If you’ve been injured in an accident that was someone else’s fault, you might be thinking about speaking to a personal injury lawyer. If you’ve never worked with a personal injury lawyer before, you might be wondering how they get paid.
The majority of personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. In a contingency fee arrangement, the lawyer’s fee is contingent upon the outcome of the personal injury lawsuit. This means that the lawyer only receives money if you are paid.
How Does a Contingency Fee Work?
In a contingency fee arrangement, a lawyer only receives payment once you’ve received a favorable judgment or settlement. The attorney will then receive a percentage of that amount. The exact fee percentage should be discussed and put into a written agreement. If you lose your case, the lawyer receives nothing.
Other Payment Arrangements
While a contingency fee arrangement is the most common method of payment in a personal injury case, it is not the only one. You and your lawyer can agree to a number of different types of payment terms including:
- Hourly rate – Your lawyer charges you a set hourly fee for each hour he or she works on your case. This is less common in personal injury cases and more common for other types of cases including employment law cases.
- Sliding scale contingency fee – The final percentage that you pay your lawyer depends on how far the case progresses. If the case settles out of court, the attorney’s fee will be lower than if the case goes to trial.
- Mixed hourly and contingent fee – Your lawyer will charge you a reduced hourly rate and be paid a reduced percentage from any judgment or settlement that you receive.
- Flat fee – Some lawyers charge you one flat fee for all services provided.
Most attorneys will offer you a free initial consultation. This gives you the opportunity to ask the lawyer questions about your case and the legal process and find out how it works. This is the time to figure out if the law firm you are meeting with is the right one for you. You should feel assured that anything you discuss with the attorney at the consultation will be treated as confidential information. Here are some tips for How to Prepare for Your First Meeting With a Lawyer.
When you work with an attorney, they will often pay your legal expenses up front. They will be later reimbursed out of the settlement or judgment that you win. You should ask the attorney about whether you are responsible for these fees if you do not win your case. Common expenses include:
- Expert witness fees
- Medical bills
- Copies of things like medical records and police reports
- Court filing fees
- Investigation fees
- Research fees
If you win your case, how do you actually get paid? Once you settle the case or are awarded a judgment, the other side will send a settlement check to your attorney. The attorney will deduct their fee and any expenses from the final settlement amount and give you the rest.