How Do Personal Injury Lawyers Get Paid?

There’s a common misconception that lawyers are costly and that only people with disposable incomes can access the legal services they need after getting into an accident. Fortunately, hiring a personal injury lawyer is not the same as hiring an attorney for other legal matters. In those instances, you may need to come up with a lot of money in advance to pay for retainers, hourly fees, or flat rates. Instead, most Carrollton personal injury lawyers, like the attorneys at the Law Offices of Tim O’Hare, offer their services on a “contingency fee” basis. This is an alternative form of payment that allows people from all income levels to access the legal representation they need without worrying about upfront payments or paying for legal services if they don’t get a favorable outcome.

In this article, we’ll explain how contingency fee agreements work and what you can expect when you hire a personal injury lawyer.

Contingency Fees Explained

You’ve probably seen advertisements from personal injury law firms that say “you don’t pay a dime unless we win.” Well, that’s not a marketing gimmick. That’s true for personal injury lawyers working under a “contingency fee agreement.” Essentially, this means that you don’t pay for legal services up front. Instead, payment depends (or is contingent) upon if the lawyer is able to obtain compensation for you either through a settlement with the at-fault party—or in the rare event that your case makes it all the way to a trial, a verdict with a monetary award from a jury. If you win or settle your case, your Carrollton personal injury lawyer will take a percentage of your reward to cover their fees.

The Law Offices of Tim O’Hare operate on a contingency fee arrangement. This means that if you hire us, you will only have to pay if we recover compensation for you on your behalf. To put it in even simpler terms, if you don’t get paid, we don’t get paid–at all. You don’t pay our lawyers for their work, the paralegals for their time, and you don’t even pay for the expenses that we spend out of our own pocket, like expert witness fees or legal research fees, to build your case.

This arrangement allows clients of all income levels to receive top-notch legal representation, regardless of their ability to pay. It levels the playing field between accident victims and large insurance companies by enabling accident victims to hire highly qualified and experienced personal injury lawyers without having to pay anything upfront.

What Percentage Will Your Carrollton Personal Injury Lawyer Take To Cover Their Fees?

As we mentioned earlier, most Carrollton personal injury lawyers will only take a percentage of your award once they successfully recover compensation for you. So, what percentage will they take out of your reward to cover their services? Like so many things, it depends. These contingency fees can differ vastly from one firm to another and are often based on the details surrounding a client’s case. Broadly speaking, personal injury lawyers may take anywhere from 30% to 50% of the recovery amount.

Sometimes contingency fee percentages are based on the position of the case when recovery is made. This is often called a “sliding scale” fee agreement. With this option, the percentage fee might decrease or increase based on which part of the litigation process your case is settled. Here’s how the payment structure may apply under the sliding scale:

  • Cases that settle before filing a lawsuit: If you’re able to reach a fair settlement before you have to file a personal injury lawsuit in court, attorneys usually will agree to be paid a lower percentage of the recovery because less work was required to obtain the settlement. Typically, during this phase of the litigation process, the lawyer’s percentage fee is around 33% (or, lower).
  • Cases where a lawsuit is filed: If the at-fault party isn’t willing to negotiate, you might need to file a lawsuit in order to obtain compensation. Perhaps, once your lawyer files a lawsuit, the other party starts taking your case seriously and comes back to the negotiation table. Or, you may need to have your day in court in order to hold the at-fault party responsible. In these situations, where your lawyer has to file a lawsuit or if your case reaches the trial stage, your lawyer may charge a higher fee of around 40% (or, more) because they have to put in more working hours and resources to prepare your case.

Again, each Carrollton personal injury law firm will have a different structure, so you should be sure to cover the particulars with any potential attorney you may hire. Fortunately, most personal injury lawyers offer a free initial consultation to potential clients. This means that you can schedule a no-cost meeting to discuss your situation and get to know a little bit more about the law firm, their pricing structures, and what strategies they might use to help you win your case.

Once You Win, Your Carrollton Personal Injury Lawyer Will Disperse Your Funds

Once you reach a settlement or a favorable verdict from a jury, your check won’t be made out to you directly. Rather, it will be made out to you and your attorney and will be deposited in a secure trust account set up by your attorney. Why doesn’t the check hit your bank account directly? Remember, as part of the contingency fee agreement, your Carrollton personal injury lawyer agrees to cover 100% of the costs upfront. After the check hits this account, they will deduct their contingent fee percentage, out-of-pocket expenses, pay off medical liens if necessary, and any other associated costs. Once the check is deposited, it usually takes a few days to clear, and then the rest of the funds are dispersed to you.

Are the Fees Worth it?​​​​​​​

To some people, the concept of a contingency fee might seem too high a price to eventually pay, but consider this: studies have shown that hiring a personal injury attorney has a significant impact on the final dollar amount you’re offered. According to the Insurance Research Council, the average plaintiff who is represented by a personal injury attorney receives a settlement three and a half times larger than those who handle cases on their own.

And because most Carrollton personal injury lawyers are working under a contingency fee, they have an incentive on your attorney to work hard to secure the best recovery available. It’s a “rising tide lifts all boats” dynamic. First, because they won’t receive a payment if they don’t secure any compensation for you. And secondly, the more money they win for you, the more they win, too.

Have More Questions? Contact Our Carrollton Personal Injury Lawyers For a Free Consultation

A lot of injured victims simply can’t afford to pay out-of-pocket fees and upfront expenses for legal services, especially when the medical bills are piling up and you’re out of work due to your injuries. This is why partnering with a personal injury lawyer who works under a contingency fee agreement, like the attorneys at the Law Office of Tim O’Hare, is extremely beneficial for accident victims.

Because we operate on a contingency fee basis, none of our clients lose money when they hire us as their attorneys. When you partner with us, you don’t have to worry about upfront costs or attorney fees, and you only pay once we’ve succeeded in recovering adequate compensation for your losses. Have more questions? Contact us today for a confidential, no-obligation consultation.