Ten Things You Should Know About Illinois Legal Malpractice Law
- Legal malpractice comes in a few forms. Missing deadlines, failing to prepare for trial, or totally mishandling a case are some examples. Failure to properly advise a client, doing something fraudulent or unethical, or having a conflict of interest is potential malpractice, as well.
- Mistakes aren't always malpractice. If your attorney makes a mistake that causes you to lose your case, it's not automatically malpractice. Mistakes happen. It has to be something that wouldn't have happened if they were being as careful as they should have been.
- You have two years. This is the general deadline from when you knew or should have known the lawyer screwed up for filing a legal malpractice lawsuit. There are exceptions. The bottom line is that you should look into it as soon as you think malpractice has occurred, because if you miss the deadline, you're out of luck.
- You might have to look a little harder to find an attorney to sue another attorney. They don't advertise as heavily, and some handle other types of cases as well so it might not be listed on their website. But they're out there. That's why people come to us. We know who takes these cases and who does not.
- You have to prove that there was malpractice. Attorneys have to follow a certain standard of care and if they don't, and a client suffers as a result, it could be malpractice. A bad result does not automatically mean malpractice.
- You also have to prove that you would have won your case. This is the hard part about legal malpractice. You can't prove that your attorney's errors actually harmed you unless you prove that you would have won if they had acted properly.
- Your attorney will hire an expert to testify. The way you prove that your attorney breached the standard of care is by having an attorney in the same area of law testify about what a reasonable attorney would have done under similar circumstances.
- You'll pay a contingency fee. Legal malpractice cases are injury cases, so you are suing for damages, which is an amount of money that compensates you for your loss. Your attorney's fee will be a portion of what you win at trial or get in a settlement.
- Reporting misconduct. If your attorney has done something you think needs to be reported, but it doesn't rise to the level of legal malpractice, you can still report it to the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC).
- Conflicts of interest are common. If the lawyer you want to hire for your legal malpractice case has a working relationship in any way with the attorney you want to sue, you need to find someone else to take your case. Again, that's why clients come to us because we can help you avoid any conflicts of interest. The last thing you want to do is consult with a lawyer who goes off and tells your lawyer that you are looking to sue.
We know legal malpractice attorneys who handle cases all over the state. If you would like a referral to someone who should be able to help you, give us a call. We only recommend attorneys with the right experience to handle your case. You can call us at (312) 346-5320 or (800) 517-1614, or contact us online.