In general, I think most Illinois attorneys are honest. Human nature, however, makes many people afraid of confrontation or unwilling to tell people something they don’t want to hear. These traits, and a worry about getting sued, unfortunately lead some attorneys to lie.
So I get calls all of the time that start out something like, “I know I have a great case. I’ve talked to a lot of lawyers, and they all tell me I do.” This is a telltale sign that they’ve been lied to by a lawyer.
The typical case involves someone looking for a medical malpractice lawyer in Illinois. Those are very tough cases to win and understandably, often very emotional ones for the potential client.
In the typical situation, the caller will describe the bad treatment or even negligence that may have contributed to an injury or death. There are also usually other factors like old age, underlying illnesses like diabetes, or other complicating factors. As sad as it is, in most cases if there is medical negligence on a 90-year-old, for example, a lawsuit would not likely be worth the cost.
Whatever the situation, in many cases a lawyer can tell right away that the chances of winning a case aren’t great. From their standpoint, it’s a business decision and they know right away that the risk of spending $50,000-$100,000 to win a case isn’t worth it when there are great defenses or a likelihood they won’t win.
You’d think they’d just explain this, tell you sorry, tell you that you can seek a second opinion and move on. But lawyers have somehow convinced themselves that they could get sued by telling someone they don’t have a case when it turns out they do. This is ridiculous as attorneys can offer opinions and still make clear that other people may disagree with them or tell the potential client to seek out a second opinion if they want to.
Instead, they lie and say something like, “You have a great case, but I’m just too busy to take it.” Or, “It sounds like a great case, but we have a conflict because we know that doctor.” Or, “That shouldn’t have happened and you need to hold them accountable, but I can’t do it.”
These are all lies. How do I know? Because lawyers like to make money. They are business people. Nobody is too busy to take on a great case. I guarantee that if you called them back and said your loved one was killed in a trucking accident, they’d suddenly have the time to investigate that case. Even if they know a doctor or don’t think they can handle your case, they can always refer it out to a reputable firm and make a referral fee. That happens all of the time.
What it is, is lawyers looking out for themselves and not considering that most people just want to hear the truth. Most people can accept that they likely don’t have a case if you explain why. A bad result doesn’t always mean malpractice occurred. It’s always worth having a conversation about it, but an honest answer is the best one.
I don’t think these attorneys have bad intentions. I also don’t think they have proper empathy or consider how their lies will negatively impact the people who seek out their help.
The state of Illinois could easily solve this problem by granting immunity from lawsuits to attorneys who offer their opinion. They could still be sued for missed statute of limitations or other acts of negligence.