Contingency Fees

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What is a Contingency Fee?

There are several different ways that lawyers bill their clients. One of these methods is the contingency fee.

When charging a contingency fee, the lawyer does not charge you up front, but instead takes a percentage of your eventual award. Lawyers will usually only charge contingency fees in cases where you expect to win a financial award. These include personal injury, medical malpractice, and workman’s compensation cases.

How Much Can a Lawyer Take in Contingency Fees?

The percentage that the attorney charges for the contingency fee can vary, and in some situations (like workman’s compensation) there is a cap on how much the attorney can charge. However, a standard contingency fee is one-third of the award.

Finally, if you do not win your case, then the lawyer does not take a fee.  However, you may still be responsible for the expenses that the lawyer incurred while trying your case. These expenses include court filing fees, depositions, and witness fees.  It is important that you discuss with your attorney whether you are responsible for these expenses.

Should I Have a Lawyer Represent Me on a Contingency Fee?

Contingency fees give clients several important advantages. First, the client does not have to pay the attorney upfront, nor does the client have to directly pay the lawyer. This allows low-income clients access to courts which they might not have otherwise.

Second, if the client loses, than the client does not lose anything. This will also pressure the attorney to actually produce a money award for the client.

Can I Negotiate the Contingency Fee?

Yes. When negotiating the fee, consider the chances of success, the attorney’s experience, the complexity of the case, and the processes sought (just settlement, or an actual trial).

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Last Modified: 10-11-2013 01:58 PM PDT

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