Illinois Lawyers and Civil Litigation
Please note that all of the information contained in this article relates to Illinois civil litigation only.
If you have filed a lawsuit against another person or business, you are involved in civil litigation (“cl”). This differs from a criminal law case where the government always brings the legal action. In addition, in a criminal case, the government can often punish the losing party with jail time; in a civil case, the most common ending is one party paying the other. A few other civil remedies do exist, such as returning property or stopping some sort of behavior, but you can never put the other person in jail.
There are a huge variety of topics included in civil litigation. A broken contract, business conflicts, landlord/tenant issues and problems with a will are all forms of cl. These suits can revolve around a crime or injury, too. For instance, if a drunk driver in Chicago injures you in a car accident, you could bring a claim at the Daley Center against the person to receive compensation for your injuries. This is true even if the State of Illinois brings a criminal case against that person for drunk driving and puts them in jail. Its also true if the Illinois criminal judge were to order the defendant to pay you restitution.
Since civil litigation includes virtually any topic that is not criminal, most civil lawyers choose a specific topic to focus on, like divorce cases or personal injury, instead of trying to take any civil law case. You should be sure to find a lawyer who specializes in your legal issue. If you are bringing a suit because you have been injured, usually an Illinois personal injury lawyer will take your case on a contingency. This means you wont have to pay any upfront fee or ongoing rate; instead, your lawyer will recover a portion of any money you get from the other side at the end of the case. Other attorneys will have different fee arrangements. If you have business or contract issue, usually the lawyer will charge an hourly rate to work on your case. In addition, the lawyer will probably charge a retainer an upfront fee you pay to officially hire the lawyer. If you are the defendant in a case, you will virtually always pay your lawyer a retainer and hourly rate. That said, in Illinois when you are sued and have insurance that hires a lawyer for you, the insurance company pays all of the law firm fees.
There are many rules and regulations that determine how and when you can bring your lawsuit, including strict timelines of when to take certain actions. A civil attorney experienced with your legal issue will know how to properly move your case through the process. If you dont meet all of these timelines, you can lose the case even if you would have otherwise won. Also, each civil law issue has a statute of limitations, this is the deadline by which you must start your lawsuit, or you may be prevented from ever bringing the case in the future. For example, most Illinois car accident claims must be filed with a county court within two years from the accident date.