After a car accident, it can feel like an enormous weight has been placed on your shoulders. While you’re dealing with the physical impact of the crash, it may seem like too much to add complicated legal issues to your list of responsibilities. However, seeking compensation for your damages is the key to your recovery. Let our Cook County car accident attorneys take on that responsibility for you.
Call us at (312) 300-2515, or chat with us online for a free initial consultation.
How Much Does a Chicago Car Accident Attorney Cost?
If you’ve been in a car accident, and it’s clear the other driver was at fault, you should hire a car accident lawyer. Let's take a closer look at the question, 'how much do lawyers charge for accident claims in the Chicago area?'
Most car accident lawyers charge for their services in unique ways, instead of the hourly rate most firms charge in other types of cases. Usually, a car accident attorney will charge a “contingency fee” to handle an injury case. A contingency fee means that the lawyer won’t get paid until they recover compensation in your case. The attorney or law firm gets paid a percentage of the compensation received from any car insurance settlement or jury verdict if the case goes to trial.
What Is the Standard Contingency Fee for a Car Accident Attorney?
The percentage that a car accident attorney receives in a contingency fee agreement varies. But typically the percentage ranges from 25 to 40%, and 33% is the most common standard rate. This means that if you have a 33% contingency fee agreement and you recover $120,000 in your injury case, then your lawyer will receive $39,600.
Contingency fees vary depending on whether a personal injury suit has to be filed against the at-fault party. However, if the case settles before it goes to trial, the fee might be on the lower side.
But if the settlement occurs after you have filed your claim and after the at-fault party has served a formal answer to your complaint, or if the case goes to trial and jury verdict is reached, the lawyer’s fee may increase to 40%.
For example, let's say your attorney sends a demand letter to the other party’s insurance company, and you quickly settle for $120,000. Here, your lawyer will receive $39,600 (33%). However, if your case ends in a jury verdict of $120,000 and your contingency fee arrangement and/or law in Illinois allows the lawyer to receive 40% of a recovery after the defendant has answered, then your attorney will receive $48,000.
It’s crucial to ask an attorney about the contingency fee and to review your contract carefully for legal services before legal representation starts. If you don’t understand the contingency fee arrangement as stated in the contract, ask for clarification.
And just like everything in a contract, the fee is negotiable. If your personal injury case is a “cut and dry” one, and fault for the car the accident and your damages are pretty clear, the at-fault party has plenty of car insurance, and there’s solid evidence to back your claims, then you can negotiate a lower contingency fee. Don’t give up a third of your settlement just because you need to have a negligence attorney on your side.
What Other Fees and Expenses Will I Have to Pay a Car Accident Attorney?
Depending on your personal injury attorney and your contract for legal representation, you may or may not have to pay upfront court fees and other litigation expenses, such as the cost of getting medical records and police reports, court reporter fees, and expert witness fees.
Most personal injury law firms require their clients to pay the above-mentioned expenses as they become due. If your agreement states that you’re responsible for these costs, expect your car accident attorney to call you and seek payments as they become due. If you can’t pay these legal fees, then your injury case won’t proceed until you make payment.
Other personal injury law firms, especially large firms, will cover all the fees and expenses. But the fees and expenses will be deducted from your compensation or final judgment. For instance, if you settle your car accident case for $150,000, and your contract states that costs and expenses will be deducted from your settlement. If your attorney incurred $20,000 in costs and expenses, then your attorney will receive $20, 000 as reimbursement for costs and expenses. You will receive $80,500 as a final recovery ($150,000 - $20,000 - $49,500 = $80,500).
Ensure that your personal injury attorney takes their fee out of the “net settlement”--this is the amount left after deducting case expenses. This is the most common arrangement. However, some law firms try to increase their pay by deducting their money first. Let them know that you won’t allow that, and if it becomes a deal-breaker, it’s best to find another car accident attorney.
What are Other Attorney’s Fees Arrangements?
Not all car accident cases will involve a pure contingency fee arrangement. Personal injury lawyers might charge a retainer to begin your injury case and also receive a contingency fee at the end of your case. However, once you receive your compensation, subtract the money you paid the attorney from the percentage you owe the lawyer at the end of the case. For instance, if you paid $3,000 to the lawyer as a retainer and recovered $120,000 in a settlement, the lawyer will receive $36,600 from the settlement ($39,600 - $3,000 = $36,600).
Typically, car accident cases don’t involve a flat fee payment for legal services. Normally, flat fee payments are reserved for less complicated cases. Law firms charge a flat fee where legal services are limited to drafting and responding to a demand letter. Here, the fee ranges from $300 to $1,000.
Is A Car Accident Attorney Worth the Cost?
It’s worth getting a Chicago car accident attorney, especially if the accident was serious and you sustained extensive or permanent injuries. A Cook County personal injury attorney can protect you from any present or future damages related to the accident. Sometimes, it's hard to predict whether any injuries may need costly medical treatments in the future. A Cook County car accident lawyer can help you assess potential future costs with you and your doctors.
Also, a car accident lawyer might help you in several other ways with your car accident claim, including:
- Calculating your losses accurately. A Chicago car accident attorney can help calculate all your expenses and damages accurately to make sure that any settlement negotiated will cover all your financial liabilities arising from the crash. Car accident lawyers know how to value any economic and non-economic losses you have incurred because of your personal injuries, which can protect you from having to pay for any costs out of your pocket.
- Negotiating with insurers. Negotiating an adequate settlement with insurance companies can be a daunting task if you choose to do it on your own. Insurance companies may fight fiercely to keep any claims low or to deny your claim altogether. Having a professional legal representation can help with tough negotiations. Your attorney will work in your best interests to help you receive the compensation you deserve.
- Representing you in court. Although many car accident claims settle out of court, sometimes the only way to recover adequate compensation is with a personal injury suit. Theoretically, it’s possible to represent yourself in court, however, self-representation can leave you vulnerable. The defendant and their legal team might take advantage of the fact you have no professional legal representation. The biggest risk of self-representation is losing your injury case on technical or procedural grounds. This means you may have a strong case but still lose because you don't know how to represent yourself adequately.
- Offering you legal advice. Illinois car accident attorneys understand state and local laws and can advise you on any important legal matters involving your case, including the applicable statutes of limitation time limits for filing your case. This is critical, so you don’t miss the filing deadline that could potentially bar you from recovering any compensation. Also, having professional legal representation can give you peace of mind. A lawyer can protect you from being short-changed by the at-fault party and their insurer.
Talk to a Cook County Car Accident Lawyer for Free Today!
At CCAL, we’re here to walk you through every step of the legal process after your auto accident. We understand that severe and extensive injuries have tremendous financial, emotional, and physical effects on families. We’ll work to help you and your family get the compensation you deserve to move on with your lives. Contact us today at (312) 300-2515, or chat with us online for a free initial consultation. Don’t wait! Contact us today!
Our team represents car accident injury victims throughout Illinois, including: