Attorneys working on a case will typically ask for a retainer fee upfront and track how much time they work on a case. They charge for time spent communicating with the client, preparing for the case, speaking with doctors about the victim’s injuries, and attending to other details.
No money out of pocket
Personal injury lawyers, on the other hand, work on a contingency fee. This means that the attorney gets a portion of the settlement or award. The portion may vary depending on the case’s details, but usually, it is around 33%. The judge understands that this how the legal fees are paid and will award damages or compensation knowing that the victim will not get the full amount. This fee structure also applies if the case settles outside of court. Because personal injury attorneys work on contingency, they will get no money if they lose the case.
Why are they paid this way?
Personal injury lawyers use this payment method because injured victims often are out of work and may not have extra cash for legal fees. It also helps balance the playing field – insurance companies have legal departments working for them while the victim does not. So not charging up front enables victims to hire a knowledgeable attorney who understands these complicated cases. The contingency arrangement also avoids attorneys charging fees for a case they know they are going to lose.
There are still costs involved
Others involved in the case do not work on contingency. There will likely be administrative costs for filing the claim, court costs and other expenses. Expert witnesses for a head injury or a motor vehicle accident reconstruction expert can strengthen a case. Still, they are paid for their time and expenses like travel and hotels, which can add up if the victim loses or gets a smaller than expected settlement.
Have questions about fees?
Lawyers are required by law to explain their fees, including contingency fees. Potential clients should take notes and ask questions if something is not clear to them.