Most of the work our law firm does is done on a “contingency fee basis.” And, yet, people still call us and say that they can’t afford a lawyer. We often hear “I don’t have any money to pay you right now” or “I wasn’t expecting to need a lawyer.” Fortunately, with the “contingency fee,” you don’t have to worry about that.
A “contingency fee” is generally used on cases involving personal injuries where a person has been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence and they are entitled to a lump sum of money to compensate them. These cases often take 2-3 years to resolve and sometimes require hundreds or even thousands of hours of legal work before they are ready to resolve, regardless of whether the resolution results from a settlement or a jury verdict. Obviously, paying a lawyer for years of legal work would be extremely expensive and most people couldn’t afford it.
The contingency fee provides payment to the lawyer at the end of the case— if they win the case for you and recover money on your behalf. The contingent fee starts at 1/3 of the case and can increase depending on whether the case goes to trial or is appealed, as well as the subject matter of the case. More complex cases often require a higher fee. If the lawyer does not win your case, they don’t get paid anything for their time.
Obviously, lawyers must be choosy about the cases they accept under this system because they are committing to work for you for years without being paid and they are risking not getting paid at all if they don’t win. For that reason, lawyers are generally very careful about getting lots of details about your case, as well as about the party who harmed you. After all, if the person who harmed you doesn’t have sufficient (or any) insurance or assets, it doesn’t matter if they can win the case because there will be no money to recover or to pay the lawyers or you in the end.
The law requires that contingency fees be reasonable and that they be in writing. You should feel comfortable enough with the lawyer you hire to make sure that you understand the employment contract (“fee agreement”) you sign with them and that they answer any questions you have about it.
The contingency fee is a benefit to injured consumers. It enables them to afford a lawyer to represent them, and results in the lawyer and the client being partners in the case because it benefits both of them. They should truly be working as a team.
At Nelson Boyd, we believe in teamwork. Not just amongst ourselves, but also with you. We consider ourselves partners with you in your case– to achieve the very best result for your case. If you have been injured, please give us a call at (206) 971-7601 and let us see if we can help you.