In a day where the Federal Reserve tells us that nearly half of Americans would have to borrow money or sell something to handle an emergency of $400 or more, the idea of hiring a lawyer at an hourly rate of $100 or more, excludes most people from availing themselves of the benefits of the legal system
Various fee arrangements have developed in the legal profession over time, based on what type of case is being pursued. The two most common fee arrangements are: Hourly billing, where you pay the attorney for every hour he spends on working on your legal matter; and Contingency billing, where the legal fee is not paid until the case settles, but the lawyer will take a percentage of the settlement. In a contingency arrangement, some lawyers still charge a consultation fee.
Not every legal matter has a monetary settlement, for example, if you have a lawyer draw up a contract for your business, or reviewing a contract you are considering or starting a new business. These situations are more easily handled by charging an hourly fee for the attorney’s time. In situations where a financial settlement is the outcome of the legal effort, your attorney may employ a contingency arrangement. Some legal matters require hourly billing by statute, such as criminal cases.
At the Richard Harris Law Firm, the vast majority of our cases are for personal injury cases, where a settlement is the ultimate outcome of the legal matter. Most, if not all, of our cases, use the contingency fee arrangement. Additionally, we do not charge a consultation fee.
How Does a Contingency Fee Arrangement Work?
The main advantage of using the contingency fee arrangement is that the client is not required to pay money out of pocket in order to pursue the legal matter. When injured in an accident, there is a never-ending barrage of expenses being faced, such as medical costs, prescriptions, vehicle repair, etc., and the idea of adding a legal fee on top of that is daunting. Even with insurance to address these expenses, there still may be unmet deductibles, and co-payments required for doctor visits, or repair additions that your insurance may not cover. These additional expenses can add up quickly.
Under a contingency arrangement, your lawyer agrees to take a chance on your case having a positive monetary settlement, in exchange for a portion of the potential settlement. In most cases, if the case settles before going to court, the fee will be one-third of the settlement. If the case goes to litigation, the fee may increase to 40 percent of the settlement. This increase is due to the additional preparation that goes into preparing for a court case. 80 to 90 percent of the cases taken by our firm settle prior to going into litigation.
In certain types of cases, such as medical malpractice, the percentage is set by state law and may have caps to the attorney fees based on the amount of the settlement.
How Do I Know What My Lawyer Will Charge?
Your lawyer will discuss the fee arrangement in your consultation interview, and it should be disclosed to you what the percentages will be, and under what circumstances that may change. Additionally, your retainer agreement, of which you will receive a copy, will clearly spell out in plain language, what the fee percentage is and whether or when that may increase.
The Richard Harris Law Firm is Committed to You
At the Richard Harris Law Firm, our attorneys are committed to assisting you to obtain the best legal settlement available for your case. If you have been injured in an accident due to someone else’s negligence, we want to discuss your case. We don’t charge for consultations. Our lawyers will clearly explain what to expect and will work hard to obtain the most we can to help you get back on your feet. Call us today at (702) 444-4444.