Just How Are Personal Injury Attorneys Paid?

In most personal injury cases, the clients and their attorneys have a lot of leeway in determining the fee arrangements. How the personal injury lawyer will get paid is often determined by the side of the case that they represent, being either the defendant who allegedly caused an injury or the plaintiff bring the claim.

Most plaintiff attorneys in the field of personal injury law get their payment under an arrangement known as a contingency fee agreement. In these agreements, attorneys don’t get paid for their legal services unless they are successful in obtaining any kind of recovery for their client. This usually involves a certain percentage, typically 33 percent, of the amount that is recovered via trial judgment or a personal injury settlement.

Given this particular arrangement, many personal injury attorneys for plaintiffs will push hard for a negotiated settlement so they can make the most money in the quickest amount of time, while avoiding the work of a trial.

Personal injury attorneys working for defendants usually go along the more traditional lines of billable hours. This might involve a retainer fee, blended hourly rates, and hourly caps.

In many cases, insurers are who pay the personal injury attorneys of defendants, considering how an accident and subsequent lawsuit might trigger the liability coverage that the defendant has. Insurance carriers will typically have their own rules and guidelines about how to pay lawyers, but if a lawsuit legally triggers their policy, then they are obligated to provide legal defense to the policy holder. This is contractually mandatory even in situations where the plaintiff’s case is so strong and obvious that a positive defense or good outcome is seriously unlikely.

In such cases, the lawyers would very much like to avoid a trial where a sympathetic jury could award serious compensation. As such, they try and push settlements quickly too.