I love being a lawyer.  It’s been 20 years and every day is different for me.  I didn’t know that I would feel that way when I started off and I consider myself very lucky. I had a long time client call me the other day about a situation he had. He knew it wasn’t something I handle, but told me that he wanted my opinion because “you are the only lawyer I trust.”  That made me feel great.

I told him as we ended the call to remember two things:  1. He can always call me with any questions. 2. Lawyers are the worst.  I said the second thing as a joke and he laughed, but the sad part is that it’s kind of true.

Now I know tons of passionate, great attorneys who really fight for their clients.  Those are the attorneys I recommend to people who call me for a lawyer referral.

I also though have met and talked to a lot of attorneys lately who clearly hate what they do.  I like to ask lawyers if they enjoy their practice area or if they see themselves evolving in to something else.  Too many attorneys are miserable having done the same thing for a long time.  I’ve been told by more and more attorneys is that all they really want to do is make enough money so they can stop doing law at all.

Now I’m not against anyone retiring and enjoying life.  In fact I get nervous if an attorney is in their 70’s and still practicing law.  To me that can be a bad sign.

What I’m talking about is lawyers that make clear in talking to them that they hate what they are doing, hate their clients and would rather do anything other than practice law, but don’t feel they have options.  Really these are people who worship the money they are making over personal happiness.  Yes it would suck to go from earning six figures to 40 grand a year, but if you hate life, isn’t that worth it?

The problem is that these miserable attorneys have clients like you who get harmed because you aren’t getting their best effort.  Sometimes you can still win or get a good result, but a lack of passion or caring can doom you.

Your attorney isn’t likely to come out and tell you that they hate their job, so what are the warning signs?

  • Failure to return phone calls
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • They don’t remember facts about your case that the two of you have discussed
  • Sloppy dress
  • High turnover in their office
  • Disorganized
  • They yell at you
  • Failure to follow through on what they say they will do

These are just some of the signs and if they do these things and aren’t burned out then they are just a bad attorney/person.  In most cases you can switch lawyers without problem and you should do so.  If you need help with a case or have questions call us at (312) 346-5320.

We are Chicago attorneys who will talk to you for free to answer any question you have or help you find the right lawyer for your case.  Call us any time at (312) 346-5320.  The service is free and we cover all of Illinois. Since 2001 we’ve helped more than 350,000 people and we would be thrilled to help you too.

Nobody wants to pay for a lawyer if they don’t have to.  Legal fees can be really expensive and in some cases even if you win, it feels like you lost and the only real winner is the attorney who took all of your money.

Because of this, we get a lot of calls from people looking for an attorney in Illinois who will work on consignment.  This is also known as contingency or “paid if you win.”  Essentially you don’t pay the attorney anything up front, but if they win the case, they get a percentage of what they recover for you, usually 1/3, but it can be more or less depending on the type of case and what you negotiate with them.  It’s risk/reward for them and you.

This type of fee isn’t available in all cases.  First, it can’t happen if you are in a case where money won’t be recovered such as a criminal case or when you are being sued.  It’s also not allowed by law in a divorce or custody case.  Attorneys typically don’t do it as well when the dollar amounts are small. In other words, if you are suing for $1,500, it’s not usually worth it to work on consignment.

So what types of cases can you get a lawyer who only gets paid if they win?

The most common cases are injury cases.  Car accidents, job injuries, medical malpractice, etc.  Every lawyer we know and recommend is consignment for those cases. If an attorney for an injury case asks you for up front money, you should run away.  It also happens with nursing home abuse, legal malpractice, social security claims (once you’ve been denied twice) and with class action lawsuits.

You can also get contingency attorneys in Illinois for some will contests (if the dollars are big enough), consumer fraud cases, some collection cases (when the defendant has money and your case is strong) and in some commercial litigation claims although when you are also being sued it makes finding an attorney much more challenging.

Bottom line is that there are consignment lawyers out there in Illinois.  If you would like our help in finding one, contact us at any time.

I got called by someone the other day who was beat up on the CTA red line and wanted to sue the Chicago Transit Authority because it happened on their property.  A month ago a woman was was sexually assaulted outside her apartment wanted to sue the building owner and asked for our help.  That same week a woman who fell down the stairs at her friend’s house when a railing broke called me looking for legal advice.  I was only able to help one of them.

To sue anyone for personal injury, you have to show that they were somehow negligent.  Getting hurt on their property does not make them liable under Illinois law.  You need to show negligence too.

So the guy who got beat up on the el train doesn’t have a case because the CTA had no way of knowing it was going to happen and they don’t have to provide security on every train.  If CTA staffers were watching it all go down it might be a case, but that’s not what happened here.

The woman who was sexually assaulted also doesn’t have a case. It was a stranger who followed her home that assaulted her.  It’s awful that this happened to her, but there was nothing that the building owner did that lead to this happening.  It would have been different if the door lock was broken and that allowed the criminal to get in.  Again, you have to show some sort of negligence.

Finally, the woman who fell down the stairs does appear to have a case.  A property owner has a duty to maintain their residence. If a railing breaks that is most likely due to some negligence and assuming there’s an injury, you can sue them and their homeowner’s insurance would likely have to pay for your medical bills, lost wages and any pain and suffering.

The bottom line is that getting hurt on someone else’s property is not enough to bring a case. You need to show negligence as well.  So it’s important to get all of the facts and see if we can make a case.

If you have questions or would like to talk to an attorney for free, call us any time at (312) 346-5320.  We cover all of Illinois.

I got a call from a really nice woman who had a civil matter in Tennessee that she needed legal help with.  She lived in Tennessee, but told me that she wanted an Illinois lawyer because, “All of the lawyers down here are connected and know each other.”

I explained to her that it would cost and arm and a leg to get an Illinois law firm to go to TN and that even if cost wasn’t an issue, unless it was a unique case like a trucking crash, getting someone local was a better idea.

It got me thinking though (do I write like Carrie Bradshaw), do people in Illinois worry that all of the lawyers are connected?

First off, there are over 90,000 people licensed to practice law in IL, 70,000+ of whom reside here.  In Cook County alone there are about 40,000 attorneys.  My job is to network with lawyers and even as someone who knows more lawyers than most people, I bet I don’t know more than 1,500 or so.

The point is that we aren’t all connected and even if we were, it’s not like we sit around and talk about selling out our clients because we are buddies.  Some of the most legendary battles at the Daley Center involve prominent plaintiff and defense lawyers who battle tooth and nail and then when the trial is over they’ll meet up for a cocktail or dinner.

Most of us are competitors.  It’s no different than if I was playing against a friend in basketball.  I play to win.  We also are businessmen and women.  Not so hidden secret, attorneys like to make money. If we sold out our clients for our friends then we’d not make as much and we’d probably lose the client.  I promise you that this just does not happen.

Beyond all of this, if we got caught doing what this caller alleged, we’d lose our license to practice law.  So to believe these theories, you’d have to believe I’d be willing to lose my career just so a friend looks good.

I get why people feel this way, especially when they think they have a great case, but can’t get representation or when the case isn’t going their way.  You might have hired the wrong firm for you or maybe you don’t really have a good case or maybe you just need to look more.  Whatever the reason, I guarantee you that we aren’t colluding against you or working with the other side.  Even the crappy attorneys who I’d never recommend don’t do this stuff.

On July 1st, Illinois radically changed its child support laws to become more aligned with other states that consider the incomes and parenting times of both parents when determining child support.

Under the new law, how much support you pay depends on how much time you and your ex have with the kids as well as how much you each make.  The State of Illinois has created a table (see: https://www.illinois.gov/hfs/SiteCollectionDocuments/IncomeSharesScheduleBasedonNetIncome.pdf) that tells you how much you’d have to contribute for support based on your monthly net income and the number of kids you have.  The key term is net as in after taxes and mandatory deductions for items like healthcare.

Under scenario #1 of the new law, you and your ex split custody of the kids 50/50.  If that happens you find your monthly income number on the table and theirs as well.  You multiply each by 150% and then subtract the lower one from the higher one.  Whoever earns more will pay that difference to the other person.  While there will surely be arguments about what each person truly makes per month, this is a relatively simple calculation.

Under scenario #2, if you have your kids less than half the time, but more than 40% of the time (146 overnights) then you will be paying child support, but under a different formula.   It’s a bigger calculation.  You take the joint monthly income of both parents, multiply it by 150% and then multiply it by the income percentage the paying parent earns and then by their soon to be ex’s parent percentage time. Does that sound confusing?  Let’s break it down.  If you and your ex combine to make $12,000 a month and you make $8,000 of that, but have the kids 42% of the time, you’d take the child support number on the table I linked to for $12,000, multiply it by 1.5 and then by .667 (your income percentage) and then by .58 (your ex’s parenting time).

Scenario #3 is a little simpler. When one parent has the kids less than 40% of the time (again this means overnights), you take the combined net income of both parents and find that number on the table.  You then multiply that number by the income percentage of the parent who will be paying.  So if a couple makes eight grand combined a month and the paying father/mother makes 75% of that amount, the number on the table is multiplied by .75.

There are a few things to know about this new law.  The biggest is that you can’t go in and get your old child support order changed just because the law is different.  You have to show a change in your circumstances such as making more or less money.  Also, Judges have some discretion in how to apply this law so if you try and get more custody of your kids just to pay less and they see through that, you’ll still end up paying.

The courts in Illinois are already getting flooded with cases and you can bet that will continue.  If you have questions or want help on a case, call us at (800) 517-1614 to speak with one of our Chicago based attorneys for free.

It’s an Uber rider’s nightmare; sitting in the back seat, when an accident occurs due to the driver being distracted. In many cases, ride share drivers will work for both Uber and Lyft. With both of these companies relying on cell phone technology, some drivers will use two phones at once and others are new to town and have no idea how to navigate without the help of their phones. So, what happens if you are that dreaded rider in the back when an accident occurs?

I was once in an Uber in Chicago, with a driver that didn’t know how to get from the Loop to Wrigley Field. Constant eye contact on his phone/GPS trying to figure his way around a new city instead of safely delivering me to my destination. Often, people will relocate to a new city and sign on to be an Uber or Lyft driver because it is an easy way for them to make quick money. The problem of course is they are completely unaware of their surroundings when they are so reliant on the app or GPS to get them where they are going or to pick up their next fare. There have been cases in other cities of pedestrians hit by Uber and Lyft drivers because the driver was too busy looking for another fare, to look up and see the pedestrian crossing the street. One accident left a man sitting in the back of an Uber with a broken leg after the driver ran a red light. Another left a woman with a broken collarbone after a Lyft driver was struck by another driver, who ran a red light.

Both Uber and Lyft have similar minimum insurance coverage of $1 million dollars in coverage for death, personal injury, and property damage. If you are the rider in an Uber or Lyft accident, the coverage can establish a claim against the other driver involved in an accident if they were at fault. This coverage will cover not only a passenger injured while in an Uber or Lyft, and will also cover damages if an Uber or Lyft driver causes damages or injury to your car. If you have been involved in an accident as a passenger,  pedestrian, or another vehicle struck by an Uber or Lyft driver, give us a call at (312) 346-5320. We will put you in touch with an attorney in your area who will make sure your medical bills are covered as well as any additional compensation you may be due including lost time from work.

We’ve all heard the expression, “like a pressure cooker ready to explode.” But what happens when a pressure cooker actually explodes and injures the person just trying to cook or jar their foods?
Pressure cookers have been used for decades in the kitchen for various meals. Personally, my mom used her pressure cooker all summer long. She would prepare strawberry rhubarb jam, rhubarb based butter, apple and pear sauce and of course any of the vegetables from the garden and can them in mason jars in the pressure cooker. I know other people whose favorite recipe for black and pinto beans include only using a pressure cooker.

However, not everyone has a fond memory of a pressure cooker. One woman had severe burns covering her chest and arms after a pressure cooker exploded in her kitchen. A simple malfunction, the cooker’s lid came off before the pressure was released. When the lid flew off it was a virtual explosion of scalding hot soup, hot enough to leave her skin burnt and blistered. She was in the hospital for over a week while doctors tended to her wounds.

One pressure cooker manufacturer, Tristar, has been hit with lawsuits over what customers are calling defective products. Their product allegedly explodes without warning. Two cases have already been settled, and at least one more has been filed. Consumer reports have raised serious safety concerns about other pressure cookers, including models manufactured by Fagor America, Tabletops Unlimited and Maxi-Matic.

What’s crazy is that in many of the injuries, the explosions have happened when directions on the box are properly followed or even after the product is done cooking the food and has been unplugged.  You wouldn’t think a machine just sitting there could cause harm, but it can.

The issue in these cases is often that the safety mechanisms designed to stop explosions have failed.  The beauty of these products is that they can cook meals in a fraction of the time.  They are supposed to be safe, but when they are defective it can cause a major injury. If you were injured when your pressure cooker exploded, contact us after seeking medical attention. We will put you in contact with an attorney in your area who has experience with these cases.

It’s always free to call us and speak with one of our lawyers.  We can be reached any time at (800) 517-1614.  You will usually speak to a lawyer right away and always within a few minutes.

Debt collection, when has it gone too far? For one debt collector, a fax to the debtor’s employer was the line. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act was put in place to protect people who are being hounded by debt collection agencies. In the past, these collection agencies would not just call the person who owes them money, but also call friends, family members, neighbors and even the employers just as a tactic to shame the debtor into making a payment arrangement or simply trying to collect on the debt.

In this case, a fax was sent to the employer of a debtor after he disputed the debt. The collection agency sent a job verification form via fax, asking for salary and other financial information about  the debtor to his employer, several times. The judge ruled in the debtor’s favor allowing him to sue the debt collector for unfair practices.

According to the FDCPA, debt collectors may not engage in harassing or abusive conduct including communication with a third party other than the credit bureaus concerning collection of the debt. A collection agency must follow several rules or they open themselves up to lawsuits in violation of the FDCPA. These rules include verification of the debt, proper handling of disputes of the debt, and the way they handle themselves on each call. They may not harass or belittle a person who owes money, and threats of legal action cannot be made by anyone but law enforcement officials.

Have you been harassed by a debt collector? Have they called you names or threatened you with jail time or other unreasonable threats? If so, please contact us. We will help you find an attorney in your area who will look out for your best interest. What’s interesting about these cases and great for consumers is that it costs nothing up front to get an attorney to take on your case. All the lawyers we recommend handle these matters on a contingency basis.  If they win the case the Judge will order the debt collector to pay your lawyer fees.

Most people come to us looking for an Illinois attorney referral. We also offer free legal guidance from our attorneys and will talk to you about just any legal matter.

One recent called was meeting with an attorney she had found on her own and was very nervous about it.  She had never met with an attorney before and wanted advice on what would happen, what to bring, what to expect, etc.

Unless the attorney you are meeting is arrogant or a scumbag (in which case you should look elsewhere), going to meet with an attorney shouldn’t be much different than meeting with a teacher or going to the dentist.  The goals are different, but most attorneys are nice people and won’t try to intimidate you.  We are in the customer service business or at least we should be.

In that first meeting or phone call the lawyer will be trying to determine what you want to accomplish if you hire them.  You might not know what’s reasonable or not, but should tell your story so they can understand your situation and ask questions.  I wouldn’t ask yes/no questions, but instead ask questions that require a response. Don’t say, “Have you handled similar cases?”  Do say, “Can you tell me about some of the similar cases you’ve handled?”

As for what you should bring, that will be different in every case.  In most cases it’s nothing.  If it’s a medical malpractice case for example, it would be great if you had the relevant medical records, but it’s more important for them to learn the facts as you know them.

This whole time is a chance for you to evaluate the lawyer and determine if you want to hire them.  Also know that they will be evaluating you.  Are you truthful?  Do you seem cooperative? Can you afford them?  Are you nice to the staff?

If it’s a case you will be paying money for up front, you should get a reasonable fee estimate for the whole case and a written agreement to hire them no matter the type of case.

They don’t have to take you on as a client and you don’t have to hire them.  You probably shouldn’t meet with ten attorneys, but talking to a couple is never a bad idea, at least until you find one that you are comfortable with.

I got a call from someone the other day who was upset that her attorney hadn’t called her back since she signed up with him.  She gave me his name and I looked him up. It turns out this person isn’t a lawyer.  I referred her to a top Chicago car accident lawyer and the case is on the right path.

The real story is that the guy who she hired was someone that got a hold of the police report following her accident and called her out of the blue.  This is called being an ambulance chaser and it’s illegal as well as unethical and just plain scummy.  He works for a law firm and likely gets paid per lead.

It’s a big scam as his firm does a ton of TV advertising and he uses that as his pitch when he calls these victims.  That firm doesn’t even handle the cases, but instead refers them to another firm.  This woman and presumably most of their clients have no idea what’s going on.  When she fired them, this scumbag threatened her and then threatened her new attorney.  It’s all being reported to the proper authorities and hopefully these guys get busted.

I hate ambulance chasers.  They prey upon victims of accidents and lie to them. They break the law.  They make honest lawyers look bad.

It’s competitive to get good cases, but that is no excuse for breaking the law.  If someone is going to call you out of the blue to try and get you to hire them, they know what they are doing is wrong.  They may justify it in their head some way, but facts are facts, it’s illegal.  If they’d break the law to get your case, they’d just as easily sell you out.

The good news is that their are tons of honest lawyers out there who will truly fight for you and do it the right way. They won’t make false promises about how much they are going to get for you and they won’t show up at your door step or hospital bed.  In the long run, an ethical, experienced attorney who gets cases the right way will get more money for you and do a better job.