top of page

James W. Mertes

Managing Partner/Wrongful Death, Catastrophic Personal Injury and Major Crimes Litigation Attorney

A History of Unparalleled Success

Attorney James Mertes has been a dynamic and extraordinary trial lawyer since 1993. During his 31 years of practice, Attorney Mertes has tried hundreds of jury trials in a wide variety of major cases. He has conducted thousands of hearings before northern Illinois trial courts from downtown Chicago to the Quad Cities. He has argued several momentous cases before the Illinois Appellate Courts and the Illinois Supreme Court. Attorney Mertes is admitted to the practice of law in the State of Illinois, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (Trial Bar), the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois (Trial Bar), the United States Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court. Mertes is a member of the Illinois Trial Lawyer's Association, the Chicago Bar Association, the Illinois State Bar Association and the Whiteside County Bar Association.

Record-Setting Outcomes in Both Civil and Criminal Law

Mertes's accomplishments in the courtroom are simply unparalleled. In the county where his main office is located, Attorney Mertes holds both the all-time high-dollar record for a plaintiff's verdict in a personal injury/medical negligence case, and the all-time record for the speed of a not guilty verdict following a three-week First Degree Murder trial.

Attorney James Mertes argues before the Illinois Supreme Court in January, 2024

Asked to explain the success of his law firm, Mertes said, "We just work, relentlessly, for our clients." "We employ the very best of the best attorneys and litigation staff," Mertes said. "We use the most advanced and awesome legal technology, investigative and research tools that exist," Mertes added. "We associate with the best and most knowledgeable experts in their fields of expertise," Mertes explained. "And we work harder than everyone else," Mertes said. "That's how we have done it. That's how we have always done it. And that's how we will always do it," Mertes explained.

State-of-the-Art Technology

As managing partner of his law firm, Mertes has insisted on using the very latest law firm technology available. "We use state of the art technology in all aspects of our legal practice," Mertes said. "Using this technology, we have a vast array of tools to enhance our legal practice and dramatically improve the client's experience," he added. "We use electronic client portals to allow clients to have real-time access to their important case documents," he explained. "Our attorneys and staff can send and receive client text messages, we can review case documents electronically, and our clients can actually review and sign documents on their phones," he added. "We are a paperless law firm," he said. "When our attorneys enter the courtroom with just an IPad, they have access to every single document and communication in the case, and every legal authority in the world on any given matter," he remarked.

Teams of Investigators and Experts

"The sheer might of our unique experience and ability comes to bear in times of great misfortune," Mertes said. "When we represent loved ones suffering through a tragedy--a catastrophic injury or death--it does not matter to us if it is a weekend, or a holiday, or in the middle of the night," he explained. "We have a team of lawyers, litigation staff, investigators and experts that we assemble on a moment's notice to go out into the field and preserve the evidence while it is still able to be preserved," he said. "Our rapid response while evidence is fresh often shapes the entire case," he explained.

"Our vast investigative resources can almost be shocking to others," Mertes said. "We have launched drones and chartered planes to get aerial footage and preserve scenes when needed," Mertes said. "We have flown in experts from across the country to investigate, analyze and preserve evidence," he said. "We do whatever it takes to preserve evidence and prove our cases," he said.

"And oh, the hundreds of thousands of pages of medical records...." Mertes said.

"The health care industry does not advertise its medical negligence in all capital letters on the first page of a patient's medical records," Mertes observed. "Usually, it's buried within the fine print of thousands of pages of medical records," he added. "When we undertake a medical negligence investigation, we scrutinize every page of the medical records," he said. "And we review them with the finest medical experts," he added.


Despite the tenacity of his law firm's work ethic, Mertes continues to insist on civility in the practice of law. "It saddens me, deeply, to witness an erosion of civility in our profession," Mertes said. "One of my most cherished mentors as a lawyer was the late United States District Judge Jack Darrah," Mertes reminisced. "Judge Darrah was the perfect combination of ferocious litigator and amazingly kind human being," Mertes remarked. "A lawyer truly can be both of those things simultaneously," Mertes observed. "We absolutely can zealously represent our clients while also preserving the respect and dignity to which our profession should aspire," he added.

But not all lawyers seem to subscribe to those same ideals. "I think some members of my profession have lost their way," Mertes lamented. "They seem to confuse the virtues of zealous advocacy with the vices of unbridled hostility," Mertes said. "But our law firm has always had ways of dealing with the bullies," Mertes said. "Jurors seem to have a funny way of joining us when we do," Mertes remarked.

The Team Approach

"The team approach to the handling of our cases sets us apart from everyone else," Mertes said.

"The part of our practice that most sets us apart from everyone else is our team approach," Mertes said. "We have practice concentration meetings," Mertes explained. "Our medical negligence and personal injury team, our criminal litigation team, and our domestic litigation team meet regularly and often to discuss and analyze our cases," Mertes explained. "We don't hold back during these meetings," he said. "We debate our cases: we put them through the test of well-reasoned argument," he explained. "We analyze our cases from the perspective of the opposing side," he said. "By the time we argue our positions in court, they have already been developed with the input and wisdom of the finest attorneys and staff I have ever known." Mertes said.

Mertes' main office is located at 4015 East Lincolnway, Suite D, Sterling, Illinois. However, the law firm handles personal injury, medical negligence and major criminal cases throughout northern Illinois, from downtown Chicago to Rock Island, and everywhere in between. Mertes can be contacted by telephone at 815-626-1500.


James W. Mertes
bottom of page