Contingency Fee Basis
One of the first things people want to know when they hire a personal injury lawyer is, “How much is this going to cost?”
Although each attorney may have a different fee structure, in general, most experienced personal injury attorneys only charge a fee if they recover money on behalf of their client. This is what is known as a “contingency fee.”
The contingency fee is usually a pre-determined percentage of the total money recovered, either from a negotiated pre-trial settlement or from a verdict at trial. This amount may be negotiable and will be based on a myriad of factors including:
- The time and labor required
- Novelty and difficulty of legal questions involved
- Skill required to properly perform legal services
- The customary fee charged in that area for similar legal services
- Time limitations imposed by the circumstances or client
- The overall complexity of the case
- Costs associated with a collection of critical evidence
- Whether favorable expert witness testimony is required
- Length of professional relationship with the client
- Experience and reputation of attorney and/or legal firm involved
Every case is going to be different, even when we’re comparing two seemingly similar car accident cases.Standard Contingency Fees
An industry standard for contingency fees in most injury law cases is going to be somewhere between 30 percent and 45 percent. There may be some flexibility, but it’s going to depend on the details of your case, the estimated costs of pursuing it and the likelihood of success.
So for example, if your attorney agrees to a contingency fee of 33.33 percent, he or she will be obtaining one-third of any settlement or verdict. If you win $100,000 in your case, your attorney will receive about $33,000. Some might balk at this figure. Those are costs you are not asked to pay up front, and that you won’t have to pay unless your case is successful. In some cases, fees may be included or may be separately charged. The reality is it takes thousands of dollars and man hours to prepare a complex personal injury case for trial.
Defendants often pour considerable resources into their legal strategy in an effort to reduce liability. Entities like insurance agencies, large trucking firms, CEOs or health care systems have the deep pockets to do this up front.
Most of the rest of us do not.Fairness of Contingency Fees
Some have argued that contingency fees are somewhat – or sometimes – unfair.
The two most common scenarios would be:
- A case goes on longer than anticipated and/or recovers little money, and the attorney or law firm has lost that time and expense;
- A case settles relatively fast and/or results in a sizable recovery, and the injured person feels upset attorney was paid more than he or she “deserves.”
When this happens, the contingency fee was not necessarily an accurate reflection of the work involved.
In order to limit the risk of spending a great deal of time and resources on an unsuccessful case, law firms will often be selective about the cases they choose. In other words, they may not accept your case unless there is at least a decent chance of success.
Over decades of experience, our committed legal team has developed a keen sense of which cases are more likely to succeed, and which may face substantial hurdles. We are always honest with potential clients about this during the initial consultation.
There are a number of types of law for which contingency fee arrangements are typically NOT accepted. Those include:
- Criminal defense
- Business law (certain kinds)
- Probate law
In some respects, personal injury plaintiffs are fortunate that the option of a contingency fee structure is available to them as a means to pursue action they otherwise could not afford.
If all injury lawyers refused to take cases on a contingency fee basis, it would effectively block a substantial number of people from accessing the legal system for remedy. That’s because most people simply can’t afford an attorney’s hourly rate and other necessary costs associated with the pursuit of a successful case.
A contingency fee arrangement is often the only way many people have to seek justice.
Contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman today for a free and confidential consultation.
Call (617) 367-2900 – NO FEE UNLESS SUCCESSFUL