Q: The lawyer I contacted about my personal injury matter said he worked on a contingent fee basis. What does this mean?
Contingency fees are very common in personal injury cases, and can range anywhere from 25%-40% of total funds collected depending on a variety of factors. A higher percentage may be justified for a more complex case or a case where fault is questionable.
A contingency fee means that the lawyer's fee is contingent, or depends, upon a successful outcome in the case. In a contingency fee arrangement, the lawyer is taking on risk by advancing case expenses and working with no money or retainer paid in advance by the client. This arrangement is usually helpful to an injured client who may already be struggling with injury related expenses such as medical bills and lost wages. Ethically, lawyers must have a signed contract before they can begin representation on a contingency fee basis. Be sure to review the contract carefully and ask your lawyer what happens with expenses if no fee is collected.
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