Wondering how much does a personal injury lawyer cost? We'll cover how much they charge and give an example of a personal injury award.
If you were injured due to someone else’s negligence, you might want to file a personal injury lawsuit to seek compensation for your injuries. But you may also be wondering how much a personal injury lawyer costs.
An important thing to know as you consider whether to hire a personal injury lawyer is that they generally work on a contingency basis, which means that they get paid a percentage of your award if your application is successful. In other words, a personal injury lawyer's fee is contingent upon the success of your case.
Additionally, many personal injury lawyers offer free consultations. These consultations can help you to evaluate whether you should hire a personal injury attorney for your case, and whether the lawyer you speak with is a good fit for you.
In order to understand how much a personal injury lawyer costs, it is important to understand how a personal injury lawyer will charge for their services.
As noted, most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis as opposed to an hourly fee, which is how most lawyers charge. This means they only get paid if your claim is successful, and how much the personal injury lawyer gets depends on the size of your award.
The size and structure of contingency fees vary, but they are often around 33% to 40% of any award. So in a typical case, your personal injury lawyer would receive 33% (or whatever percentage you agreed upon) of any settlement amount or award won at trial.
Some personal injury attorneys use what’s referred to as a “sliding scale.” In sliding scale arrangements, the size of the lawyer's contingency fee changes depending on what stage in the process your case is resolved.
For instance, if your case is resolved quickly through a settlement with the insurance company, the personal injury attorney might take a 33% fee or even less. But if your case goes to trial, the size of the contingency fee would increase--say to 40%--because your lawyer must spend a lot more time prepping your personal injury case and taking it to trial.
Sliding scale fee structures may seem complicated, but they are really just a way to adjust the personal injury lawyer’s fees based on how much time and effort they spend working on your case. And remember, either way your personal injury attorney gets paid only if your case is successful under a contingency fee arrangement.
Separate from the personal injury attorney fees, though, there could be some costs associated with your case which would impact the total cost of a personal injury lawyer.
For instance, your lawyer may need to request certain types of records that support your claim, such as medical bills or medical records from a hospital or doctor’s office. Some institutions may provide these records for free, but others will not, and your lawyer may have to pay postage and copying expenses in order to get these documents.
Additionally, there could be court filing fees or expert witness fees depending on how far your personal injury case progresses.
Many personal injury lawyers do not ask clients to pay for these expenses in advance and will instead ask you to reimburse them at the end of the case. Your contingency fee agreement will address who is responsible for paying legal costs, and whether these costs are to be deducted from your award before or after calculating the personal injury lawyer’s legal fees.
Here’s an example of how much a personal injury attorney might cost, such as in a slip and fall case:
(If you have a car accident claim, check out our article on how much does a lawyer get from a car accident settlement).
If you are debating whether you should hire a personal injury lawyer, here’s what to keep in mind: If your case is straightforward, you only have minor injuries, and you are comfortable representing your own interests, then you probably don’t need to hire a personal injury attorney.
But the more serious your injuries, or the more that is at stake, the more important it is to have an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side to level the playing field. A personal injury attorney can be a crucial resource to help you navigate the legal framework and fight for the compensation you deserve.
And remember, because most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis, you shouldn't have to bear a large financial burden to pursue your case.
So, how much do personal injury attorneys charge? Let's recap.
In sum, there are three key things to know about the cost of a personal injury attorney.
First, most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis, so you only pay if your case is successful.
Second, the size and structure of those contingency fees can still vary greatly depending on the details of your written fee agreement.
Third, there could be legal costs and expenses associated with your case separate from the attorney's fees which will add slightly to the cost of a personal injury attorney. But personal injury lawyers often cover these costs upfront and seek reimbursement out of any award.
If you have other questions about personal injury lawyer costs, it may be worth scheduling a free consultation to speak with an attorney. And if you do, here are the key questions to ask when you first meet.