What Is a Contingency Fee?

CONTINGENCY FEE text written on red grungy round stamp.

Lawyers charge different kinds of fees for different types of work. Different types of lawyers tend to have different fee structures, in addition to differences within their specific rates. If you’ve researched personal injury attorneys, you’ve likely come across the term “contingency fee.” Personal injury attorneys like those at the Kohn Law Firm work on contingency for their clients. Below, we discuss contingency fees and how they work under New York personal injury law.

Defining Contingency Fee

A contingency fee structure is a type of fee arrangement with your attorney. Attorneys can charge fees in a variety of ways. They can charge by the hour, they can charge by the task, they can charge by the case, etc. Different fee structures make more sense for different types of legal work.

With a contingency fee structure, the client does not pay any fee upfront, or indeed any fee until the case is resolved. The attorney is paid a percentage of the final recovery obtained for the client. If your attorney works on contingency, that means that they’ll take a cut of your jury verdict or settlement. Under most circumstances, that means that you will not owe your attorney any payment unless and until they recover money for your claims.

How Is the Fee Percentage Determined?

If your attorney works on contingency, they’ll have a standard percentage they charge for certain types of claims. Their experience, education, and reputation may affect the percentage they charge. More complex cases, those that go to trial, those that have multiple parties, etc., may lead to a higher fee. You can also negotiate the percentage fee with your attorney at the outset before you sign the retainer agreement.

Typically, personal injury contingent fees run between 33% and 40% of the ultimate recovery. They may be set on a sliding scale, such as 50% of the first $10,000 recovered, 33% of the next $40,000, etc. In New York, personal injury lawyers typically cannot ask for more than 33%.

What Other Costs Come Into Play?

The contingency fee your attorney collects at the conclusion of your case is meant to cover their time and effort as your attorney. Some cases require an attorney to pay certain litigation costs out of pocket. For example, they might need to pay filing fees for your case, pay an expert witness to generate a report and testify, etc. Those costs will typically be added on top of the contingency fee percentage, simply to pay your attorney back for the costs they paid out of pocket to further your case.

Your retainer agreement should lay out what costs the attorney will cover and whether and how those costs might come out of your ultimate award. The retainer agreement should also specify whether you will be responsible for any of those costs should you not recover any compensation. You can and should discuss all parameters of your fee arrangement with your attorney in your initial consultation.

Call a Zealous Bronx Personal Injury Attorney Today

If you or someone you care about has been hurt in a New York traffic accident, slip and fall, or any other incident caused by someone else’s negligence or wrongful acts, find out if you’re entitled to monetary damages for your injuries by contacting the seasoned, effective New York personal injury lawyers at the Bronx offices of the Kohn Law Firm for a free consultation at 718-409-1200.

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