The 3 C’s of Effective Lawyering: Commitment to Client Communication

The key to any relationship is communication; but I would take it even one step further: communicating to manage expectations. When clients retain the services of legal counsel they are almost always in uncharted waters and naturally worried they’ve just dove in with the sharks. Let’s face it, the precipitating events that necessitate forging a relationship with an attorney, especially for victims of personal injury, are stressful and sometimes overwhelming. It is our job to put the client at ease, begin building trust and confidence, and map the path forward. This begins with telling our clients what to expect from the adversarial process and from us.

The first step is compassionate listening. Taking in the client’s story and eliciting the facts and information to build the case. Immediately this builds empathy and rapport. We do a comprehensive intake so we can make sure to get access to all of the independent documentation and data that may be relevant to the case. This isn’t limited to occurrence details, medical history and records and wage loss corroboration, it also encompasses the client’s online footprint. In the digital age, a client’s narrative can be unwittingly rewritten by their social media presence. It is up to us to impress upon our clients the importance of their privacy and the widespread access defendants have to any information put in the public domain. In other words, our clients must know that we are powerless against their own worst enemy—the social media behemoth that they and their “friends” drive. In doing so we manage their expectations of where we can be effective and where they can literally tie our hands.

As the case progresses I find that clients may have widely varied expectations of how often their attorney should communicate with them on the status of the case. My clients know that I am accessible to them when they need me but a reasonable delineation of boundaries is important for all concerned. We may communicate by cell phone, but a midnight call just to catch up is not okay. I am happy to report on major events in the case, but my clients do not expect weekly or monthly reports. I make sure they know that such a level of communication only detracts from vigorously prosecuting their case. Conversely, my clients know that as accessible as I am to them, I expect that in return. If we need an updated medical report or an answer on a discovery request, we expect the same courtesy and respect.

Most personal injury clients have no idea how slowly the wheels of justice grind forward. I find it essential to advise them early and remind them often that, while we are constantly keeping the pressure on the defendant, it may take years before their case is resolved. Communicating that expectation is similar to fronting damaging facts on direct to blunt their impact on cross-examination. At least clients aren’t shocked when they haven’t heard from me in a while; rather they have an image of me working tirelessly in court or at my desk dedicated to their cause maintaining the highest standards, something that aligns with all of our expectations.

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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 - Family man 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 only $3 million before trial and $25 million after three weeks of jury trial, offered after closing arguments.

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 the plaintiff suffered permanent injuries to his ankle and lower back. McNabola represented one of two seriously injured plaintiffs. Prior to trial, the offer was only $3 million.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$14

million

Medical Malpractice - Following induced labor, the unborn child suffered fetal distress, C-section delivery was delayed. The baby’s mother died from an amniotic fluid embolism during delivery and the baby suffered severe developmental delays.

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 post-operative metabolic changes. This case concluded after evidentiary rulings at the time of jury selection. The offer before trial was only $3 million.

Trial Attorneys Mark McNabola, Ruth Degnan

$10

million

Trucking Negligence - A grandmother who was rendered wheelchair dependent in a motor vehicle incident involving car versus truck. The offer for settlement prior to trial was only $2 million.

Trial Attorneys Mark McNabola, Ruth Degnan

$9.2

million

Medical Malpractice - A young woman suffered amputations as a result of complications following surgery at a suburban hospital in a collar county of Chicago. The 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 after evidentiary rulings at the time of jury selection. Offer before trial was only $2 million.

Trial Attorneys Mark McNabola, Ruth Degnan

$8.8

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 any defendant.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$7

million

Trucking Negligence - Cook County jury awarded $7 Million to a construction worker who lost his leg working on a City of Chicago site. As a result of the defendant’s failure to safely route traffic in the area the man was pinned against his truck by a driver. The defendant did not offer any money to settle the case.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$6

million

Motorcycle Negligence - A teenager and her father were injured in a motorcycle accident. The 15 y/o suffered a severe fracture of her right ankle and has required multiple surgeries

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$6.8

million

Construction Site Negligence - A young man injured on a construction site received blood thinning medication intended and prescribed for another patient at the defendant hospital. The case was tried to verdict with a jury award of $6.5 million and later settled for $6.8 million.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$7.8

million

Medical Negligence - After presenting to the emergency room on three out of four consecutive days with increasing and worsening symptoms, the plaintiff was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis. 

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$1.1

million

Medical Negligence - The plaintiff 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 treat signs and symptoms of significant fetal distress. 

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$4.8

million

Car Negligence - The plaintiff, a front seat passenger, suffered multiple fractures and spinal cord injuries resulting in quadriplegia when the car she was riding in traveled through a construction zone and off the end of the roadway where the bridge had been removed, plunging into the construction pit, 25-40 feet below.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$5.8

million

Car Negligence -  Two teenage boys were killed when a tire and component parts of the wheel assembly dislodged from the axle of an 18-wheel semi-tractor trailer traveling in the oncoming lane.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$3

million

Car Negligence - A young man suffered permanent disabling injuries after this care was hit by the defendant’s taxi.  

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$2.7

million

Car Negligence - A 41 year hold husband and father was killed instantly by a driver for a courier service who ran a red light and hit the plaintiff’s vehicle as it passed through the intersection.  

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$2.3

million

Car Negligence - A 51 year old mother was killed instantly when a backhoe on the defendant’s flatbed trailer hit an overpass on I-88 in Downers Grove toppling off of the flatbed and onto the top of her car as it travelled behind the flatbed.    

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$1.2

million

A 20 year old college student sustained 2nd and 3rd degree burns over her face, neck, chest and arms when a bartender’s stunt involving flaming grain alcohol went bad. 

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$1

million

The defendant landowner allowed an unnatural accumulation of ice and water to collect near the entrance to the loading dock receiving door at Navy Pier. 

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$3.6

million

Medical Malpractice - 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.  

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola