Close this search box.
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Personal injury lawyer charges explained

Most personal injury lawyers charge contingency fees. This means that the lawyer does not get paid until the file settles or comes to an end at trial. If the client loses her case, the lawyer will not charge the client for her services.

In simple terms, a contingency fee retainer means we do not get paid unless you do.

Contingency fees are usually charged as a percentage of the client’s recovery. The percentage ranges from 20% to 33% of the recovery. We charge a lower percentage where a case appears straightforward or settles at an early stage. We charge a higher percentage for more complex files or for files that take a long time to resolve.

The client will be responsible for paying the HST (13%) owing to the government on the fees paid to the lawyer.

Clients will also be required to repay the disbursements or out-of-pocket expenses incurred by the law firm to pursue the client’s case. These include fees to file a Statement of Claim, retain experts, and obtain medical records. Often the law firm will pay the disbursements as the file progresses. The law firm will only reimburse itself if the file reaches a favourable result for the client. In those cases, the disbursements are deducted first from the settlement funds before the contingency percentage is applied. In some cases, the client will be responsible for reimbursing the firm for its disbursements whether or not the file settles. 

We will always be clear with you about how disbursements will be paid on your file.

Example of a fee breakdown

As an example, assume that your file settles for $105,000.00 before trial. In this example, further assume our firm has incurred $5,000.00 in disbursements and you have a 25% contingency fee arrangement with us.

Your recovery would be:


Minus disbursements

Minus 25% contingency fee

Minus HST owing on fees

Total Recovery for Client







For more information about how legal fees work, click here.


This content is not intended to provide legal advice or opinion as neither can be given without reference to specific events and situations. © 2021 Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP.

Have Questions?

Enjoy this article?
Don’t forget to share.

Related Posts

Personal Injury
Reading time: 2 mins
In a landmark decision, the British Columbia Court of Appeal dealt with the profound implications of medical malpractice misdiagnosis in[...]
Personal Injury
Reading time: 2 mins
If you’re facing a temporary health issue in Ontario, knowing how to navigate the short-term disability benefits landscape is crucial.[...]
Personal Injury
Reading time: 2 mins
The proposed Ontario 2024 Budget includes changes to the standard automobile insurance policy. The proposed changes would reduce the types[...]