While most Illinois medical malpractice lawsuits arise from something that brought a family grief, if a lawsuit is filed, at some point you will want to know to know what your case is worth. The honest answer is that these are really hard cases to win and a case can be worth more in the hands of one lawyer than another.
Not even the best attorney in Chicago can make a malpractice case worth anything when the facts aren’t there. It actually can be hard to get a good attorney to take your case. They spend around $100,000 per case so if they don’t think it’s a winner that will be worth their time and investment, they won’t take it on.
Cases that are worth many millions need two primary things: 1. You need negligence by a doctor, nurse, hospital, etc. Bad results happen, but that doesn’t mean there was negligence. Your colon getting nicked during a colonoscopy is likely a risk of that procedure. A doctor telling you that a lump in your breast is fatty tissue and six months later being breast cancer is probably negligence. 2. You need a catastrophic results such as death, paralysis, permanent disability, brain damage, etc. and be able to show that wouldn’t have happened anyway. So if a doctor is negligent and you don’t have a long term injury, it’s likely not worth it. If they were negligent and a loved one dies, but they already had stage 4 lung cancer, it’s probably not a good case. But if you deliver a baby who was denied oxygen due to the hospital’s error and the baby ends up with cerebral palsy, it’s a case worth bringing that could be worth a lot.
Beyond all of this though, you should know that while there are a couple hundred of law firms in Illinois that have taken on a medical malpractice case, there are probably ten or so that get the best results on a consistent basis. Cases are worth more in their hands. There are a few reasons for that:
1. Because of their success, they have the money to fund these expensive cases without cutting corners. If the best expert witness is at UCLA, they will hire them and pay the costs to go out there for depositions or to fly them in for a trial. Smaller firms could go out of business if they lose a case so sometimes they don’t give the case the best effort or will encourage you to settle when you could get much more at trial.
2. They know how to take these cases to trial and win and they’ve done it so much that juries respond to them.
3. Because it’s known that they will go to trial and because they have a track record of success, insurance companies respect them and will be more likely to settle for a higher amount.
4. They really understand the medicine behind these cases and often have doctors and/or nurses on staff. This allows them to review cases faster, ask the right questions and ultimately get you justice sooner.
None of this is to say that a smaller firm can’t have a few cases here and there that go well, but rather that the attorneys we recommend and think you should hire usually have 50 or more seven figure results and these past results help make the case worth more for you. And not that there can’t be good lawyers in the suburbs or downstate, but the facts are that no matter where the case is in Illinois, if it’s a big malpractice lawsuit it’s likely because it was handled by a firm with a Chicago office. These attorneys travel all over which is a benefit to victims.
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