Chicago personal injury attorney David McCracken is an experienced litigator and tireless advocate who has dedicated his career to helping people facing trying times. McCracken is an associate at McNabola Law Group, where he practices every area of personal injury and medical malpractice law, including cases involving trucking, car crashes and catastrophic injuries.
“David is an intelligent, thorough and compassionate attorney who doesn’t back down from a challenge,” McNabola Law Group partner Mark McNabola said. “He is an invaluable member of our team who genuinely cares about each of his clients and delivers 100% every day.”
Learn more in our featured Q&A:
Both of your parents are attorneys. Did that impact your decision to become a lawyer?
There was never any pressure to follow in my parents’ footsteps, but I was always very interested in what they were doing and the stories they would tell. They made careers out of helping people.
My mother graduated from Harvard Law School and was the first Hispanic woman to be appointed judge in Arizona. Before that, she was a prosecutor at the U.S. Attorney’s Office. There’s a story she always tells me: When she was considerably pregnant with me, she went to Thailand with federal agents to interview an American who was accused of drug trafficking. She said that was my first international trip.
She also worked in the civil rights division of the Arizona Attorney General’s Office and has experience in private practice. Her career was always about helping people. My mother is a very strong, independent woman who I always looked up to growing up.
My father is a plaintiff’s attorney who handles personal injury and medical malpractice cases — the same work I’m doing now. He’s been practicing for almost 50 years in Arizona. I used to spend summers working at his office and saw how he helped people. A lot of his clients were Hispanic immigrants who were turned away from other attorneys because of their immigration status or ethnicity.
My father would take on the medical malpractice case that no one else wanted to touch because the client was an undocumented immigrant who didn’t have insurance. I didn’t realize how special that was until much later on. Growing up, that was just normal.
Tell us about your early career. Why did you decide to practice personal injury law?
I have a bachelor’s degree from Boston College and a law degree from Loyola University Chicago School of Law. I was around personal injury law my whole life through my father, but I didn’t decide to make a career out of it until I worked as a law clerk at a personal injury firm during law school. The cases we tackled were challenging and interesting, and I liked having the opportunity to help people every day.
After I finished law school, I started working at a small personal injury firm in Chicago. I assisted in the litigation department and then became the sole litigation attorney. I was given the opportunity to try a number of cases on my own, which isn’t common for young attorneys. My colleagues had confidence in me, and I gained great experience. I spent eight years there before joining McNabola Law Group in 2018.
What drew you to McNabola Law Group?
The firm has a great reputation and a track record of trial success. We use state-of-the-art technology and retain renowned experts to prove our cases to jurors. We try complex cases, and there’s a lot at stake.
The firm also has a collaborative atmosphere. We ask each other for input, and everyone’s feedback is welcome and valued. Our attorneys work together to expand our view and make sure we don’t miss anything. It’s a sign of a good firm when you’re invested in getting as many perspectives and opinions as possible. It’s a good way to practice.
What sets apart McNabola Law Group from other personal injury firms?
When I interviewed with Mark McNabola, my wife was seven months pregnant. I was nervous to bring that up in an interview because I’d have to say, ‘Oh, by the way, I’ll need to take time off two months after starting the job.’ But as soon as I walked into Mark’s office, the first thing he talked about was his four kids. He showed me pictures and told me all about them. I felt comfortable. When I told Mark my wife and I were expecting, he said, ‘Great! Congratulations!’ It’s amazing to work at a firm that is so family-oriented.
While I was always impressed by McNabola Law Group’s track record, that relationship with Mark is what really drew me in. Mark is easygoing and laidback, but he always gets the job done. I know some attorneys who are so focused on their job that their work becomes what defines them. Mark is more than that. When we walk down the street to go to lunch, we’ll see five people that say, ‘Hey, Mark!’, because he’s been around Chicago forever.
Clients really benefit from that accessibility. We’re here to comfort and help people who have experienced a traumatic injury or devastating loss. We connect with our clients and care about them on a genuine personal level.
You have extensive experience with premises liability cases, or cases that involve a person being injured on someone else’s property. Can you tell us more about that?
Premises liability cases are difficult because defendants try to place blame on the victim. If someone is injured on a staircase, for example, defense attorneys could argue the victim should’ve been paying better attention. You have to find a way to prove the case, to collect and present the right evidence. That’s something I really excel at. I’ve represented numerous people in premises liability cases and have obtained a number of great settlements for clients, including a delivery man who was seriously injured leaving a house when part of the staircase collapsed and several people who have slipped and fallen in dangerous conditions.
I recently obtained a six-figure settlement for a Chicago woman who slipped and fell on ice outside her apartment complex. She was in her late 50s and had a disability and fractured her femur. It was a horrible injury. The owner of her apartment complex was responsible for removing the ice and was clearly at fault, but from the beginning of that case, the insurance company and defense counsel did everything they could to blame my client. They claimed she should’ve removed the ice herself even though she had a disability before the incident. They later claimed she faked her injury. I couldn’t believe what they put her through. I’m proud of what I accomplished for my client. If we hadn’t done anything following her injury, the owner of her apartment complex would still be treating people like that. We held him accountable.
What do you find most rewarding about being a plaintiff’s attorney?
We help people. When you meet a client, they’re often facing the worst situation they’ve ever experienced. You try to help them through that, and sometimes just listening to someone can be incredibly meaningful. People want to be heard. You can help in that moment — not just legally or financially, but also emotionally. I love the feeling of successfully finishing a case and knowing I’ve done something good for somebody.
Recently, I represented a pedestrian who was hit by a car turning left near Newberry Library in downtown Chicago. The defense counsel tried to blame my client, who was visiting Chicago from Australia and simply crossing the street in a crosswalk when he was injured. He did nothing wrong. I was proud to obtain a large award in that case, but it’s always frustrating to watch defense attorneys blame victims. Shortly after I joined McNabola Law Group, I started working on a case with Ruth Degnan, one of our partners. Our client — who was one of the hardest working people I’ve ever met — had just dropped off his daughter at school and was making a left turn when his car was t-boned by an off-duty police officer racing down the street. The defense blamed our client, who suffered a huge hip fracture. We took the case to trial and got a significant verdict in our client’s favor.
Cases like that really stand out because our clients are so often blamed for their own injuries. It’s incredibly rewarding to prove our clients did nothing wrong and to help them obtain the fair compensation they deserve.
You work to build personal connections with every single one of your clients. Has any relationship made a particularly large impact in your life?
I represented a woman who was involved in a terrible crash in McHenry County. It was a head-on collision at 60 mph. She had multiple fractures, both legs broken, a neck fusion, a head injury and the loss of vision. She needed to be airlifted to a hospital and was in a coma for several weeks. Her whole life was shattered. And despite everything, she continued to have a positive attitude.
I was really struck by her strength and personality. We keep in touch to this day. When I visited her in rehab, I would bring a can of Dr. Pepper because they didn’t have any at her nursing home. It made her day. It was amazing to see someone stay so strong and optimistic, no matter what. She makes me want to work harder.
How do you stay involved with the Loyola University Chicago School of Law community? Why is it important to give back?
I am a volunteer judge at Loyola’s moot court almost every year. The way it works is: Three attorneys act as appellate judges. Students are assigned a case, take a side and have to present oral arguments as if they were in appellate court. We grill students on their positions and make them explain why they’ve chosen to approach the facts of the case how they did.
When I was a student at Loyola, I didn’t initially like moot court. You have to give a rehearsed speech on a case you didn’t pick and might not find that interesting. That wasn’t motivating to me. But I loved answering the judges’ questions and having to think on my feet. That’s what I do for the students. I give them the opportunity to defend their position and help them become better prepared for what’s really out there when they leave law school.
What do you do for fun outside the office?
I spend time with my wife and son, who is almost 2. I like playing sports — mainly softball, golf and basketball depending on the season. I read a lot of history and historical fiction, and I love anything to do with food. I like cooking. I like eating out. I like to barbecue and use food science and gadgets.
Are you involved in any professional organizations?
I’m a member of American Association for Justice (AAJ), Illinois Trial Lawyers Association (ITLA), Illinois State Bar Association and the Chicago Bar Association.