Contingency Fee Agreement, Auto Collision

Question: I was injured in an auto accident a few months ago. The other driver was at fault, but I cannot afford to hire and attorney to represent me and I don’t know what else to do.

Answer:

Most attorneys will agree to represent you in an automobile accident (or other negligence matters) on a “contingent fee” arrangement. A contingent fee agreement, often referred to as a “contingency,” means that the attorney will be paid a percentage of the money which is collected from the person at fault (or their insurance company). Usually, that percentage is 1/3 of the amount recovered. The specific terms should be set forth in a written fee agreement with the attorney.

The benefit of the contingent fee agreement to you is that if you do not recovery any money, the attorney does not get paid a fee. If you lose the case for any reason, then you do not owe the attorney any money for his time and effort. You may be responsible to pay for out-of-pocket expenses for the cost of litigation, including court costs, expenses of medical examinations and obtaining and presenting evidence. There are court costs in filing a lawsuit, hospital charges for the cost of copying their medical records, and doctors generally charge for a medical report. These are expenses usually necessary for us to prove your injuries, and would be out-of-pocket expenses and not fees to the attorney. Without such proof of your injuries, the insurance company will not pay a fair value for your suffering. Very often, the attorney will advance these out-of-pocket expenses with the understanding that he will be paid back out of the proceeds of any settlement or verdict. If you do not win the case or receive any money, then you would owe this money to the attorney.

The contingent fee arrangement will allow you to hire an attorney without paying a “retainer fee”, and without worrying about an hourly rate or the amount of time spent by the attorney. The attorney has a good incentive to get you the most money you are entitled to because the more you get, the more the attorney gets paid and, if you lose, you don’t owe the attorney any fee.

It is always best to discuss your concerns with an attorney. Contact our office for further information, a free consultation, or representation, and we will be glad to give you our personal attention, or your may visit our website at sternbergandzeid.com or e-mail us at sternbergzeid@ameritech.net .

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