There are a number of different types of attorneys who practice in different areas of the law. For many types of lawyers, there is typically an upfront cost required to be paid to the attorney before he or she will agree to begin working on the client's case. This is typically called a "retainer fee," and in many cases these fees can cost thousands of dollars.
Naturally, people tend to assume that all types of lawyers require an upfront retainer fee in order to take on a person's case. And while retainer fees are common among attorneys in divorce and real estate law, personal injury lawyers often work under a different type of financial agreement called a contingency fee.
What Is A Contingency Fee?
When a personal injury lawyer or law firm says that they work on a contingency fee basis, it means the attorney's fees to be paid by the client are contingent upon the lawyer making a successful recovery for the accident victim.
There are several reasons that a contingency fee structure benefits both parties involved in the agreement. First, a contingency fee allows people with limited financial means to hire a lawyer. Lawyers in other areas of practice often charge thousands of dollars in fees to be paid up front by the client, which can make it difficult for many people to afford legal representation. With a contingency fee structure, you pay nothing up front and the attorney doesn't get paid until he or she successfully resolves your case.
Another reason that a contingency fee agreement is beneficial to accident victims is that it motivates the attorney to provide the best possible representation to the client. A contingency fee agreement sets the attorney's fees at a percentage of the total recovery, typically around one-third or 33.33% of the settlement or jury verdict. Under this structure, the attorney has every incentive to maximize the client's settlement or verdict because the attorney's fees depend upon the total recovery.
A lawyer working on a contingency fee basis may also take on considerable risk because the attorney may not get paid unless he or she wins or produces a recovery for the client. For this reason, the percentage rate of the contingent fee must be high enough to compensate the lawyer for taking on a case where he may not get paid.
Additional Benefits of Contingency Fee Attorneys
Attorneys who work on a contingency fee basis often also incur thousands of dollars of costs on an individual personal injury case. This is beneficial to the client because they do not have to pay for these costs until the attorney has recovered a settlement or jury verdict. Washington state law requires that the costs for a case be separated from attorney's fees, and costs are often deducted from the recovery amount.
A contingent fee arrangement makes it possible for anyone who has a legitimate case to hire a lawyer, without paying out of pocket first. More importantly, the contingent fee arrangement gives everyone access to the justice system. It assures people who have been wronged will have equal access to a lawyer, regardless of their current financial situation.
Davis Law Group works on a contingency fee basis and has represented clients throughout Washington state since 1994. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident and would like to learn more about your legal rights, you may call our office at 206-727-4000 or contact us via the form on this page to discuss your case with our legal team.