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What is a Contingency Fee?

Judge's gavel over stack of cash

When initiating a lawsuit against the other party, usually plaintiff has already spent thousands of dollars for their medical bills, or has been out of a job for months trying to recover from their injuries. There are four ways attorneys are paid for their work: flat fee, retainer fee, hourly fee, or a contingency fee. These different types of fees depend on the type of claim being brought against the other party. Regardless of however the attorney will be paid, there needs to be a fee contract that is signed by both the attorney and the client in writing. This is a requirement by the American Bar Association.

How are our attorneys paid?

Our personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. Contingency fee essentially means that you will not have to pay unless we win a settlement or a court award in your favor. Clients do not pay anything upfront. Our attorneys cover the initial costs of settling and/or going to trial. If our attorneys do not bring forth a favorable outcome, then you will not have to pay anything.

If our attorneys are unable to agree upon to settlement amount with the other party or successfully when a judgement in your favor, you do not have to owe us a single dollar for representation. Even if the case goes to trial and the jury finds that plaintiff should not be awarded compensation for their injuries, you still do not have to pay for legal services.

What are contingency fees?

Contingency fees are essentially an agreement where the attorney agrees to represent the party in return for a portion of the proceeds when the attorney settles or goes to trial. Different firms have different percentages of contingency fees that they take from the final amount. It is very important to consult with your skilled personal injury attorney prior to signing any paperwork to determine what that contingency fee may be. We always want to make sure that our clients are not kept out of the loop. We always inform our clients every step we take regarding their case. In order to minimize any miscommunication and avoid any last-minute surprises, our clients are always informed.

With contingency fee agreements, the attorneys pay for all initial costs when going to settlement negotiations and/or going to trial. Contingency fees allow any person to obtain legal representation without needing to pay any money upfront. This allows clients to obtain their own legal counsel of their choice. Further, it pushes the attorneys to further pursue a successful claim for their clients.

What Are the Legal Costs When Pursuing a Claim for Personal Injury?

When the attorney is paid on a contingency fee basis, the attorney pays for all costs upfront. These personal injury costs include:

  • Filing fees:  filing fees are required any time a claim or motion is filed with the court. Filing fees could add up and go towards $1,000 on average depending on the case.
  • Discovery: discovery refers to the time period when both parties seek evidence from one another. During this time, each party gathers evidence to strengthen their case. Discovery could be a very costly process since it requires investigators and record request forms.
  • Depositions: Any time there is a witness or an expert, their depositions taken in the case. Depositions could take a couple hours, and are very costly when hiring transcribers. Legal transcribers attend the deposition and create a transcript of the deposition to be later used throughout the case.
  • Witnesses: Expert Witnesses are witnesses hired to give their professional opinion. Expert witnesses could be very costly, ranging from around $3,000 to $10,000 depending on their skill and experience. Because these working professionals have to take time out of their day to come and give a deposition, expert witness fees are very high. Examples of expert witnesses include doctors, engineers, contractors.

Contingency Fees for Criminal Cases

Although other states allow contingency fees in criminal cases, California and New York have prohibited contingency fees in criminal cases. Contingency fees are only available in personal injury cases.

How Are Contingency Fees Determined?

There are different categories that determine the amount of contingency fee taken from the final amount. The percentage of the amount paid to the attorney is based on how far the case has advanced. It is dependent on which stage the case ended up going to. Below are the different stages for a legal clean:

  1. When claim ends up settling before the lawsuit has been filed
  2. When the claim is legally filed with the court
  3. When the claim is legally filed, and there’s a settlement agreement
  4. When there is no settlement agreement, and the case ends up going to trial

Hire a Personal Injury Attorney Today

Although many may think that contingency fees may be high, going to court unrepresented may result in extremely lower fees than having an attorney represent you. When plaintiffs try to handle the matter on their own, you may end up only taking a quarter of the amount they would have received with an attorney.

If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of someone else’s actions, contact our attorneys today to determine if you have a valid claim against the other party.  Our attorneys will work to determine the amount of damages you could receive to be compensated for your injuries. Our attorneys can obtain the compensation you need to continue on with your life after going through such traumatic experiences.

Other Types of Fees

  • Hourly fee: this occurs when the attorney charges a fixed amount for every hour they work. Attorneys document the number of hours worked, along with what they did each hour. The client must then pay the attorney, even if it is before settlement or going to trial.
  • Retainer fee:  a retainer fee is a “reservation fee” paid to an attorney in order to reserve them for attention on plaintiff’s case. This is a deposit paid to the attorney in order to have the attorney working on your case specifically.
  • Flat fee:  a flat fee is a fixed amount agreed upon by both the plaintiff and the attorney. The client pays the attorney a certain amount every couple weeks, despite the fact that there is a chance the attorney may not win the case. This is more common in business law settings, such as when trademarks are filed or businesses are formed.  These attorneys are usually on standby for their clients.

Contact Our Attorneys Today

For any questions you may have regarding any of the fees, contact our attorneys today to determine what fee is best suited for your claim. If you have a personal injury claim, most likely a contingency fee will apply to your claim. Contact us for a free evaluation today.

***Disclaimer: This page is created by Heidari Law Group for educational purposes. This article provides a general understanding of the law. It does not provide specific advice. By using this site and reading through this page, there is no attorney-client relationship created between you and any member of Heidari Law. Further, due to the constant change of the law, some parts of the information above may no longer be good law.

Sam Heidari

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