One reason many people don’t hire an attorney after they are injured in an accident is because they are concerned they won’t afford the fees most lawyers charge. The fact is that most personal injury attorneys work on what is known as a contingency fee basis. This means they only receive payment if they win your case or arrange for a settlement. (Image Credit: Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels)
What Is a Contingency Fee?
When an attorney tells you that they work on a contingency fee basis, that means their payment is “contingent” upon you winning your case or agreeing to a settlement. Once you reach a settlement agreement or a court decides in your favor, your attorney fees will be deducted from the awarded settlement. Usually, the contingency fee is a percentage of what you receive.
Every personal injury attorney is different. The percentage they charge varies greatly depending on their experience, success rate, and many other variables. A larger firm with many attorneys will probably charge a higher percentage than a small firm with just one attorney. However, depending on the complexity of your case, you may need a larger firm as they could have private investigators, experts, and other staff that may be necessary for your case to be successful.
On average, contingency fees range from 30 to 40 percent. That means that if you receive a $100,000 award, your attorney could take between $30,000 and $40,000 of your award.
Benefits of Contingency Fees
One of the benefits of hiring an attorney on a contingency fee basis is that you won’t need money upfront. Most of the time, an attorney will ask for something called a retainer which could be thousands of dollars. You’ll need it before they take your case. When an attorney works on a contingency basis, you don’t need money for a retainer. You only pay if your case is successful.
Why Would a Lawyer Work on Contingency?
An attorney usually only agrees to work on contingency if they believe your case could result in a very substantial award. A personal injury lawyer is able to calculate the value of a claim and determine if working on contingency is an option for them. If an attorney agrees to take your case on a contingency basis, you can be pretty sure that you have a valid case that is more than likely winnable.
Attorneys know many people don’t have money to pay for their services upfront, especially if they are hurt or jobless. When a lawyer believes a case will be successful, it’s in their best interest and the client’s to take their fees from the settlement or court award.
Things to Remember about Contingencies
Although a contingency agreement sounds like a great plan if you need a lawyer, there are things to remember. You want to have the percentage in writing so there are no surprises when you receive your settlement. You also want to ask if there are other costs above the contingency percentage.
Some personal injury attorneys may charge a lower percentage but add additional costs. This could be in form of investigative fees, court costs, or the fees charged by expert witnesses. If your attorney adds fees to your percentage, keep a record of the costs you are incurring. This will help you avoid any surprises when you receive your settlement check.
Additionally, if you’re injured in an accident and believe the accident was caused by someone else’s negligence or carelessness, contact an attorney to learn more about your rights. If you weren’t at fault in the accident, you may be liable to recover damages like medical bills, missed work, and property damage.