We don’t blame people for being upset when their case doesn’t turn out as they’d hoped. The legal system is adversarial. When you have one side against another, someone is going to lose. But how do you know if it’s your lawyer’s fault?
There are so many factors that lead to the outcome in a case, whether it’s an injury, debt collection, divorce or employment issue. When a case is lost, it’s natural to search for a reason why things turned out the way they did.
Legal malpractice is a real issue in Illinois, and if your lawyer’s misconduct cost you your case, you might have a case against them. The goal of a legal malpractice lawsuit is to prove that your lawyer made an unreasonable error and get reimbursed for any financial loss you suffered as a result.
First, you have to prove that your lawyer screwed up, and not just that they made a bad call or chose the wrong strategy. Lawyers have to make judgment calls, and they’re not always right. In order to win a malpractice case in Illinois you have to prove that reasonable lawyers in a similar position would not have done what your lawyer did. A classic example is missing an important deadline that ruins the entire case.
The second (and often more difficult) part of an Illinois legal malpractice case is proving that you would have won your case if your lawyer hadn’t screwed up. Unless they caused the loss, they won’t be held liable for it. A legal malpractice case is essentially two cases in one.
You also have to prove what your lawyer’s mistake cost you. If you were suing to collect a $20,000 debt, then it’s fairly clear that you lost out on $20,000, if you can prove that you would have won, of course.
We know all of this can sound overwhelming. The first step, however, is not. There are experienced legal malpractice lawyers in Illinois who handle these cases frequently. You want someone like this if you are thinking about suing your lawyer. Set up a consultation and get their opinion on whether you have a good case. It shouldn’t cost you anything, and it’s confidential.
Illinois law says that you have two years to sue for legal malpractice. This is the statute of limitations; if you miss it, you can no longer sue. The two years starts when the malpractice occurs or when you first realize (or should have realized) it. The date can be difficult to pinpoint, so don’t make an assumption. Talk to a lawyer who knows what they’re doing.