeches are published in collegiate textbooks and journals. Her affiliation with the Team continues as a coach.

Areas of Practice:

Employment Law
Sexual Harassment & Hostile Work Environment
Employment Discrimination
Civil Rights Litigation

Year Joined Organization:


Bar Admissions:

Illinois, 1997
U.S. District Court Northern District of Illinois, 2003
U.S. District Court Central District of Illinois, 1998
U.S. Court of Appeals 7th Circuit, 2002


Juris Doctorate, University of Illinois College of Law, Champaign, Illinois, 1997 (Magna Cum Laude)
Bachelor of Science, Bradley University, Peoria, Illinois, 1994 (Summa Cum Laude)

Classes/Seminars Taught/Publications:

“Civil Rights- Recent Supreme Court Decisions and Coleman v. Donahoe,” Peoria County Bar Association’s Civil Practice Program, February 4, 2012 (Publication and Seminar Presentation)

“Employment Law Update: Sangamon County Sheriff’s Department v. The IHRC & Blount v. Stroud,” Peoria County Bar Association’s Civil Practice Program, January 30, 2010 (Publication and Seminar Presentation)

“New Lawsuits in Circuit Court Due to Illinois Human Rights Act Amendment,” Peoria County Bar Association’s Civil Practice Program, March 15, 2008. (Publication and Seminar Presentation)

“Corporate Liability for Sexual Torts by Those in Positions of Authority,” Peoria County Bar Association’s Civil Practice Program, January 2006 (Publication and Seminar Presentation)

“Raising an Affirmative Defense to Constructive-Discharge Claims in Hostile-Work-Environment Cases,” Illinois Bar Journal, February 2005.

“Challenges and Responsibilities as Women on This Small Planet,” Women’s Lifestyle Show, November 6, 2004 (Seminar Presentation)

“Elements of and Defenses to Claims of Sexual Harassment,” EEOC 2004 Technical Assistance Program Seminar, September 16, 2004 (Seminar Presentation)

“Employer Liability for Workplace Violence: How an Employee Plaintiff can Overcome Common Defenses to State Law Claims Related to Workplace Violence,” Peoria County Bar Association’s Civil Practice Program, February 15, 2003 (Publication and Seminar Presentation)

Legal Advocacy, Bradley University, Adjunct Faculty, 2002

Honors and Awards:

Top 40 Attorneys Under 40, Illinois Law Bulletin, 2011

John C. McAndrews Pro Bono Service Award – In recognition of her extraordinary committment to providing free legal services to the poor and expanding the availability of legal services to the poor, 2001

Professional Associations and Memberships:

Illinois State Bar, 1998 – Present

Peoria County Bar, 1997 – Present

National Employment Lawyers Association, 1999 – Present

American Association for Justice

Contact our Peoria, Illinois Lawyers

Our attorneys handle cases for clients throughout the state of Illinois; however, our practice is based primarily in central Illinois including the cities of Peoria, Eureka, Champaign, Bloomington-Normal, Pekin, Springfield, Rock Island, and surrounding areas. Please contact Benassi & Benassi. We are committed to providing positive resolutions to our clients’ legal disputes so they can move on with their lives.

Age Discrimination

Unlike other employment discrimination cases, age discrimination can affect everyone. While some people may experience racial discrimination or discrimination based on their gender throughout their life, everyone eventually gets older and can be a target for discrimination based solely on their age. Unfortunately, many people may not realize they are a victim of age discrimination because it is the first time they have been discriminated against.

Age Discrimination Laws

Individuals are protected from employment discrimination based on their age. This includes age discrimination in hiring, promotion, firing, layoff, benefits, compensation, training, or job assignments. There are both state and federal laws to protect employees against age discrimination. Laws against discrimination also apply to fair housing, financial credit, and public accommodations.

Under the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), both employees and applicants who are 40 years of age or older are protected with respect to any term, condition, or privilege of employment. This applies to businesses with 20 or more employees.

The State of Illinois also has laws protecting individuals from age discrimination. Under the Illinois Human Rights Act, employees are also protected from discrimination based on age for individuals 40 years old or older. This applies to businesses with 15 or more employees.

The state laws also make it illegal for someone to help an employee or employer discriminate against someone. If an executive asked a supervisor to give an older employee a bad review, for discriminatory reasons, then both the executive and supervisor may be held accountable for age discrimination.

In some cases, age discrimination may overlap with discrimination based on a perceived disability. Some people may perceive older individuals to be less physically able to undertake certain activities or to be weaker or slower. This may result in discrimination based on a perceived disability related to age. Discrimination based on a disability is prohibited by both the American Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Illinois Human Rights Act.

Signs of Age Discrimination From an Employer

In some cases, age discrimination may be conspicuous, such as a supervisor making jokes about an older employee not being able to handle strenuous work because of their age or make comments about when an employee is going to finally retire.

However, in most cases, age discrimination from an employer may be difficult to recognize. After all, an employer will rarely make it obvious that they are discriminating against an older employee. Instead, the discrimination may be more subtle. Discrimination may take place silently, or an employer may not use the words “age” or “older,” but instead make comments about the company’s “culture” or “fit.”

Some examples may include a hiring manager deciding not to bring in a qualified candidate for an interview just by looking at the age on their resume. A new supervisor may want to bring in newer, younger, and cheaper employees and get rid of the experienced older employee. An employee with a history of strong performance reviews may suddenly get a bad review, in order for the company to try and justify firing an older employee.

Age discrimination may come from business owners, boards, presidents, managers, supervisors or even other employees. In some cases, an upper-level manager may subtly, or not so subtly, urge supervisors to force out older employees. Age discrimination in the employment setting may come in many forms. It may also occur when an employee complains about the discriminatory actions toward another employee.

Discrimination may manifest in an individual’s hiring, firing, reduced or different compensation, promotions, layoffs, training, benefits, or other conditions of employment. It may also involve constructive discharge, where the employer made or allowed working conditions to be so difficult that the employee was forced to resign.

Filing an Age Discrimination Complaint

In order to file an age discrimination complaint, the individual may first go to the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) to file a charge. A charge of discrimination must be filed within 180 days of the discriminatory employment or hiring action. The IDHR then goes through the process of intake; optional mediation; investigation; findings and results; and legal review. Under the Human Rights Act, the IDHR is required to complete the process within one year of filing, unless that time is extended.

At the same time, a discrimination charge may be cross-filed with the EEOC, if the workplace has 20 employees or more. The EEOC is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which is the federal agency responsible for age discrimination cases. The federal deadline for filing a claim is 300 days after the discriminatory action. Even if you file both a state and federal charge, the IDHR may still conduct the investigation on the EEOC’s behalf under a shared investigation agreement.

After intake, the case may go to optional mediation. If mediation is successful, a voluntary settlement may be reached. However, if mediation is unsuccessful, it will continue through the process. The respondent will have a chance to respond to the charge, and the IDHR will then investigate the claim.

The investigation process is supposed to be fair and neutral, but remember that the IDHR represents the state’s interests. The IDHR recommends obtaining an attorney if you want someone to advocate for your or represent you. If your case is not resolved through the IDHR or EEOC process, you may request a “Notice of Right to Sue” from the EEOC, and then take your case to a federal court for resolution.

Often times, the employer may give a false reason for firing or not promoting another employee. This pretext or excuse is a way for employers to cover up their real motivations which may be based on discrimination. Some ways to show the defendant’s stated reason was really a pretext showing that the defendant did not enforce rules equally, acted contrary to company practice or policy, or did not carry out procedures equally.

In many age discrimination cases, the employer may have left little evidence that the adverse action was due to age discrimination. Because of this, some age discrimination cases can be difficult to prove. Contact a lawyer with age discrimination experience to help you understand the legal process, and whether you may have a case against someone for violating state or federal age discrimination laws.

Compensation and Remedies

There are many remedies available for individuals who fight back against age discrimination. In the case of employment discrimination, an employer may be required to pay financial damages, including back pay with interest, attorneys’ fees, and court costs. The individual may also be awarded punitive damages in some cases. These damages are intended to penalize the wrongdoer and deter similar discrimination in the future.

In addition to financial compensation, an employer may be required to reinstate the employee, promote the employee, or offer a reasonable accommodation.

Age Discrimination Attorneys

If you suspect that you were fired, laid off, or passed over for a promotion because of your age, you should speak with an experienced attorney who understands age discrimination cases. Our attorneys have successfully handled age discrimination lawsuits for our clients in Peoria and throughout the state of Illinois. If you have suffered financial or emotional injury as the result of age discrimination, contact your experienced Illinois employment law attorneys. At Benassi & Benassi, we are committed to getting our clients the justice they deserve.


People with disabilities are afforded equal rights under both federal and state laws. Disability is defined as an impairment that is physical or mental that creates limitations involving major life activities. The rate of those with disabilities in the U.S. is approximately 12.8%, an increase from 11.9% in 2010. People without disabilities have an employment rate of 76.6%, while those with disabilities have an employment rate of 35.9%. Often discrimination is founded on perception and prejudice and leads to adversity for those seeking employment, housing, or access to public amenities. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law in 1990 and is legislation that protects the rights of disabled individuals.


All people have a right to be judged on their merit rather than any disabilities that they may have or have had in the past. Limitations that may relate to major life activities may include completing tasks, vision, hearing, communicating, walking, reading, and more. Those who are victimized by discrimination may pursue justice by filing a lawsuit.

Discrimination in Housing & Public Accommodation

A property owner or manager may not discriminate against an individual who is seeking housing. Title III of the ADA also prohibits discrimination involving accommodations available for the public. These venues include schools, public recreation sites, retailers, etc. When someone believes they were discriminated against, they have the right to pursue damages according to both federal and state laws.

Employment Discrimination

Those with a disability have a right to fair treatment from employers as either an employee or prospective employee (applicant). This applies to hire or firing decisions, work assignments, benefits, pay, etc. As with all employees, they also have the right to be free from overall harassment and specifically that which is based on their disability. Harassment may include offensive statements, jokes, or other potential acts that may be deemed as hostile.

Illinois Law

The Illinois Human Rights Act, like the federal ADA, prohibits employment-related discrimination due to disability. The federal laws apply only to those with 15 or more employees, while Illinois law applies regardless of this number. Disabled individuals may not be excluded from employment opportunities unless incapable of performing the job functions when reasonable accommodations are provided. Employment-related discrimination complaints may be filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR). The federal ADA laws are not designed to preclude state laws; however, there is an exception if they were to run contrary to ADA protections.

Impairments Limiting Life Activities

The ADA applies to individuals that have impairments that limit major life activities. Examples of these include the following.

  • Activities such as walking, reading, communicating, bending, lifting, and others.
  • Bodily functions associated with the respiratory, circulatory, cardiovascular, digestive systems and more.
  • Conditions such as intellectual disability, missing limbs, cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, etc..

Making Reasonable Accommodations

An accommodation refers to modifying or adjusting the aspects of the work environment to perform essential job functions. These adjustments allow individuals equal freedom and rights. Examples include

  • Work schedule modifications.
  • Usage of equipment allowing for normal function.
  • Providing assistance with reading or interpretation.
  • Mobility assistance such as wheelchair ramps or curb modification.
  • Employers are not required to reduce standards of quality or productivity to accommodate.

Filing a Claim

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the federal agency assigned to employment discrimination cases. These actions must begin within 300 days following the alleged instance of discrimination. At the state level, complaints are filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR). Cases of alleged housing discrimination may be reported to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). There are various possible legal remedies available to victims including compensation for lost wages or benefits, job reinstatement, or a requirement that reasonable accommodations be implemented, and more.

Central Illinois Attorneys for Victims of Disability Discrimination

Claims of disability discrimination are often challenging to prove and generally require experienced legal assistance. At Benassi & Benassi P.C., our attorneys have advocated on behalf of those discriminated against for many years. Those who believe that they have been wrongfully treated are encouraged to contact the office for a consultation by calling (309) 674-3556 today.

About Lou

A. Lou Benassi was born and raised in Taylor Springs, Illinois, a small mining and farming community located near Hillsboro, the county seat of Montgomery County, Illinois.  He graduated from Hillsboro High School in 1960. He attended the University of Illinois from 1960-1964 and he graduated with high honors and was awarded a Bachelor of Science in business and finance in 1964.  He then worked for Illinois Bell Telephone and the Illinois Department of Public Safety for the next year.  In 1965, he entered law school at the University of California at Berkeley, California (Boalt Hall) where he attended for 3 years, graduating in 1968 with a Juris Doctorate.

After graduating from law school, Mr. Benassi returned to Illinois to practice law.  He immediately joined a small firm in Peoria, Illinois and in 1970, started his own firm and worked as a sole practitioner until 1980 when he formed the law firm of Benassi & Benassi, P.C., with his wife, Patricia C Benassi.

Mr. Benassi is owner and President of the Peoria firm of Benassi & Benassi, P.C., where he engages in a general civil and trial practice including family and domestic relations, personal injury, workers’ compensation, nursing home negligence, and employment separation agreements.  Mr. Benassi is also a trained marital arbitrator.

Mr. Benassi has been selected to the Leading Lawyers Network continuously since 2004 and Super Lawyers continuously since 2006, and was recognized by the DePaul University College of Law in 2007 for his outstanding contribution to the practice of Family Law and his selection as an Illinois Super Lawyer.  He is a former chairman of the Family Law Committee of both the Illinois State and the Peoria County Bar Associations and has served on other committees for the Illinois State Bar Association as well.

He is a member of the American Bar Association, the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.  He has spoken and written on family law topics for the National Business Institute, the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education, the Illinois State Bar Association’s Law Ed Series, and the Peoria County Bar Association.

Areas of Practice:

Workers’ Compensation
Personal Injury/Nursing Home Negligence/Medical Malpractice
Employment Separation Agreements

Year Joined Organization:


Bar Admissions:

Illinois, 1968
U.S. District Court Central District of Illinois, 1968


University of California at Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law, Berkeley, California, 1968

University of Illinois, Champaign, Illinois, 1964
Honors: Graduation with High Honors
Honors: Participant in undergraduate thesis program as senior
Major: Finance
Minor: Economics

Published Works:

Chapter 1, Practical and Ethical Considerations in a Domestic Relations Case, Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education, Illinois Family Law, 1976 – Present

Chapter 2, Attorney’s Fees, Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education, Illinois Family Law, 1988

Classes/Seminars Taught:

Lecturer for Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education on family law on multiple occasions.

Lecturer for Illinois Central College on family law.

Lecturer for Illinois State Bar Association on family law on multiple occasions.

Lecturer for Peoria County Bar Association on family law on multiple occasions.

Lecturer for National Business Institute on family law.

Honors and Awards:

Selected to the Law Bulletin Publishing Company’s Leading Lawyer’s Network continuously since 2004 (To be included, a lawyer must be recognized as one of the top five percent of lawyers who practice in the regional area. Selection is made by other lawyers in the regional area.)

Selected to Super Lawyers continuously since 2006

Recognized by the DePaul University College of Law in 2007 for his outstanding contribution to the practice of Family Law and his selection as an Illinois Super Lawyer

Selected to be a member of the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education Family Advisory Committee

Represented ISBA at ABA Annual Conference on Family Law, 1976

Professional Associations and Memberships:

American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers

American Bar Association

Illinois State Bar Association

Chairman, Family Law Committee, 1975-76; Special Committee on Legislation, 1975, 1976-77;

Standing Committee on Professional Ethics, 1977

Peoria County Bar Association

Chairman, Family Law Committee, 1977-78

Illinois Trial Lawyers Association

Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education

Family Law Advisory Committee, 2003-08

Past Employment Positions:

Silberstein & Napoli (Peoria, Illinois), Associate, 1968 – 1970

A. Lou Benassi, Attorney, 1970 – 1980


Alpha Sigma Phi

Contact our Peoria, Illinois Lawyers

Our attorneys handle cases for clients throughout the state of Illinois; however, our practice is based primarily in central Illinois including the cities of Peoria, Eureka, Champaign, Bloomington-Normal, Pekin, Springfield, Rock Island, and surrounding areas. Please contact Benassi & Benassi. We are committed to providing positive resolutions to our clients’ legal disputes so they can move on with their lives.