For most personal injury cases, the typical attorney’s fee is 33% of what you recover. This means that when you sue someone for your injury, your attorney will get 1/3 of what you win at trial or get after settlement.
Although workers’ compensation cases are injury cases, they have different rules, and attorney fees are one of those differences. The law in Illinois limits an attorney’s fee in a couple of ways.
First of all, the amount of the fee is limited to 20%. This type of fee – where an attorney gets a percentage if you win and nothing if you lose – is called a contingency fee because it is contingent on the outcome of your case. While a typical contingency fee is 33%, it’s only 20% if your injury is work related.
A second limitation is that a contingency fee can’t be earned on routine benefits, meaning your workers’ compensation attorney won’t get 20%, or any percentage, of your checks for lost wages (TTD) or your medical payments. Although they may have gotten these benefits for you, they are entirely yours or go directly toward your medical treatment.
The 20% fee applies to situations where the attorney actually has to work to get you benefits. For example, if you have a disputed claim, where the insurance company has denied benefits, your attorney may have to go to trial to get you what you are owed. They can charge a fee on the amount they are able to get for you. Another example is when a case settles. When your attorney reaches a settlement with the insurance company, they typically charge 20% of that amount.
If you have a high-value case, the attorney might get less than 20%. The law caps an attorney’s fee at 20% of 364 weeks of permanent total disability payments.
The bottom line is that hiring a workers’ compensation attorney shouldn’t cost you anything up front, and you shouldn’t be charged if all the attorney does is get you set up with routine benefits (lost wages, medical benefits, etc.) If your attorney has to fight the insurance company for past benefits you’re owed or they settle the case for you, only then do you owe a fee.
We hear from people who decided not to hire an attorney because they didn’t want the attorney to take it all. This won’t happen. In fact, attorneys usually earn their own fee by getting a higher settlement than you would have gotten without an attorney. Even if you switch attorneys, no matter the reason, you still won’t pay more than 20%.
If you have a question about attorneys’ fees in work injury cases, or you want to know how the rules apply to your situation, give us a call.
We are workers’ compensation attorneys that help people with Illinois work injuries anywhere in IL via our statewide network of attorneys. Contact us and we will answer your questions or find the right lawyer for your situation.