How Do Personal Injury Attorneys Get Paid?

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The majority of personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis.  A contingency fee means the lawyer’s fee is contingent upon the outcome of the case.  

How Does a Contingency Fee Work?

In a contingency fee arrangement, a lawyer only receives payment once the lawyer has obtained a favorable judgment or settlement for his client.  The attorney then gets a percentage of the total amount. The exact rate must be discussed and put into a written agreement at the outset of the lawyer’s representation in the case.  If a client loses their case, the lawyer does not receive a fee.

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.  There are many different types of payment arrangements, including:

Hourly rate – A set fee for each hour a lawyer works on a case.  Billed hours are more common in civil defense firms and are rarely used in personal injury cases. 

Sliding scale contingency fee – A lawyer’s fee percentage can depend on how far the case progresses.  If your case settles prior to filing suit, the cost will be lower than if the case goes to trial.

Mixed hourly and contingent fee – A reduced hourly rate plus a reduced percentage of any judgment or settlement that you receive.

Flat fee – A one-time, flat fee for all services provided. Most criminal defense lawyers charge their clients a flat fee.  A flat fee is also standard for writing a living will or litigating a bankruptcy. 

Free Consultations

Most attorneys will offer you a free initial consultation.  Free consultations are standard practice in personal injury cases and many criminal defense cases, and they allow you to ask the lawyer questions about your case and the legal process and find out how it works. Even though your lawyer may not charge for the consultation, anything you discuss with the attorney at the free consultation will be treated as confidential information.

If your injury lawyer doesn’t offer free consultations, that should be an immediate red flag, particularly in injury cases. An excellent personal injury attorney can recoup their costs by winning cases and won’t need to charge upfront fees. 

Costs and Expenses

A Greenville personal injury attorney will often pay your legal costs and expenses up front and be reimbursed later out of the settlement or judgment that you win.  You should ask your attorney whether you are responsible for your costs and expenses if you do not win your case. Generally, legal costs and expenses include anything your lawyer has to pay out of pocket to process your claim, and can include but are not limited to:

  • Medical bills
  • Court filing fees
  • Expert witness fees
  • Investigation fees
  • Postage and Copies

Once you settle your case or are awarded a judgment, the other side will send a settlement check to your attorney.  Your attorney will deduct their fee and any costs expenses from the final settlement amount and give you the rest. You should be provided a spreadsheet and itemized bill detailing all fees, costs, and expenses that are deducted from your recovery.

Experienced Personal Injury Lawyers in Greenville

If you or a loved one has been in an accident that was someone else’s fault, and you would like to speak to an experienced Personal Injury Attorney, contact David R. Price Jr., P.A. today for a Free Consultation.


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