Hiring a lawyer for many personal injury matters is free. Most attorneys would collect a part of any money you get from a settlement or an award instead of charging an up-front fee.
As explained on FindLaw, this is a contingency fee. There are a number of reasons that this system is popular. This arrangement also has some influence on the relationship you would have with your attorney in a personal injury case.
Why lawyers do not charge initial fees
Most attorneys want you to have access to legal recourse if you need it. Unfortunately, as you may already know, many people in the position of considering personal injury lawsuit do so because they lack the resources to adequately cover their costs associated with the event.
It stands to reason then, if lawyers always demanded upfront fees before they took your case, you would have a good chance of having to choose between pursuing your dispute with the parties responsible for your injury — or pursuing your recovery. The current system allows you to retain a lawyer with very little risk, and allows lawyers to collect their payment when their work is successful.
What it means for your attorney-client relationship
Because attorneys only get paid when they are successful in most personal injury law firms, there is a motivation to take cases with a good chance of settlements or favorable verdicts. This means that, based on the details that your attorney knows about your case, you could have relative confidence that there exists a legal recourse for you to receive the payment you deserve.
Additionally, you can usually have confidence that your attorney is doing everything here she can to bring your case to a conclusion that is in your best interest. This is one of the cornerstones of legal ethics, but the lack of upfront fees is a welcome material demonstration of this ethical principle, in many cases.