There are infinite ways that the rule of law governs our lives. When it comes to personal injury law, there are three major considerations that each court case must prove: negligence, strict liability, and intentional wrongdoings. Attorneys must be able to prove or disprove these considerations, depending on which side of the case the attorney represents. This also factors into how attorneys get paid after a personal injury case.
Attorneys Representing Plaintiffs
In the case of those attorneys representing the plaintiffs (the injured person bringing the averment), the majority of the time the payment will be under a contingency fee agreement. This means that the attorney won’t receive the payment of this fee unless he or she is capable of obtaining a favorable settlement or winning the case after a trial. Usually, this fee is around 33% of the collected amount.
Now, as the previous explanation was for the majority of the cases, we find that there are also some less typical ways that the attorney and the plaintiff (or the insurance company) can get to an agreement about the payment regime.
We can find some agreements under the modality of the sliding scale contingency, accepting this regime means that the payment of the fee will be determined by the progression of the case. If the case is settled before the trial the fee will be lower, but if it goes all the way through the trial the fee will be higher.
There is another variant that involves a mix of hourly and contingent in which the attorney charges for the hour (whatever he or she decides the hourly fee is) and will receive compensation even if the plaintiff loses. But if the plaintiff wins the attorney will receive a higher percentage or a higher hourly fee.
The most unusual of the payment regimes is the contingency hourly which says that the attorney will only receive compensation if the plaintiff wins but will only receive the equivalent of the amount of time that he or she spent on the case.
Another unusual agreement is the hourly rate, which is very simple, the attorney charges a rate for the time that he or she spent on the case. Usually, this payment is made out of the pocket of the plaintiff, that’s why it is so unusual in personal injury cases.
Attorneys Representing Defendants
In a different scenario than the one we mentioned before when an attorney is representing a defendant (the person who supposedly caused the injury) will usually get paid under an hourly fee. This means that the attorney will charge a fee based on the amount of time he or she spent on the case.
There are some variants to the hourly fee agreement, one of them is the so-called retainer in which the defendant pays the attorney a sum of money that will be retained and will be withdrawn by the attorney when he or she completes the work.
We can also find another modality which is called blended hourly, in this agreement we always find more than one attorney working on the case, but not all the attorneys have the same experience. That’s why while a senior attorney charges more than a junior attorney the client is expected to pay a blend of their hourly fees. This results in a fair arrangement for the client and the attorneys as they work as a team in a particular case.
The last arrangement that we will find is the hourly cap, which works just like the regular hourly rate agreement but with the difference that the attorney has a limit on the amount of money that they can charge on the defendant, even if he or she spends more hours than contemplated.
Where Does the Money Come From?
If we are talking about the attorney who is on the plaintiff’s side, the expenses and fees will come out of the settlement or the amount that the court commanded the defendant to pay after a trial. But on the defendant’s side, the expenses and fees of the attorney must be paid by the insurance company of the defendant. However, if the defendant does not have insurance, these are typically paid out of the defendant’s pocket.