How Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Get Paid?

If you think that you might have a personal injury case but worry you can’t afford an attorney, then you are probably wondering how exactly they get paid in the first place. The answer is probably quite different than what you imagined.

Attorneys Representing Plaintiffs

Most of the time, an Iowa personal injury lawyer who represents a plaintiff will work under a contingency fee agreement. This means that your lawyer won’t receive payment unless you receive a payment from the defendant. The amount that a lawyer takes at the end of a case varies, but typically you can expect to pay about 33%. For example, if you win $100,000 in the case, your lawyer will take about $33,000.

There are also a couple of variations that some lawyers use in their contingency rates. Some attorneys charge a reduced hourly rate for completed work, which you must pay even if you do not win your case. If you do win, your attorney will receive a “bonus” which may be a small percentage or a larger hourly fee. Some attorneys also use a sliding scale contingency. Typically, the longer your case goes on, the higher the contingency percentage will be.

Some attorneys charge an hourly fee but do so on a contingency. This means that they still don’t get paid unless you do, but they charge based on the time they worked instead of on the amount of money that you received. This is not very common unless the plaintiff will be recovering the fees from a losing defendant.

Attorneys Representing Defendants

Attorneys that work for the defendants in a personal injury lawsuit typically work only in billable hours. This means that an attorney who charges $300 an hour and works 40 hours on a case will charge a defendant $12,000. Like the plaintiff’s attorneys, the defendant’s attorneys typically have some variations.

Some work on a retainer. This means that the defendant pays the attorney a lump sum that is kept in a special bank account. The attorney withdraws money from the account as he or she completes work. Blended hourly fees are also common if multiple lawyers of various experience levels are working on the case. It simply means charging a fee somewhere between the least experienced attorney’s fees and the most experienced attorney’s fees.  

Whether you’re the plaintiff or defendant in a personal injury case, ensure you hire an attorney who is licensed, experienced, and makes you feel comfortable. Doing so will help you get the best outcome possible.

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