A contingency fee is a type of payment arrangement between a client and a lawyer, in which the lawyer agrees to represent the client in a legal matter and receive payment only if the case is successful. Instead of charging an upfront hourly or flat fee, the lawyer receives a percentage of the compensation that the client ultimately recovers through a settlement or court verdict. In a contingency fee arrangement, the lawyer assumes the risk of not being paid for their time and services if the case is unsuccessful. This can be an attractive option for clients who may not have the financial means to pay for legal representation upfront, as they do not have to pay anything unless they win their case.
When to Expect Contingency Fees:
Contingency fees are most commonly used in personal injury cases, such as car accidents, slip and fall accidents, medical malpractice, and product liability. In addition, contingency fees may also be used in cases involving employment law, securities law, and some types of commercial litigation.
The percentage that a lawyer receives in a contingency fee arrangement can vary depending on the complexity of the case, the experience of the lawyer, and other factors. Typically, contingency fees range from 25% to 40% of the total compensation recovered, with the exact percentage negotiated between the client and the lawyer before the case begins. Some states have specific rules governing the percentage of the settlement or award that a lawyer may receive in a contingency fee arrangement.
What to do When Searching for a Lawyer:
When considering a law firm to represent you on a contingency fee basis, it is important to understand the firm’s fee structure and what percentage of the settlement or award they will take as their fee. Here are some steps you can take to find out a law firm’s contingency fees:
- Research the firm’s website: Many law firms will have information about their fee structure and how they charge for their services listed on their website.
- Schedule a consultation: Many law firms offer a free initial consultation where you can discuss your case and ask questions about their fees. This is a good opportunity to ask the attorney about their contingency fee percentage and any other fees or expenses that may be involved in your case.
- Review the retainer agreement: Once you have decided to hire a law firm, you will be asked to sign a retainer agreement. This agreement will outline the fee structure and any other terms of the representation. It is important to review this agreement carefully before signing to ensure that you understand the fees and how they will be calculated.
- Ask for a breakdown of costs: In addition to the contingency fee percentage, there may be other costs associated with your case, such as court filing fees, expert witness fees, and other expenses. Ask your attorney for a breakdown of these costs so that you can understand the total amount that you may be responsible for.
Remember, different law firms may have different fee structures and percentages, so it is a good idea to shop around and compare the fees of different firms before making a decision.