Contingent Fee Agreements
There’s no getting around it. Lawyers are expensive. Good lawyers are even pricier. Lawyers at some of the big law firms in New York, Boston, and Chicago charge more than $1,000.00 per hour of their work. Most people can’t afford that.
If you’ve been injured, you know that you need a good lawyer who can fight the insurance company. Unfortunately, when you factor in that you might be out of work and have thousands of dollars of medical bills to pay, hiring an expensive lawyer seems out of reach. That’s why the legal system invented the Contingent Fee Agreement so that someone fighting an insurance company can hire an experienced lawyer who can stand up to them.
A Contingent Fee Agreement is just that: Contingent. Instead of charging a flat fee or an hourly fee, a lawyer charging a contingent fee will get paid based on the outcome of the case. If you win, your lawyer takes a percentage of the winnings. If you lose, your lawyer works for free.
Of course, there are more aspects to a Contingent Fee Agreement, most of which are covered by Rule 1.5 of the Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct. The rules contain a standard fee agreement. However, there are some things that you should be aware of with any agreement you’re signing:
- Who is your Lawyer?: You should know who you are signing the form with. Some legal advertisements make you think you’re hiring a particular lawyer. Often, they’re referring you to an attorney who paid for the referral. Make sure the lawyer you found is the lawyer you’re hiring.
- What is the Case? Make sure you know what you’re hiring the lawyer to do. This saves from unnecessary headaches down the road.
- What is the Fee Percentage? Find out what the contingent percentage is. For most cases, it is standard for a lawyer to take 1/3 , or 33.33% of the recovery. However, some lawyers try to charge up to 40 percent.
- Who is Paying the Costs? Understand who is paying for costs. Every lawsuit has costs associated with them. Whether it’s getting a police report or filing a lawsuit, these cases include out of pocket expenses. Most lawyers will pay these fees, and then get them back out of the settlement. Some lawyers want you to pay these fees out of your own pocket.
- Is there a Referral Fee? If you were referred from one lawyer to another, those lawyers might sometimes share the fee. While that won’t cost you any additional legal fees, it’s good to ask questions about the referral relationship.
- What happens if I fire the lawyer? An attorney working on a contingent fee can spend hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars on a case without getting a penny reimbursed until the end. So, most lawyers have clauses in their agreements to get their fees and costs back if you fire them.
- Attorney’s Fee Awards: In some situations, a court might award you attorneys fees. Sometimes that money is included in the total recovery of which the lawyer gets a percentage. Other times, that money will go directly to your lawyer. How that works should be described in your Fee Agreement.
If you’re injured, you most likely will hire a lawyer who works on a Contingent Fee. Whether you hire Marcotte Law Firm or another law firm, it’s best to ask all your questions when you sign the contract. At Marcotte Law Firm, we take time to explain to our clients every portion of the agreement, and we answer all questions. If a client wants to take time to think about it before signing, we encourage that.
The only thing more important than having an experienced lawyer is having a lawyer you trust.We expect that the attorney/client relationship, which will last for months if not years is one built on trust.
If you were injured, call Marcotte Law Firm for a free consultation.