Understanding Personal Injury Attorney Contingency Fees


If you or a loved one suffered a serious injury because of someone else's negligence, you may be interested in hiring an injury lawyer to obtain a settlement if the insurer is disputing any claim for financial compensation. Another reason to hire an attorney is if you have received a settlement offer, but it seems unreasonably low.

People often worry that they won't be able to afford a lawyer. However, personal injury attorneys typically work on a contingency basis. That means they receive a percentage of the settlement or court award they acquire for the client instead of charging upfront retainer fees. If they don't win the case, they don't receive any payment.


It's common for personal injury lawyers to charge a contingent fee that is one-third of the amount the client receives, but this may be negotiable. 

If that fee seems high to you, consider everything that the law firm has to pay for while working on the case. The amount covers a wide variety of services the firm provides to build a case and convince the insurer to settle. The case may involve aspects such as:

  • fees for court filings and other expenses
  • payment to medical expert witnesses
  • payment to expert witnesses who reconstruct accident scenes
  • costs of interviewing eyewitnesses

If the insurer is unwilling to offer a reasonable amount, the case proceeds to trial. Now additional costs occur.

Court Awards

If the insurer does not offer a reasonable settlement, the lawyer prepares to take the case to trial. If the attorney wins in court, payment to the injured person is determined by the jury as a court award. The lawyer receives the percentage that the two have agreed on beforehand. There may be a sliding scale arrangement so that the attorney does not receive an enormous sum if the court award is very large.

Some 95 percent of personal injury cases are settled out of court, however. 


To understand how the process works, consider a situation in which an injury attorney obtains a settlement of $18,000 for the client. If the lawyer and the client have agreed on the one-third contingent fee in writing, the client would receive $12,000 and the lawyer $6,000.

What You Can Do Now

Since injury attorneys typically offer free consultations, schedule an appointment and talk about contingent fees in greater detail. During the consultation, the lawyer also can evaluate your case and let you know the settlement offer you should reasonably expect.  

For more information, contact firms like Charles Aaron PLC.


17 December 2015

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