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Counting on Contingency: How This Popular Agreement Works

Rob Erney January 27, 2016

Agreeing to a contingency fee is the only way many people can ever work with an attorney. If you’ve seen this advertised, you may be wondering how it works and what your commitments are. Basically, you’ll only pay a lawyer if he or she successfully wins (and collects on) your case.  Become familiar with what to expect with a contingency fee basis.

 

What It Doesn’t Mean

Before committing to a legal team, you need to understand how contingency works and why it may or may not benefit you. Below, are some common misconceptions:

 

  • You don’t pay a dime unless you win. While the fees charged for the lawyer’s services are only paid following a favorable result, you’ll still be accountable for court filing fees, the cost of deposing witnesses, etc.

 

  • I can pursue any claim without paying lawyer’s fees upfront. Contingency only works for certain legal areas, for example, vehicle accidents, work accidents, debt collection violations, defective products, and so on. Criminal cases (and others) can never be pursued on contingency.

 

What It Does Mean

If your case is taken on contingency, here’s what you can expect:

 

  • If you lose. Neither you nor your lawyer receive money. You don’t have to pay an attorney for the time he or she spent on your case.

 

  • If you win. The law firm collects a portion of what you’re awarded. The fixed percentage you agreed on is taken from the total amount; this is the attorney’s legal fee.

 

Negotiating Contingency                                    

Contingency percentages hover around 33%, though they fluctuate based on the risks involved with taking your case, such as the anticipated time frame, time commitment, and legal work involved. You’ll also have a limited field of attorneys to choose from, and they’re extremely selective with the cases they take.

 

You can negotiate the contingency fee as well as any changes that will take place if your law firm settles out of court. For instance, you can work out an agreement where the attorney accepts a lower percentage if he or she settles the case quickly.

 

Contingency may be your only option, but it doesn’t mean you should always take it – or that an attorney will take your case. Only by meeting in person for a consultation and hammering out the specifics of your claim can light be shed on these factors. For more information on contingency and what can be done for your unique situation, reach out to Robert D. Erney & Associates.