A Personal Injury Lawyer’s Fee


“He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver.”

— Ecclesiastes

 Personal injury lawyers do not receive a fee unless and until you receive a fee. We work on contingency. But pay attention to 3 things.


If you hire a personal injury lawyer to handle your personal injury claim, you’ll sign a contingency fee agreement. That agreement will explain how the lawyer’s fee is handled. Generally, the lawyer will receive 33% of any recovery. If the claim is not settled by a certain period of time, however, then the lawyer will receive a higher percentage. In most cases, it will be 40%. Lawyers justify the increase on the ground that more work was required to obtain a recovery. For example, maybe the lawyer had to try the case in order to get a monetary judgment. Not every contingency fee agreement follows those percentages, but most do.


You need to be aware of costs. Litigation costs money. There are filing fees, deposition costs, travel costs, costs for medical records, and other copying costs. Lawyers handle costs in two ways. One, the client can give the lawyer a retainer for costs. The lawyer then pays the client’s costs from the retainer. Or two, the lawyer pays the costs on the client’s behalf. In that case, the lawyer has two choices for repayment. He can make the repayment contingent on whether there is a recovery. Or he can require the client to pay back the costs even if there is no recovery.


Costs are deducted either before (‘net) or after (‘gross’) the attorney’s fee is taken from the recovery. This makes a difference in how much you recover. Here’s what I mean.

There’s a recovery of $12,000. Costs are $2,000. If costs are deducted before the attorney’s fee (‘net’), the lawyer’s fee is $3,300 (33% * $10,000). You get the remaining $6,700. But if costs are deducted after the attorney’s fee (‘gross’), the lawyer’s fee is $3,960 (33% * $12,000). You get $6,040 ($12,000 – $3,960 = $8,040 – $2,000 = $6,040). In other words, costs are deducted from your portion after the lawyer took his fee.


If you want a sample fee agreement from the State Bar of California, go here. The agreement is located under Law Practice Management.

Questions? Contact Me for a free consultation.

Evan Walker

Evan W. Walker is a La Jolla attorney who has practiced law since 2008. He is licensed to practice in California, Connecticut, and Louisiana. His entire practice has been in litigation.

Evan is from a small town outside of New Orleans. He attended law school in New Orleans, which was interrupted by Hurricane Katrina. After evacuating to Houston, Evan graduated in 2008 as part of the ‘Hurricane Katrina Class.’

After graduation, Evan worked for a New Orleans insurance defense firm. He defended insurance companies against Hurricane Katrina lawsuits brought by homeowners and business owners.

In 2010, he and his wife moved to New Haven, Connecticut, so his wife could complete a medical residency at Yale. During the next few years, Evan worked for Travelers Insurance Company defending countless personal injury lawsuits.

In 2014, he moved to San Diego so his wife could complete a medical fellowship at UCSD. He then opened his own firm to represent people after years of defending insurance companies.

Evan is a Featured Faculty at Attorney Credits, a CLE company, and a regular contributor to various podcasts and publications. He has also been interviewed by San Diego television stations about his cases and practice.

Evan spent almost a decade as a defense attorney who defended insurance companies from personal injury and property damage lawsuits. He knows how insurance companies bully people and deny claims. And he knows how to fight them.

Bar Admissions: California Connecticut (inactive) Louisiana (inactive)

Acta Non Verba

Close Menu