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Maureen May
Maureen May
Attorney • (410) 321-6000

What is a Contingency Fee?

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You were injured in an automobile accident and have looked for legal representation. The injury lawyers you’ve talked to have told you they will accept your case on a contingency basis, and although it sounds promising, you not sure exactly what that means.

Contingency Fees and Personal Injury Cases

A contingency fee is a payment to an attorney for legal services contingent upon the money he can recover for you.  Your attorney will not get paid unless you do. You will only be required to pay the costs (postage, phone calls, copies, etc.) until a recovery is obtained for your case.

Under a contingency fee structure, the attorney’s fee is a percentage of the amount recovered, which is commonly 1/3 or 33.33 percent, although it differs according to attorney and law firm, and may go up should your case be filed in court and go to trial. A contingency fee agreement must be in writing and must include:

  • An explanation of how the fee is to be determined
  • The percentages paid to the attorney if settlement occurs, trial, or appeal
  • Expenses deducted from the recovery, such as medical bills
  • Whether litigation expenses will be deducted before or after the contingent fee is calculated

Personal injury lawsuits are usually time-consuming and expensive, but if you have sustained an injury due to another person’s negligence, don’t assume that you need upfront money to hire an attorney to represent you in a personal injury lawsuit. A contingency fee arrangement gives individuals who could normally not afford to pay costly attorney fees the opportunity to recover financially for the damages they suffered.