Lake Osweego, OR asked in Personal Injury for Oregon

Q: What are the downsides of hiring a PI attorney on a contingency basis?

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4 Lawyer Answers
Mr. Michael O. Stevens
Mr. Michael O. Stevens
Answered
  • Hillsboro, OR
  • Licensed in Oregon

A: The only real one is that potentially you could end up better paying them by the hour. As in, if you pay say $300 an hour, and they only have to work 10 hours to get a settlement, then you pay $3,000. Let's say the settlement is for $30,000. Typical contingency fee agreement is for 33%, so in that situation you pay the attorney $10,000.

But, there are lots of downfalls as well of hiring them on an hourly basis. Same scenario, but instead it take 40 hours, then atty costs are $12,000. Plus, if you don't get a settlement or lose at trial, you still have to pay your attorney all that money if you hire them hourly.

Mario F. Riquelme
Mario F. Riquelme
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Bend, OR
  • Licensed in Oregon

A: There is very little if any downside to hiring a PI attorney on a contingency fee basis. In essence, the lawyer takes the risk that the case may be lost, in which case he or she does not get paid. One of the few downsides might be that if the case is extraordinarily large and/or easy, in which case you may end up paying more than you would have paid if you had hired an attorney by the hour; most good attorneys however will be willing to work with you to figure this out, and if need be, work with you so you are comfortable with the fee agreement.

Joanne Reisman
Joanne Reisman
Answered
  • Portland, OR
  • Licensed in Oregon

A: There is no downside to working with a PI Attorney on a contingency basis IF YOU WANT the best way to hire a PI attorney. The only alternative would to be to agree to pay an hourly rate. That would not be financially prudent because the hourly investment of the Attorney often exceeds what the case is worth - so with a contingent fee you are protected from owing an Attorney fee that is more than the value of the case. Plus Attorneys on an hourly rate usually require a cash retainer up front.

That said there are other risks that you need to be aware of so it is important to hire an attorney you feel confident with, one who will explain all the risks, particular to your case, to you, so you are aware of the risks up front. The types of risks can very from case to case but do understand that you are personally responsible for any medical bills not paid by insurance until there is money from the case and these bills are paid. You may also be liable for the case costs and expenses regardless of whether you win your case. This is normal but an experienced attorney will not normally take cases where there is a high risk of losing. Another risk is that some cases may involve attorney fees to the prevailing party so you could get stuck with the defendant's attorney fees if you lose. This isn't a risk in a typical accident case but it can be if a breach of contract is involved and the contract has an attorney fee provision.

Joanne Reisman
Joanne Reisman
Answered
  • Portland, OR
  • Licensed in Oregon

A: I keep track of my hours in my personal injury cases and the value of my time put in, even in small cases, is at least $10,000 but more likely $30,000 or MORE. That is because insurance companies play a lot of games and I have to also deal with medical and insurance liens. It is very time consuming. I would seriously doubt an attorney could do a case in 10 hours. SERIOUSLY DOUBT. I have been doing this for 34 years!

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