One concern that many people have about hiring an Illinois worker’s compensation lawyer is that it will be too expensive, or that the cost of hiring the lawyer will eat up the entire settlement. It is a legitimate concern for an injured worker and their family to have. After all, while you are off work, all that you are receiving are the Temporary Total Disability checks from the insurance company which, when they arrive on time, are two-third of your average weekly wage, if that. When you are under financial duress like that, who has money to pay a lawyer, too?
The good news in this is that in Illinois, worker’s compensation lawyers work on a contingency basis. This means that you do not owe any fees until there is an award or settlement in your favor. There are no charges for the initial consultation or for phone calls or letters along the way. You will not receive a bill while the case is going on. In almost all cases, the only time that you will have to pay a lawyer’s fee is at the end of your case when it has been settled.
The amount of the fee is set by law, and in the vast, vast majority of cases, the fee will be 20% of the total settlement for permanent disability. Because the lawyer’s fees are tied to the amount of compensation that you receive, there is a powerful incentive for the lawyer to work hard on your case and to get the largest possible settlement for you. The more your settlement is, the more the lawyer will be paid. However, that 20% figure does not change, so you should never end up in a situation where “the lawyer takes everything and I get nothing.” There is also no fee on uncontested benefits for medical expenses or Temporary Total Disability checks, so you do not have to worry that hiring a lawyer will just make a tight financial situation even worse.
In addition to the fee, the only other deduction from your settlement will be the costs the lawyer spent in working your case up. During the course of the case, your lawyer may have to spend money for things like subpoenas, court reporters, and other things that are needed bring your case to a successful conclusion. These are like a no-interest loan to you, and the lawyer deserves to paid that back at the end of the case. In most cases, the total case file expenses do not amount to more than a few hundred dollars. Fees and costs only count for a small portion of an Illinois worker’s compensation settlement. Hiring a worker’s compensation lawyer is not an expensive proposition, nor does it require you to spend anything up front, especially when your family is facing some tough financial times. There are over 50,000 claims a year at the Illinois Worker’s Compensation Commission. Of those, 90% of all injured workers elect not to represent themselves, but instead hire a lawyer. If you are not using a lawyer for your claim you are in the minority.