If you have been injured in an accident and are looking for representation, you may be wondering, how do injury lawyers get paid? This is a reasonable thing for a client to wonder at the beginning of any professional relationship, and the terms of your injury attorney’s fees should always be made clear to you before you officially sign on with them (here are some other things you should ask at a personal injury consultation). While it is always good to discuss these things one-on-one, here is some information to demystify the process.
Attorney Contingency Fee
The vast majority of Chicago personal injury lawyers (myself included) work on a contingency basis when we represent plaintiffs. If you’ve ever heard someone say that your lawyer doesn’t get paid unless you do, this is the type of agreement they are referring to. It simply means that my attorney fee comes in the form of a percentage of whatever award or settlement I win for you, rather than a flat fee or hourly rate. The fee is contingent on a successful result. If I can’t get you anything, you don’t owe me anything.
Injury Attorney Contingency Rate
So, what percentage of the settlement does an injury lawyer charge? This may vary a bit from case to case and attorney to attorney, but the most common contingency rate for personal injury lawyers in Illinois is 33 percent – in other words, one third of the total settlement.
What Percentage of an Injury Settlement Goes to the Client?
In most personal injury cases there are other deductions that must come out of the settlement in addition to attorney fees. For instance, some of your medical providers may have put a lien on the case – this means that rather than handing you their bill directly, they make it clear to both you and your injury attorney that they expect to be paid for their service out of the settlement of your case. The filing of a lien creates certain legal rights and obligations. There is also a Lien Act which attempts to balance various interests and protect the injured party. In most cases, another 33 to 40 percent of the settlement is set aside for resolving these liens.
Another thing to be aware of is attorney costs. Personal injury attorneys typically pay a number of costs out-of-pocket, so to speak, throughout each case. Common examples are the costs of obtaining your medical records, filing your lawsuit with the court, and getting important testimony from experts who charge hourly rates. These costs are also deducted from the settlement at the end of the case.
So, long answer short: it varies. A good ballpark estimate is that one third of the total settlement will go directly to the client.
Attorney-client relationships can sometimes be complex, but the terms of how your personal injury lawyer gets paid should never feel baffling for the client. For any questions or for a free consultation, reach out to us via our website or at (312) 258-8188.