Most lawyers take a percentage of whatever they help a client win. How much a lawyer takes from your settlement will depend on their fee. There will also be separate costs and expenses as a lawyer works your case.
Working on Contingency Fees
Many personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee. Here’s how a contingency fee arrangement works:
- There are no upfront costs to start working with your lawyer.
- Your lawyer accepts a fixed percentage of your settlement. The rate can be higher or lower based on your case’s complexity.
- If you win your case, your lawyer’s fee comes out of what you win.
- If you don’t win a settlement, your lawyer doesn’t get paid.
Contingency fees are very common in personal injury claims. The lawyer takes on the risk regarding payment. They only receive their fee percentage if they win you a settlement or court award.
Keep in mind that there will probably be other fees associated with your case. Even if you don’t win a settlement, you could be responsible for the additional costs. You’ll want to discuss the details with your lawyer before hiring them.
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Sliding Scale Fees
The most common contingency fee is 33% (or one-third) of your settlement. However, many lawyers will have a sliding scale for what they charge. Their contingency will depend on how far your case goes before resolution.
Most personal injury cases follow this format:
- Your lawyer sends the demand letter to the at-fault party requesting compensation.
- The other party’s insurer sends you a counteroffer.
- Your lawyer begins negotiations for a fair settlement.
- You and the other party reach a fair agreement, and the other party sends a check.
If you settle your case without having to go to trial, 33% is the standard fee. Most cases resolve at this point. However, there are some cases where you’ll have to file a lawsuit.
If your case goes to trial, your lawyer might collect a higher contingency fee. Usually, the cost is around 40% of what you win. If you consider filing a lawsuit, make sure you understand how that could change how much your lawyer can take.
Other Fee Structures
Sometimes, a lawyer will not work on contingency. They might charge an upfront fee or deposit instead. A lawyer might charge you upfront if they think you have a weak case. They could be uncomfortable with the possibility of not getting paid if they aren’t confident in your case.
Other lawyers might work on contingency but ask you to reimburse additional fees. For example, they might incur legal costs as they build your case.
It’s rare for a lawyer to ask you to pay for fees upfront. Make sure you understand the lawyer’s terms when you first talk to them.
Other Legal Costs from Your Case
Most of the time, a lawyer will not charge you upfront for case-related expenses. They might absorb the costs themselves or take them from your settlement after you win.
As an attorney works on your case, they might have expenses for:
- Copies of police reports
- Copies of medical records
- Filing fees
- Expert witness fees
- Court transcripts
- Paying experts or investigators
- Trial exhibits
On top of the contingency fee, legal costs might increase how much a lawyer can take. The combination of fees could total 45-60% of a settlement. The longer it takes for your case to resolve, the more a lawyer might end up taking.
Let’s look at an example. Say that you receive a settlement of $100,000 after you’ve filed a lawsuit. Your lawyer’s contingency fee is 40% (which is $40,000) since you filed a lawsuit. The total expenses your lawyer covered was $12,000.
In the above example, your lawyer would take $52,000 from your final settlement amount. However, keep in mind that most cases don’t make it to the lawsuit stage. You might have fewer costs and a lower contingency fee if you settle sooner.
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Evaluating Your Legal Document
Before working with any lawyer, make sure you understand all fees. The legal agreement between you and your lawyer should provide the details. If you’re unsure about anything, don’t be afraid to ask.
Most of the time, a lawyer’s fee will not be more than 33%. It will typically only be higher if you end up filing a lawsuit. If your lawyer’s fee changes based on your case, have them clarify the details with you.
Receiving Your Settlement Check
After you settle, your lawyer will probably receive the check. Since many lawyers work on contingency, getting the check first will ensure they get their payment. Otherwise, they might risk not getting paid after the case resolves.
Your lawyer should call you when they get your settlement check. They will deduct their contingency fee and other fees and expenses. You should receive an itemized list of all deductions. If you have questions about any costs, you can ask your lawyer.
How much a lawyer can take from your settlement depends on:
- The complexity of your case
- The percentage of their contingency fee
- Your full settlement amount
- The costs and expenses your lawyer has while working your case
If another party’s actions have injured you, we recommend contacting a lawyer right away. You have two years to file your case (Georgia Code Section 9-3-33), but that time goes quickly. Reach out to a trusted lawyer for a consultation today.
Need Pre-Settlement Funding? Apply Online Today
Personal injury cases are complicated. While your lawyer works your case, you will have to wait for your settlement. Unfortunately, medical bills and living expenses pile up quickly.
At Silver Dollar Financial, we provide pre-settlement funding to cover your costs. You only pay us back when you receive your settlement. If you don’t end up winning your case, you don’t have to pay us back.
To learn more and apply today, click Apply Now or call (844) 871-0628. We are available 24/7 to help you.