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In some areas of Illinois law there are literally thousands of lawyers with experience on that type of case.  Traffic, divorce and car accidents are probably the top three where finding an attorney with experience isn’t a challenge.  There are tens of thousands of those cases every year, so a lot of lawyers that focus their practice on those cases.

On the flip side, if you have a legal issue with the Illinois Department of Professional and Financial Regulations (IDFPR), there are only hundreds of these cases every year. As a result there are not as many law firms who focus on this area of law.  So finding the best attorney to protect your professional license isn’t as easy.  Here are six questions you should ask an IDFPR attorney before hiring them:

1. What percentage of your practice is IDFPR defense?  Most of the attorneys you will see talking about this line of work only dabble in it.  That doesn’t mean that they couldn’t handle your case, but it does mean that they aren’t likely the best choice for you.  I’ve only seen about five firms that make IDFPR defense more than 80% of their practice.

2. How long have you handled these cases? It’s great if an attorney does 100% professional license defense, but if they’ve only been doing it for two years, your chances of success aren’t as strong as they would be with someone who has been doing it for 20 years.

3. What is the likely path of how the hearing process will go?  If they can’t give a detailed explanation to you it may be a sign that they are faking their experience.

4. How many IDFPR cases have you handled in the last 12 months? Some attorneys are really just part time which isn’t a good sign for you.  If they’ve only handled 20 cases, it’s not that they aren’t qualified, it’s just a sign that they are spending their time doing many other things.

5. What is the estimate of how much this will cost and how often will I get billed? Lawyers that handle these cases charge by the hour.  The ones we recommend give a free consultation and they also don’t over bill you.  Some will handle the case on a flat fee.  There is a lot of work to be done, but most cases should not involve crazy high fees.  If they are charging by the hour you should ask for monthly invoices so you don’t end up with a mysterious large bill.

6. How many people in my field have you helped? It’s not important in every case, but in many of them knowing the proper procedures for your profession can be the difference between winning and losing the case.

I hope this helps.  The attorneys we recommend are incredibly experienced and have had tremendous success helping people keep their careers.  Do not hesitate to get in touch if you’d like a recommendation.

 

 

I was contacted by a guy who was injured in a car accident in the fall of 2018.  He ended up needing a couple of months of physical therapy and had a lot of medical bills. He hired the Chicago auto accident law firm I recommended and the attorney started working on the case.

It was a clear cut case as the client was hit by someone clearly at fault. They were insured by Progressive, but it could have been any State Farm, Allstate or any of them.  What happened next is the insurance company called this young man an offered to send him a check for his expenses.  They will typically FedEx a check or sometimes even come to an accident site and hand you a check.

It sounds great in theory, but in reality it’s a strategy by insurance companies to cut their losses. They are experts in analyzing what a case is worth and doing it quickly based on the damage to your car or your obvious injuries.  So if they think that they will have to pay you $100,000.00, they’ll gladly hand you a check for $7,500.00 right away.  They have nothing to lose by offering and everything to gain.

I get why people take the quick money. It’s there and if you are broke it seems like a good idea.  But in this case and almost every other time I’ve seen it, it’s the insurance companies screwing over a victim who doesn’t have the chance to consult with an attorney and make an educated decision.

Just know a few things:

  1. Insurance companies don’t do things that are in your best interests, they look out for their bottom line.  If they are rushing to give you money you can bet that not only would they do it in a week or month as well, but also that your case is worth much more.
  2. If they send you a check, call a lawyer before you cash it. It’s free to do that (you can call us any time at 312-346-5320) and it will give you the chance to find out if you are being taken advantage of or not.
  3. If you need or think you will need any more medical care, settling is a terrible idea.  Unless they are paying out the entire value of an insurance policy, your case will almost certainly be worth more.

I hope this is helpful and hope you aren’t reading this after it’s too late. Once you cash that check you are likely out of luck.

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.

If you have any questions or want an attorney referral, please fill out our contact form or call us to speak with a lawyer for free.

Nobody wants to think about divorced or get divorced, but it happens.  If it happens to you, it’s really important that you get someone in your corner who can be an objective advocate for you.  A good Illinois divorce attorney will help you set goals, prioritize them and get you thinking not just about what you want now, but six months from now, five years from now and 20 years from now.  That could relate to custody of kids, retirement plans, payments of spousal support, where you want to live and a host of other important issues.

It’s one thing to know you need a good attorney to advise you, but something totally different to find that right lawyer.  Here are some questions to ask them before you hire them to help you make the right decision.

1. How much of your practice is focused on family law? If it’s not at least 80% and your case isn’t a simple divorce, I’d keep looking elsewhere.  In contested cases, the attorneys that don’t know what they are doing get eaten alive.

2. How much work do you do in the county where the case will be filed and what can you tell me about the Judges there? If you divorce is in Cook County, you likely want a Chicago attorney handling the case. If your divorce is in Lake County and your lawyer isn’t in Waukegan all the time, it could hurt you.  Judges are not supposed to be biased, but some certainly favor attorneys they know and deal with all the time.  Don’t let your attorney say, “I do a lot of work there,” have them tell you about the Judges.  If they don’t know specifics, especially for cases outside the City, it’s a bad sign.

3. What is your retainer and how long will that last me?  Some attorneys ask for very little down, but before you know it they are asking for more. Some will pad their bills.  Talk about fees.  Ask for an estimated cost.

4. How often do you send bills?  You should get an itemized statement every quarter at worst, but personally I’d ask for one every month.  Too many people get a huge bill and have no idea what their attorney is charging them for until it’s too late.

5. Do you expect to have to do research that I will be charged for? There is one Chicago divorce and custody law firm that regularly does this on very basic cases as a way to rack up a big bill.  Unique circumstances can come up on occasion, but in most cases, especially in the beginning, there should not be a need for “research.”

6. What can you tell me about my ex’s lawyer? If they have one and they do a lot of family law, your attorney should know them.  It’s a way of testing how much family law work your lawyer really does.

7. Who will be handling my case? Sometimes you think you are hiring an experienced attorney and it turns out they are “supervising” some young lawyer who is gaining experience by making mistakes on your case. You don’t want that to happen.

8. What advice do your clients say at the end of the case that they wish they knew at the beginning?  This is a way to see if the attorney has any compassion.  It’s a burnout area of law.  Do they still see their clients as humans or just case numbers?

9. How many cases did you take to trial last year?  There is no magic number, but if the answer is really low it’s a sign that you might not have a fighter in your corner.

There is a lot of other advice we could give, but this is a good start.  If you have any questions or want an attorney referral please call us at 312-346-5320.

Sunday is St. Patrick’s Day which is celebrated through out the world, but is like New Years and the 4th of July rolled in to one in Chicago.  There are tons of parades, parties and bar specials this weekend.  When you add in college basketball, the occasional warm weather and Opening Day around the corner, it’s a really big party.

With big parties come criminal activities.  I’m in my 22nd year as a lawyer so I’ve seen a lot of St. Patty’s day arrests.  Here are the top five reasons people will get arrested in Chicago this weekend:

1. Fighting – There will be guys who can’t handle their booze.  Women who can’t handle their booze.  Some lunatics who get too pissed off because they got bumped in a bar or a beer was spilled on them.  Someone who will throw a beer thinking they are funny.  Way too handsy guys.  All of these things can lead to punches being thrown which means a lot of battery arrests this weekend.  If you are at a bar you can bet that the bouncers will call the cops and blame everyone involved.

2. Disorderly conduct – If you are drunk in the street or just annoying the police or if they are just arresting everyone on b.s. charges, this is the fallback option. It’s a very vague charge, but unfortunately it happens all the time and is a misdemeanor which can be punishable by up to a year in jail.

3. Public intoxication – This one is a no brainer.  There is so much drinking going on this weekend and often it’s amateur night.  When you add in the spring breakers from college it gets out of control.

4. Public urination Sadly, this weekend, the streets of Chicago will become a toilet.  It sometimes is combined with disorderly conduct or a charge unto itself.  And if you reveal too much of yourself and there are kids around you might accidentally get really serious charges.

5. Domestic battery – It’s shocking to me that any man would hit a woman, but this weekend especially there will be a lot of drunk boyfriends and husbands.  This leads to some of them getting too physical when their significant other is too flirty with others.  And some women will hit men when they can’t handle their alcohol too.

If you or someone you gets arrested this (or any other) weekend it’s really important go get a lawyer in your corner who does nothing but criminal defense all day every day. If you have questions or want a referral please call us at 312-346-5320.

Many Illinois employers are looking to “game the system” or find what they think are creative ways to avoid taxes.  Sometimes they do this by paying cash under the table.  Other times they do it by calling an employee an independent contractor.

While their main goal is usually to avoid payroll taxes, if you get hurt while working for them they will try to deny you benefits by saying that you didn’t really work for them.  The question is will they get away with it.

There are many factors the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission looks at to determine if you are in fact an employee or not.  If you are, no matter what they call you, you will be entitled to workers comp benefits.

The number one factor they look at is called right of control.  Does the company have control over you?  Can you turn down assignments and still get future work?  Can you do the same work for someone else including a competitor? Do you set your own schedule or do they dictate one for you?  If you are driving a truck can you set your own route? The more control they have the more likely it is you will be classified as an employee.

Other factors include:

  • Do you provide your own tools or equipment?
  • Is there a contract that sets out the term and scope of work for them?
  • Is there a uniform they make you wear?
  • Are you working at their premises day in and day out?
  • Are taxes taken out of your pay check?

All of these things are relevant. The more in your favor, the greater the chance you will prove you are really an employee and be able to win work comp benefits.  It’s REALLY important that if your case is denied because you are being called an independent contractor that you hire an attorney who has a track record of handling these cases and taking them to trial.  Experience is hugely important in these claims.

Bonus tip.  Some employers make you sign a document that states you agree you are an independent contractor.  That’s another factor, but doesn’t kill your case.  You can’t be made to waive your rights to work comp benefits and if they have control over you, you will still win.

If you have any questions or want to talk to an attorney for free, fill out our contact form or call us at 312-346-5320.  We cover all of Illinois.

We have been running our service since 2001.  We are lawyers in Chicago who will talk to you for free about any Illinois legal matter.  We will answer questions and if you need a referral and we know someone for you, we will recommend the best lawyer we know for your situation.

The attorneys we recommend are lawyers we have gotten to know and respect.  Nobody pays us to recommend them.  For most lawyers we recommend they have the following qualities:

  • At least ten years experience, usually more.
  • At the same time they aren’t too old.  They are active in their practice and hungry.
  • They care about their clients.
  • They aren’t general practice lawyers.  Most attorneys we recommend are narrowly focuses on one area of law.
  • They deliver great customer service.

We don’t guarantee a result, but do promise that we won’t recommend an attorney to you that we wouldn’t refer to a family member or friend.

While we will talk to you for free, we are not a place to find a free lawyer.  That said, for some areas of law attorneys only get paid if they win. Bottom line is that we will suggest what we think is best for you and if the lawyer does charge by the hour, we will suggest the lowest cost one we know of that does a good job.

If you would like to speak with an attorney, call us at 312-346-5320 or fill out our contact form, describe your situation and we will call you.

Recently I was contacted  by  a nice guy who had been in a car accident in Chicago.  He had found what seemed like a great car accident law firm to represent him, but had questions about their fees.

He first asked me what a standard fee is for a personal injury lawyer. I answered honestly that in most cases it’s 1/3 of what is recovered.  Occasionally this goes higher or lower, but 1/3 is pretty standard.

That made sense to him. What didn’t make sense is that the firm he was thinking about hiring wanted to charge him 40% of what is recovered if the case goes to trial and 50% of what is recovered if the case gets appealed.

Now I’m not saying that this never happens or that there aren’t circumstances that call for it, but none of the firms I work with do this (that I’m aware of) because 33% is a lot to begin with and when you are talking 40-50%, the lawyer tends to end up with more than the client and that’s not right.

When you hire an attorney, they must be thinking the case could go to trial.  That’s their job.  So for them to get an extra 7% for the “inconvenience” is absurd.  They aren’t taking less money if they settle the case quickly, why should they get more money if the case takes a longer time?

The reality is that some law firms will just charge what they think they can get.  In most cases there are a handful of firms that can do a good job for you.  So to me, there is no reason to hire one for 40-50% when an equally good one will do it for 33%.  And quite honestly, to me it says something negative about the character of a lawyer that tries to take that much from a client.

Bonus tip.  Under Illinois law, the maximum fee for a medical malpractice case is 33% and for workers’ compensation cases it’s 20%.  If you come across a lawyer who is asking for more than that they are likely breaking the law.

Bottom line is that you shouldn’t be afraid to ask these types of questions and if you aren’t happy with a fee and have a good alternative, don’t sign up.

If you have any questions or want a referral to an experienced personal injury lawyer, call us for free any time at 312-346-5320.

We are experienced Chicago attorneys who offer free legal guidance and lawyer referrals to the best law firms in Illinois.  We have helped more than 300,000 people in 20+ years.  If you have questions or would like a referral, call to speak to one of our lawyers at 312-346-5320.

Pretty much everyone has either had cancer or knows someone who has.  If you get it, you will have lots of questions: How did I get this? What type of cancer do I have? Will it spread? What are my treatment options? What happens next? So many questions, but the only reasonable and natural thing to do is to put your trust in your doctor.

A recent study discovered that the most common form of medical malpractice claims is the failure to diagnose, or misdiagnose, diseases and illnesses. Of these claims, the most frequently missed were cancer, particularly breast, colon, prostate, melanoma and lung cancers.

No one can predict or even prevent who gets cancer and who does not. Cancer is a very aggressive condition that tends to spread quickly and is out of anyone’s control, but the key to surviving cancer is early detection, diagnosis and treatment. When a doctor fails to diagnose cancer, the patient often misses a critical time frame for effective treatment and it often can mean the difference between life and death.

Cancer, such as colon, breast and prostate cancer are very treatable in the early stages. Once cancer has spread to the blood or other organs, or has metastasized, treatment options and chances of survival are greatly reduced. Often, treatment for later cancer stages is typically more aggressive, resulting in additional pain, discomfort and loss of quality of life for the cancer patient.

But, not every misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis is grounds for malpractice. The type of cancer, the stage of cancer, the symptoms and the actions taken by the doctors all are factors to consider when looking at medical malpractice. Failure to diagnose may be unavoidable, depending on the nature of a patient’s case. It is common for cancer to not exhibit clear signs or symptoms that are reasonably identifiable by medical professionals until the advanced stages. Sometimes, cancer symptoms may not even show at all.

So how do you know if you have a case?

In general, to have a case worth looking in to you need to show that a doctor should have looked for or diagnosed cancer and the time from when it should have been caught until it was caught was six months or more.  When the delay is that long or longer you can often show that your cancer got much worse than it would have been had it been caught right away.  This doesn’t guarantee a win if there is a lawsuit, but in Illinois if the delay is that long the case is worth investigating by a malpractice law firm.

The next logical question is how do you know if a doctor should have caught the cancer?

There’s no slam dunk to this either, but if the patient exhibited visible cancer signs and symptoms and no scans or blood tests were ordered, that is likely malpractice.  If they misread an x-ray or CT scan or failed to perform a biopsy, that could be a case. Not recommending any follow up when there are warning signs is a problem too.

It’s important to know that for most cases you have two years from when you knew or should have known malpractice occurred to file a lawsuit, but no more than four years from when it happened.  Bottom line is that if you think you might have a case you should act fast.

Malpractice lawsuits in Illinois do take time, but there are a handful of experienced law firms with an incredible track record of success.  We would recommend you to one that has experience winning cases with the type of cancer you or a loved one are dealing with. Call us any time you’d like to discuss a case. It’s always free and none of the attorneys we recommend charge a penny unless they win the case.

A couple of weeks back I got a call from someone who had been injured in a car accident. They wanted me to give them a list of the best five car accident attorneys in Chicago.  When I told them that didn’t exist they didn’t give me a chance to explain why and hung up. So for them or anyone else who is looking for the “top” or “best” attorney for their case, let me tell you why it’s not that simple.

Let’s say that you are driving down the highway and you hit the breaks because traffic has come to a crawl.  Ten seconds later a semi truck slams in to your car, killing two of your family members and shattering your leg, pelvis and arm.  Physically it will take you years to recover and emotionally you likely never will. While it sounds like a slam dunk case, the reality is that there are only a handful of law firms qualified to handle that case.  Trucking cases require a high level of experience as many truck owners create shell companies to disguise the true owner of their truck and make it appear there is only limited insurance available to make a recovery against.

In a case like that I’d say there are maybe ten Chicago law firms at most with a real track record of success in those cases. Hiring the “best” one in that case might be the difference of millions of dollars as you really have to know how to handle these cases to get the most money.

So while those firms are great, if you told me that you were sitting at a stop light and rear-ended by a person with a GEICO insurance policy for $100,000.00 and sustained a back injury, I would not tell you to hire them.  It’s not that they couldn’t do the job, it’s that there is no way a lawyer who deals with truck death cases is going to spend the time needed on a smaller case like this.  They’d likely assign a very young, inexperienced associate to handle the case.  The “best” car accident attorney for you in that case is a smaller firm that handles these types of cases all day.  You’ll pay the same fee, but have an attorney with 20 years of experience in your corner.

There are many other issues that make who is best for your unique case an issue.  Maybe the defendant has what is known as a sub-standard insurance company which means to get the best recovery you need a lawyer who is willing to go to trial.  Believe it or not, not all firms will do that.  Perhaps you have a unique injury.  In that case getting someone in your corner who has won a similar case and understands the medicine is important. Maybe you are calling for a family member who does not speak English. To be successful the case might require someone who speaks their language.

I could go on, but the bottom line is that the top attorney for you might not be the top for someone else.  Every case is different. If you want to talk with a lawyer for free, call us any time at 312-346-5320 for a free consult.