The Big Cut: What Percentage Do Most Personal Injury Lawyers Take?

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By Molly

Personal injury lawyers play a crucial role in helping individuals who have suffered an injury due to the negligence of others. When hiring a personal injury lawyer, one of the important considerations is the fee structure. One common question asked by clients is, “What percentage do most personal injury lawyers take?” 

This is an important question to ask, as the fee structure can have a significant impact on the outcome of your case. Understanding the typical percentage that personal injury lawyers charge can help you make an informed decision when choosing a lawyer to represent you in your case. In this article, we will explore the various fee structures used by personal injury lawyers and what you can expect to pay in most cases.

Who are the personal injury lawyers? 

A personal injury is an attorney who represents individuals who have been physically or emotionally injured due to another person’s or entity’s negligence or wrongdoing. Personal injury lawyers assist clients in navigating the legal system and seeking compensation for their injuries, medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages. They handle cases involving car accidents, slip and fall accidents, medical malpractice, product liability, and more.

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Overview of Personal Injury Lawyer Fees

Most of the Personal injury lawyers typically work on a contingency fee basis. This fee arrangement benefits clients as they only pay their lawyer if they win their case. The typical contingency fee ranges from 33 to 40 per cent of the total settlement amount. This fee covers all legal services, including initial consultation, investigation, negotiations, and court proceedings. In some cases, there may be additional costs, such as court fees, or other expenses not covered by the contingency fee. If these costs are incurred, the client will be responsible for paying them. 

Types of compensation received

Contingency Fees

This is the most common type of compensation received by personal injury lawyers. The lawyer takes a percentage of the final settlement or award as their fee in this arrangement. If the case is lost, the lawyer does not receive any compensation.

Hourly Fees

It is based on the time the lawyer spends on a case. The lawyer charges a set hourly rate for their services, and the client pays for their time as the case progresses.

Flat Fees

This type of compensation is a one-time fee agreed upon between the personal injury lawyer and the client at the beginning of the case. The fee covers all legal services, including negotiations and court appearances.

Retainer Fees

This type of compensation is a pre-payment made by the client to the lawyer. The retainer is held in a trust account and used to pay for legal services as the case progresses.

Cost Advancement

This type of compensation involves the lawyer covering the costs associated with the case, such as court fees and expert witness fees. The lawyer then adds these costs to the final settlement or award, and the client pays them back as part of their compensation.

The contingency fee system of personal injury lawyers

The contingency fee system is a common method used by personal injury lawyers to provide legal services. In this system, the lawyer agrees to represent the client in a personal injury case for a percentage of the compensation recovered.

The client does not have to pay the lawyer any upfront fees; the lawyer only gets paid if the case is won. The contingency fee percentage is typically agreed upon between the lawyer and the client before the start of the case. It can vary depending on the complexity and length of the case.

The advantage of the contingency fee system is that it allows injured individuals to access legal representation without paying out of pocket. This is particularly beneficial for individuals needing more financial resources to pay for a lawyer’s services. Additionally, the lawyer is motivated to work hard on the case because they will only get paid if they win.

However, the contingency fee system can also lead to ethical concerns if lawyers prioritize their financial gain over the best interests of their clients. 

Factors affecting contingency fees

  1. The complexity of the case: The complexity and time involved can greatly impact the contingency fee. Cases that are more complicated and time-consuming will likely result in higher contingency fees.
  2. Risks involved: The risks involved in a case also affect the contingency fee. If the case is uncertain, the contingency fee may be higher as the attorney takes on more risk.
  3. Past performance: Attorneys with a good track record of winning cases may charge a higher contingency fee as they have a higher chance of winning.
  4. Reputation: Attorneys with a good reputation in the legal community may charge a higher contingency fee as they are in high demand.
  5. Location: The location of the case can also affect the contingency fee. Attorneys in larger cities with a higher cost of living may charge higher fees.
  6. Size of the settlement: The size of the settlement or award can greatly affect the contingency fee. The larger the settlement, the higher the contingency fee may be.
  7. Competition: Competition among attorneys can also impact the contingency fee. Attorneys may lower their fees to attract more clients.
  8. Client preference: The client’s preferences can also impact the contingency fee. Some clients may be willing to pay a higher fee for an experienced attorney with a good track record, while others may prefer a lower fee for a less experienced attorney.

How Contingency Fees Are Calculated

Contingency fees are calculated as a percentage of the total amount awarded in a legal case. This percentage is agreed upon between the attorney and the client before the start of the case. The most common contingency fee percentage is 33%. If the client wins a settlement of $100,000, the attorney will receive $33,000 as their fee. However, the percentage can vary depending on the case’s complexity, the amount of work required, and the level of risk involved. Sometimes, the fee may be as low as 25% or as high as 40%. The fee may also be increased if the case goes to trial and additional work is required.

It is important to note that contingency fees only apply to cases where the client is awarded a settlement or judgment. If the case is lost, the attorney does not receive a fee. This incentivizes the attorney to work harder on the case, as their fee is contingent on the outcome.


In conclusion, understanding personal injury lawyer percentages is crucial for individuals seeking legal representation in personal injury cases. The percentage fee, also known as the contingency fee, is a common way for personal injury lawyers to be compensated. The fee can range anywhere from 33% to 40% of the final settlement amount, and it is important to understand the terms of the agreement before hiring a personal injury lawyer. Individuals can make an informed decision by understanding personal injury lawyer percentages and finding the best representation to fight for their rights and compensation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the standard fee for personal injury lawyers?

Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they take a percentage of the settlement or award won for their clients. The standard fee is usually 33% of the total recovery.

Q: Can a personal injury lawyer charge more than 33%?

Yes, some personal injury lawyers may charge a higher percentage, but it is important to note that the fee is negotiable and should be agreed upon before hiring a lawyer.

Q: Does the percentage change based on the type of injury case?

In some cases, the fee percentage may vary. It is best to discuss the fee agreement with your injury lawyer.

Q: Who pays the personal injury lawyer’s fee?

The fee is typically paid out of the settlement or award won for the client. If there is no recovery, the client is not responsible for paying the fee.

Q: Are any hidden costs involved in hiring a personal injury lawyer?

No, there should not be any hidden costs involved in hiring a personal injury lawyer. The fee agreement should be transparent and clearly stated before hiring a lawyer. If you are unsure about the fee agreement, it is best to ask for clarification.