When you’ve been seriously injured and are looking for a lawyer, you might see the slogan “we don’t get paid until you do.” But what does that really mean? How do personal injury contingency agreements work? These contingent fee agreements involve a lawyer taking your case in exchange for a percentage of any compensation they recover on your behalf. If they recover zero dollars, they get paid zero dollars, so they are motivated to fight for your rights.
Attorneys utilize many types of fee agreements, including paying a flat rate or by the hour. So, one of the most important questions to ask during a consultation with a Chicago personal injury lawyer is how their fee agreement works.
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A contingency fee agreement is a binding contract between an attorney and a client. These agreements are commonplace in personal injury cases, and the basic terms involved are largely the same.
With a contingency fee agreement, the attorney agrees to handle a personal injury case for an agreed upon percentage of any compensation recovered on the plaintiff’s behalf (the plaintiff is the injured person who is hiring the lawyer). This percentage can vary from one attorney to another, so discussing that amount during a free consultation could be helpful. These fees often range between 25 and 40 percent of what an attorney can recover.
This agreement benefits plaintiffs, especially those who lack the resources to pay for an attorney out of pocket. By accepting the case on a contingency basis, the attorney will not require any upfront legal fees to begin work. Some accident victims would not be able to pursue compensation if they had to pay up front. There are also non-legal fees such as medical bills that the plaintiff is responsible for while they are seeking legal help.
This type of contingent fee agreement could also provide you with peace of mind, as your attorney’s compensation is tied to the success of your case and its settlement amount. They would agree to take on your case if they did not think they could win. What’s more, your attorney could be motivated to work tirelessly for your success and their own. This contingent fee basis agreement puts less of a financial risk on the clients, as well.
While contingency fee arrangements will prevent you from paying any attorney fees up front, you still might be required to pay other expenses out of pocket. In addition to legal fees, there are also costs associated with a personal injury lawsuit.
Legal fees are paid directly to your attorney. They are effectively their compensation for handling your case.
Legal costs are other necessary expenses related to your case that are not paid to the attorney. Some examples include:
Because these costs are outside of a lawyer’s compensation scope, they are not considered legal fees. That means you could be on the hook for these costs – win or lose.
Carefully review the terms of the contract before you sign. One area where these agreements can differ dramatically is how they deal with costs. A contingency fee arrangement typically requires the plaintiff to pay all case expenses. However, some personal injury attorneys will pay the costs directly or cover them to be reimbursed after the case settles. Make sure that you ask all the necessary questions to establish the right attorney client relationship before you begin work.
The vast majority of personal injury lawyers handle cases on a contingency-fee basis. The is one of the most common fee agreement structures for personal injury attorney’s fees. However, that is not the only fee structure used in the legal field. In other areas of the law – including family law – these types of fee agreements are not allowed.
Another way that a law firm can handle their lawyer’s fee involves billable hours. Under this system, attorneys have an hourly fee, and they track the amount of work they do down to the minute. This approach usually requires a retainer, a pool of money paid up front to the attorney.
Other lawyers also operate on a flat fee basis. With this approach, the attorney charges a single flat fee to handle a case from start to finish. This fee is usually paid up front. This approach is not typically used in personal injury cases.
Still unsure how personal injury law firm contingency agreements work? Given that they can differ from one firm to another, you could learn the specifics directly from your prospective personal injury lawyers.
Things to ask your lawyer during a free consultation include:
The Kryder Law Group, LLC offers free consultations to injury victims seeking justice. One of the ways to take advantage of a free consultation is to ask us about our contingency-fee approach. Our clients pay nothing out of pocket during their case.
We are proud to advocate for the injured, and believe you deserve to move forward with your case regardless of your financial situation. Call today for your free consultation, speak to our personal injury lawyers and learn more about how we could help.