A personal injury lawsuit is one of the few times that an individual may encounter a contingent fee arrangement. Most of the time, when you hire a professional you will have to pay for the services upfront, or be sent a bill regardless of whether or not you were happy with the service. If you were unsatisfied, you will usually still have to pay. However, in a contingent fee agreement, if your case is not successful, you may not have to pay anything.
In a contingency fee agreement, the personal injury attorney will agree to represent the client in return for a percentage of the damages recovered in the case. Generally, the client will pay zero upfront. The attorney usually advances all legal fees and costs. It is only after the attorney wins the case that they will collect a percentage of the total compensation for the work the attorney has done.
This type of arrangement can be very beneficial to the client for a number of reasons. First, it allows someone without a lot of money to have access to the judicial system, allowing them seek just compensation for their injuries. In other cases, people who can afford expensive lawyers may have the upper hand in a lawsuit. But in a personal injury case, anyone can have the benefit of a top personal injury lawyer, regardless of their income or financial resources. A contingent fee agreement levels the playing field so that anyone can file a lawsuit.
Another benefit of a contingent fee agreement is that the client understands the attorney will work hard and diligently on their behalf. A professional personal injury attorney is ethically bound to do all that they can for their client, but it can be comforting for the client to know that the lawyer will only get paid if they win the case. The attorney will only collect payment for their services when the case has come to a conclusion, either through a settlement agreement, jury verdict, or judgment in favor of the plaintiff.
Contingency Fee Agreements in Washington D.C.
Every state and jurisdiction allow for contingency fee agreements in personal injury cases. In Washington D.C., contingency fee agreements are regulated under the Rules of Professional Conduct. Rule 1.5(c) states that a lawyer's fee in a civil matter may be contingent on the outcome of the matter for which the service is rendered. However, there are limits to what a lawyer can charge for a contingency fee case.
A contingent fee agreement is required to be in writing and state the method by which the fee is to be determined. This includes detailing the percentages involved in the event of settlement, trial, or appeal. The agreement should include an indication of how other expenses are to be deducted from the recovery and whether the expenses are deducted before or after the contingent fee is calculated.
At the end of the case, through settlement, jury award, or judgement, the lawyer shall provide the client with a written statement indicating the outcome of the matter, and if there is a recovery, showing the distribution to the client and how the remittance was determined.
D.C. Personal Injury Attorneys
Before you chose an attorney for your personal injury case, make sure you understand how they will calculate the fees for your case, and what a contingency agreement means for you. A contingency fee agreement allows everyone to seek compensation for the injuries they have suffered. These agreements give everyone the opportunity to hire talented and experienced attorneys to fight for them. No one should be prevented from righting a wrong because it costs too much.
At Gilman & Bedigian we use contingency fee agreements in most of our personal injury cases. We will make sure you have a full understanding of what you can expect from our attorney-client relationship, and how our fees are calculated. We mean what we say in our advertisements, "We get nothing unless you get paid." We do not charge you anything until your case is resolved. If you believe you may have a personal injury case, or if you have questions about contingency fee agreements, please contact our office today.