Personal Injury Lawyer Salary FAQ
How Much Do Personal Injury Lawyers Get Paid?
How much a Personal Injury ("PI") attorney or lawyer makes is a burning question people often love to ask. Hundreds of forums and blogs exist on the internet, beating this topic to death. Some people want to know their yearly salaries only because they are curious about how much a lawyer makes.
But others inquire about it because they want to join this field out of law school.
- How much a PI lawyer makes depends on many factors. However, it can be easily said that a lawyer makes a handsome yearly salary that is better than what most other professions yield for the people.
The Many Different Types Of Personal Injury Lawyers.
There are many different types of personal injury lawyers. Personal injury is not a small field. And if you go deep in it, you will see more than a dozen different types of lawyers that are considered to be personal injury lawyers.
Surprisingly, some cases involve deaths, worker's compensation, employment law, cruise ship cases, and other casualties.
Here are some of the different types of accidents PI lawyers handle under the big umbrella term of "personal injury":
- Auto accidents.
- Wrongful death.
- Motorcycle accidents.
- Burn injuries.
- Animal bite injuries.
- Brain injuries.
- Aviation accidents.
- Amusement park accidents.
- Insurance/bad faith.
- Spinal cord injuries.
- Construction accidents.
- Swimming pool drowning accidents.
- Nursing home abuse.
- Slip and fall accidents.
- Legal malpractice.
- Pedestrian accidents.
- Defective products.
As you dig deeper, you will find out many other types of accidents and injuries that can be handled by personal injury lawyers. But some areas of PI law are more cookie-cutter and others very complex.
For example, a rear-ender car accident is cheaper and easier to litigate than complex mesothelioma, or Jones Act cruise ship man overboard claims.
Knowledge of contract, criminal, and other laws may be needed in your type of case. Generally, the better trained the lawyer, the higher their Lodestar or attorney's fee value.
Factors Affecting Yearly Incomes Of Personal Injury Lawyers.
Many websites will quote $62 to be the mean average hourly wage for most lawyers. But these statistics don’t always apply to PI lawyers. Commonly known is that personal injury lawyers can easily make above $70,000 every year. Because PI lawyers work on a contingency, they get paid a percentage of what they collect.
What percentage do lawyers take for winning personal injury cases?
Many state statutes limit the percentage your lawyer can charge as a contingency fee. California lets the parties decide what's fair in most cases. Generally, PI lawyers take 33.33% of the gross amount of your situation before filing a lawsuit.
However, minors compromises and individual cases involving incompetents see fee reductions to 25% quite often.
- The usual fee arrangement is 33.33% if your lawyers settle before litigation.
- If the lawyer has to file suit, their take increases to 40%.
- If they collect punitive damages or have to go to trial, the fee can go as high as 50% of our case.
A lawyer with lots of cases to resolve in a year can also cross the $200,000 mark annually. Anyways, these are the statistics you will find on many websites, but the matter is not as easy as it sounds. Different lawyers make money in various scenarios and conditions.
Some lawyers might not be making even half of $100,000 every year because of many reasons. The breakdown of a typical personal injury settlement is discussed below.
The Breakdown of a Hypothetical Settlement of $100,000.00.
It is in the newspaper headlines all around the world. Daily, awards of substantial verdicts and settlements occur. Does it seem like people are getting rich to you? Well, in a most personal injury case, that's false. Below is an example of a possible settlement of $100,000.00.
Legal agreements memorialize the fee between the client and their lawyer. Let's take a look at a hypothetical settlement distribution.
Hypothetical Fee Distribution
- Legal Fees –The $100,000.00 is first divided up to pay outstanding attorney's fees. Attorney's fees can vary. But you can expect prices of 40 to 45% of the settlement amount. Usually, payment of the personal injury attorneys comes from contingency fee contracts. This covers their legal expertise. Also, they pay their own money up front for other cases. And they also pay members of their staff to hammer away at your case. Also, sometimes your fee gets split between several firms. And this remains the case where there is a referring attorney involved. So here, let's assume your legal fees will be cut in half. Here, the two law firms had a contract to divide a 40% contingent fee. So $20,000 will go to Firm A, and $20,000 will go to Firm B.
- Legal Expenses –(At this point, there is $60,000 of the $100,000.00 remaining). Your attorney will incur individual expenses. A few examples of legal examples would include deposition costs, expert fees, and costs for traveling. In some situations, it can wind up costing several thousands of dollars to cover the expenses of a case. For this example, we’ll say the costs are $18,000.
- Liens and Medical Expenses – (At this point, there is $42,000 of the $100,000.00 remaining). Outstanding medical liens and expenses must finally be paid out. The federal government and most states require you to pay physicians, government agencies, and hospitals from settlements. So we still have to pay the $33 grand.
- The Client’s Part – There is only $9,000 left from the beginning amount of $100,000.00. And this covers lost wages, pain, and suffering, the time used to file the lawsuit. Also, in many cases, it covers lost relationships with a significant other.
So plaintiffs don't always file a suit to get rich. Sometimes these lessons make sure no-one else ends up going through what they had to go through. So it is not only about the settlement amount. Communities are safer when plaintiffs stand their ground against lawbreakers.
When There is No Insurance Money, Do Most Lawyers Bill Hourly?
Yes. This is true. What legal domain a lawyer works in is a significant factor when calculating their annual income. Even though the per hour rates are not very common these days, some lawyers still prefer to go this way.
One big reason for many lawyers charging this way could be that they are not seeing the case ending on favorable terms. Mostly, lawyers avoid at fault or partial fault type cases. After all, a case like this means it's less likely insurance will pay, assuming there was coverage at all.
So naturally, the lawyer chooses hourly billing in these cases, because a percentage of nothing doesn’t give them a good return. This remains true even if they can win the case for the client. Besides, good luck trying to collect on an unsecured debtor's judgment.
- Most lawyers charge by the hour when there is no insurance compensation. Other times they charge hourly is when the lawyer thinks the case is weak.
How Much Money Do Lawyers Get?
- 26% of lawyers don’t work for an organization. After all, they want to earn more significant profits from their profession. Some remain self-employed to keep a flexible schedule.
- The location of the lawyer also plays a vital role in his yearly income. A lawyer located in a populated city will mostly be earning more than a lawyer working in a rural area.
- How a lawyer markets himself has become the most crucial factor in a lawyer’s yearly income. Law websites are some of the most popular types of websites today.
What type of employment a lawyer takes up is another deciding factor of his yearly income. A personal injury defense attorney will almost always be paid by "billable hours."
A freelance will charge a percentage of the win. So it is hard to predict how much a self-employed plaintiff's lawyer would make at the end of the year. But it totally depends on their efforts. The type of organization that employs the lawyer also decides how much he will make at the end of the year.
A PI defense lawyer serving the government will not make as much money as a PI defense lawyer working for a successful private firm. As you can see, the types of lawyers and how much money they make depends on several factors.
And this adequately answers the question. Lawyers need to have themselves appropriately marketed and more efficiently on the internet today. A free consultation is the biggest tool of today’s lawyers to attract more clients towards them.
Furthermore, lawyers can now make use of social networking platforms to market themselves and earn huge profits at the end of the year. Personal injury lawyers, in particular, could make almost nothing, or become very wealthy.