Understanding Some Of The Ups And Downs Of Lawyer Contingency Fees

Posted on: 29 July 2015

Practically every personal injury lawyer commercial will mention that they won't get paid unless you get paid. Accident and injury lawyers often use this method of payment as enticement and incentive for your business. But before you sign a contingency contract with a lawyer, you should know more about how contingency fees work.

About Contingency Fees

Lawyers who use the contingency fee model will agree to represent you without any upfront payment. Instead, they will receive a percentage of your awarded damages. In many ways, a contingency fee represents a gamble on either your part or the lawyer's.

It's a gamble for the lawyer because it can turn into a waste of time. If there are no damages awarded, or if payment comes out really low, then they more or less worked for free. It's a gamble for you because putting your trust into someone who is working without the assurance of future payment.

A Case for the Contingency Fee

The benefits of the contingency fee are obvious on the surface. You don't have to pay out of pocket for the legal services that you need. Occasionally, you may have to front the costs of some expenses, but these contracts vary.

A contingency fee can free you from having to worry about legal expenses while allowing you to focus on recovery and your case. In some cases, the lawyer can even front you money if you're in need. However, these benefits can also come with many caveats.

Your lawyer may go the extra mile for you if their only means of compensation is your case. They may also attempt to receive more for you since the more you receive, the more they do.

A Case against the Contingency Fee

Contingencies can help, but they can also cost you a lot more than you may think. Lawyers generally charge anywhere between 33% and 40% of the total award. However, the amounts can be higher or lower depending on the lawyer. This can turn out to represent a far larger amount than you would have normally paid for a lawyer's services.

In addition, the contingency fee can exist outside of the fee the lawyer charges for expenses. That means that you can end up paying the lawyer even more. If the lawyer pays for any of your personal expenses, they may tack that on to the final amount as well.

Speak it Over First

You won't know if a contingency fee contract will work for you or not until you speak it over with a personal injury attorney. These contracts can vary widely depending on your case and the lawyer involved. If you like the lawyer, you can still negotiate the contingency fee or pay the attorney in a more traditional manner.

For more information, or to hire a personal injury lawyer, contact a professional, like Richard M Altman, to help you evaluate your case and possible fees.