Personal Injury Claims and the Contingent Fee
Many people, at some point in their lives, end up having to deal with a personal injury claim. These can result from a variety of unpleasant occurrences, including dog bites, medical malpractice issues, product liability and premises liability mishaps, injuries sustained in relation to motor vehicle accidents, and even wrongful deaths. The most common payment arrangement for representation of an individual who sustains a personal injury is a contingent fee. Generally speaking, a contingent fee is any fee for services provided, where the fee is payable only if there is a favorable result. Thus, in the law, a contingent fee is the fee charged for an attorney’s representation only if the matter is favorably resolved, whether it’s settled out of court or resolved in court, and the fee is calculated as a percentage of the client’s net recovery. The percentage of the contingent fee can vary depending on the matter, but is usually between 30% and 40%. If there is no recovery, there will be no attorney’s fees.
It is important to note that the contingent fee in a personal injury matter does not typically include the expenses of litigation. Litigation expenses entail court fees, investigative costs, file management and preparation costs, and various other costs necessarily incurred in representing the client. These expenses may be advanced by the attorney’s office, but they are the client’s responsibility and will be deducted from the client’s net recovery, if any, along with the contingent fee.
The contingent fee arrangement will be set forth in the retainer agreement the client enters into with the attorney. It is important that the client reviews the retainer agreement completely, and that the client fully understands the terms of the agreement, particularly the contingent fee arrangement.
Attorney Laura Jo Busian