I don’t have the money to hire a lawyer for my case. How do I proceed?
In general, injury cases will be handled on a contingency fee arrangement. This means the attorney will not receive payment on your case until a settlement or verdict is obtained, and then he will take a percentage of the recovery plus expenses.
What percentage does the lawyer charge on a case?
The usual contingency fee in injury cases is one-third, but this may vary in individual cases, and some types of cases have the percentage set by Illinois law (Workers' Compensation cases, for examples, are fixed at 20% of the award or settlement).
I spoke to a lawyer and he did not want my case. Why?
When a lawyer takes a case on a contingency basis, he takes the risk that he will work on your case but not get paid if the other side turns out to not be legally responsible or if payment, for some reason, cannot be collected. Attorneys will also sometimes decline a case where the injury is not that great or medical expenses are not that high, because small cases may not bring in enough money to be worthwhile. Nonetheless, attorneys will often have different opinions on a case. Also, an attorney may decline a case because he doesn't have much experience in a particular area or may just have an overload of cases. Just because your case is turned down by one lawyer does not mean another lawyer will not accept it.
I have been advised by my attorney not to speak to anyone about my case. Why?
Answer: Whenever you speak to someone about your case, other than your own lawyer, that person becomes a potential witness and can be brought in to court to testify about the conversation. For example, if you describe the accident to three different people, it is unlikely that you will explain it in the exact same wording each time, and even if you did, people will tend to remember things differently. The three people may forget or misquote your words. When these people are later interviewed, the differences in what they say may very well be considered inconsistencies in your story and hurt your case.
How much time do I have to file my injury claim?
In general, if you do not file your case in court within a certain period of time, the statute of limitations can bar or prevent you from recovering on your claim. Different types of cases have different time periods and notice requirements, so it is always best to see an attorney as soon as possible after your claim arises to get appropriate advice. Call the Law Office of Thomas W. Drexler at (312) 726-7335 to schedule your free consultation.