How Can I Afford to Pay for a Lawyer If I Have Been in an Accident?
Posted on behalf of Henness & Haight on Nov 18, 2014 in Personal Injury News
Most people are familiar with how expensive a court case can be. The costs of paperwork, court fees and time spent can add up quickly. Organizations or individuals that pay an attorney by the hour may end spending a significant portion of this money on legal representation alone.
Since not everyone can afford to pay an attorney by the hour, courts and law firms have devised a way for people without significant financial reserves to still get fair representation and the compensation they are owed without having to go into debt first. This mechanism is called a contingency fee.
What is a Contingency Fee?
A contingency fee means that the payment is contingent on the outcome of the trial or case. In other words, the lawyer's payment depends on how much money is produced from the claim or lawsuit. Put even more simply: they don't get paid unless you do.
Contingency fees are usually a percentage of the total settlement or award. These percentages vary based on how far the case progresses and how complicated the procedure involved may be. For instance, an injury claim that is quickly settled will require a smaller percentage than one in which the lawyer must go to an actual trial and argue your case in front of a judge.
What are the Benefits of Being Charged a Contingency Fee as Opposed to a Set Sum or Rate?
Contingency fees are favored by most clients because they require no money up front. An injured person can seek the help of an attorney without having to have a large amount of savings or disposable income. This fact means that the people that need help the most - those without many financial resources - can still get fair representation and compensation for their injury.
A contingency fee also means that a lawyer will only pursue the case as far as they think is necessary. If a lawyer feels that going to court is the only way to receive a fair compensation, then they will do his or her utmost to argue the case. If a lawyer feels that settlement is the better option, then they will not risk the chance of a court ruling in favor of a defendant.
Thus, a lawyer will not engage in activities for the sole purpose of obtaining more payment that will not directly benefit a client. A representing attorney will instead act only in the best interest of the client in order to obtain the outcome that is most favorable.
Contingency fees also prevent a client from having to give money to an attorney in vain. There is no such thing as wasted money in this instance, because if your lawyer has been unable to secure a desired outcome, then the client owes nothing.
Do Contingency Fees Give Lawyers Ethical Incentives?
Absolutely. A lawyer will work as hard as they possibly can to get the client as much compensation as they think is fair or feasibly obtainable. A lawyer won't punch the clock and wait for income to pile up, then cash out and leave the client high and dry. This scenario isn't possible with contingency fees.
Instead, an attorney will accept cases he or she believes in and not take unnecessary risks just to pursue greater gains. A lawyer on contingency will act in the mutual interest of both the represented client and the attorney. Any potentially questionable activities will be avoided in favor of a swift and favorable outcome.