Contingency Fee

Lawyers are expensive. Everybody knows that – or at least thinks they do. But just because they are expensive doesn’t mean you can’t afford one, at least if you have a strong personal injury claim. 

If you have a strong car accident, slip and fall, or dog bite claim, for example, you can hire a good personal injury lawyer even without a dime in your pocket.

The contingency fee system is a great way to charge legal fees because it makes justice available to all.

Types of Payment Arrangements

Types of Payment Arrangements

Below is an explanation of how the contingency fee arrangement works, plus a comparison of the contingency fee method with the billable hours and flat fee methods.   

Contingency Fee

Under the contingency fee arrangement, you pay nothing out of your pocket. Instead, your lawyer waits until your settlement money comes in and deducts a certain percentage of it as their legal fee. 

The typical percentage is 33% to 40%, although it is negotiable. If your settlement is $100,000, for example, and your contingency fee is 35%, your lawyer gets $35,000 and you get $65,000. If your settlement is zero, you and your lawyer both get zero.

Hourly Rate

Lawyers who go by the “billable hour” system charge a certain amount per hour. Charges of $200 per hour or even much more than that are not at all unusual. Obviously, this can add up quickly.

Flat Fee

If the amount of work to be done is predictable, such as preparing a last will and testament or an immigration visa application, your lawyer may agree to work for a flat fee for a certain dollar amount, such as $4,000. They deliver the product, and you pay the predetermined fee.

The Lawyer’s Incentive for Offering You a Free Initial Consultation

Personal injury lawyers are always looking for potentially lucrative personal injury cases. An ideal personal injury case is a case that is likely to win, and it is one that will probably bring in a lot of money if it does. The lawyer’s motivation in offering you a free initial consultation is to interview you to find out if your claim meets these criteria. 

If you conclude a free initial consultation and the lawyer immediately offers to take your case, you can be sure they believe they can win it. And that confidence means a lot, coming from an experienced personal injury lawyer who is in a position to know a strong claim when they see one. They know that agreeing to represent you for a weak claim is not in their financial best interests (or yours).

Case Expenses

Pursuing a claim costs money—sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. Typically, a personal injury lawyer will pay these fees out of their own pocket and eat the loss if they lose the case. If they win, they will reimburse themselves by deducting the amount of the case expenses from your compensation (in addition to legal fees). 

Following are some typical examples of possible case expenses:

  • Costs for creating visual aids, models, diagrams, and other materials for trial
  • Costs for forensic experts (e.g., financial records, computer data, and more)
  • Costs for renting technology and equipment for presenting evidence in court
  • Court filing fees
  • Deposition expenses
  • Document retrieval and copying fees
  • Expenses for obtaining medical records
  • Expert analysis and reports
  • Expert witness testimony fees
  • Fees for accessing specialized legal research databases
  • Fees for services that assist with case management, document review, and trial preparation
  • Mediation or arbitration fees
  • Payment for professional investigators to gather evidence or locate witnesses
  • Payment to individuals who deliver legal documents notifying people of their involvement in litigation
  • Patent or trademark searches
  • Photography and videography services
  • Postage and courier fees
  • Real estate appraisal fees
  • Transcription fees
  • Translation services
  • Travel expenses

Unless your claim is extremely complex and potentially lucrative, it’s unlikely that you will have to pay for this many items. In addition, not all attorneys treat case expenses the same; check the terms of your contingency fee agreement and/or speak with your lawyer ahead of time to confirm how they will be handled in your case.

Factors That Could Influence the Amount of Your Contingency Fee

The following factors will influence the amount of your contingency fee:

  • Whether your case goes to trial;
  • The size of your claim (the more money at stake, the lower the contingency fee is likely to be);
  • The likelihood of victory;
  • The amount of time your case is likely to consume.

Many other factors might matter as well. 

Schedule a Free Initial Consultation With a Columbus Personal Injury lawyer

You might think you have a strong personal injury claim-–and you might be right about that. The best way to find out about it, however, is to talk to a lawyer about it at a free initial consultation. 

The lawyer will ask you questions about your claim, but you will have no obligation to hire the lawyer. Since you pay nothing unless you win, you have very little to lose by scheduling a consultation at (706) 940-4030 with an experienced Columbus personal injury attorney from Mark Casto Personal Injury Law Firm.