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How Personal Injury Attorneys Get Paid

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When you get injured at work, in a car accident, or because of a product malfunction, you deserve justice. A personal injury lawyer can help you seek monetary damages to pay for hospital bills, doctor bills, recovery costs and prescriptions. If you've never worked with a personal injury lawyer before, you might have questions about how lawyers get paid. Especially if you're out of work because of your injury, it can seem a bit daunting to pay a lawyer. However, lawyers are more flexible with payment options than you might initially believe. Here are three common ways you can pay a lawyer. 

Hourly Rate

Some lawyers prefer to be paid at an hourly rate. You can negotiate the rate before they take you on as a client, and tell you an estimate of how many hours it might take to resolve the case. That way, you can decide if your budget allows the proposed rate. Lawyers who work on hourly rates can either cap their services at a specific pre-determined total, or work until the case is resolved. 

Upon Recovery

If you've ever heard the term, "We don't get paid until you do", that refers to a contingency fee. This payment method basically outlines that you don't have to pay your lawyer unless they win money for you in your case. This contingency fee is usually about 30% of the total personal injury recovery amount. The contingency fee payment method ensures that you don't have to pay steep lawyer fees unless they deliver on their promise. A law case can typically be resolved in one of the following ways.

Settlement - Many companies or defendants decide to settle outside of court. This means they agree to pay a certain amount of money to avoid a lengthy legal battle and an appearance in court. 

Mediation - When two parties can't agree on a settlement, they may go to mediation. This mediation uses a third party to reach a compromise. 

Arbitration - Arbitration is a form of mediation, but the difference is that an arbitrator can force the outcome. When non-binding mediation doesn't work (where both parties use a mediator to come to an agreement), arbitration allows the neutral third party to make the decision for them.

Trial - A trial is often a last resort when both parties can't resolve their legal issue without the help of a judge and sometimes a jury. The judge will determine the amount to be paid to the plaintiff, if at all.


Lastly, a lawyer can be kept on retainer. This is a flat fee to be paid before legal representation begins. It ensures the lawyer gets paid, and takes out any element of surprise for the client. A retainer may be hard for some clients to come up with before representation, but is a good option for some clients.

Talk with your personal injury lawyer to come up with a payment plan that works for all parties involved.