Attorneys always charge a contingency fee when representing clients that have suffered personal injuries. A contingency fee is a fee that is charged only upon recovery and is charged directly from a fee that is recovered. If the client does not recover, the attorney earns no fee. A contingency fee is a based upon a percentage of the amount recovered for the client. A standard contingency fee is 33 1/3% of the amount recovered on behalf of the client.
Many firms use a scaled contingency fee based upon the progression of the case. For example a typical scaled contingency fee is as follows: 33 1/3% prior to filing a lawsuit; 35% after filing a lawsuit; and 40% if the case goes to arbitration or trial.
In addition, most attorneys advance costs on behalf of a client that is reimbursed upon recovery. Costs include things like filing fees, deposition fees and expert fees. Many costs, including the costs referenced, are not incurred until a lawsuit is filed.
The amount of costs that are incurred is entirely dependent on the nature and progression of the case. A case that involves issues of fault (i.e. is there an argument that the client may be at fault) or complex medical issues may be more expensive due to the fact that experts may need to be retained to assist in helping prove the client’s case or damages. Costs are reimbursed from a client’s recover after the attorney fees are applied.
For example: If a client obtains a settlement of $10,000 after litigation is filed (a 35% contingency fee in accordance with a typical scaled agreement) and $500 in costs were incurred, a client would receive $6,000. This example does not include other expenses the client may have incurred from other people or entity not related to the attorney relationship such as doctor bills etc.