What Is a Contingency Fee in a Personal Injury Suit?
A personal injury lawsuit is the last thing anyone wants to face. It means you or someone you love has been injured or even died. Now you could be navigating a new reality with medical bills and work loss. A personal injury lawsuit could be a way to recover a settlement that will help relieve some pressure and stress. One phrase you might see connected to personal injury cases is “contingency fee.” This is a way of saying that the attorney will be paid based on the outcome of the case.
In this article, we discuss the contingency fee arrangement in-depth to help you understand what it means and how it might affect you. If you’re considering a personal injury lawsuit in Oregon, consider the experienced attorneys at Warren Allen.
What Is a Contingency Fee?
A contingency fee in Oregon is a payment arrangement based on the results of the case. An attorney does not collect payment for work unless the case is successfully resolved in the client’s favor. In a personal injury case, this means that if a client reaches a settlement or wins in court, the attorney gets paid. If the client loses the case and there’s no settlement, the attorney isn’t paid. The contingency fee arrangement is not allowed in cases where ethical issues are present, such as family law, where a contingency fee could be seen as incentivizing work for something where vulnerable people are at risk.
How Does a Contingency Fee Work?
A contingency fee is a written agreement between a client and an attorney. The written agreement should include expectations for the recovery fee and expenses. According to ORS 20.3040, the agreement must be explained to the client by the attorney, written in a reasonable way so the client can understand, and signed by both parties. The client has the right to in writing to void the arrangement within 24 hours of signing. Here are a few things that you should see in your contingency fee agreement:
- Fee Structure: The agreement should state that it’s a contingency fee agreement and include the rate charged. Fees are often a percentage of the lawsuit settlement awarded to the plaintiff. Most recovery fees are between 30 and 40 percent of the settlement, but this can vary. A larger, more complex case may have a higher fee. Some attorneys may charge a higher fee if the case cannot be settled outside court and needs to go to trial.
- Costs and Expenses: Every case will have fees and expenses that come up. The agreement should detail what to expect and how the fees will be handled. Below, you will find some of the possible fees in greater detail.
- Fee Disputes and Termination: A client has every right to end their representation by an attorney, but this may lead to disputes about fees for the work done. Coming to an agreement on this possibility is an important part of the arrangement.
What Additional Fees Might Come Up?
Additional fees or costs are the expenses an attorney incurs while building a case for their client. Some of the additional fees might include court costs, filing fees, deposition and transcription, expert witnesses, travel, medical filing, and other administrative fees to cover necessary paperwork. In a contingency fee arrangement, these costs could be added to the recovery fee charged by your attorney so they can recover what they spend on building the case.
Talk with your attorney about the fees that might come up. An experienced attorney should be able to walk you through the expected fees for building a case like yours.
What Are the Advantages of a Contingency Fee Attorney Contract?
One of the key advantages is no fees up-front. You may have medical bills, loss of income from missed work, insurance deductibles, or other issues to manage. The contingency fee arrangement allows a client who may not have the financial resources to pay for quality legal representation up-front to still have their case prosecuted.
There’s a low risk for the client, but a high risk for the attorney. The attorney will need to weigh whether the strength of the case is sufficient to justify the time and effort necessary to win. If the case lacks merit, an attorney may turn it down. Remember, when an attorney takes on a case, they may need to turn down other work.
Another advantage is that your attorney is motivated to do their best work for you, as they won’t get paid if there is no settlement.
What Should You Expect When Considering a Contingency Fee?
Navigating a personal injury suit can be stressful and confusing. An experienced personal injury attorney should help you understand your case in a way that relieves some of that stress. A high-quality attorney will consider all areas of the case before advising you how to proceed. You may have a lot of questions as you decide on an attorney and whether you want to build a case. Here are a few things to expect from a personal injury attorney when considering a contingency fee arrangement:
- An attorney will explain your rights. A personal injury attorney should help you understand your rights, give an honest assessment of how they understand the case including if you might have been doing something that might limit your ability to recover a settlement.
- They will assess and investigate the accident. Your attorney will need a full understanding of the incident and how it happened. This might include hiring an investigator, taking photos of the scene, interviewing witnesses, and other activities to document what happened.
- Your attorney will advise you on how to move forward. Once a full understanding of the event is gained, an attorney can advise you on how to proceed. This may include helping you understand what could make it more or less likely you will win a settlement.
- If necessary, your attorney will represent you in court. Most personal injury cases are settled long before a hearing in court is necessary, but if your case requires a hearing, then you will benefit from an experienced attorney who both understands the law and can navigate the hearing process competently.
For experienced personal injury attorneys, contact the professionals at Warren Allen.