How Do Personal Injury Lawyers Get Paid?
Paul Brannon | December 30, 2022 | Personal Injury
If you’ve been injured in a car accident or another incident, you may be debating hiring a personal injury attorney to help you get the compensation you deserve. But often, accident victims are already facing a mountain of medical bills, as well as a diminished ability to work and lost wages. How can you afford to hire a lawyer when you’re already in such dire financial straits?
Personal injury lawyers use a unique fee structure that helps to make representation more affordable for their clients. Read on to learn how personal injury lawyers get paid.
In Plaintiff Cases
Personal injury lawyers can work on either side of a case, representing either the plaintiff or the defendant. The plaintiff is the person who was injured and is now trying to get compensation for their pain. The defendant is the person who is accused of injuring the plaintiff and is trying to avoid liability for their injuries.
The way a personal injury lawyer gets paid varies depending on which side of the case they’re working.
What Are Contingency Fees?
Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis. This means that their fee is contingent on them winning the case. If they win a compensation award for their client, they get a portion of that money to cover their fee.
Contingency fees help protect clients and make personal injury lawsuits more affordable. Their lawyer will have an incentive to win them as much money as possible since their fee comes from a portion of the settlement or verdict.
It also avoids the problem of plaintiffs having to come up with thousands in legal fees when they’re already facing medical bills and lost wages.
Mixed Hourly and Contingency Fees
There are some variations on the typical contingency fee structure that some personal injury lawyers prefer to use.
Some lawyers work on a mixed hourly and contingency fee basis. The client doesn’t have to pay any up-front fees in this model, but they may have to pay some legal fees even if they lose the case.
With mixed hourly and contingency fees, the client is still responsible for paying hourly fees.
If their lawyer wins the case, those fees can come out of the contingency fee. If they lose, the client will still have to pay those hourly fees, although they can wait until the case is over.
Sliding Scale Contingency Fees
In most cases, lawyers who work on contingency take a 33 percent cut of the compensation they win for their clients. In a $10,000 settlement, the lawyer would get paid $3,300. But in some cases, that percentage can vary.
If a lawyer can get a fair settlement for their client without filing a lawsuit, they may only take a 25 percent contingency fee.
On the other hand, if the case winds up going to trial, that fee could go up to 40 percent.
In Defendant Cases
If a lawyer is representing a defendant in a personal injury case, they obviously can’t get paid on contingency. Even if they win the case, the defendant won’t get a settlement – they’ll just avoid having to pay for one. In these cases, lawyers tend to use more traditional fee structures.
Many personal injury lawyers representing defendants work on retainer.
At the beginning of the case, the defendant will pay the lawyer a lump sum amount, which is then kept in a special account separate from their other clients. As the lawyer spends time on the case, they charge hourly fees that get pulled from that retainer until the account is empty.
If the lawyer doesn’t use all the money in the retainer before closing the case, they have to return it to the client. If the retainer drops below a certain amount before the case is over, the client will have to pay more in order to continue services.
The initial retainer amount will depend on the lawyer’s hourly rate and the particular case needs.
Some personal injury attorneys who work for hourly fees use an hourly cap structure. This means that they set a limit on the number of hours they can bill a client for. Even if they spend more time working on the case, they can’t bill the client for that time.
This fee structure creates something similar to a flat fee setup with less risk for the client. They know they won’t wind up with a bill larger than they can manage, but they don’t have to pay for services they won’t use.
Get Affordable Representation
There are several ways a personal injury lawyer can get paid, depending on who they’re representing. Lawyers who work with plaintiffs often work on a contingency basis, which means they take a portion of the fee they win for their clients. Lawyers who represent defendants may work on retainer since their clients won’t get a settlement even if they win.
At Brannon & Brannon Personal Injury Attorneys, we work on contingency. You don’t pay a dime until and unless we win. Schedule a free consultation with us today to discuss the details of your case.
Contact Our Personal Injury Law Firm in Northwest Florida
We have two convenient locations in Northwest Florida:
Brannon & Brannon Personal Injury Attorneys – Destin Office
4507 Furling Ln Suite 214
Destin, FL 32541
Brannon & Brannon Personal Injury Attorneys – Fort Walton Beach Office
975 Mar Walt Dr
Fort Walton Beach, FL 32547