Contingency Fee Lawyers
What is a Lawyer or Attorney Contingency Fee?
This means that your lawyer’s fee is based on a percentage of the amount you may win in a case. If you loose the case the lawyer doesn’t get a fee, however you will still have to pay costs. Sometimes the judge orders the one who lost a case to pay the winning side’s costs. From your point of view a contingency fee is a good idea when your lawyer is taking a big risk, and not so good when your case is relatively clear-cut.
How much is the Contingency Fee?
The percentage of the fee varies. Commonly the fee is 1/3 of what you recover. Some lawyers offer a sliding percentage scale depending on how far the case goes before it’s settled. If you agree to a contingency fee you should found out if your lawyer calculates the fee before or after the expenses.
Can the Percentage or the Amount be Limited or Lowered by a Judge?
Courts sometimes set a limit on the amount lawyers charge in contingency fees. The fee can be lowered if it is seen as unfair or unreasonable.
Should I Ask for the Bill every Month?
Even though you won’t pay expenses until the case is settled with a contingency fee, it is good to keep track of the costs. You should ask to have your bill sent to you on a regular basis.
When is a Contingency Fee allowed?
This type of fee is allowed and usually found in:
- Personal injury cases
- Accidental claims
- Property damage cases
- Cases where a large amount of money is at stake or class-action suits
When is a Contingency Fee Not Allowed?
In certain cases a lawyer is prohibited from charging a contingency fee. There are some variations between states, but below are the kinds of cases where such a fee is generally prohibited:
- A domestic relations matter – securing a divorce, getting alimony, support or a property settlement
- Criminal cases
- If the client is being sued
- If the client is seeking general legal advice such as the sale or purchase of a business
Should the Fee Agreement Be in Writing?
Yes, always obtain proof in writing of the agreement and its specifics that you have agreed on with your attorney.
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Last Modified: 09-20-2011 03:21 PM PDT