WHAT IS A CONTINGENT FEE?
The contingent fee is the most common form of payment arrangement for plaintiffs seeking representation in car crash, medical malpractice, drug injury and other personal injury cases. Instead of billing the client on an hourly basis, a contingency fee means the attorney only collects if the client wins and then only gets a fixed percentage of the settlement or verdict. The percentage is usually one-third.
The contingent fee gives injured people, no matter what their financial means, an even playing field against giant corporations and insurance companies. Were it not for the contingent fee, people of the middle class or of low economic means would not be able to have their day in court, a constitutional right which corporations and insurance companies fight hard to eliminate.
There are a number of advantages to this type of fee arrangement. One is the reduction of risk to the client. Clients may worry that they may end up owing large legal bills even if they lose their case. The contingency fee elimates that risk. Another advantage to the client is that the attorney and client are working for the same thing, the largest settlement possible in the shortest amount of time. Finally, the fact that the attorney is willing to handle a case on a contingent fee basis is a reflection of the confidence in the attorney has in the case.
The percentage of the award charged on a contingency fee basis depends upon the type of case. Our attorneys advise our clients up front of all applicable fees and openly address any questions our clients may have. Although one case may demand a higher percentage fee than another, all contingency fees are paid only when there is a monetary recovery on behalf of the client.
Payment of Costs
In connection with handling your case, it is virtually certain that Abbott & Associates will expend funds on your behalf in order to position the case for settlement and/or trial. Expenses run from fees to copy medical records, fees to file a lawsuit, transcript fees, court reporter fees, expert witness fees, and many others. In complex cases, out of pocket costs to prepare the case for trial can run into tens of thousands or dollars. In most cases, we will advance all fees for you so as to enable you to continue with your case through trial.
Hiring a Lawyer
Before you sign any fee agreement, take time to consider whether you would be comfortable in working with this person as your lawyer. Ask yourself whether or not she or he gave you clear and direct information. Will they be available in an emergency? Consider if the attorney spoke knowledgeably and with a minimum of legal terms. Think about whether this lawyer understood and shared your goals. As a client will you be a co-participant or will the lawyer be making all the decisions? Did the attorney give you a phone number if you have an emergency?
The importance of creating a comfortable working relationship with your lawyer cannot be underestimated. The road to obtaining the results you are seeking may be long, and it will take a considerable amount of teamwork to get there. If you make the commitment to find an experienced lawyer with whom you can work jointly under a clearly understandable written fee agreement, you will be well on your way to the best possible result.