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Contingent Attorney Fees, Costs & Referrals in Personal Injury Cases

What is a Contingency Fee?

A contingency attorney fee is an agreement to pay a fee percentage if the case if successful. If you win your case, attorney fees come out of the money recovered. If you loose neither you or the attorney get any money. However you will not be required to pay your attorney for the work done. Personal Injury attorney fees at our law firm and most personal injury law firms are based on a contingent fee agreement. No money recovery means no attorney fees.

Contingency Lawyer. A lawyer who will work for a contingency fee is motivated to win the case.

The contingency fee agreement must be in writing. Your lawyer will explain the fee agreement in detail. No matter how much you trust your new lawyer be sure to listen and carefully read any fee agreement put in front of you. Ask questions. Don't be intimidated. Know what you are agreeing to. It's the smart thing to do.

What is a reasonable attorney Fee? How much attorney fee is too much? Attorney fees in accident and injury cases are limited in two ways; by reasonableness, and by best practices.

  • Pursuant to the Rules of Professional Conduct in Washington State, attorney fees must be reasonable.
  • Best Practices. Attorneys informally set additional limits on their own fees based on what they believe is fair. Attorney contingency fees of 33 1/3% to settle and 40% to file a lawsuit are what we charge. These rates are considered fair and are competitive in the legal community
  • Some lawyers may charge higher fees. Unless there are exceptional circumstances, 50% of recovery is probably not fair in most cases. Don't let your attorney overcharge you.

How Do I Find a Lawyer Willing to Work on a Contingency?

Your type of case and it's value will determine whether you will find a lawyer willing to handle it on a contingency basis.

The usual type of case for a contingency agreement are personal injury, workers compensation, consumer protection, employment law discrimination, and medical malpractice. Most lawyers who practice in these areas will work on a contingency basis.

Case value also determines how easy getting a contingent lawyer will be. Valuable cases with a big upside are good candidates for a contingency fee agreement. Small cases and those brought because of the "principle of the matter" are less likely to find a contingency lawyer who wants to help.

Case Costs

Case costs are different than attorney fees. Case costs are expenses incurred in the handling of your case. For example, an injury case needs medical records. We may order the medical records, we review the records, and we use these records as part of your case; we do not charge for that. The doctor however charges for a copy of the records, that charge is a case cost. The client is responsible to eventually pay this case cost.

Some lawyers want clients to pay costs in advance, some want costs paid as the case proceeds, and some will advance costs until the end of the case when money is awarded. At our law firm, we are successful recovering money for the client in almost every case. If we advance costs for our clients, we are repaid out of the money we make the insurance company pay you.

When you hire a lawyer, the fee agreement presented to you will provide the specifics about attorney fees and case costs. Read it with care. Ask questions. Know your rights.

Information and Referrals

Information for free. The information on our website is provided as a free service, so you can make informed choices about your accident and injury claim. If you contact us, we will do our best to answer your initial phone or e-mail questions about your injury claim, at no charge to you.

Referrals. We have a lot of requests to help with legal cases. While we are always willing to share free information, we can’t take the case of every persons who calls. Your case is still important. Our policy is to always try and help you find a lawyer who has the expertise and the time to help. If you ask us we will be happy to refer you to a law firm that may be able to help. Christopher Sharpe is the "of counsel" attorney at the Walthew Law Firm. He refers all clients needing active legal assistance to the partners and associates at the Walthew Law Firm or to other stellar personal injury firms.

What's Next?

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