shaking handsThere's a common belief among people that lawyers charge astronomical hourly rates for their services. This misconception often keeps people from seeking the legal assistance they actually need in some situations.

While attorneys often do bill clients by the hour for estate planning, divorce proceedings, and other legal services, when you're the victim of another person’s negligence and seeking compensation for your injuries, you shouldn't be asked to pay an attorney up-front fees. This is because most personal injury attorneys work under a contingent fee agreement, which means they're not paid until they win your case. At that point, they get a percentage of the settlement.

Why Do Attorneys Work This Way?

When you're injured in a car accident, slip and fall, or workplace accident, your primary concern should be getting treatment for your injuries. If the accident was the fault of another person or business, they should be held responsible for paying your medical bills and other costs. If the at-fault party’s insurance company isn't willing to offer you a reasonable settlement, you may have to hire a lawyer to fight for the compensation you deserve.

However, you're in no position to pay a retainer fee or put a deposit down on legal services. So, in cases where a plaintiff is seeking money damages for an injury, a personal injury attorney will have you sign an agreement stating that if he wins the claim, he'll take a percentage of the settlement, rather than asking you to pay out of pocket.

How Is an Agreement Reached?

Most personal injury firms have a standard fee agreement when working with car accident or slip and fall clients. The agreement states a percentage of the recovery will be paid to the attorney upon successful completion of the case. If the case goes to trial, the percentage may increase.

The insurance company for the liable party is required to pay the damages directly to the law firm, which keeps its share and pays the rest to the plaintiff. Be sure you understand how this arrangement will work in your particular case before agreeing to partner with an attorney. When settlement amounts are discussed and negotiated, remember that you'll only get the percentage you agreed to up front if the case is successful.

What If a Lawyer Does Not Recover for You?

Under a contingent fee agreement, if your lawyer fails to win a settlement for you, he doesn't get paid. However, even on a losing case, the law firm has spent money in the process. It may have paid filing fees, expert witness fees, and records fees, as well as the cost of time spent on the case. It's important to understand from the beginning what will happen in this situation. Some law firms bill you for their expenses if they lose. Other firms don't charge you anything if they didn't win for you. When hiring a personal injury attorney, always ask if he has ever failed to recover on behalf of a client and if so, whether that client had to pay him back for his advance expenses.

What Are the Advantages of a Contingent Fee Agreement?

The obvious advantage to a contingency fee arrangement is that you can get legal representation without paying any money up front. Another advantage is that your legal team will be highly motivated to fight for a generous settlement so it receives payment. Your attorney will be aware throughout the process that the ultimate recovery is split, and will do his best to ensure your share of the settlement is enough to cover your medical costs.

Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys Are Proud to Offer Contingency Fee Contracts

Our attorneys work hard for every personal injury client we take. If we don't believe you have a strong claim, we won't mislead you into working with us. And in the rare event that we don't manage to secure a recovery, we don't ask to be reimbursed for our expenses. Start a live chat or fill out our contact form today to learn more about working with our legal team.


James Roswold
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James Roswold is a Kansas & Missouri personal injury, workers comp, and medical malpractice attorney.