Attorneys' fees can be expensive, especially if litigation is involved. Not everyone has the cash on hand to pay an attorney up front, but they still have the desire to seek legal redress. This is where the contingency fee comes in, which allows a client to obtain representation for a case that she would otherwise not be able to afford. Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions about contingency fees.
What is a contingency fee?
A contingency fee is one that is “contingent” (dependent) on your attorney winning your case or receiving an otherwise positive outcome. In other words, the attorney does not get paid until you do. Typically, the attorney's fee will be set as a percentage of your recovery, whether it comes via settlement or a favorable verdict after trial. 1/3 is a common contingency fee percentage for personal injury cases. If you are awarded $100,000, the attorneys' fees will be around $33,000 (although there may be filing fees and other incidental costs on top of this). The percentage fee in your case may be higher or lower, depending on the attorney and the type of case. California sets limits on contingency fee percentages in medical malpractice cases.
Are contingency fees available for all cases?
Whether you can utilize a contingency fee agreement depends on the attorney. Not all attorneys take contingency fees, and those that do won't necessarily offer this option for every case. For personal injury cases, the contingency fee is standard practice, but an attorney may accept a contingency fee for other types of cases as well, such as an inheritance dispute. This type of fee is most commonly available when there is a chance of a large recovery, out of which the attorneys' fees can be paid.
Any time an attorney takes a case on a contingency fee, he is taking a risk that he will not be paid. This is costly to the attorney not only in time and litigation expenses, but also in lost income that could have been generated by working on other cases. For this reason, attorneys who work on contingency choose their cases carefully. Attorneys will often turn down speculative cases or those without merit. Sometimes the attorney must first investigate the case to see if it has enough merit to warrant a contingency fee agreement.
Not all cases are amenable to the contingency fee arrangement. Similarly, not all attorneys take cases on contingency, and most lawyers are selective about the types of cases they take. If you cannot find a lawyer to take your case on contingency, you still have other options, such as paying hourly or paying a fixed fee, depending on the attorney.
Helix Law Firm can help with civil litigation
If you have been wronged and would like to pursue a legal claim, we can help. We can look at the facts of your case and help determine the strength of your position. Depending on the circumstances, we may be able to take your case on contingency.
If you're interested in learning more about how Helix can help, please call us at (619) 567-4447 to schedule a free consultation.