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What is a Contingency Fee?
How is it Going to Help My Case?
Most clients like contingency fees because it saves them their up-front, out-of-pocket costs, and our clients also love the idea that the more we get for them, the more we get for ourselves. It doesn’t hurt for the attorney to have some skin in the game. Contingency fees do not create a true partnership – you have the final say about the ultimate objectives of the case while we make all strategic and tactical decisions, but contingency fees do foster a spirit of solidarity between attorney and client.
The ‘contingency attorney fee’ refers to the fee charged by the attorney for legal services. The fee is usually calculated as a percentage of the total recovery and may vary depending on the stage of the case. In most personal injury actions, the fee will be 1/3 of the total recovery if the case is settled prior to filing a lawsuit and 40% of the total recovery if a lawsuit has to be filed.
We will also pay all of the up-front costs of litigation. This includes court costs, filing fees, sheriff service or process server fees, and other expenses like the costs of medical records, expert witnesses, court reporter fees, postage, travel expenses, and so forth. You normally will not have to reimburse these expenses if we don’t get you a financially valuable recovery.
You will get a detailed written contract that spells out the exact term. You won’t have any questions about what you owe us, when you owe it, and whether you owe it at all.
The Rules of Professional Conduct governing lawyers requires the following specific language in attorney advertisements discussing contingency fees:
‘Contingent attorney’s fees’ or ‘no fee unless you win or collect’ refers only to fees charged by the attorney. Court costs and other additional expenses of legal action usually must be paid by the client. Contingent fees are not permitted in all types of cases. (The Rules specifically forbid contingency fees in criminal and divorce cases.)