Lawsuits are expensive, time consuming and can be confusing, especially when injuries are involved. In other lawsuits such as contract disputes, there are generally no physical injuries suffered by the parties, thus no medical bills. However, in personal injury cases the costs of the lawsuit, retaining an attorney, court fees, medical bills, expert witnesses, etc., can add up quickly. This is why personal injury attorneys commonly work on a contingency fee basis. If you have suffered an injury, it is important to understand how personal injury attorneys practice so you can make a knowledgeable decision about pursuing your case.

Contingency Fee

When retaining a personal injury attorney, you will enter into a contingency fee agreement. The agreement sets out a percentage of money your attorney will receive from the money you recover, as payment of services. It is important to understand, your personal injury attorney’s payment for services is contingent on your recovery. If you do not recover damages in your case, you do not owe your attorney payment.


In addition to payment for services, the agreement will also address how expenses will be paid. Often the attorney will agree to pay for expenses of the case, which will be paid back from the amount your recover. Expenses can include expert witness fees, depositions, court fees, administrative fees, all of which can easily add up to thousands of dollars depending on the extent of your case.

Medical Fees

Repayment of medical bills for the treatment you received will also be taken out of your recovery. Occasionally, your medical provider may agree to suspend payment for services until your case has been settled. Once the case has ended, your attorney will disburse the money owed to your medical providers out of your recovered damages.


  • Damages Recovered in Lawsuits: $45,000.00
  • Contingency Fee (33%): $15,000.00
  • Expenses Paid by Attorney: $1,000.00
  • Outstanding Medical Bills: $7,000.00
  • Amount Client Recovers: $28,000.00

A contingency fee arrangement is a great option for those with personal injury claims but are worried about their liability to pay an attorney if they cannot recover. The percentage of the agreement can be negotiated, especially with smaller firms that have more control over their billing. In smaller personal injury claims, it may be more beneficial for the client to represent themselves in the proceedings or seek an attorney willing to work pro bono. A knowledgeable personally injury attorney can help you decide whether to pursue your lawsuit with counsel or represent yourself in the proceedings.