Contingency fees are a critical part of the civil justice system, used frequently on many personal injury cases and medical malpractice matters. The basic idea is that it is manifestly unjust for someone injured by the misconduct of another to be prohibited from seeking accountability because of their inability to pay up-front legal costs to bring the case. After all, the very reason that many lawsuits are filed is because of the precarious financial situation some are placed in after an accident. Life savings are often drained to pay for medical and other costs, and the injury often makes work impossible. It makes little sense to allow the wrongdoer to avoid accountability so long as they harm someone of less means.
That is where contingency fees come into play. The basic idea is that attorneys agree to bear the risk of the uncertain legal outcome and take a share of the award (settlement or verdict) only after it is received by the plaintiff. If no damages are received then the plaintiff is no worse off and the lawyer bears the loss of time and expenses paid up to that point. Overall, it is a common sense solution to ensure that everyone has access to justice no matter what their financial situation.
New Illinois Med Mal Contingency Law