A contingency fee is an agreement where a lawyer will only collect a fee if you win your case. The lawyer then takes a percentage of the award. However, many people are not aware until after the case is over that many contingency fee agreements also leave them responsible for the expenses incurred by the lawyer during your case.
There are many expenses that may come up during the course of a trial. These expenses include depositions, witness fees, court filing fees, and transcript costs. These expenses may be passed on to the client regardless of the outcome of the case.
If you lose your case, the fact that you may be responsible for these expenses can come as an unpleasant surprise. Contingency fees are usually presented as a safe option, since you only pay the fees to your lawyer if you win. However, you may be responsible for the expenses even if you lose the case, and many people are not prepared for that result.
It is important to determine what the nature of your responsibility for the legal fees even in the event you win your case. In some cases, the lawyer simply pays for the expenses out of the percentage collected from the award. In other agreements, though, the lawyer will deduct the expenses from your total award before taking the agreed percentage. This can have a significant effect on the amount of the award that you eventually receive.
It might be possible to negotiate fees with your lawyer. That is why it is always important to discuss fee arrangements in your first meeting with your lawyer. Always make sure that you fully understand the fees before hiring an attorney.
Last Modified: 01-14-2014 03:47 PM PSTLaw Library Disclaimer
We've helped more than 4 million clients find the right lawyer – for free. Present your case online in minutes. LegalMatch matches you to pre-screened lawyers in your city or county based on the specifics of your case. Within 24 hours experienced local lawyers review it and evaluate if you have a solid case. If so, attorneys respond with an offer to represent you that includes a full attorney profile with details on their fee structure, background, and ratings by other LegalMatch users so you can decide if they're the right lawyer for you.