What Is a Contingency Fee and How Does it Affect You and Your Personal Injury Case?
You have been injured and are considering hiring an attorney. But you can’t afford a lawyer. Unless you’ve previously been involved in a lawsuit, most Americans don’t realize that personal injury lawyers are almost always paid on a contingency fee basis.
There is generally no money needed up-front to pay your attorney. They will be paid when and if they win the lawsuit, awarded by a jury or a negotiated settlement. This lifts a tremendous burden off you, the injured, during a challenging time.
What is the Contingency Fee?
Personal injury accidents can range from a dog bite to a car and truck accident, a slip and fall, even a workplace accident. When hiring an attorney, there will be a retainer agreement you both will sign. Pay attention to this document.
It will contain a stated contingency fee, generally ranging from 33.3% to 40%, though some states allow for a range from 5% to 50%. The contingency fee may also change depending on the amount in question. For example, the first 40% of a $100,000 award may have a 40% fee, while the second $100,000 has a lesser fee.
A contingency fee is used instead of charging an hourly rate in a personal injury case. Often the 40% will become the fee after a lawsuit is filed. Ultimately, it likely saves you money because hours add up quickly.
A couple of positives for the injured, also known as the plaintiff, are that there is no cash that has to be paid up front for attorney fees, and you can rest assured that the lawyer will work to the best of their ability because otherwise, they don’t get paid.
Secondly, you will not be charged for the costs associated with the case if you lose. That probably tells you that your lawyer is confident they will win the case if they agree to take it in the first place.
Generally, the higher fee is due to the expense of preparing for a trial, but even negotiating with the insurance company for the other side takes careful preparation to obtain the best outcome for you.
It’s important to understand that settling a case has its advantages. For one thing, plaintiffs risk losing at trial, even for a good case. Upon settling, you can be assured you will receive the settlement, and there will be no appeal to hold up receiving your monies for years.
What is Covered Under the Contingency Fee?
- The cost of trial preparation –Includes gathering the facts, photos, witnesses, and evidence at the scene. Records must be secured, and notices will be sent out to the other party to preserve evidence. The scope of the trial will need to be established, which requires several meetings before the judge.
- Experts may be hired –At a traffic accident, a reconstructionist can lay out how the accident happened by the evidence. An expert can sometimes make the difference between a case won or lost, but they generally come at a steep price.
- Support staff – This includes paralegals and even an artist to render visuals and a videographer. Your support staff will conduct deep research, and investigative services may be needed to flush out the facts of your case.
- Travel – If your lawyer needs to conduct depositions, they will generally need to travel to the person being deposed.
The client may still be responsible for some up-front fees such as court filing fees or the cost of discovery to allow the case to move along. Those contingencies should be laid out in the retainer agreement.
A contingency-based fee is most helpful to folks who are dealing with tight finances, which is very often the case for those who are injured and perhaps unable to go to work for a while.
Your Alabama Personal Injury Attorney
A contingency fee arrangement is advantageous if you have a strong case and evidence and believe you will be successful.
J. Allan Brown will discuss all contingency fee options during your complimentary consultation. In his two decades of practicing law, he exhibits thoughtful and compassionate care for his clients. Call his office at 251-220-3100 to discuss your case and review your legal rights and options.