Contingency Fee Agreements in Personal Injury Cases
You may be wondering how you are going to pay your personal injury lawyer. Most accident victims have a long set of bills coming out of their pocket. They are also facing long periods where they cannot earn a living because of the severity of their injuries.
The last thing that they need is to have to pay a lawyer hundreds of dollars an hour out of their own pocket without any promise of getting financial compensation. The good news is that is not how personal injury lawyers work. We provide you services on a contingency agreement.
How Your Legal Fees are Paid
Allow us to explain how a contingency agreement works for the lawyer and the client. The reason why it is called a contingency agreement is because whether we get paid as lawyers depends on another event happening.
When it comes to our representation of you, that event is you getting paid. If you do not get paid, we do not get paid either for our legal services. This is the same in car accident, workers compensation, nursing home neglect and medical malpractice cases. The contingent fee basis is not used in family law or criminal cases.
This means that, as lawyers, we have our own skin in the game. Our ability to pay our own bills depends on how we are able to help you get paid for your damages because we are paid nothing upfront.
It means that we will ask you a lot of questions about the facts of your case before we agree to represent you. For us, the worst-case scenario would be putting months into a case where you do not get paid because it means that we do not get paid either.
A Contingency Fee Basis Means no Money From Your Pocket
While the hope is that you do not lose your case, know that you will not have to pay us if that happens. There is no risk to you and there are no bills that you would need to pay. In fact, during the course of your case, you do not need to advance any money out of your pocket. The expenses of the case come out of our pocket as long as your case is pending.
With that in mind, you are likely wondering how we get paid if you do receive financial settlement. The contingency agreement is going to be spelled out in your paperwork that you sign when you hire us to represent you.
The rules that we need to follow as lawyers state that the fee arrangement between us and you needs to be spelled out in writing beforehand. Nothing can be left to be decided later on. You deserve to know ahead of time exactly what the cost structure will be for your case.
How Much is the Contingent Fee?
Therefore, when you receive the retainer agreement from your personal injury attorney, it will have several things in there about the costs of your case. The first is the percentage of your settlement that the personal injury lawyer will be paid for their work. Most contingency fee agreements give the lawyer roughly a third of your financial recovery.
However, lawyers may use a sliding scale depending on the complexity of your case. You could expect to pay slightly less if your case is not as complicated. The usual range of fees can range from 20-40%, depending on the type of case. This fee percentage covers our legal efforts, including the costs for our office and to pay our paralegals.
Rest assured that lawyers cannot simply pick any number that they want and charge you that as a fee. The rules that we need to follow require that the fee that we charge you is reasonable.
Contingent Fee Arrangements can be Different if Your Case Goes to Trial
The second thing is whether there is a different percentage that the lawyer would receive if your case went to trial. Some attorneys will charge a slightly higher percentage of your recovery if the case goes to trial given the fact that a court hearing may take your lawyer hundreds of hours between the trial motions and the time spent preparing for and in court.
How Court Fees are Treated
Finally, the contingency agreement would state how the lawyer is paid back for some court expenses. The lawyer needs to advance certain costs throughout your case. This could include things like court filing fees or payment for the court reporter for depositions. You might also need to pay expert witness fees and the costs of obtaining medical records.
This would usually come off the top of your personal injury award.
However, each agreement may be different when it comes to the terms of who pays what expenses and when. Make sure that you ask your lawyer about this before you sign the retainer. Whatever is in the agreement at the time that you sign the retainer will be the rules that are followed throughout your case.
How Contingent Fee Arrangements are Executed
With a contingency agreement, you do not need to write a check to your lawyer after the case. Instead, when you settle your case or the defendant writes a check after a jury award, the lawyer will automatically be paid a percentage of your recovery out of the total amount.
The good thing about a contingency fee arrangement is that it makes it easier for you to file a personal injury claim. If you had to pay a lawyer their set hourly rate over the course of several years before you saw any money, chances are that you would never be able to afford to fight for your own legal rights. This way, the lawyer steps out and shoulders the risk while they work on your behalf without being paid their hourly fee.
In any event, you need to closely review the contingency fee agreement before you sign it. The law firm cannot put in any terms that violate the rules, but it still helps to be familiar with the financial terms of your relationship with the attorney before you formally hire them. You should always know the exact percentage of your claim that will go to attorney's fees.
Of course, your legal representation would start with a free consultation. Call the attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers today!