What Percentage Do Lawyers Take for Personal Injury Cases in Philadelphia?

Unlike many other lawsuits, attorneys in personal injury cases are most often paid through a contingency fee agreement.  If you're asking what percentage do lawyers take for personal injury services, the answer is they usually receive 33-55% of the award as payment fees. In these cases, the person filing the claim (the plaintiff) agrees to pay the suit’s costs and a percentage of the damages received to the lawyer handling the case. If the plaintiff loses, there are no attorneys’ fees paid. Pennsylvania law requires that the agreement be in writing.

Closeup of an old-time style brass key sitting on top of a black keyboard, with a red key labeled LEGAL FEE in white, placed where the ENTER key should be, posing the question, What does a lawyer get in a personal injury lawsuit in Philadelphia

Where Do Contingency Fee Come From?

In the so-called English system, the person who loses a lawsuit generally has to pay all the fees and costs of both sides. This policy makes filing a lawsuit a risky proposition and limits access to the courts. American courts, however, do not apply this rule and require each party, barring extraordinary circumstances, to pay their own fees regardless of who wins.

To further increase access to the courts by injured parties, the American system also permits contingency fees. If you're wondering what percentage lawyers take for personal injury cases, this is part of tat percentage. A contingency fee is a legal fee where the duty to pay is contingent upon winning the lawsuit and is usually a percentage of the damages awarded. Pennsylvania law permits and recognizes the virtues of contingency fee agreements.

What Percentage Do Lawyers Take for Personal Injury with a  Contingency Fee Arrangement in Philadelphia?

A contingency fee arrangement generally requires little or nothing upfront when filing a lawsuit. Instead, the plaintiff and the attorney enter into a written agreement outlining the terms of the contingency fee, and the lawyer files the suit. Usually, the agreement states that the attorney will receive payment only if the lawsuit is successful and states the percentage of the award that will go to the attorney.

Although many states limit the rate that an attorney can charge, Pennsylvania does not impose a limit. The lack of a limit may cause alarm when you're asking what percentage do lawyers take for personal injury services. However, the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct for lawyers do set forth ethical limits on what an appropriate fee might be.

Wen asking what percentage do lawyers take for personal injury cases, the average range for contingency fees in a personal injury case in Pennsylvania is 33 to 45% of the award. The national average ranges from 20 to 50% of the recovery.

What Is a Reasonable Contingency Fee?

A contingency fee must be reasonable in relation to:

  • The type of case
  • The circumstances of the case
  • The skill required
  • The work necessary for the case
  • Any other factors considered by the court

The attorney should also consider the policy limits of applicable insurance policies and whether the fee will be unreasonable in relation to those limits. Pennsylvania law does not limit the size of contingent fees, and the courts have expressly upheld a fee of a third of the award.

Can the Attorney Prepay the Expenses in a Contingency Case?

The contingency fee arrangement must outline all the specifics of the plaintiff and the attorney’s financial agreement. The agreement may or may not cover prepayment of expenses such as filing fees for the suit. Prepayment of such fees does not make the contingent fee agreement illegal.

Although it is not unlawful for the attorney to prepay your expenses, most contingency agreements do not include them as part of the percentage due to the attorney. You will therefore receive your specified portion, but the prepaid expenses will be subtracted from it. In other words, if your award is $100,000, your fee is 40%, and there are $5,000 in expenses, you would receive $55,000, not $60,000.

Expenses If You Lose in Philadelphia

Even in a suit the plaintiff loses, there will be non-legal-fee expenses that have to be paid. Attorneys generally handle these expenses in one of two ways. Some firms absorb the costs, probably having calculated that probability into their overall contingency fee ranges. Others will expect the plaintiff to pay the expenses regardless of the outcome of the lawsuit. Sometimes the decision is based on what the lawyer sees as the strength of the case. In any event, how these will be handle should be in the fee agreement.

Getting the Details Right

The clarity of a contingency fee agreement is vitally important. The last thing a successful plaintiff wants after winning a lawsuit is a dispute with his attorney about the fees. As seen in the previous paragraph, it is essential to address all the issues when drafting a fee agreement.

Your lawyer will probably give you his standard agreement, but you can feel free to negotiate the terms or look for a better deal elsewhere. You should be sure that the agreement covers the percentage, assigns responsibility for costs, and addresses any adjustments that might be made based on a quick settlement or other similar issues.

Call Us to Speak with a Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyer

If you're asking what percentage do lawyers take for personal injury, you should consult different lawyers and compare their fees. We invite you to vett our Philadelphia personal injury lawyers and our fees. Contact the law offices of John Mattiacci today for a free case evaluation. Remeber that we will never collect legal fees unless we win your case.

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