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Abels & Annes, P.C. Chicago Injury Blog

How Much Does It Cost to Talk to a Lawyer?

personal injury lawyer in chicago free consultationA common reason people give for not calling a lawyer after they get hurt in an accident is cost. They worry that they simply can’t afford to talk to a lawyer, especially not when they have mounting medical bills to deal with, and have missed work and gone without a paycheck because of their injuries.

Those are understandable concerns. But we have good news: talking to a lawyer about your legal rights after suffering injuries in an accident does not cost you a dime. What’s more, hiring a lawyer to recover the compensation you deserve costs nothing up-front. You only pay the lawyer a fee at the time of settlement or verdict.

You’re probably thinking: What’s the catch?

There’s no catch. Personal injury lawyers know you face financial strain, so they make it easy to afford their services. Here’s how.

Lawyers Offer a Free Consultation to Discuss Your Case

Meeting with a personal injury lawyer for the first time should never cost you anything. All reputable personal injury lawyers offer a free initial consultation to discuss your case.

They do this to make it easy and risk-free for injured people to find out if they have legal rights to receive compensation for their injuries. After all, most people do not know much about how the law works when they get injured in an accident. If it cost them money to find out if they had a case, they would not bother to find out. By offering a free initial consultation, personal injury lawyers make it easy for anyone to learn about their rights.

The first meeting(s) between a personal injury lawyer and an injured person allows everyone to size each other up. The lawyer will want to know about how the individual got hurt. The injured person will want to learn about the lawyer’s experience, track record, and working style. After this session, the lawyer will typically give the individual a preliminary assessment of whether the lawyer thinks there is a viable case for damages to pursue, and whether the lawyer is interested in handling it. The individual gets to decide whether to hire the lawyer, of course.

All of this happens at no charge to the injured person. Not a penny changes hands between client and lawyer.

Personal Injury Lawyers Work on Contingency

If the injured person decides to hire the lawyer, then the lawyer and the client usually enter into an agreement that lays out the terms of the representation and how the lawyer will get paid. Lawyers refer to this agreement by various names, most commonly as a fee agreement or a representation agreement.

Virtually all personal injury lawyers (those who represent injured people in seeking compensation for an injury) work on a contingency fee basis. In this arrangement, the client pays no money to the lawyer upfront, and the lawyer does not charge for specific work or for the time the lawyer spends on the case.

Instead, in the fee agreement, the lawyer and client agree that the lawyer will keep, as a fee, a percentage of the money the lawyer recovers on the client’s behalf. The lawyer’s fee is contingent on the outcome of the case, in other words. The more money the lawyer can recover for the client, the more money the lawyer earns. Conversely, if the client gets nothing, the lawyer gets nothing.

These days, the agreed percentage can vary depending on the difficulty of the case, typically ranging from 33 1/3% – 40%. The fee agreement spells out the percentage a lawyer and client agree upon, so that the client understands the arrangement from the start.

A fee agreement also addresses the running expenses of a case; things like the fees charged by hospitals for copies of medical records and expert witness fees, for example. Lawyers typically agree to advance these expenses, or clients may agree to do it, or they may agree to split them in some manner. Our law firm always advances case costs. There are no up front legal fees or costs for our clients. The fee agreement spells out all of this, too, in clear language, so there are no surprises.

Personal injury lawyers represent clients on contingency to give all injured people access to justice, not just people who have enough money lying around to pay an expensive attorney by the hour. The arrangement allows anyone who has suffered an injury to obtain the services of a top-notch lawyer. It also lines up the lawyer’s interests with the client’s, so that they both have the same goal—securing the most money for the client as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Types of Work a Personal Injury Lawyer Does on Contingency

To be clear: Contingency fee arrangements affect only how the lawyer gets paid. In all other respects, the lawyer has the same duties to serve the client’s interests as if the client was paying a different type of lawyer by the hour. Lawyers who represent clients on contingency work just as hard, and have just as much (if not more) skill and know-how as any other attorneys.

Every personal injury case has unique facts and circumstances, of course, so the types of services the lawyer provides will vary from client-to-client.

However, generally speaking, a personal injury client can usually expect the lawyer to:

  • Investigate the case to identify the parties who have legal liability and the ability to pay money damages, and to establish the amount of harm the client has suffered;
  • Plan an effective legal strategy that serves the clients’ interests, needs, and priorities;
  • Communicate that plan to the client in language the client understands;
  • Update the client on developments and respond to the client’s questions;
  • Negotiate with defense lawyers and insurance companies to achieve a favorable settlement of the case, if possible; and
  • Litigate the case in court, including taking the case to trial in front of a judge and jury, if negotiation alone does not yield a favorable outcome.

Cost Is Not a Factor, so Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer Today

Do not delay speaking with a personal injury lawyer because you worry you cannot afford it. Talking to an experienced attorney about your injury and losses costs you nothing, and if you have a case, a lawyer will most likely agree to represent you on contingency so that you pay nothing to the lawyer unless and until the lawyer gets you paid first.

Contact an experienced, skilled personal injury lawyer today for your free case consultation.

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