When Do Lawyers Get Paid?

Submitted by amm on Thu, 11/18/2021 - 10:21

You have a lot on your plate after a personal injury incident. Medical bills pile up, property damage runs into four figures, and you cannot work until you reach a full recovery. The last thing you want to worry about concerns legal fees, which prompts the question, “when do lawyers get paid.”

Do lawyers get paid upfront or do lawyers get paid before or after a personal injury settlement? The answer is lawyers typically get paid once a client’s claim has reached a settlement.

When Are Personal Injury Attorneys Paid?

Most personal injury lawyers operate on a contingency fee basis as opposed to receiving compensation by the hour. Operating on a contingency fee basis means a personal injury attorney gets paid when a client gets paid. The client and attorney agree to a percentage that makes up the contingency fee. For example, if you win a legal judgment of $100,000 and you agree to pay your lawyer a contingency fee of 30 percent, then your attorney’s compensation is 30 percent of $100,000, or $30,000.

Because you do not pay any upfront legal fees, you can use some of the money for legal fees to take care of medical expenses. You have to pay out-of-pocket for medical bills until you reach a settlement or win a favorable legal judgment. Your personal injury lawyer will not front you the money to take care of medical bills or the cost of repairing property damage.

Do Lawyers Get Paid Before Medical Bills?

Your attorney receives contingency fees for the entire settlement, not the amount of money given to you after you pay off medical bills. This means you pay your personal injury lawyer before you take care of any outstanding medical expenses. Since you do not have to pay any upfront legal fees, you should at least decrease the amount of your healthcare debt by using the money you would have used to pay upfront legal fees.

An exception to the personal injury attorneys get paid first rule is if you have medical liens placed on your settlement or legal judgment. Medical liens cover the cost of outstanding healthcare expenses. If you have any medical liens, you must pay the liens first before you compensate your personal injury attorney. The attachment of medical liens means you automatically cover your healthcare costs directly from the settlement or legal judgment.

How Are Expenses Accounted for with a Personal Injury Case?

Most personal injury lawyers advance expenses for clients instead of asking clients to pay upfront. The costs of litigation can include court filing fees, hiring expert witnesses, and developing presentations during a civil trial. When you reach a settlement or win a favorable legal judgment, your personal injury lawyer needs to get paid for every advanced expense.

Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer

The amount of the contingency fees you pay a personal injury attorney depends on the amount stated in the agreement both parties signed before the start of the personal injury claim process. By working with an attorney who charges contingency fees, you can focus more on your claim or civil lawsuit and less on managing your finances.

Schedule a free case evaluation today to determine the best course of legal action.

Additional Resources