The Law Offices of Evan A. Hughes believes that communication is essential to the attorney client relationship. Just as Mr. Hughes expects opposing attorneys and insurance adjusters to return his phone calls and emails, he expects that his clients want their phone calls and emails to be promptly returned. On the other hand, the firm does not make it a practice to send out regular correspondence to its clients advising them as to the status of their cases. Mr. Hughes believes that his efforts are best directed toward working up his cases for trial, rather than dictating lengthy client status letters that do not move the case towards resolution. Nevertheless, Mr. Hughes is always available by phone or email
Because the majority of the work that the Law Offices of Evan A. Hughes does is done on a contingent fee basis, meaning that the firm does not earn a fee unless and until the client is compensated, and because the firm, in most cases, advances the expenses of litigation, the firm will only take cases that appear to have substantial merit and a high likelihood of success. Likewise, the firm can only justify taking on cases that involve serious permanent injury.
Although all wrongfully caused injuries, under the law, should be entitled to compensation at some level, the amount of compensation that modern juries typically award for minor non-permanent injuries simply does not justify the substantial amount of legal work and outlay of litigation expenses necessary to obtain the compensation.
Any case that is placed in suit requires many, many hours of legal work in terms of investigation, preparation of pleadings, preparation of written discovery, preparation of responses to written discovery, preparation for depositions, taking of depositions and ultimately trial. Similarly, even small injury cases require a substantial outlay of case expenses in the form of filing fees, service fees, medical record reproduction costs, court reporter fees and if the case goes to trial, doctor testimony fees, exhibit preparation expenses and more court reporter fees.
Interestingly, it is typically the minor injury cases that go to trial most frequently. This is because the insurance companies directing the defense of those cases see little downside risk. Therefore, the insurance companies typically make “low ball” settlement offers on minor injury cases, even where liability is clear. They know that if the offer is rejected and the case goes to trial, the jury’s verdict will often barely cover the litigation expenses. Conversely if the plaintiff does receive a fair award from the jury, it will have no impact whatsoever on the insurance company’s bottom line, and they can always appeal the verdict and drag the process out further.
Some firms handling personal injury cases are well equipped to handle small dollar value, minor injury cases because they rely heavily on support staff to perform the day-to-day case preparation tasks. The Law Offices of Evan A. Hughes does not operate in that fashion. Attorneys perform attorney work and support staffers perform support functions. We believe that that this formula generally results in the best outcome for our clients and for the firm. Nonetheless, this philosophy does limit the number and nature of the cases that we can accept.
Finally, a word on contingent fees: trial lawyers are often the subject of attack by insurance and business groups for the fact that they generally earn a contingent fee for representing their clients. The Law Offices of Evan A. Hughes believes that the contingent fee is the single most important tool that exists to allow citizens to enforce their rights and hold the government, corporate manufacturers and insurance companies legally accountable for their wrongs.
A contingent fee means that the attorney does not earn any fee unless the client recovers on his or her claim. The fee is generally a percentage of the amount recovered through settlement or trial.
Absent a contingent fee, most individuals simply could not afford to pay an attorney a reasonable hourly fee for the hours and hours of work he must put in to litigate a case through trial, much less could they afford the expenses of litigation. The vast majority of our clients are working people with limited resources. Even in the rare circumstance where an injured person has the resources to be able to pay an hourly fee for a period of time, as the case proceeds through the system those resources would likely become depleted and both the client and the attorney will lose the wherewithal to be able to see the case through to final victory.
With a contingent fee, not only does the attorney know that he will be compensated for all of his work on the case, the attorney’s interests are directly tied to those of the client. The more the client recovers on his or her case, the more the attorney earns in fees. Both attorney and client always have the wherewithal to see the matter through to conclusion. Attorney and client share the risks of litigation equally.
Similar to most attorneys who practice in this field, The Law Offices of Evan A. Hughes generally charges a contingent fee of 1/3 (33 1/3%) of the gross recovery in addition to reimbursement of case expenses on personal injury cases. In accordance with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, the firm charges 20% plus reimbursement of case expenses on all contested matters in workers’ compensation cases.