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Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they won’t charge their clients until they reach a settlement. This payment model helps ensure personal injury attorneys have a vested interest in winning a case, while helping to protect their clients financially during representation.

If you need reliable representation in a personal injury case, the attorneys at Kuvara Law Firm are here for you. Reach out to our San Rafael personal injury lawyers by calling 1-800-4-INJURY and schedule your free consultation with us.

What Is a Contingency Fee?

A contingency fee is a payment model in which clients in personal injury cases won’t need to pay their attorneys until and unless the attorneys reach a settlement. This agreement benefits clients in that they won’t need to pay upfront in most cases, and attorneys will want to work hard to reach a favorable outcome for clients to ensure they receive payment.

This fee typically comes out as a portion of the client’s total settlement. There are rules in place regarding contingency fees to keep them reasonable and fair.

So, how much does a lawyer get out of a settlement? In California, the contingency fee in personal injury cases ranges on average from 33% to 40%, meaning clients normally won’t need to pay their lawyers more than 40% of their total settlement in most cases. This percentage range isn’t permanent, though—the contingency fee could be higher or lower depending on factors such as:

  • The risk associated with the case
  • The case’s total value
  • The amount of work needed to investigate and settle the case
  • The attorney’s overall experience
  • The complexity of the case

Whether you want to recover compensation in a California wrongful death claim or a personal injury claim, the contingency fee will comprise most of the fees associated with your case.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Contingency Fees?

Contingency fee arrangements come with advantages and disadvantages to keep in mind. The following are the pros and cons of a personal injury contingency fee:


Contingency fees offer numerous benefits. One of the main advantages is the lack of upfront costs. Clients won’t need to pay their attorneys during a consultation or at any point during their representation until the case settles. As a result, you can spend more of your money on medical care and other costs as you wait for a settlement to compensate you for these expenses.

Another benefit of this payment model is that attorneys are more likely to align their interests with yours when they don’t receive a payment if a case doesn’t settle. Lawyers will need to truly work on their clients’ behalf to ensure they receive payment for their efforts by the end of the case.

Ultimately, if your case doesn’t settle, you won’t need to pay the contingency fee. However, you may still need to cover additional costs connected to your case.


There are compelling benefits to a contingency fee model, but there are also downsides to consider.

While you won’t have to pay unless your case reaches a settlement with a contingency fee, this fee could be considerably higher than what you would pay with an hourly rate. For instance, your case may not require a long time or a lot of effort to settle, meaning an hourly rate would come out as less than what you would pay with a fixed contingency fee that takes out a specific percentage, regardless of how long it takes to resolve your case.

It may be more difficult to find an attorney willing to represent your case if it comes with a perceivably high risk of loss. Lawyers charging a contingency fee depend on these fees, meaning they won’t want to take too many risks on cases if they won’t likely win.

What Are the Other Costs Associated With Personal Injury Cases?

The contingency fee isn’t the only charge in personal injury cases. In addition to this fee, you may need to pay other expenses, such as:

  • The cost of obtaining medical records, police reports, proof of lost income, and other documentation
  • Court filing fees
  • Expert witness costs
  • Deposition expenses
  • The cost of investigating your case

When speaking with personal injury attorneys to represent you in a case, be sure to ask about these and other costs. A good lawyer will give you an understanding of what kinds of costs will likely come with your case, ensuring you know exactly how much of your total settlement you’ll recover.

Factors to Consider When Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer

To begin a personal injury case, it’s important to know what to look for in a personal injury lawyer. When seeking representation, it’s often best to “interview” multiple lawyers in several consultations. During the consultation process, you can ask questions of your prospective attorney to gauge whether he or she is a good fit for you.

The following are the main factors to think about when hiring a lawyer to handle a case:

The Total Cost

You’ll likely need to know what the actual cost of hiring an attorney will be in the end. During a consultation, ask about the kinds of fees your attorney will charge, including the contingency fee and other potential costs associated with your particular case.

As the attorney learns more about your case, he or she can give you a better picture of what all fees and other expenses will come to, helping you prepare financially.

The Level of Experience

A good attorney will have plenty of experience, enabling the lawyer to give you sound advice and guidance throughout your case, from the four things to do after a car accident to the amount of compensation you should ask for from defendants or their insurers.

An attorney with many years of experience and a history of success will likely handle your case more effectively and efficiently. While ample experience could result in a higher contingency fee, it could be worth it if it means maximizing your compensation and chances of success.

Don’t simply look for attorneys with experience in personal injury law. Instead, search for a lawyer with experience handling cases that are similar to yours. For example, if you sustained injuries in a car accident, ensure the attorney has a history of successful car accident cases. Ask about previous success stories, and look online for testimonials and recommendations from past clients.

Who Will Handle Your Case

During your consultation, you might find that the attorney you thought would handle your case won’t be working it after all. Instead, your case could go to an associate attorney or another individual who doesn’t have the experience needed to help you succeed.

Your attorney should detail exactly who will be handling your case and ensure you’re working with someone who can help you reach a favorable outcome.

The Value of Your Case

Be sure to ask about the kind of compensation you’re able to see in your case. A good lawyer won’t give you a specific estimate during your initial consultation, but he or she could give you an idea of what kind of compensation you could recover.

As the case progresses and the attorney learns more about the nature and contributing factors of your case, he or she can make a more accurate estimate. Eventually, your lawyer should determine the precise settlement amount to seek from liable parties.

Personalized Representation

Your attorney should know that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all type of representation. He or she will need to know every aspect of your case to determine the best approach to take to increase your chances of winning.

Turn to Attorneys You Can Trust in San Rafael

To determine the personal injury contingency fee you may expect to pay in your case, along with other influencing factors pertaining to your case, it’s important to speak with the right attorney for you.

The ideal attorney will have plenty of experience and work with you to secure the most successful possible outcome. In the process, he or she should also ensure you don’t pay more than you need to when navigating and settling your case, keeping costs fair and reasonable throughout.

To file a personal injury claim or lawsuit, contact the trusted attorneys at Kuvara Law Firm. Our San Rafael personal injury lawyers can determine your needs in a free consultation. Contact us online today to discuss a case with one of our lawyers.

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