How Do Accident Attorneys Get Paid?

In the aftermath of a serious accident, many victims are worried about how they will be able to afford a lawyer. Some are even reluctant to file a lawsuit for that very reason. After all, the hospital bills and treatment for an injury can be financially overwhelming, especially if you have to miss work after an accident. And that doesn’t include the medical bills for ongoing care or hiring in-home care or services to help when you’re incapacitated. 

But the good news is that filing an accident claim is more affordable than you think, mostly because of the way these types of arrangements are structured in favor of the victim. Understanding how a personal injury attorney gets paid is an important step in finding the most qualified support and ensuring the best possible outcome for your case. Here’s what you need to know.

Understanding Fee Structures for Personal Injury Attorneys

When it comes to payment for personal injury attorneys, there are actually several different types of fees. The method by which you, the plaintiff, pay for legal services depends on the type of lawyer you hire to represent you and what type of lawsuit you’re pursuing. The way an accident lawyer collects their fees gives you a sense of their confidence in your case, as well as their reputation, both of which we describe below. 

The most common ways accident attorneys structure their fees include: 


This is the most common fee structure for plaintiffs in personal injury cases. Put simply, a contingency fee is a fee that is applied only when the lawyer wins the case — hence, it’s contingent upon the success of the lawsuit. If a case is won in your favor, the attorney will be paid their fee, which is a percentage of your award, after you receive your settlement. If your attorney does not win the case, you do not owe a fee. 

Winning a case can mean one of two things: either the lawsuit is brought to court before a jury or it’s settled before trial. If you receive a settlement, it counts as a winning case, regardless of whether it was settled before trial or tried before a judge. 


In this type of payment structure, the client pays a lawyer a lump sum of money before they begin work on the case. The lawyer withdraws funds from this retainer as they complete their work, until the retainer has ended. This is a much less common form of payment, and it’s important to be wary of a personal injury legal firm that asks for money upfront. 


Some attorneys charge their clients by the hour, providing an hourly rate for the time they log working on the case. However, this is not a commonly used method of payment, and it’s not recommended for most victims in personal injury cases. 

It’s important to remember that most lawyers work with a contingency fee, meaning they don’t get paid unless they win. On the contrary, a lawyer who charges by the hour may not have high hopes that your case will win (or may not have plans to work very hard to win), so they want to ensure that they’ll make money regardless of the outcome of your case. This is precisely why contingency fee arrangements are so beneficial for plaintiffs, especially in a personal injury case. 

Looking for an Accident Attorney Near You?

Here at The Lopez Law Group, we work on a contingency basis, which means you don’t have to pay for our services unless we win compensation for your case. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, we’re here to help you clearly understand your rights and receive the fair compensation you are owed. Even if you decide not to pursue legal representation, we can help you evaluate your case at no charge. 

Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your accident. We’ll advocate for your legal rights so that you can focus on healing from your injury. 

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