It is fairly common knowledge that hiring a lawyer can be expensive, but many times they are necessary to recover the costs lost in auto accidents. In the U.S., the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that motor vehicle crashes cost nearly $1 trillion in losses, due to loss of productivity and life. If you have been in a car accident in Chicago and you need an attorney, you may be worried about the possible legal fees and if it is worth the cost. The answer, of course, depends on the specifics of your case. In most cases, an attorney will charge clients either a contingency fee or an hourly rate.
When your case involves the possibility of a significant settlement amount, the car accident lawyer will usually work on a contingency fee. This means that lawyer takes percentage of the settlement, but only if you win or settle the case. If no amount is awarded to you, the lawyer does not charge anything for legal fees.
In Chicago, attorneys must abide by the Illinois State Bar Association guidelines regarding contingency fees. Before hiring a lawyer for your accident, you should negotiate the percentage they will take. Normally, the fee will be a percentage of either the gross award (total before expense deductions) or the net award (total after deductions). For an accident in Chicago, the lawyer would typically take roughly 33 percent of the award, but you may be able to negotiate a lower fee.
The advantage of using a contingency fee, of course, is that if the case is lost you do not owe the lawyer anything. This also keeps the attorney motivated as their payment depends on winning the case and the greater the sum, the more they receive. On the other hand, if the case is relatively simple to win, you may feel as though the lawyer did not work hard enough for a large sum of money.
Hourly Charge for Car Accidents
Car accident lawyers generally do not charge by the hour, but if they do you must pay regardless of whether or not you win your case. One exception is if you are responsible for the accident and have hired a lawyer to defend you. As the defendant, you are not attempting to secure a settlement and no contingency fee is possible.
If you try to hire an attorney for your accident and they are offering an hourly rate, you should rethink the strength of your case. In all likelihood, the attorney suspects there is little chance of a settlement and has opted for an hourly rate for this reason.
Most car accident lawyers in Chicago offer free consultations. Speaking to an attorney beforehand can be helpful as they can determine the strength of your case and how large a settlement amount you may be entitled to. Typically lawyers will not accept cases that are not worth their time monetarily or yours. Before deciding to work with any lawyer, have them explain all of their fees up front.