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How Much Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Cost?

What Do Personal Injury Attorneys Cost?

One of the most common reasons people give for not hiring a personal injury lawyer to assist them in seeking compensation for the expenses and impacts of their injury is that they don’t think they can afford one.

The reality, however, is that the billing method used by most personal injury lawyers was put into place so that anyone who needs legal assistance in the personal injury claims process can obtain that assistance.

If someone else’s recklessness or carelessness injured you and you wonder how much a personal injury lawyer costs, read on for general information about attorney’s fees, how the attorney bills you, and what services a lawyer provides for that fee.

The Billing Method Most Often Used by Personal Injury Lawyers

The legal arena is vast, and different lawyers handle various legal claims. The most common billing method for any lawyer is a set amount of money for each hour they work on your case. Lawyers who handle cases seeking compensation, such as personal injury or worker’s compensation claims, use a different billing method known as a contingent fee.

As explained by the American Bar Association, a contingent fee billing method requires the law firm and the client to enter into an agreement whereby the lawyer will provide their services with payment contingent upon a favorable resolution to the claim either through a negotiated settlement or through litigation. If the client loses the case, they do not have to pay the lawyer for their services.

The Contingent Fee Agreement

The contingent fee agreement is the legal document that permits the clients to obtain the services of a law firm without being required to pay for them as lawyers perform them. The agreement outlines the attorney’s services exchanged for a settlement percentage.

Carefully read this document before signing it, as this is a legally binding contract. Understand that while the contingent fee agreement covers the costs associated with the services performed by your legal team, it does not cover all costs of the claim.

Some of the costs that you may be responsible for during the duration of the case include court-filing fees, the cost of copies, and costs related to expert witnesses or witness depositions. Be sure to inquire about these costs and how the attorney will address them.

Benefits of the Contingent Fee Billing Method

The most apparent benefit for clients with the contingent fee billing method is that those with limited financial resources can have access to experienced legal assistance when seeking compensation for injuries incurred due to someone else’s negligence.

There is no down payment required, and clients—many of whom are unable to work due to their injuries—will not have to worry that their attorney will stop working if they cannot keep up with hourly bills for service.

Other benefits include:

  • Attorneys are motivated to seek as high a settlement or award as possible as their pay level depends on the compensation the client receives.
  • Clients can rest assured that their attorney is not just “going through the motions” but legitimately believes in their ability to win the case.
  • The ability for the client to quickly determine at the end of the claim exactly how much they owe for their attorney’s services
  • The playing field between a financially disadvantaged client and a high-cost lawyer working for the at-fault party’s insurance provider levels due to a personal injury lawyer.

How Much Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Cost?

How Much Does A Lawyer Cost

A personal injury lawyer’s contingent fee is generally around one-third of the client’s total award. In particularly complex cases, the attorney can require up to 40 percent of the total award. In contrast, the contingent fee can be less than a third of the compensation received in more uncomplicated cases.

Additionally, attorneys have leeway to negotiate with their clients on the contingent fee in some cases where the client is highly likely to win the case and can do much of the work of providing evidentiary documentation on their own.

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The Services Provided in Your Lawyer’s Contingent Fee

Providing legal counsel for a client attempting to collect compensation for the expenses and impacts of a personal injury is not simply a matter of filing a lawsuit in court and arguing the case before a judge and jury. However, those steps can certainly be involved. Your attorney’s work on your case will usually begin long before that part of the process, however. Some of the services a personal injury lawyer who uses a contingent fee billing method provides for their clients include the following.

Determination of Liability and Insurance

Your attorney will investigate the details of the accident to determine whose negligence was to blame and what insurance policies they have that may provide your compensation.

For example, if you suffered severe injuries in a car accident caused by a distracted driver, the at-fault party would be that driver, and their auto liability insurance would be the source of compensation. Remember that there can be more than one source of liability for an accident, and your attorney will work to determine all sources and their associated insurance resources.

Establishing a Value to Your Claim

The value of your claim is the amount your attorney determines your case to be worth after adding up the expenses and impacts you incurred due to physical injury and property damage from the accident.

There are additional factors that go into establishing a claim’s value, however, including:

  • The available insurance resources, like insurance policies, have limits in how much compensation is available.
  • The severity of your injury. More severe injuries often result in higher valued claims. They typically cause increased out-of-pocket medical expenses, more time missed from work, a higher likelihood of permanent deficits that will reduce the claimant’s future earning capacity, and other psychological impacts.

Generally, your claim is not valued until there has been some time for you to reach maximum medical improvement, defined as the point in time that you will likely make no more meaningful recovery from your injuries.

Your lawyer may wait until this point to entirely ascertain the medical expenses incurred due to the injury. However, some injuries—such as those occurring to the brain or spinal cord—can result in expensive complications throughout the remainder of the claimant’s life. In these cases, you should include the estimated costs of addressing these complications throughout life.

Demanding Payment on the Claim

Once your attorney has determined a value to the claim, they will send a demand to the at-fault party’s insurance provider, along with details of the accident that occurred and documentation of injuries and expenses.

Upon receiving this information from your attorney, the at-fault party’s insurance provider has three options:

  • Pay the claim in total, which will mean your case resolves.
  • Deny the claim and provide notification and a reason for the denial to the claimant. If this occurs, you and your attorney will likely discuss filing the claim as a personal injury lawsuit in court.
  • Offer a settlement, which is a lower amount than what your claim demanded but will provide a quick resolution to the lawsuit.

Negotiating a Settlement

If the at-fault party’s insurance provider offers a settlement, your attorney can negotiate on your behalf in an attempt to get them to make an offer closer to the value of your claim. If the insurance company refuses to offer a fair settlement, you and your attorney can file a lawsuit in civil court. Your attorney can guide you on what constitutes a fair settlement, but the choice to accept the offer is yours to make.

It is important to note that settlement negotiations do not necessarily end with filing a personal injury lawsuit. Instead, they can continue even after the trial begins, as long as the court has not decided the matter.

Managing Communication with the At-Fault Party’s Insurance Adjuster

While seemingly concerned about your well-being, the at-fault party’s insurance adjuster works for the insurance company. The insurance company’s mission is not to pay out the total amount of compensation requested by claimants but rather to reduce the claim as much as possible.

They often use several questionable tactics to accomplish this mission, including:

  • Offering meager settlements for people who do not have attorneys in the hopes that the claimant will not understand how claims are valued or how much money they will need to compensate for the expenses and impacts of the injury fully
  • Telling claimants that there is no compensation available for pain and suffering
  • Convincing the claimant to release all of their medical histories, which they can then pour over in search of a pre-existing condition accounting for the claimant’s current physical pain
  • Convincing claimants that they need to provide a recorded statement that can then be used against them when determining compensation

Having an attorney handle communication from the at-fault party’s insurance adjuster not only allows them to negotiate a settlement on your behalf but also allows them to protect the value of your claim from common insurance tactics.

Filing Your Lawsuit

All states have a statute of limitations for personal injury claims. A statute of limitations is the amount of time the claimant has to file their claim as a lawsuit in court. Your attorney will ensure that your suit is prepared and filed within the statute of limitations and manage other requests and requirements from the court. Do note that while you must have your claim filed in court within the statute of limitations, you do not need to resolve the case during that period.


Discovery is the process of obtaining evidence held by the other side after filing a lawsuit. This is also an opportunity for witness depositions, which are out-of-court testimony that can help an attorney determine the best direction to take when proving the claim in court.


Only four to five percent of personal injury claims ever actually go to trial, and the rest resolve outside the court, most often through a negotiated settlement. However, because there is no way to predict at the outset which cases will wind up in litigation, it is essential to have an attorney who is as comfortable seeking your compensation in the courtroom as they are in negotiating a settlement.

Collecting Your Claim

Once you have entered into a settlement agreement or have obtained a court decision in your favor, your attorney will receive your compensation, take their percentage, and forward the remainder of your settlement or award to you.

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Personal Injury Attorney, Michael T. Gibson

After suffering injuries in an accident due to someone else’s negligence the last thing you should be concerned about is your legal eligibility. Hiring an experienced attorney can not only assist with every aspect of filing your personal injury claim but can be financially beneficial.

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We know that accidents don’t always happen during business hours. That’s why our experienced lawyers are standing by, 24/7/365, to listen to your story, evaluate your claim, and help you decide what to do next. Call us now and we’ll see if we can pursue compensation for your injuries!

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