During your free consultation, the lawyer determines if they will take your case, but you don’t need money to begin your case. Personal injury lawyers typically take a contingency fee and don’t get paid unless you do.
Lawyers do not collect anything if you lose your case or settlement. However, sometimes even if the case isn't settled and is lost at trial, the client can be responsible for certain fees.
It is difficult to answer that question because each case is different. Consequently, every case has its own lifespan and some cases settle faster than others. Ultimately, it all boils down to the specific facts and parties involved.