In Illinois, most personal injury law firms work on a contingency fee basis. This means that you do not have to pay any money up front, but will pay at the end of the case when you receive payment from whomever caused your injury (or their insurance company). The benefit to this is that you don’t have to come up with any money upfront to pay your lawyer. You may have seen the ads that say “no fee if no recovery”, which means that if you lose, you owe nothing. The lawyer is taking the gamble with you since your lawyer will be putting in many hours, weeks, months and maybe years of hard work for you, and will only get paid if you end up recovering from the other side. This is why lawyers won’t take a case if they do not think that it is winnable. This will prevent you from wasting your time too if it is unlikely that you have a case. Injury lawyers one of the few that get paid this way, as opposed to hiring other kinds of lawyers who may bill you hourly regardless of the outcome and require a large deposit at the outset.
How is the attorney fee calculated in injury cases?
The attorney fee in personal injury cases is based on how much money you end up being awarded for your accident, expressed in a percentage. Most injury attorneys charge between 33% to 40% of your recovery and may charge more if the case has to go to trial. One third is fairly typical in the Chicago area (33 ⅓%).
There are also out of pocket costs associated with handling your case which will usually just come out of your settlement at the end, as these are the client’s responsibility and may include items like what your medical providers charge to get records, the court cost of filing a lawsuit if a lawsuit is necessary, deposition costs, court reporter fees, etc.
You always want to make sure that you have a written fee agreement with your lawyer spelling out the fees and costs. This should be given to you before representation begins.
Sample Contingency Fee Structure for Personal Injury Cases
An example of what the fee breakdown might be in an Illinois personal injury case might look like this, if you are being charged a one-third fee:
Total Award (settlement or trial): $80,000.00 x 33 ⅓ = $26,664.00 (attorney fee of 33.33%)
= $53,336.00 left
Costs, itemize on your statement – $706.00
$52,630.00 in your pocket
You may wonder what you are getting for your ⅓ fee and whether or not it is worth hiring an attorney for your injury case, and may wish to read about what a personal injury attorney actually can do for you.