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What is a Contingency Fee Agreement?

Most personal injury attorneys work on what is known as a contingency fee agreement. A contingency fee agreement provides that the client does not have to pay legal fees until their attorney recovers money due to a successful settlement or favorable trial verdict.

Contingency fees agreements are popular because they give those who have been injured the chance to recover damages without worrying about their attorneys fees. Most people believe that an attorney who is working on a contingency fee agreement is more likely to work hard on their client’s behalf. This is because the attorney will not get paid unless his client receives their settlement. At Silverthorne Attorneys, we strictly work on a contingency fee basis.

Contingency Fee Basics

Contingency fee arrangements were designed to help the client with paying little to no fees upfront; as a client you do not pay legal fees unless and until you win. While an injured person who is working with an attorney on a contingency fee basis will not have to pay attorney’s fees if their attorney does not recover any money, they will however be responsible for paying the costs their lawyer incurred in connection with pursuing the case – no matter the outcome of the case. Costs can include the following:

  • Out-of-pocket expenses
    • filing fees
  • Costs your lawyer incurred as a result of:
    • conducting discovery and depositions
  • Fees owed to the court stenographer – the person who transcribes the testimony in a deposition

In most states, contingency fee agreements usually state that if a case is successful, the attorney will receive a specific percentage of whatever money they recovered for the injured client. After a contingency fee agreement is reached, your personal injury attorney will pay the expenses of the lawsuit. If your attorney is successful in obtaining a settlement or a winning verdict on your behalf, the written and signed contingency fee agreement will then determine how funds are dispersed. Some contingency fee contracts operate under a graduated percentage. For example:

If your attorney has to file a lawsuit and go to trial, the agreement may provide for a higher percentage because there are more steps required for litigation. If your attorney does not have to file a suit and go to trial and resolves the case through mediation, the contingency agreement may provide for a smaller percentage.