Personal Injury Attorney
A personal injury attorney is someone who handles a claim if you’re seriously hurt in an accident.

One of the most common types of accidents that personal injury lawyers work on is car accidents. If you’re hurt in a car accident you can file a lawsuit to receive compensation for your injuries.

Personal injury lawyers might also help you if you’re hurt because of a defective product or medical malpractice.

Personal injury attorneys practice tort law. Tort law is related to private or civil wrongs or injuries, and both monetary and nonmonetary damages. The goal of a lawyer is to help prevent you from being the victim of unscrupulous practices by insurance companies. Most personal injury cases don’t go to trial but are instead settled.

So, with that in mind, how much does it cost to hire a personal injury lawyer?

Contingency Fee Basis

Most personal injury attorneys work on what’s called a contingency fee basis. 
  • That means the attorney’s fees are contingent on the firm winning your case.
  • If the lawyer doesn’t get a financial award for you as the client, you don’t pay.
  • It doesn’t matter how much time and work went into your case; the lawyer still doesn’t get money if you don’t, with the contingency fee payment model.
  • When you hire a law firm, you won’t pay anything upfront.
  • The lawyer will front the cost of services like hiring experts and investigators.
  • Then, if your lawyer isn’t successful in getting either a settlement or a positive jury verdict on your behalf, they take on the costs of pursuing your claim.
This isn’t how someone like a criminal attorney will operate. They will usually have clients pay an upfront retainer and then an hourly fee beyond that, for example.

Hiring a personal injury lawyer is, in many ways, no-risk as a client. With that being said, since personal injury attorneys have to be successful to get paid, they don’t take every case that comes their way. A personal injury attorney is going to weigh whether or not they think they can win and also how much the case is worth before agreeing to take it on.

If a lawyer does take on your case, they have their own financial motivation to work as hard as possible to recover as much as possible, which is beneficial for the client. 

How Much Does the Attorney Make if They’re Successful?

When a lawyer is paid on a contingency fee basis, clients do need to be aware the attorney will earn a substantial amount of their compensation.

Most lawyers will charge anywhere from 33 to 40% of the compensation.

If you sign a contingency fee agreement and the lawyer earns 33%, then that amount is calculated after the lawyer is reimbursed for any costs they put toward the case. So, if the lawyer spent $1,000 on costs, then that’s taken out of the settlement. After the costs are taken out, then the attorney's 33% is, and what’s left is yours.

If you’re debating whether or not to file a personal injury claim, you have to consider if it’s “worth it,” based on what you might recover and what you would pay a lawyer.

The costs that were touched on above are not fees paid to your lawyer. These are expenses your lawyer’s office paid to investigate your claim and pursue it. There are costs such as filing fees, hiring experts, and recording depositions.

Even if you’re clear on the contingency fee your personal injury lawyer will charge, you might be surprised with the costs. Make sure that you speak to your lawyer about what they expect these to be from the start.

Your fee agreement with a lawyer should clearly outline if the costs are deducted from your final compensation amount before or after a lawyer calculates their fee percentage.

If a lawyer calculates their fee percentage first and then deducts costs, the lawyer's fee is larger and the amount of compensation you receive is smaller.

Most of the costs involved in a personal injury case are fairly standard, so your lawyer should include them in your written agreement.

What some clients will do is set a limit on the dollar amount a lawyer can put toward costs. Then, if the lawyer will go over that, they have to get your approval before doing so.

If you have questions, always be upfront and ask your attorney. A good attorney will provide you with a clear answer.