July Newsletter 2021

How Do Attorney Fees Work?

Many people injured through no fault of their own want to pursue justice but are worried about attorney fees. If they don’t understand how the process works, they may believe they can’t afford legal representation and may be unable to recover the full compensation they’re entitled to. Before going into your attorney’s office, it’s important to understand how their fees work.

There are three kinds of attorney fees we need to examine: Hours billable, retainers, and contingency fees.

Hours Billable

Billable means you’re paying your attorney for each hour they devote to your case. This is the most common kind of attorney fee and is used for matters like business law, criminal defense, and family law. Hours billable can be highly variable because very experienced attorneys may charge more but finish the job in a shorter amount of time.

Before agreeing to hours billable, you may want to get an estimate of how long your attorney will work on your case. Similarly, some attorneys will charge a “flat fee” depending on the circumstances of your case, such as a traffic ticket or a no-contest divorce.


When hiring an attorney at an hourly rate, they may ask for a retainer. This is an upfront payment put into a trust account to show the client is able to afford the attorney’s services. The attorney’s billable hours will then be taken from the retainer, and anything leftover at the end of the case is returned to the client.

For example, You hire an attorney and write a check for $2,000.

Your attorney works 5 hours on your case at $300/hr ($1,500).

At the end of your case, you’d receive the remaining $500.

That said, the retainer is usually an upfront payment to cover the first few hours. It generally doesn’t cover the entire case. Because of that and the fact that legal needs are often unexpected, most people will struggle to cut a retainer check on short notice. In those cases, especially after an injury, your attorney might work on a contingency fee basis.

Contingency Fees

Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. This means they agree to wait for payment until your case is settled and they’ve earned the compensation you deserve. At that time, they take a percentage of your settlement for their attorney fees. A contingency fee is a low risk for the injured because it costs them almost nothing to get started, and they don’t have to worry about an hourly fee.

If you’d like to schedule a free consultation with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney from The Law Offices of Delitala, please don’t hesitate to send us an email or call (888) 676-0125 to get started.

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