What is a Contingency Lawyer?
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A contingency lawyer is an attorney who takes your case and is not paid unless you win, either through a settlement before trial or a judgment after trial. The lawyer’s payment comes out of the settlement or judgment you receive in the case. As the client, you can feel comfortable knowing that your attorney believes in your case and thinks you will win, otherwise he or she would not have taken the case.
How Do Lawyer Contingency Fees Work?
Contingency fees are set up so that they are paid only if you win your case. This means you do not need to come up with the money to pay your lawyer’s fees up front. Your lawyer is paid only if you win or settle your case. This not only gives your lawyer an incentive to work hard to win, but it avoids placing in you in what may be a financially difficult position of having to pay a substantial attorney’s fees as the case moves along. Contingency fees are typically one-third of the settlement or award in the case but may be less or more depending on the type of case and the amount of money recovered.
Types of Cases
There are several types of cases where it is common for lawyers to take the case on a contingency. Personal injury lawsuits are often handled this way. If you slip and fall and are injured, the attorney will handle your case and will not be paid unless you win or there is a settlement.
Nursing home neglect or abuse cases are also typically handled on a contingency. If you or a loved one is injured, abused, or neglected in a nursing home or assisted living facility, the attorney who takes the case on a contingency will be paid only if you are. Some attorneys will take employment law cases or large debt collection cases on a contingency.
How to Find a Lawyer
If you are looking for an attorney to work on contingency, ask your friends and family if they know anyone or have used a lawyer for this kind of case. If you have used an attorney before (such as for a real estate closing or a traffic ticket) ask him or her for a referral. Another option is to contact your local bar association for a referral. Howard Law LLP regularly handles cases involving nursing home neglect or abuse, as well as assisted living and hospital negligence, including injuries from bedsores, overmedication, falls, physical or sexual abuse, and dehydration or malnutrition, and would be happy to discuss your case and help your loved one.
Questions to Ask
When you interview contingency lawyers for your case, you want to find someone who is a good fit for your case and for you. Ask these types of questions:
- How many of these cases have you handled in the last year? In the past five years?
- How many settled and how many went to judgment successfully? What range of awards were received?
- How long do you expect my case will take?
- What kind of settlement or award do you think is likely?
- What amount do you take as your fee?
- Am I responsible for any other fees or costs?
- What information do you need from me?
- How often should I expect to hear from you?
- Will you or someone else in the office be personally handling my case?
- Is there a paralegal or legal secretary who will be on my case?
- Is it possible to reach you by email?
- What do we need to do to get the case started and how soon can the case be filed?
- What are the steps involved in the process?
- Why should I hire you?
It’s also important that you select an attorney you feel comfortable with. Is the lawyer friendly and willing to answer your questions? Can you reach the attorney or legal assistant easily if you have questions? Do you feel that your case and your concerns are being treated seriously?
The Contingency Agreement
Once you have found a lawyer you feel comfortable with, you will need to sign a contingency agreement, authorizing the lawyer to file the case on your behalf and agreeing to pay him or her a portion of your settlement or award if you win. Read this agreement and ask if there is anything you do not understand. Be clear about what, if any, costs or fees you are responsible for paying out of pocket. Be sure the agreement states you do not owe the attorney any fees for legal services if you lose your case. Understand how the contingency fee is calculated. Are your medical expenses deducted from the settlement or judgment first and the contingency comes out of the net? Are law firm expenses deducted from the award?
Get a Free Initial Consultation
The skilled contingency lawyers at Howard Law LLP are available to meet with you for a free consultation.
Just give us a call at 201-488-4644 or contact us using the form below.