Contingent Fee Agreements are commonly used by personal injury lawyers. Other types of law like business law or criminal law provide a service that does not seek to gain compensation for an intended purpose. In criminal law the defendants need someone to represent their interest so they don’t go to jail. Their fees will be paid strictly out of pocket. In business law, oftentimes lawyers are paid to minimize the liability of a business or protect them from being liable in certain situations (another service).
However, in personal injury law, the lawyer is working to get their client money to recover from property damage, injuries, and pain and suffering. Usually this means that the plaintiff is in need of money to sustain and recover back to their normal lifestyle (lost wages, medical expenses, money for repairs, etc.). Therefore, the personal injury lawyer and the client make a contingent fee agreement where the plaintiff does not have to pay any money unless he or she has received compensation from a settlement or verdict.
How much does it cost to hire a personal injury lawyer?
In most cases – nothing! There are no upfront fees when signing on with a personal injury attorney. The law firm you choose to handle your case will not be paid until you are. Contingency fees make hiring a personal injury attorney easy and affordable for any budget.
Infographic: What Does it Cost to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer
In most cases – nothing! There are no upfront fees when signing on with a personal injury attorney. The law firm you choose to handle your case will not be paid unless you are. Contingency fees make hiring a personal injury attorney easy and affordable for any budget.
Contingent Fee Agreement Defined
This is the agreement between the lawyer and the client stating that if the client does not have to pay any lawyer fees but the lawyer gets a percentage of the winnings of the lawsuit. If the lawsuit leads to no compensation, the lawyer is left with nothing as well. Lawyer fees are contingent if the lawsuit leads to recovery and the fee is a percentage so it grows as the amount of recovery grows. This allows lawyers to represent those who are victims of negligence and cannot afford an attorney.
Developing The Client-Lawyer Relationship: Get it in Writing
The majority of dispute between a lawyer and his or her client is how much money the attorney takes from a settlement or verdict in a personal injury lawsuit. It is integral that before you officially hire an attorney, you get the contingent fee agreement in writing. This will determine how much your attorney fees are. Find out if your fees are hourly or contingent. If they are hourly, the expenses are accounted for by the amount of hours your attorney puts into the case, however when contingent, the lawyer takes out a percentage of the settlement or verdict after you are awarded your compensation.
A written agreement not only ensures that you know the compensation schedule of your attorney but non-monetary items such as:
- The levels of communication you and your attorney will maintain such as how often he or she will contact you and by what means
- The logistics of possible outcomes in your case: who will be arguing for you if the case goes to trial, when would you want the case to go to trial, etc.
- Clarifying how you or the lawyer can end the lawyer-client relationship
Creating Clear Levels of Communication
The obvious benefit to creating a written agreement is the openness of communication and the ability to push out room for disputes between you and your lawyer.
By including not only the compensation schedule for your attorney but also non-monetary items, such as communication schedules, you ensure that you and your attorney are both viewing the case and the desired outcomes in the same way. When it does come time to pay or not to pay your attorney, you can both refer back to the contract and avoid a dispute.
Other Things To Include In Your Contingent Fee Agreement
As we have discussed, when you enter into a lawyer-client relationship, get everything in writing:
- How the attorney’s fees will be paid for
- Who will handle your case
- How you will communicate with your lawyer
- How much you are willing to spend on developing your case
- How the relationship can end
- The extent of the lawyer’s representation of you. Sometimes you might want to clarify if the same lawyer will represent you if you have to appeal your case or perform further action after the lawsuit is finished.
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Q&A: What are the stages of a personal injury case?
- Treat injuries
- Hire a lawyer
- Continue treating injuries and document case
- Settlement ... OR
At McMinn, We Are Here to Meet Your Needs
Contact us for a free initial consultation and we’ll explain how we will handle your case and what you can expect from us. We are here to meet your needs and get you back on track with the clearest communication possible. After reading this blog you should be equipped to handle yourself when entering into a client-lawyer relationship.