After an accident, you may be left wondering, “how much do personal injury lawyers charge in Chicago?” Your injuries may leave you with mounting medical costs and lost work time, putting you on the forefront of financial hardship. With the daunting task of filing an injury claim looming, hiring a personal injury lawyer may seem to add additional financial strain. However, most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, protecting victims from absorbing the costs of an unsuccessful claim.

When you sustain injuries through the fault of another person or entity, you may bring a lawsuit against the negligent party to cover your associated losses. Injury claims that are unrepresented by an attorney generally settle for less than they are worth. This often pushes victims to hire a personal injury lawyer.

Do you need help filing an injury claim in Chicago? Call the personal injury lawyers with Ankin Law at 312-600-0000 to review your case for free.

Common Fee Structures for Personal Injury Lawyers in Illinois

When it comes to hiring a personal injury lawyer in Chicago, understanding the fee structures is essential for managing expectations and budgeting effectively. Different attorneys may have varying fee arrangements, but three common structures prevail: hourly rates, contingency fees, and retainers.

Hourly Rates

Hourly rates are straightforward: you pay your attorney for the time he or she spends working on your case. In Chicago, hourly rates for personal injury lawyers can range from $150 to $500 or more per hour, depending on the lawyer’s experience, reputation, and the complexity of the case. If your personal injury lawyer goes to court, your fees may be higher still.

While hourly rates provide transparency in billing, they can also lead to high initial costs, especially if your case requires extensive legal work or litigation. Clients should inquire about the lawyer’s billing increments (e.g., every six minutes, every quarter-hour) to understand how time is tracked and billed.

Contingency Fees

Contingency fees are prevalent in personal injury cases, where the lawyer’s payment is contingent upon winning the case or securing a settlement on behalf of the client. In Illinois, contingency fees typically range from 33% to 40% of the final settlement or award.

One of the advantages of contingency fees is that clients only pay if they win their case, making legal representation accessible to individuals who could not afford hourly rates. However, it’s essential to discuss the percentage and any additional expenses deducted from the settlement, such as court costs or medical record retrieval fees.


Retainers involve paying an upfront fee to retain the services of a personal injury lawyer. The lawyer then bills against this retainer as he or she works on the case. Retainers in Chicago can vary widely depending on the lawyer and the complexity of the case, but often range from $2,500 to $10,000 or more.

Retainers provide a sense of commitment from both the client and the lawyer. Clients have the assurance that the lawyer is dedicated to their case, while lawyers are guaranteed payment for their services. However, if the retainer is depleted, clients may need to replenish it to continue legal representation.

What Factors Impact Your Personal Injury Lawyer Fees in Illinois?

Several factors can influence the fees charged by personal injury lawyers in Illinois, including:

Complexity of the Case

The complexity of a personal injury case can impact legal fees. Cases involving severe injuries, multiple parties, disputed liability, or complex legal issues may require more time and resources, leading to higher fees. Lawyers may need to invest additional hours in research, discovery, and court appearances, contributing to increased costs for clients.

Experience and Reputation of the Lawyer

Experienced and reputable personal injury lawyers often command higher fees due to their track record of success and knowledge. Clients may be willing to pay higher rates for attorneys who have a proven ability to negotiate favorable settlements or win trials. However, it’s essential to weigh the lawyer’s fees against his or her expertise and the outcomes the case may yield.

The Value of the Settlement Award

Since personal injury lawyers working on a contingency fee basis will retain a percentage of a settlement to cover fees, the value of the settlement awarded will impact the amount of fees. Higher settlements will pay out a larger amount to an attorney, while lower awards will pay smaller fees.

Additional Expenses Associated With Your Personal Injury Case

In addition to legal fees, clients may face additional expenses associated with their personal injury case. These expenses include::

Legal Research and Investigation Expenses

Lawyers may incur costs for conducting legal research, obtaining medical records, hiring investigators, or consulting with experts to build a strong case. These vital components contribute to building a robust case. Clients should anticipate these expenses, which are typically passed on to them, and discuss them with their lawyer at the outset to ensure transparency and prevent unexpected financial burdens down the line.

Expert Witness Fees

When expert testimony is needed to establish liability or damages, clients may bear the responsibility of paying expert witness fees, whether through their settlement or prior to an award. These fees fluctuate based on the witness’s expertise and credentials. It’s imperative to consider these expenses when assessing the overall cost of the case. Discussing expert witness fees upfront with your lawyer can help ensure financial preparedness and help you avoid unexpected financial burdens as the case progresses.

Court Fees and Filing Expenses

Filing a personal injury lawsuit involves various court fees and filing expenses, such as filing fees, service of process fees, and deposition transcript fees. While these costs may seem nominal individually, they can add up, particularly in cases that proceed to trial. Similar to attorney fees and expert witness fees, these costs may need to be deducted from a settlement or paid ahead of time.

Why Do Lawyers Work on a Contingency Fee Basis?

Lawyers often work on a contingency fee basis in personal injury cases to make legal representation accessible to individuals who may not afford hourly rates. This arrangement allows clients to pursue their claims without upfront costs, as lawyers only collect fees if they win the case or secure a settlement. Contingency fees also align the lawyer’s interests with those of the client, as the lawyer’s payment is contingent upon the outcome of the case. This incentivizes lawyers to work diligently and effectively to achieve the best possible result for their clients. Additionally, contingency fees enable clients to seek justice without financial risk, promoting greater access to the legal system.

Do I Have to Pay My Lawyer If My Case Is Lost?

In cases where lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, you do not have to pay them if they lose your case. Contingency fee arrangements stipulate that lawyers only receive payment if they secure a favorable outcome, such as winning the case or obtaining a settlement on your behalf. If your lawyer is unable to achieve a successful result, you are generally not responsible for paying his or her fees. This arrangement provides clients with the assurance that they will not incur financial burdens if their case is unsuccessful, aligning the lawyer’s interests with those of the client and encouraging diligent representation. However, if your attorney charges a retainer or hourly rate, you will need to pay him or her regardless of your case’s outcome.

What Types of Cases Fall Under Personal Injury Law?

Personal injury lawyers work cases where individuals have been harmed or injured due to the negligence, recklessness, or intentional actions of others. They handle a wide range of cases, including automobile accidents, slip and fall accidents, medical malpractice, product liability, workplace injuries, and wrongful death claims. These lawyers advocate for their clients to obtain compensation for damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. Personal injury lawyers strive to protect the rights of their clients and seek justice on their behalf through negotiation, settlement, or litigation in civil court.

Filing a personal injury claim can seem like a daunting task. However, the costs associated with hiring a lawyer pale in comparison to the financial burdens you sustain from a personal injury accident. When going it alone, you risk falling prey to the insurance company’s tactics to delay or reduce your settlement. Finding an attorney who works on a contingency fee basis helps protect you from an upfront investment and secure a higher settlement.

Understanding the fee structures and expenses associated with a personal injury case in Chicago is crucial for managing expectations and making informed decisions. By discussing fees and expenses upfront with your lawyer, you can ensure transparency and avoid financial surprises as your case progresses. For a personal injury lawyer in Chicago, Illinois, contact us at Ankin Law. 312-600-0000.