You see personal injury lawyer advertisements all the time on billboards, TV, and online that mention things like “No Recovery, No Fee!” or “If We Don’t Win, You Don’t Pay!” in reference to the law firm offering legal representation on a contingency fee basis. But what exactly is a contingency fee? Does it really benefit clients, or is it just clever marketing? Here’s everything you need to know.
Contingency fees explained
If you were seriously injured in an accident and you’re seeking legal help to recover compensation for your damages, you will be hard-pressed to find a law firm that does not offer contingency fee agreements. When you agree to legal representation on a contingency fee basis, it simply means you’re entering into a financial agreement with the attorney that lays out how the lawyer will be compensated for his or her time and labor (legal fees) if and when your case is won.
Here’s the good part: under a contingency fee agreement, you don’t pay anything upfront for the lawyer’s services and you don’t have to pay legal fees until and unless your attorney secures a monetary recovery on your behalf, either through a negotiated settlement or by way of a court judgment. If you do win your case, your attorney receives a percentage of the financial award, not including costs (more on that in a minute).
The standard contingency fee for a personal injury attorney is about one-third of the financial award, though some law firms may charge more or less. Fees may also be structured on a sliding scale if your lawyer needs to file a lawsuit on your behalf or prepare to take your case to trial.
No matter where you go for legal help, make sure you understand everything in the law firm’s contingency fee agreement before you sign it. If anything in the agreement is unclear to you, have the attorney explain it so you know exactly what you’re signing.
Are expenses included in a contingency fee arrangement?
The costs associated with moving your case forward are generally not included in a standard contingency fee agreement since these costs represent expenses the law firm paid upfront to keep the ball rolling on your claim. Expenses may include:
- Applicable court costs
- Filing fees
- Copying costs
- Deposition fees
- Charges related to consulting with expert witnesses and/or specialists
- Fees to serve summons and subpoenas
What are the benefits of a contingency fee?
There is a common misconception that hiring a lawyer is something only rich people can do, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Since contingency fee literally means your attorney’s fee is contingent upon your lawyer’s performance and the outcome of your case, you can get the legal help you need without having to worry about your finances.
Other pros of a contingency fee agreement include:
- You get access to the court system even if you don’t have the funds to hire a lawyer.
- Your case is ultimately decided on its merit, not how deep your pockets run.
- You aren’t charged hourly fees and the meter is never running if you want to consult with your lawyer.
- If you lose, your attorney loses. That means you share the same objectives and you can have peace of mind knowing your lawyer will fight for the best possible outcome in your case.
- If you win, your attorney receives legal fees from the financial award as opposed to billing you for their time and labor.
Our law firm can fight for the compensation you deserve
Attorney Coby L. Wooten has made Fort Worth, Texas magazine’s “Top Attorney” list multiple times for his work as a personal injury lawyer. He has extensive experience recovering large settlements for his clients in serious motor vehicle accidents as well as wrongful death claims.
Contrary to some other law firms, Coby doesn’t increase his fees if your case is near trial or ends up going to trial. He also makes his contingency fee agreement easy to understand, as his standard fee for personal injury cases is one-third of the financial recovery.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in an accident, let Coby L. Wooten, Attorney At Law, P.C. protect your rights and advocate for your best interests. Contact us today for a free consultation. Our office is located in Fort Worth, but meetings outside of Fort Worth are available by appointment.