Despite what insurance companies and some politicians like to tell people, it’s very hard to win a medical malpractice lawsuit in Illinois.  You need to show that the medical provider screwed up, that without their error you wouldn’t have suffered your harm and in most cases, that your damages are really significant. In other words, saying “I could have died” isn’t enough, even when their mistake was terrible. You don’t have to die, but do need to show some harm.

In my opinion, there are about ten really good Illinois medical malpractice law firms.  They have the track record of winning cases, have many lawyers and a large support staff often consisting of doctors and/or nurses and can afford the risk of bringing these very expensive cases without cutting corners to do so.  They take cases that they think they can win and also recover enough to justify their time, expense and risk. In other words, if it typically costs $100,000.00 to go to trial in a malpractice lawsuit, you aren’t going to spend that money if you think the case is only worth $200,000.00.

As a result, most people who want to sue a doctor or hospital can’t find an attorney to bring a case for them.  This can, understandably, be really frustrating for the people who call us looking for an attorney referral.  We get that, but are always honest. We love to make money and do so by taking on cases, but we always tell the truth. And if the truth is that we don’t think you have a case or don’t have enough of an injury, we will tell you.

Being wronged by a medical provider can be emotional. So callers will often say to us, “Well, if it’s not medical malpractice, can I sue for negligence?”  Unfortunately those two terms mean the exact same thing.  Medical malpractice lawsuits are when doctors, nurses, etc are negligent. So there aren’t different standards or time limits for bringing these claims.

So if you can’t find an Illinois medical malpractice attorney, what can you do?

  1. You can file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Professional and Financial Regulations (“IDFPR”).  The license and discipline doctors and nurses.  In some cases you might not be able to get money from suing, but the IDFPR might be able to take away their license.
  2. In some cases you can get results from the risk management department at a hospital.  That could mean them reducing or eliminating your bill and in some cases it could mean them offering you a small amount of money.
  3. I’m not a fan of Yelp or those types of places, but I get that doing so could be therapeutic.
  4. Be mad, but realize you’ll probably have to get over it. That sucks to hear, but if five lawyers who have a great track record tell you there’s no case, at some point you have to move on.  It’s a product of how hard and expensive it is win these cases.

Is it weird for an attorney to tell you to move on? Again, we always tell the truth, even if we know it’s not what you want to hear.  The bottom line is that if you have been wronged and want to know if you have a case, we are happy to speak with you for free and offer an honest opinion and if needed, recommend a law firm that has a great track record.  Call us for free any time at 312-346-5320.  We cover all of Illinois.

One thing I try to do as an attorney is to remember that non-lawyers shouldn’t be expected to know about the law.  It’s no different than if I went to a doctor or a mechanic. I shouldn’t be expected to know how they do their jobs.

This thought comes up multiple times a week. I will get calls from people wanting to know if their case is civil or criminal.  Those are fairly generic terms, but it comes up so much that I thought it was worth discussing.

A criminal case means that someone has been arrested.  That is the only time you need a criminal defense lawyer with the possible exception of an order of protection case. You may feel that someone has stolen from you or wronged you and it’s possible they need to be arrested. But if you are the victim, you don’t need a criminal lawyer because that’s not what criminal attorneys do.  Criminal lawyers defend people.  State’s Attorneys who are Government employees prosecute cases and represent victims when charges have been brought.

Every other case would be considered a civil claim.  Looking for a civil attorney for the most part means you are looking for every non-criminal attorney.  Medical malpractice is civil. Suing your contractor because they didn’t finish a project is civil.  Filing a case against the person who punched you in the face would be civil. Car accidents are handled by civil litigation attorneys.  Class actions, consumer fraud, real estate litigation, etc all are too.

So looking for a civil lawyer, in general, isn’t really looking for what you need. It’s like searching for a doctor without listing a specialty of what you are really going through and what results you are looking for.

Again, this is not the type of thing we would expect you to know.  And for some cases, it’s hard to even know what type of lawyer you should be looking for or who has experience with your issue.  That’s partly why we exist.  If you want to talk to an Illinois attorney for free you can call us any time or fill out our contact form and we will call you.

As attorneys, a mistake we can make is to assume that the general public knows something that to us is basic knowledge.

This came up recently when I spoke to someone about a lawyer who was romantically involved with a client.  Under Illinois law, it’s unethical for an attorney to date, sleep with or whatever you want to call it with a client.  The reason this is true is because your attorney has the possibility of taking advantage of you. You also might not be able to emotionally make the right decision, especially if money is involved.

You hear about this a lot in divorce cases.  Those cases can be very intense and emotional and you often work closely with your attorney.  I remember when I was a young lawyer hearing about a divorce lawyer who (appropriately) fired his client because they realized they were in love with each other. He saved his career by withdrawing from the case before acting on his feelings.

The exception to this rule is if you were already in a relationship before you become their lawyer.  If that’s the case it doesn’t mean it’s a good idea, but the lawyer likely wouldn’t lose their license. Even so, what if the case goes bad?  What if you want to switch lawyers?  Not to mention the office and court gossip that could ensue.

The extreme version of this is attorneys who pressure clients in to sexual relationships they don’t want to be in.  A well known family law attorney in Chicago was accused of this over the summer and arrested on felony charges.  If true, he was clearly using his position in a disgusting way and belongs in prison.  He should also, of course, never be allowed to practice law again.

It’s not always the lawyers who initiate these relationships. I’ve heard plenty of stories of clients soliciting attorneys as a way to pay off their legal bills. In one case I referred out, the client asked an attorney to meet him at her hotel room. He declined.  Even when the attorney doesn’t initiate things, they can not do anything with the client until they’ve broken off the professional relationship.

I certainly hope this doesn’t happen to you. In some cases a lawyer sleeping with their client is akin to statutory rape.  If it does happen to you, you may actually have a lawsuit against the attorney.  At the very least you should report them to the State.

If you have any questions about this or any other issue, you are welcome to call us for free any time.

We are an Illinois lawyer referral service run by attorneys. Since 2001 we’ve helped over 500,000 people find the best law firm for their case or just given them free legal advice to solve their problem. Call us at 800-517-1614 to speak with a lawyer for free.

When people call me looking for an attorney referral, I hear two things a lot: 1. “I want the best lawyer.” 2. “I don’t want to travel.”  One of the most searched phrases that leads people to our website is “Who is the best workers compensation lawyer near me?”

While it sounds like it should be a simple question, if you really want what is best for you, your case and your long term health, please believe me when I tell you it’s not so simple.

First off, “best” for one person may not be “best” for you. There are so many factors.  What is your injury?  How much experience does that attorney have with that type of injury? Do you need someone who speaks a foreign language? Will you mesh well with someone who has an aggressive personality or do you need a lawyer that is more of a hand holder and compassionate? Will your case likely need to go to trial? What defenses does the insurance company have?

The truth is, especially in bigger cities, there are many attorneys who could get a good result for you.  But the top one for your case will depend on a lot of those factors I mentioned.  And something I’ve learned in almost 20 years of running this site is that if you just got injured and it’s not clear if you are seriously hurt or not, some “top” firms will assign your case to a young lawyer.  If it turns out that you are seriously injured, you are likely stuck with that young attorney who certainly isn’t best for you.

As far as getting a lawyer near you, that is understandable, but something you should not worry about.  Most cases, even before Covid, are handled by phone calls and emails.  Whether the attorney you hired is next door or 50 miles away, your interaction with them isn’t likely to include a lot of face to face contact that isn’t done by Zoom.  The exception is when your case is going to trial or if you want a first meeting in person. In my experience, many great attorneys are willing to meet you by your home at a mutually convenient time.

More importantly though, you aren’t likely to find many if any really good work comp attorneys in cities that don’t have a hearing location.  In the Chicagoland area, more than 90% of cases are handled by lawyers whose offices are in Chicago.  That’s because the main Illinois Workers Compensation Commission location is the Thompson Center downtown.  If you live in Tinley Park or Schaumburg or Evanston, etc., it’s not that lawyers there couldn’t take your case, it’s that it’s likely that they don’t focus on work comp cases all day every day. If they did, they’d spend way too much time in the car or on the train because they are so far from court.

Even outside of Chicagoland, you’ll find it’s likely that unless you are in a big city like Springfield, Rockford, Peoria, Belleville, etc. that the best attorney for your case, the one with real experience, isn’t going to be near you.  I promise you that is OK and it’s in your best interests to get someone who has a real track record of success. It’s no different than how you’d choose the best doctor for your care other than that you won’t need to be face to face with the lawyer all the time like you will with the doctor.

As always, if you have any questions let us know.

One of the most common questions that comes up in any Illinois personal injury lawsuit is should I settle or go to trial?

This is of course a very sensible question.  The answer to it really depends on the case, the facts, your goals and some other things.

For most cases, getting a settlement makes sense if you get a good offer. If we think your case is worth at most $300,000.00 at trial and you are being offered $275,000.00, settling and getting the cash now is most likely the sensible thing to do.

In other major cases, you may not be offered close to your best case scenario at trial, but the amount is still so much that not settling seems risky.  We had a client on a case whose trial was delayed until late 2021 due to Covid. The case settled earlier this year for $1 million.  It’s possible at trial the case could have been worth double that, but the client who is very ill wanted the sure thing and the money now.

We supported the decision of this client because it’s their life.  Our job as lawyers is to lay out the best and worst case scenarios and help you make an educated decision as to what to do.  The lawyer who was working hard on this case would have gladly gone to trial, but an attorney’s job is to do what is best for the client.

In other cases you might want to go to trial for a non-monetary reason. Perhaps you want their to be publicity to prevent something like what happened to you from happening to others such as in a sexual abuse or police misconduct case.  Maybe telling your story in court is therapeutic which is something a settlement can’t give.  In some cases you want to confront the person who harmed you.  Again it comes down to what is personal to you and in YOUR best interests.

On the flip side, we’ve seen cases where we knew the client would never go to trial.  It could be that they make a very bad witness and being on the stand would hurt them. It might be that they don’t want to have to confront the person that harmed them as it would have a negative psychological impact.

And sometimes the offer is not good enough and you have your dollar amount that if not met means you will be taking your chances in court.  In one famous case from when I was a young lawyer, a violinist lost her leg when she was dragged by a train for 200 feet. Back then it was rare to get settlement offers in the eight figures and there were stories of her and her lawyer turning down offers in the high seven figures and low eight figures.  The rumor was that she wanted $20 million, not a penny less.  She didn’t get that offer, went to trial and the jury awarded her almost $30 million.  Rolling the dice with trial clearly worked out for her.

My advice to you is to make sure you are given the best and worst case scenarios as well as the likely scenario. You might want $1 million, but if your best case scenario is $50,000.00 and you get offered that, going to trial is foolish.

Every case is different. Learning what is realistic for your case will help you make a smart decision.

As always, we are lawyers who will talk to anyone for free. Call us any time at 312-346-5320.

I had a call recently from a very upset person who did not get the result they were looking for in their divorce case.  They were sure that they had a great legal malpractice lawsuit because their lawyer was unprepared and did not ask for things that the client wanted.

I explained to this caller that I couldn’t help because it’s very difficult to successfully sue an Illinois attorney for a bad judgment call.  The caller became more upset and told me that lawyers are all pieces of shit and that we all protect each other which is why we won’t sue each other.

I really do empathize with people in these situations. You lay out a bunch of money for an attorney and they do a bad job and you don’t get the results you want. When you lose custody of your kids and are going bankrupt, it’s of course worse.

All of this said, we do sue other Illinois attorneys and are happy to do so when it’s a good case. But just like it’s difficult to sue a doctor for malpractice, it can be hard to sue an Illinois attorney for malpractice.  And finding a top Chicago legal malpractice lawyer is hard, but not if you have good facts and damages on your side.

The truth is that there are over 70,000 Illinois attorneys.  Some will screw up.  A lawyer I know who is regarded as one of the best Illinois personal injury attorneys out there was successfully sued recently. It doesn’t make him a bad lawyer. It means he had a mistake that was “beyond the standard of care” and his client suffered real damages that can be measured financially as a result.

Most successful Illinois legal malpractice lawsuits involve an attorney who has caused “irreparable harm.”  That means their mistakes can’t be fixed. If they drop your case 60 days before your time to sue runs out, you can still sue so it’s not legal mal.  If they promised to get in to court six months ago but never did, you can still get in to court and don’t have irreparable harm.

On the other hand, if your lawyer failed to file a lawsuit in time, sued the wrong parties or did something to cause a financial loss you can’t recover from, you might have a case to sue them.

The cleanest example is when someone is injured in a car accident that is clearly the fault of the other car. If your attorney has two years from the accident date to sue and fails to do so, you’d have a lawsuit against them.  Another common one we are seeing now is for birth injuries where the attorney believes they have until the child’s 8th birthday to file a lawsuit, but it turns out they only have until their 2nd birthday to sue because the treating doctor worked for a Federally funded medical clinic.  That changes the time limits for suing and is a mistake many lawyers make.

What you can’t do though is sue because you don’t like the case result and think the attorney should have been better or done different things.  The defense in those cases will be the lawyer saying “I felt prepared and made a judgment call to do what I did.” If the judgment fails it’s not necessarily negligence.

As a result I can tell you I’ve never read about a successful lawsuit against an Illinois divorce attorney.  That’s not to say it hasn’t happened or couldn’t happen, but it surely is rare.  Most success claims against lawyers for malpractice are against personal injury lawyers.

This of course makes clients feel that bad lawyers get away with robbery.  Sometimes that does happen, but even if you can’t sue them, you can always file an ethical complaint against them with the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission or ARDC.  Their standards for holding a lawyer accountable are worthy of a whole other post, but they do discipline bad behaving attorneys which can include taking away their license.

The best thing an attorney can do for you when you feel like suing a past lawyer is to talk to you for free and give an objective, honest assessment of your possible case. We will do that for you for free any time. If you’d like to speak to one of our lawyers in confidence, please call us any time at 312-346-5320.

I’m usually asleep at 11:11 p.m., but occasionally catch the clock at 11:11 a.m. and by superstition say to myself, “make a wish.”  Well it’s November 11th today, so in honor of 11-11, I thought I’d make some legal wishes.  In no particular order.

– It would be amazing if our court system could get back to operating as it was before.  And if we can’t do that, I’d wish that the court leaders would come up with alternative options like using hotel ballrooms, McCormick Place or other venue to have socially distance trials.  The lack of justice is shocking and it’s going to have a ripple effect for years to come.

– I wish people would understand that insurance companies make money by not doing the right things.

– I wish bail would be just and nobody would sit in jail for months because they are too poor to get out when charged with a non-violent crime.  Let’s have real bail reform now!

– I wish that we’d only imprison those who are a danger to society.

– I wish that if you were convicted of a crime a long time ago when you were young and dumb that it couldn’t continue to hurt your chances of getting a job.

– Zoom attendance for minor court matters have been great. I sure wish that continues when this pandemic is all over. Why make someone take a day off from work, find daycare, pay for parking, etc. when their actual court time is going to be three minutes or less.

– I wish the EEOC and Illinois Department of Human Rights were more efficient in investigating illegal activity. Covid has made illegally firing someone a lot easier.

– I wish that before you got married in Illinois that you had to sign a prenuptial agreement. It would save divorcing couples a lot of time, money and headaches.

– I wish attorneys that are scum bags would actually lose their licenses. Ambulance chasers and severe over billers are alive and well in Illinois.

– I wish law school would change the third year to either be a rotation of school run legal clinics or internships at law firms. Law students are sent out in to the world far too often with no good experience or real idea about what they want to do with their degree.

– I wish Illinois Supreme Court justices didn’t have to campaign to be appointed.

– I wish continuing legal education (CLE) requirements for lawyers were reflective of the actual work we do in educating ourselves through blogging, researching, talking to other attorneys, reading trade journals, etc.  Most of my CLE time is taking a variance of the same course telling me how to be ethical.  That stuff is important, but you can only hear it so many times.

– I wish there was a realistic way for people who can’t afford lawyers to represent themselves without getting screwed over on the case because they don’t understand some minor legal technicality.

– I wish employers wouldn’t get away with calling workers independent contractors when they are really employees.

– I wish we’d end solitary confinement.

– I wish people would stop believing conspiracy theories that their attorney was bought off or that all lawyers conspire against them.

– I wish law school was more affordable.

– I wish that being a former prosecutor wasn’t the top quality that most Judges seem to possess.

– I wish being a public defender paid better.

 

Well, that’s a lot of wishes. I don’t want to be greedy. One thing I don’t wish for is that there was a place where you could call an Illinois attorney for free to ask a question. That exists. You can call us any time at 312-346-5320.  We help everywhere in Illinois.

Covid has greatly impacted everyone’s lives. That’s not breaking news or surprising to anyone.  Other than hand sanitizer manufacturers, most businesses are suffering as a result.

Law firms are no exception to this impact although compared to the restaurant and bar industry, we generally don’t have it as bad.

The most obvious impact in Chicago is the fact that you can’t go to trial in most cases.  There were hundreds of claims set for hearing that have been reset until 2021.  While the courts did require all parties to try and settle if they can through a pre-trial, the reality is that a lot of justice is being delayed or denied. There is no guarantee as to when trials will start and for whatever reason, they aren’t using creative ideas like moving trials to hotel ball rooms where social distancing is possible.

An unforseen impact is the reality that many people who are getting injured in car accidents, slip and falls and other personal injury cases are refusing to go to the doctor to get treatment.  They often have underlying conditions that make getting Coronavirus a real risk to their life.  So they self medicate and do what they can to get by rather than risk getting infected by being at an ER or medical office.

In general you can’t prove an injury without getting medical care.  While a slight delay is understandable, if you wait too long or refuse treatment, you will likely have no case or at least greatly impact the case in a negative way.

I get why at risk people wouldn’t want to go to the doctor and would never tell someone they have to do so.  I would recommend that they at least try telemedicine if possible. In some cases if you express your concern, a doctor’s office can also have you enter and leave through a separate entrance than the regular public or even examine you outside.  It’s not ideal, but what I don’t want to see if worry over Covid cause anyone to have a life long injury they otherwise could have avoided.

Bonus tip, while in most cases if you ignore a doctor’s instructions it will hurt you, if you skip physical therapy because you have Covid, we don’t expect that would impact your case in a negative way at all.

As always, if you have any questions you can call us at 312-346-5320.

Do you like secrets? I’ve got a great one about personal injury lawyers in Chicago and really attorneys in Illinois in general.  Want to know what it is?

Ready???

Personal injury lawyers in Chicago or anywhere in Illinois love to make money?  Is that a surprise to you?  I’m guessing it’s not.

Even though it’s common sense, people seem to forget this fact.  If you have a good case that an attorney can make money off of, they will gladly take it.  The biggest consideration for them beyond “Is this a money maker?” is, “Is this worth the headache?”  That sounds terrible to say, but it’s true.

What do I mean by headache?  That refers to the work that needs to be done and the client themselves.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had lawyers tell me that some person has a decent case, but they are abusive to their staff and unreasonable in their demands so the lawyer is dropping the case.  The bigger the potential payout is for that lawyer, the more tolerance they will have for a difficult client.  The bigger the payout, the more likely they are to take on a case that needs to go to trial most likely and will require hundreds if not thousands of hours of work.

For example, if you are in a car accident and break your leg, if the other driver is at fault, that case has value. But if their insurance policy is only worth $50,000.00, that is likely all that will be recovered.  Getting a lawyer will actually get more money in your pocket.  Without one it’s probable that medical providers or health insurance companies will be the only ones that get paid. Most attorneys are happy to take that case on, but would be more reluctant if it turns out you are a really difficult and unreasonable client.

On the flip side, if you had a loved one who died or was catastrophically injured and it’s the fault of a semi truck driver, attorneys will bend over backwards to help you out and have a much higher tolerance for problem clients.  It sounds gross, but it’s true.

I thought of this recently when a nice woman contacted me.  She was looking for a car accident lawyer for a case in Indiana.  She had called ten firms locally, but was convinced that they had all been bought off or were corrupt which is why none of them would take their case.

Nope, that’s not what’s going on.  The truth is that she has a bad case as evidenced by the fact that she was listed as the at fault party in the police report.  Beyond that, the person she was in the accident with has no insurance and neither does she.  No lawyer is bought off or afraid to take this on. They see the truth that there is almost no chance that they’d ever make money on the case.

Would it be great if there was a free lawyer for everyone who would take their case on no matter what, that’s just not realistic or the case.  Most of the personal injury attorneys I know in Illinois are good people, who care about their clients and want to help people.  They also want to pay their office rent, staff and themselves like pretty much every other business person.  It’s not a big secret, but it is one that people often forget.

We are Chicago attorneys who help with work injuries all throughout Illinois.  If you have questions or want an attorney referral, call us for free at 800-517-1614.

There is a big misconception that if you are at work and get hurt, it’s a workers’ compensation case. Under Illinois law it usually is a case, but you have to show that something about your job contributed to you getting hurt.  If you can do that you win your case, if you can’t you lose.

This is shown when a worker falls down the stairs on the job. At first you’d think that sounds like a slam dunk case. The reality is that you have to prove why you fell if you want to win. The problem is that for most people they are walking and the next thing they know they are injured.  While you are lying in pain you aren’t thinking about if there was water on the stairs or some other defect.

Defect is the key word to think about. If the stairs are wet or slippery and you fall, it’s a case.  If your shoe gets caught in torn carpet you win.  Or as a recent case at the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission shows, if there is some sort of dip in a stair from it being worn out, if you fall you’d have a good claim.

In that case, the worker was employed by the Illinois State Senate as a legislative assistant.  She was leaving the state capitol building and went down a marble staircase. It’s an older building and she testified that the stairs were worn and rounded at the edge.  She hit a worn area and lost her balance, causing an injury to her right side.

Nobody countered her testimony that the stairs had a defect and she was a credible witness so she won her case. That’s what it takes.  It’s unfortunate that her case was originally denied and she had to even go through a trial.

The other way to win a fall on a staircase at work is to show that something you were doing for the job contributed to you falling.  Maybe you were carrying a big box of materials which prevented you from seeing well or catching your fall when you stumbled. Maybe you are running to get to a meeting or deliver something.  Maybe both hands are occupied with work files.  Whatever it may be, if something about your job duties increases your risk of injury and you get hurt it should be a case.

The reality is that despite the law being crystal clear on falls on stairs, insurance companies really fight these cases.  We highly recommend that you do NOT give a recorded statement after the accident.  You don’t have to and if you do they will likely try to get you to say something that hurts your case.

If you have any questions about stair falls or anything else related to Illinois work comp law, please contact us at any time.