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A recent caller to my office thought they had a good medical malpractice lawsuit, but didn’t want to proceed because they didn’t think they could afford a lawyer to bring the case.

This is a common concern people have.  This isn’t a concern most people should have.  The short explanation is that every lawyer who handles medical malpractice cases in Illinois works on a contingency basis. That means they can’t charge an hourly fee and only get paid if they win the case.  As a result, attorneys in Illinois who handle these cases are very selective in which matters they get involved in.

There is a longer explanation though.  Some callers are worried about the case expenses.  Most contracts to hire a medical malpractice attorney state that the attorney will advance the costs of the case, but get paid back by the client.  These cases often cost more than $100,000.00 to take fully to trial.  Many callers are worried that the attorney will sue them if they lose the case. That is why they don’t think they can afford the risk of hiring a lawyer.

The truth is that if the case is successful, the attorney will be reimbursed their costs.  If it’s not successful, some contracts state that the client will have to pay the lawyer back. I’ve NEVER seen this happen with the attorneys that I know and recommend. I do think it’s happened with smaller firms that can’t afford to advance these costs.

My advice to anyone who is hiring a malpractice attorney in Illinois is to discuss this issue with the lawyer before you hire them.  The ones that I know will change their contracts to state that you’ll never have to pay them back a penny if they don’t make a recovery.  If you have a good case they will be happy to do this.  It’s a risk for them for sure as most cases, even the ones that seem good at first, don’t result in a recovery. But firms that really crush it in this area of law have the ability to take that type of risk.

Bonus tip.  There are some smaller firms who will ask their clients to contribute to some of the costs of the case. Unless there are really odd circumstances (like asking an attorney to file a last minute lawsuit) I don’t suggest you do that.  While any firm can take on a malpractice lawsuit, the truth is that most of the top results are handled by around ten different law firms, all in the Chicago area.  You don’t want to get a lesser firm on your case that would ask you to pay the costs.  You also don’t want to get a firm that skimps on costs, ultimately costing you a win or resulting in you not recovering as much as you deserve.

As always, if you have any questions or want an attorney referral, please contact us at any time.