What Percentage Does a Lawyer Get in a Settlement Case

Hundreds of Reviews
As seen on:
We don't get paid unless you do!
speak to an attorney now

Written by

Legally Reviewed by

In this article

Uncovering the Facts: What Percentage Does a Lawyer Get in a Settlement Case?

If you’re entering a settlement case, you’ll want to know: what percentage does a lawyer get in a settlement case? Generally, car accident lawyers take home 25% to 40% of the settlement amount, as their fee for legal services. This article will further unpack these percentages, explain the contingency fee structure, and prepare you for additional costs that might occur.

Key Takeaways

  • Contingency fees in personal injury cases remove upfront cost barriers for clients, ensuring legal representation is accessible; the lawyer is paid a percentage only if they win the case, often between 25% to 40% of the settlement amount.
  • Additional costs such as court filing fees, deposition costs, and expert witness fees are separate from attorney contingency fees and are usually subtracted from the client’s settlement share, potentially affecting the final payout.
  • Personal injury attorneys can significantly increase the compensation for their clients, often by up to 3.5 times compared to those who self-represent, and provide protection from insurance companies that may undervalue claims.

Understanding Contingency Fees

Illustration of a lawyer and client shaking hands after a successful case

Suffering a personal injury can be a life-altering event, leading to physical, emotional, and financial hardships. Legal representation often becomes essential to claim rightful compensation. But how does one afford attorney’s fees when already burdened with medical bills and loss of income? Here’s where contingency fees make legal representation accessible to all, regardless of financial circumstances.

A contingency fee is an arrangement where the attorney is paid for their services only upon successful recovery of compensation for the client. It encompasses the attorney’s time, effort, and overall work on the case, and is set as a standard percentage of any settlement awarded. This means if the lawyer does not secure compensation for the client in a personal injury matter, they cannot claim payment for their legal services under a contingency fee agreement. It’s a win-win situation - you get to assert your right to compensation without worrying about upfront costs, while your lawyer is motivated to secure the best possible outcome for you.

The Basics of Contingency Fees

So, how do contingency fees work? In personal injury cases, they are a standard fee arrangement, where the attorney’s payment is a percentage of the compensation received in the claim or case. This arrangement offers ease to clients as there is no up-front cost and no financial liability for attorney’s fees should the case be lost. On the other hand, for lawyers, it acts as a motivator to work diligently to secure maximum compensation for their clients.

Keep in mind that attorneys face significant financial risk with contingency fee arrangements. They only receive payment if the case is successful in recovering compensation. So, in order to receive payment under a contingency fee arrangement, a lawyer must successfully win the case for their client. This shared risk factor ensures that your attorney is as invested in the case as you are, striving for the best possible outcome.

Benefits for Clients and Attorneys

Contingency fee arrangements, often referred to as working on a contingency fee basis, are a lifeline for individuals who may not be able to afford legal services upfront. They transfer the financial risk of litigation from the client to the attorney, thereby providing access to legal services irrespective of the client’s financial situation. It’s like having a free consultation throughout the entire legal process until you win your case!

For attorneys, the contingency fee structure acts as a powerful motivator. Since their payment is contingent on the success of the case, they have a vested interest in achieving the best possible outcome. This creates an incentive to work diligently for their clients, putting their expert legal skills and knowledge to the best use for the benefit of their clients. It’s no wonder most personal injury lawyers prefer working on a contingency basis!

Common Contingency Fee Percentages

Illustration of different percentage signs representing contingency fee percentages

Now that we understand what contingency fees are and how they work, the question arises - how much compensation can one expect and what is the typical contingency fee? Contingency fee agreements in personal injury cases generally range from 25% to 40%, with an average fee of about 33%. This means that if you receive a settlement of $100,000, your attorney could receive anywhere from $25,000 to $40,000 from that amount.

It’s important to note that these percentages can vary. For example, in Nevada, contingency fees for personal injury cases are typically between 33% and 40% of the settlement amount. Variations in attorney fee percentages are influenced by the type of case and the state in which they are practicing.

But what factors influence these variations? Let’s dig a bit deeper.

Factors Influencing Contingency Fees

Contingency fees aren’t a one-size-fits-all deal. They are influenced by a number of factors, one of them being the complexity of the case and associated risk of not winning. Harder to win cases may warrant higher fees due to the increased risk the attorney takes on.

In addition to case complexity, the experience and specialized expertise of an attorney can also influence the contingency fee percentages. Attorneys who can handle more complicated cases successfully may charge higher contingency fee percentages. Other factors that can affect these percentages include the duration of the case, and economic costs to the attorney for developing a case, including upfront expenses and potential lack of payment for extensive periods.

Similarly, state or region’s market rates and legal fee standards can also influence the contingency fee percentages.

Settlement vs. Trial Fees

Another significant factor that can influence the contingency fee is whether your case is settled out of court or goes to trial. Generally, the percentage of a lawyer’s contingency fee may vary depending on this factor.

Why is this so? Well, cases that go to trial require more work, time, and resources than those that are settled out of court. They involve court appearances, preparation of trial exhibits, and possibly even jury selection, among other things. This increased workload and use of resources can justify a higher contingency fee.

So, if your case goes to trial, you might find that your attorney’s fees, including legal fees, are higher than if your case was settled out of court.

Additional Expenses in Personal Injury Cases

Illustration of a stack of legal documents and a gavel representing case-related expenses

While contingency fees cover the attorney’s fees for representation, it’s important to be aware that personal injury claims can incur additional expenses. These expenses arise separately from attorney fees and include costs for expert testimony, court document preparation, and day-to-day office transactions.

These costs are typically separate from the contingency fees and may be deducted from a client’s settlement share. For example, if you recover $100,000 in your case and your attorney’s fees are 33%, or $33,000, you will also need to deduct these additional expenses before you know how much you’ll take home. But what do these additional expenses entail? Let’s break it down:

  • Court filing fees
  • Expert witness fees
  • Deposition costs
  • Medical record fees
  • Investigative costs
  • Travel expenses
  • Copying and document production fees

It’s important to discuss these additional expenses with your attorney so you have a clear understanding of what to expect.

Case-Related Expenses

Case-related expenses in a personal injury lawsuit can vary widely, but they often include:

  • Expert witness fees
  • Administrative expenses like database maintenance
  • Deposition costs
  • Costs for investigation and information-gathering
  • Court costs, such as the filing fee for the complaint, juror stipends if the case goes to trial, and fees for serving the summons and complaint on the defendant.

In complex cases requiring multiple experts, significant case-related expenses can come from expert witness fees, as well as deposition costs, including payment for a stenographer and transcript. After a personal injury case results in a financial recovery, these case-related costs are typically deducted from the settlement or court award. However, if there is no recovery, the attorney agreement often stipulates that those costs will be absorbed by the attorney, not the client.

Reimbursable Costs

Reimbursable costs are those that your attorney pays upfront but expects to be repaid out of your settlement or award. Some examples of reimbursable costs include:

  • Court filing fees
  • Process server fees
  • Deposition costs
  • Alternative dispute resolution costs such as arbitration and/or mediation

These expenses can add up over time.

Clarifying whether you will be responsible for costs and expenses in the event of an unsuccessful case is crucial. It’s important to understand these potential liabilities before proceeding. Understanding these costs and discussing them upfront with your attorney can help avoid any surprises when it comes time to calculate your final payout.

How Lawyers Collect Payment from Settlements

Illustration of a lawyer receiving a settlement check and depositing it into a trust account

So, we’ve established that personal injury attorneys usually get paid a percentage of the settlement amount, and we’ve discussed some additional costs that may arise. But how does the process of payment work? What happens after a settlement or court award is achieved?

When a settlement is reached, the insurance company sends a check to the lawyer, who then deposits it into a client trust or escrow account. This account is separate from the attorney or firm’s personal or business funds. The funds must clear before disbursement, ensuring the funds are secured. Once the check clears and all liens or legal obligations are satisfied, the attorney can then begin the process of disbursing funds.

Trust Accounts and Disbursements

After the settlement check is deposited into the trust account, fees and expenses are calculated and deducted as specified in the contingency fee agreement. This document must be in writing and clearly outline how fees and any expenses are calculated and deducted from the settlement in the trust account.

After deducting their agreed-upon fees and repaying claims, lawyers usually follow these steps to distribute the settlement to the client:

  1. Write a check from the trust account for the client’s share of the settlement.
  2. Send the remaining balance of the settlement to the client.
  3. Include a written statement detailing the outcome of the matter.

This ensures a transparent and legally compliant process, providing peace of mind for the client.

Client Payouts

The final client payout is the remaining settlement amount after all necessary deductions, including fees, expenses, and liens, have been covered. The exact timing of when costs are deducted from the settlement or award, either before or after attorney fees, can impact the final amount received by the client.

Before distributing the settlement funds to the client, attorneys must first repay any claims on the money, such as medical expenses paid by health insurers or lawsuit loans. Clients generally receive their share of the settlement money within a few weeks, with possible delays due to procedural issues or banking processes. It is important to understand what one can take from a settlement before expecting the final amount.

The Value of Legal Representation in Personal Injury Cases

Illustration of a legal representative negotiating with an insurance company

Now that we’ve unraveled the mystery of how lawyers get paid in settlement cases, let’s take a moment to underscore the value of having legal representation in personal injury cases. Research shows that having an experienced personal injury attorney often leads to higher settlements for clients, facilitating a fair compensation. But the benefits of legal representation go beyond just securing a larger settlement.

Personal injury lawyers play a crucial role in preventing insurance companies from undervaluing claims, thereby ensuring clients receive the settlement they deserve. Moreover, self-representation can complicate securing compensation due to the complexities of personal injury law, which an experienced personal injury lawyer will navigate on behalf of the client. Reading personal injury blog posts can provide additional insights into this area of law.

Increased Settlement Amounts

Injured parties represented by personal injury lawyers tend to receive up to 3.5 times more compensation than those without legal representation. This is partly because personal injury lawyers have expertise in assessing the actual value of a case. They ensure the case is properly valued and push for its full worth, which can lead to increased settlement amounts.

Experienced personal injury lawyers can:

  • Use their knowledge of the law of damages to present a detailed demand, leading to higher insurance offers and injury payments
  • Build and present evidence of income loss and future earning capacity
  • Provide focused medical evidence for prognosis, which is critical for receiving adequate compensation for these damages

Protection from Insurance Companies

In addition to securing higher compensation, personal injury attorneys also safeguard claimants from direct contact by insurance companies, protecting the client’s interests and privacy. They counteract insurance company strategies that attempt to undermine claims through diminishing the victim’s credibility or questioning the injury causation.

In fact, statistics show that cases with legal representation are much more likely to conclude with a verdict or settlement, as opposed to those where claimants go it alone. Claimants with legal representation are also twice as likely to succeed in their claims compared to those without an attorney. Moreover, attorneys have the expertise to identify additional liable parties within an accident, which can maximize the sources of compensation for the client.


Understanding how lawyers get paid in a settlement case can be a complex process, filled with percentages, deductions, and additional expenses. However, the peace of mind that comes with having an experienced attorney who is as invested in winning your case as you are is invaluable. While they may take a percentage of your settlement, personal injury attorneys often secure higher compensation, protect clients from insurance company strategies, and ensure a fair and just resolution to your claim. With their expertise and dedication, you can focus on your recovery while they handle the legal complexities, striving to secure the best possible outcome for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

What's the most a lawyer can take from a settlement?

A lawyer can take anywhere from 25% to 75% from a settlement, depending on various factors such as the type of case.

What percentage is the settlement fee?

Typically, the settlement fee taken by a law firm is one third or 33.3% of the recovery amount, with some rare exceptions, where a free case is agreed to by the representing lawyers.

What is the usual result of a settlement?

The usual result of a settlement is the responsible party compensating the victim for the damages caused.

Is 33% a lot for a lawyer?

Yes, 33% is a common contingency fee for a lawyer, and it's important to consider this when negotiating legal representation.

Do I have to pay for other expenses in addition to attorney fees?

Yes, in addition to attorney fees, there may be other expenses such as expert testimony and court document preparation that you might have to pay for out of your settlement share. It's important to be aware of these additional costs.

For a free legal consultation, call

(800) 345-HURT
Complete a Free Case Evaluation form
Call (800) 345-HURT or complete a Free Case Evaluation form

frequently asked questions

No items found...
Connect with a J & J INJURY ATTORNEYS Expert Using a Single Click
Thank you! Your submission has been received!

One of our attorneys will reach out to you shortly

For Immediate assistance
dial 800-345-4878
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Car Accident Realted Articles

No items found.