People call us for a variety of reasons. Some worry that they can’t afford to hire a good lawyer. I enjoy these calls because it gives me a chance to dispel the myth that a good lawyer is going to be super expensive. The reality is that anyone can afford a workers’ compensation attorney. The fees are pretty standard, which means that a highly experienced lawyer isn’t going to cost you any extra, and you don’t have to pay anything up front.
Illinois law puts a cap on the fee that lawyers are allowed to charge in work injury cases. The way the fees work is that the amount is based on the amount your lawyer is able to get for you. If your lawyer gets you nothing, then they shouldn’t collect a fee. This type of arrangement is called a contingency fee. In many types of injury cases (non work-related cases), the fees are over 30%, but in workers’ compensation, they’re limited to 20%. You pay nothing upfront. So, you can hire a good attorney as easily as the next guy.
Not only are the fees limited, but they should only come at the end and only if your lawyer is able to get you a sum of money. During your workers’ compensation claim, you should get coverage of your medical treatment, and if you can’t work you should get checks to replace some of your lost income. Your lawyer should not be taking a fee out of these regular benefits (unless they had to fight for past benefits you were owed). At the end of most claims, the insurance company pays a settlement to the injured worker. Your lawyer’s fee will come from that. And because your lawyer is helping you negotiate that settlement, your chances of getting a higher settlement are greater than if you had negotiated on your own. This is why we often say that hiring a lawyer pays for itself.
These are the rules that we follow. However, never assume anything. It’s always important to be informed and ask questions about the type of fee you are paying. There’s no law that says a lawyer can’t charge an initial consultation fee or take a percentage of your regular benefits. They really shouldn’t in our opinion, and the lawyers we work with would never do that, but you should make sure.
If you have any questions about any of this, or about the fees in your particular case, give us a call anytime. We’ll talk to anyone for free, and it’s always confidential.