How Much is the Contingency Fee of a Personal Injury Lawyer?

Written by James Hirby | Fact checked by The Law Dictionary staff |  

If you're planning on retaining a personal injury attorney, you're probably wondering what to expect from your new representative. Since they tend to be visible within the communities that they serve, personal injury lawyers inspire a wide range of emotions. For some folks, these professionals seem amoral and greedy. Others may believe that they perform a valuable service that keeps powerful individuals and institutions in check.

Regardless of your own feelings towards legal workers, there are plenty of situations in which it makes sense to retain a personal injury lawyer. If you've been injured in a car accident or fall, chances are good that it was the result of another individual's negligent action or non-action. If you've been hurt or subjected to psychological pain due to a faulty medical device or defective consumer product, you might have strong grounds for a case against the institution or company that manufactured it. Depending upon the severity of your injury and the extent of your suffering, you could be entitled to recover thousands or even millions of dollars from the responsible party.

Before you retain a personal injury lawyer, you'll want to get a sense of the cost of such representation. Fortunately, most lawyers adhere to a straightforward pricing scheme. Although some major-market personal injury attorneys are beginning to undercut their competitors in an effort to attract a greater number of clients, the majority of these individuals charge a flat "contingency" fee for their services. This amounts to 33 percent of the pre-tax value of a given case's judgment or settlement.

If you lose your case, it's unlikely that your personal injury attorney will charge you for his or her services. Although this arrangement shuts off a potential revenue stream for these professionals, it's the result of an unspoken code of honor. If a significant number of personal injury attorneys charged their clients for lost cases, it's likely that every lawyer would have to start doing so. In addition, few attorneys charge consultation fees or "case management" fees. Although these are common among other fee-based professionals, lawyers have thus far resisted their implementation.

In recent years, the contingency fee structure has become somewhat more diverse. These days, it's possible to find a personal injury lawyer that's willing to accept just 25 percent of a given case's winnings. If a case's potential payout is particularly large, this may be more likely. By contrast, some personal injury attorneys have been known to charge contingency fees of as much as 40 percent of a case's winnings.

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