After you suffer an injury in a car accident, you probably need help. You have living expenses and medical bills to pay. But you might not be able to work due to your injury.
As the bills pile up, you need to find a way to recover compensation from those who caused your injury. But lawyers cost money, and you might believe you cannot afford to hire one to handle your case.
Most injury lawyers charge a contingency fee to help accident victims in this very situation. Here is an overview of contingency fees and the benefits you can expect from working with a contingency fee lawyer.
Types of Legal Fees
Lawyers in private practice charge fees for their services. But these fees can take several different forms. The three most common types of legal fees are flat fees, hourly fees, and contingency fees.
Flat fees usually apply to projects with a fixed amount of work involved. A lawyer might charge a flat fee to write a will or file a trademark application. A flat fee compensates the lawyer based on the amount of work the lawyer performs.
Lawyers charge an hourly fee if they do not know the amount of work a project will require. Litigators often charge hourly fees to file or defend a lawsuit. A lawyer might also charge an hourly fee to negotiate and draft a contract. An hourly fee compensates the lawyer based on the amount of time the lawyer works on the case.
The amount of a contingency fee depends on the outcome of the case. A typical contingency fee represents a percentage of the settlement or damage award in the case. For example, a lawyer might charge a contingency fee equal to 35% of the money won in a case.
A contingency fee compensates the lawyer based on the outcome produced for the client.
How a Contingency Fee Works
A contingency fee is quoted as a percentage. A typical contingency fee will usually range from 30% to 40%. Under the Rules Regulating the Florida Bar, a lawyer may set the fee by considering the following:
- The time and work involved in the case
- The skills needed for the case
- Whether the case will require the lawyer to turn down other cases
- The customary fee for similar cases
- The urgency of the case due to deadlines or statutes of limitations
- The experience, reputation, and ability of the lawyer
Some lawyers will charge a fixed percentage regardless of the posture of the case. Others will use a tiered fee with different percentages based on how the case ends. A lawyer might charge 35% for a case that settles before filing a lawsuit and 40% for a case that requires a lawsuit to get compensation.
You pay a contingency fee at the end of the case. The lawyer multiplies the percentage by the compensation. The resulting number represents the legal fee.
Suppose that a lawyer charges a 35% contingency fee and negotiates a settlement of $50,000 in compensation for the client. The lawyer has earned a legal fee of $17,500.
Benefits of a Contingency Fee for Clients
Contingency fees provide several benefits for injured clients, including:
No Upfront Fees
Since the fee gets calculated based on the outcome of the case, the lawyer will start on the case without charging any upfront fees.
No Fee for a Loss
You only pay a fee if the lawyer wins or settles the case. If the lawyer loses the case, you do not owe any legal fees.
Evaluation of Your Case
A lawyer must have confidence in a case to take it on a contingency fee. If the lawyer has significant questions about whether you can win or settle your case, they will probably turn it down.
When a lawyer offers to take a case on a contingency fee, the lawyer believes you can probably win enough compensation to make the case worthwhile.
Incentives for the Lawyer
The more the lawyer gets for you, the more the lawyer earns. Your interests align with your lawyer’s interests because the lawyer has an incentive to get you the maximum amount possible.
Contingency Fees and Litigation Costs
Contingency fees usually do not include litigation costs. You will need to pay litigation costs on top of the legal fee you pay to the lawyer.
Your case will probably have costs. Your lawyer will pay these fees on your behalf to keep the case on track. But at the end of the case, you will need to reimburse your lawyer for the amounts the lawyer paid out of pocket for you.
Examples of litigation costs include:
- Filing fees
- Court reporter fees
- Expert witness fees
- Medical record costs
Discuss litigation costs with the lawyer before you hire them so you understand what charges you might incur in your case.
Hiring a Contingency Fee Lawyer
Florida requires written contingent fee agreements. You should review the fee agreement carefully before signing it. If you have any questions, discuss them with the lawyer. You and the lawyer can often avoid fee disputes by clearing up any issues before starting the case. To discuss your case and the fee you will pay for a lawyer’s help, contact a Clearwater injury lawyer at Roman Austin Personal Injury Lawyers for a free consultation at (727) 787-2500.