One big misconception I hear from the public a lot is that attorneys will cover for each other when one of them does something wrong. I’m not saying that there aren’t some scummy, unethical attorneys in Illinois. There are. But the great majority are honest, ethical and want to do the right thing.
As part of this belief, some individuals don’t think that lawyers in Illinois will sue each other. I promise you that is not true. We love to get involved in legal malpractice lawsuits. They aren’t easy to win, but when the facts and damages are right, we are all over them.
So what makes a good Illinois legal malpractice lawsuit?
The first thing needed is what is called irreparable harm. That means that your lawyer made an error and it can’t be fixed. So if you hired an attorney to file a lawsuit for a car accident and they didn’t do it before the statute of limitations ran out, you’d have irreparable harm and likely a good case for suing. On the other hand, if you feel that your lawyer has been lazy and that’s caused the case to drag on for years, that sucks, but it’s a harm that can be fixed. In other words, that’s not a case.
We also look for actual financial losses. If the car accident case isn’t filed in time, that’s an actual loss. If you lose out on a spouse’s pension in a divorce because your lawyer waived your right to it without permission, that’s an actual loss. Because there are costs in bringing these lawsuits, we want the financial loss to typically be at least $100,000.00.
It’s also important to know that a bad result doesn’t mean legal malpractice nor does a lawyer not doing what you want. In most cases, an attorney could successfully defend themselves by saying that they made a judgment call and it didn’t work out. That’s unfortunate, but not typically negligence. You also can’t sue because their service was bad. It’s unethical not to return phone calls or yell at a client or miss court, but if it doesn’t lead to the irreparable harm, it’s not a lawsuit.
The last thing to know is that to win an Illinois legal malpractice lawsuit, you have to be able to prove that had the attorney done things correctly, you would have won your case. That can be a challenge at times. The more complex the original case was, the harder it can be to sue your law firm.
These cases aren’t easy, but we love to bring them. If you’d like a free consultation to see if you have a case, call us any time at 312-346-5320.