If you are injured, you might decide to sue the person responsible. This article goes over how personal injury lawyers get paid, and how much money you will get if you win.
Almost all personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis. This means that you will not have to pay your lawyer until your case is won. In Illinois, lawyers can be paid as much as 33.33% of the amount you win plus any costs. Costs include filing a lawsuit, ordering medical records, depositions, and court reporters.
A lien is the right to get money from the amount that you win in your case. There are three main types of liens in a personal injury case.
The most common lien is usually placed by doctors and hospitals if you are uninsured. They can have a lien on the money you win so that they can be paid for treating you.
The second most common lien happens if you are insured and the insurance company learns of your lawsuit. They can have a lien so that they get make back some of the money they spend for your injury. This type of lien is called a subrogation lien.
The last type of lien is if you take out a loan against your lawsuit. You often see commercials promising quick money while your lawsuit goes through the legal process. These companies will place a lien on the lawsuit to guarantee payment once you win your case. The interest rate will usually be very high.
How much money do I get?
Once your case is won, your lawyer will have to calculate their fees and costs. Then your lawyer will let you know how much you will get. Your lawyer should provide you with a bill of the costs along with a settlement statement outlining any liens on the case. Often, your lawyer will be able to negotiate any liens, especially with doctors, hospitals and insurance companies. This is because Illinois has laws protecting both the injured party and doctors/hospitals that say how much they get. When a lien is negotiated, often it is paid in full, meaning they cannot come after you for the balance.
Below is an example breakdown to show how fees, costs and liens affect what you will receive at the end of your case.
|Lawyer's Fees (33.33%):||-$8,332.50|
|Costs (Filing fees - $500; Medical records - $100)||-$600|
|Holy Cross Hospital Lien ($9,000)||-$5,000 (negotiated and paid in full)|
|Dr. Smith ($3,500)||-$2,000 (negotiated and paid in full)|
|Dr. Jones ($2,500)||-$1,000 (negotiated and paid in full)|
|Total to client||$8,067.50|
In this example, after everyone is paid, your lawyer will provide you with a check for $8,067.50 for winning your case.
Updated: October 2017