How Do Personal Injury Lawyers Get Paid?


  • Author John Jahrmarkt
  • Published September 16, 2021
  • Word count 925

A legal professional is required for many life events. Victims of car accidents, people getting divorced, and those filing for bankruptcy all need competent legal representation. People who have been accused of DUI (driving under the influence), need to draft a will or want to incorporate their business may also require legal representation.

When considering hiring a lawyer, the main concern is the cost. People wonder: "How much will it cost to hire an attorney?" Many people believe that they won't be able speak with an attorney without paying a lot of money due to cultural stereotypes gleaned from TV and movies.

These concerns are normal, but they are often misplaced. If you lose your case, the cost of hiring a personal injuries attorney is usually negligible. Most lawyers charge a contingency fee. Their ability to win determines their fee. No win - no fee.

Different types of attorneys

There are many types of lawyers. All attorneys must pass the bar exam in order to be licensed. However, there are many areas of legal expertise.

There were many lawyers who practiced in different areas of law years ago. These lawyers were called "generalists" and could write wills, represent clients facing criminal charges, or oversee real estate sales. These days, however, very few generalists are still in practice.

Modern lawyers tend to be more skilled, and focus their knowledge on a few specific areas of law.

There are, for example:

Lawyers for Business

Tax Lawyers

Wills and Trusts Lawyers

Personal Injury Lawyers

Criminal Defense Lawyers

Immigration lawyers

Environmental Lawyers

Civil Rights Lawyers

Each type of attorney has a different focus. Although it may seem like a great idea to have a lawyer that can do it all, it is more cost-effective to hire an expert in your field.

In most cases, your initial consultation is free

While different lawyers may charge in different ways, many share a common practice. Many types of lawyers offer an initial free consultation to potential clients. You can arrange a meeting for free to discuss any legal matter that might be of concern to you. This initial meeting is usually free.

However, there are exceptions to the rule. Potential clients may be charged for an initial consultation by some attorneys. This is done to avoid having to meet with people who only want to make a quick buck and do not intend to hire them.

A free consultation can be arranged if you have been hurt in an accident. This will allow you to decide if you would like a specific lawyer to represent you. The initial meeting allows the attorney to get to know you and your case. It can help you decide if the person you are choosing to represent you legally.

Common Charges Lawyers Make for Work

You will enter into an attorney-client relationship when you hire a lawyer to represent you. The document that details this agreement is usually known as a "retention agreement," "fee agreement," or "legal services agreement." This document will specify the services that you can expect from your lawyer and how you intend to pay them.

Here are some common ways attorneys can charge for their work.

The majority of personal injury attorneys charge this way for contingency fee agreements

Personal injury lawyers usually are paid based on contingency fee arrangements. The client does not pay upfront. Payment is made contingent upon the lawyer securing compensation for the client. In other words, if your client doesn't pay, you don't get any payment. Personal injury lawyers are often the most affordable type you can use.

A contingency fee agreement will stipulate a percentage of any money that is recovered in your case to be used for payment. In exchange for this percentage, your attorney will provide their services. A sliding scale of percentages is used in some contingency fee agreements, depending on how much financial recovery you receive.

The agreement will also contain information regarding who pays for administrative costs related to the claim. You will need to decide whether you will pay for travel expenses, filing fees and document reproduction costs. Or will your attorney cover those costs. If your law firm covers administrative expenses, you'll have to pay the rest out of the financial recovery.

It is important to discuss with your attorney whether these costs will be taken out of your financial award or not. This can make a huge difference in the amount you receive after your case is settled.

Hourly Fee Agreements (Personal Injuries Lawyers Usually Do Not Charge This Way)

Many lawyers charge an hourly rate to their clients. Clients can quickly become frustrated by this type of fee, which often runs into the hundreds of dollars per hour. An attorney might require that the client pay a retainer fee if they bill hourly.

A legal retainer is an upfront payment to secure the services of the lawyer for the client. For all work that is related to the client, the attorney will charge an hourly rate.

Flat Fee Agreements

Flat fee agreements are usually used when the attorney provides a specific legal service. These cases allow the lawyer to accurately estimate the work required to complete their service.

Take, for example:

Uncontested divorce filings

How to draft a trust or will

Filing a trademark, patent, or copyright request

Responsible for residential real estate sales and closings

Personal injury lawyers rarely charge a flat fee. As mentioned above, most accident lawyers work on contingency. This allows you to be sure that the final fee is fair and reasonable.

John Jahrmarkt, Esq. is the owner and managing partner of Jahrmarkt & Associates. John has more than 20 years of experience handling all kinds personal injury claims – from complicated catastrophic injuries to garden variety “soft tissue” pain.

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