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How Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Get Paid?


One of the largest impediments to personal injury victims pursuing their legal claims in court is fears about legal fees.  Many potential plaintiffs choose not to file their lawsuit because they believe that the cost of competent legal care will minimize any reward that they get.  Others who are dealing with the immediate financial consequences of their injuries worry that they will bankrupt themselves along the way.
However, this could not be further from the truth.  Most personal injury lawyers will work on a contingency fee structure.  A contingency fee is a set percentage of the end result of the representation.  This allows the personal injury lawyer to earn more if they get more compensation for their client.  By using a contingency fee, you can often guarantee that you won’t owe your lawyer anything in legal fees if you don’t recover for your injury.
No matter how severe your injuries are or what costs you are dealing with, you deserve the competent advice of the Baltimore personal injury lawyers at Rice, Murtha & Psoras.  We offer all new clients a free initial consultation so that they can decide what is best for them.  To schedule your first appointment for free, call Rice, Murtha & Psoras now at (410) 694-7291.

Benefits of a Contingency Fee Arrangement with a Personal Injury Lawyer

Contingency fee structures exist for the benefit of potential plaintiffs who are concerned about mounting costs of representation.  You may be familiar with other forms of legal payment arrangements, such as hourly billing, where lawyers charge you for services along the way.  By agreeing to a contingency fee arrangement, clients can put off paying for their legal representation until after they achieve compensation in their case.
In a contingency fee arrangement, you and your personal injury lawyer will come to an agreement on a percentage of your recovery that will be allotted for legal services at the conclusion of the representation.  In other words, your lawyer will represent you for free up front in exchange for a percentage of your settlement or court-awarded damages when your case ultimately concludes.
If you speak to your lawyer initially and decide that you do not wish to proceed, you owe your lawyer nothing.  If your lawyer tells you that you may not have a strong case and declines to represent you, you do not owe anything.  If the case goes to trial and you are unsuccessful, you owe nothing, and if you and your lawyer go through the appeals process and are still unsuccessful, you still won’t owe anything.  the only way that you will owe legal fees for contingency representation is if you win money for your case.
Contingency fee arrangements are particularly useful when you have a case against a large corporation.  If plaintiffs are paying by the hour, corporate defendants may elect to drag out the case, bleeding out the plaintiff’s resources and pressuring them to abandon their case.  But if the plaintiff is not forced to pay along the way for their representation, the corporation will recognize that dragging their feet is not a strategy that will work.

Do Contingency Fees Apply if You Settle Your Personal Injury Case?

If your Ocean City personal injury attorney works on a contingency fee and you agree on a settlement with the defendant, the contingency fee still applies to your settlement.  the percentage of your settlement that you owe your lawyer will be taken directly out of the settlement prior to when you receive it.
However, depending on how far your case takes to settle, you may pay less in legal fees.  Many personal injury law firms will offer sliding scales for their contingency fees.  This way, the legal fees will generally reflect the amount of time and work that your lawyer spends on your case.
An example of a sliding scale might look like this:

  • If your case settles before discovery, contingency fees will be 20% of the settlement.
  • If your case settles after discovery or during trial, fees will be 33% of the settlement.
  • If your case goes through trial and you win a court decision, fees will be 40% of damages.

Talk to your attorney about the specific details of your contingency fee arrangement.
The sliding scale not only reflects the amount of work required by your personal injury attorneys but also the increase in compensation that you are likely to receive if you take your case further in the process.  Settlement offers will always be less than the potential damages from a court decision because the other side is hoping to save a little money and is factoring the chances that you won’t be successful.  Never sign a settlement agreement without having your personal injury lawyer look over it and advise you of your options.
There is also the possibility that both parties agree to mediation or there may be an arbitration clause somewhere in the paperwork you may have signed with the defendant in the past. If that’s true, there will be costs associated with moving that process forward as well.

Costs of Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit Without a Lawyer

Costs associated with a personal injury claim are different and separate from the larger amount paid for a lawyer’s contingency fee.  In each personal injury settlement negotiation or eventual lawsuit, there will be costs associated with moving the case toward its resolution.  These are administrative expenses that any claimant would have to pay, even when proceeding without representation.  Below are common costs associated with pursuing a personal injury claim, whether you have legal representation or not.

  • Medical record requests
  • Medical billing requests
  • Investigative expenses
  • Expert witness fees
  • Overnight mail and postage
  • Court filing fees
  • Legal service for notice and subpoena fees
  • Access fees for online legal databases
  • Mediation fees in lieu of trial

Contact Our Personal Injury Lawyers Today for a Free Consultation

If you sustained a personal injury and are curious about pursuing a lawsuit against a negligent party, contact the Maryland personal injury lawyers of Rice, Murtha & Psoras for a free case review at (410) 694-7291.