We are in the time of year when we get a lot of calls from people who have sustained injuries due to slip and falls. It’s not just a result of snow, ice or slush, but also of wood that gets worn down or it being dark early on which hides defects on some properties.

A recent caller wanted me to tell them who the “best slip and fall attorney is in Chicago” and specifically wanted someone near her on the northwest side of town.

What I told her is that nobody is the “best” but it depends on the facts of your case.  There are so many variables that determine who I as a lawyer would recommend to you if you were hurt.  They include:

Who is the defendant?  If you are suing a big box store that can require a different type of lawyer than if you are suing your landlord.

What is your injury? There are some amazing Chicago slip and fall attorneys who won’t take a case that is worth less than $250,000.00.  If you shattered your hip, they might be right for you, but if you fell and broke your hand you likely need someone different.  You can still get a great attorney, but it would be one who is used to handling injuries worth around $50,000 and will still fight hard for you. The lawyer who handles seven figure cases isn’t going to care much about your case if your accident resulted in a broken hand or not a lot of medical care.

How did you get hurt? These are not easy cases, especially when your accident is a result of snow or ice.  We try to evaluate the likelihood your case may have to go to trial when determining who we’d recommend for you.  Some lawyers are great at negotiating, but don’t love to try tough cases.  The best one for you depends on where the case is likely headed.

What is unique to you? Maybe you only speak Spanish.  Maybe you are more comfortable with a female lawyer. This all goes toward getting the best one for you.

The bottom line is that there is no “top attorney” but instead you want the top one for you.

As far as the caller’s wish to get someone near them, in my opinion, based on lots of evidence, the most successful Chicago lawyers are downtown because that is where the courthouse is.  While things have changed a bit with Covid, in general if you are going to court a lot you want to be near the Daley Center.  Neighborhood based attorneys tend to take all sorts of cases. We recommend that you get a lawyer who only handles injuries.  The good news though is that you almost never have to travel and often the lawyer will come meet you in person.  Just like you’d want to get the right doctor for your treatment, getting the right lawyer is important too even if they aren’t up the street from you.

I hope this helps. If you have any questions or want a free lawyer referral, call us at 312-346-5320 any time.

We are Illinois attorneys who offer free legal guidance and lawyer referrals for cases all over Illinois. If you would like a free consultation, fill out our contact form or call us at 312-346-5320.

Nobody really wants to hire a lawyer if they don’t have to, but if you do, you want it to be a good one.  There is no way to know for sure that you’ve hired the right lawyer until you get in to the case. Maybe you discover their customer service is terrible and they don’t return phone calls or they yell at you.  Maybe you realize they don’t have the right experience for your case or aren’t going to fight for you. In some cases you discover your attorney is a liar.  In others you just don’t like them or get along with them.

The question that we get all of the time is, “Can I fire my lawyer?”

The answer is usually yes.  In hourly fee cases like divorce or criminal law, it’s usually just a matter of finding a new attorney and paying them a new retainer fee.  For contingency fee cases like car accidents, malpractice or work injuries, the answer is also usually yes depending on how far along the case is.  If there is a significant settlement offer for example, it can be hard to get new representation.

Our advice if you don’t like your lawyer is to do a few things:

1. Talk to them. Don’t be intimidated. You are the customer and should expect customer service.  That doesn’t mean your attorney is available 24/7, but does mean they should be respectful and respond to you in a reasonable time period.  We never go more than 12 hours without returning a call, but for most attorneys it’s reasonable to expect a call back within a day or two.  Tell them your frustrations and see if you can right the ship.

2. Don’t go crazy listening to non-lawyers.  A lot of people are concerned about their attorney because a friend had a case that was handled in a different manner.  The best advice we can give you is don’t take legal advice from non-lawyers. That’s not to say your attorney is doing a good job, but it is to say that in our experience, non-lawyers don’t usually know what they are talking about when it comes to your case.

3. Don’t wait too long to address your concerns or switch.  If you do getting a new lawyer may be impossible. If you want to fire your divorce lawyer two weeks before a trial for example, I don’t know anyone who would drop their schedule and take your case over.  If you went to trial and lost, no attorney I know would do the appeal of someone else’s mistakes.

4. If you have tried to work things out with your law firm and it’s time to jump ship, don’t fire them until you have a new lawyer in place.  When hiring a new lawyer, be specific about what you didn’t like about the old one and try to see if things will be different with the new one.  Lay out your hopes and expectations and use the knowledge you’ve gained to make a better decision.

Of course our service has been around since 2001 to help people find the right lawyer for their case. It doesn’t always work perfectly, but we are attorneys who will tell you what we think you should do.  We’ve had a lot of success and would be happy to help you, for free, any time.

We are Illinois attorneys who will talk to you for free about your legal matter. Call us at 312-346-5320 for a no cost, confidential consultation.

As we head in to 2021, we are about to see one of the most common New Year’s resolutions. People are going to file for divorce. While being sheltered in place in 2020 may have contributed to that, the reality is that after the holidays and at the end of the year, people take stock in their lives and often decide they need to move on from their marriage.

This is a huge step for many people.  That is especially true when you have a bully for a husband or wife.  In those cases, there are many important things to consider. It’s very common for the bully spouse to not be open to the possibility of you filing for divorce.  So while it’s advisable to talk about divorce if you can, in these cases it may not be safe or a good legal strategy.

When a spouse is a bully, they tend to bring a lot of drama and emotion to the marriage.  They will blame you and others for their problems and can be physically or verbally abusive and controlling.  It makes sense that you’d want out of that situation and we have some tips for doing so in a safe manner that will protect you in the long term and short term.  A divorce from a bully can be high conflict and you want to try and focus on what you want legally.

  1. Try to let your lawyer do most of the talking for you. If you aren’t going to be able to calmly negotiate issues with your soon to be ex, doing so only rewards their desire for conflict.  Come up with a list of goals with your divorce attorney and work with them to meet those goals.
  2. Avoid interaction. Hopefully you don’t need to live together under the same roof.  The less you are around each other, the less you can be provoked. If there have to be exchanges of the kids, ask your attorney for help on facilitating that or get a family member or friend to accompany you when possible.
  3. If you have been physically abused or feel unsafe, consider filing for an order or protection.  This will buy you some peace and safety, at least on a temporary basis and potentially permanently. I highly suggest that you talk to your attorney about this first.
  4. Don’t feel the need to defend yourself verbally to them. This is much easier said than done, but the reality is that once the divorce is filed, any verbal arguments won’t help your ultimate goal of getting out of the divorce.  Nod and smile or walk away if you can.
  5. Try and establish boundaries. If you are co-parenting, maybe deciding to only communicate by text or email makes sense.  Agree to only talk about your child and nothing else.
  6. Don’t sign off on bad terms just because you want out.  Giving up rights to a 401k or equity in the house in order to get out quickly could really hurt you financially.
  7. Never take legal advice from your ex. This is a huge trait we see in bullies.  They are know it alls and will try to tell you what is going to happen in court, what their rights are, how things are going to play out, etc.  Often it’s done in a threatening way such as, “I know the law and you are going to lose the kids to me.”  They are not looking out for you.  That’s why you have an attorney.  Game plan with your lawyer and take legal advice from your lawyer, not your ex.

I hope this helps. It’s really just the beginning of thinking about this process. If you are looking for a referral to a tough, experienced Illinois divorce attorney, please contact us any time for a recommendation.

 

 

Despite what insurance companies and some politicians like to tell people, it’s very hard to win a medical malpractice lawsuit in Illinois.  You need to show that the medical provider screwed up, that without their error you wouldn’t have suffered your harm and in most cases, that your damages are really significant. In other words, saying “I could have died” isn’t enough, even when their mistake was terrible. You don’t have to die, but do need to show some harm.

In my opinion, there are about ten really good Illinois medical malpractice law firms.  They have the track record of winning cases, have many lawyers and a large support staff often consisting of doctors and/or nurses and can afford the risk of bringing these very expensive cases without cutting corners to do so.  They take cases that they think they can win and also recover enough to justify their time, expense and risk. In other words, if it typically costs $100,000.00 to go to trial in a malpractice lawsuit, you aren’t going to spend that money if you think the case is only worth $200,000.00.

As a result, most people who want to sue a doctor or hospital can’t find an attorney to bring a case for them.  This can, understandably, be really frustrating for the people who call us looking for an attorney referral.  We get that, but are always honest. We love to make money and do so by taking on cases, but we always tell the truth. And if the truth is that we don’t think you have a case or don’t have enough of an injury, we will tell you.

Being wronged by a medical provider can be emotional. So callers will often say to us, “Well, if it’s not medical malpractice, can I sue for negligence?”  Unfortunately those two terms mean the exact same thing.  Medical malpractice lawsuits are when doctors, nurses, etc are negligent. So there aren’t different standards or time limits for bringing these claims.

So if you can’t find an Illinois medical malpractice attorney, what can you do?

  1. You can file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Professional and Financial Regulations (“IDFPR”).  The license and discipline doctors and nurses.  In some cases you might not be able to get money from suing, but the IDFPR might be able to take away their license.
  2. In some cases you can get results from the risk management department at a hospital.  That could mean them reducing or eliminating your bill and in some cases it could mean them offering you a small amount of money.
  3. I’m not a fan of Yelp or those types of places, but I get that doing so could be therapeutic.
  4. Be mad, but realize you’ll probably have to get over it. That sucks to hear, but if five lawyers who have a great track record tell you there’s no case, at some point you have to move on.  It’s a product of how hard and expensive it is win these cases.

Is it weird for an attorney to tell you to move on? Again, we always tell the truth, even if we know it’s not what you want to hear.  The bottom line is that if you have been wronged and want to know if you have a case, we are happy to speak with you for free and offer an honest opinion and if needed, recommend a law firm that has a great track record.  Call us for free any time at 312-346-5320.  We cover all of Illinois.

One thing I try to do as an attorney is to remember that non-lawyers shouldn’t be expected to know about the law.  It’s no different than if I went to a doctor or a mechanic. I shouldn’t be expected to know how they do their jobs.

This thought comes up multiple times a week. I will get calls from people wanting to know if their case is civil or criminal.  Those are fairly generic terms, but it comes up so much that I thought it was worth discussing.

A criminal case means that someone has been arrested.  That is the only time you need a criminal defense lawyer with the possible exception of an order of protection case. You may feel that someone has stolen from you or wronged you and it’s possible they need to be arrested. But if you are the victim, you don’t need a criminal lawyer because that’s not what criminal attorneys do.  Criminal lawyers defend people.  State’s Attorneys who are Government employees prosecute cases and represent victims when charges have been brought.

Every other case would be considered a civil claim.  Looking for a civil attorney for the most part means you are looking for every non-criminal attorney.  Medical malpractice is civil. Suing your contractor because they didn’t finish a project is civil.  Filing a case against the person who punched you in the face would be civil. Car accidents are handled by civil litigation attorneys.  Class actions, consumer fraud, real estate litigation, etc all are too.

So looking for a civil lawyer, in general, isn’t really looking for what you need. It’s like searching for a doctor without listing a specialty of what you are really going through and what results you are looking for.

Again, this is not the type of thing we would expect you to know.  And for some cases, it’s hard to even know what type of lawyer you should be looking for or who has experience with your issue.  That’s partly why we exist.  If you want to talk to an Illinois attorney for free you can call us any time or fill out our contact form and we will call you.

As attorneys, a mistake we can make is to assume that the general public knows something that to us is basic knowledge.

This came up recently when I spoke to someone about a lawyer who was romantically involved with a client.  Under Illinois law, it’s unethical for an attorney to date, sleep with or whatever you want to call it with a client.  The reason this is true is because your attorney has the possibility of taking advantage of you. You also might not be able to emotionally make the right decision, especially if money is involved.

You hear about this a lot in divorce cases.  Those cases can be very intense and emotional and you often work closely with your attorney.  I remember when I was a young lawyer hearing about a divorce lawyer who (appropriately) fired his client because they realized they were in love with each other. He saved his career by withdrawing from the case before acting on his feelings.

The exception to this rule is if you were already in a relationship before you become their lawyer.  If that’s the case it doesn’t mean it’s a good idea, but the lawyer likely wouldn’t lose their license. Even so, what if the case goes bad?  What if you want to switch lawyers?  Not to mention the office and court gossip that could ensue.

The extreme version of this is attorneys who pressure clients in to sexual relationships they don’t want to be in.  A well known family law attorney in Chicago was accused of this over the summer and arrested on felony charges.  If true, he was clearly using his position in a disgusting way and belongs in prison.  He should also, of course, never be allowed to practice law again.

It’s not always the lawyers who initiate these relationships. I’ve heard plenty of stories of clients soliciting attorneys as a way to pay off their legal bills. In one case I referred out, the client asked an attorney to meet him at her hotel room. He declined.  Even when the attorney doesn’t initiate things, they can not do anything with the client until they’ve broken off the professional relationship.

I certainly hope this doesn’t happen to you. In some cases a lawyer sleeping with their client is akin to statutory rape.  If it does happen to you, you may actually have a lawsuit against the attorney.  At the very least you should report them to the State.

If you have any questions about this or any other issue, you are welcome to call us for free any time.

We are an Illinois lawyer referral service run by attorneys. Since 2001 we’ve helped over 500,000 people find the best law firm for their case or just given them free legal advice to solve their problem. Call us at 800-517-1614 to speak with a lawyer for free.

When people call me looking for an attorney referral, I hear two things a lot: 1. “I want the best lawyer.” 2. “I don’t want to travel.”  One of the most searched phrases that leads people to our website is “Who is the best workers compensation lawyer near me?”

While it sounds like it should be a simple question, if you really want what is best for you, your case and your long term health, please believe me when I tell you it’s not so simple.

First off, “best” for one person may not be “best” for you. There are so many factors.  What is your injury?  How much experience does that attorney have with that type of injury? Do you need someone who speaks a foreign language? Will you mesh well with someone who has an aggressive personality or do you need a lawyer that is more of a hand holder and compassionate? Will your case likely need to go to trial? What defenses does the insurance company have?

The truth is, especially in bigger cities, there are many attorneys who could get a good result for you.  But the top one for your case will depend on a lot of those factors I mentioned.  And something I’ve learned in almost 20 years of running this site is that if you just got injured and it’s not clear if you are seriously hurt or not, some “top” firms will assign your case to a young lawyer.  If it turns out that you are seriously injured, you are likely stuck with that young attorney who certainly isn’t best for you.

As far as getting a lawyer near you, that is understandable, but something you should not worry about.  Most cases, even before Covid, are handled by phone calls and emails.  Whether the attorney you hired is next door or 50 miles away, your interaction with them isn’t likely to include a lot of face to face contact that isn’t done by Zoom.  The exception is when your case is going to trial or if you want a first meeting in person. In my experience, many great attorneys are willing to meet you by your home at a mutually convenient time.

More importantly though, you aren’t likely to find many if any really good work comp attorneys in cities that don’t have a hearing location.  In the Chicagoland area, more than 90% of cases are handled by lawyers whose offices are in Chicago.  That’s because the main Illinois Workers Compensation Commission location is the Thompson Center downtown.  If you live in Tinley Park or Schaumburg or Evanston, etc., it’s not that lawyers there couldn’t take your case, it’s that it’s likely that they don’t focus on work comp cases all day every day. If they did, they’d spend way too much time in the car or on the train because they are so far from court.

Even outside of Chicagoland, you’ll find it’s likely that unless you are in a big city like Springfield, Rockford, Peoria, Belleville, etc. that the best attorney for your case, the one with real experience, isn’t going to be near you.  I promise you that is OK and it’s in your best interests to get someone who has a real track record of success. It’s no different than how you’d choose the best doctor for your care other than that you won’t need to be face to face with the lawyer all the time like you will with the doctor.

As always, if you have any questions let us know.

One of the most common questions that comes up in any Illinois personal injury lawsuit is should I settle or go to trial?

This is of course a very sensible question.  The answer to it really depends on the case, the facts, your goals and some other things.

For most cases, getting a settlement makes sense if you get a good offer. If we think your case is worth at most $300,000.00 at trial and you are being offered $275,000.00, settling and getting the cash now is most likely the sensible thing to do.

In other major cases, you may not be offered close to your best case scenario at trial, but the amount is still so much that not settling seems risky.  We had a client on a case whose trial was delayed until late 2021 due to Covid. The case settled earlier this year for $1 million.  It’s possible at trial the case could have been worth double that, but the client who is very ill wanted the sure thing and the money now.

We supported the decision of this client because it’s their life.  Our job as lawyers is to lay out the best and worst case scenarios and help you make an educated decision as to what to do.  The lawyer who was working hard on this case would have gladly gone to trial, but an attorney’s job is to do what is best for the client.

In other cases you might want to go to trial for a non-monetary reason. Perhaps you want their to be publicity to prevent something like what happened to you from happening to others such as in a sexual abuse or police misconduct case.  Maybe telling your story in court is therapeutic which is something a settlement can’t give.  In some cases you want to confront the person who harmed you.  Again it comes down to what is personal to you and in YOUR best interests.

On the flip side, we’ve seen cases where we knew the client would never go to trial.  It could be that they make a very bad witness and being on the stand would hurt them. It might be that they don’t want to have to confront the person that harmed them as it would have a negative psychological impact.

And sometimes the offer is not good enough and you have your dollar amount that if not met means you will be taking your chances in court.  In one famous case from when I was a young lawyer, a violinist lost her leg when she was dragged by a train for 200 feet. Back then it was rare to get settlement offers in the eight figures and there were stories of her and her lawyer turning down offers in the high seven figures and low eight figures.  The rumor was that she wanted $20 million, not a penny less.  She didn’t get that offer, went to trial and the jury awarded her almost $30 million.  Rolling the dice with trial clearly worked out for her.

My advice to you is to make sure you are given the best and worst case scenarios as well as the likely scenario. You might want $1 million, but if your best case scenario is $50,000.00 and you get offered that, going to trial is foolish.

Every case is different. Learning what is realistic for your case will help you make a smart decision.

As always, we are lawyers who will talk to anyone for free. Call us any time at 312-346-5320.

I had a call recently from a very upset person who did not get the result they were looking for in their divorce case.  They were sure that they had a great legal malpractice lawsuit because their lawyer was unprepared and did not ask for things that the client wanted.

I explained to this caller that I couldn’t help because it’s very difficult to successfully sue an Illinois attorney for a bad judgment call.  The caller became more upset and told me that lawyers are all pieces of shit and that we all protect each other which is why we won’t sue each other.

I really do empathize with people in these situations. You lay out a bunch of money for an attorney and they do a bad job and you don’t get the results you want. When you lose custody of your kids and are going bankrupt, it’s of course worse.

All of this said, we do sue other Illinois attorneys and are happy to do so when it’s a good case. But just like it’s difficult to sue a doctor for malpractice, it can be hard to sue an Illinois attorney for malpractice.  And finding a top Chicago legal malpractice lawyer is hard, but not if you have good facts and damages on your side.

The truth is that there are over 70,000 Illinois attorneys.  Some will screw up.  A lawyer I know who is regarded as one of the best Illinois personal injury attorneys out there was successfully sued recently. It doesn’t make him a bad lawyer. It means he had a mistake that was “beyond the standard of care” and his client suffered real damages that can be measured financially as a result.

Most successful Illinois legal malpractice lawsuits involve an attorney who has caused “irreparable harm.”  That means their mistakes can’t be fixed. If they drop your case 60 days before your time to sue runs out, you can still sue so it’s not legal mal.  If they promised to get in to court six months ago but never did, you can still get in to court and don’t have irreparable harm.

On the other hand, if your lawyer failed to file a lawsuit in time, sued the wrong parties or did something to cause a financial loss you can’t recover from, you might have a case to sue them.

The cleanest example is when someone is injured in a car accident that is clearly the fault of the other car. If your attorney has two years from the accident date to sue and fails to do so, you’d have a lawsuit against them.  Another common one we are seeing now is for birth injuries where the attorney believes they have until the child’s 8th birthday to file a lawsuit, but it turns out they only have until their 2nd birthday to sue because the treating doctor worked for a Federally funded medical clinic.  That changes the time limits for suing and is a mistake many lawyers make.

What you can’t do though is sue because you don’t like the case result and think the attorney should have been better or done different things.  The defense in those cases will be the lawyer saying “I felt prepared and made a judgment call to do what I did.” If the judgment fails it’s not necessarily negligence.

As a result I can tell you I’ve never read about a successful lawsuit against an Illinois divorce attorney.  That’s not to say it hasn’t happened or couldn’t happen, but it surely is rare.  Most success claims against lawyers for malpractice are against personal injury lawyers.

This of course makes clients feel that bad lawyers get away with robbery.  Sometimes that does happen, but even if you can’t sue them, you can always file an ethical complaint against them with the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission or ARDC.  Their standards for holding a lawyer accountable are worthy of a whole other post, but they do discipline bad behaving attorneys which can include taking away their license.

The best thing an attorney can do for you when you feel like suing a past lawyer is to talk to you for free and give an objective, honest assessment of your possible case. We will do that for you for free any time. If you’d like to speak to one of our lawyers in confidence, please call us any time at 312-346-5320.

I’m usually asleep at 11:11 p.m., but occasionally catch the clock at 11:11 a.m. and by superstition say to myself, “make a wish.”  Well it’s November 11th today, so in honor of 11-11, I thought I’d make some legal wishes.  In no particular order.

– It would be amazing if our court system could get back to operating as it was before.  And if we can’t do that, I’d wish that the court leaders would come up with alternative options like using hotel ballrooms, McCormick Place or other venue to have socially distance trials.  The lack of justice is shocking and it’s going to have a ripple effect for years to come.

– I wish people would understand that insurance companies make money by not doing the right things.

– I wish bail would be just and nobody would sit in jail for months because they are too poor to get out when charged with a non-violent crime.  Let’s have real bail reform now!

– I wish that we’d only imprison those who are a danger to society.

– I wish that if you were convicted of a crime a long time ago when you were young and dumb that it couldn’t continue to hurt your chances of getting a job.

– Zoom attendance for minor court matters have been great. I sure wish that continues when this pandemic is all over. Why make someone take a day off from work, find daycare, pay for parking, etc. when their actual court time is going to be three minutes or less.

– I wish the EEOC and Illinois Department of Human Rights were more efficient in investigating illegal activity. Covid has made illegally firing someone a lot easier.

– I wish that before you got married in Illinois that you had to sign a prenuptial agreement. It would save divorcing couples a lot of time, money and headaches.

– I wish attorneys that are scum bags would actually lose their licenses. Ambulance chasers and severe over billers are alive and well in Illinois.

– I wish law school would change the third year to either be a rotation of school run legal clinics or internships at law firms. Law students are sent out in to the world far too often with no good experience or real idea about what they want to do with their degree.

– I wish Illinois Supreme Court justices didn’t have to campaign to be appointed.

– I wish continuing legal education (CLE) requirements for lawyers were reflective of the actual work we do in educating ourselves through blogging, researching, talking to other attorneys, reading trade journals, etc.  Most of my CLE time is taking a variance of the same course telling me how to be ethical.  That stuff is important, but you can only hear it so many times.

– I wish there was a realistic way for people who can’t afford lawyers to represent themselves without getting screwed over on the case because they don’t understand some minor legal technicality.

– I wish employers wouldn’t get away with calling workers independent contractors when they are really employees.

– I wish we’d end solitary confinement.

– I wish people would stop believing conspiracy theories that their attorney was bought off or that all lawyers conspire against them.

– I wish law school was more affordable.

– I wish that being a former prosecutor wasn’t the top quality that most Judges seem to possess.

– I wish being a public defender paid better.

 

Well, that’s a lot of wishes. I don’t want to be greedy. One thing I don’t wish for is that there was a place where you could call an Illinois attorney for free to ask a question. That exists. You can call us any time at 312-346-5320.  We help everywhere in Illinois.