Mark Mcnabola Blog Profile 10/04/19

Partner Spotlight: Mark McNabola Reflects on Three Decades as a Personal Injury Attorney

Chicago trial attorney Mark McNabola has advocated for victims in personal injury and medical malpractice cases for more than three decades. Since founding McNabola Law Group in 1992, the plaintiff’s attorney has continued to obtain more than $550 million in verdicts and settlements for his clients, many of whom suffered catastrophic injuries.  

McNabola is a Chicago native who prides himself on being accessible to clients and on giving back to the community. McNabola has leadership roles in charities across the city and deep ties to DePaul University.

Learn more in our featured Q&A:

Tell us about your early career. How did you decide to become an attorney?

When I graduated from DePaul University in 1981, I, like most people at that age didn’t immediately know what I wanted to do with my life. I thought I might teach or coach, but several trusted people recommended I go to law school. I am so glad I took the advice.  I love being a lawyer. It is challenging and rewarding.   It gives you the opportunity to do things that you wouldn’t be able to do otherwise and to make a positive impact in the world.

 I enrolled in night classes at DePaul University College of Law and worked various jobs during the day. I tended bar and later became a sheriff’s deputy under former Cook County Sheriff Richard Elrod, who later became a judge. As an attorney, I was lucky to  try numerous jury trials in his courtroom.  Judge Elrod is one of my heroes: he was a person who really understood the law and was always thoughtful and respectful  about how his rulings affected people’s lives.  He was also wickedly smart and had a great sense of humor.

 My experience with the Sheriff’s Office was very educational. People do not  realize how much exposure and responsibilities most deputies have. The job involves  everything from service of process to being in the “holding pen” with inmates to working in a courtroom. The training and experience gave me a valuable perspective and allowed  me  to observe and interact with the day-to-day practice of law. I learned how a crime scene is properly quarantined, how to separate witnesses, how to properly document statements and investigations,  and most importantly how to empathize with victims. In that environment, I could not help but  become attuned to the  nuances of civil and criminal cases.  And I was fortunate to meet a lot of interesting attorneys and judges along the way.


Were you always interested in personal injury law?

 Actually, I did not know much about personal injury law when I passed the Illinois Bar in 1985.   I started working at the U.S. Attorney's Office and thought I might pursue a career in criminal law. Then I had the opportunity to work at a personal injury firm with several experienced attorneys here in Chicago and to learn from them in the course of handling  many jury trials. Experienced lawyers told me that in order to effectively negotiate a case for your clients you need to know how to win at Jury trial to earn  the respect of your opponents. I worked at a personal injury firm for seven years and had solid training over those years.  I learned from experienced mentors and had the opportunity to work up the cases and act as first-chair for many jury trials. I learned the importance of thorough preparation, and consistent effort to improve my trial skills.   These lessons helped me be a strong advocate before going out on my own.   

 I have always believed it is important to help people, especially those who have been victimized.    Often these victims are having their first experience with the legal system and it can feel like they are being victimized again with the uncertainty  and delays inherent in our legal system. I always try to make the process as smooth and easy as possible for our clients, explaining the process and keeping them regularly advised as their case moves through the system.

What do you find most rewarding about being a plaintiff’s attorney?

Helping people who have  been devastated and who are really vulnerable and at a disadvantage. Most clients  have no experience with the legal system, and then through some random negligent act, their lives have been upended.   Frequently  our clients have been financially and emotionally wrecked as a result of their injuries. They have physical pain, disability, and financial trauma — and then they are confronted by an  overwhelming legal system that they have  never navigated before. It is very rewarding to be able to guide our clients through the trauma, to act as an  advocate and provide comfort as we help them achieve some measure of justice.


What sets apart McNabola Law Group?

 I think it’s our  attention to detail, the fact that we work hard and that we are respectful of  our clients. I believe that makes a big difference for them. We try to minimize the level of stress they encounter as they navigate the process and we work with them as a team to achieve the best possible outcome.  We tell our clients: We are here for you, and you should not be embarrassed or hesitant to share your concerns.  We understand that this is, hopefully, your only journey through the legal system, and we are here to help. Our attorneys are experienced and focused. We work hard, we’re knowledgeable, and we collaborate with the client and each other to try to obtain the best result.


What types of cases does McNabola Law Group handle?

 All of our cases involve personal injury involving trauma or medical malpractice. There are fundamental standards of reasonable care we all have toward each other that apply  whether someone is driving a semi-truck or treating a potential medical condition. When someone acts negligently by failing to do what they are required to do or by doing something they should not do, and it causes serious injury, that’s where we step in. 

 If someone loses a leg, that is not just a physical trauma. It’s an emotional trauma. It’s a confidence trauma.  It has an effect on the injured person’s personal relationships. A case like that is also about how your spouse's life has been permanently changed, how your kids and other relationships have changed as they deal  with their loved one’s pain and disability every day. There can be extensive  collateral damage that most people do not initially appreciate.

 We represented the family of a beautiful 17-year-old boy who was killed when a tire came off a truck and crashed through the windshield of the car where he was riding as  a passenger. We had a medical malpractice case where a husband and father of four was prescribed a combination of drugs that caused a severe mental imbalance that ultimately led to his suicide. We saw a young child drown because lifeguards weren’t doing their job, and an elderly woman become paralyzed because a driver was watching his cell phone and not the roadway.

Money can’t correct those problems or turn back the clock, but it can  pay for medical care and treatment, alleviate the financial burden of lost wages and medical care and it can compensate people for the pain and suffering they endure and for the loss of the life they knew before the injury. It will pay for medical bills and college for a victim’s children. The look on the faces of our clients and their families, after we have accomplished what we set out to do is unbelievably rewarding.  To know that we have helped these people during what may be the most difficult time of their lives, is what keeps us doing what we do.


What do you do for fun outside the office?

 It seems like we are always busy.  My wife and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary this year, and we have four kids. We live in Lincoln Park and love Chicago sports teams. I like going to the gym and we stay involved by volunteering with all kinds of different charities. I’m a people person and I love living in such a great city engaging with people from all different walks of life and attempting to make a positive difference for them.


You donate your time and resources to different charitable organizations  across Illinois. Can you tell us about a few?

 I am on the Board of Directors for The Mulliganeers which is a nonprofit organization that raises money for children and families in need. I have known some of the people in the organization since I was a teenager and I am so pleased to be a part of this great group. We host annual fundraisers, and 90 percent of the money we raise goes directly to families. These funds go to families whose children have suffered devastating tragedies, typically rare cancers or other medical conditions that financially devastate these families. These funds raised help these families cover the costs of medical bills or procedures. Mulliganeers is like a mulligan in golf: It’s giving a kid a second chance.

 I’m also involved with Dreams for Kids, a nonprofit started by a college classmate and fellow lawyer, Tom Tuohy. I am a member of the  Dreams for Kids' Executive Board. We hosted  an event this summer in Wisconsin giving kids with different abilities the opportunity to try waterskiing and kayaking, some for the first time in their lives. Some of these kids had never been in the water before. Just to see the excitement and joy on their faces — it was fantastic.

 Right now, we are gearing up for a holiday gift program that we put on every December. We have about 1,000 disadvantaged children that come to  celebrate Christmas and do arts and crafts, exchange presents and spread joy. Santa will make a big entrance and, kids who may  not normally receive any gifts have a chance to take home presents and feel loved. Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White gets involved and helps us provide transportation for the  kids to and from the event from shelters and other places all over the city.

 I am also on the Board of Advisors for Catholic Charities, a group which positively impacts thousands of lives on a daily basis. Catholic Charities influences  so many different areas of the world — from hospitals and nursing homes to providing services for the homeless and people with disabilities.  It is such a powerful mission and I am happy to be able to help.

 I also involved with Misericordia Heart of Mercy  on the North Side of Chicago. Misericordia is a  terrific place that helps people with intellectual and developmental disabilities create lives for themselves.

 My wife and I also volunteer at the St. Vincent de Paul Parish soup kitchen and sandwich pantry. You do not realize the struggles homeless people face with things like dental hygiene and medication — simple things most of us take for granted — until you meet and talk to people. This is a place where the disadvantaged have an identity and a name, where they feel welcome and human.

 My mom always had a funny saying: “If you died tomorrow, would anybody miss you?” What she meant was: It’s important to give back to other people. Life is bigger than you.  I am grateful to be able to help.


What does being Irish in Chicago mean to you?

Being Irish in Chicago is  about family, community, friendships and laughter. The way I was raised in the 1960s and 1970s, there were large families, and a lot of people were not “too far off the boat”. They were frequently first- and second-generation Irish Americans. You had the Catholic church as your foundation, and people knew you in terms of your family. You were always from a certain parish or “so and so’s sister or brother.” I seemed to know everybody that way.


Your family has deep ties to DePaul University that go back generations. How has that played a role in your life?

 DePaul University has always been part of our family’s history. My great-uncle on my mother’s side of the family, Father Edward Smith, was one of the people responsible for envisioning the beautiful church at the corner of Sheffield and Webster Avenues that people know today as Saint Vincent de Paul Catholic Church. At the turn of the century he was on the first Board of Directors for St. Vincent College which soon changed its name to DePaul University.  Both Father Edward and his younger brother were  priests from Ireland. When Father Smith died at the turn of the century, his was the first funeral mass held at St. Vincent De Paul.  The newspapers reported 100 priests were in attendance.

My father’s side is also involved with DePaul University.  My father played basketball on the 1945 Blue Demons national championship team with George Mikan. The people at DePaul were very good to him. Like most of the students in his class, my dad was the first in his family to  attend college.  He also  served in the United States Navy and DePaul held a spot for him until the war ended.  He used his DePaul education to eventually become a general surgeon.  He would not have achieved so much unless others helped him along the way. He was very devoted to DePaul University his entire life.

When DePaul was trying to get the Wintrust Arena project off the ground, my wife and I knew we had to support the effort.  For a long time, the school didn’t have the location or the money to build a new facility.  I’m grateful for the opportunities the people at DePaul gave me, both in undergrad and at law school. It was a really good time and big opportunity for me. I was fortunate to have a lot of support and made lifelong friends and I am happy to be able to give back to DePaul.

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From our offices in downtown Chicago our personal injury litigation attorneys represent clients in communities throughout Cook County and Illinois. Learn more about ways we can help you receive the compensation you need for your physical, mental, emotional, and financial recovery. Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation.

$27

million

Product Liability - A married father of three was paralyzed in a boating injury when he fell from the upper deck of a yacht. The offer by the insurance company for the defendant was $3 million before trial and $25 million after 3 weeks of jury trial.

Trial Attorneys Mark McNabola, Ruth Degnan

$20

million

Construction Site Negligence - A man was demonstrating construction equipment known as a “man lift” and was elevated in the air. The lift collapsed and two men suffered permanent injuries. McNabola Law Group represented one of two men injured totaling $20 million. Prior to jury trial the offer was $3 million

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$14

million

Medical Malpractice - A young mother died during child birth when doctors failed to monitor her properly. Her newborn baby also suffered irreversible brain damage during the delivery at a Chicagoland hospital. 

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$12

million

Medical Malpractice - A 52 year old man suffered an anoxic brain injury following routine bowel surgery when doctors and nurses at a suburban hospital failed to properly monitor and treat him post-operatively. The offer before jury trial was $3 million. Case settled after it was set for jury selection.

Trial Attorneys Mark McNabola, Ruth Degnan

$10

million

Trucking Negligence - A young girl was killed when she was struck by a vehicle that had previously collided with a bus that was traveling too fast for conditions. After a ten-day jury trial, a Cook County jury returned a verdict in favor of the family. According to the Jury Verdict Reporter, this is a record high verdict for the wrongful death of a minor in a motor vehicle accident. There was no offer for settlement by the defendant.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$10

million

Trucking Negligence - A Cook County jury entered the verdict in favor of a 72-year-old grandmother rendered wheelchair-dependent after a car vs truck accident. The offer prior to trial was $3 million

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$9.8

million

Automobile Negligence - A 72 year old woman was paralyzed following an automobile accident. The defendant turned into the plaintiff’s vehicle causing her to sustain a spinal fracture and dislocation at C6-C7 requiring a fusion. She is wheelchair dependent. The offer for settlement before jury trial was $4 million

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$9.2

million

Medical Malpractice - A young woman suffered amputation of her legs as a result of complications following surgery at a suburban hospital. Doctors and nurses failed to develop and implement an appropriate plan to manage blood thinning medications pre and post-operatively leading to severe clotting and tissue death. The case settled during jury selection. The offer was $3 million before trial.    

Trial Attorneys Mark McNabola, Ruth Degnan

$7.8

million

Medical Negligence - A woman presented herself to the emergency room on three consecutive days with worsening symptoms. Finally, she was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis but suffered severe injuries due to the delay of diagnosis and treatment. The initial settlement offer was $3 million.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$6.9

million

Construction Negligence - A man lost his leg while working at a City of Chicago construction site. The man was working near his truck at the construction site when a driver struck him and pinned him against his truck. City workers failed to properly mark their construction site, failed to safely route traffic around the area, and failed to use flaggers to warn traffic to slow down and direct it to move one direction at a time. The offer prior to jury trial was zero. A Cook County jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$6.8

million

Medical Negligence - A 48 year old woman suffered severe brain damage at a Chicagoland hospital after surgery to alleviate sleep apnea. Her breathing tube clogged because of inadequate monitoring by the nursing staff. 

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$6.8

million

Construction Negligence - A 30 year old man suffered severe injuries from a 30-foot fall at a construction site and received blood thinning medication at the defendant hospital that was intended for another patient. The offer before trial was zero.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$6

million

Motorcycle Negligence - A teenager and her father were injured in a motorcycle crash. The 15 year old suffered severe fracture to her right ankle which required multiple surgeries. Her father sustained numerous injuries including a fractured wrist and ankle.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$5.8

million

Automobile Negligence - A wheel assembly dislodged from the axel of a semi-trailer killing two seventeen year old boys.  McNabola Law Group represented the family members of one of the two boys. The extent of liability insurance coverage for both families was six million dollars.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$5.5

million

Automobile Negligence - A 29 year old woman suffered a fractured cervical spine and subsequently died after the car she was riding in crashed into a construction pit. The jury held the contractor liable for failing to place concrete barriers at the construction site. The offer prior to jury trial was $1 million.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$5

million

Product Liability - A man working in Will County was unexpectedly sprayed in the face with anhydrous ammonia when a house coupler failed to close properly. The incident caused severe eye injuries. During the investigation, the coupler was thrown away. The primary cause of this action was based on spoliation of evidence against the insurance adjuster. According to the Jury Verdict Reporter, this is a record high result for this type of injury. The offer prior to trial was zero.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$5

million

Construction Negligence - A 27 year old man’s legs were crushed causing below the knee amputations when a wall fell onto his legs after an employee cut a steel beam while demolishing a Union Pacific railroad bridge. $5 million was the extent of the insurance policy limit. This case concluded after it was set for jury trial. 

Trial Attorneys Mark McNabola, Ruth Degnan

$4.9

million

Medical Malpractice - A young girl who suffered from cardiac arrhythmias due to a cardiac abnormality had a cardiac procedure. Four weeks after the procedure, she was cleared to resume sports and other activities, she collapsed in gym class and later died. The case settled prior to jury trial.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$4.7

million

Construction Negligence - A man was working on a ladder, painting a Chicago building, when his ladder came in contact with electrical wires. He suffered severe electric shock, broken ankles and ribs, and a fractured back. An Illinois utility company, ComEd, was called four times before the incident to shut off the lines but they never shut off the lines. The victim has undergone multiple surgeries and has not been able to return to his career since the incident.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$4

million

Medical Negligence - A young woman died at a Chicago hospital when doctors failed to timely diagnose symptoms of a pulmonary embolism. She had a cardiac procedure performed so that she could stop taking anti-arrhythmia medications. She was discharged from the hospital only to die two days later.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$3.6

million

Medical Negligence - A 12 year old girl was deprived of oxygen for 15 minutes during a routine surgical procedure. Plaintiffs alleged the surgical residents mismanaged the young girl’s airway and negligently allowed her condition to deteriorate before attempting intubation at the bedside. Following a two week trial the jury awarded $3.6 million. The offer before jury trial was zero.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$3

million

Automobile Negligence - A man’s automobile was struck by a taxicab and he suffered permanent weakness in his legs and a laceration of an artery in his chest. The extent of insurance company policy limit was $3 million

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$3

million

Medical Negligence - A 60 year old man who suffered from uncontrolled diabetes and vascular disease was admitted to a Chicago hospital with an infected ankle wound. Doctors postponed the procedure and failed to timely readmit the plaintiff to undergo a procedure to reestablish blood supply to his leg. Plaintiff leg was amputated below the knee a month later.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$2.9

million

Medical Negligence - A DuPage County record jury verdict for the family of a 5 day old baby who died when physicians failed to timely diagnose an obstructed bowel. The jury concluded physicians also delayed administering IV fluids, antibiotics and transfer to an institution with a pediatric surgeon available. The offer prior to trial was zero.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$2.7

million

Automobile Negligence - A 41 year old father and husband was killed instantly when the defendant ran a red light and hit his vehicle.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$2.5

million

Medical Negligence - A 58 year old woman died after a radiologist from a Chicago hospital misread the patient CT scan and failed to identify her bowel obstruction. 10 days later another CT scan was done and the obstruction was located and emergency surgery performed. She suffered complications which resulted in her death.

Trial Attorneys Mark McNabola, Ruth Degnan

$2.5

million

Trucking Negligence - A 31 year old man was hit by a flatbed truck after he stopped and exited his car to gather a loose dog from the roadway. He suffered degloving of his left leg above and below the knee, vascular and nerve injuries. Plaintiff has been unable to return to work.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$2.3

million

Trucking Negligence - A woman was killed while driving on I-88 when an upraised backhoe on a flatbed trailer hit the underpass and fell on top of her car.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$2.2

million

Medical Negligence - A 42 year old high school teacher died of severe coronary atherosclerosis after a Chicago hospital failed to recognize or timely provide treatment for high cholesterol and hypertension.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$2

million

Trucking Negligence - A woman driving on I-80 was cut off by a truck driver, forcing her off the roadway. Her car flipped, causing de-gloving of her right arm and serious injuries.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$1.8

million

Construction Negligence - A 39 year old man sustained bilateral hip fractures, shoulder dislocation, and a torn rotator cuff during a fall from inadequate scaffolding at a construction site.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$1.8

million

Negligence - A railroad worker was injured when he was working underneath a train car. The train car moved resulting in injuries to his shoulder, knees, hip and neck. The accident was caused by miscommunication between employees and the company that managed railcar movements in the yard.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$1.8

million

Product Liability - A settlement against a furniture company in the case of a 3 year old who died when a poorly-constructed dining room chair toppled over. The front legs of the chair were one half inch longer than the back legs. The child suffered a seizure, became unconscious and died the next day at a Suburban hospital.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$1.8

million

Trucking Negligence - An 81 year-old woman was struck by semi-tractor trailer resulting in multiple fractures to her right femur, left tibia, left ankle and right hip. The defense had two witnesses who claimed the plaintiff walked into the back of the trailer while crossing mid-block outside the crosswalk. The case settled during jury trial. The offer before trial was zero.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$1.7

million

Automobile Negligence - A young man was driving on a highway when his vehicle was struck from behind by a sports utility vehicle. Plaintiff suffered injuries to his back which required surgery.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$1.6

million

Record High Jury Verdict - A college student suffered burns on her face, arms and chest in an incident at a campus bar at the University of Iowa. A bartender poured grain alcohol into the bar well and lit it on fire. The flames went out of control and into the crowd.  After a six-day jury trial, in Iowa City the jury returned a verdict in favor of the victim. According to the Iowa City Press-Citizen, the award is one of the largest in Johnson County history. The offer prior to jury trial was $200,000.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$1.5

million

Construction Negligence - A 37 year old mason was working on a construction site when a forklift struck a crossbar of the structural steel frame, dislodged unsecured concrete planks, and fell killing him instantly.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$1.3

million

Automobile Negligence - Three plaintiffs were in an automobile that struck and hit a construction barrel on I-94. The passengers took off their seat belts and one of the passengers exited the car. The defendant then struck the vehicle and the vehicle hit the passenger who exited the vehicle throwing her onto the CTA tracks. She suffered a brain bleed, fractures to her ribs, pelvis, tailbone, jaw and ankle. The plaintiffs that were in the car was ejected and died. There was a limited amount of insurance coverage.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$1.1

million

Medical Negligence - An 8 day old baby died on the operating table when the anesthesiologist improperly managed the baby’s anesthesia during the surgery. The anthologist failed to advise surgeons of the baby’s low blood pressure and abnormal blood gas readings.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$1.1

million

Medical Malpractice - A woman suffered a stillbirth despite having carried her baby to term through a healthy pregnancy as a result of the failure of the nurses and physicians to properly monitor and to timely reverse signs and symptoms of significant fetal distress.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$1.1

million

Construction Negligence - Plaintiff fell from a temporary staircase in his new home suffering a hip injury. Investigation of the staircase concluded it was not properly re-installed and secured after hardwood flooring was installed.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$1

million

Record High Settlement - After seven days of jury trial, the parties agreed to settle a work injury case involving a reflex sympathetic dystrophy injury to a 37 year old man. The plaintiff slipped on an unnatural accumulation of ice and water at the Bismark loading dock at Navy Pier, fracturing his right leg. The injury resulted caused RSD. According to the Jury Verdict Reporter, this is the highest result on record for this type of injury. The offer before jury trial was zero.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola